A New Use for a Tea-table
If I were to detail the ordinary events of my daily life at this time, they might prove instructive to people who are not familiar with the inside of palaces; if I revealed some of the secrets I learnt, they might prove of interest to the statesmen of Europe. I intend to do neither of these things. I should be between the Scylla of dullness and the Charybdis of indiscretion, and I feel that I had far better confine myself strictly to the underground drama which was being played beneath the surface of Ruritanian politics. I need only say that the secret of my imposture defied detection. I made mistakes. I had bad minutes: it needed all the tact and graciousness whereof I was master to smooth over some apparent lapses of memory and unmindfulness of old acquaintances of which I was guilty. But I escaped, and I attribute my escape, as I have said before, most of all, to the very audacity of the enterprise. It is my belief that, given the necessary physical likeness, it was far easier to pretend to be King of Ruritania than it would have been to personate my next-door neighbour. One day Sapt came into my room. He threw me a letter, saying:
Thats for youa womans hand, I think. But Ive some news for you first.
The Kings at the Castle of Zenda, said he.
How do you know?,
Because the other half of Michaels Six are there. I had enquiries made, and theyre all thereLauengram, Krafstein, and young Rupert Hentzau: three rogues, too, on my honour, as fine as live in Ruritania.
Well, Fritz wants you to march to the Castle with horse, foot, and artillery.
And drag the moat?I asked.
That would be about it, grinned Sapt, and we shouldnt find the Kings body then.
You think its certain hes there?
Very probable. Besides the fact of those three being there, the drawbridge is kept up, and no one goes in without an order from young Hentzau or Black Michael himself. We must tie Fritz up.
Ill go to Zenda, said I.
Oh, perhaps. Youll very likely stay there though, if you do.
That may be, my friend, said I carelessly.
His Majesty looks sulky, observed Sapt. Hows the love affair?
Damn you, hold your tongue! I said.
He looked at me for a moment, then he lit his pipe. It was quite true that I was in a bad temper, and I went on perversely:
Wherever I go, Im dodged by half a dozen fellows.
I know you are; I send em, he replied composedly.
|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.|