`Possibly, sir, from the direction of Brandenau?' continued Killian.
`Precisely: and I should have slept to-night, had I not wandered, in Mittwalden,' answered the Prince, weaving in a patch of truth, according to the habit of all liars.
`Business leads you to Mittwalden?' was the next question.
`Mere curiosity,' said Otto. `I have never yet visited the principality of Grünewald.'
`A pleasant state, sir,' piped the old man, nodding, `a very pleasant state, and a fine race, both pines and people. We reckon ourselves part Grünewalders here, lying so near the borders; and the river there is all good Grünewald water, every drop of it. Yes, sir, a fine state. A man of Grünewald now will swing me an axe over his head that many a man of Gerolstein could hardly lift; and the pines, why, deary me, there must be more pines in that little state, sir, than people in this whole big world. `Tis twenty years now since I crossed the marshes, for we grow home-keepers in old age; but I mind it as if it was yesterday. Up and down, the road keeps right on from here to Mittwalden; and nothing all the way but the good green pine-trees, big and little, and water-power! water-power at every step, sir. We once sold a bit of forest, up there beside the high-road; and the sight of minted money that we got for it has set me ciphering ever since what all the pines in Grünewald would amount to.'
`I suppose you see nothing of the Prince?' inquired Otto.
`No,' said the young man, speaking for the first time, `nor want to.'
`Why so? is he so much disliked?' asked Otto.
`Not what you might call disliked,' replied the old gentleman, `but despised, sir.'
`Indeed,' said the Prince, somewhat faintly.
`Yes, sir, despised,' nodded Killian, filling a long pipe, `and, to my way of thinking, justly despised. Here is a man with great opportunities, and what does he do with them? He hunts, and he dresses very prettily -- which is a thing to be ashamed of in a man -- and he acts plays; and if he does aught else, the news of it has not come here.'
`Yet these are all innocent,' said Otto. `What would you have him do -- make war?'
`No, sir,' replied the old man. `But here it is; I have been fifty years upon this River Farm, and wrought in it, day in, day out; I have ploughed and sowed and reaped, and risen early, and waked late; and this is the upshot: that all these years it has supported me and my family; and been the best friend that ever I had, set aside my wife; and now, when my time comes, I leave it a better farm than when I found it. So it is, if a man works hearty in the order of nature, he gets bread and he receives comfort, and whatever he touches breeds. And it humbly appears to me, if that Prince was to labour on his throne, as I have laboured and wrought in my farm, he would find both an increase and a blessing.'
`I believe with you, sir,' Otto said; `and yet the parallel is inexact. For the farmer's life is natural and simple; but the prince's is both artificial and complicated. It is easy to do right in the one, and exceedingly difficult not to do wrong in the other. If your crop is blighted, you can take off your bonnet and say, "God's will be done"; but if the prince meets with a reverse, he may have to blame himself for the attempt. And perhaps, if all the kings in Europe were to confine themselves to innocent amusement, the subjects would be the better off.'
`Ay,' said the young man Fritz, `you are in the right of it there. That was a true word spoken. And I see you are like me, a good patriot and an enemy to princes.'
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