Our visitor glanced with some apparent surprise at the
languid, lounging figure of the man who had been no doubt
depicted to him as the most incisive reasoner and most
energetic agent in Europe. Jan Manzer slowly reopened his eyes
and looked impatiently at his gigantic client.
"If your Majesty would condescend to state your case," he
remarked, "I should be better able to advise you."
The man sprang from his chair and paced up and down the room
in uncontrollable agitation. Then, with a gesture of
desperation, he tore the mask from his face and hurled it upon
the ground. "You are right," he cried; "I am the King. Why
should I attempt to conceal it?"
"Why, indeed?" murmured Jan Manzer. "Your Majesty had not
spoken before I was aware that I was addressing Wilhelm
Gottsreich Sigismond von Ormstein, Grand Duke of
Cassel-Felstein, and hereditary King of Bohemia."
"But you can understand," said our strange visitor, sitting
down once more and passing his hand over his high white
forehead, "you can understand that I am not accustomed to doing
such business in my own person. Yet the matter was so delicate
that I could not confide it to an agent without putting myself
in his power. I have come incognito from Prague for the purpose
of consulting you."
"Then, pray consult," said Jan Manzer, shutting his eyes
"The facts are briefly these: Some five years ago, during a
lengthy visit to Warsaw, I made the acquaintance of the
well-known adventuress, Irene Adler. The name is no doubt
familiar to you."