+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error

courier arrived at the Residenz, and handed a
packet to the high chamberlain, who in turn
handed it to His Mansuetude. Ludwig Adolf
received it with a smile, and ordered the courier
to be sumptuously entertained in the buttery.
He came from his cousin of England, and the
grand-duke felt certain that he must be the bearer
of at least the British Order of the Garter.

Ludwig the Terrible opened the packet,
perused a letter which it contained, and was soon
afterwards seen to turn blue. Then he tore open
the inner envelope of the packet and turned
crimson. Then he cast something upon the
ground and trampled it beneath his heel. Then
he ordered his yellow stockings. Then he began
to curse and to kick his pages. Eventually he
turned to the high chamberlain, flung him the
letter, and thundered forth, " Read that."

The missive was not from the King of
England, but from his Majesty's principal Secretary
of State for Foreign Affairs, who, in terms of
contemptuous frigidity, " begged leave to return
the spurious jewel sent to his Britannic Majesty,
and had the honour to remain."

By this time Ludwig the Terrible was foaming
at the mouth. " Spurious," he gasped,
"spurious! I see it all. Rascal, robber. Quick,
twelve halberdiers, and let Abimelech Ben Azi,
and the dog who is his journeyman, be brought

It was about twelve at noon that Jochabad
Spass was smoking his after-dinner pipethey
dined at eleven in Schweinhundhausenat the
door of his master's shop in the Judengasse.
He looked up the street and down the street,
when suddenly round the corner which gave on
to the Hof-Kirche-Platz, he saw two of the yellow
and black halberdiers make their appearance.
The Court Jew's house was just at the other
extremity of the street, and as soon as Jochabad
saw halberdiers one and two succeeded by halberdiers
three and four, than Jochabad Spass, who,
if he were indeed a dog, was a very sly one,
slipped round the corner of the opposite extremity
of the street.

"Good-by to Schweinhundhausen," he said
philosophically, running meanwhile as fast as his
legs would carry him. " There is a storm brewing.
It will be a bad day for the house-father.
What a pity I had not time to secure the casket."

The twelve halberdiers arrived at Abimelech
Ben Azi's house, seized upon that unfortunate
Israelite, and, notwithstanding the entreaties of
his wife and children, bound his hands tightly
behind his back. It was the invariable practice
of the ministers of the grand-ducal justice,
whenever they paid a domiciliary visit, to leave
marks of their presence by eating and drinking
up everything on the premises. This traditional
ceremony was gone through while the wretched
Abimelech writhed in his bonds and moaned in
terror; and then the guards, placing him in their
midst, playfully prodded him up the Judengasse,
across the Hof-Kirche-Platz, and so through the
avenue of linden-trees to the Residenz.

But he was not received in the Hall of
Audience. No; the Hall of Justice was the
destination of the wretched man. As a preliminary
measure he was taken into the guard-room and
loaded with heavy fetters, and then he was
dragged down a couple of flights of slimy stairs
into this so much dreaded Hall of Justicea
gloomy, underground apartment, supported by
massive stone pillars, and illumined only by two
grated windows on a level with the pavement of
the court-yard. The place was very dark and
very damp, and if it had been situated in an
English mansion, and not in a grand-ducal
residence, would have most probably gone by the
name, not of a Hall of Justice, but of a coal-

At the upper end of the hall sat Ludwig the
Terrible, in a great crimson arm-chair. Facing
him, a few paces distant, was another chair,
empty, and behind it stood mute and grim, a
swarthy man in a blacksmith's apron, and with
his sleeves rolled up to the elbows, whom the
unfortunate Ben Azi knew well to be Hans
Dummergeist, sworn scourger, headsman, and
tormentor to the grand-duke.

"Good day, Mr. Court Jew," said Ludwig
Adolf, with affected courtesy, as the prisoner was
brought in tottering between two halberdiers.
"What is the course of exchange, Mr. Court

The miserable man's lips moved convulsively,
but he could articulate nothing.

"What is the price of diamonds," the grand-
duke continued, his voice rising to a yell of
derision. " How stands the great Schweinsfleisch
diamond quoted in the market?"

The Court Jew made a desperate effort: " The
great Schweinsfleisch diamond," he faltered,
"did not your highness entrust it to me to set,
and did you not send it as centre-piece of the
Grand Cross of the Order of the Pig and Whistle
to his Majesty the King of England?"

"Oh, inconceivably mangy and thievish dog,"
roared Ludwig Adolf, now losing all command
of himself, "behold and tremble." And he
thrust beneath the nose of the unhappy Court
Jew an open leathern case, in which he saw lying
in confused fragments, the decoration he had
made, and in its midst, winking with delusive
glitter, the spurious diamond.

"Court Jew," continued Ludwig Adolf, with
a growl like that of a hungry bear, " you and I
will pass the afternoon together. But first,
egregious and impudent knave, where is the
diamondthe real diamondthe great
Schweinsfleisch diamond you have robbed me of?"

In vain did Abimelech Ben Azi protest that he
knew nothing about it, that he had set the real
stone as he had been ordered to do, that it must
have been taken out, and a false one substituted
for it in England; that he was as innocent as the
babe unborn. He was, by the command of the
grand-duke, bound down in the great arm-chair
facing that tyrant, and, to extort confession, the
dreadful infliction known as the Osnaburg