`Ah!' cried Otto, `there is the charity of virtue! All evil in the spotted fruit. But I can tell you, sir, that you do Madame von Rosen prodigal injustice.'
`You can tell me!' said the Doctor shrewdly. `Have you, tried? have you been riding the marches?'
The blood came into Otto's face.
`Ah!' cried Gotthold, `look at your wife and blush! There's a wife for a man to marry and then lose! She's a carnation, Otto. The soul is in her eyes.'
`You have changed your note for Seraphina, I perceive,' said Otto.
`Changed it!' cried the Doctor, with a flush. `Why, when was it different? But I own I admired her at the council. When she sat there silent, tapping with her foot, I admired her as I might a hurricane. Were I one of those who venture upon matrimony, there had been the prize to tempt me! She invites, as Mexico invited Cortez; the enterprise is hard, the natives are unfriendly -- I believe them cruel too -- but the metropolis is paved with gold and the breeze blows out of paradise. Yes, I could desire to be that conqueror. But to philander with von Rosen! never! Senses? I discard them; what are they? -- pruritus! Curiosity? Reach me my Anatomy!'
`To whom do you address yourself?' cried Otto. `Surely you, of all men, know that I love my wife!'
`O, love!' cried Gotthold; `love is a great word; it is in all the dictionaries. If you had loved, she would have paid you back. What does she ask? A little ardour!'
`It is hard to love for two,' replied the Prince.
`Hard? Why, there's the touchstone! O, I know my poets!' cried the Doctor. `We are but dust and fire, too and to endure life's scorching; and love, like the shadow of a great rock, should lend shelter and refreshment, not to the lover only, but to his mistress and to the children that reward them; and their very friends should seek repose in the fringes of that peace. Love is not love that cannot build a home. And you call it love to grudge and quarrel and pick faults? You call it love to thwart her to her face, and bandy insults? Love!'
`Gotthold, you are unjust. I was then fighting for my country,' said the Prince.
`Ay, and there's the worst of all,' returned the Doctor. `You could not even see that you were wrong; that being where they were, retreat was ruin.'
Why, you supported me!' cried Otto.
`I did. I was a fool like you,' replied Gotthold. `But now my eyes are open. If you go on as you have started, disgrace this fellow Gondremark, and publish the scandal of your divided house, there will befall a most abominable thing in Grünewald. 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 Grünewalder 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!'
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