134 PRINCE RICARDO.
business—namely, boot and shoe making. Btit keep a secret from my wife, I fairly own to your Majesty that I can not."
Herr Schmidt went down on his knees and wept.
" Rise, Herr Schmidt," said the king, taking him by the hand. " A more honourable and chivalrous confession of an amiable weakness, if it is to be called a weakness, I never heard. Sir, you have been true to your honour and your prince, in face of what few men can bear, the chance of ridicule. There is no one here, I hope, but respects and will keep the secret of Herr Schmidt's confession?"
The assembled shopkeepers could scarcely refrain from tears.
" Long live King Prigio the Good ! " they exclaimed, and vowed that everything should be kept dark.
" Indeed, sire," said the swordmaker, " all the rest of us are bachelors."
" That is none the worse for my purpose, gentlemen," said his Majesty; "but I trust that you will not long deprive me of sons and subjects worthy to succeed to such fathers. And now, if Herr Schmidt will kindly find his way to the buttery, where lefreshments are ready, I shall have the pleasure of conducting you to the scene of your labours."
Thus speaking, the king, with another magni-