The soldiers heard him in reverential silence, but the next morning it was known throughout the castle and almost through the whole city that the White Lady had made her appearance again, and that at last, when pursued, she had vanished in the form of a white cat in one of the rooms in the upper story of the castle. After that nobody ventured into the upper story, and, as it was uninhabited, it was not necessary to station sentinels there.
When the Electoral Prince awoke the next morning after a long, refreshing slumber, his first glance fell upon his faithful old valet, who stood at the foot of his couch, his face actually beaming with joy.
“Why, Dietrich,” said Frederick William, “you look so happy! What has altered your old face so since yesterday?”
“The sight of you, most gracious sir, for your face has altered, too. Your cheeks are no longer deadly pale, nor your features distorted. Your highness looks quite like a well man now; somewhat pale, it is true; but your lips are again red and your eyes bright. Ah, gracious sir, the dear White Lady kept her word, she saved you!”
“God bless her!” said the Electoral Prince solemnly. “But hark! old man, tell nobody that I have been saved. You must not use such dangerous words, not even think them. There was no need to save me, for I have been exposed to no peril. I have not been sick at all, but only overcome by wine, and, to speak plainly, drunk—do you hear, old man? I have been drunk two whole days: such is the account you must give of my attack.”
“I shall do so, your highness, since you order it; but it is a sin and a shame that I should slander my own dear young master, who is such a sober, steady Prince.”
“Now, Dietrich,” said the Electoral Prince, with a melancholy smile, “you give me more praise than I deserve. I was not quite so sober in Holland.”
“No, sir; in dear, blessed Holland, life was a different thing. It was like heaven there, and when I looked at your grace I always felt as if I saw before me Saint George himself, so bold, spirited, and happy you ever seemed.”
“And so I felt, too,” said the Prince softly to himself. “But all that is past now. All! The costly intoxication of happiness is at an end, and I am sobered. Yes, yes,” he continued aloud, springing with energy from his couch, “you are quite right, old Dietrich. Now help this sober, steady Prince to dress himself, that he may wait upon the Elector and Electress and announce his recovery to them.”
After the Electoral Prince had made his toilet, he repaired to the Electoral apartments to pay his respects. George William received his son with sullen peevishness of manner, hardly deigning to bestow upon him more than a single glance of indifference.
“Why, you still look pale and weak,” he said coolly. “It is no great honor for a Prince to be overcome by a couple of glasses of wine, and to succumb as if he had been struck by a cannon ball.”