Rose 2 , ”
I 4 answered , laying down
my 4 egg-spoon , “ why in
the world 3 should
I 4 do anything ?
My 4 position is a comfortable one .
I 4 have an income nearly sufficient for
my 4 wants (
no one 6 ’s income is ever quite sufficient ,
you 2 know ) ,
I 4 enjoy an enviable social position :
I 4 am
Lord Burlesdon 5 64
that charming lady 2
Behold , it is enough ! ”
You 4 are nine-and-twenty , ”
she 2 observed , “ and
you 4 ’ve done nothing but -- ” “ Knock about ?
It is true .
does n’t need to do things . ”
This remark of mine rather annoyed
Rose 2 , for
everybody 9 knows ( and therefore there can be no harm in referring to the fact ) that , pretty and accomplished as
herself 2 is , is hardly of the same standing as
the Rassendylls 0 .
her 2 attractions ,
she 2 possessed a large fortune , and
Robert 5 was wise enough not to mind about
her 2 ancestry .
Ancestry is , in fact , a matter concerning which the next observation of
Rose 2 ’s has some truth .
Good families 10 are generally worse than any others , ”
she 2 said .
I 4 stroked
my 4 hair :
I 4 knew quite well what
she 2 meant .
I 2 ’m so glad
Robert 5 ’s is black ! ”
she 2 cried .
At this moment
Robert 5 ( who rises at seven and works before breakfast ) came in .
He 5 glanced at :
her 2 cheek was slightly flushed ;
he 5 patted it caressingly .
“ What ’s the matter ,
my 5 dear ? ”
he 5 asked .
She 2 objects to
my 4 doing nothing and having red hair , ” said
I 4 , in an injured tone .
“ Oh !
he 4 ca n’t help
his 4 hair , ” admitted
Rose 2 .
“ It generally crops out once in a generation , ” said .
“ So does the nose .
Rudolf 4 has got them both . ”
I 2 wish they did n’t crop out , ” said
Rose 2 , still flushed .
I 4 rather like them
myself 4 , ” said
I 4 , and , rising ,
I 4 bowed to the portrait of
Countess Amelia 11 .
uttered an exclamation of impatience .
I 2 wish
you 5 ’d take that picture away ,
Robert 5 , ” said
she 2 .
“ ! ”
he 5 cried .
“ Good heavens ! ”
I 4 added .
“ Then it might be forgotten , ”
she 2 continued .
“ Hardly -- with
Rudolf 4 about , ” said
Robert 5 , shaking
his 5 head .
“ Why should it be forgotten ? ”
I 4 asked .
Rudolf 4 ! ” exclaimed , blushing very prettily .
I 4 laughed , and went on with
my 4 egg .
I 4 had shelved the question of what ( if anything )
I 4 ought to do .
And , by way of closing the discussion -- and also ,
I 4 must admit , of exasperating
a trifle more --
strict little sister-in-law 2
I 4 observed : “
I 4 rather like being
an Elphberg 65
myself 4 . ”
I 4 read a story ,
I 4 skip the explanations ; yet the moment
I 4 begin to write one ,
I 4 find that
I 4 must have an explanation .
For it is manifest that
I 4 must explain why was vexed with
my 4 nose and hair , and why
I 4 ventured to call
an Elphberg 66 .
For eminent as ,
I 4 must protest ,
the Rassendylls 0 have been for many generations , yet participation in
their 0 blood of course does not , at first sight , justify the boast of a connection with the grander stock of
the Elphbergs 1 or a claim to be one of
that Royal House 1 .
For what relationship is there between
Ruritania 12 and
Burlesdon 13 , between
the Palace at
Strelsau 15 14
the Castle of
Zenda 17 16
Number 305 Park Lane , W. 18 ?
Well then -- and
I 4 must premise that
I 4 am going , perforce , to rake up the very scandal which
Lady Burlesdon 2 wishes forgotten -- in the year 1733 ,
George II 19 .
sitting then on the throne , peace reigning for the moment , and
the King 19 and
the Prince of Wales 20 being not yet at loggerheads , there came on a visit to
the English Court 21
a certain prince , who was afterwards known to history as
Rudolf the Third of
Ruritania 12 22
The prince 22 was
-- in fact , the nose and the hair which have stamped
a tall , handsome young fellow , marked ( maybe marred , it is not for
to say ) by a somewhat unusually long , sharp and straight nose , and a mass of dark-red hair 67
the Elphbergs 1 time out of mind .
He 22 stayed some months in
; yet , in the end ,
England , where
was most courteously received 23
he 22 left rather under a cloud .
he 22 fought a duel ( it was considered highly well bred of
him 22 to waive all question of
his 22 rank ) with
a nobleman 24 , well known in the society of the day , not only for
his 24 own merits , but as
the husband of
a very beautiful wife 11 24
In that duel
Prince Rudolf 22 received a severe wound , and , recovering therefrom , was adroitly smuggled off by
the Ruritanian ambassador , who had found
a pretty handful 25
The nobleman 24 was not wounded in the duel ; but the morning being raw and damp on the occasion of the meeting ,
he 24 contracted a severe chill , and , failing to throw it off ,
he 24 died some six months after the departure of
Prince Rudolf 22 , without having found leisure to adjust
his 24 relations with
wife -- who , after another two months , bore
an heir 26
to the title and
the family of
Burlesdon 13 28
This lady 11 was
the Countess Amelia 62 , whose picture wished to remove from
; and was
the drawing-room in
Park Lane 30 29
James 24 ,
fifth Earl of
Burlesdon 13 60
twenty-second Baron Rassendyll 61 , both in the peerage of
England 23 , and
a Knight of the Garter 59 .
Rudolf 22 ,
he 22 went back to
Ruritania 12 , married
a wife 31 , and ascended the throne , whereon
have sat from then till this very hour -- with one short interval .
progeny in the direct line 32
And , finally , if
you 33 walk through the picture galleries at
Burlesdon 13 , among the fifty portraits or so of the last century and a half ,
you 34 will find five or six , including that of
the sixth earl 35 , distinguished by long , sharp , straight noses and a quantity of dark-red hair ; these five or six have also blue eyes , whereas among
the Rassendylls 0 dark eyes are the commoner .
That is the explanation , and
I 4 am glad to have finished it : the blemishes on honourable lineage are a delicate subject , and certainly this heredity
we 36 hear so much about is the finest scandalmonger in
the world 3 ; it laughs at discretion , and writes strange entries between the lines of the “ Peerages ” .
It will be observed that , with a want of logic that must have been peculiar to
herself 2 ( since
we 37 are no longer allowed to lay it to the charge of
her 2 sex ) , treated
my 4 complexion almost as an offence for which
I 4 was responsible , hastening to assume from that external sign inward qualities of which
I 4 protest
my 4 entire innocence ; and this unjust inference
she 2 sought to buttress by pointing to the uselessness of the life
I 4 had led .
Well , be that as it may ,
I 4 had picked up a good deal of pleasure and a good deal of knowledge .
I 4 had been to
a German school 38 and
a German university 39 , and spoke German as readily and perfectly as English ;
I 4 was thoroughly at home in French ;
I 4 had a smattering of Italian and enough Spanish to swear by .
I 4 was ,
I 4 believe ,
a strong , though hardly fine swordsman 68 and
a good shot 69 .
I 4 could ride anything that had a back to sit on ; and
my 4 head was as cool a one as
you 40 could find , for all its flaming cover .
you 41 say that
I 4 ought to have spent
my 4 time in useful labour ,
I 4 am out of
Court 42 and have nothing to say , save that had no business to leave
me 4 two thousand pounds a year and a roving disposition .
“ The difference between
you 4 and
Robert 5 , ” said , who often ( bless
her 2 ! )
speaks on a platform , and oftener still as if
she 2 were on one , “ is that
he 5 recognizes the duties of
his 5 position , and
you 4 see the opportunities of yours . ”
a man of spirit 44 ,
Rose 2 , ”
I 4 answered , “ opportunities are duties . ”
“ Nonsense ! ” said
she 2 , tossing
her 2 head ; and after a moment
she 2 went on : “ Now , here ’s
Sir Jacob Borrodaile offering
might be equal to 45
“ A thousand thanks ! ”
I 4 murmured .
He 45 ’s to have
an Embassy 46 in six months , and
Robert 5 says
he 5 is sure that
he 45 ’ll take
you 4 as
an attache 56 .
Do take it ,
Rudolf 4 -- to please
me 2 . ”
Now , when puts the matter in that way , wrinkling
her 2 pretty brows , twisting
her 2 little hands , and growing wistful in the eyes , all on account of
an idle scamp like
, for whom
has no natural responsibility 4
I 4 am visited with compunction .
I 4 thought it possible that
I 4 could pass the time in the position suggested with some tolerable amusement .
I 4 said : “ , if in six months ’ time no unforeseen obstacle has arisen , and
Sir Jacob 45 invites
me 4 , hang
me 4 if
I 4 do n’t go with
Sir Jacob 45 ! ”
“ Oh ,
Rudolf 4 , how good of
you 4 !
I 2 am glad ! ”
“ Where ’s
he 45 going to ? ”
He 45 does n’t know yet ; but
it 72 ’s sure to be
a good Embassy 47 . ”
Madame 2 , ” said
I 4 , “ for
your 2 sake
I 4 ’ll go , if it ’s no more than a beggarly Legation .
I 4 do a thing ,
I 4 do n’t do it by halves . ”
My 4 promise , then , was given ; but six months are six months , and seem an eternity , and , inasmuch as they stretched between
me 4 and
my 4 prospective industry (
I 4 suppose
attaches 48 are industrious ; but
I 4 know not , for
I 4 never became
Sir Jacob 45
or anybody else 57
I 4 cast about for some desirable mode of spending them .
And it occurred to
me 4 suddenly that
I 4 would visit
Ruritania 12 .
It may seem strange that
I 4 had never visited
that country 12 yet ; but ( in spite of a sneaking fondness for
the Elphbergs 1 , which led
him 49 to give
me 4 , , the famous Elphberg name of Rudolf ) had always been averse from
my 4 going , and , since
his 49 death ,
, had accepted
brother , prompted by
Rose 2 5
the family 50 tradition which taught that a wide berth was to be given to
that country 12 .
But the moment
Ruritania 12 had come into
my 4 head
I 4 was eaten up with a curiosity to see
it 12 .
After all , red hair and long noses are not confined to
, and the old story seemed a preposterously insufficient reason for debarring
the House of
Elphberg 1 1
myself 4 from acquaintance with
a highly interesting and important kingdom 12 , one which had played no small part in European history , and might do the like again under the sway of
a young and vigorous ruler , such as
the new King 51
was rumoured to be 51
My 4 determination was clinched by reading in _ The Times _ that
Rudolf the Fifth 51 was to be crowned at
Strelsau 52 in the course of the next three weeks , and that great magnificence was to mark the occasion .
I 4 made up
my 4 mind to be present , and began
my 4 preparations .
But , inasmuch as it has never been
my 4 practice to furnish with an itinerary of
my 4 journeys and in this case
I 4 anticipated opposition to
my 4 wishes ,
I 4 gave out that
I 4 was going for a ramble in
the Tyrol 54 --
an old haunt of mine 70 -- and propitiated
Rose 2 ’s wrath by declaring that
I 4 intended to study the political and social problems of
the interesting community which dwells in
that neighbourhood 54 55