Prince Otto - Robert Louis Stevenson - ebook

Prince Otto ebook

Robert Louis Stevenson

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Opis

In the historical novel „"Prince Otto"”, the romance of adventure is combined with the exact recreation of local color and historical setting. This novel is about Prince Otto, who is not very concerned about government affairs and problems, and he devotes all the time to hunting and other entertainments. Once during a hunt, he stumbles upon ordinary peasants who did not recognize him and agreed to shelter him for the night. During the evening dinner, the unrecognized prince tries to find out from the peasants what they think about their ruler, and those, as ordinary people, told him everything they think about Prince Otto.

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Liczba stron: 307

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Contents

TO NELLY VAN DE GRIFT (MRS. ADULFO SANCHEZ, OF MONTEREY)

BOOK I

PRINCE ERRANT

CHAPTER I. IN WHICH THE PRINCE DEPARTS ON AN ADVENTURE

CHAPTER II. IN WHICH THE PRINCE PLAYS HAROUN-AL-RASCHID

CHAPTER III. IN WHICH THE PRINCE COMFORTS AGE AND BEAUTY AND DELIVERS A LECTURE ON DISCRETION IN LOVE

CHAPTER IV. IN WHICH THE PRINCE COLLECTS OPINIONS BY THE WAY

BOOK II

OF LOVE AND POLITICS

CHAPTER I. WHAT HAPPENED IN THE LIBRARY

CHAPTER II. ‘ON THE COURT OF GRÜNEWALD,’ BEING A PORTION OF THE TRAVELLER’S MANUSCRIPT

CHAPTER III. THE PRINCE AND THE ENGLISH TRAVELLER

CHAPTER IV. WHILE THE PRINCE IS IN THE ANTE-ROOM .

CHAPTER V. GONDREMARK IS IN MY LADY’S CHAMBER

CHAPTER VI. THE PRINCE DELIVERS A LECTURE ON MARRIAGE, WITH PRACTICAL ILLUSTRATIONS OF DIVORCE

CHAPTER VII. THE PRINCE DISSOLVES THE COUNCIL

CHAPTER VIII. THE PARTY OF WAR TAKES ACTION

CHAPTER IX. THE PRICE OF THE RIVER FARM; IN WHICH VAINGLORY GOES BEFORE A FALL

CHAPTER X. GOTTHOLD’S REVISED OPINION; AND THE FALL COMPLETED

CHAPTER XI. PROVIDENCE VON ROSEN: ACT THE FIRST SHE BEGUILES THE BARON

CHAPTER XII. PROVIDENCE VON ROSEN: ACT THE SECOND SHE INFORMS THE PRINCE

CHAPTER XIII. PROVIDENCE VON ROSEN: ACT THE THIRD SHE ENLIGHTENS SERAPHINA

CHAPTER XIV. RELATES THE CAUSE AND OUTBREAK OF THE REVOLUTION

BOOK III

FORTUNATE MISFORTUNE

CHAPTER I. PRINCESS CINDERELLA

CHAPTER II. TREATS OF A CHRISTIAN VIRTUE

CHAPTER III. PROVIDENCE VON ROSEN: ACT THE LAST IN WHICH SHE GALLOPS OFF

CHAPTER IV. BABES IN THE WOOD

TO NELLY VAN DE GRIFT (MRS. ADULFO SANCHEZ, OF MONTEREY)

At last, after so many years, I have the pleasure of re-introducing you to “Prince Otto,’ whom you will remember a very little fellow, no bigger in fact than a few sheets of memoranda written for me by your kind hand. The sight of his name will carry you back to an old wooden house embowered in creepers; a house that was far gone in the respectable stages of antiquity and seemed indissoluble from the green garden in which it stood, and that yet was a sea-traveller in its younger days, and had come round the Horn piecemeal in the belly of a ship, and might have heard the seamen stamping and shouting and the note of the boatswain’s whistle. It will recall to you the nondescript inhabitants now so widely scattered:–the two horses, the dog, and the four cats, some of them still looking in your face as you read these lines;–the poor lady, so unfortunately married to an author;–the China boy, by this time, perhaps, baiting his line by the banks of a river in the Flowery Land;–and in particular the Scot who was then sick apparently unto death, and whom you did so much to cheer and keep in good behaviour.

You may remember that he was full of ambitions and designs: so soon as he had his health again completely, you may remember the fortune he was to earn, the journeys he was to go upon, the delights he was to enjoy and confer, and (among other matters) the masterpiece he was to make of “Prince Otto’!

Well, we will not give in that we are finally beaten. We read together in those days the story of Braddock, and how, as he was carried dying from the scene of his defeat, he promised himself to do better another time: a story that will always touch a brave heart, and a dying speech worthy of a more fortunate commander. I try to be of Braddock’s mind. I still mean to get my health again; I still purpose, by hook or crook, this book or the next, to launch a masterpiece; and I still intend–somehow, some time or other–to see your face and to hold your hand.

Meanwhile, this little paper traveller goes forth instead, crosses the great seas and the long plains and the dark mountains, and comes at last to your door in Monterey, charged with tender greetings. Pray you, take him in. He comes from a house where (even as in your own) there are gathered together some of the waifs of our company at Oakland: a house–for all its outlandish Gaelic name and distant station–where you are well-beloved.

R. L. S.

Skerryvore, Bournemouth.

BOOK I

PRINCE ERRANT

CHAPTER I. IN WHICH THE PRINCE DEPARTS ON AN ADVENTURE

You shall seek in vain upon the map of Europe for the bygone state of Grünewald. An independent principality, an infinitesimal member of the German Empire, she played, for several centuries, her part in the discord of Europe; and, at last, in the ripeness of time and at the spiriting of several bald diplomatists, vanished like a morning ghost. Less fortunate than Poland, she left not a regret behind her; and the very memory of her boundaries has faded.

It was a patch of hilly country covered with thick wood. Many streams took their beginning in the glens of Grünewald, turning mills for the inhabitants. There was one town, Mittwalden, and many brown, wooden hamlets, climbing roof above roof, along the steep bottom of dells, and communicating by covered bridges over the larger of the torrents. The hum of watermills, the splash of running water, the clean odour of pine sawdust, the sound and smell of the pleasant wind among the innumerable army of the mountain pines, the dropping fire of huntsmen, the dull stroke of the wood-axe, intolerable roads, fresh trout for supper in the clean bare chamber of an inn, and the song of birds and the music of the village-bells–these were the recollections of the Grünewald tourist.

North and east the foothills of Grünewald sank with varying profile into a vast plain. On these sides many small states bordered with the principality, Gerolstein, an extinct grand duchy, among the number. On the south it marched with the comparatively powerful kingdom of Seaboard Bohemia, celebrated for its flowers and mountain bears, and inhabited by a people of singular simplicity and tenderness of heart. Several intermarriages had, in the course of centuries, united the crowned families of Grünewald and Maritime Bohemia; and the last Prince of Grünewald, whose history I purpose to relate, drew his descent through Perdita, the only daughter of King Florizel the First of Bohemia. That these intermarriages had in some degree mitigated the rough, manly stock of the first Grünewalds, was an opinion widely held within the borders of the principality. The charcoal burner, the mountain sawyer, the wielder of the broad axe among the congregated pines of Grünewald, proud of their hard hands, proud of their shrewd ignorance and almost savage lore, looked with an unfeigned contempt on the soft character and manners of the sovereign race.

The precise year of grace in which this tale begins shall be left to the conjecture of the reader. But for the season of the year (which, in such a story, is the more important of the two) it was already so far forward in the spring, that when mountain people heard horns echoing all day about the north-west corner of the principality, they told themselves that Prince Otto and his hunt were up and out for the last time till the return of autumn.

At this point the borders of Grünewald descend somewhat steeply, here and there breaking into crags; and this shaggy and trackless country stands in a bold contrast to the cultivated plain below. It was traversed at that period by two roads alone; one, the imperial highway, bound to Brandenau in Gerolstein, descended the slope obliquely and by the easiest gradients. The other ran like a fillet across the very forehead of the hills, dipping into savage gorges, and wetted by the spray of tiny waterfalls. Once it passed beside a certain tower or castle, built sheer upon the margin of a formidable cliff, and commanding a vast prospect of the skirts of Grünewald and the busy plains of Gerolstein. The Felsenburg (so this tower was called) served now as a prison, now as a hunting-seat; and for all it stood so lonesome to the naked eye, with the aid of a good glass the burghers of Brandenau could count its windows from the lime-tree terrace where they walked at night.

In the wedge of forest hillside enclosed between the roads, the horns continued all day long to scatter tumult; and at length, as the sun began to draw near to the horizon of the plain, a rousing triumph announced the slaughter of the quarry. The first and second huntsman had drawn somewhat aside, and from the summit of a knoll gazed down before them on the drooping shoulders of the hill and across the expanse of plain. They covered their eyes, for the sun was in their faces. The glory of its going down was somewhat pale. Through the confused tracery of many thousands of naked poplars, the smoke of so many houses, and the evening steam ascending from the fields, the sails of a windmill on a gentle eminence moved very conspicuously, like a donkey’s ears. And hard by, like an open gash, the imperial high-road ran straight sun-ward, an artery of travel.

There is one of nature’s spiritual ditties, that has not yet been set to words or human music: “The Invitation to the Road’; an air continually sounding in the ears of gipsies, and to whose inspiration our nomadic fathers journeyed all their days. The hour, the season, and the scene, all were in delicate accordance. The air was full of birds of passage, steering westward and northward over Grünewald, an army of specks to the up-looking eye. And below, the great practicable road was bound for the same quarter.

But to the two horsemen on the knoll this spiritual ditty was unheard. They were, indeed, in some concern of mind, scanning every fold of the subjacent forest, and betraying both anger and dismay in their impatient gestures.

“I do not see him, Kuno,’ said the first huntsman, “nowhere–not a trace, not a hair of the mare’s tail! No, sir, he’s off; broke cover and got away. Why, for twopence I would hunt him with the dogs!’

“Mayhap, he’s gone home,’ said Kuno, but without conviction.

“Home!’ sneered the other. “I give him twelve days to get home. No, it’s begun again; it’s as it was three years ago, before he married; a disgrace! Hereditary prince, hereditary fool! There goes the government over the borders on a grey mare. What’s that? No, nothing–no, I tell you, on my word, I set more store by a good gelding or an English dog. That for your Otto!’

“He’s not my Otto,’ growled Kuno.

“Then I don’t know whose he is,’ was the retort.

“You would put your hand in the fire for him to-morrow,’ said Kuno, facing round.

“Me!’ cried the huntsman. “I would see him hanged! I’m a Grünewald patriot–enrolled, and have my medal, too; and I would help a prince! I’m for liberty and Gondremark.’

“Well, it’s all one,’ said Kuno. “If anybody said what you said, you would have his blood, and you know it.’

“You have him on the brain,’ retorted his companion. “There he goes!’ he cried, the next moment.

And sure enough, about a mile down the mountain, a rider on a white horse was seen to flit rapidly across a heathy open and vanish among the trees on the farther side.

“In ten minutes he’ll be over the border into Gerolstein,’ said Kuno. “It’s past cure.’

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