Louise shrank back, and looked searchingly at the count. "A sister of the king! And you say that your secret relates to a poor prisoner?"
"I said so. Oh, my noble, magnanimous friend, do not ask me to say more; I dare not, but I entreat you to help me. I must speak with the princess. You are her confidante and friend, you alone can obtain me an interview."
"It is impossible! impossible!" cried Madame du Trouffle, rising up and pacing the room hastily. Ranuzi followed her with his eyes, observed every movement, and read in her countenance every emotion of her soul.
"I will succeed," said he to himself, and proud triumph swelled his heart.
Louise drew near and stood before him.
"Listen," said she, gravely; "it is a daring, a dangerous enterprise in which you wish to entangle me--doubly dangerous for me, as the king suspects me, and he would never forgive it if he should learn that I had dared to act against his commands, and to assist the Princess Amelia to save an unhappy wretch whom he had irretrievably condemned. I know well who this prisoner is, but do not call his name--it is dangerous to speak it, even to think it. I be long not to the confidantes of the princess in this matter, and I do not desire it. Speak no more of the prisoner, but of yourself. You wish to be presented to the princess. Why not apply to Baron Pollnitz?"
"I have not gold enough to bribe him; and, besides that, he is a babbler, and purchasable. To-morrow he would betray me."
"You are right; and he could not obtain you a secret interview. One of the maids of honor must always be present, and the princess is surrounded by many spies. But there is a means, and it lies in my hands. Listen!"