“We shall meet again, my Brutus,” said Leuchtmar, quite softly, and laid his hand upon the Prince’s brow, blessing him.
Frederick William felt the tears gush from his heart to his eyes, and with a brusque movement repelled the baron. “Farewell!” he repeated hoarsely, then hurried with quick steps through the dining hall to the door.
“Frederick William, come with us!” cried the Elector, but the Prince did not or would not hear his call. He hurried through the antechamber and the long corridor, and when he had gained the solitude of his own gloomy apartments, and not until then, rang forth from his breast the long restrained scream of agony, streamed from his eyes the long-restrained tears. He sank down upon the old creaking armchair and wept bitterly.
“Well, Master Gabriel Nietzel, here you are,” said Count Schwarzenberg, greeting the painter, who had just entered, with a gracious nod. “And it must be granted that you are a very punctual man, for I agreed to meet you here at Spandow by twelve o’clock, and only hear, the clock is just now striking the hour.”
“Most gracious sir, that comes from my already having stood an hour before the gates of your palace, waiting for the blessed moment to arrive when I might enter. I have been gazing this whole hour up at the dialplate of the steeple clock, and it seemed to me as if an eternity of torture would elapse while the great hour hand slowly, oh, so slowly, made its circuit of sixty minutes.”
“You are a queer creature!” cried Count Schwarzenberg, shrugging his shoulders. “Romantic as a young girl, full of virtuous desires, and yet not at all loath to commit certain delicate little crimes, and to pass off copies for originals, and that not merely pictures on canvas, but pictures in flesh and blood as well. For what else is your Rebecca but the copy of a respectable, decent matron, whom you thought to smuggle in as an original, while in reality she is nothing but a copy.”
“In the eyes of the law and the Stadtholder perhaps, but not in the eyes of God and of him who loves her more than his life and his eternal salvation, for he is ready, in order to possess her, to renounce even his honor and his peace of conscience. Oh, your excellency, be pitiful now and let me see my Rebecca. You have given me your word, and you will not be so cruel as to break your promise.”
“I promised you nothing further than that I would intrust certain damaged pictures to you for repairing, and that I would show you a picture which might perhaps be familiar to you—that was all. I shall perform my promise, and that immediately. But first, just tell me how you are progressing with the painting I ordered of you. Perhaps you have already with you some sketch of it? It would be peculiarly pleasant to me, for on the day after to-morrow I give a fete in my palace at Berlin, and it would be quite opportune if I could then lay the sketch before the dear Electoral Prince, who is to honor the fete with his presence. He is a connoisseur, and interests himself greatly in such things. Say, then, how comes on your sketch, and can it be completed by that time?”