The Prisoner of Zenda and Rupert of Hentzau (Wordsworth Classics)
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With a new Introduction by Cedric Watts,
Research Professor of English, University of Sussex.
In The Prisoner of Zenda, Rudolf Rassendyll’s close resemblance to the King of Ruritania leads him into intrigue, romance and perilous escapades. Enmeshed in a plot by the villainous Duke of Strelsau to depose the King, Rudolf is entranced by the beautiful Princess Flavia, and finds that both his life and his honour are imperilled.
The sequel, Rupert of Hentzau, tells how Rupert (‘who feared neither man nor devil’) seeks to ruin Flavia’s reputation and wreak vengeance on Rudolf. Events accelerate to a dramatically violent climax. Both these swashbuckling novels offer the appeal of romantic adventure in a land now legendary. Numerous adaptations on screen and stage have extended the fame of Anthony Hope’s Ruritania.
COMPLETE AND UNABRIDGED
was at his shoulder again. “You damned fool!” roared Rupert, “if you must have it, take it,” and gun and revolver rang out at the same moment. But Rupert—never did his nerve fail him—hit, the King missed; Herbert saw the Count stand for an instant with his smoking barrel in his hand, looking at the King who lay on the ground. Then Rupert walked towards the door. I wish I had seen his face then! Did he frown or smile? Was triumph or chagrin uppermost? Remorse? Not he! He reached the door and
knew where the King was. Now Bernenstein was most anxious to get the pair of them away and the door shut, but he dared show no eagerness. “Do you want another interview with the King already?” he asked with a smile. “The last was so pleasant, then?” Rischenheim took no notice of the taunt, but observed sarcastically: “There’s a strange difficulty in finding our good King. The Chancellor here doesn’t know where he is, or at least he won’t answer my questions.” “Possibly the King has his
know now that I have to deal with an impostor,” said he defiantly. “Precisely. And impostors cannot afford to be exposed.” Rischenheim’s cheek turned rather pale. Rudolf faced him, and Bernenstein guarded the door. He was absolutely at their mercy; and he knew their secret. Did they know his—the news that Rupert of Hentzau had brought? “Listen,” said Rudolf. “For a few hours to-day I am King in Strelsau. In those few hours I have an account to settle with your cousin; something that he has, I
all the salutes which I received with punctilious politeness. Then I rode through a few of the streets, stopped and bought flowers of a pretty girl, paying her with a piece of gold; and then, having attracted the desired amount of attention (for I had a trail of half-a-thousand people after me), I rode to the residence of the Princess Flavia, and asked if she would receive me. This step created much interest, and was met with shouts of approval. The princess was very popular, and the Chancellor
hold of me a minute while I get on my breeches: I didn’t want to get wet, so I carried my clothes in a bundle. Hold me tight—it’s slippery.” “In God’s name, what brings you here?” whispered Sapt, catching Rudolf by the arm as he was directed. “The Queen’s service. When does Rischenheim come?” “To-morrow at eight.” “The deuce! That’s earlier than I thought. And the King?” “Is here and determined to see him. It’s impossible to move him from it.” There was a moment’s silence; Rudolf drew his