“This,” said Rudolph, in a solemn whisper, “this is where they meet. This is the real center of government of the American continent; all the rest is sham and form. The men who meet here determine the condition of all the hundreds of millions who dwell on the great land revealed to the world by Columbus. Here political parties, courts, juries, governors, legislatures, congresses, presidents are made and unmade; and from this spot they are controlled and directed in the discharge of their multiform functions. The decrees formulated here are echoed by a hundred thousand newspapers, and many thousands of orators; and they are enforced by an uncountable army of soldiers, servants, tools, spies, and even assassins. He who stands in the way of the men who assemble here perishes. He who would oppose them takes his life in his hands. You are, young man, as if I had led you to the center of the earth, and I had placed your hand upon the very pivot, the well-oiled axle, upon which, noiselessly, the whole great globe revolves, and from which the awful forces extend which hold it all together.”
I felt myself overawed. It was as if mighty spirits even then inhabited that dusky and silent chamber; hostile and evil spirits of whom mankind were at once the subjects and the victims. I followed Rudolph on tiptoe as he advanced to the end of the room.
“Here,” he said, entering through a wide arch “is a conservatory which is constantly kept supplied and renewed, from the hot-houses of the palace, with the most magnificent flowers. The only humanizing trait the Prince seems to possess is an affection for flowers. And he especially loves those strange Mexican and South American plants, the cactaceae, which unite the most exquisite flowers to the most grotesque and repulsive forms, covered with great spear-like spines, and which thrive only in barren lands, and on the poorest soil. I have taken advantage of the presence of these plants