This was one of the days on which the princess was accustomed to receive her fortune-teller; she had been very angry when told that she was under arrest; neither the prophet nor the fortune-teller were at liberty, and the princess was not able to obtain their release. She would, therefore, have been compelled to forego her usual occupation for the evening, had not Madame du Trouffle come to her aid. Louise had written that morning to the princess, and asked permission to introduce a new soothsayer, whose prophecies astonished the world, as, so far, they had been literally fulfilled. Amelia received this proposition joyfully, and now waited impatiently for Madame du Trouffle and the soothsayer; but she was yet alone, it was not necessary to hide her grief in stoical indifference, to still the groans of agony which, like the last sighs from a death-bed, rang from her breast.
The princess suffered not only from mental anguish; her body was as sick as her soul. The worm gnawing at her heart was also devouring her body; but neither for body nor soul would she accept a physician, she refused all sympathy for intellectual and physical pain. Amelia suffered and was silent, and only when as now she was certain there was no eye to see, no ear to hear her complaints, did she give utterance to them. And now the maid entered and announced Madame du Trouffle and the prophet.
"Let them enter," said the princess in a hollow, death-like voice; "let them enter, and remain yourself, Fraulein Lethow; the soothsayer shall tell your fortune."
The door opened, and Madame du Trouffle entered. She was gay and lovely as ever, and drew near the princess with a charming smile. Amelia returned her salutation coldly and carelessly.
"How many hours have you spent at your toilet to-day?" said she, roughly; "and where do you buy the rouge with which you have painted your cheeks?"
"Ah, your royal highness," said Louise, smiling, "Nature has been kind to me, and has painted my cheeks with her own sweet and cunning hand."
"Then Nature is in covenant with you, and helps you to deceive yourself to imagine that you are yet young. I am told that your daughter is grown up and wondrously beautiful, and that only when you stand near her is it seen how old and ugly you are."
Louise knew the rancor of the unhappy princess, and she knew no one could approach her without being wounded--that the undying worm in her soul was only satisfied with the blood it caused to flow. The harsh words of the princess had no sting for her. "If I were truly old," said she, "I would live in my daughter: she is said to be my image, and when she is praised, I feel myself flattered."