The Prisoner of Zenda

1
At Burlesdon Hall,
   Yorkshire - the
historic home of the
 Barons Rassendyll.

2
Rudolf Rassendyll,
  traveller and sports-
man, now and then found
time for a quiet visit with
his brother and sister-in-law.

3
There was good reason 
  for Rudolf Rassendyll's
interest in Ruritania.

4
Since then it had been 
an open secret that
the blood of the royal
Elphberg line ran in the
veins of the English
    Rassendylls.

5
"So you are leaving us
    to-day, Rudolf?"

6
"Going hunting again,
I'll wager! Where to
this time?"

7
"Why - er - probably the
Black Forest. But I haven't
decided yet."

8
"If Rudolf had only gone
to Oxford instead of
Heidelberg he might have
settled down and become a
perfectly good member of
Parliament or something."

9
Strelsau, the capital of
      Ruritania.

10
Grand Duke Michael
   was the son of the
late king by a morganatic
marriage and had received
from him his title and
large estates, including a
  palace in Strelsau.

11
Here he lived with
the officers of his
     regiment.

12
De Gautet.

13
Bersonin.

14
Detchard.

15
- and Rupert of Hentzau.

16
The Four were Michael's
   inseparable com-
panions in peace, war,
  intrigue and love.

17
"Here's Michael."

18
"The King has played
into our hands. He has
gone to my hunting
lodge at Zenda to stay
until coronation day."

19
"It shall be our business to 
see that he stays at Zenda
until after coronation day."

20
"No violence! That would
shock my Cousin Flavia;
but if the King were unable
to come to Strelsau --
perhaps some one else might
be crowned, eh?"

21
"- and Hentzau, when
you know beyond any 
doubt that the King is
out of the running,
send me this message;
'All is well'."

22
Princess Flavia's apart-
   ments occupied a
wing of the royal palace.

23
Although the people
    divided their al-
legiance between King
Rudolf and his half-brother
Duke Michael, they were
unanimous in their love for
Princess Flavia, the orphan
  cousin of the King.

24
"Tell me, Flavia, would you
be happier if it were the
King who visited you?"

25
"Happiness does not enter into 
it, Marshal Strakencz! When
I marry Rudolf it will be
because my people want me
for their Queen."

26
"Do not anger the Duke by
keeping him waiting, my 
child. His power is great,
and until Rudolf is
crowned King of Ruritania
I am uneasy."

27
"It is true that the people 
are disappointed with
Rudolf, but you are their 
idol. When he is your
husband they will be
satisfied."

28
"I have a word for your
 ear alone, Princess."

29
"I have no secrets 
   from Helga."

30
"Dear cousin, I have
come to assure you
once again of my 
undying devotion."

31
"Your gallantry is well
known, Cousin Michael;
as to your devotion, here
in Strelsau we have heard 
of a Parisian friend of
yours - was not the name
Antoinette de Mauban?"

32
"Mademoiselle de Mauban!
I wish I had known you
were on the same train
with me! Are you too
going to Strelsau to see
the coronation?"

33
"I am stepping off here for
a few hours to see the
famous castle. Perhaps you
have heard of it?"

34
"Yes, the Castle of Zenda -
on the estate of Duke
Michael of Strelsau."

35
"Perhaps we will meet at 
the coronation tomorrow."

36
A day's tramping in
   the hills left Rudolf
Rassendyll pleasantly
       wearied.

37
"The devil is in it!
Shave him and he'd
be the King!"

38
"I am Colonel Sapt, Chief
of Staff to King Rudolf.
This gentleman is Captain
Fritz von Tarlenheim."

39
"May I ask your name?"

40
"I knew it! You're of the
  English Rassendylls?"

41
"Why, Fritz, you know
      the story?"

42
"You have the height too -
and even the voice. Why
man! - but for your beard
you are the King of
Ruritania!"

43
"You must taste of our
hospitality. The Hunting
Lodge is only a few
steps away."

44
Dame Nature is not 
supposed to repeat 
herself - but it is ever 
the exception that proves
the rule.

45
"One of the English
   Rassendylls -"

46
"Well met, cousin! You
must forgive me if I was
taken aback, but it's early
in the evening for a man
to see double."

47
"A thousand crowns for a
sight of brother Michael's 
face when he sees a pair 
of us!"

48
"Seriously, I question
Mr. Rassendyll's 
wisdom in visiting 
Strelsau just now."

49
"Rather than cause your
Majesty embarrassment I
will leave Ruritania today."

50
"No, by heaven, you shan't!
You shall dine with me
tonight, happen what will
afterward."

51
"An extra place, Josef!
My cousin will dine 
with us."

52
And in a private dining 
  room of the Grand 
Hotel in Strelsau.

53
"What spell have you put 
upon me that I cannot
refuse you anything - that
I even follow you to Strelsau
at your request?"

54
In honour of the English
         cousin.

55
"Remember, Sire, tomorrow 
   is your coronation."

56
"His Highness, Duke Michael 
of Strelsau, sends this wine
to the King and prays him
to drink for the love he
bears his brother."

57
"My brother may be a 
rascal but he knows
good wine."

58
"Gentlemen! The half of
my kingdom is yours - but
ask me not for a drop of
this divine wine!"

59
The dawn of coronation 
       day.

60
"I have spent half an hour 
on him already. It looks
as though he'll not come
to for hours."

61
"The last bottle - drugged!"

62
"Take it all in all - a very
pretty plan of Black 
Michael's to keep the King
away from Strelsau today."

63
"Postpone the coronation
on account of the King's
illness."

64
"The people know his
illnesses - besides, if it is
postponed for any reason
whatsoever - Michael will
seize the throne himself."

65
"Why, man! Half the army 
is there to meet him with 
Black Michael at its head."

66
"As a man grows old he
believes in fate. Fate 
sent you here."

67
"Fate sends you now to
Strelsau in the King's
place."

68
"The King shaved off his 
beard yesterday. That will 
account for any difference
people may notice."

69
"It means his throne -
  perhaps his life."

70
"If Fate sent me here - then
     let Fate decide."

71
"Bersonin, we shall soon see 
now whether that old bear
Sapt will dare go back
to Strelsau without his cub."

72
"I'm going to lock him up
in the wine cellar until we
can get you back here
tonight. Too many kings
might spoil the broth."

73
"We will be back tonight 
after the coronation. You
understand, Josef - I shall 
hold you responsible for 
the King."

74
"There is the King - and
  he's as fit as I am!"

75
"It cannot be the King! I
tell you I saw him drain
the bottle myself!"

76
At high noon.

77
"No word from 
 Hentzau yet?"

78
"The Duke of Strelsau!
'Tis he should be crowned
King today!"

79
The famous Black 
  Cuirassiers, the
back-bone of Michael's
power in Strelsau.

80
Who knows but that the
  spirit of the Countess
Amelia looked down with
wondering pride when her
great-grandson was crowned
    King of Ruritania.

81
"His Royal Highness the
   Duke of Strelsau!"

82
And then, through the
    narrow, twisted
streets of old Strelsau to
the palace in the modern 
   part of the city.

83
"Do you know, Rudolf,
you look somehow
different to-day?"

84
"More - manly. Can it be
that you are beginning to 
take things seriously?"

85
"Would that please you?"

86
"Oh, you know my views,
Rudolf - although you
have never paid any
attention to them!"

87
"And when is the 
    wedding?"

88
For Flavia as well as
  Rudolf the day had
 been a fateful one.

89
"Helga, did you not think 
that the King seemed 
different today?"

90
"No, Princess. To me he
seemed as usual, but for
the difference of his smooth
chin. But then I did not,
perhaps, observe him as 
closely as you did."

91
"They have got the King.
Josef died in his defence."

92
"You must go back to 
Strelsau and hold the 
Throne for Rudolf V."

93
"God bless my King."

94
At Zenda Castle.

95
"But for that dog Rassendyll,
I would be on the throne
of Ruritania tonight."

96
"Yes, sir. Every servant,
gardener and stable-boy has
been sent back to Strelsau
except for the orderly, Hans."

97
"You, de Gautet, will return
to Strelsau with me. Bring
out the horses."

98
"Detchard and Bersonin will
guard the prisoner, one of
you watching by this door
night and day - and the
drawbridge must be raised
at all times."

99
"Don't leave me, Michael,
take me back to Strelsau
with you. I am afraid -
I have a presentiment of 
evil."

100
"I will be back soon,
Antoinette. You can
help me more by
staying here until I
return."

101
After the longest 
  night Fritz had 
 ever spent.

102
"What if they have
killed the King?"

103
"In that case, here is 
as true an Elphberg 
as any."

104
"The throne shall be his 
before it shall be Black
Michael's!"

105
"I wish to inquire as to my
dear brother's health after
the fatigues of coronation
day."

106
"It seems to have agreed 
with me for I never felt
better in my life."

107
"It is gratifying to see that
your Majesty is not easily
disturbed."

108
While Rassendyll -
caught in the toils
of his strange adventure
- came to know the sweet-
ness and the despair of love.

109
"My country! How serene 
it seems! Full of beauty
and peace, but underneath, 
what discord and turmoil!"

110
"But you will bring it 
    peace, Rudolf!"

111
"Yes, yes, Rudolf, God
will help you to - for since
the coronation you have
been a true and noble King."

112
In the crowded days
  that followed, Fritz,
despatched to Zenda, sought
to discover the whereabouts
of the King and the chances
for a rescue.

113
"I ran across my good 
friend Captain von
Tarlenheim in the forest
and persuaded him to 
come back and meet you."

114
"Duke Michael is at Strelsau,
in attendance on the King.
Naturally, he has a brother's
concern for His Majesty's
health."

115
"By the way - perhaps you 
can settle an argument for 
us. Is it not well known
that the Duke is a suitor
for the hand of the Princess
Flavia?"

116
"It is quite true, Mademoiselle."

117
"Oh, that is an old drain 
pipe - it has a funny
name - we call it Jacob's
Ladder."

118
"- and God help the man 
that gets caught in that 
current - behind the castle
the moat plunges a hundred 
feet onto the rocks below."

119
"Rassendyll, the people
are clamouring for a
betrothal. You will have
to propose to her."

120
"You ask too much Sapt.
I love her so myself that
I can hardly trust myself
in her presence. Moreover,
if morning brings no word
from Fritz, we start for
Zenda ourselves."

121
"Is it not a miracle? This
marriage that was to have
been the tragedy of my 
heart will now be my joy."

122
"But why - since his proposal
of marriage two months 
ago, has he never again
spoken of love?"

123
"Well, Princess, he is 
waiting for you to 
accept his offer."

124
"Shall I tell him then,
Helga? - tell him that
I will?"

125
"Indeed you should, Princess.
There will be an oppor-
tunity during the ball 
tonight."

126
At the ball in Strelsau
    that night.

127
"A good thing for the city
it would be if the talk
about who is to be her 
husband should end tonight."

128
"I can stay but a moment
without being missed - it
is in your hands to prevent 
a double murder tonight."

129
"Yes, the King is alive and
imprisoned here, but very
weak - dying by inches."

130
"Rassendyll is to be assassi-
nated tonight in Strelsau.
Michael is only awaiting
the news of his death to
return here at top speed."

131
"- then he will have the 
King bound, weighted and
slipped through Jacob's
Ladder into the moat."

132
"Michael himself told me -
God forgive me! He trusts
me implicitly, but I cannot
help him to the throne
when it means his marriage 
with Flavia."

133
"Go - go - do not question
me! But hurry to Strelsau
and warn Rassendyll."

134
"He'd have been a dead
man long ago but for the
guard who watches in the
room while he sleeps."

135
"The guards will not 
trouble you tonight -
they are in my pay."

136
"When it is over flash
this from the window.
I will be watching."

137
"It is cooler in the
conservatory -
shall we go down 
there, Rudolph?"

138
"O Rudolph! Why do
you look at me so 
strangely?"

139
"Do you remember the 
question you asked me 
two months ago?"

140
"Oh, Flavia, is it me you 
    love? Me - me?"

141
"Since when?"

142
"Just lately - since coronation
       day, Rudolph -"

143
"But Rudolph, why  - why
have you not spoken of 
our betrothal for so long?"

144
"Flavia - I am not -"

145
"Sire, his Eminence the
 cardinal has arrived."

146
"- and, Colonel Sapt, a
matter that has long
been in question is
settled at last."

147
An hour later - with
   the memory of a
great defeat - and a greater
     victory -

148
"The Duke is on his way
to Zenda at this moment to
kill the King. He believes
Rassendyll dead."

149
"God grant we reach 
  Zenda in time!"

150
Dawn.

151
"Where is Bersonin? He
had better be here by the
time Michael arrives."

152
"One step nearer and I
shall ring for help!"

153
"Why won't you be sensible,
Antoinette? Michael cares
nothing for you, while I -"

154
"Would you believe me if
you heard it from Michael's
own lips?"

155
"Wait here for a signal
       from me."

156
"Rassendyll is dead."

157
"What about your marriage
with the Princess Flavia?"

158
"That will be my 
   next step."

159
"What will you do with
Mademoiselle de Mauban?"

160
"You've been thinking of 
her for some time, haven't
you, Rupert? Well - she's
yours."

161
"Now let us prepare brother
Rudolf for his slide down 
Jacob's ladder."

162
"For God's sake! Not that, 
   Michael, my brother!
        Not that!"

163
"We must find out where 
they are - you watch the
bridge, Rassendyll, while
Fritz and I reconnoitre."

164
"De Gautet! The bridge 
must be down! Close it
and we have him trapped!"

165
"Wait, Rassendyll! Now 
that Michael has left us
why not have a new deal
all around?"

166
"The Jacob's Ladder for the 
King - the throne and the
princess for you - and for
me, say, a competence and
your Majesty's gratitude!"

167
"While you're unhung,
Hentzau, hell lacks 
its master!"

168
"Your Majesty!"

169
Towards the end of 
   the day, when
the soul is weary and
the heart longs for its
beloved.

170
"Tell me quickly of the 
King! Is he safe and well?
I heard only this morning
of the attempted assassi-
nation and that he had
gone immediately to Zenda
Castle."

171
"Yes, Princess, he is at the
castle now - I will take
you to him myself."

172
"I heard this gentleman say
the King was at Zenda
Castle. Your Highness,
the King is here in the
lodge."

173
"I will see this gentleman."

174
"Do not kiss him, Madame
 - he is not the King."

175
"Do I not know 
   my love?"

176
"Your love, Madame, but
not the King. The King is
at Zenda Castle - this
gentleman is Rudolf
Rassendyll."

177
"Rudolf, why do you let 
   him torment me?"

178
"God forgive me - I am
    not the King."

179
"What does it mean?"

180
"Then - since coronation
 day it has been you?"

181
"The part you played
with me, Rudolf, was
that false too?"

182
"From the moment I first
saw you in the cathedral
I have loved you with my 
whole heart and soul."

183
"What shall we do,
     Rudolf?"

184
"I leave Ruritania tonight.
Oh, my darling, if I could
take you with me!"

185
"If love were all Rudolf
- I would follow you to 
the ends of the world."

186
"But - if love were all,
you would have left 
the King to die."

187
"Honour binds a woman,
too, Rudolf. I don't know
why God has let me love 
you, but I must be true 
to my country and my
people."

188
"You are right, my
darling - God help 
us both!"

189
"Whatever else I wear,
this will I wear always
- till I die - and after."

190
"Be happy, my dear one.
It would break my heart
to think that I had brought
grief to you -"

191
"God does not always make 
the right men kings. You
are the finest Elphberg of
them all!"

The End

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