PEARL

MICHAEL KOHLHAAS

Kohlhaas, who, as already mentioned, had in the meanwhile arrived in Berlin, and by a special order of the elector been taken to a prison reserved for knights, there to be lodged as comfortably as possible together with his five children, had immediately after the appearance of the imperial advocate from Vienna been called before the bar of the supreme court and charged with violation of imperial public peace. Although he argued in his defence that he could not be prosecuted for his armed incursion into Saxony and the acts of violence committed in that connection by virtue of the agreement made with the elector of Saxony, at Lützen, he, however, soon learned better, informed that His Imperial Majesty, whose advocate was prosecuting the complaint, could not take this into consideration. And very soon when the matter was elaborately explained to him and he heard how, by contrast, from Dresden he would receive full reparation in his case against Squire Wenzel von Tronka, he acquiesced.

So it happened that on the very day the chamberlain arrived, judgment was passed on him and he was condemned to be put to death with the sword; a sentence which, given the complicated state of affairs, no one believed would be carried out, notwithstanding its leniency, and which indeed the whole city, mindful of the goodwill the elector bore Kohlhaas, hoped to see inevitably commuted by a decree from the elector into a mere, perhaps, long and severe jail sentence.

The chamberlain, realising nonetheless that there was no time to lose if he was to fulfil the commission given him by his sovereign, got down to business by showing up one morning, meticulously attired in his usual court dress, before Kohlhaas, who was standing at his prison window idly watching the passers-by; and when, judging by a sudden movement of his head, he concluded that the horse dealer had noticed him, and especially observing, with great satisfaction, as he involuntarily reached with his hand towards the part of his breast where the locket was located, he considered that what had stirred in the horse dealer’s soul at that moment was a sufficient preparation to advance one step further in the attempt to get hold of the paper.

What keeps

Вы читаете отрывок, зарегистрируйтесь, чтобы читать полное издание.