Sapt raised his hand.
Tell me, said he. Do you think the King was drugged?
I do, said I.
And who drugged him?
That damned hound, Black Michael, said Fritz between his teeth.
Ay, said Sapt, that he might not come to be crowned. Rassendyll here doesnt know our pretty Michael. What think you, Fritz, has Michael no king ready? Has half Strelsau no other candidate? As Gods alive, man the thrones lost if the King show himself not in Strelsau today. I know Black Michael.
We could carry him there, said I.
And a very pretty picture he makes, sneered Sapt.
Fritz von Tarlenheim buried his face in his hands. The King breathed loudly and heavily. Sapt stirred him again with his foot.
The drunken dog! he said; but hes an Elphberg and the son of his father, and may I rot in hell before Black Michael sits in his place!
For a moment or two we were all silent; then Sapt, knitting his bushy grey brows, took his pipe from his mouth and said to me:
As a man grows old he believes in Fate. Fate sent you here. Fate sends you now to Strelsau.
I staggered back, murmuring Good God!
Fritz looked up with an eager, bewildered gaze.
Impossible! I muttered. I should be known.
Its a riskagainst a certainty, said Sapt. If you shave, Ill wager youll not be known. Are you afraid?
Come, lad, there, there; but its your life, you know, if youre knownand mineand Fritzs here. But, if you dont go, I swear to you Black Michael will sit tonight on the throne, and the King lie in prison or his grave.
The King would never forgive it, I stammered.
Are we women? Who cares for his forgiveness?
The clock ticked fifty times, and sixty and seventy times, as I stood in thought. Then I suppose a look came over my face, for old Sapt caught me by the hand, crying:
Yes, Ill go, said I, and I turned my eyes on the prostrate figure of the King on the floor.
Tonight, Sapt went on in a hasty whisper, we are to lodge in the Palace. The moment they leave us you and I will mount our horsesFritz must stay there and guard the Kings roomand ride here at a
|Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.|