A revolution, friend - a revolution.'

'You speak strangely for a red,' said Otto.

'A red republican, but not a revolutionary,' returned the Doctor. 'An ugly thing is a Grunewalder drunk! One man alone can save the country from this pass, and that is the double-dealer Gondremark, with whom I conjure you to make peace. It will not be you; it never can be you:- you, who can do nothing, as your wife said, but trade upon your station - you, who spent the hours in begging money! And in God's name, what for? Why money? What mystery of idiocy was this?'

'It was to no ill end. It was to buy a farm,' quoth Otto sulkily.

'To buy a farm!' cried Gotthold. 'Buy a farm!'

'Well, what then?' returned Otto. 'I have bought it, if you come to that.'

Gotthold fairly bounded on his seat. 'And how that?' he cried.

'How?' repeated Otto, startled.

'Ay, verily, how!' returned the Doctor. 'How came you by the money?'

The Prince's countenance darkened. 'That is my affair,' said he.

'You see you are ashamed,' retorted Gotthold. 'And so you bought a farm in the hour of our country's need - doubtless to be ready for the abdication; and I put it that you stole the funds. There are not three ways of getting money: there are but two: to earn and steal. And now, when you have combined Charles the Fifth and Long- fingered Tom, you come to me to fortify your vanity! But I will clear my mind upon this matter: until I know the right and wrong of the transaction, I put my hand behind my back. A man may be the pitifullest prince; he must be a spotless gentleman.'

The Prince had gotten to his feet, as pale as paper. Gotthold,' he said, 'you drive me beyond bounds. Beware, sir, beware!'

'Do you threaten me, friend Otto?' asked the Doctor grimly. 'That would be a strange conclusion.'

'When have you ever known me use my power in any private animosity?' cried Otto. 'To any private man your words were an unpardonable insult, but at me you shoot in full security, and I must turn aside to compliment you on your plainness. I must do more than pardon, I must admire, because you have faced this - this formidable monarch, like a Nathan before David. You have uprooted an old kindness, sir, with an unsparing hand. You leave me very bare. My last bond is broken; and though I take Heaven to witness that I sought to do the right, I have this reward: to find myself alone. You say I am no gentleman; yet the sneers have been upon your side; and though I can very well perceive where you have lodged your sympathies, I will forbear the taunt.'

'Otto, are you insane?' cried Gotthold, leaping up. 'Because I ask you how you came by certain moneys, and because you refuse - '

'Herr von Hohenstockwitz, I have ceased to invite your aid in my affairs,' said Otto. 'I have heard all that I desire, and you have sufficiently trampled on my vanity. It may be that I cannot govern, it may be that I cannot love - you tell me so with every mark of honesty; but God has granted me one virtue, and I can still forgive. I forgive you; even in this hour of passion, I can perceive my faults and your excuses; and if I desire that in future I may be spared your conversation, it is not, sir, from resentment - not resentment - but, by Heaven, because no man on earth could endure to be so rated. You have the satisfaction to see your sovereign weep; and that person whom you have so often taunted with his happiness reduced to the last pitch of solitude and misery. No, - I will hear nothing; I claim the last word, sir, as your Prince; and that last word shall be - forgiveness.'

And with that Otto was gone from the apartment, and Doctor Gotthold was left alone with the most conflicting sentiments of sorrow, remorse, and merriment; walking to and fro before his table, and asking himself, with hands uplifted, which of the pair of them was most to blame for this unhappy rupture. Presently, he took from a cupboard a bottle of Rhine wine and a goblet of the deep Bohemian ruby. The first glass a little warmed and comforted his bosom; with the second he began to look down upon these troubles from a sunny mountain; yet a while, and filled with this false comfort and contemplating life throughout a golden medium, he owned to himself, with a flush, a smile, and a half-pleasurable sigh, that he had been somewhat over plain in dealing with his cousin.

Prince Otto a Romance Page 53

Robert Louis Stevenson

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