Greisengesang produced a red portfolio, and affixed the seal in the unpoetic guise of an adhesive stamp; nor did his perturbed and clumsy movements at all lessen the comedy of the performance. Sir John looked on with a malign enjoyment; and Otto chafed, regretting, when too late, the unnecessary royalty of his command and gesture. But at length the Chancellor had finished his piece of prestidigitation, and, without waiting for an order, had countersigned the passport. Thus regularised, he returned it to Otto with a bow.
`You will now,' said the Prince, `order one of my own carriages to be prepared; see it, with your own eyes, charged with Sir John's effects, and have it waiting within the hour behind the Pheasant House. Sir John departs this morning for Vienna.'
The Chancellor took his elaborate departure.
`Here, sir, is your passport,' said Otto, turning to the Baronet. `I regret it from my heart that you have met inhospitable usage.'
`Well, there will be no English war,' returned Sir John.
`Nay, sir,' said Otto, `you surely owe me your civility. Matters are now changed, and we stand again upon the footing of two gentlemen. It was not I who ordered your arrest; I returned late last night from hunting; and as you cannot blame me for your imprisonment, you may even thank me for your freedom.'
`And yet you read my papers,' said the traveller shrewdly.
`There, sir, I was wrong,' returned Otto; `and for that I ask your pardon. You can scarce refuse it, for your own dignity, to one who is a plexus of weaknesses. Nor was the fault entirely mine. Had the papers been innocent, it would have been at most an indiscretion. Your own guilt is the sting of my offence.'
Sir John regarded Otto with an approving twinkle; then he bowed, but still in silence.
`Well, sir, as you are now at your entire disposal, I have a favour to beg of your indulgence,' continued the Prince. `I have to request that you will walk with me alone into the garden so soon as your convenience permits.'
`From the moment that I am a free man,' Sir John replied, this time with perfect courtesy, `I am wholly at your Highness's command; and if you will excuse a rather summary toilet, I will even follow you, as I am.'
`I thank you, sir,' said Otto.
So without more delay, the Prince leading, the pair proceeded down through the echoing stairway of the tower, and out through the grating, into the ample air and sunshine of the morning, and among the terraces and flower-beds of the garden. They crossed the fish- pond, where the carp were leaping as thick as bees; they mounted, one after another, the various flights of stairs, snowed upon, as they went, with April blossoms, and marching in time to the great orchestra of birds. Nor did Otto pause till they had reached the highest terrace of the garden. Here was a gate into the park, and hard by, under a tuft of laurel, a marble garden seat. Hence they looked down on the green tops of many elm-trees, where the rooks were busy; and, beyond that, upon the palace roof, and the yellow banner flying in the blue. I pray you to be seated, sir,' said Otto.
Sir John complied without a word; and for some seconds Otto walked to and fro before him, plunged in angry thought. The birds were all singing for a wager.
`Sir,' said the Prince at length, turning towards the Englishman, `you are to me, except by the conventions of society, a perfect stranger. Of your character and wishes I am ignorant. I have never wittingly disobliged you. There is a difference in station, which I desire to waive. I would, if you still think me entitled to so much consideration -- I would be regarded simply as a gentleman. Now, sir, I did wrong to glance at
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