“I know it, Conrad, I know it,” said the Elector, reaching out his hand to the old man, and permitting him to press it to his lips. “I know your good, faithful heart, which has never swerved from its duty these twenty years that you have been in my service. Go now, old man, and do as I have bidden you. But hear! No one need know that I have paid you and Jocelyn your month’s wages, for then they would all come to be paid by me; and the paymaster was quite right—our coffers are empty, and we must take account of everything until they are filled again. Keep silent, then, both of you. I shall tell the paymaster myself that I have just meddled a little in his affairs.
“But now, hear one thing more, Conrad. Go straightway across into Broad Street, to the house of his excellency the Stadtholder in the Mark, Count von Schwarzenberg. We request his excellency to take the trouble to come immediately to us. Say from me that we have weighty business to transact with him that admits of no delay. Therefore, we entreat his excellency to come hither forthwith.”
“Pardon, your highness,” said Conrad, anxiously and confusedly; “my dresscoat is still at the court tailor’s. Must I go across in my jacket? At the Stadtholder’s everything is so fearfully fine and stately. The lackeys, too, put on such airs that an electoral lackey can not stand up to them at all; they are, besides, haughty, supercilious fellows, who think themselves very grand, and fancy they are something quite uncommon, and almost more than one of us, who are court lackeys to your highness. Would it not make the fellows rejoice to see me in this jacket and—”
“Never mind; go across in your jacket,” said the Elector, laughing. “Remember always that you are the servant of the master, and those spruce fellows but the lackeys of the servant, although I must say that the servant is a much richer, more magnificent man than his master. Run and bring the Stadtholder to me!”
“I thank you, Master Gabriel Nietzel, I thank you with my whole heart, for you have indeed prepared me a great pleasure,” cried Count Adam von Schwarzenberg, at the same time nodding pleasantly to the young man who stood beside him. Then he was lost again in contemplation of the picture before which they both stood, and which was mounted upon an easel in one of the deep bay windows of the lofty apartment.
“I well knew that my most gracious lord would take pleasure in this glorious work of art,” said Master Gabriel Nietzel, smiling, “and therefore have I spared neither expense, toil, nor danger in bringing to your excellency this noble painting of the great Italian master.”
“And I am astonished that you have succeeded, master,” exclaimed the count, changing his position before the picture, in order to examine it in a new light, from a different point of view.