“He shall have his price, yes, he shall have it!” cried the Elector, his eyes fixed immovably upon the portrait. “Send forthwith a courier from me to Herr von Schwiebus, and have him notified that I buy the boarhound for three thousand trees, which he may select and fell from my Letzling forest. He shall, conformably with his terms, immediately send me the boarhound. Make haste, Adam, and attend to this matter for me; I long so to have the beautiful creature here. And as regards the Electoral Prince, we will put off Marwitz’s departure until the day after to-morrow, for we shall not have time for letter writing to-day on account of the hunting party, and that will occasion the delay of one more day.”
“Not until the day after to-morrow will Marwitz set out on his journey,” said Count Schwarzenberg contentedly to himself, when he had left the Elector, and was once more alone in his own cabinet. “Not until the day after to-morrow! So Gabriel Nietzel will have three days the start of him, and, moreover, he can travel more rapidly. The only thing to be considered now is, what shall be the nature of his errand there? We shall at once deliberate as to what will be best!”
Long did he pace the floor of his cabinet with bowed head and arms crossed upon his chest; then all of a sudden he whistled for his valet, and ordered him to look for Master Gabriel Nietzel, and to bring him in at once.
“Your grace,” replied the valet, “Master Nietzel has just come into the antechamber, and requests an audience of you.”
“Admit him. But first I have a few tasks to give you. Listen!” he beckoned the valet to come nearer, and softly and hurriedly communicated his instructions. “And now,” he concluded, “now let the master enter, and then make haste to do what I have told you.”
“Well,” cried the count, when a few minutes later Gabriel Nietzel entered the cabinet—“well, now tell me, master, what brings you here so early. My appointment with you was not until this evening.”
“Forgive me, your excellency, but in the joy of my heart I thought you might perhaps bestow a moment upon me. I only wished to let your excellency know that it has turned out exactly as I hoped. I communicated to the Electress my purpose of making an artist’s tour into Holland. Her highness seemed highly delighted at the idea, and gave me an open note to the Electoral Prince, introducing me to her son as a skillful portrait painter.”
“Just show me this note.”
The painter handed him a small, neatly folded paper, which the count tore open and perused with a rapid glance.
“Nothing more, in fact, than a very warm recommendation,” he said. “And this is all?”
“No, your excellency, the best part is yet to come. The Electress has appointed me her court painter. I receive the same salary as the recently deceased court painter, Mathias Ezizeken, namely, a yearly income of fifty dollars, board and rent free, with two suits of new clothes annually.”