martes, 27 de junio de 2017

ROYAL HIGHNESS - THOMAS MANN (EXCERPTS)

PRELUDE


The scene is the Albrechtstrasse, the main artery of the capital, which runs from Albrechtsplatz and the Old Schloss to the barracks of the Fusiliers of the Guard. The time is noon on an ordinary week-day; the season of the year does not matter. The weather is fair to moderate. It is not raining, but the sky is not clear; it is a uniform light grey, uninteresting and sombre, and the street lies in a dull and sober light which robs it of all mystery, all individuality. There is a moderate amount of traffic, without much noise and crowd, corresponding to the not over-busy character of the town. Tram cars glide past, a cab or two rolls by, along the pavement stroll a few residents, colourless folk, passers-by, the public—“people.”
Two officers, their hands in the slanting pockets of their grey great-coats, approach each other; a general and a lieutenant. The general is coming from the Schloss, the lieutenant from the direction of the barracks. The lieutenant is quite young, a mere stripling, little more than a child. He has narrow shoulders, dark hair, and the wide cheekbones so common in this part of the world, blue rather tired-looking eyes, and a boyish face with a kind but reserved expression. The general has snow-white hair, is tall and broad-shouldered, altogether a commanding figure. His eyebrows look like cotton wool, and his moustache hangs right down over his mouth and chin. He walks with slow deliberation, his sword rattles on the asphalt, his plume flutters in the wind, and at every step he takes the big red lapel of his coat flaps slowly up and down.
And so these two draw near each other. Can this rencontre lead to any complication? Impossible. Every observer can foresee the course this meeting will naturally take. We have on one side and the other old age and youth, authority and obedience, years of services and docile apprenticeship—a mighty hierarchical gulf, rules and prescriptions, separate the two. Natural organization, take thy course! And, instead, what happens? Instead, the following surprising, painful, delightful, and topsy-turvy scene occurs.
The general, noticing the young lieutenant's approach, alters his bearing in a surprising manner. He draws himself up, yet at the same time seems to get smaller. He tones down with a jerk, so to speak, the splendour of his appearance, stops the clatter of his sword, and, while his face assumes a cross and embarrassed expression, he obviously cannot make up his mind where to turn his eyes, and tries to conceal the fact by staring from under his cotton-wool eyebrows at the asphalt straight in front of him.
The young lieutenant too betrays to the careful observer some slight embarrassment, which however, strange to say, he seems to succeed, better than the grey-haired general, in cloaking with a certain grace and self-command. The tension of his mouth is relaxed into a smile at once modest and genial, and his eyes are directed with a quiet and self-possessed calm, seemingly without an effort, over the general's shoulder and beyond.
By now they have come within three paces of each other. And, instead of the prescribed salute, the young lieutenant throws his head slightly back, at the same time draws his right hand—only his right, mark you—out of his coat-pocket and makes with this same white-gloved right hand a little encouraging and condescending movement, just opening the fingers with palm upwards, nothing more. But the general, who has awaited this sign with his arms to his sides, raises his hand to his helmet, steps aside, bows, making a half-circle as if to leave the pavement free, and deferentially greets the lieutenant with reddening cheeks and honest modest eyes. Thereupon the lieutenant, his hand to his cap, answers the respectful greeting of his superior officer—answers it with a look of child-like friendliness; answers it—and goes on his way.
A miracle! A freak of fancy! He goes on his way. People look at him, but he looks at nobody, looks straight ahead through the crowd, with something of the air of a woman who knows that she is being looked at. People greet him; he returns the greeting, heartily and yet distantly. He seems not to walk very easily; it looks as if he were not much accustomed to the use of his legs, or as if the general attention he excites bothers him, so irregular and hesitating is his gait; indeed, at times he seems to limp. A policeman springs to attention, and a smart woman, coming out of a shop, smiles and curtseys. People turn round to look at him, nudge each other, stare at him, and softly whisper his name….
It is Klaus Heinrich, the younger brother of Albrecht II, and heir presumptive to the throne. There he goes, he is still in view. Known and yet a stranger, he moves among the crowd—people all around him, and yet as if alone. He goes on his lonely way and carries on his narrow shoulders the burden of his Highness!

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Artillery salvos were fired when the various new-fangled means of communication in the capital spread the news that the Grand Duchess Dorothea had given birth to a prince for the second time at Grimmburg. Seventy-two rounds resounded through the town and surrounding country, fired by the military in the walls of the “Citadel.” Directly afterwards the fire brigade also, not to be outdone, fired with the town salute-guns; but in their firing there were long pauses between each round, which caused much merriment among the populace.
The Grimmburg looked down from the top of a woody hill on the picturesque little town of the same name, which mirrored its grey sloping roofs in the river which flowed past it. It could be reached from the capital in half an hour by a local railway which paid no dividends. There the castle stood, the proud creation of the Margrave Klaus Grimmbart, the founder of the reigning house in the dim mists of history, since then several times rejuvenated and repaired, fitted with the comforts of the changing times, always kept in a habitable state and held in peculiar honour as the ancestral seat of the ruling house, the cradle of the dynasty. For it was a rule and tradition of the house that all direct descendants of the Margrave, every child of the reigning couple, must be born there.
This tradition could not be ignored. The country had had sophisticated and unbelieving sovereigns, who had laughed at it, and yet had complied with it with a shrug of the shoulders. It was now much too late to break away from it whether it was reasonable and enlightened or not: why, without any particular necessity, break with an honoured custom, which had managed somehow to perpetuate itself? The people were convinced that there was something in it. Twice in the course of fifteen generations had children of reigning sovereigns, owing to some chance or other, first seen the light in other schlosses: each had come to an unnatural and disgraceful end. But all the sovereigns of the land and their brothers and sisters, from Henry the Confessor and John the Headstrong, with their lovely and proud sisters, down to Albrecht, the father of the Grand Duke, and the Grand Duke himself, Johann Albrecht III, had been brought into the world in the castle; and there, six years before, Dorothea had given birth to her firstborn, the Heir Apparent.
The castle was also a retreat as dignified as it was peaceful. The coolness of its rooms, the shady charms of its surroundings, made it preferable as a summer residence to the stiff Hollerbrunn. The ascent from the town, up a rather badly paved street between shabby cottages and a scrubby wall, through massive gates to the ancient ruin at the entrance to the castle-yard, in the middle of which stood the statue of Klaus Grimmbart, the founder, was picturesque but tiring. But a noble park spread at the back of the castle hill, through which easy paths led up into the wooded and gently-swelling uplands, offering ideal opportunities for carriage drives and quiet strolls.
As for the inside of the castle, it had been last subjected at the beginning of the reign of Johann Albrecht III to a thorough clean-up and redecoration—at a cost which had evoked much comment. The furniture of the living-rooms had been completed and renewed in a style at once baronial and comfortable; the escutcheons in the “Hall of Justice” had been carefully restored to their original pattern. The gilding of the intricate patterns on the vaulted ceilings looked fresh and cheerful, all the rooms had been fitted with parquet, and both the larger and the smaller banqueting-halls had been adorned with huge wall-paintings from the brush of Professor von Lindemann, a distinguished Academician, representing scenes from the history of the reigning House executed in a clear and smooth style which was far removed from and quite unaffected by the restless tendencies of modern schools. Nothing was wanting. As the old chimneys of the castle and its many-coloured stoves, reaching tier upon tier right up to the ceiling, were no longer fit to use, anthracite stoves had been installed in view of the possibility of the place being used as a residence during the winter.
But the day of the seventy-two salvos fell in the best time of the year, late spring, early summer, the beginning of June, soon after Whitsuntide. Johann Albrecht, who had been early informed by telegram that the labour had begun just before dawn, reached Grimmburg Station by the bankrupt local railway at eight o'clock, where he was greeted with congratulations by three or four dignitaries, the mayor, the judge, the rector, and the town physician. He at once drove to the castle. The Grand Duke was accompanied by Minister of State, Dr. Baron Knobelsdorff, and Adjutant-General of Infantry, Count Schmettern. Shortly afterwards two or three more ministers arrived at the royal residence, the Court Chaplin Dom Wislezenus, President of the High Consistory, one or two Court officials, and a still younger Adjutant, Captain von Lichterloh. Although the Grand Duke's Physician-in-Ordinary, Surgeon-General Dr. Eschrich, was attending the mother, Johann Albrecht had been seized with the whim of requiring the young local doctor, a Doctor Sammet, who was of Jewish extraction into the bargain, to accompany him to the castle. The unassuming, hard-working, and earnest man, who had as much as he could do and was not in the least expecting any such distinction, stammered “Quite delighted … quite delighted” several times over, thus provoking some amusement.
The Grand Duchess's bedroom was the “Bride-chamber,” a five-cornered, brightly painted room on the first floor, through whose window a fine view could be obtained of woods, hills, and the windings of the river. It was decorated with a frieze of medallion-shaped portraits, likenesses of royal brides who had slept there in the olden days of the family history.
There lay Dorothea; a broad piece of webbing was tied round the foot of her bed, to which she clung like a child playing at horses, while convulsions shook her lovely frame. Doctor Gnadebusch, the midwife, a gentle and learned woman with small fine hands and brown eyes, which wore a look of mystery behind her round, thick spectacles, was supporting the Duchess, while she said:
“Steady, steady, your Royal Highness…. It will soon be over. It's quite easy…. Just once more … that's nothing…. Rest a bit: knees apart…. Keep your chin down….”
A nurse, dressed like her in white linen, helped too, and moved lightly about with phials and bandages during the pauses. The Physician-in-Ordinary, a gloomy man with a greyish beard, whose left eyelid seemed to droop, superintended the birth. He wore his operating-coat over his surgeon-general's uniform. From time to time there peeped into the room, to ascertain the progress of the confinement, Dorothea's trusty Mistress of the Robes, Baroness von Schulenburg-Tressen, a corpulent and asthmatic woman of distinctly dragoon-like appearance, who nevertheless liked to display a generous expanse of neck and shoulders at the court balls. She kissed her mistress's right hand and went back to an adjoining room, in which a couple of thin ladies-in-waiting were chatting with the Grand Duchess's Chamberlain-in-Waiting, a Count Windisch. Dr. Sammet, who had thrown his linen coat like a domino over his dress-coat, was waiting modestly and attentively by the washstand.
Johann Albrecht sat in a neighbouring room used as a study, which was separated from the “Bride-chamber” only by a so-called powder closet and a passage-room. It was called the library, in view of several manuscript folios, which lay slanting in the massive book-shelves and contained the history of the castle. The room was furnished as a writing-room. Globes adorned the walls. The strong wind from the hills blew through the open bow-window. The Grand Duke had ordered tea, and the groom of the chamber, Prahl, had himself brought the tray; but it was standing forgotten on the leaf of the desk, and Johann Albrecht was pacing the room from one corner to the other in a restless, uncomfortable frame of mind. His top-boots kept creaking as he walked. His aide-de-camp, von Lichterloh, listened to the noise, as he waited patiently in the almost bare passage-room.
The Minister, the Adjutant-General, the Court Chaplain, and the Court officials, nine or ten in all, were waiting in the state-room on the ground floor. They wandered through the larger and the smaller banqueting-halls, where trophies of banners and weapons hung between Lindemann's pictures. They leaned against the slender pillars, which spread into brightly coloured vaulting above their heads. They stood before the narrow, ceiling-high windows, and looked out through the leaded panes over river and town; they sat on the stone benches which ran round the walls, or on seats before the stoves, whose Gothic tops were supported by ridiculous little stooping imps of stone. The bright sunlight made the gold lace on the uniforms, the orders on the padded chests, the broad gold stripes on the trousers of the dignitaries glisten.
The conversation flagged. Three-cornered hats and white-gloved hands were constantly being raised to mouths which opened convulsively. Nearly everybody had tears in his eyes. Several had not had time to get any breakfast. Some sought entertainment in a timid examination of the operating-instruments and the round leather-cased chloroform jar, which Surgeon-General Eschrich had left there in case of emergency. After von Bühl zu Bühl, the Lord Marshal, a powerful man with mincing manners, brown toupée, gold-rimmed pince-nez, and long, yellow fingernails, had told several anecdotes in his quick, jerky way, he dropped into an armchair, in which he made use of his gift of being able to sleep with his eyes open—of losing consciousness of time and place while retaining a steady gaze and alert attitude, and in no way imperilling the dignity of the situation.
At this point the conversation between the two Ministers ceased. It was broken off by the announcement by aide-de-camp von Lichterloh, of the happy issue of the confinement. The smaller banqueting-hall was soon filled with officials. One of the great carved doors was quickly thrown open, and the aide-de-camp appeared in the hall. He had a red face, blue soldier's eyes, a bristling flaxen moustache, and silver lace on his collar. He looked somewhat excited, like a man who had been released from deadly boredom and was primed with good news. Conscious of the unusualness of the occasion, he boldly ignored the rules of decorum and etiquette. He saluted the company gaily, and, spreading his elbows, raised the hilt of his sword almost to his breast crying: “Beg leave to announce: a prince!”
“Good!” said Adjutant-General Count Schmettern.
“Delightful, quite delightful, I call that perfectly delightful!” said Lord Marshal von Bühl zu Bühl in his jerky way; he had recovered consciousness at once.
The President of the High Consistory, Dom Wislezenus—a clean-shaven, well-built man, who, as a son of a general, and thanks to his personal distinction, had attained to his high dignity at a comparatively early age, and on whose black silk gown hung the star of an Order—folded his white hands on his breast, and said in a melodious voice, “God bless his Grand Ducal Highness!”
“You forget, Captain,” said Herr von Knobelsdorff, laughing, “that in making your announcement you are encroaching on my privileges and province. Until I have made the most searching investigations into the state of affairs, the question whether it is a prince or a princess remains undecided.”
The others laughed, and Herr von Lichterloh replied: “As you wish, your Excellency! Then I have the honour to beg your Excellency to assume this most important charge….”
This dialogue referred to the attributes of the Minister of State, as registrar of the Grand Ducal house, in which capacity he was required to satisfy himself with his own eyes of the sex of the princely offspring and to make an official declaration on the subject. Herr von Knobelsdorff complied with this formality in the so-called powder-closet in which the new-born babe was bathed. He stayed longer there, however, than he had intended to, as he was puzzled and arrested by a painful sight, which at first he mentioned to nobody except the midwife.
Doctor Gnadebusch showed him the child, and her eyes, gleaming mysteriously behind her thick spectacles, travelled between the Minister of State and the little copper-coloured creature, as it groped about with one—only one—little hand, as if she was saying: “Is it all right?”
It was all right. Herr von Knobelsdorff was satisfied, and the wise woman wrapped the child up again. But even then she continued to look down at the Prince and then up at the Baron, until she had drawn his eyes to the point to which she wished to attract them. The wrinkles at the corners of his eyes disappeared, he knit his brows, tried, compared, felt, examined for two or three minutes, and at last asked: “Has the Grand Duke yet seen it?”
“No, Excellency.”
“When the Grand Duke sees it,” said Herr von Knobelsdorff, “tell him that he will grow out of it.”
And to the others on the ground-floor he reported—“A splendid prince!”
But ten or fifteen minutes after him the Grand Duke also made the disagreeable discovery,—that was unavoidable, and resulted for Surgeon-General Eschrich in a short, extremely unpleasant scene, but for the Grimmburg Doctor Sammet in an interview with the Grand Duke which raised him considerably in the latter's estimation and was useful to him in his subsequent career. What happened was briefly as follows:
After the birth Johann Albrecht had again retired to the library, and then returned to sit for some time at the bedside with his wife's hand in his. Thereupon he went into the “powder-closet,” where the infant now lay in his high, richly gilded cradle, half covered with a blue silk curtain, and sat down in an armchair by the side of his little son. But while he sat and watched the sleeping infant it happened that he noticed what it was hoped that he would not notice yet. He drew the counterpane back, his face clouded over, and then he did exactly what Herr von Knobelsdorff had done before him, looked from Doctor Gnadebusch to the nursemaid and back again, both of whom said nothing, cast one glance at the half-open door into the bride-chamber, and stalked excitedly back into the library.
Here he at once rang the silver eagle-topped bell which stood on the writing-table, and said to Herr von Lichterloh, who came in, very curtly and coldly: “I require Herr Eschrich.”
When the Grand Duke was angry with any member of his suite, he was wont to strip the culprit for the moment of all his titles and dignities, and to leave him nothing but his bare name.
The aide-de-camp again clapped his spurs and heels together and withdrew. Johann Albrecht strode once or twice in a rage up and down the room, and then, hearing Herr von Lichterloh bring the person he had summoned into the ante-room, adopted an audience attitude at his writing-table.
As he stood there, his head turned imperiously in half-profile, his left hand planted on his hip, drawing back his satin-fronted frock coat from his white waistcoat, he exactly resembled his portrait by Professor von Lindemann, which hung beside the big looking-glass over the mantelpiece in the “Hall of the Twelve Months” in the Town Schloss, opposite the portrait of Dorothea, and of which countless engravings, photographs, and picture postcards had been published. The only difference was that Johann Albrecht in the portrait seemed to be of heroic stature, while he really was scarcely of medium height. His forehead was high where his hair had receded, and from under his grey eyebrows, his blue eyes looked out, with dark rings round them, giving them an expression of tired haughtiness. He had the broad, rather too high cheekbones which were a characteristic of his people. His whiskers and the soft tuft on his chin were grey, his moustache almost white. From the distended nostrils of his small but well-arched nose, two unusually deep furrows ran down to his chin. The lemon-coloured ribbon of the Family Order always showed in the opening of his waistcoat. In his buttonhole the Grand Duke wore a carnation.
Surgeon-General Eschrich entered with a low bow. He had taken off his operating-coat. His eyelid drooped more heavily than usual over his eye. He looked apprehensive and uncomfortable.
The Grand Duke, his left hand on his hip, threw his head back, stretched out his right hand and waved it, palm upwards, several times up and down impatiently.
“I am awaiting an explanation, a justification, Surgeon-General,” said he, with a voice trembling with irritation. “You will have the goodness to answer my questions. What is the matter with the child's arm?”
The Physician-in-Ordinary raised his hand a little—a feeble gesture of impotence and blamelessness. He said:
“An it please Your Royal Highness…. An unfortunate occurrence. Unfavourable circumstances during the pregnancy of her Royal Highness….”
“That's all nonsense!” The Grand Duke was so much excited that he did not wish for any justification, in fact he would not allow one. “I would remind you, sir, that I am beside myself. Unfortunate occurrence! It was your business to take precautions against unfortunate occurrences….”
The Surgeon-General stood with half-bowed head and, sinking his voice to a submissive tone, addressed the ground at his feet.
“I humbly beg to be allowed to remind you that I, at least, am not alone responsible. Privy Councillor Grasanger—an authority on gynæcology—examined her Royal Highness. But nobody can be held responsible in this case….”
“Nobody … Really! I permit myself to make you responsible…. You are answerable to me…. You were in charge during the pregnancy, you superintended the confinement. I have relied on the knowledge to be expected from your rank, Surgeon-General, I have trusted to your experience. I am bitterly disappointed, bitterly disappointed. All that your skill can boast of is … that a crippled child has been born….”
“Would your Royal Highness graciously weigh …”
“I have weighed. I have weighed and found wanting. Thank you!”
Surgeon-General Eschrich retired backwards, bowing. In the ante-room he shrugged his shoulders, while his cheeks glowed.
The Grand Duke again fell to pacing the library in his princely wrath, unreasonable, misinformed, and foolish in his loneliness. However, whether it was that he wished to humiliate the Physician-in-Ordinary still further, or that he regretted having robbed himself of any explanations—ten minutes later the unexpected happened, and the Grand Duke sent Herr von Lichterloh to summon young Doctor Sammet to the library.
The doctor, when he received the message, again said: “Quite delighted … quite delighted, …” and at first changed colour a little, then composed himself admirably. It is true that he was not a complete master of the prescribed etiquette, and bowed too soon, while he was still in the door, so that the aide-de-camp could not close it behind him, and had to ask him in a whisper to move forward; but afterwards he stood in an easy and unconstrained attitude, and gave reassuring answers, although he showed that he was naturally rather slow of speech, beginning his sentences with hesitating noises and frequently interspersing them with a “Yes,” as if to confirm what he was saying. He wore his dark yellow hair cut en brosse and his moustache untrimmed. His chin and cheeks were clean-shaved, and rather sore from it. He carried his head a little on one side, and the gaze of his grey eyes told of shrewdness and practical goodness. His nose, which was too broad at the bottom, pointed to his origin. He wore a black tie, and his shiny boots were of a country cut. He kept his elbows close to his side, with one hand on his silver watch-chain. His whole appearance suggested candour and professional skill; it inspired confidence.
The Grand Duke addressed him unusually graciously, rather in the manner of a teacher who has been scolding a naughty boy, and turns to another with a sudden assumption of mildness.
“I have sent for you, doctor…. I want information from you about this peculiarity in the body of the new-born prince…. I assume that it has not escaped your notice…. I am confronted with a riddle … an extremely painful riddle…. In a word, I desire your opinion.” And the Grand Duke, changing his position, ended with a gracious motion of the hand, which encouraged the doctor to speak.
Dr. Sammet looked at him silently and attentively, as if waiting till the Grand Duke had completely regained his princely composure. Then he said: “Yes; we have here to do with a case which is not of very common occurrence, but which is well known and familiar to us. Yes. It is actually a case of atrophy …”
“Excuse me … atrophy …?”
“Forgive me, Royal Highness. I mean stunted growth. Yes.”
“I see, stunted growth. Stunting. That's it. The left hand is stunted. But it's unheard of! I cannot understand it! Such a thing has never happened in my family! People talk nowadays about heredity.”
Again the doctor looked silently and attentively at the lonely and domineering man, to whom the news had only just penetrated that people were talking lately about heredity. He answered simply: “Pardon me, Royal Highness, but in this case there can be no question of heredity.”
“Really! You're quite sure!” said the Grand Duke rather mockingly. “That is one satisfaction. But will you be so kind as to tell me what there can be a question of, then.”
“With pleasure, Royal Highness. The cause of the malformation is entirely a mechanical one. It has been caused through a mechanical constriction during the development of the embryo. We call such malformations constriction-formations, yes.”
The Grand Duke listened with anxious disgust; he obviously feared the effect of each succeeding word on his sensitiveness. He kept his brows knit and his mouth open: the two furrows running down to his beard seemed deeper than ever. He said: “Constriction-formations, … but how in the world … I am quite sure every precaution must have been taken …”
“Constriction-formations,” answered Dr. Sammet, “can occur in various ways. But we can say with comparative certainty that in our case … in this case it is the amnion which is to blame.”
“I beg your pardon…. The amnion?”
“That is one of the fœtal membranes, Royal Highness. Yes. And in certain circumstances the removal of this membrane from the embryo may be retarded and proceed so slowly that threads and cords are left stretching from one to the other … amniotic threads as we call them, yes. These threads may be dangerous, for they can bind and knot themselves round the whole of a child's limb; they can entirely intercept, for instance, the life-ducts of a hand and even amputate it. Yes.”
“Great heavens … amputate it. So we must be thankful that it has not come to an amputation of the hand?”
“That might have happened. Yes. But all that has happened is an unfastening, resulting in an atrophy.”
“And that could not be discovered, foreseen, prevented?”
“No, Royal Highness. Absolutely not. It is quite certain that no blame whatever attaches to anybody. Such constrictions do their work in secret. We are powerless against them. Yes.”
“And the malformation is incurable? The hand will remain stunted?”
Dr. Sammet hesitated; he looked kindly at the Grand Duke.
“It will never be quite normal, certainly not,” he said cautiously. “But the stunted hand will grow a little larger than it is at present, oh yes, it assuredly will …”
“Will he be able to use it? For instance … to hold his reins or to make gestures, like any one else?…”
“Use it … a little…. Perhaps not much. And he's got his right hand, that's all right.”
“Will it be very obvious?” asked the Grand Duke, and scanned Dr. Sammet's face earnestly. “Very noticeable? Will it detract much from his general appearance, think you?”
“Many people,” answered Dr. Sammet evasively, “live and work under greater disadvantages. Yes.”
The Grand Duke turned away, and walked once up and down the room. Dr. Sammet deferentially made way for him, and withdrew towards the door. At last the Grand Duke resumed his position at the writing-table and said: “I have now heard what I wanted to know, doctor; I thank you for your report. You understand your business, no doubt about that. Why do you live in Grimmburg? Why do you not practise in the capital?”
“I am still young, Royal Highness, and before I devote myself to practising as a specialist in the capital I should like a few years of really varied practice, of general experience and research. A country town like Grimmburg affords the best opportunity of that. Yes.”
“Very sound, very admirable of you. In what do you propose to specialise later on?”
“In the diseases of children, Royal Highness. I intend to be a children's doctor, yes.”
“You are a Jew?” asked the Grand Duke, throwing back his head and screwing up his eyes.
“Yes, Royal Highness.”
“Ah—will you answer me one more question? Have you ever found your origin to stand in your way, a drawback in your professional career? I ask as a ruler, who is especially concerned that the principle of ‘equal chances for all’ shall hold good unconditionally and privately, not only officially.”
“Everybody in the Grand Duchy,” answered Dr. Sammet, “has the right to work.” But he did not stop there: moving his elbows like a pair of short wings, in an awkward, impassioned way, he made a few hesitating noises, and then added in a restrained but eager voice: “No principle of equalization, if I may be allowed to remark, will ever prevent the incidence in the life of the community of exceptional and abnormal men who are distinguished from the bourgeois by their nobleness or infamy. It is the duty of the individual not to concern himself as to the precise nature of the distinction between him and the common herd, but to see what is the essential in that distinction and to recognize that it imposes on him an exceptional obligation towards society. A man is at an advantage, not at a disadvantage, compared with the regular and therefore complacent majority, if he has one motive more than they to extraordinary exertions. Yes, yes,” repeated Dr. Sammet. The double affirmative was meant to confirm his answer.
“Good … not bad; very remarkable, anyhow,” said the Grand Duke judicially. He found Dr. Sammet's words suggestive, though somewhat off the point. He dismissed the young man with the words: “Well, doctor, my time is limited. I thank you. This interview—apart from its painful occasion—has much reassured me. I have the pleasure of bestowing on you the Albrecht Cross of the Third Class with Crown. I shall remember you. Thank you.”
This was what passed between the Grimmburg doctor and the Grand Duke. Shortly after Johann Albrecht left the castle and returned by special train to the capital, chiefly to show himself to the rejoicing populace, but also in order to give several audiences in the palace. It was arranged that he should return in the evening to the castle, and take up his residence there for the next few weeks.
All those present at the confinement at Grimmburg who did not belong to the Grand Duchess's suite were also accommodated in the special train of the bankrupt local railway, some of them travelling in the Sovereign's own saloon. But the Grand Duke drove from the castle to the station alone with von Knobelsdorff, the Minister of State, in an open landau, one of the brown Court carriages with the little golden crown on the door. The white feathers in the hats of the chasseurs in front fluttered in the summer breeze. Johann Albrecht was grave and silent on the journey; he seemed to be worried and morose. And although Herr von Knobelsdorff knew that the Grand Duke, even in private, disliked anybody addressing him unasked and uninvited, yet at last he made up his mind to break the silence.
“Your Royal Highness,” he said deprecatingly, “seems to take so much to heart the little anomaly which has been discovered in the Prince's body, … and yet one would think that on a day like this the reasons for joy and proud thankfulness so far outweigh …”
“My dear Knobelsdorff,” replied Johann Albrecht, with some irritation and almost in tears, “you must forgive my ill-humour; you surely do not wish me to be in good spirits. I can see no reason for being so. The Grand Duchess is going on well—true enough, and the child is a boy—that's a blessing too. But he has come into the world with an atrophy, a constriction, caused by amniotic threads. Nobody is to blame, it is a misfortune; but misfortunes for which nobody is to blame are the most terrible of all misfortunes, and the sight of their Sovereign ought to awaken in his people other feelings than those of sympathy. The Heir Apparent is delicate, needs constant care. It was a miracle that he survived that attack of pleurisy two years ago, and it will be nothing less than a miracle if he lives to attain his majority. Now Heaven grants me a second son—he seems strong, but he comes into the world with only one hand. The other is stunted, useless, a deformity, he will have to hide it. What a drawback! What an impediment! He will have to brave it out before the world all his life. We must let it gradually leak out, so that it may not cause too much of a shock on his first appearance in public. No, I cannot yet get over it. A prince with one hand …”
“‘With one hand,’” said Herr von Knobelsdorff. “Did your Royal Highness use that expression twice deliberately?”
“Deliberately?”
“You did not, then?… For the Prince has two hands, yet as one is stunted, one might if one liked also describe him as a prince with one hand.”
“What then?”
“And one must almost wish, not that your Royal Highness's second son, but that the heir to the throne were the victim of this small malformation.”
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This, then, was the day of the prince's first public appearance, and that he was the chief actor in the drama was clearly shown by the fact that he was the last to come on the stage, and that his entry was distinct from that of the rest of the company. Preceded by Herr von Bühl, he entered slowly, in the arms of the Mistress of the Robes, Baroness von Schulenburg-Tressen, and all eyes were fixed on him. He was asleep in his laces, his veils, and his white silk robe. One of his little hands happened to be hidden. His appearance evoked unusual delight and emotion. The cynosure and centre of attraction, he lay quietly there, bearing it all, as may be supposed, patiently and unassumingly. It was to his credit that he did not make any disturbance, did not clutch or struggle; but, doubtless from innate trustfulness, quietly resigned himself to the state which surrounded him, bore it patiently, and even at that early date sank his own emotions in it….
The arms in which he reposed were frequently changed at fixed points in the ceremony. Baroness Schulenburg handed him with a curtsey to his aunt, Catherine, who, with a stern look on her face, was dressed in a newly remade lilac silk dress, and wore Crown jewels in her hair. She laid him, when the moment came, solemnly in his mother Dorothea's arms, who, in all her stately beauty, with a smile on her proud and lovely mouth, held him out a while to be blessed, and then passed him on. A cousin held him for a minute or two, a child of eleven or twelve years with fair hair, thin sticks of legs, cold bare arms, and a broad red silk sash which stuck out in a huge knot behind her white dress. Her peaked face was anxiously fixed on the Master of the Ceremonies….
Once the Prince woke up, but the flickering flames of the altar-candles and a many-coloured shaft of sunlight dust blinded him, and made him close his eyes again. And as there were no thoughts, but only soft unsubstantial dreams in his head, as moreover he was feeling no pain at the moment, he at once fell asleep again.
He received a number of names while he slept; but the chief names were Klaus Heinrich.
And he slept on in his cot with its gilded cornice and blue silk curtains, while the royal family feasted in the Marble Hall, and the rest of the guests in the Hall of the Knights, in his honour.
The newspapers reported his first appearance; they described his looks and his dress, and emphasized his truly princely behaviour, couching the moving and inspiring account in words which had often done duty on similar occasions. After that, the public for a long time heard little of him, and he nothing of them.
He knew nothing as yet, understood nothing as yet, guessed nothing as to the difficulty, danger, and sternness of the life prescribed for him; nothing in his conduct suggested that he felt any contrast between himself and the great public. His little existence was an irresponsible, carefully supervised dream, played on a stage remote from the public stage; and this stage was peopled with countless tinted phantoms, both stationary and active, some emerging but transiently, some permanently at hand.
Of the permanent ones, the parents were far in the back-ground, and not altogether distinguishable. They were his parents, that was certain, and they were exalted, and friendly too. When they approached there was a feeling as if everything else slipped away to each side, and left a respectable passage along which they advanced towards him to show him a moment's tenderness. The nearest and clearest things to him were two women with white caps and aprons, two beings who were obviously all goodness, purity, and loving-kindness, who tended his little body in every way, and were much distressed when he cried…. A close partner in his life, too, was Albrecht, his brother; but he was grave, distant, and much more advanced.
When Klaus Heinrich was two years old, another birth took place in the Grimmburg, and a princess came into the world. Thirty-six guns were allotted to her, because she was of the female sex, and she was given the name of Ditlinde at the font. She was Klaus Heinrich's sister, and it was a good thing for him that she appeared. She was at first surprisingly small and weak, but she soon grew like him, caught him up, and the two became inseparable. They shared each other's lives, each other's views, feelings, and ideas: they communicated to each other their impressions of the world outside them.
It was a world, they were impressions, calculated to produce a reflective frame of mind. In winter they lived in the old castle. In summer they lived in Hollerbrunn, the summer schloss, on the river, in the cool, in the scent of the violet hedges with white statues between them. On the way thither, or if at any other time father or mother took them with them in one of the brown carriages with the little golden crown on the door, all the passers-by stopped, cheered, and took their hats off; for father was Prince and Ruler of the country, consequently they themselves were Prince and Princess—undoubtedly in precisely the same sense as were the princes and princesses in the French stories which their Swiss governess told them. That was worth consideration, it was at any rate a peculiar occurrence. When other children heard the stories, they necessarily regarded the princes which figured in them from a great distance, and as solemn beings whose rank was a glorification of reality and with whom to concern themselves was undoubtedly a chastening of their thoughts, and an escape from the ordinary existence. But Klaus Heinrich and Ditlinde regarded the heroes of the stories as their own equals and fellows, they breathed the same air as them, they lived in a schloss like them, they stood on a fraternal footing with them, and were justified in identifying themselves with them. Was it their lot, then, to live always and continually on the height to which others only climbed when stories were being told to them? The Swiss governess, true to her general principles, would have found it impossible to deny it, if the children had asked the question in so many words.
The Swiss governess was the widow of a Calvinistic minister and was in charge of both children, each of whom had two lady's maids as well. She was black and white throughout: her cap was white and her dress black, her face was white, with white warts on one cheek, and her smooth hair had a mixed black-and-white metallic sheen. She was very precise and easily put out. When things happened which, though quite without danger, could not be allowed, she clasped her white hands and turned her eyes up to heaven. But her quietest and severest mode of punishment for serious occasions was to “look sadly” at the children—implying that they had lost their self-respect. On a fixed day she began, on a hint from higher quarters, to address Klaus Heinrich and Ditlinde as “Grand Ducal Highness,” and from that day she was more easily put out than before….
But Albrecht was called “Royal Highness.” Aunt Catherine's children were members of the family only on the distaff side, and so were of less importance. But Albrecht was Crown Prince and Heir Apparent, so that it was not at all unfitting that he should look so pale and distant and keep so much to his bed. He wore Austrian coats with flap pockets and cut long behind. His head had a big bump at the back and narrow temples, and he had a long face. While still quite young he had come through a serious illness, which, in the opinion of Surgeon-General Eschrich, was the reason for his heart having “shifted over to the right.” However that might be, he had seen Death face to face, a fact which had probably intensified the shy dignity which was natural to him. He seemed to be extremely standoffish, cold from embarrassment, and proud from lack of graciousness. He lisped a little and then blushed at doing so, because he was always criticizing himself. His shoulder-blades were a little uneven. One of his eyes had some weakness or other, so that he used glasses for writing his exercises, which helped to make him look old and wise…. Albrecht's tutor, Doctor Veit, a man with hanging mud-coloured moustaches, hollow cheeks, and wan eyes unnaturally far apart, was always at his left hand. Doctor Veit was always dressed in black, and carried a book dangling down his thigh, with his index-finger thrust between its leaves.
Klaus Heinrich felt that Albrecht did not care much for him, and he saw that it was not only because of his inferiority in years. He himself was tender-hearted and prone to tears, that was his nature. He cried, when anybody “looked sadly” at him, and when he knocked his forehead against a corner of the nursery table, so that it bled, he howled from sympathy with his forehead. But Albrecht had faced Death, yet never cried on any condition. He stuck his short, rounded underlip a little forward, and sucked it lightly against the upper one—that was all. He was most superior. The Swiss governess referred in so many words to him in matters of comme il faut as a model. He had never allowed himself to converse with the gorgeous creatures who belonged to the court, not exactly men and human beings, but lackeys—as Klaus Heinrich had sometimes done in unguarded moments. For Albrecht was not curious. The look in his eyes was that of a lonely boy, who had no wish to let the world intrude upon him. Klaus Heinrich, on the contrary, chatted with the lackeys from that same wish, and from an urgent though perhaps dangerous and improper desire to feel some contact with what lay outside the charmed circle. But the lackeys, young and old, at the doors, in the corridors and the passage-rooms, with their sand-coloured gaiters and brown coats, on the red-gold lace of which the same little crown as on the carriage doors was repeated again and again—they straightened their knees when Klaus Heinrich chatted to them, laid their great hands on the seams of the thick velvet breeches, bent a little forward towards him, so that the aiguillettes dangled from their shoulders, and returned various, highly proper answers, the most important part of which was the address “Grand Ducal Highness,” and smiled as they did so with an expression of cautious sympathy, which recalled the words of the old song, “The lad that is born to be king.” Sometimes when he got the chance, Klaus Heinrich went on voyages of discovery in uninhabited parts of the schloss, with Ditlinde, his sister, when she was old enough.
Once when driving out with his mother and he called at a picture-dealer's, they wanted to buy something. The footman waited at the carriage door, the public gathered round, the picture-dealer bustled about—there was nothing new in all that. But Klaus Heinrich for the first time noticed his photograph in the shop window. It was hanging next those of artists and great men, men with lofty brows, with a look of the loneliness of fame in their eyes.
People were satisfied with him on the whole. He gained dignity with years, and self-possession under the pressure of his exalted calling. But the strange thing was that his longing increased at the same time: that roving inquisitiveness which Schulrat Dröge was not the man to satisfy, and which had impelled him to chat with the lackeys. He had given up doing that; it did not lead to anything. They smiled at him, confirming him by that very laugh in the suspicion that his world of the symmetrically marshalled candles presented an unconscious antithesis to the world outside, but they were no manner of help to him. He looked round about him on the expeditions, in the walks he took through the town gardens with Ditlinde and the Swiss governess, followed by a lackey. He felt that if they were all of one mind to stare at him, while he was all alone and made conspicuous just to be stared at, he also had no share in their being and doing. He realized that they presumably were not always as he saw them, when they stood and greeted him with deferential looks; that it must be his birth and upbringing which made their looks deferential, and that it was with them as with the children when they heard about fairy princes, and were thereby refined and elevated above their work-a-day selves. But he did not know what they looked like and were when they were not refined and elevated above their work-a-day selves—his “exalted calling” concealed this from him, and it was a dangerous and improper wish to allow his heart to be moved by things which his exaltedness concealed from him. And yet he wished it, he wished it from a jealousy and that roving inquisitiveness which sometimes drove him to undertake voyages of exploration into unknown regions of the old Schloss, with Ditlinde his sister, when the opportunity offered.
They called it “rummaging,” and great was the charm of “rummaging”; for it was difficult to acquire familiarity with the ground-plan and structure of the old Schloss, and every time they penetrated far enough into the remoter parts they found rooms, closets, and empty halls which they had not yet trodden, or strange round-about ways to already-known rooms. But once when thus wandering about they had a rencontre, an adventure befell them, which made a great impression on Klaus Heinrich, though he did not show it, and opened his eyes.
The opportunity came. While the Swiss
governess was absent on leave to attend the evening service, they had drunk their milk from tea-cups with the Grand Duchess, accompanied by the two ladies-in-waiting, had been dismissed and directed to go back hand-in-hand to their ordinary occupations in the nursery, which lay not far off. It was thought that they needed nobody to go with them; Klaus Heinrich was old enough to take care of Ditlinde, of course. He was; and in the corridor he said: “Yes, Ditlinde, we will certainly go back to the nursery, but we need not go, you know, the shortest, dullest way. We'll rummage a bit first. If you go up one step and follow the corridor as far as where the arches begin, you'll find a hall with pillars behind them, and if you go out of one of the doors of the hall with pillars—clamber up the corkscrew staircase, you come to a room with a wooden roof; and there are lots of funny things lying about there. But I don't know what comes after the room, and that's what we've got to find out. So let's go.”
“Yes, let's,” said Ditlinde, “but not too far, Klaus Heinrich, and not where it's too dusty, for this dress shows
everything.”
She was wearing a dress of dark-red velvet, trimmed with satin of the same colour. She had at that time dimples in her elbows, and light golden hair, that curled round her ears like ram's horns. In after years she was pale and thin. She too had the broad, rather over-prominent cheek-bones of her father and nation, but they were not accentuated, so that they did not spoil the lines of her face. But with Klaus Heinrich they were strong and emphatic, so that they seemed somewhat to encroach upon, to narrow and to lengthen his steel-coloured eyes. His dark hair was smoothly parted, cut in a careful rectangle on the temples, and brushed straight back from the forehead. He wore an open jacket with a waistcoat buttoning at the throat and a white turn-down collar. In his right hand he held Ditlinde's little hand, but his left arm hung down, with its brown, wrinkled, and undeveloped hand, thin and short from the shoulder. He was glad that he could let it hang without bothering to conceal it; for there was nobody there to stare and to require to be elevated and inspired, and he himself might stare and examine to his heart's content.
So they went and rummaged as they liked. Quiet reigned in the corridors, and they saw hardly a lackey in the distance. They climbed up a staircase and followed the passage till they came to the arches, showing that they were in the part of the Schloss which dated from the time of John the Headstrong and Heinrich the Confessor, as Klaus Heinrich knew and explained. They came to the hall of the pillars, and Klaus Heinrich there whistled several notes close after each other, for the first were still sounding when the last came, and so a clear chord rang under the vaulted ceiling. They scrambled groping and often on hands and knees up the stone winding staircase which opened behind one of the heavy doors, and reached the room with the wooden ceiling, in which there were several strange objects. There were some broken muskets of clumsy size with thickly rusted locks, which had been too bad for the museum, and a discarded throne with torn red velvet cushions, short wide-splayed lion-legs, and cupids hovering over the chair-back, bearing a crown. Then there was a wicked-looking, dusty, cage-like, and horribly interesting thing, which intrigued them much and long. Yes, this took time, and when they stood up after examining the rattrap their faces were hot, and their clothes stiff with rust and dust. Klaus Heinrich brushed them both down, but that did not do much good, for his hands were as filthy as his clothes. And suddenly they saw that dusk had begun to fall. They must return quickly, Ditlinde insisted anxiously on that; it was too late to go any farther.
“That's an awful pity,” said Klaus Heinrich. “Who knows what else we mightn't have found, and when we shall get another chance of rummaging, Ditlinde!” But he followed his sister and they hurried back down the turret-stairs, crossed the hall of the pillars, and came out into the arcade, intending to hurry home hand-in-hand.
Thus they wandered on for a time; but Klaus Heinrich shook his head, for it seemed to him that this was not the way he had come. They went still farther; but several signs told them that they had mistaken their direction. This stone seat with the griffin-heads was not standing here before. That pointed window looked to the west over the low-lying quarter of the town and not over the inner courtyard with the rose-bush. They were going wrong, it was no use denying it; perhaps they had left the hall of the pillars by a wrong exit—anyhow they had absolutely lost their way.
They went back a little, but their disquietude would not allow them to go very far back, so they turned right about again, and decided to push on the way they had already come, and to trust to luck. Their way lay through a damp, stuffy atmosphere, and great undisturbed cobwebs stretched across the corners; they went with heavy hearts, and Ditlinde especially was full of repentance and on the brink of tears. People would notice her absence, would “look sadly” at her, perhaps even tell the Grand Duke; they would never find the way, would be forgotten and starve to death…. Klaus Heinrich comforted her. They only had to find the place where the armour and crossed standards hung; from that point he was quite sure of the direction. And suddenly—they had just passed a bend in the winding passage—suddenly something happened. It startled them dreadfully.
What they had heard was more than the echo of their own steps, they were other, strange steps, heavier than theirs; they came towards them now quickly, now hesitatingly, and were accompanied by a snorting and grumbling which made their blood run cold. Ditlinde made as if to run away from fright: but Klaus Heinrich would not let go her hand, and they stood with starting eyes waiting for what was coming.
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He was standing in one of the “gala rooms,” the Silver Hall, in which, as he knew, his father the Grand Duke received solemn deputations—he happened to have wandered into it by himself and he took stock of his surroundings.
It was winter-time and cold, his little shoes were reflected in the glass-clear yellow squares of the parquet which spread like a sheet of ice before him. The ceiling, covered with silvered arabesque-work, was so high that a long metal shaft was necessary to allow the many-armed silver chandelier with its forest of tall white candles to swing in the middle of the great space. Below the ceiling came silver-framed coats-of-arms in faded colours. The walls were edged with silver, and hung with white silk with yellow spots, not to mention a split here and there. A sort of monumental baldachin, resting on two strong silver columns and decorated in front with a silver garland, broken in two places, from the top of which looked down a portrait of a deceased, powdered ancestress draped in imitation ermine, formed the chimney-piece. On each side of the fireplace were broad silvered arm-chairs upholstered in torn white silk. On the side walls opposite each other towered enormous silver-framed mirrors, whose glass was covered with blind spots, and on each side of whose broad white marble ledges stood two candelabra which carried big white candles like the sconces on the walls all round, and like the four silver candlesticks which stood in the corners. Before the high windows to the right, looking over the Albrechtsplatz, whose outer ledges were covered with snow, white silk curtains, yellow spotted, with silver cords and trimmed with lace, fell in rich, and heavy folds to the floor. In the middle of the room, under the chandelier, a moderate-sized table, with a pedestal made like a knobby silver tree-stump and a top made of eight triangles of opaque mother-of-pearl, stood useless, as there were no chairs round it, and it could only serve, and be meant to serve, at the very best, as a support for your Highness, when the lackeys opened the doors and ushered in the solemn figures in Court dress who came to present their respects to you….
Klaus Heinrich looked round the hall, and clearly saw that there was nothing here which reminded him of the realities which Schulrat Dröge, for all his bows, was always impressing upon him. Here all was Sunday and solemnity, just as in church, where also he would have felt the calls made on him by his tutor out of place. Everything here was severe and empty show and a formal symmetry, self-sufficient, pointless, and uncomfortable—whose functions were obviously to create an atmosphere of awe and tension, not of freedom and ease, to inculcate an attitude of decorum and discreet self-obliteration towards an unnamed object. And it was cold in the silver hall—cold as in the halls of the Snow Queen, where the children's hearts froze stiff.
Klaus Heinrich walked over the glassy floor and stood at the table in the middle. He laid his right hand lightly on the mother-of-pearl table, and placed the left hand on his hip, so far behind that it rested almost in the small of his back, and was not visible from in front, for it was an ugly sight, brown and wrinkled, and had not kept pace with the right in its growth. He stood resting on one leg, with the other a little advanced, and kept his eyes fixed on the silver ornaments of the door. It was not the place nor the attitude for dreaming, and yet he dreamed.
He saw his father, and looked at him as he looked at the hall, to try to grasp his meaning. He saw the dull haughtiness of his blue eyes, the furrows which, proudly and morosely, ran from nostril down to his beard, and were often deepened or accentuated by weariness and boredom…. Nobody dared to address him or to go freely up to him and speak to him unasked—not even the children: it was forbidden, it was dangerous. He answered, it is true: but he answered distantly and coldly, a look of helplessness, of gêne, passed over his face, which Klaus Heinrich was quite able to understand.
Papa made a speech and sent his petitioners away; that is what always happened. He gave an audience at the beginning of the Court ball, and at the end of the dinner with which the winter began. He went with mamma through the rooms and halls, in which the members of the Court were gathered, went through the Marble Hall and the Gala Rooms, through the Picture Gallery, the Hall of the Knights, the Hall of the Twelve Months, the Audience Chamber, and the Ball-room—went not only in a fixed direction, but along a fixed path which bustling Herr von Bühl kept free for him, and addressed a few words to the assembled throng. Whoever was addressed by him bowed low, left a space of parquet between himself and papa, and answered soberly and with signs of gratification. Thereupon papa greeted them over the intervening space, from the stronghold of precise regulations which prescribed the others' movements and warranted his own attitude, greeted them smilingly and lightly and passed on. Smilingly and lightly…. Of course, of course, Klaus Heinrich quite understood it, the look of helplessness which passed for one moment over papa's face when anybody was impetuous enough to address him unasked—understood it, and shared his feeling of gêne! It wounded something, some soft, virgin envelope of our existence which was so essential to it that we stood helpless when anybody roughly broke through it. And yet it was this same something which made our eyes so dull, and gave us those deep furrows of boredom….
Klaus Heinrich stood and saw—he saw his mother and her beauty, which was famed and extolled far and wide. He saw her standing en robe de ceremonie, in front of her great candle-lighted glass, for sometimes, on solemn occasions, he was allowed to be present when the Court hairdresser and the bed-chamber women put the last touches to her toilette. Herr von Knobelsdorff also was present when mamma put on jewels from the Crown regalia, watched and noted down the stones which she decided to use. With all the wrinkles at the corners of his eyes showing, he would make mamma laugh with his droll remarks, so that her soft cheeks filled with lovely little dimples. But her laugh was full of art and grace, and she looked in the glass as she laughed, as if she were practising it.
People said that Slav blood flowed in her veins, and that it was that which gave the sweet radiance to her deep-blue eyes and the night of her raven hair. Klaus Heinrich was like her, so he heard people say, in that he too had steel-blue eyes with dark hair, while Albrecht and Ditlinde were fair, just as papa had been before his hair turned grey. But he was far from handsome, owing to the breadth of his cheekbones, and especially to his left hand, which mamma was always reminding him to hide adroitly, in the side-pocket of his coat, behind his back, or under the breast of his jacket—especially when his affectionate impulses prompted him to throw both his arms round her. Her look was cold when she bade him mind his hand.
He saw her as she was in the picture in the Marble Hall: in a short silk dress with lace flounces and long gloves, which showed only a glimpse of her ivory arm under her puffed sleeves, a diadem in the night of her hair, her stately form erect, a smile of cool perfection on her strangely hard lips—and behind her the metallic-blue wheel of a white peacock's tail. Her face was soft, but its beauty made it stern, and it was easy to see that her heart too was stern and absorbed in her beauty. She slept far into the day when a ball or party was in prospect, and ate only yolks of eggs, so as not to overload herself. Then in the evening she was radiant as she walked on papa's arm along the prescribed path through the halls—grey-haired dignitaries blushed when they were addressed by her, and the Courier reported that it was not only because of her exalted rank that her Royal Highness had been the queen of the ball. Yes, people felt happier for the sight of her, whether it was at the Court or outside in the streets, or in the afternoon driving or riding in the park—and their cheeks kindled. Flowers and cheers met her, all hearts went out to her, and it was clear that the people in cheering her were cheering themselves, and that their glad cries meant that they were cheered and elevated by the sight of her. But Klaus Heinrich knew well that mamma had spent long, anxious hours on her beauty, that there was practice and method in her smiles and greetings, and that her own pulse beat never the quicker for anything or anyone.
Did she love anyone—himself, Klaus Heinrich, for instance, for all his likeness to her? Why, of course she did, when she had time to, even when she coldly reminded him of his hand. But it seemed as if she reserved any expression or sign of her tender feelings for occasions when lookers-on were present who were likely to be edified by them. Klaus Heinrich and Ditlinde did not often come into contact with their mother, chiefly because they, unlike Albrecht, the Heir Apparent, for some time past, did not have their meals at their parents' table, but apart with the Swiss governess; and when they were summoned to mamma's boudoir, which happened once a week, the interview consisted in a few casual questions and polite answers—giving no scope for displays of feeling, while its whole drift seemed to be the proper way to sit in an arm-chair with a teacup full of milk.
But at the concerts which took place in the Marble Hall every other Thursday under the name of “The Grand Duchess's Thursdays,” and were so arranged that the Court sat at little gilt-legged velvet-covered tables, while the leading tenor Schramm from the Court Theatre, accompanied by an orchestra, sang so lustily that the veins swelled on his bald temples—at the concerts Klaus Heinrich and Ditlinde, in their best clothes, were sometimes allowed in the Hall for one song and the succeeding pause, when mamma showed how fond she was of them, showed it to them and to everybody else in so heartfelt and expressive a way that nobody could have any doubt about it. She summoned them to the table at which she sat, and told them with a happy smile to sit beside her, laid their cheeks on her shoulders or bosom, looked at them with a soft, soulful look in her eyes and kissed them both on forehead and mouth. Then the ladies bent their heads and their eyelids quivered, while the men slowly nodded and bit their lips in order, in manly wise, to restrain their emotions…. Yes, it was beautiful, and the children felt they had their share in the effect, which was greater than anything Schramm the singer could procure with his most inspired notes, and nestled close to mamma. For Klaus Heinrich at last realized that it was in the nature of things, no business of ours, to have a simple feeling and to be made happy by it, but that it was our duty to make our tenderness visible to the Hall and to exhibit it, that the hearts of our guests might swell.


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There was scarcely time for thanks and farewells, Eiermann was in such a hurry to part the children from the shoemaker. And with many a gloomy prophecy he led their Grand Ducal Highnesses up to their room to the Swiss governess.
Eyes were turned to heaven, hands were wrung about their absence and the state of their clothes. The worst of all happened, they were “looked at sadly.” But Klaus Heinrich confined his contrition to the bare minimum. He thought: “So the lackeys took money and let the tradesmen wander about the corridors if they did not get any, kept the goods back, that the tradesmen might get blamed, and did not open the folding-doors, so that the suitor had to scrabble. That's what happened in the Schloss, and what must it be outside? Outside among the people who stared at him so respectfully and so strangely, when he drove by with his hand to his hat …? But how had the man dared to tell it him? Not one single time had he called him Grand Ducal Highness; he had forced himself on him and offended his birth and upbringing. And yet, why was it so extraordinarily pleasant to hear all that about the lackeys? Why did his heart beat with such rapt pleasure, when moved by some of the wild and bold things in which his Highness bore no part?”

IV
DOCTOR UEBERBEIN

Klaus Heinrich spent three of his boyhood's years in the company of boys of his own age of the Court and country nobility of the monarchy in an institution, a kind of aristocratic seminary, which von Knobelsdorff, the House Minister, had founded and set in order on his behalf in the “Pheasantry” hunting-schloss.
A Crown property for centuries past, Schloss “Pheasantry” gave its name to the first stopping-place of a State railway running north-west from the capital, and itself took it from a “tame” pheasant preserve, situated not far off among the meadows and woods, which had been the hobby of a former ruler. The Schloss, a one-storied box-like country house with a shingle roof topped by lightning conductors, stood with stables and coach-house on the skirts of extensive fir plantations. With a row of aged lime trees in front, it looked out over a broad expanse of meadowland fringed by a distant bluish circle of woods and intersected by paths, with many a bare patch of play-ground and hurdles for obstacle riding. Opposite the corner of the Schloss was a refreshment pavilion, a beer and coffee garden planted with high trees, which a prudent man called Stavenüter had rented and which was thronged on Sundays in summer by excursionists, especially bicyclists, from the capital. The pupils of the “Pheasantry” were only allowed to visit the pavilion in charge of a tutor.
There were five of them, not counting Klaus Heinrich: Trümmerhauff, Gumplach, Platow, Prenzlau, and Wehrzahn. They were called “the Pheasants” in the country round. They had a landau from the Court stables which had seen its best days, a dogcart, a sleigh, and a few hacks, and when in winter some of the meadows were flooded and frozen over, they had an opportunity of skating. There was one cook, two chamber-maids, one coachman, and two lackeys at the “Pheasantry,” one of whom could drive at a pinch.
Professor Kürtchen, a little suspicious and irritable bachelor with the airs of a comic actor and the manners of an old French chevalier, was head of the seminary. He wore a stubby grey moustache, a pair of gold spectacles in front of his restless brown eyes, and always out-of-doors a top hat on the back of his head. He stuck his belly out as he walked and held his little fists on each side of his stomach like a long-distance runner. He treated Klaus Heinrich with self-satisfied tact, but was full of suspicion of the noble arrogance of his other pupils and fired up like a tom-cat when he scented any signs of contempt for him as a commoner. He loved when out for a walk, if there were people close by, to stop and gather his pupils in a knot around him and explain something to them, drawing diagrams in the sand with his stick. He addressed Frau Amelung, the housekeeper, a captain's widow who smelt strongly of drugs, as “my lady” and showed thus that he knew what was what in the best circles.
Professor Kürtchen was helped by a yet younger assistant teacher with a doctor's degree—a good-humoured, energetic man, bumptious but enthusiastic, who influenced Klaus Heinrich's views and conscience perhaps more than was good for him. A gymnastic instructor called Zotte had also been appointed. The assistant teacher, it may be remarked in passing, was called Ueberbein, Raoul Ueberbein. The rest of the staff came every day by railway from the capital.
Klaus Heinrich remarked with appreciation that the demands made on him from the point of view of learning quickly abated. Schulrat Dröge's wrinkled fore-finger no longer paused on the lines, he had done his work; and during the lessons as well as while correcting his written work Professor Kürtchen seized every opportunity of showing his tact.
One day, quite soon after the institution had started—it was after luncheon in the high-windowed dining-room—he summoned Klaus Heinrich into his study, and said in so many words: “It is contrary to the public interest that your Grand Ducal Highness, during our scientific studies together, should be compelled to answer questions which are at the moment unwelcome to you. On the other hand, it is desirable that your Grand Ducal Highness should continually announce your readiness to answer by holding up your hand. I beg your Grand Ducal Highness accordingly, for my own information, in the case of unwelcome questions, to stretch out your arm to its full length, but in the case of those an invitation to answer which would be agreeable to you, to raise it only half way and in a right angle.”
As for Doctor Ueberbein, he filled the schoolroom with a noisy flow of words, whose cheerfulness disguised the teacher's object without losing sight of it altogether. He had come to no sort of understanding with Klaus Heinrich, but questioned him when it occurred to him to do so, in a free and friendly way without causing him any embarrassment. And Klaus Heinrich's by no means apropos answers seemed to enchant Doctor Ueberbein, to inspire him with warm enthusiasm. “Ha, ha,” he would cry and throw his head back laughing. “Oh, Klaus Heinrich! Oh, scion of princes! Oh, your innocency! The crude problems of life have caught you unprepared! Now then, it is for me with my experience to put you straight.” And he gave the answer himself, asked nobody else, when Klaus Heinrich had answered wrong. The mode of instruction of the other teachers bore the character of an unassuming lecture. And gymnastics instructor Zotte had received orders from high quarters to conduct the physical exercises with every regard to Klaus Heinrich's left hand—so strictly that the attention of the Prince himself or of his companions should never be drawn unnecessarily to his little failing. So the exercises were limited to running games, and during the riding lessons, which Herr Zotte also gave, all feats of daring were rigorously excluded.
Klaus Heinrich's relations with his comrades were not what one might call intimate, they did not extend to actual familiarity. He stood for himself, was never one of them, by no means counted amongst their number. They were five and he was one; the Prince, the five, and the teachers, that was the establishment. Several things stood in the way of a free friendship. The five were there on Klaus Heinrich's account, they were ordered to associate with him; when during the lessons he answered wrong they were not asked to correct him, they had to adjust themselves to his capacity when riding or playing. They were too often reminded of the advantages they gained by being allowed to share his life. Some of them, the young von Gumplach, von Platow, and von Wehrzahn, sons of country squires of moderate means, were oppressed the whole time by the gratified pride their parents had shown when the invitation from the House Minister reached them, by the congratulations which had poured in from every side.
Count Prenzlau on the other hand, that thick-set, red-haired, freckled youth with the breathless way of speaking and the Christian name Bogumil, was a sprig of the richest and noblest family of landowners in the land, spoilt and self-conscious. He was well aware that his parents had not been able to refuse Baron von Knobelsdorff's invitation, but that it had not seemed to them by any means a blessing from the clouds, and that he, Count Bogumil, could have lived much better and more in accordance with his position on his father's property than at the “Pheasantry.” He found the hacks bad, the landau shabby, and the dogcart old-fashioned; he grumbled privately over the food.
Dagobert Count Trümmerhauff, a spare, greyhound-looking youth, who spoke in a whisper, was inseparable from him. They had a word among themselves which fully expressed their critical and aristocratic bent, and which they constantly uttered in a biting tone of voice: “hogwash.” It was hog wash to have loose collars buttoning on to one's shirt. It was hogwash to play lawn tennis in one's ordinary clothes.
But Klaus Heinrich felt himself unequal to using the word. He had not hitherto been aware that there were such things as shirts with collars sewed on to them and that people could possess so many changes of clothes at one time as Bogumil Prenzlau. He would have liked to say “hogwash,” but it occurred to him that he was wearing at that very time darned socks. He felt inelegant by the side of Prenzlau and coarse compared with Trümmerhauff.
Trümmerhauff had the nobility of a wild beast. He had a long pointed nose with a sharp bridge and broad, quivering, thin-walled nostrils, blue veins on his delicate temples and small ears without lobes. He wore broad coloured cuffs fastened with gold links, and his hands were like those of a dainty woman, with filbert nails; a gold bracelet adorned one of his wrists. He half closed his eyes as he whispered…. No, it was obvious that Klaus Heinrich could not compete with Trümmerhauff in elegance. His right hand was rather broad, he had
cheek-bones like the men in the street, and he looked quite stumpy by Dagobert's side. It was quite possible that Albrecht might have been better qualified to join the “Pheasants” in their use of “hogwash.” Klaus Heinrich for his part was no aristocrat, absolutely none, unmistakable facts showed that. For consider his name, Klaus Heinrich, that's what the shoemaker's sons were called all over the place. Herr Stavenüter's children over the road too, who blew their noses with their fingers, bore the same names as himself, his parents, and his brother. But the lordlings were called Bogumil and Dagobert—Klaus Heinrich stood solitary and alone among the five.
However, he formed one friendship at the “Pheasantry,” and it was with Doctor Ueberbein. The Usher Raoul Ueberbein was not a handsome man. He had a greenish-white complexion with watery blue eyes, thin red hair (including a goatee), and unusually ugly, protruding, sharp-pointed ears. But his hands were small and delicate. He wore white ties exclusively, which gave him rather a distinguished appearance, although his wardrobe was scanty. He wore a long great-coat out-of-doors, and when riding—for Dr. Ueberbein rode, and excellently well too—a worn-out frock-coat whose skirts he fastened up with safety-pins, tight buttoned breeches, and a high hat.
Where lay the attraction he exercised on Klaus Heinrich? That attraction was very composite. The “Pheasants” had not been long together before a report went about that the usher had dragged a child a long time ago, in circumstances of extreme peril, out of a swamp or fen, and was the possessor of a medal for saving life. That was one impression. Later other details of Doctor Ueberbein's life came to be known, and Klaus Heinrich too heard of them. It was said that his origin was obscure, that he had no father, his mother had been an actress who had paid some poor people to adopt him, and that he had once been starved, which accounted for the greenish tint of his complexion. These were things which did not bear being brought into the light or even being thought of, wild, remote things, to which, however, Doctor Ueberbein himself sometimes alluded—when, for instance, the lordlings, who could not forget his obscure origin, behaved impudently or unbecomingly towards him.
“Suck-a-thumbs and mammy's darlings!” he would say then in loud dudgeon. “I've knocked about long enough to deserve some respect from you young gentlemen!” This fact too, that Doctor Ueberbein had “knocked about,” did not fail of effect on Klaus Heinrich. But the especial charm of the doctor's person lay in the directness of his attitude towards Klaus Heinrich, the tone in which he addressed him from the very beginning, and which distinguished him clearly from everybody else. There was nothing about him which reminded one of the stiff reticence of the lackeys, of the governess's pale horror, of Schulrat Dröge's professional bows, or of Professor Kürtchen's self-satisfied deference. There was nothing about him to recall the strange, loyal, and yet impertinent way in which people outside stared at Klaus Heinrich.
During the first few days after the seminary assembled, he kept silence and confined himself to observation, but then he approached the Prince with a jovial and cheery frankness, a fresh fatherly camaraderie such as Klaus Heinrich had never before experienced. It disturbed him at first, he looked in terror at the doctor's green face; but his confusion found no echo in the doctor, and in no way discouraged him, it confirmed him in his hearty bumptious ingenuousness, and it was not long before Klaus Heinrich was warmed and won, for there was nothing vulgar, nothing degrading, not even anything designed and school-masterish in Doctor Ueberbein's methods—all they showed was the superiority of a man who had knocked about the world, and, at the same time, his tender and open respect for Klaus Heinrich's different birth and position; they showed affection and recognition, at the same time as the cheerful offer of a league between their two different kinds of existence. He called him “Highness” once or twice, then simply “Prince,” then quite simply “Klaus Heinrich.” And he stuck to the last.
When the “Pheasants” went out for a ride, these two rode at the head, the doctor on his stout piebald to the left of Klaus Heinrich on his docile chestnut—trotted when snow or leaves were falling, through springtime thaws or summer heat, along the edge of the woodlands across country, or through the villages, while Doctor Ueberbein related anecdotes of his life. Raoul Ueberbein sounds funny, doesn't it? The very reverse of chic. Yes, Ueberbein had been the name of his adoptive parents, a poor, oldish couple of the inferior bank-clerk class, and he had a quite legal right to it. But that he should be called Raoul had been the decision and mandate of his mother, when she handed over the sum agreed on, together with his fateful little person, to the others—a sentimental decision obviously, a decision prompted by piety. At least it was quite possible that his legal and real father had been called Raoul, and it was to be hoped that his surname had been something which harmonized with it.
For the rest, it had been rather a wild undertaking on the part of his adoptive parents to adopt a child, for “the Barmecide had been a cook” in the Ueberbein establishment, and it was obvious that it had been only the most urgent necessity which had made them jump at the money. The boy had been given only the scantiest of school educations, but he had taken the liberty of showing what he was made of, had distinguished himself to some extent, and as he was keen to become a teacher, he had been granted out of a public fund the means of obtaining a college education. Well, he had finished his college course not without distinction, as indeed it was expected of him that he should, and he had then been appointed a teacher in a public primary school, with a good salary, out of which he had managed to give occasional doles by way of gratitude to his honest adoptive parents, until they died almost simultaneously. And a happy release it was for them!
And so he had been left alone in the world, his very birth a misfortune, as poor as a sparrow and endowed by Providence with a green face and dog's ears by way of personal recommendations. Attractive qualifications, were they not? But such qualifications were really favourable ones—once for all, so they proved. A miserable boyhood, loneliness and exclusion from good fortune and all that good fortune brings, a never-ceasing, imperious call to be up and doing, no fear of getting fat and lazy, one's moral fibre was braced, one could never rest on one's oars, but must be always overhauling and passing others. Could anything be more stimulating, when the hard facts were brought home to one? What a handicap over others who “were not obliged to” to the same extent! People who could smoke cigars in the morning….
At that time, by the bedside of one of his unwashed little pupils, in a room which did not smell exactly of spring blossoms, Raoul Ueberbein had made friends with a young man—some years older than he, but in a similar position and like him ill-fated by birth in so far as he was a Jew. Klaus Heinrich knew him—indeed, he might be said to have got to know him on a very intimate occasion. Sammet was his name, a doctor of medicine; he happened by chance to have been in the Grimmburg when Klaus Heinrich was born, and had set up a couple of years later in the capital as a children's doctor. Well, he had been a friend of Ueberbein's, still was one, and they had had many a good talk about fate and duty. What is more, they had both knocked about the world.
Ueberbein, for his part, looked back with sincere pleasure to the time when he had been a primary teacher. His activities had not been entirely confined to the class-room, he had amused himself by showing also some personal and human concern for his charges' welfare, by visiting them at home, by sharing at times their not too idyllic family life, and in doing so he did not fail to bring away impressions of a most varied kind. In truth, if he had not already tasted the bitterness of the cup of life, he would have had plenty of opportunity then to do so. For the rest, he had not ceased to work by himself, had given private lessons to plump artisans' sons, and tightened his waist belt so as to save enough to buy books with—had spent the long, still, and free nights in study. And one day he had passed the State examination with exceptional distinction, had soon received his promotion, had been transferred to a grammar school. As a matter of fact, it had been a sore grief to him to leave his little charges, but so the fates willed. And then it had so happened that he had been chosen to be usher at the “Pheasantry,” for all that his very birth had been a misfortune.

That was Doctor Ueberbein's story, and Klaus Heinrich, as he listened to it, was filled with friendly feelings. He shared his contempt for those who “weren't obliged to” and smoked cigars in the morning, he felt a fearful joy when Ueberbein talked in his jolly blustering way about “knocking about,” “impressions,” and the bitterness of the cup of life, and he felt as if he had been personally an actor in the scenes as he followed his luckless and gallant career from his adoption up to his appointment as grammar-schoolmaster. He felt as if he were in some general sort of way qualified to take part in a conversation about fate and duty. His attitude of reserve relaxed, the experiences of his own fifteen years of life came crowding in upon him, he felt a longing himself to retail confidences, and he tried to tell Doctor Ueberbein all about himself.
But the funny thing was that Doctor Ueberbein himself checked him, opposed any such intention most decidedly. “No, no, Klaus Heinrich,” he said; “full stop there! No confidences, if you please! Not but that I know that you have all sorts of things to tell me…. I need only watch you for half a day to see that, but you quite misunderstand me if you think I'm likely to encourage you to weep round my neck. In the first place, sooner or later you'd repent it. But in the second, the pleasures of a confidential intimacy are not for the likes of you. You see, there's no harm in my chattering. What am I? An usher. Not a common or garden one, in my own opinion, but still no better than such. Just a categorical unit. But you? What are you? That's harder to say…. Let's say a conception, a kind of ideal. A frame. An emblematical existence, Klaus Heinrich, and at the same time a formal existence. But formality and intimacy—haven't you yet learnt that the two are mutually exclusive? Absolutely exclusive. You have no right to intimate confidences, and if you attempted them you yourself would discover that they did not suit you, would find them inadequate and insipid. I must remind you of your duty, Klaus Heinrich.”
Klaus Heinrich laughed and saluted with his crop, and on they rode.
On another occasion Doctor Ueberbein said casually: “Popularity is a not very profound, but a grand and comprehensive kind of familiarity.” And that was all he said on the subject.
Sometimes in summer, during the long intervals between the morning lessons, they would sit together in the empty pavilion, or stroll about the “Pheasants” playground, discussing various topics, and breaking off to drink lemonade provided by Herr Stavenüter. Herr Stavenüter beamed as he wiped the rough table and brought the lemonade with his own hands. The glass ball in the bottle-neck had to be pushed in. “Sound stuff!” said Herr Stavenüter. “The best that can be got. No muck, Grand Ducal Highness, and you, doctor, but just sweetened fruit-juice. I can honestly recommend it!”
Then he made his children sing in honour of the visit. There were three of them, two girls and a boy, and they could sing trios. They stood some way off with the green leaves of the chestnut trees for roof, and sang folk-songs while they blew their noses with their fingers. Once they sang a song beginning: “We are all but mortal men,” and Doctor Ueberbein took advantage of the pauses to express his disapproval of this number on the programme. “A paltry song,” he said, and leaned over towards Klaus Heinrich. “A really commonplace song, a lazy song, Klaus Heinrich; you must not let it appeal to you.”
Later, when the children had stopped singing, he returned to the song and described it as “sloppy.” “We are all but mortal men,” he repeated. “God bless us, yes, no doubt we are. But on the other hand we ought perhaps to remember that it is those of us who count for most who may be the occasion for especially emphasizing this truth…. Look you,” he said, leaning back and crossing one leg over the other, while he stroked his beard up from underneath his chin, “look you, Klaus Heinrich, a man who has my intellectual aspirations will not be able to help searching for and clinging to whatever is out of the ordinary in this drab world of ours, wherever and however it appears—he cannot help being put out by such a slovenly song, by such a sheepish abjuration of the exceptional, of the lofty and of the miserable, and of that which is both at once. You may well say: ‘That's talking for effect.’ I'm only an usher, but there's something in my blood, Heaven knows what—I can't find any pleasure in emphasizing the fact that we are all ushers at bottom. I love the extraordinary in every form and in every sense. I love those who are conscious of the dignity of their exceptional station, the marked men, those one can see are not as other men, all those whom the people stare at open-mouthed—I hope they'll appreciate their destiny, and I do not wish them to make themselves comfortable with the slip-shod and luke-warm truth which we have just heard set to music for three voices. Why have I become your tutor, Klaus Heinrich? I am a gipsy, a hard-working one, maybe, but still a born gipsy. My predestination to the rôle of squire of princes is not particularly obvious. Why did I gladly obey the call when it came to me, in view of my energy, and although my very birth was a misfortune? Because, Klaus Heinrich, I see in your existence the clearest, most express, and best-preserved form of the extraordinary in the world. I have become your tutor that I might keep your destiny alive in you. Reserve, etiquette, obligation, duty, demeanour, formality—has the man whose life is surrounded by these no right to despise others? Ought he to allow himself to be reminded of humanity and good nature? No, come along, let's go, Klaus Heinrich, if you don't mind. They're tactless brats, these little Stavenüters.” Klaus Heinrich laughed, he gave the children some of his pocket-money, and they went.
“Yes, yes,” said Doctor Ueberbein in the course of an ordinary walk in the woods to Klaus Heinrich—they had drifted a little distance away from the five “Pheasants”—“nowadays the soul's thirst for veneration has to be satisfied with what it can get. Where will you find greatness? I only hope you may! But quite apart from all actual greatness and high-calling, there is always what I call Highness, select and sadly isolated forms of life, towards which an attitude of the tenderest sympathy should be adopted. For the rest, greatness is strong, it wears jack-boots, it has no need of the knight-services of the mind. But Highness is affecting—damme if it isn't the most affecting thing on earth.”
Once or twice a year the “Pheasantry” journeyed to the capital to attend performances of classical operas and dramas in the Grand Ducal Court Theatre; Klaus Heinrich's birthday in particular was the signal for a visit to the theatre. He would then sit quietly in his carved arm-chair, leaning against the red plush ledge of the Court box, whose roof rested on the heads of two female figures with crossed hands and empty stern faces, and watched his colleagues, the princes, whose destinies were played out on the stage, while he stood the fire of the opera-glasses which from time to time, even during the play, were directed at him from the audience. Professor Kürtchen sat on his left hand and Doctor Ueberbein with the “Pheasants” in an adjoining box.
Once they heard the “Magic Flute,” and on the way home to “Pheasantry” station, in the first-class carriage, Doctor Ueberbein made the whole collection of them laugh by imitating the way in which singers talk when their rôles oblige them to talk in prose. “He is a prince!” he said with pathos, and answered himself in a drawly, sing-song parsonical voice. “He is more than that, he is a man!” Even Professor Kürtchen was so much amused that he bleated.
But next day, in the course of a private lesson in Klaus Heinrich's study, with the round mahogany table, whitened ceiling, and Greek bust on the stove, Doctor Ueberbein repeated his parody, and said then: “Great heavens, that was something new in its time, it was a piece of news, a startling truth! There are paradoxes which have stood so long on their heads that one has to put them on their feet to make anything even moderately daring out of them, ‘He is a man. He is more than that’—that is getting gradually bolder, prettier, even truer. The converse is mere humanity, but I have no hearty love for humanity, I'm quite content to leave it out of account. One must, in a certain sense, be one of those of whom the people say: ‘They are, after all, mortal men too’—or one is as deadly dull as an usher. I cannot honestly wish for the general comfortable obliteration of conflicts and gulfs, that's the way I am made, for better or worse, and the idea of the principe uomo is to me, to speak plainly, an abomination. I am not anxious that it should particularly appeal to you…. Look you, there have always been princes and exceptional persons who live their life of exception with a light heart, simply unconscious of their dignity or denying it outright, and capable of playing skittles with the townsfolk in their shirt sleeves, without the slightest attempt at an inward qualm. But they are not very important, just as nothing is important which lacks mind. For the mind, Klaus Heinrich, the mind is the tutor which insists inexorably on dignity, indeed actually creates dignity, it is the archenemy and chief antagonist of all human good nature. ‘More than that?’ No! to be a representative, to stand for a number when one appears to be the exalted and refined expression of a multitude. Representing is naturally something more and higher than simply Being, Klaus Heinrich—and that's why people call you Highness.”
So argued Doctor Ueberbein, in loud, hearty, and fluent terms, and what he said influenced Klaus Heinrich's mind and susceptibilities more, perhaps, than was desirable. The prince was then about fifteen years old, and therefore quite competent, if not properly to understand, yet to imbibe the essence of ideas of that sort. The main point was that Doctor Ueberbein's doctrines and apophthegms were so exceptionally supported by his personality.
When Schulrat Dröge, the man who used to bow to the lackeys, reminded Klaus Heinrich of his “exalted calling,” that was nothing more than an exaggerated form of speech, devoid of inner meaning and calculated mainly to add emphasis to his professional claims. But when Doctor Ueberbein, whose very birth had been a misfortune, as he said, and who had a green complexion because he had been half starved; when this man who had dragged a child out of a bog, who had received “impressions” and “knocked about” in all sorts of ways; when he who not only did not bow to the lackeys, but who bawled at them in strident tones when the fancy took him, and who had called Klaus Heinrich himself straight out by his Christian names when he had known him only three days, without asking leave to do so,—when he with a paternal laugh declared that Klaus Heinrich's “path lay among the heights of mankind” (a favourite expression of his), the effect was a feeling of freedom and originality which awoke an echo deep down in the prince's soul.
When Klaus Heinrich listened to the doctor's loud and jolly anecdotes of his life, of the “bitterness of the cup of life,” he felt as he used to when he went rummaging with Ditlinde his sister, and that the man who could tell such anecdotes, that this “rolling stone,” as he called himself, did not, like the others, adopt a reserved and deferential attitude towards him, but, without prejudice to a free and cheerful homage, treated him as a comrade in fate and destiny, warmed Klaus Heinrich's heart to inexpressible gratitude and completed the charm which bound him to the usher for ever….
Shortly after his sixteenth birthday (Albrecht, the Heir Apparent, was at the time in the South for his health) the Prince was confirmed, together with the five “Pheasants,” in the Court Church. The Courier reported the fact without making any sensation of it. Dom Wislezenus, the President of the High Consistory, treated a Bible text in counterpoint, this time to the choice of the Grand Duke, and Klaus Heinrich was on this occasion gazetted a Lieutenant, although he had not the foggiest notion of things military…. His existence was becoming more and more barren of expertise. The ceremonial of the confirmation also lacked incisive significance, and the Prince returned immediately afterwards quietly back to the “Pheasantry” to continue his life amongst his tutors and schoolfellows without any alteration.

It was not till one year later that he left his old-fashioned homely schoolroom with the torso on the stove; the seminary was broken up, and while his five noble comrades were transferred to the Corps of Cadets, Klaus Heinrich again took up his abode in the Old Schloss, intending, in accordance with an agreement which Herr von Knobelsdorff had come to with the Grand Duke, to spend a year at the upper gymnasium classes in the capital. This was a well-calculated and popular step, which however did not make much difference from the point of view of expertise. Professor Kürtchen had gone back to his post at the public academy, he instructed Klaus Heinrich as before in several branches of knowledge, and showed even greater zeal than he had at the seminary, being determined to let everybody see how tactful he was. It also appeared that he had told the rest of the staff of the agreement reached with regard to the two ways in which the Prince should announce his feelings with regard to answering a question.
As to Doctor Ueberbein, who had also returned to the academy, he had not yet advanced so far in his unusual career as to teach the highest class. But at Klaus Heinrich's lively, even insistent request, preferred by him to the Grand Duke, not by word of mouth but by official channels, so to speak, through the benevolent Herr von Knobelsdorff, the usher was appointed tutor and superintendent of home studies, came daily to the Schloss, bawled at the lackeys, and had every opportunity of working on the Prince with his intellectual and enthusiastic talk. Perhaps it was partly the fault of this influence that Klaus Heinrich's relations with the young people with whom he shared the much-hacked school-benches continued even looser and more distant than his connexion with the five at the “Pheasantry”; and if thus the popularity which this year was intended to secure was not attained, the intervals, which both in summer and in winter were spent by all the scholars in the roomy paved courtyard, offered opportunities for camaraderie.
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The punch provided was weak, it contained more soda-water than champagne, and if the young people lost their equilibrium it was more the intoxication of the dance than of the wine. But in view of the Prince's character and the solid bourgeois origin of the rest of the company, that was not enough to explain what happened. Another, a peculiar intoxication, was a factor here on both sides. The peculiar thing was that Klaus Heinrich was fully conscious of each separate stage in this intoxication, and yet had not the power or the will to shake it off.
He was happy. He felt on his cheeks the same glow burning as he saw in the faces of the others, and as his eyes, dazed by a soft mist, travelled about the room, and rested admiringly on one fair form after another, his look seemed to say: “We!” His mouth too said it—said, for the pure joy of saying them, sentences in which a “We” occurred. “Shall we sit down? shall we have another turn? shall we have a drink? shall we make up two sets?” It was especially to the maiden with the collarbones that Klaus Heinrich made remarks with a “We” in them. He had quite forgotten his left hand, it hung down, he felt so happy that it did not worry him and he never thought of hiding it. Many saw now for the first time what really was the matter with it, and looked curiously on with an unconscious grimace at the thin, short arm in the sleeve, the little, by now rather dirty white kid glove which covered the hand. But as Klaus Heinrich was so careless about it, the others plucked up courage, the result being that everybody took hold of the malformed hand quite unconcernedly in the round or square dances.
He did not keep it back. He felt himself borne along, nay rather whirled around by a feeling, a strong, wild feeling of contentment, that grew, gathered heat from itself, possessed itself of him more and more recklessly, overpowered him even more vehemently and breathlessly, seemed to lift him triumphantly from the floor. What was happening? It was difficult to say, difficult to be quite sure. The air was full of words, detached cries, not spoken but expressed on the dancers' faces, in their attitudes, in all they were doing and saying. “He must just once! Bring him along, bring him along …! Caught, caught!” A young damsel with a turned-up nose, who asked him for a gallop when the “leap-year” dance came, said quite clearly without any obvious connexion, “Chucker up!” as she got ready to start off with him.
He saw pleasure in every eye, and saw that their pleasure lay in drawing him out, in having him amongst them. In his happiness, his dream, to be with them, amongst them, one of them, there obtruded itself from time to time a cold, uncomfortable feeling that he was deluding himself, that the warm, glorious “We” was deceiving him, that he did not really blend in with them, that he was all the time the centre and object of the show, but in a different and more unsatisfactory way than before. They were his enemies to a certain extent, he saw it in the malice of their eyes. He heard as if at a distance, with a peculiar dismay, how the fair damsel with the big white hands called him simply by his names—and he felt that she did so in quite a different spirit to that of Doctor Ueberbein when he did the same. She had the right and the permission to do so, in a certain manner, but was nobody here then jealous for his dignity, if he himself was not? It seemed to him that they plucked at his coat, and sometimes in their excitement made wild, sneering remarks about him. A tall, fair young man with pince-nez, with whom he collided while dancing, said quite loud so that everybody could hear it: “Now then, clumsy!” And there was malice in the way in which the fair young maiden, her arm in his and a grin on her lips, whirled round with him till he was ready to drop with giddiness. While they whirled he gazed with swimming eyes at the collarbones showing under the white, rather rough skin on her neck.
They fell; they had gone too hard at it and tumbled when they tried to stop revolving, and over them stumbled a second pair, not entirely by themselves, but rather at a push from the tall young man with pince-nez. There was a scrimmage on the floor, and Klaus Heinrich heard above him in the room the chorus which came back to him from the school-playground when he had ventured on a rather daring joke by way of amusing his fellows—a “Ho, ho, ho!” only it sounded more wicked and bolder here….
When shortly after midnight, unfortunately a little behind time, Doctor Ueberbein appeared on the threshold of the buffet-room, this is what he saw: His young pupil was sitting alone on the green plush sofa by the left-hand wall, his clothes all disarranged and himself decorated in an extraordinary way. A quantity of flowers, which had previously adorned the buffet in two Ming vases, were stuck in the opening of his waistcoat, between the studs of his shirtfront, even in his collar; round his neck lay the gold chain which belonged to the maiden with the collarbones, and on his head the flat metal cover of a punch-bowl was balanced like a hat. He kept saying, “What are you doing? What are you doing …?” while the dancers, hand-in-hand in a semicircle, danced a round dance backwards and forwards in front of him with half-suppressed giggles, whispers, smirks, and ho, ho, ho's.
An unusual and unnatural flush mantled in Doctor Ueberbein's face. “Stop it! Stop it!” he cried in his resonant voice, and, in the silence, consternation, and dismay which at once ensued, he walked with long strides up to the Prince, tore away the flowers in two or three grasps, threw the chain and the cover away, then bowed and said with a stern look, “May I beg your Grand Ducal Highness …
“I've been an ass, an ass!” he repeated when he got outside.
Klaus Heinrich left the ball in his company.
That was the painful event which happened during Klaus Heinrich's year at school. As I have said, none of the participators talked about it; even to the Prince, Doctor Ueberbein did not mention the subject for years afterwards, and, as nobody crystallized the event in words, it remained incorporeal and promptly faded away, at least apparently, into oblivion.

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He had attained his majority, had been pronounced to be of age. For the first time again since his baptism, he was the centre of attention and chief actor in a great ceremony, but while he had then quietly, irresponsibly, and patiently resigned himself to the formalities which surrounded and protected him, it was incumbent on him on this day, in the midst of binding prescriptions and stern regulations, hemmed in by the drapery of weighty precedent, to inspire the spectators and to please them by maintaining an attitude of dignity and good-breeding, and at the same time to appear light-hearted.
It may be added that I use the word “drapery” not only as a figure of speech. The Prince wore a crimson mantle on this occasion, a sumptuous and theatrical article of raiment, which his father and grandfather before him had worn at their coming-of-age, and which notwithstanding days of airing, still smelt of camphor. The crimson mantle had originally belonged to the robes of the Knights of the Grimmburg Griffin, but was now nothing more than a ceremonial garb for the use of princes attaining their majority. Albrecht, the Heir Apparent, had never worn the family one. As his birthday fell in the winter, he always spent it in the South, in a place with a warm and dry climate, whither he was thinking of returning this autumn too, and as at the time of his eighteenth birthday his health had not permitted him to travel home, it had been decided to declare him officially of age in his absence, and to dispense with the Court ceremony.
As to Klaus Heinrich, there was only one opinion, especially among the representatives of the public, that the mantle suited him admirably, and he himself, notwithstanding the way in which it hampered his movements, found it a blessing, as it made it easy for him to hide his left hand. Between the canopied bed and the bellying chest of drawers in his bedroom, that was situated on the second floor looking out on the yard with the rose-bush, he made himself ready for the show, carefully and precisely, with the help of his valet, Neumann, a quiet and precise man who had been recently attached to him as keeper of his wardrobe and personal servant.
Neumann was an ex-barber, and was filled, especially in the direction of his original calling, with that passionate conscientiousness, that insatiable knowledge of the ideal, which gives rise to the highest skill. He did not shave like any ordinary shaver, he was not content to leave no stubble behind, he shaved in such a way that every shadow of a beard, every recollection of one, was removed, and without hurting the skin he managed to restore to it all its softness and smoothness. He cut Klaus Heinrich's hair exactly square above the ears, and arranged it with all the assiduity required, in his opinion, by this preparation for the Prince's ceremonial appearance. He managed that the parting should come over the left eye and run slanting back over the crown of the head, so that no tufts or wisps should stick up on it; he brushed the hair on the right side up from the forehead into a prim crest on which no hat or helmet could make an impression. Then Klaus Heinrich, with his help, squeezed himself carefully into his uniform of lieutenant in the Grenadier Guards, whose high-braided collar and tight fit favoured a dignified bearing, put on the lemon-coloured silk band and the flat gold chain of the House Order, and went down to the picture gallery where the members of the family and the foreign relations of the Grand Ducal pair were waiting. The Court was waiting in the adjoining Hall of the Knights, and it was there that Johann Albrecht himself invested his son with the crimson mantle.
Herr von Bühl zu Bühl had marshalled a procession, the ceremonial procession from the Hall of the Knights to the Throne-room. It had cost him no little worry. The composition of the Court made it difficult to contrive an impressive arrangement, and Herr von Bühl especially lamented the lack of upper Court officials, which on such occasions made itself most severely felt. The Royal Mews had recently been put under Herr von Bühl, and he felt himself quite up to his various functions, but he asked everybody how he could be expected to make a good impression, when the most important posts were filled simply by the master of the Buck-hounds, von Stieglitz, and the director of the Grand Ducal Theatre, a gouty general.
While he, in his capacity as Lord Marshal, Chief Master of the Ceremonies, and House Marshal, in his embroidered clothes and brown toupée, covered with orders and with his golden pince-nez on his nose, came waddling and planting his long staff in front of him behind the cadets, who, dressed as pages, and their hair parted over the left eye, opened the procession, he pondered deeply over what came behind him. A few chamberlains—not many, for some were wanted for the end of the procession—their plumed hats under their arms and the Key on their coat-tails, followed close at his heels, in silk stockings. Next came Herr von Stieglitz, and the limping theatre-director in front of Klaus Heinrich, who, in his mantle between the exalted couple, and followed by his brother and sister, Albrecht and Ditlinde, formed the actual nucleus of the procession.
Behind their Highnesses came von Knobelsdorff, the House Minister and President of Council, his eye-wrinkles all at work; a little knot of aides-de-camp and palace ladies came next: General Count Schmettern and Major von Platow, a Count Trümmerhauff, cousin of the Keeper of the Privy Purse, as military aide-de-camp of the Heir Apparent, and the Grand Duchess's women led by the short-winded Baroness von Schulenburg-Tressen. Then followed, attended and followed by aides-de-camp, chamberlains, and Court ladies, Princess Catherine, with her red-haired progeny, Prince Lambert with his lovely wife, and the foreign relations or their representatives. Pages brought up the rear.
Thus they went at a measured pace from the Hall of the Knights through the Gala Halls, the Hall of the Twelve Months, and the Marble Hall into the Throne-room. Lackeys, with red-gold aiguillettes on their brown coats, stood theatrically in couples at the open double doors. Through the broad windows the June morning sun streamed gaily and recklessly in.
Klaus Heinrich looked round him as he processed between his parents through the dreary arabesques, the dilapidated decorations of the show-rooms, now not favoured by kindly artificial light. The bright daylight cheerfully and soberly showed up their decay. From the big lustres with their stiff-bound stems, stripped of their coverings in honour of the day, rose thick forests of flameless candles, but everywhere there were prisms missing, crystal festoons torn, so that they gave a canker-bit and toothless impression. The silk damask upholstery of the State furniture, which was arranged stiffly and monotonously round the walls, was thread-bare, the gilt of the frames chipped off, big blind patches marred the surfaces of the tall candle-decked mirrors, and daylight shone through the moth-holes in the faded and discoloured curtains. The gold and silver borders of the tapestry hangings had torn away in several places, and were hanging disconsolately from the walls. Even in the Silver Hall of the Gala Rooms, where the Grand Duke was wont to receive solemn deputations, and in the centre of which stood a mother-of-pearl table with stumpy silver feet, a piece of the silver work had fallen from the ceiling leaving a gaping patch of white plaster.
But why was it that it somehow seemed as if these rooms defied the sober, mocking daylight, and proudly answered its challenge? Klaus Heinrich looked sideways at his father…. The condition of the rooms did not seem to worry him. Never of more than medium height, the Grand Duke had become almost small in the course of years, but he strode majestically on with head thrown back, the lemon-coloured ribbon of the Order over his general's uniform, which he had donned today, though he had no military leanings. From under his high and bald forehead and grey eyebrows, his blue eyes, with dull rings round them, were fixed with weary dignity on the distance, and from his pointed white moustaches the two deep furrows ran down his yellowish skin to his beard, imparting to his face a look of contempt. No, the bright daylight could not do any harm to the rooms; the dilapidations did not in the least impair their dignity, they rather increased it. They stood in their discomfort, their theatrical symmetry, their strange musty play-house or church atmosphere, cold and indifferent to the merry and sun-bathed world outside—stern background of a pompous cult, at which Klaus Heinrich this day for the first time officiated.
The procession passed through the pairs of lackeys, who, with an expression of relentlessness, pressed their lips together and closed their eyes, into the white and gold expanse of the Throne-room. A wave of acts of homage, scrapings, bows, curtseys and salutes, swept through the hall as the procession passed in front of the assembled guests. There were diplomats with their wives, nobility of the Court and the country, the corps of officers of the capital, the Ministers, amongst whom could be descried the affected, confident face of the new Finance Minister, Dr. Krippenreuther, the Knights of the Great Order of the Grimmburg Griffin, the Presidents of the Diet, dignitaries of all kinds. High up in the little box above the big looking-glass by the entrance door could be descried the press representatives peering over each other's shoulders and busily writing in their notebooks…. In front of the throne-baldachin, itself a torn velvet arrangement, crowned with ostrich feathers and framed with gold fillets which would have been all the better for a touch-up, the procession divided as in a polonaise, and went through carefully prescribed evolutions.
The pages and chamberlains fell aside to right and left. Herr von Bühl, his face turned to the throne and his staff uplifted, stepped backwards and stood still in the middle of the hall. The Grand Ducal pair and their children walked up the rounded, red-carpeted steps to the capacious gilded chairs which stood at the top. The remaining members of the House, with the foreign princes, ranged themselves on both sides of the throne; behind them stood the suite, the maids of honour and the grooms of the chambers, and the pages stood on the steps. At a gesture from Johann Albrecht, Herr von Knobelsdorff, who had previously taken up his stand over against the throne, advanced straight to the velvet-covered table, which stood by the side of the steps, and began at once to read from various documents the official formalities.
Klaus Heinrich was declared to be of age and fit and entitled to wear the crown, should necessity require it—every eye was turned on him at this place, and at his Royal Highness Albrecht, his elder brother, who stood close to him. The Heir Apparent was wearing the uniform of a captain in the Hussar regiment which was called by his name. From his silver-laced collar stretched an unmilitary width of civil stand-up collar, and on it rested his fine, shrewd, and delicate head, with its long skull and narrow temples, the straw-coloured moustache on the upper lip, and the blue, lonely-looking eyes which had seen death. He looked not in the least like a cavalry officer, yet so slender and unapproachably aristocratic that Klaus Heinrich, with his national cheekbones, looked almost coarse beside him. The Heir Apparent pursed up his lips when everybody looked at him, protruded his short rounded underlip, and sucked it lightly against the upper one.
Several of the country's orders were bestowed on the Prince who had just come of age, including the Albrecht Cross and the Great Order of the Grimmburg Griffin, not to mention that he was confirmed in the House Order whose insignia he had possessed since his tenth birthday. Afterwards came the congratulations in the form of a processional Court, led by the fawning Herr von Bühl, after which the gala-breakfast began in the Marble Hall and in the hall of the Twelve Months.
The foreign princes were entertained for the next few days. A garden-party was given in Hollerbrunn, with fireworks and dancing for the young people of the Court in the park. Festive excursions with pages in attendance were made through the sunny countryside to Monbrillant, Jägerpreis, and Haderstein Ruins, and the people, that inferior order of creation with the searching eyes and the high cheekbones, stood on the kerb and cheered themselves and their representatives. In the capital Klaus Heinrich's photograph hung in the windows of the art-dealers, and the Courier actually published a printed likeness of him, a popular and strangely idealized representation, showing the Prince in the crimson mantle. But then came yet another great day—Klaus Heinrich's formal entry into the Army, into the regiment of Grenadier Guards.
This is what happened. The regiment to which fell the honour of having Klaus Heinrich as one of its officers was drawn up on the Albrechtsplatz in open square. Many a plume waved in the middle. The princes of the House and the generals were all present. The public, a black mass against the gay background, crowded behind the barriers. Cameras were levelled in several places at the scene of action. The Grand Duchess, with the princesses and their ladies, watched the show from the windows of the Old Schloss.
First of all, Klaus Heinrich, dressed as a lieutenant, reported himself formally to the Grand Duke. He advanced sternly, without the shadow of a smile, towards his father, clapped his heels together and humbly acquainted him with his presence. The Grand Duke thanked him briefly, also without a smile, and then in his turn, followed by his aides-de-camp, advanced in his dress uniform and plumed hat into the square. Klaus Heinrich stood before the lowered colours, an embroidered, golden, and half-tattered piece of silk cloth, and took the oath. The Grand Duke made a speech in detached sentences and the sharp voice of command which he reserved for such occasions, in which he called his son “Your Grand Ducal Highness” and publicly clasped the Prince's hand. The Colonel of the Grenadier Guards, with crimson cheeks, led a cheer for the Grand Duke in which the guests, the regiment, and the public joined. A march past followed, and the whole ended with a military luncheon in the castle.
This picturesque ceremony in the Albrechtsplatz was without practical significance; its effect began and ended there. Klaus Heinrich never dreamed of going into garrison, but went the very same day with his parents and brother and sister to Hollerbrunn, to pass the summer there in the cool old French rooms on the river, between the wall-like hedges of the park, and then, in the autumn, to go up to the university. For so it was ordained in the programme of his life; in the autumn he went up to the university for a year, not that of the capital, but the second one of the country, accompanied by Doctor Ueberbein, his tutor.
The appointment of this young savant as mentor was once more attributable to an express, ardent wish of the Prince, and indeed, as far as the choice of tutor and older companions was concerned, whom Klaus Heinrich was to have at his side during this year of student freedom, it was considered necessary to give a reasonable amount of consideration to his expressed wishes. Yet there was much to be said against this choice; it was unpopular, or at least criticized aloud or in whispers in many quarters.
Raoul Ueberbein was not loved in the capital. Due respect was paid to his medal for life-saving and to all his feverish energy, but the man was no genial fellow-citizen, no jolly comrade, no blameless official. The most charitable saw in him an oddity with a determined and uncomfortably reckless disposition, who recognized no Sunday, no holiday, no relaxation, and did not understand being a man amongst men after work was done. This natural son of an adventuress had worked his way up from the depths of society, from an obscure and prospectless youth without means, by dint of sheer strength of will, to being, first school teacher, then academic professor, then university lecturer, had lived to see his appointment—had “engineered” it, as many said—to the “Pheasantry” as teacher of a Grand Ducal Prince, and yet he knew no rest, no contentment, no comfortable enjoyment of life…. But life, as every decent man, thinking of Doctor Ueberbein, truly observed, life does not consist only of profession and performance, it has its purely human claims and duties, the neglect of which is a greater sin than the display of some measure of joviality towards oneself and one's fellows in the sphere of one's work, and only that personality can be considered a harmonious one which succeeds in giving its due to each part, profession and human feelings, life and performance.
Ueberbein's lack of any sense of camaraderie was bound to tell against him. He avoided all social intercourse with his colleagues, and his circle of friends was confined to the person of one man of another scientific sphere, a surgeon and children's specialist with the unsympathetic name of Sammet, a very popular surgeon to boot, who shared certain characteristics with Ueberbein. But it was only very rarely—and then only as a sort of favour—that he turned up at the club where the teachers gathered after the day's work and worry, for a glass of beer, a rubber, or a free exchange of views on public and personal questions—but he passed his evenings, and, as his landlady reported, also a great part of the night, working at science in his study, while his complexion grew greener and greener, and his eyes showed more and more clearly signs of overstrain.
The authorities had been moved, shortly after his return from the “Pheasantry,” to promote him to head master. Where was he going to stop? At Director? High-school Professor? Minister for Education? Everybody agreed that his immoderate and restless energy concealed imprudence and defiance of public opinion—or rather did not conceal them. His demeanour, his loud, blustering mode of speaking annoyed, irritated, and exasperated people. His tone towards members of the teaching profession who were older and in higher positions than himself was not what it should be. He treated everybody, from the Director down to the humblest usher, in a fatherly way, and his habit of talking of himself as of a man who had “knocked about,” of gassing about “Fate and Duty,” and thereby displaying his benevolent contempt for all those who “weren't obliged to” and “smoked cigars in the morning,” showed conceit pure and simple. His pupils adored him; he achieved remarkable results with them, that was agreed. But on the whole the Doctor had many enemies in the town, more than he ever guessed, and the misgiving that his influence on the Prince might be an undesirable one was put into words in at least one portion of the daily press….
Anyhow Ueberbein obtained leave from the Latin school, and went first of all alone, in the capacity of billeter, on a visit to the famous student town, within whose walls Klaus Heinrich was destined to pass the year of his apprenticeship, and on his return he was received in audience by Excellency von Knobelsdorff, the Minister of the Grand Ducal House, to receive the usual instructions. Their tenour was that almost the most important object of this year was to establish traditions of comradeship on the common ground of academic freedom between the Prince and the student corps, especially in the interests of the dynasty—the regulation phrases, which Herr von Knobelsdorff rattled off almost casually, and which Doctor Ueberbein listened to with a silent bow, while he drew his mouth, and with it his red beard, a little to one side. Then followed Klaus Heinrich's departure with his mentor, a dogcart and a servant or two, for the university.
A glorious year, full of the charm of artistic freedom, in the public eye and in the mirror of public report—yet without technical importance of any kind. Misgivings which had been felt in some quarters that Doctor Ueberbein, through mistaking and misunderstanding the position, might worry the Prince with excessive demands in the direction of objective science, proved unfounded. On the contrary, it was obvious that the doctor quite realized the difference between his own earnest, and his pupil's exalted, sphere of existence. On the other hand (whether it was the mentor's or the Prince's own fault does not matter) the freedom and the unconstrained camaraderie, like the instruction, were interpreted in a very relative and symbolical sense so that neither the one nor the other, neither the knowledge nor the freedom, could be said to be the essence and peculiarity of the year. Its essence and peculiarity were rather, as it appeared, the year in itself, as the embodiment of custom and impressive ceremoniousness, to which Klaus Heinrich deferred, just as he had deferred to the theatrical rites on his last birthday—only now not with a purple cloak, but occasionally wearing a coloured student's cap, the so-called “Stürmer,” in which he was portrayed in a photograph issued at once by the Courier to its readers.
As to his studies, his matriculation was not marked by any particular festivities, though some reference was made to the honour which Klaus Heinrich's admission bestowed on the university, and the lectures he attended began with the address: “Grand Ducal Highness!” He drove in his dogcart with a groom from the pretty green-clad villa, which the Marshal of his father's household had leased for him in a select and not too expensive square, amid the remarks and greetings of the passers-by, to the lectures, and there he sat with the consciousness that the whole thing was unessential and unnecessary for his exalted calling, yet with a show of courteous attention.
Charming anecdotes of the signs the Prince gave of interest in the lectures went about and had their due effect. Towards the end of one course on Nature Study (for Klaus Heinrich attended these courses also “for general information”) the Professor, by way of illustration, had filled a metal shell with water and announced that the water, when frozen, would burst the shell by expansion; he promised to show the class the pieces next lecture. Now he had not kept his word on this point at the next lecture, probably out of forgetfulness: the broken shell had not been forthcoming—Klaus Heinrich had therefore inquired as to the result of the experiment. He had joined in asking questions of the professor at the end of the lecture, just like any ordinary student, and had modestly asked him: “Has the bomb burst?”—whereupon the Professor, full of embarrassment at first, had then expressed his thanks with glad surprise, and indeed emotion, for the kind interest the Prince had expressed in his lectures.
Klaus Heinrich was honorary member of a student's club—only honorary, because he was not allowed to fight duels—and once or twice attended their wines, his Stürmer on his head. But since his guardians were well aware that the results the influence of strong drink had on his highly strung and delicate temperament were absolutely irreconcilable with his exalted calling, he did not dare to drink seriously, and his comrades were obliged on this point too to bear his Highness in mind. Their rude customs were judiciously limited to a casual one or two, the general tone was as exemplary as it used to be in the upper form at school, the songs they sang were old ones of real poetry, and the meetings were, as a whole, gala and parade nights, refined editions of the ordinary ones. The use of Christian names was the bond of union between Klaus Heinrich and his corps brothers, as the expression and basis of spontaneous comradeship. But it was generally observed that this use sounded false and artificial, however great the efforts to make it otherwise, and that the students were always falling back unintentionally into the form of address which took due notice of the Prince's Highness.
Such was the effect of his presence, of his friendly, alert, and always uncompromising attitude which sometimes produced strange, even comical phenomena in the demeanour of the persons with whom the Prince came into contact. One evening, at a soirée which one of his professors gave, he engaged a guest in conversation—a fat man of some age, a King's Counsel by his title, who, despite his social importance, enjoyed the reputation of a great roué and a regular old sinner. The conversation, whose subject is a matter of no consequence and indeed would be difficult to specify, lasted for a considerable time because no opportunity of breaking it off presented itself. And suddenly, in the middle of his talk with the Prince, the barrister whistled—whistled with his thick lips one of those pointless sequences of notes which one utters when one is embarrassed and wants to appear at one's ease, and then tried to cover his comic breach of manners by clearing his throat and coughing. Klaus Heinrich was accustomed to experiences of that kind, and tactfully passed on.
If at any time he wanted to make a purchase himself and went into a shop, his entrance caused a kind of panic. He would ask for what he wanted, a button perhaps, but the girl would not understand him, would look dazed, and unable to fix her attention on the button, but obviously absorbed by something else—something outside and above her duties as a shop-assistant—she would drop a few things, turn the boxes upside down in obvious helplessness, and it was all Klaus Heinrich could do to restore her composure by his friendly manner.

The society of the university town had no time to reach a definite verdict on the question. The year of student life was over before one could turn round, and Klaus Heinrich returned, as prescribed by the programme of his life, to his father's palace, there, despite his left arm, to pass a full year in serious military service. He was attached to the Dragoons of the Guard for six months, and directed the taking up of intervals of eight paces for lance-exercises as well as the forming of squares, as if he were a serious soldier; then changed his weapon and transferred to the Grenadier Guards, so as to get an insight into infantry work also. It fell to him to march to the Schloss and change the Guard—an evolution which attracted large crowds. He came swiftly out of the Guard-room, his star on his breast, placed himself with drawn sword on the flank of the company and gave not quite correct orders, which, however, did not matter, as his stout soldiers executed the right movements all the same.
On guest-nights, too, at head-quarters, he sat on the colonel's right hand, and by his presence prevented the officers from unhooking their uniform collars and playing cards after dinner. After this, being now twenty years old, he started on an “educational tour”—no longer in the company of Doctor Ueberbein, but in that of a military attendant and courier, Captain von Braunbart-Schellendorf of the Guards, a fair-haired officer who was destined to be Klaus Heinrich's aide-de-camp, and to whom the tour gave an opportunity of establishing himself on a footing of intimacy and influence with him.
Klaus Heinrich did not see much in his educational tour, which took him far afield, and was keenly followed by the Courier. He visited the courts, introduced himself to the sovereigns, attended gala dinners with Captain von Braunbart, and on his departure received one of the country's superior Orders. He took a look at such sights as Captain von Braunbart (who also received several Orders) chose for him, and the Courier reported from time to time that the Prince had expressed his admiration of a picture, a museum, or a building to the director or curator who happened to be his cicerone. He travelled apart, protected and supported by the chivalrous precautions of Captain von Braunbart, who kept the purse, and to whose devoted zeal was due the fact that not one of Klaus Heinrich's trunks was missing at the end of the journey.
In pursuance of an agreement by letter between Captain von Braunbart and his foreign friend (also a cavalry captain), Klaus Heinrich was thrown in contact with the damsel the latter loved (a young lady member of the theatrical world, an accommodating and at the same time trustworthy young person) at her home—suitably arranged for the purpose—and the acquaintance allowed to develop à deux. Thus an expressly foreseen item in the educational tour was conscientiously realized, without Klaus Heinrich being involved in more than a casual acquaintance. The damsel received a memento for her services, and Captain von Braunbart's friend a decoration. So the incident closed.
Klaus Heinrich also visited the fair Southern lands, incognito, under a romantic-sounding title. There he would sit, alone, perhaps for a quarter of an hour, dressed in a suit of irreproachable cut, among other foreigners on a white restaurant terrace looking over a dark blue sea, and it might happen that somebody at another table would notice him, and try, in the manner of tourists, to engage him in conversation. What could he be, that quiet and self-possessed-looking young man? People ran over the various spheres of life, tried to fit him into the merchant, the military, the student class. But they never felt that they had got it quite right—they felt his Highness, but nobody guessed it.


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Grand Duke Johann Albrecht died of a terrible illness, which had something naked and abstract about it, and to which no other name but just that of death could be given. It seemed as if death, sure of its prey, in this case disdained any mask or gloss, and came on the scene as its very self, as dissolution by and for itself. What actually happened was a decomposition of the blood, caused by internal hæmorrhages; and an exploratory operation,
which   was conducted by the Director of the University Hospital, a famous surgeon, could not arrest the corroding progress of the gangrene. The end soon came, all the sooner that Johann Albrecht made little resistance to the approach of death. He showed signs of an unutterable weariness, and often remarked to his attendants, as well as to the surgeons attending him, that he was “dead sick of the whole thing”—meaning, of course, his princely existence, his exalted life in the glare of publicity. His cheek-furrows, those two lines of arrogance and boredom, resolved in his last days into an exaggerated, grotesque grimace, and continued thus until death smoothed them out.
The Grand Duke's illness fell in the winter. Albrecht, the Heir Apparent, called away from his warm dry resort, arrived in snowy wet weather, which was as bad for his health as it could be. His brother, Klaus Heinrich, interrupted his educational tour, which was anyhow nearing its close, and returned with Captain von Braunbart-Schellendorf in all haste from the fair land of the South to the capital. Besides the two prince-sons, the Grand Duchess Dorothea, the Princesses Catherine and Ditlinde, Prince Lambert without his lovely wife—the surgeons in attendance and Prahl the valet-de-chambre waited at the bedside, while the Court officials and Ministers on duty were collected in the adjoining room. If credence might be given to the assertions of the servants, the ghostly noise in the “Owl Chamber” had been exceptionally loud in the last weeks and days. According to them it was a rattling and a shaking noise, which recurred periodically, and whose meaning could not be distinguished outside the room.
Johann Albrecht's last act of Highness consisted in giving with his own hand to the professor, who had performed the useless operation with the greatest skill, his patent of nomination to the Privy Council. He was terribly exhausted, “sick of the whole thing,” and his consciousness even in his more lucid moments was not at all clear; but he carried out the act with scrupulous care and made a ceremony of it. He had himself propped up, made a few alterations, shading his eyes with his wax-coloured hands, in the chance disposition of those present, ordered his sons to place themselves on both sides of his canopied bed—and while his soul was already tugging at her moorings, and floating here and there on unknown currents, he composed his features with mechanical skill into his smile of graciousness for the handing of the diploma to the Professor, who had left the room for a short time.
Quite towards the end, when the dissolution had already attacked the brain, the Grand Duke made one wish clear, which, though scarcely understood, was hastily complied with, although its fulfilment could not do the slightest good to the Grand Duke. Certain words, apparently disconnected, kept recurring in the murmurings of the sick man. He named several stuffs, silk, satin, and brocade, mentioned Prince Klaus Heinrich, used a technical expression in medicine, and said something about an Order, the Albrecht Cross of the Third Class with Crown. Between whiles one caught quite ordinary remarks, which apparently referred to the dying man's princely calling, and sounded like “extraordinary obligation” and “comfortable majority”; then the descriptions of the stuffs began again, to which was appended in a louder voice the word “Sammet.”(1) At last it was realized that the Grand Duke wanted Doctor Sammet to be called in, the doctor who had happened to be present at the Grimmburg at the time of Klaus Heinrich's birth, twenty years before, and had, for a long time now, been practising in the capital.
(1) I.e., velvet.
The doctor was really a children's doctor, but he was summoned and came: already nearly grey on the temples, with a drooping moustache, surmounted by a nose which was rather too flat at the bottom, clean-shaven otherwise and with cheeks rather sore from shaving. With head on one side, his hand on his watch-chain, and elbows close to his sides, he examined the situation, and began at once to busy himself in a practical, gentle way about his exalted patient, whereat the latter expressed his satisfaction in no uncertain fashion. Thus it was that it fell to Doctor Sammet to administer the last injections to the Grand Duke, with his supporting hand to ease the final spasms, and to be, more than any of the other doctors, his helper in death—a distinction which indeed provoked some secret irritation amongst the others, but on the other hand resulted in the doctor's appointment shortly afterwards to the vacancy in the important post of Director and Chief Physician of the “Dorothea,” a Children's Hospital, in which capacity he was destined later to play some part in certain developments.
So died Johann Albrecht the Third, uttering his last sigh on a winter's night. The old castle was brightly illuminated while he was passing away. The stern furrows of boredom were smoothed out in his face, and, relieved of any exertion on his own part, he was subjected to formalities which surrounded him for the last time, carried him along, and made his wax-like shell just once more the focus and object of theatrical rites…. Herr von Bühl zu Bühl showed his usual energy in organizing the funeral, which was attended by many princely guests. The gloomy ceremonies, the different exposures and identifications, corpse-parades, blessings, and memorial services at the catafalque took days to complete, and Johann Albrecht's corpse was for eight hours exposed to public view, surrounded by a guard of honour consisting of two colonels, two first lieutenants, two cavalry sergeants, two infantry sergeants, two corporals, and two chamberlains.
Then at last came the moment when the zinc shell was brought by eight lackeys from the altar recess of the Court Church, where it had been on show between crape-covered candelabra and six-foot candles, to the entry-hall, placed by eight foresters in the mahogany coffin, carried by eight Grenadier Guardsmen to the six-horsed and black-draped hearse, which set off for the mausoleum amidst cannon salvos and the tolling of bells. The flags hung heavy with rain from the middle of their poles. Although it was early morning, the gas-lamps were burning in the streets along which the funeral was to pass. Johann Albrecht's bust was displayed amongst mourning decorations in the shop-windows, and postcards with the portrait of the deceased ruler, which were everywhere for sale, were in great demand. Behind the rows of troops, the gymnastic clubs, and veteran associations which kept the road, stood the people on tiptoe in the snow-brash and gazed with bowed heads at the slowly passing coffin, preceded by the wreath-bearing lackeys, the Court officials, the bearers of the insignia and Dom Wislezenus, the Court preacher, and covered with a silver-worked pall, whose corners were held by Lord Marshal von Bühl, Master of the Royal Hunt von Stieglitz, Adjutant-General Count Schmettern, and Minister of the Household von Knobelsdorff.
By the side of his brother Klaus Heinrich, immediately behind the charger which was led in rear of the hearse, and at the head of the other mourners, walked Grand Duke Albrecht II. His clothes, the tall stiff plume in the front of his busby, the long boots under his gaudy, ample Hussar's pelisse, with the crape band, did not become him. He walked as if embarrassed by the eyes of the crowd, and his shoulder-blades, naturally rather crooked, were twisted in an awkward nervous way as he walked. Repugnance at having to be chief actor in this funeral pomp was clearly written on his pale face. He did not raise his eyes as he walked, and he sucked his short rounded lower lip against the upper….
His demeanour remained the same during the Curialia accompanying his accession, which were so arranged as to spare him as much as possible. The Grand Duke signed the oath in the Silver Hall of the Gala Rooms before the assembled Ministers, and read aloud in the Throne-room, standing in front of the rounded chair under the baldachin, the Speech from the Throne, which Herr von Knobelsdorff had drawn up.
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Albrecht II lived a lonely life in the Old Schloss; that was unavoidable in the nature of things. In the first place, Prince Klaus Heinrich, since Johann Albrecht's death, kept a Court of his own. That was demanded by etiquette, and he had been given the “Hermitage” as a residence, that Empire Schloss on the fringe of the northern suburbs, which, reposeful and charming, but long uninhabited and neglected, in the middle of its overgrown park next the Town Gardens, looked down on its little mud-thick pond. Some time ago, when Albrecht came of age, the “Hermitage” had been freshened up and for form's sake destined to be the Heir Apparent's palace; but as Albrecht had always come in summer straight from his warm, dry foreign resort to Hollerbrunn, he had never used his palace….
Klaus Heinrich lived there without unnecessary expense, with one major-domo, who superintended the household, a Baron von Schulenburg-Tressen, nephew of the Mistress of the Robes. Besides his valet, Neumann, he had two other lackeys for his daily needs; he borrowed the gamekeeper when necessary for ceremonial shoots, from the Grand Duke's Court. One coachman and a couple of grooms in red waistcoats looked after the carriages and horses, which consisted of one pony-cart, one brougham, one dog-cart, two riding and two carriage horses. One gardener, helped by two boys, looked after the park and the garden; and one cook with her kitchen-maid, as well as two chambermaids, made up the female staff of the “Hermitage.”
It was Court Marshal von Schulenburg's business to keep his young master's establishment going on the apanage which the Landtag, after Albrecht's accession, had voted the Grand Duke's brother after a serious debate. It amounted to two thousand five hundred pounds. For the sum of four thousand pounds, which had been the original demand, had never had any prospect of recommending itself to the Landtag, and so a wise and magnanimous act of self-denial had been credited to Klaus Heinrich, which had made an excellent impression in the country. Every winter Herr von Schulenburg sold the ice from the pond. He had the hay in the park mowed twice every summer and sold. After the harvests the surface of the fields looked almost like English turf.
Further, Dorothea, the Dowager Grand Duchess, no longer lived in the Old Schloss, and the causes of her retirement were both sad and uncomfortable. For she too, the Princess whom the much-travelled Herr von Knobelsdorff had described more than once as one of the most beautiful women he had ever seen, the Princess whose radiant smiles had evoked joy, enthusiasm, and cheers whenever she had shown herself to the longing gaze of the toil-worn masses, she too had had to pay her tribute to time. Dorothea had aged, her calm perfection, the admiration and joy of everybody, had during recent years withered so fast and steadily that the woman in her had been unable to keep pace with the transformation. Nothing, no art, no measures, even the painful and repulsive ones, with which she tried to stave off decay, had availed to prevent the sweet brightness of her deep blue eyes from fading, rings of loose yellow skin from forming under them, the wonderful little dimples in her cheeks from turning into furrows, and her proud and hard mouth from looking drawn and bitter.
But since her heart had been hard as her beauty, and had been absorbed in that beauty, since her beauty had been her very soul and she had had no wish, no love, beyond the effect of that beauty on the hearts of others, while her own heart never beat the faster for anything or anyone, she was now disconsolate and lost, could not accommodate herself to the change and rebelled against it. Surgeon-General Eschrich said something about mental disturbance resulting from an unusually quick climacteric, and his opinion was undoubtedly correct in a sense. The sad truth at any rate was that Dorothea during the last years of her husband's life had already shown signs of profound mental disturbance and trouble.
She became light-shy, gave orders that at the Thursday concerts in the Marble Hall all the lights should be shaded red, and flew into a passion because she could not have the same thing done at all other festivities, the Court Ball, the Private Ball, the Dinner Party, and the Great Court, as the kind of twilight feeling in the Marble Hall had been enough by itself to call forth many cutting remarks. She spent whole days before her looking-glasses, and it was noticed that she fondled with her hands those which for some reason or other reflected her image in a more favourable light. Then again she had all the looking-glasses removed from her rooms, and those fixed in the wall draped, went to bed and prayed for death.
One day Baroness von Schulenburg found her quite distracted and feverish with weeping in the Hall of the Twelve Months before the big portrait which represented her at the height of her beauty…. At the same time a diseased misanthropy began to take possession of her, and both Court and people were distressed to notice how the bearing of this erstwhile goddess began to lose its assurance, her deportment became strangely awkward, and a pitiful look came into her eyes.
At last she shut herself up altogether, and, at the last Court Ball he attended, Johann Albrecht had escorted his sister Catherine instead of his “indisposed Consort.” His death was from one point of view a release for Dorothea, as it relieved her from all her duties as a sovereign. She chose as dower-house Schloss Segenhaus, a monastic-looking old hunting-seat, which lay in a solemn park about one and a half hour's drive from the capital, and had been decorated by some pious old sportsman with religious and sporting emblems curiously intermixed. There she lived, eclipsed and odd, and excursionists could often watch her from afar, walking in the park with Baroness von Schulenburg-Tressen, and bowing graciously to the trees on each side of the path.
Lastly, Princess Ditlinde had married at the age of twenty, one year after her father's death. She bestowed her hand on a prince of a mediatised house, Prince Philipp zu Ried-Hohenried, a no longer young, but well-preserved, cultured little man of advanced views, who paid her flattering attentions for some considerable time, did all his courting at first-hand, and offered the Princess his heart and hand in an honest bourgeois way at a charity function.
It would be wrong to say that this alliance evoked wild enthusiasm in the country. It was received with indifference; it disappointed. It is true, more ambitious hopes had been secretly entertained for Johann Albrecht's daughter, and all the critics could say was that the marriage could not be called a mésalliance in so many words. It was a fact that Ditlinde, in giving her hand to the Prince—which she did of her own free will, and quite uninfluenced by others—had undoubtedly descended out of her sphere of Highness into a more free and human atmosphere. Her noble spouse was not only a lover and collector of oil paintings, but also a business man and tradesman on a large scale.
The dynasty had ceased to exercise any sovereign right hundreds of years ago, but Philipp was the first of his house to make up his mind to exploit his private means in a natural way. After spending his youth in travelling, he had looked around for a sphere of activity which would keep him busy and contented, and at the same time (a matter of necessity) would increase his income. So he launched out into various enterprises, started farms, a brewery, a sugar factory, several saw-mills on his property, and began to exploit his extensive peat deposits in a methodical way. As he brought expert knowledge and sound business instincts to all his enterprises, they soon began to pay, and returned profits which, if their origin was not very princely, at any rate provided him with the means of leading a princely existence which he would otherwise not have had.
On the other hand the critics might have been asked what sort of a match they could expect for their Princess, if they viewed the matter soberly. Ditlinde, who brought her husband scarcely anything except an inexhaustible store of linen, including dozens of out-of-date and useless articles such as night-caps and neckerchiefs, which however by hallowed tradition formed part of her trousseau—she by this marriage acquired a measure of riches and comfort such as she had never been accustomed to at home: and no sacrifice of her affections was necessary to pay for them. She took the step into private life with obvious contentment and determination, and retained, of the trappings of Highness, nothing but her title. She remained on friendly terms with her ladies-in-waiting, but divested her relations with them of everything which suggested service, and avoided giving her household the character of a Court.
That might evoke surprise, especially in a Grimmburg and in Ditlinde in particular, but there was no doubt that it was her own choice. The couple spent the summer on the princely estates, the winter in the capital in the stately palace in the Albrechtstrasse, which Philipp zu Ried had inherited; and it was here, not in the Old Schloss, that the Grand Ducal family—Klaus Heinrich and Ditlinde, occasionally Albrecht as well—met now and again for a confidential talk.
So it happened that one day at the beginning of autumn, not quite two years after the death of Johann Albrecht, the Courier, well-informed as usual, published in its evening edition the news that this afternoon his Royal Highness the Grand Duke and his Grand Ducal Highness Prince Klaus Heinrich had been to tea with her Grand Ducal Highness the Princess zu Ried-Hohenried. That was all. But on that afternoon several topics of importance for the future were discussed between the brothers and sister.
Klaus Heinrich left the Hermitage shortly before five o'clock. As the weather was sunny, he had ordered the dogcart, and the open brown-varnished vehicle, clean and shining, if not over-new or smart to look at, came slowly up the broad drive of the Schloss, at a quarter to five, from the stables, which with their asphalt yard lay in the right wing of the home farm. The home farm, yellow-painted, old-fashioned buildings of one story, made one long line with, though at some distance from, the plain white mansion, the front of which, adorned with laurels at regular intervals, faced the muddy pond and the public part of the park.
For the front portion of the estate, that which marched with the town gardens, was open to pedestrians and light traffic, and all that was enclosed was the gently rising flower-garden, at the top of which lay the Schloss and the very unkempt park behind, which was divided by hedges and fences from the rubbish-encumbered waste ground at the edge of the town suburbs. So the cart came up the drive between the pond and the home farm, turned through the high garden gates, adorned with lamps which had once been gilt, passed on up the drive and waited in front of the stiff little laurel-planted terrace which led to the garden-room.
Klaus Heinrich came out a few minutes before five. He wore as usual the tight-fitting uniform of a lieutenant of the Grenadier Guards, and his sword-hilt hung on his arm. Neumann, in a violet coat whose arms were too short, ran in front of him down the steps and with his red barber's hands packed his master's folded grey over-coat into the cart. Then, while the coachman, his hand to his cockaded hat, inclined a little sideways on the box, the valet arranged the light carriage rug over Klaus Heinrich's knees and stepped back with a silent bow. The horses started off.
Outside the garden gates a few promenaders had collected. They greeted Klaus Heinrich, smiling with knitted brows and hats lifted, and Klaus Heinrich thanked them by raising his white-gloved right hand to the peak of his cap and making a succession of lively nods.
They skirted a piece of waste ground along a birch avenue, whose leaves were already turning, and then drove through the suburb, between poverty-stricken houses, over unpaved streets, where the ragged children left their hoops and tops for a moment to gaze at the carriage with curious eyes. Some cried, Hurrah! and ran for a while by the side of the carriage, with heads turned towards Klaus Heinrich. The carriage might have taken the road by the Spa-gardens; but that through the suburb was shorter, and time pressed. Ditlinde was particular on points of regularity, and easily put out if anybody disturbed her household arrangements by unpunctuality.
The traffic here was fairly heavy, and Klaus Heinrich was kept busy answering the greetings which met him. Civilians took off their hats and looked from under their eyebrows at him, officers on horse and on foot saluted, policemen front-turned, and Klaus Heinrich in his corner raised his hand to the peak of his cap and thanked on both sides with the well-trained bow and smile which were calculated to confirm the people in their feeling of participation in his splendid personality…. His way of sitting in his carriage was quite peculiar—he did not lean back indolently and comfortably in the cushions, but he took just as active a part in the motions of the carriage when driving as in those of his horse when riding; with hands crossed on his sword hilt and one foot a little advanced, he as it were “took” the unevennesses of the ground, and accommodated himself to the motion of the badly hung carriage.
The carriage crossed the Albrechtsplatz, left the Old Schloss, with the two sentries presenting arms, to the right, followed the Albrechtstrasse in the direction of the barracks of the Grenadier Guards and rolled to the left into the courtyard of the palace of the Princess of Ried. It was a building of regular proportions in the pedantic style, with a soaring gable over the main door, festooned œils-de-bœuf in the mezzanine story, high French windows in the first story, and an elegant cour d'honneur, which was formed by the two one-storied wings and was separated from the street by a circular railing, on whose pillars stone babies played. But the internal arrangements of the Schloss were, in contradistinction to the historical style of its exterior, conceived throughout in an up-to-date and comfortable bourgeois taste.
Ditlinde received her brother in a large drawing-room on the first floor with several curved sofas in pale green silk; the back part of the room was separated from the front by slender pillars, and filled with palms, plants in metal bowls, and tables covered with brilliant flowers.
“Good afternoon, Klaus Heinrich,” said the Princess. She was delicate and thin, and the only luxuriant thing about her was her fair hair, which used to lie like ram's horns round her ears and now was dressed in thick plaits above her face with its high Grimmburg cheekbones. She wore an indoor dress of soft blue-grey stuff with a white lace collar, cut in a point like a breast-plate and fastened at the waist with an old-fashioned oval brooch. Blue veins and shadows showed here and there through the delicate skin of her face, in the temples, the forehead, at the corners of her soft and calm blue eyes. Signs of approaching maternity were beginning to show themselves.
“Good afternoon, Ditlinde, you and your flowers!” answered Klaus Heinrich, as, clapping his heels together, he bent over her little, white, rather over-broad hand. “How they do smell! And the garden's full of them, I see.”
“Yes,” she said, “I love flowers. I have always longed to be able to live among quantities of flowers, living, smelling flowers, which I could watch growing—it was a kind of secret wish of mine, Klaus Heinrich, and I might almost say that I married for flowers, for in the Old Schloss, as you know, there were no flowers…. The Old Schloss and flowers! We should have had to rummage a lot to find them, I'm sure. Rat-traps and such things, plenty of them. And really, when one comes to think, the whole thing was like a disused rat-trap, so dusty and horrid … ugh!…”
“But the rose-bush, Ditlinde.”
“Yes, my goodness—one rose-bush. And that's in the guide-books, because its roses smell of decay. And the books say that it will one day smell quite natural and nice, just like any other rose. But I can't believe it.”
“You will soon,” he said, and looked at her laughingly, “have something better than your flowers to tend, little Ditlinde.”
“Yes,” she said and blushed lightly and quickly, “yes, Klaus Heinrich, I can hardly believe it. And yet it will be so, if God pleases. But come over here. We'll have a chat together once more….”
The room, on whose threshold they had been talking, was small in comparison with its height, with a grey-blue carpet, and furnished with cheery-looking silver-grey furniture, the chairs of which were upholstered in blue silk. A milk-white china chandelier hung from the white-festooned centre of the ceiling, and the walls were adorned with oil paintings of various sizes, acquisitions of Prince Philipp's, light studies in the new style, representing white goats in the sun, poultry in the sun, sun-bathed meadows and peasants with blinking, sun-sprinkled faces.
The spindle-legged secretaire in the white-curtained window was covered with a hundred carefully arranged articles, knick-knacks, writing materials, and several dainty note-blocks—for the Princess was accustomed to make careful and comprehensive notes about all her duties and plans. In front of the inkstand a housekeeper's book, in which Ditlinde had apparently just been working, lay open, and by the table there hung on the wall a little silk-trimmed block-calendar, under the printed date of which could be seen the pencil note: “5 o'clock: my brothers.” Between the sofa and a semicircle of chairs over against the white swing doors into the reception room stood an oval table with a damask cloth and blue-silk border; the flowered tea-service, a jam-pot, long dishes of sweet cakes, and tiny pieces of bread and butter were arranged in ordered disorder on it, and to one side steamed the silver tea-kettle over its spirit-flame on a glass table. But there were flowers everywhere—flowers in the vases on the writing-table, on the tea-table, on the glass table, on the china-cabinet, on the table next the white sofa, and a flower-table full of flower-pots stood in the window.
This room, situated at the side and in a corner of the suite of reception rooms, was Ditlinde's cabinet, her boudoir, the room in which she used to entertain quite intimate friends and to make tea with her own hands. Klaus Heinrich watched her as she washed out the tea-pot with hot water and put the tea in with a silver spoon.
“And Albrecht … is he coming?” he asked with an involuntarily restrained voice.
“I hope so,” she said, bending attentively over the crystal tea-caddy, as if to avoid spilling any tea (and he too avoided looking at her). “I have of course asked him, Klaus Heinrich, but you know he cannot bind himself. It depends on his health whether he comes. I'm making our tea at once, for Albrecht will drink his milk…. Possibly too Jettchen may look in for a bit today. You will enjoy seeing her again. She's so lively, and has always got such a lot to tell us.”
“Jettchen” meant Fräulein von Isenschnibbe, the Princess's friend and confidante. They had been on Christian-name terms since they were children.
“In armour, too, as usual?” said Ditlinde, placing the filled tea-pot on its stand and examining her brother. “In uniform as usual, Klaus Heinrich?”
He stood with heels together and rubbed his left hand, which was cold, on his chest with his right.
“Yes, Ditlinde, I like it, I'd rather. It fits so tight, you see, and it braces me up. Besides, it is cheaper, for a proper wardrobe runs into a terrible lot of money, I believe, and Schulenburg is always going on about how dear things are, without that. So I manage with two or three coats, and yet can show myself in my rich relations' houses.”
“Rich relations!” laughed Ditlinde. “Still some way off that, Klaus Heinrich!”
They sat down at the tea-table, Ditlinde on a sofa, Klaus Heinrich on a chair opposite the window.
“Rich relations!” she repeated, and the subject obviously excited her. “No, far from it; how can we expect to be rich, where cash is so short and everything is sunk in various enterprises, Klaus Heinrich? And they are young and in the making, they're all in the development stage, as dear Philipp says, and won't bear full fruit till others have succeeded us. But things are improving, that much is true, and I keep the household straight….”
“Yes, Ditlinde, you do keep it straight and no mistake!”
“Keep it straight, and write everything down and look after the servants, and after all the payments which one's duty to the world demands have been made, there is a nice little sum to put by every year for the children. And dear Philipp…. He sends his greetings, Klaus Heinrich—I forgot, he's very sorry not to be able to be here today…. We've only just got back from Hohenried, and there he is already under way, at his office, on his properties—he's small and delicate naturally, but when his peat or his saw-mills are in question he gets red cheeks, and he says himself that he has been much better since he has had so much to do.”
“Does he say so?” asked Klaus Heinrich, and a sad look came into his eyes, as he looked straight beyond the flower-table at the bright window…. “Yes, I can quite believe that it must be very stimulating to be so really splendidly busy. In my park too the meadows have been mowed a second time this year already, and I love seeing the hay built up in steep heaps with a stick through the middle of each, looking for all the world like a camp of little Indians' huts, and then Schulenburg intends to sell it. But of course that cannot be compared …”
“Oh, you!” said Ditlinde, and drew her chin in. “With you it's quite different, Klaus Heinrich! The next to the throne! You are called to other things, I imagine. My goodness, yes! You enjoy your popularity with the people….”
They were silent for a while. Then he said:
“And you, Ditlinde, if I'm not mistaken you're as happy as, even happier than, before. I don't say that you have got red cheeks, like Philipp from his peat; you always were a bit transparent, and you are still. But you look flourishing. I haven't yet asked, since you married, but I think there's nothing to worry about in connexion with you.”
She sat in an easy position, with her arm lightly folded across her lap.
“Yes,” she said, “I'm all right, Klaus Heinrich, your eyes don't deceive you, and it would be ungrateful of me not to acknowledge my good fortune. You see, I know quite well that many people in the country are disappointed by my marriage and say that I have ruined myself, and demeaned myself, and so on. And such people are not far to seek, for brother Albrecht, as you know as well as I do, in his heart despises my dear Philipp and me into the bargain, and can't abide him, and calls him privately a tradesman and shopkeeper. But that doesn't bother me, for I meant it when I accepted Philipp's hand—seized it, I would say, if it didn't sound so wild—accepted it because it was warm and honest, and offered to take me away from the Old Schloss. For when I look back and think of the Old Schloss and life in it as I should have gone on living if it had not been for dear Philipp, I shudder, Klaus Heinrich, and I feel that I could not have borne it and should have become strange and queer like poor mamma. I am a bit delicate naturally, as you know, I should have simply gone under in so much desolation and sadness, and when dear Philipp came, I thought: now's your chance. And when people say that I am a bad Princess, because I have in a way abdicated, and fled here where it is rather warmer and more friendly, and when they say that I lack dignity or consciousness of Highness, or whatever they call it, they are stupid and ignorant, Klaus Heinrich, because I have too much, I have on the contrary too much of it, that's a fact, otherwise the Old Schloss would not have had such an effect upon me, and Albrecht ought to see that, for he too, in his way, has too much of it—all we Grimmburgers have too much of it, and that's why it sometimes looks as if we had too little of it. And sometimes, when Philipp is under way, as he is now, and I sit here among my flowers and Philipp's pictures with all their sun—it's lucky that it's painted sun, for bless me! otherwise we should have to get sun-blinds—and everything is tidy and clean, and I think of the blessing, as you call it, in store for me, then I seem to myself like the little mermaid in the fairy-tale which the Swiss governess read to us, if you remember—who married a mortal and got legs instead of her fish's tail…. I don't know if you understand me….”
“Oh yes, Ditlinde, of course, I understand you perfectly. And I am really glad that everything has turned out so well and happily for you. For it is dangerous, I may tell you, in my experience it is difficult for us to be suitably happy. It's so easy to go wrong and be misunderstood, for the nuisance is that nobody protects our dignity for us if we don't do it ourselves, and then blame and scandal so readily follow…. But which is the right way? You have found it. They have quite recently announced my engagement with Cousin Griseldis in the newspapers. That was a ballon d'essai, as they call it, and they think it was a very happy one. But Griseldis is a silly girl, and half-dead with anæmia, and never says anything but ‘yes,’ so far as I know. I've never given her a thought, nor has Knobelsdorff, thank goodness. The news was at once announced to be unfounded…. Here comes Albrecht!” he said, and stood up.
A cough was heard outside. A footman in olive-green livery threw open the swing doors with a quick, firm, and noiseless movement of both arms, and announced in a subdued voice: “His Royal Highness the Grand Duke.”
Then he stepped aside with a bow. Albrecht advanced through the room.
He had traversed the hundred yards from the Old Schloss hither in a closed carriage, with his huntsman on the box. He was in mufti, as almost always, wore a buttoned-up frock-coat with little satin lapels, and patent-leather boots on his small feet. Since his accession he had grown an imperial. His short fair hair was brushed back on each of his narrow, sunk temples. His gait was an awkward and yet indescribably distinguished strut, which gave his shoulder-blades a peculiar twist. He carried his head well back and stuck his short round underlip out, sucking gently with it against the upper one.
The Princess went to the threshold to meet him. He disliked hand-kissing, so he simply held out his hand with a soft almost whispered greeting—his thin, cold hand which looked so sensitive and which he stretched out from his chest while keeping his forearm close to his body. Then he greeted his brother Klaus Heinrich in the same way, who had waited for him standing with heels close together in front of his chair—and said nothing further.
Ditlinde talked. “It's very nice of you to come, Albrecht. So you're feeling well? You look splendid. Philipp wishes me to tell you how sorry he is to have to be out this afternoon. Sit down, won't you, anywhere you like—here, for instance, opposite me. That chair's a pretty comfortable one, you sat in it last time. I've made tea for us in the meantime. You'll have your milk directly….”
“Thanks,” he said quietly. “I must beg pardon … I'm late. You know, the shorter the road … And then I have to lie down in the afternoon…. There's no one else coming?”
“No one else, Albrecht. At the most, Jettchen Isenschnibbe may look in for a bit, if you don't object….”
“Oh?”
“But I can just as well say ‘Not at home.’”
“Oh no, pray don't.”
Hot milk was brought. Albrecht clasped the tall, thick, studded glass in both hands.
“Ah, something warm,” he said. “How cold it is already in these parts! And I've been frozen the whole summer in Hollerbrunn. Haven't you started fires yet? I have. But then again the smell of the stoves upsets me. All stoves smell. Von Bühl promises me central heating for the Old Schloss every autumn. But it seems not to be feasible.”
“Poor Albrecht,” said Ditlinde, “at this time of year you used to be already in the South, so long as father was alive. You must long for it.”
“Your sympathy does you credit, dear Ditlinde,” answered he, still in a low and slightly lisping voice. “But we must show that I am on the spot. I must rule the country, as you know, that's what I'm here for. Today I have been graciously pleased to allow some worthy —I'm sorry I can't remember his name—to accept and wear a foreign order. Further, I have had a telegram sent to the annual meeting of the Horticultural Society, in which I assumed the honorary Presidency of the Society and pledged my word to further its efforts in every way—without really knowing what furthering I could do beyond sending the telegram, for the members are quite well able to take care of themselves. Further, I have deigned to confirm the choice of a certain worthy fellow to be mayor of my fair Siebenberge—in connection with which I should like to know whether this my subject will be a better mayor for my confirmation than he would have been without it….”
“Well, well, Albrecht, those are trifles!” said Ditlinde. “I'm convinced that you've had more serious business to do….”
The brother and sister were silent. Ditlinde looked at her lap in an embarrassed way, and Klaus Heinrich gazed, as he tugged at his little bow-shaped moustache, between her and the Grand Duke at the bright window.
“I can quite follow you, Albrecht,” said he after a while, “though it is rather cruel of you to compare yourself and us with ‘the Hatter.’ You see, I too understand nothing about sliding scales and taxation of tourist traffic and peat-cutting, and there is such a lot about which I know nothing—everything which is covered by the expression ‘the misery in the world’—hunger and want, and the struggle for existence, as it is called, and war and hospital horrors, and all that. I have seen and studied not one of these, except death itself, when father died, and that too was not death as it can be, but rather it was edifying, and the whole Schloss was illuminated. And at times I feel ashamed of myself because I have not knocked about the world. But then I tell myself that mine is not a comfortable life, not at all comfortable, although I ‘wander on the heights of mankind,’ as people express it, or perhaps just because I do, and that I perhaps in my own way know more about the strenuousness of life, its ‘tight-lipped countenance,’ if you will allow me the expression, than many a one who knows all about the sliding scales or any other single department of life. And the upshot of that is, Albrecht, that my life is not a comfortable one—that's the upshot of everything—if you will allow me this retort, and that is how we justify ourselves. And if people cry ‘Hi!’ when they see me, they must know why they do so, and my life must have some raison d'être, although I am prevented from playing any serious part in anything, as you so admirably express it. And you're quite justified too. You wave to order, because the people wish you to wave, and if you do not really control their wishes and aspirations, yet you express them and give them substance, and may be that's no slight matter.”
Albrecht sat upright at the table. He held his thin, strangely sensitive-looking hands crossed on the table-edge in front of the tall, half-empty glass of milk, and his eyelids dropped, and he sucked his underlip against his upper. He answered quietly: “I'm not surprised that so popular a prince as you should be contented with his lot. I for my part decline to express somebody else in my own person—I decline to, say, and you may think it's a case of sour grapes as much as you like. The truth is that I care for the ‘Hi!’ of the people just as little as any living soul possibly could care. I say soul, not body. The flesh is weak—there's something in one which expands at applause and contracts at cold silence. But my reason rises superior to all considerations of popularity or unpopularity. If I did succeed in being a true national representative, I know what that would amount to. A misconception of my personality. Besides, a few hand-claps from people one does not know are not worth a shrug of the shoulders. Others—you—may be inspired by the feeling of the people behind you. You must forgive me for being too matter-of-fact to feel any such mysterious feeling of happiness—and too keen on cleanliness also, if you will allow me to put it thus. That kind of happiness stinks, to my thinking. Anyhow, I'm a stranger to the people. I give them nothing—what can they give me? With you … oh, that's quite different. Hundreds of thousands, who are like you, are grateful to you because they can recognize themselves in you. You may laugh if you like. The chief danger you run is that you submerge yourself in your popularity too readily; and yet after all you feel no apprehensions, although you are aware at this very moment …”
“No, Albrecht, I don't think so. I don't think I run any such danger.”
“Then we shall understand each other all the better. I have no penchant for strong expressions as a rule. But popularity is hogwash.”
“It's funny, Albrecht. Funny that you should use that word. The ‘Pheasants’ were always using it—my schoolmates, the young sprigs, you know, at the ‘Pheasantry.’ I know what you are. You're an aristocrat, that's what's the matter.”
“Do you think so? You're wrong. I'm no aristocrat, I'm the opposite, by taste and reason. You must allow that I do not despise the ‘Hi's’ of the crowd from arrogance, but from a propensity to humanity and goodness. Human Highness is a pitiable thing, and I'm convinced that mankind ought to see that everyone behaves like a man, and a good man, to his neighbour and does not humiliate him or cause him shame. A man must have a thick skin to be able to carry off all the flummery of Highness without any feeling of shame. I am naturally rather sensitive, I cannot cope with the absurdity of my situation. Every lackey who plants himself at the door, and expects me to pass him without noticing, without heeding him more than the door posts, fills me with embarrassment, that's the way I feel towards the people….”
“Yes, Albrecht, quite true. It's often by no means easy to keep one's countenance when one passes by a fellow like that. The lackeys! If one only did not know what frauds they are! One hears fine stories about them….”
“What stories?”
“Oh, one keeps one's ears open….”
“Come, come!” said Ditlinde. “Don't let's worry about that. Here you are talking about ordinary things, and I had two topics noted down which I thought we might discuss this afternoon…. Would you be so kind, Klaus Heinrich, as to reach me that notebook there in blue leather on the writing-table? Many thanks. I note down in this everything I have to remember, both household matters and other things. What a blessing it is to be able to see everything down in black and white! My head is terribly weak, it can't remember things, and if I weren't tidy and didn't jot everything down, I should be done for. First of all, Albrecht, before I forget it, I wanted to remind you that you must escort Aunt Catherine at the first Court on November 1st—you can't get out of it. I withdraw; the honour fell to me at the last Court Ball, and Aunt Catherine was terribly put out…. Do you consent? Good, then I cross out item 1. Secondly, Klaus Heinrich, I wanted to ask you to make a short appearance at the Orphans' Bazaar on the 15th in the Town Hall. I am patroness, and I take my duties seriously, as you see. You needn't buy anything—a pocket comb…. In short, all you need do is to show yourself for ten minutes. It's for the orphans…. Will you come? You see, now I can cross another off. Thirdly …”
But the Princess was interrupted. Fräulein von Isenschnibbe, the Court lady, was announced and tripped in at once through the big drawing-room, her feather boa waving in the draught, and the brim of her huge feather hat flapping up and down. The smell of the fresh air from outside seemed to cling to her clothes. She was small, very fair, with a pointed nose, and so short-sighted that she could not see the stars. On clear evenings she would stand on her balcony and gaze at the starry heavens through opera-glasses, and rave about them. She wore two strong pairs of glasses, one behind the other, and screwed up her eyes and stuck her head forward as she curtseyed.
“Heavens, Grand Ducal Highness,” she said, “I didn't know; I'm disturbing you, I'm intruding. I most humbly beg pardon!”
The brothers had risen, and the visitor, as she curtseyed to them, was filled with confusion. As Albrecht extended his hand from his chest, keeping his forearm close to his body, her arm was stretched out almost perpendicularly, when the curtsey which she made him had reached its lowest point.
“Dear Jettchen,” said Ditlinde, “what nonsense! You are expected and welcome, and my brothers know that we call each other by our Christian names, so none of that Grand Ducal Highness, if you please. We are not in the Old Schloss. Sit down and make yourself comfortable. Will you have some tea? It's still hot, and here are some candied fruits, I know you like them.”
“Yes, a thousand thanks, Ditlinde, I adore them!” And Fräulein von Isenschnibbe took a chair on the narrow side of the tea-table opposite Klaus Heinrich, with her back to the window, drew a glove off and began peering forward, to lay sweetmeats on her plate with the silver tongs. Her little bosom heaved quickly and nervously with pleasurable excitement.
“I've got some news,” she said, unable any longer to contain herself. “News…. More than any reticule will hold! That is to say it is really only one piece of news, only one—but it's so weighty that it counts for dozens, and it is quite certain, I have it on the best authority—you know that I am reliable, Ditlinde; this very evening it will be in the Courier and to-morrow the whole town will be talking about it.”
“Yes, Jettchen,” said the Princess, “it must be confessed you never come with empty hands; but now we're excited, do tell us your news.”
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Here follows a description of Klaus Heinrich's mode of life and profession and their peculiarities.
On a typical occasion he stepped out of his carriage, walked with cloak thrown back down a short passage through cheering crowds over a pavement which was covered with red carpet, through a laurel-decked house-door, over which an awning had been erected, up a staircase flanked by pairs of candle-bearing footmen…. He was on his way to a festival dinner, covered to his hips with orders, the fringed epaulettes of a major on his narrow shoulders, and was followed by his suite along the Gothic corridor of the town hall. Two servants hurried in front of him and quickly opened an old window which rattled in its lead fastenings; for down below in the market-place stood the people, wedged together head to head, an oblique tract of upturned faces, dimly illuminated by smoky torchlight. They cheered and sang, and he stood at the open window and bowed, displayed himself to the general enthusiasm for a while and nodded his thanks.
But not only he, Klaus Heinrich, saw the world in this light, but it saw itself too, as long as his presence lasted. A strange unreality and speciousness prevailed in places where he exercised his calling; a symmetrical, transitory window-dressing, an artificial and inspiring disguising of the reality by pasteboard and gilded wood, by garlands, lamps, draperies, and bunting, was conjured up for one fair hour, and he himself stood in the centre of the show on a carpet, which covered the bare ground, between masts painted in two colours, round which garlands twined—stood with heels together in the odour of varnish and fir-branches, and smiled with his left hand planted on his hip.
On the anniversary of the War of Independence he marched in front of the veterans. A grey-haired officer shouted in a voice which seemed hoarse with the smoke of gunpowder: “Halt! Off hats! Eyes right!” And they stood, with medals and crosses on their coats, the rough beavers in their hands, and looked up at him with blood-shot eyes like those of a hound as he walked by with a friendly look, and paused by one or two to ask where they had served, where they had been under fire…. He attended the gymnastic display, graced the sports with his presence, and had the victors presented to him for a short conversation. The lithe athletic youths stood awkwardly before him, just after they had done the most astonishing feats, and Klaus Heinrich quickly strung together a few technical remarks, which he remembered from Herr Zotte, and which he uttered with great fluency, the while he hid his left hand.
He attended the Five Houses' Fishing festival, he was present in his red-covered seat of honour at the Grimmburg horse-races and distributed the prizes. He accepted, too, the honorary Presidency and Patronage of the Associated Rifle Competition; he attended the prize-meeting of the privileged Grand Ducal Rifle Club. He “responded cordially to the toast of welcome,” in the words of the Courier, by holding the silver cup for one moment to his lips, and then with heels clapped together, raising it towards the marksmen. Thereupon he fired several shots at the target of honour, concerning which there was nothing said in the reports as to where they hit; next ploughed through one and the same dialogue with three successive men, about the advantages of rifle-firing, which in the Courier was described as a “general conversation,” and at last took leave with a hearty “Good luck!” which evoked indescribable enthusiasm. This formula had been whispered to him at the last moment by Adjutant-General von Hühnemann, who had made inquiries on the subject; for of course it would have had a bad effect, would have shattered the fair illusion of technical knowledge and serious enthusiasm, if Klaus Heinrich had wished the marksmen “Excelsior” and the Alpine Club “Bull's-eyes every time!”

As a general rule he needed in the exercise of his calling a certain amount of technical knowledge, which he acquired for each succeeding occasion, with a view to applying it at the right moment and in suitable form. It consisted preponderatingly of the technical terms current in the different departments of human activity as well as of historical dates, and before setting out on an official expedition Klaus Heinrich used to work up the necessary information at home in the Hermitage with the help of pamphlets and oral instructions. When he in the name of the Grand Duke, “my most gracious brother,” unveiled the statue of Johann Albrecht at Knüppelsdorf, he delivered on the scene of festivities, directly after a performance by the massed choirs of the “Wreath of Harmony,” a speech in which everything he had noted down about Knüppelsdorf was dragged in, and which produced the delightful impression everywhere that he had busied himself all his life with nothing so much as the historical vicissitudes of that hub of civilization.
He had no place in the everyday world; a greeting from him, a gracious word, a winning and yet dignified wave of the hand, were all weighty and decisive incidents. Once he was returning in cap and greatcoat from a ride, was riding slowly on his brown horse Florian, down the birch avenue which skirted the waste-land and led to the park and the “Hermitage,” and in front of him there walked a shabbily dressed young man with a fur cap and a ridiculous tuft of hair on his neck, sleeves and trousers that were too short for him, and unusually large feet which he turned inwards as he walked. He looked like the student of a technical institute or something of that sort, for he carried a drawing-board under his arm, on which was pinned a big drawing, a symmetrical maze of lines in red and black ink, a projection or something of the sort. Klaus Heinrich held his horse back behind the young man for a good while, and examined the red and black projection on the drawing-board. Sometimes he thought how nice it must be to have a proper surname, to be called Doctor Schmidt, and to have a serious calling.
He played his part at Court functions, the big and small balls, the dinner, the concerts, and the Great Court. He joined in autumn in the Court's shoots with his red-haired cousins and his suite, for custom's sake and although his left arm made shooting difficult for him. He was often seen in the evening in the Court Theatre, in his red-ledged proscenium-box between the two female sculptures with the crossed hands and the stern, empty faces. For the theatre attracted him, he loved it, loved to look at the players, to watch how they behaved, walked off and on, and went through with their parts. As a rule he thought them bad, rough in the means they employed to please, and unpractised in the more subtle dissembling of the natural and artless. For the rest, he was disposed to prefer humble and popular scenes to the exalted and ceremonious.
A soubrette called Mizzi Meyer was engaged at the “Vaudeville” theatre in the capital, who in the newspapers and on the lips of the public was never called anything but “our” Meyer, because of her boundless popularity with high and low. She was not beautiful, hardly pretty, her voice was a screech, and, strictly speaking, she could lay claim to no special gifts. And yet she had only to come on to the stage to evoke storms of approbation, applause, and encouragement. For this fair and compact person with her blue eyes, her broad, high cheekbones, her healthy, jolly, even a little uproarious manner, was flesh of the people's flesh, and blood of their blood. So long as she, dressed up, painted, and lighted up from every side, faced the crowd from the boards, she was in very deed the glorification of the people itself—indeed, the people clapped itself when it clapped her, and in that alone lay Mizzi Meyer's power over men's souls. Klaus Heinrich was very fond of going with Herr von Braunbart-Schellendorf to the “Vaudeville” when Mizzi Meyer was playing, and joined heartily in the applause.
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One day he had a rencontre which on the one hand gave him food for thought, on the other disillusioned him. It was with Axel Martini, the compiler of the two books of poetry which had been so much praised by the experts, “Evoë!” and “The Holy Life.” The meeting came about in the following way.
Now Axel Martini had taken part in the “May-combat” this year, and had come off victorious. The poem which he had sent in, an inspired hymn of praise to the joy of life, or rather a highly tempestuous outbreak of the joy of life itself, a ravishing hymn to the beauty and awfulness of life, was conceived in the style of both his books and had given rise to discord in the Board of Judges. The Privy Councillor himself and the Professor of Philology had been for dismissing it with a notice of commendation; for they considered it exaggerated in expression, coarse in its passion, and in places frankly repulsive. But the Professor of Literary History together with the editors had out-voted them, not only in view of the fact that Martini's contribution represented the best poem to the joy of life, but also in consideration of its undeniable pre-eminence, and in the end their two opponents too had not been able to resist the appeal of its foaming and stunning flow of words.
So Axel Martini had been awarded fifteen pounds, a gold breast-pin in the form of a lyre, and the Grand Duke's silver cup as well, and his poem had been printed first in the annual, surrounded with an artistic frame from the hand of Professor von Lindemann. What was more, the custom was for the victor (or victrix) in the “May-combat” to be received in audience by the Grand Duke; and as Albrecht was unwell, this task fell to his brother.
Klaus Heinrich was a little afraid of Herr Martini.
“Oh dear, Doctor Ueberbein,” he said when he met his tutor one day, “what subject am I to tackle him on? He's sure to be a wild, brazen-faced fellow.”
But Doctor Ueberbein answered: “Anything; but, Klaus Heinrich, you need not worry! He's a very decent fellow. I know him, I'm rather in with his set. You'll get on splendidly with him.”
So Klaus Heinrich received the poet of the “Joy of Life,” received him at the “Hermitage,” so as to give the business as private a character as possible. “In the yellow room, Braunbart if you please,” he said, “that's the most presentable one for occasions like this.” There were three handsome chairs in this room, which indeed were the only valuable pieces of furniture in the Schloss, heavy Empire arm-chairs of mahogany, with spiral arms and yellow upholstery on which blue-green lyres were embroidered. Klaus Heinrich on this occasion did not dispose himself ready for an audience, but waited in some anxiety near by, until Axel Martini on his side had waited for seven or eight minutes in the yellow room. Then he walked in hastily, almost hurriedly, and advanced towards the poet, who made a low bow.
“I am very much pleased to make your acquaintance,” he said, “dear sir … dear Doctor, I believe?”
“No, Royal Highness,” answered Axel Martini in an asthmatic voice, “not doctor, I've no title.”
“Oh, forgive me … I assumed … Let's sit down, dear Herr Martini. I am, as I have said, delighted to be able to congratulate you on your great success….”
Herr Martini drew down the corners of his mouth. He sat down on the edge of one of the mahogany arm-chairs, at the uncovered table, round whose edge ran a gold border, and crossed his feet, which were cased in cracked patent-leather boots. He was in frock-coat and wore yellow gloves. His collar was frayed at the edges. He had rather staring eyes, thin cheeks and a dark yellow moustache, which was clipped like a hedge. His hair was already quite grey on the temples, although according to the “May-combat” Annual he was not more than thirty years old, and under his eyes glowed patches of red which did not suggest robust health. He answered to Klaus Heinrich's congratulations: “Your Royal Highness is very kind. It was not a difficult victory. Perhaps it was hardly tactful of me to compete.”
Klaus Heinrich did not understand this; but he said: “I have read your poem repeatedly with great pleasure. It seems to me a complete success, as regards both metre and rhyme. And it entirely expresses the ‘Joy of Life.’”
Herr Martini bowed in his chair.
“Your skill,” continued Klaus Heinrich, “must be a source of great pleasure to you—an ideal recreation. What is your calling, Herr Martini?”
Herr Martini showed that he did not understand, by describing a note of interrogation with the upper half of his body.
“I mean your main calling. Are you in the Civil Service?”
“No, Royal Highness, I have no calling; I occupy myself exclusively with poetry….”
“None at all…. Oh, I understand. So unusual a gift deserves that a man's whole powers be devoted to it.”
“I don't know about that, Royal Highness. Whether it deserves it or not, I don't know. I must own that I had no choice. I have always felt myself entirely unsuited to every other branch of human activity. It seems to me that this undoubted and unconditional unsuitability for everything else is the sole proof and touchstone of the poetical calling—indeed, that a man must not see in poetry any calling, but only the expression and refuge of that unsuitability.”
It was a peculiarity with Herr Martini that when he talked tears came into his eyes just like a man who comes out of the cold into a warm room and lets the heat stream through and melt his limbs.
“That's a singular idea,” said Klaus Heinrich.
“Not at all, Royal Highness. I beg your pardon, no, not singular at all. It's an idea which is very generally accepted. What I say is nothing new.”
“And for how long have you been living only for poetry? I suppose you were once a student?”
“Not exactly, Royal Highness; no, the unsuitability to which I alluded before began to show itself in me at an early age. I couldn't get on at school. I left it without passing my ‘final.’ I went up to the university with the full intention of taking it later, but I never did. And when my first volume of poems attracted a good deal of attention, it no longer suited my dignity to do so, if I may say so.”
“Of course not…. But did your parents then agree to your choice of a career?”
“Oh no, Royal Highness! I must say to my parents' credit that they by no means agreed to it. I come of a good stock: my father was Solicitor to the Treasury. He's dead now, but he was Solicitor to the Treasury. He naturally disliked my choice of a career so much that till his death he would never give me a farthing. I lived at daggers drawn with him, although I had the greatest respect for him because of his strictness.”
“Oh, so you've had a hard time of it, Herr Martini, you've had to struggle through. I can well believe that you must have knocked about a good deal!”
“Not so, Royal Highness! No, that would have been horrid, I couldn't have stood it. My health is delicate—I dare not say ‘unfortunately,’ for I am convinced that my talent is inseparably connected with my bodily infirmity. Neither my body nor my talent could have survived hunger and harsh winds, and they have not had to survive them. My mother was weak enough to provide me behind my father's back with the means of life, modest but adequate means. I owe it to her that my talent has been able to develop under fairly favourable conditions.”
“The result has shown, Herr Martini, that they were the right conditions…. Although it is difficult to say now what actually are good conditions. Permit me to suppose that if your mother had shown herself as strict as your father, and you had been alone in the world, and left entirely to your own resources … don't you think that it might have been to a certain extent a good thing for you? That you might have got a peep at things, so to speak, which have escaped you as it is?”
“People like me, Royal Highness, get peeps enough without having actually to know what hunger is; and the idea is fairly generally accepted that it is not actual hunger, but rather hunger for the actual … ha, ha!… which talent requires.”
Herr Martini had been obliged to laugh a little at his play upon words. He now quickly raised one yellow-gloved hand to his mouth with the hedge-like moustache, and improved his laugh into a cough. Klaus Heinrich watched him with a look of princely expectancy.
“If your Royal Highness will allow me…. It is a well-known fact that the want of actuality for such as me is the seed-ground of all talent, the fountain of inspiration, indeed our suggestive genius. Enjoyment of life is forbidden to us, strictly forbidden, we have no illusions as to that—and by enjoyment of life I mean not only happiness, but also sorrow, passion, in short every serious tie with life. The representation of life claims all our forces, especially when those forces are not allotted to us in overabundant measure”—and Herr Martini coughed, drawing his shoulders repeatedly forward as he did so. “Renunciation,” he added, “is our compact with the Muse, in it reposes our strength, our value; and life is our forbidden garden, our great temptation, to which we yield sometimes, but never to our profit.”
The flow of words had again brought tears to Herr Martini's eyes. He tried to blink them away.
“Every one of us,” he went on, “knows what it is to make mistakes, to run off the rails in that way, to make greedy excursions of that kind into the festival halls of life. But we return thence into our isolation humbled and sick at heart.”
Herr Martini stopped. His look, from under his knotted brows, became fixed for a moment and lost in vacancy, while his mouth assumed a sour expression and his cheeks, on which the unhealthy redness glowed, seemed even thinner than before. It was only for a second; then he changed his position, and his eyes recovered their vivacity.
“But your poem,” said Klaus Heinrich, with some empressement. “Your prize poem to the ‘Joy of Life,’ Herr Martini…. I am really grateful to you for your achievement. But will you please tell me … your poem—I've read it attentively. It deals on the one hand with misery and horrors, with the wickedness and cruelty of life, if I remember rightly, and on the other hand with the enjoyment of wine and fair women, does it not?…”
Herr Martini laughed; then rubbed the corners of his mouth, so as to wipe the laugh out.
“And it's all,” said Klaus Heinrich, “conceived in the form of ‘I,’ in the first person, isn't it? And yet it is not founded on personal knowledge? You have not really experienced any of it yourself?”
“Very little, Royal Highness. Only quite trifling suggestions of it. No, the fact is the other way round—that, if I were the man to experience all that, I should not only not write such poems, but should also feel entire contempt for my present existence. I have a friend, his surname is Weber; he's a rich young man; he lives, he enjoys his life. His favourite amusement consists in scorching in his motor car at a mad pace over the country and picking up village girls from the roads and fields on the way, with whom he——but that's another story. In short, that young man laughs when he catches sight of me, he finds something so comic in me and my activities. But as for me, I can quite understand his amusement, and envy him it. I dare say that I too despise him a little, but not so much as I envy and admire him….”
“You admire him?”
“Certainly, Royal Highness. I cannot help doing so. He spends, he squanders, he lets himself go in a most unconcerned and light-hearted way—while it is my lot to save, anxiously and greedily, to keep together, and indeed to do so on hygienic grounds. For hygiene is what I and such as I most need—it is our whole ethics. But nothing is more unhygienic than life….”
“That means that you will never empty the Grand Duke's cup, then, Herr Martini?”
“Drink wine out of it? No, Royal Highness. Although it would be fine to do so. But I never touch wine. And I go to bed at ten, and generally take care of myself. If I didn't, I should never have won the cup.”
“I can well believe it, Herr Martini. People who are not behind the scenes get strange ideas of what a poet's life must be like.”
“Quite conceivably, Royal Highness. But it is, taken all round, by no means a very glorious life, I can assure you, especially as we aren't poets every hour of the twenty-four. In order that a poem of that sort may come into existence from time to time—who would believe how much idleness and boredom and peevish laziness is necessary? The motto on a picture postcard is often a whole day's work. We sleep a lot, we idle about with heads feeling like lead. Yes, it's too often a dog's life.”
Some one knocked lightly on the white-lacquered door. It was Neumann's signal that it was high time for Klaus Heinrich to change his clothes and have himself freshened up. For there was to be a club concert that evening in the Old Schloss.
Klaus Heinrich rose. “I've been gossiping,” he said; for that was the expression he used at such moments. And then he dismissed Herr Martini, wished him success in his poetical career, and accompanied the poet's respectful withdrawal with a laugh and that rather theatrical up and down movement of the hand which was not always equally effective, but which he had brought to a high pitch of perfection.
Such was the Prince's conversation with Axel Martini, the author of “Evoë!” and “The Holy Life.” It gave him food for thought, it continued to occupy his mind after it had ended. He continued to think over it while Neumann was reparting his hair and helping him on with the dazzling full-dress coat with the stars, during the club concert at Court, and for several days afterwards, and he tried to reconcile the poet's statements with the rest of the experiences which life had vouchsafed to him.

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So there he stood, the convex silver star of the Noble Order of the Grimmburg Griffin on his breast, his left hand planted well back on his hip, with Herr von Braunbart-Schellendorf, who had given due notice of the visit in the officers' mess, which was situated on the ground floor of the Schloss near the Albrechts Gate—engaged in a trivial conversation with two or three officers in the middle of the room, while a further group of officers chatted at the deep-set window. Owing to the warmth of sun outside the window stood open, and from the barracks along the Albrechtstrasse came the strains of the drum and fife band of the approaching relief guard.
Twelve o'clock struck from the Court Chapel tower. The loud “Fall in!” of the non-commissioned officer was heard outside, and the rattle of grenadiers standing to arms. The public collected on the square. The lieutenant on duty hastily buckled on his sword belt, clapped his heels together in a salute to Klaus Heinrich and went out. Then suddenly Lieutenant von Sturmhahn, who had been looking out of the window, cried with that rather poor imitation of familiarity which was proper to the relations between Klaus Heinrich and the officers: “Great heavens, here's something for you to look at, Royal Highness!
“I'm dammed!” cried Lieutenant von Sturmhahn. “That's one for us!” The officers at the window laughed. The spectators outside, too, were much amused, and not unsympathetic. Klaus Heinrich joined in the general hilarity. The changing of the guard proceeded with loud words of command and snatches of march tunes. Klaus Heinrich returned to the “Hermitage.”

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He recounted his unreal life, the gala suppers at the students' clubs, the military banquets, and his educational tour; he told them about his relations, about his once-beautiful mother, whom he visited now and then in the “Segenhaus,” where she kept dismal court, and about Albrecht and Ditlinde.
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Klaus Heinrich sat upright and braced up in his wicker chair opposite her and looked at her. Before leaving his rectilineal room, he had dressed himself with his valet Neumann's help with all possible care, as his life in the public eye required. His parting ran from over his left eye, straight up to the crown of his head, without a hair sticking up, and his hair was brushed up into a crest off the right side of his forehead. There he sat in his undress uniform, whose high collar and close fit helped him to maintain a composed attitude, the silver epaulettes of a major on his narrow shoulders, leaning slightly but not comfortably forward, collected, calm, with one foot slightly advanced, and with his right hand above his left on his sword-hilt. His young face looked slightly weary from the unreality, the loneliness, strictness, and difficulty of his life; he sat looking at the Countess with a friendly, clear, but composed expression in his eyes.
“How lovely!” he said, standing before her, and not conscious of what he meant. His blue eyes, above the national cheekbones, were heavy as with grief. “You have as many books,” he added, “as my sister Ditlinde has flowers.”
“Has the Princess so many flowers?”
“Yes, but of late she has not set so much store by them.”
“Let's clear these away,” she said and took up some books.
“No, wait,” he said anxiously. “I've such a lot to say to you, and our time is so short. You must know that today is my birthday—that's why I came and brought you the rose.”
“Oh,” she said, “that is an event. Your birthday today? Well, I'm sure that you received all your congratulations with the dignity you always show. You may have mine as well! It was sweet of you to bring me the rose, although it has its doubtful side.” And she tried the mouldy smell once more with an expression of fear on her face. “How old are you today, Prince?”
“Twenty-seven,” he answered. “I was born twenty-seven years ago in the Grimmburg. Ever since then I've had a strenuous and lonely time of it.”
She did not answer. And suddenly he saw her eyes, under her slightly frowning eyebrows, move to his side. Yes, although he was standing sideways to her with his right shoulder towards her, as he had trained himself to do, he could not prevent her eyes fastening on his left arm, on the hand which he had planted right back on his hip.
“Were you born with that?” she asked softly.
He grew pale. But with a cry, which rang like a cry of redemption, he sank down before her, and clasped her wondrous form in both his arms. There he lay, in his white trousers and his blue and red coat with the major's shoulder-straps.
“Little sister,” he said, “little sister——”
She answered with a pout: “Think of appearances, Prince. I consider that one should not let oneself go, but should keep up appearances on all occasions.”
But he was too far gone, and raising his face to her, his eyes in a mist, he only said,

Then she took his hand, the left, atrophied one, the deformity, the hindrance in his lofty calling, which he had been wont from boyhood to hide artfully and carefully—she took it and kissed it.
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When one thought of it, was there not a weakness, a defect in his person, which one always avoided seeing when addressing him, partly from shyness, and partly because with charming skill he made it so easy not to notice it? When one saw him in his carriage, he kept his left hand on his sword-hilt covered with his right. One could see him under a baldachin, on a flag-bedecked platform, take up a position slightly turned to the left, with his left hand planted somehow on his hip. His left arm was too short, the hand was stunted, everybody knew that, and knew various explanations of the origin of the defect, although respect and distance had not allowed a clear view of it or even its recognition in so many words. But now everybody saw it. It could never be ascertained who first whispered and quoted the prophecy in this connexion—whether it was a child, or a maiden, or a greybeard on the threshold of the beyond.
“No, Prince, you really ask too much. Haven't you told me about your life? You went to school for show, to the University for show, you served as a soldier for show, and still wear the uniform for show, you hold audiences for show, and play at rifle-shooting and heaven knows what else for show; you came into the world for show, and am I suddenly to believe that there is anything serious about you?”
Tears came to his eyes while she said this: her words hurt him so much. He answered gently: “You are right, there is a lot of fiction in my life. But I didn't make it or choose it, you must remember, but have done my duty precisely and sternly as it was prescribed to me for the edification of the people. And it is not enough that it has been a hard one, and full of prohibitions and privations; it must now take revenge on me, by causing you not to believe me.”
“You are proud,” she said, “of your calling and your life, Prince, I know well, and I cannot wish you to break faith with yourself.”