Issue Seven - March 2004

Blood and Iron (excerpt)

By Richard Carter

U.K. Performance Script

VICKY Victoria, Princess Royal, Empress of Germany, eldest daughter of Queen Victoria
FRITZ Vicky’s husband, Kaiser Frederick III
WILLIE Their eldest son, Kaiser Wilhelm II (Kaiser Bill);
his left arm is paralysed
TORY Viktoria, Willie’s younger sister
BISMARCK Chancellor of Germany (titular Prince) BUSCH Bismarck’s secretary
COUNT SECKENDORFF Vicky’s Court Chamberlain
RADOLINSKY A Court Marshall
SETTING: Sets should be suggestive rather than detailed. The “letterbox” refers to small areas of light in which characters may standwhilst delivering text from letters or speeches.
ACTION: The play takes place in VICKY’s residence at Cronberg, near Berlin, on 18th March 1890; and in memory from 1887 to 1890 in a villa at San Remo, Italy, in and around the palace at Berlin and at Cronberg.

Letterbox reveals VICKY.
Vicky “January 1864. Dear Mama, War with Denmark is a mistake, caused by the uncontrolled power of an unprincipled man.”
Distant cannonfire. Boom
Vicky “June 1866. War with Austria is deliberatel concocted. Bismarck uses conflict to unite the German peoples.”
Boom. Lights reveal BISMARCK before a map of Germany.
Vicky “July 1870. War with France will be Bismarck’s most horrible legacy.”
Boom. Sound of soldiers marching.
Bismarck War had to achieve what diplomacy never could! I created a nation!
Crossfade to Cronberg. SECKENDORFF enters.
Seckendorff Prince Bismarck? (Sound out) Prince Bismarck?
Bismarck Yes?
Seckendorff Did you call?
Bismarck No. I was thinking.
Seckendorff Her Majesty will see you.
Bismarck Ask my secretary to wait outside the door.
SECKENDORFF bows and starts to exit
Bismarck Count Seckendorff,… is she… comfortable here?
Seckendorff The house is essentially her design.
Bismarck And the artworks?
Seckendorff She collected them, through the years.
Bismarck How else does she spend her time?
Seckendorff She visits hospitals for old soldiers; promotes restoration of historic buildings; and of course there’s her…
Bismarck Her correspondence? Of course.
Seckendorff You know what they say about idle hands.
Bismarck Has she ever considered knitting?
Seckendorff Serene Highness… have you?
SECKENDORFF bows, exits. BISMARCK waits. Letterbox reveals FRITZ.
Fritz “Take care of her.”
Bismarck Why? Why me?
Letterbox fades as VICKY enters behind. BISMARCK senses her.
Bismarck Your Majesty.
Vicky Chancellor.
Bismarck You look well.
Vicky I look older. So do you.
Bismarck I don’t sleep.
Vicky It doesn’t matter. Whether one sleeps or not. The time passes. (Pause) Princess Bismarck is well?
Bismarck Yes.
Vicky And your children?
Bismarck I didn’t come to exchange pleasantries. (Calls)
BUSCH enters, carrying something under wraps. He sets it down and exits as BISMARCK continues..
Bismarck I stumbled on something last night. Literally. The hallway was dark, the Palace full of delegates to the Labour Conference. Those from your country had…
Vicky Germany is my country.
Bismarck The delegates from England had put out their luggage for collection. I thought in stumbling I might have damaged this. Even in bad light the label was obvious.
(He uncovers a small chest marked “China”)
Vicky “China.”
Bismarck Then it’s familiar to you?
Vicky The word “china” is familiar to me.
Bismarck It must be very fine “china”. Very delicate.
(He lifts the chest with ease. Shakes it.) You can see why I was concerned. It doesn’t sound as if anything’s broken but it’s difficult to tell. Do you think we should open it? To make sure the contents are… safe?
He begins to open it
Vicky Is this really why you’ve come? It isn’t worthy of you. Not to say untypical. Two years without a word; without so much as a note of condolence.
Bismarck(BISMARCK looks in the chest)This is a unique collection. Irreplaceable, one would imagine. (He extracts bundles of letters from the chest.)Eighteen fifty-eight, eighteen fifty-nine, sixty… your life since you entered my life. Packed in one small box of “china.” Why? (VICKY does not answer.) Each one of these constitutes an act of treason.
Vicky Letters to my mother?
Bismarck Your mother is Queen of England.
Vicky I can hardly be blamed for that.
Bismarck Do you think this is a joke? You never cease to amaze me. You divulge State secrets for thirty years…
Vicky For thirty years I waited! That’s all. That’s all a Crown Princess can do. Do you have any notion what it’s like? To look forward to something your whole life, only to have it… no, of course you don’t. You, with powers of creation God himself must envy. Go away! Do whatever it is your duty requires: have me tried, have me convicted. Have William banish me.
Bismarck Having the Kaiser’s mother tried for treason does not serve the State.
Vicky (Gives a little laugh) You are nothing if not consistent. “The good of Germany.” Isn’t that how it goes? You could sack Jerusalem and look God in the eye: “I did it for Germany.”
Bismarck And you for England.
Vicky That is not so. That has never been so!
Bismarck The proof is here, in your own words! How you betrayed the German people, betrayed your own husband.
Vicky How dare you…
Bismarck Did he know you worked against him?
Vicky How dare you speak to me this way! By right I am Empress…
Bismarck Whose right?
Vicky God’s right!
Bismarck Haven’t the last two years convinced you that God… isn’t English?(Pause)
Vicky (Indicates letters) Why bring them here? It wasn’t necessary. You had only to take them to William. He knows how to read.
Bismarck It’s not that simple.
Vicky It’s always that simple for you. Whenever you wanted anything, all you had to do was betray someone: Denmark, Austria, France.
Bismarck You’re off the subject.
Vicky I am the subject! I’ve spent my life here as one sort of subject or another; I recognise the position.
Bismarck I thought time might have dulled your pugilistic spirit.
Vicky Is that why you came? To see if I’d finally embraced the Gospel according to Bismarck?
Bismarck I don’t believe in miracles.
Vicky One has to believe in God first.
Bismarck (Thundering)I believe in God! I jus don’t trust Him. (Pause) I’ve resigned my office.
Pause, then VICKY bursts out laughing
Vicky Now that is a miracle: you’ve developed a sense of humour.
Bismarck I assure you, I didn’t mean it to be funny.
Vicky You meant it to surprise me – which, I admit, it did. My compliments on an excellent move.
Bismarck Nor is this a game.
Vicky It’s all a game to you; that’s what makes you so lethal!
Bismarck I tell you it’s over! The boy owns the board!
Vicky Your resignation… I could paper my walls with your resignations. I could frame them and call them art, except there are so many as to render them worthless.
Bismarck (With letters)Your son will destroy these! And you, and everything you claim to hold dear! You’ll be blotted out! Is that what you want? Your existence erased?
Vicky So… I’m to be obliterated. And not by you – that might offend your sense of honour – but by my own son. How do it feel, Chancellor? Finally, to put me in checkmate? Will you be able to sleep now?
Lights fade.

SCENE 2 Letterbox reveals VICKY
Vicky “November 1887. Dear Mama, we’ve arrive in Italy and taken a villa at San Remo. The doctors believe the climate here will improve Fritz’s health. If I can keep Berlin from his mind, and the wretched newspapers from his hands, I’m sure he’ll be himself in no time.”
Letterbox fades as lights reveal San Remo. RADOLINSKY stalks on, SECKENDORFF at his heels.
Radolinsky Prince Bismarck will hear about this.
Seckendorff Will you be quiet.
Radolinsky (Louder)Prince Bismarck will hear…
Seckendorff Why you bumbling,…
Radolinsky Oh!
Seckendorff Dim-witted,…
Radolinsky Oh!
Seckendorff Pitiful excuse for a spy!
Radolinsky I’ve been insulted enough! (Throws glove) I throw down my gauntlet!
VICKY enters
Seckendorff Not again.
Vicky What is the meaning of this?
Radolinsky He called me a spy.
Seckendorff You are a spy!
Radolinsky I am the Court Marshall! (Throws other glove) I demand satisfaction!
Vicky Pick up your gloves. (He does so) Count Radolinsky, the Crown Prince is not to be disturbed. Another such outburst and I’ll send you back to Prince Bismarck myself.
Radolinsky No, your Highness. I mean, yes your Highness. I mean… forgive me. He bows and starts to go
Seckendorff Your Highness, why do you let him stay?
Vicky Better him than one I don’t know about. God knows who Bismarck would send next.
WILLIE enters
Willie Hello, Mother.
Vicky William… I thought you were in Berlin.
Willie I was. Now I’m here.
Vicky Well… isn’t modern transportation wonderful!
Willie Yes; someone should inform the Italians. If the Romans had travelled by train they’d never have conquered Europe. (Pause)It must be the heat here that takes away everyone’s sense of humour. Radolinsky, help me with my coat. Careful, you idiot! Count Seckendorff, see that my things are brought in.
Vicky Darling… Count Seckendorff is my Court Chamberlain.
Willie Count Seckendorff, please make the necessary arrangements.
Willie Well, how is he?
Vicky Who?
Willie Father, of course.
Vicky May I have a kiss before the interrogation?
He kisses her cheek
Willie Really, Mother, the things you say. After I come all this way, lumbering over the Alps. I swear, if the Romans had travelled by train…
Vicky William… why are you here?
Willie Berlin is frantic.
Vicky Hardly an unusual condition in the nation’s capital.
Willie Dr. Bergmann’s latest report was published in the newspapers.
Vicky The news- oh! Willie, if you only knew what goes on here. That wretched little man!
Willie Dr. Bergmann?
Vicky If “Doctor” Bergmann spent as much time practising medicine as he does talking to the press, your father might be well.
Willie Mother. I’m here now. The Kaiser wishes me to speak with the doctors.
Vicky You?
Willie Including your Englishman.
Vicky He is not “my”…
Willie The Kaiser wishes…
Vicky Sir Morell MacKenzie is the leading throat specialist in Europe.
Willie The Kaiser wishes better understanding…
Vicky What the Kaiser wishes is of little concern to me just now! If I’d jumped every time your grandfather wished, I’d have legs like a kangaroo.
Willie The Kaiser wishes…
Vicky And do stop Kaisering me. It was bad enough when he was merely a king. Soon every monarch will want to be a Kaiser and Bismarck will have to dream up some new title.
Willie Your mother’s an Empress… We oughtn’t make fun. The Kai… Grandfather isn’t well.
Vicky Don’t let him fool you, Willie; he’s going to live to be a hundred. (Struck) Perhaps then we could call him “Centurion.”
Willie Mother!
Vicky I’m sorry.
Willie How can you say these things?
Vicky I can’t help it; I say what I think. A bad habit left over from childhood.
Willie Where is your sense of duty?
Vicky My first duty on Earth is to God. My second, to my husband. When your father becomes Kaiser, the Kaiser will come second. Oh, Willie, I don’t mean to be harsh, but your very appearance here means your grandfather has less control than ever. Think: why are you here? Your grandfather receives regular reports on your father’s health.
Willie Then why did he send me?
Vicky Why does the Kaiser do anything? Think!
Willie It was his idea…
Vicky The man hasn’t had an original idea in a quarter of a century! The genius of Bismarck is that the Kaiser thinks himself ruler of Germany. Now, I’m glad you’ve come. Your father will be pleased to see you; but you’re not to speak with any of the doctors.
Willie My orders…
Vicky I won’t have your orders here, William. I won’t have your grandfather or Bismarck—or you—upsetting your father’s treatment.
Willie Upsetting?
Vicky I know you wouldn’t mean to.
Willie I’m not the one who upsets, Mother. Prince Bismarck isn’t losing any sleep on my account.
Vicky I didn’t realise he’d grown so sensitive.
Willie He’s sensitive to Petticoat Government.
Vicky To what?
Willie He calls it… “Petticoat Government.” They say, when he closes his eyes to sleep, he thinks of your accession to the throne and sees an endless line of German soldiers wearing skirts.
Vicky Why don’t you suggest he tries counting them?
Willie You don’t understand him.
Vicky I think I do. He may keep your father and me at arm’s length, but the view is quite good from here.
Willie It’s your own choice to be in Italy.
Vicky That’s not what I meant.
Willie You should be in Berlin, where Father could have proper care.
Vicky He receives the best possible…
Willie How can he? In a foreign country, with a foreign doctor! (Blurting it out)Bergmann says Father has a cancer and you… you bring some English fop to wave the Union Jack over him.
Vicky Did you come all this way just to hurt me?
FRITZ enters
Willie I told you, I came to see… Father!
WILLIE hastens to him, stops suddenly, gives a formal salute. FRITZ extends his hand and vigorously shakes WILLIE’s good hand. The grip proves too strong for WILLIE.
Willie What are you doing out of… bed?… Ow!
Fritz (Releases his grip) So, I have the handshake of an invalid? Let’s try again.
Willie No, I… It’s just, the newspapers said…
Fritz The newspapers? Here’s a good lesson in politics, Willie. (Indicates WILLIE’s sore hand) Always get your information first hand. (He laughs then coughs, in obvious pain).
Vicky Now, Fritz, don’t talk too much. (She brings him water)
Willie Are you all right?
Fritz (Drinks, recovers)What brings you to Italy?
Vicky William…
Willie Nothing really.
Fritz It’s a long trip for nothing.
Willie I’ll say.
Fritz How is my father?
Willie Fine. For a man of ninety-two.
Pause. FRITZ looks at VICKY, who is looking at WILLIE, who is looking at VICKY.
Fritz You came to tell me I should be in Berlin.
Willie It would calm much suspicion.
Vicky Willie…
Fritz He’s right you know.
Vicky No he’s not. It’s too cold. Your throat isn’t ready.
Fritz I’m feeling better.
Vicky The more reason to stay. Sir Morell says you need warmth and rest. Six months here will set you up.
Willie We may not have six months.
Vicky Will you keep still!
Fritz It’s my duty, Vicky. So… we must find a compromise. How can a Crown Prince do his duty and not talk too much, eh?(Laughs, coughs)
Willie (After a moment) I could speak for you, Father.
Vicky Willie…
Fritz Will you let the boy talk?
Willie It’s simple really. I could speak in your place, the way I do for Grandfather.
Fritz The way you…
Vicky It’s nothing.
Fritz You know about this? (She does not answer)Go on, Willie.
Willie Well, with your being gone and Grandfather’s being… older… sometimes I speak for him.
Fritz In public?
Willie Of course. You’ve been away a long time Father. First England, now Italy…
Fritz What other authority has he given you?
Willie What?
Fritz What other authority? To act on his behalf?
Willie No.
Fritz Don’t lie to me.
Vicky Fritz, your throat.
Willie I haven’t used it. It’s only natural, I’m your son.
Fritz You’re a boy.
Willie I’m twenty-eight.
Fritz And I am Crown Prince, not you! If he thinks, after all these years, I’ll let myself be passed by.
Willie We weren’t trying to…
Fritz Why are you here?
Willie Grandfather sent me.
Fritz To find me in bed? Too ill to rule? That’s what you expected.
Willie Father…
Fritz That’s what my father thinks.
Willie Grandfather is old and sick; he scarcely thinks
of anything at all! He needs help.
Fritz Not from you.
Willie But you’re away.
Fritz He’s got Bismarck! He doesn’t need you…FRITZ is seized by a fit of uncontrollable coughing. VICKY crosses in front of WILLIE.
Vicky I hope you’re satisfied. (To FRITZ)Darling you must lie down. (Calls out)Count Seckendorff, come
Willie Let me help.
Vicky Haven’t you helped enough?
SECKENDORFF enters and helps VICKY take FRITZ off as lights fade.

SCENE 3 Dawn. Lights up on BISMARCK in his office. His desk is awash with papers. Letterbox reveals VICKY.
Vicky “Dear Mama, the newspapers are full of lies. They insist Fritz has cancer, that I forced an English doctor on him, prevented an operation.”
Bismarck (Reading)“Dr. Bergmann advises removal of the larynx.”
Vicky “They don’t say Sir Morell was sought by German doctors, that he’s found no evidence of a cancer, nor that the operation poses frightful risks.”
Bismarck “When the Crown Prince awakes”—if he awakes—”he would have no voice”.
VICKY moves into BISMARCK’s light
Vicky Why don’t you say something?
Bismarck To whom? The press? A word on your behalf. Why not just have them write my obituary?
Vicky I am hung up for target practice!
Bismarck You’re a public figure.
Vicky My husband is ill. I’ve no-one to defend me.
Bismarck Your husband’s father is ill and he is Kaiser! He matters!
BUSCH enters, yawning.
Busch Did you call, Sir?
Vicky The truth matters.
Bismarck Whose truth?
Busch Sir?
Bismarck What?
Busch Did you call?
VICKY exits
Bismarck No. I was thinking. Why are you still here?
Busch You didn’t dismiss me.
Bismarck But it’s late, my God, it’s… did you get any sleep?
Busch Yes, Sir. Did you?
Bismarck What do you think?
Busch That’s what I thought. Is there anything you wish, Sir?
Bismarck No. Yes. My desk.
Busch Oh, Sir. These were in neat stacks.
Cannonfire off: boom! BUSCH starts tidying papers.
Bismarck Not now, Busch. After I leave.
Busch Sir, what if you don’t leave?
Bismarck Then do it before I come back!
Bismarck What idiot is blowing off cannon?!
Busch It’s Prince Wilhelm, Sir. He’s practising twenty-one-gun salutes.
Many booms all at once, then silence
Bismarck Do you think he blew himself up?
Busch No, Sir. That’s the usual ending. He gets tired of waiting for all twenty-one guns so he orders the last ones off all at once.
Bismarck I don’t believe it,
Busch Sir, I wouldn’t make that up.
Bismarck I don’t believe that boy will be Kaiser someday! The sun isn’t up, it’s so cold my dog growled at me when I tried to let him out; and that boy is having parade practice!
The cannon begin again: boom!
Bismarck What’s he practising for? The Second Coming?
Busch First will be the Kaiser’s funeral parade. Then Prince Frederick’s coronation (Boom!)Then, if Prince Frederick takes a turn for the worse…
Bismarck Dammit, Busch, nobody has died yet!
Busch You said Prince Wilhelm loves to plan parades. You said he’d been constantly underfoot since returning from Italy. You said you’d give anything to have him out of your way.
Bismarck This is not out of my way!
Many booms all at once. Silence.
Bismarck Busch, the Kaiser is ninety-two. God alone knows how he hangs on, but, as long as he lives, governing Germany is relatively simple. I’d prefer not to lose more sleep over it than is absolutely necessary!
Dog barks off
Bismarck Now what? (Calls out)Tyrus! Quiet!
Busch I’ll see to him. (Starts to go)
Bismarck See to that boy as well.
WILLIE enters
Busch (Nose to nose.)Prince Wilhelm, Sir.
Bismarck Yes, Prince Wilhelm; who do you think!?… You Highness.
Willie You’ll have to speak up! It’s the cannon!
Busch (Stepping in) Prince Bismarck and I were just discussing your splendid salute, Sir!
Willie Ah!
Busch (Aside) In your honour, Sir; I forgot to mention.
Bismarck You’re making this up.
Busch Sir, I wouldn’t.
Willie What’s that?
Bismarck About your cannon… they’re really quite… what did I say those cannon were, Busch?
Busch Rousing.
Willie Thank you! I remember, after the French War, Father couldn’t hear for weeks! He said at the peace conference you had to repeat everything!
Bismarck It was mortifying.
Willie How’s that?!
Bismarck Gratifying! How like your father!
Willie Thank you!
Bismarck Your Highness, please… (Indicates for him to speak more softly)
Willie I remember Father said he didn’t know which was louder: the battlefield or the victory parade. Of course, I was too young to serve, but that parade: thousands upon thousands of Berliners lining the streets, hanging out of windows, waving from rooftops! How they roared when he passed! Their very souls offered up to the man who had united Germany! (Pause)Of course they cheered for you, too. And for Grandfather.
Bismarck Your grandfather above all. Remember…
Willie/Bismarck The Kaiser always comes first…
Willie I know. But you…
Bismarck I am merely his servant. Well, it’s good of you to stop by, your Highness. I know how busy you are. I want you to know how I appreciate all your efforts, and I hope you have a splendid journey. You look perplexed.
Willie No, I…
Bismarck Really, I’m envious. It should be spectacular crossing the Alps at this time of year.
Willie Alps?!
Bismarck Didn’t your grandfather tell you?
Willie Yes, of course. He tells me everything.
Bismarck Good.
Willie It’s just that… you know how Grandfather is. Sometimes he’s hard to understand. In fact, sometimes he makes no sense at all… he is ninety-two.
Bismarck Precisely. That is why we must interpret his wishes. The Kaiser is very concerned about your father’s health. We receive such conflicting reports.
Willie But I reported myself just…
Bismarck Cases such as your father’s change rapidly.
Willie Surely the doctors…
Bismarck Are in complete opposition to one another, as you know.
Willie But I just came back from San Remo!
Bismarck And your report was so valuable that the Kaiser wishes you to go back.
Willie All the way to Italy?
Bismarck That is where your parents are
Willie Why can’t they come here?
Bismarck I think you know the answer to that.
Willie My mother. But surely someone else can…
Bismarck The Kaiser wants you.
Willie Then I’ll speak with him.
Bismarck Your Highness… (Fatherly.)It’s a delicate situation. It calls for tact and judgement. We both know your grandfather can’t last much longer. I think your father should hear that from you.
Willie You’ll see they practise whilst I’m gone?
Bismarck Practise?
Busch The cannon, Sir.
Bismarck Of course. Have a pleasant journey, your Highness.
WILLIE clicks his heels and exits. BISMARCK turns to BUSCH
Bismarck See that they practise cleaning those cannon.
Busch Yes, Sir.
Bismarck And tie my dog to the door. I don’t want that boy coming back unannounced.
Busch Serene Highness, I don’t know how you manage him.
Bismarck Oh, he’s a good pup. Better too much than too little fire.
Busch He doesn’t see that yours is the hand that feeds him.
Bismarck For the moment I require only that his bone be
thrown far away.
Lights fade

SCENE 4 FRITZ’s bedchamber in San Remo. Lights reveal TORY holding a map. FRITZ, reclining, points.
Fritz There, Tory. Konigsgratz.
Tory All right. Now tell me the story.
Fritz You must know geography as well as history. When I met your mother…
Tory I know. She knew more history than you, more geography, spoke three languages fluently…
Fritz Four.
Tory Tell me the story.
Fritz I knew she was a woman who could help me rule.
Tory I don’t want to rule.
Fritz (Rising) Of course you do.
Tory Get back under that blanket.
Fritz See?
Tory Papa, I don’t want to rule; I just want to…
Fritz To marry Prince Alexander?
Tory Papa!
Fritz Well?
Tory I haven’t been asked.
Fritz Perhaps because you didn’t know where Konigsgratz is.
Tory If you want me to help write your memoir, you’d better start talking.
FRITZ laughs vigorously, then coughs badly.
Tory I was only teasing. Shall I get the doctor?
Fritz No. (Composing himself)I’m all right.
Tory But that’s the third time. Fritz It’s Bergmann on duty. He’s too rough. Pokes my throat inside.
Tory Why don’t you say something?
Fritz It’s difficult with his arm down my throat.
Tory I’m going to find Sir Morell.
Fritz No! Please. I don’t want a big fuss.
Tory But…
Fritz Ssshh. I hear your mother.
FRITZ hastens under the blanket as TORY resumes her place with the memoir. VICKY enters, surveys the scene suspiciously
Vicky How’s our patient?
Fritz/Tory Fine.
Vicky I see.
Fritz I keep trying to tell her stories but she won’t let me.
Tory Are we done then?
Fritz What? Without writing about Konigsgratz?
Vicky Konigsgratz? You heard that story a thousand times when you were little. I’m sure she could write it from memory.
Fritz It’s my memoir. It must be in my own words.
Vicky But you don’t have to dictate.
Fritz She edits as we go along.
Vicky You said you were going to rest.
Fritz I’m tired of resting.
Vicky Then we’ll go for a walk.
Fritz Vicky, please. Let me do something.
VICKY sighs, relents
Fritz Where were we?
Tory “After the battle.”
Fritz Yes, after the battle… I came upon them in a farmhouse. My men. Dozens of them. Wounded. Lying in heaps. So many familiar faces. They said, “We knew you would come today. We had a hard stand in the woods, till we heard, ‘He’s coming. He is coming.’ Then everything went well again.”
Vicky (Strokes his hair)You were their inspiration.
Fritz Not very inspiring now.
Vicky You inspire me.
Tory We just need another war, Papa. That’ll get you up.
Fritz Don’t ever say that. Not even in jest. You can’t imagine what it’s like. I rode on that day, from the farmhouse, through fields of corpses. Even my horse shied away from them. While at home, comfortable, fat men stood at the Green Table and stuck pins in a map.
Tory Do you want me to write that?
Vicky I think that’s enough for today.
Tory Papa?
Vicky Victoria.
TORY rises. VICKY notices a newspaper left behind.
Vicky (Hastily)Here, you’ve left your paper.
Fritz I’ve already seen it. I told her to bring it. (He holds out his hand for its return.)
Vicky Why?
Fritz It’s my duty.
Vicky To see what lies are written about you?
Fritz (With paper)Why do you think they insist it’s hopeless? What good does it do them? None of them has this disgusting disease.
Vicky Who says you have it? Darling, you mustn’t believe this.
Fritz All my life I’ve wanted to be of use to my country. Now I’m seen as a burden.
Vicky That’s not so.
Fritz Why should God be so cruel?
Vicky Now, that’s enough. You’re not to read this rubbish again. (TORY exits)Here. I’ve brought you a real newspaper.
(Hands it to him)
Fritz The Times? Where on earth did you get this?
Vicky Mama sent it.
Fritz You’re the only person I know who has her paper
delivered by the Queen of England.
Vicky We have to get the truth somewhere.
Fritz Vicky, what if the truth is…? (Changing the subject)… Bismarck is threatening to resign.
Vicky What?
Fritz Not officially. It’s said he won’t stay on unless certain conditions are met.
Vicky He wants a padlock put on my mouth. (Pause) We don’t need him.
Fritz We need his experience.
Vicky You’re experienced.
Fritz I’ll still need a chancellor.
Vicky I can do anything he can.
Fritz Be serious.
Vicky You be serious.
Fritz Vicky…
Vicky If he hands you his head on a platter…
Fritz I will be Kaiser and I will choose! (Coughs)
Vicky I’m sorry. I only meant there are other ministers.
Fritz Not like him.
Vicky (Softly)Too much like him. All trying to out-Bismarck Bismarck, and not a one with his brains.
Fritz I think he secretly admires you, too.
Vicky I’ve never said the man wasn’t brilliant and a great patriot in his way. It’s just that his way works only for him.
Fritz I can control him.
Vicky That’s not the point. The point is, his system makes one man omnipotent. It doesn’t make anyone immortal.
Fritz Sometimes I wonder. Sometimes I think my father will go on and on…
Vicky Your father has lived past ninety out of spite.
Fritz Vicky!
Vicky I can’t help it. Twenty-five years and he hasn’t forgiven you for speaking against him. He’ll never forgive me.
Fritz We were disloyal.
Vicky Disloyal? For predicting what would happen under Bismarck?
Fritz When my father chose Bismarck he was a frightened,
well-meaning man.
Vicky Sometimes being well-meaning isn’t enough.
Fritz Our duty was…
Vicky Speaking out was our duty.
Fritz Not in my country, Vicky. Why can’t you learn!?
(Coughs)We were wrong to embarrass my father.
Vicky Have we not paid? All these years in Purgatory.
Fritz I’m sure he forgives us now.
Vicky And Bismarck? Will he forgive us our sins?
Fritz You must remember, your original sin was the geography of your birth. Mine was falling in love with you. Come, stroke my head while I fall asleep. I’m suddenly quite tired. (She comes to him. He closes his eyes.) Sometimes I think, all these years, Bismarck has been jealous of me. (Pause)I love you.
Vicky And I you, my darling.
Lights fad

SCENE 5 BISMARCK’s office, night. BISMARCK at his desk, drinking, reading, his desk awash with papers. Letterbox reveals VICKY.
Vicky “January 1888. Dear Mama, Fritz has been better of late and we’ve begun to talk of Berlin. How long the Kaiser will linger, God knows. We must move to set things right. We understand the elections have returned some Liberals.”
Bismarck Busch…
Vicky “Many Germans are unhappy with Bismarck’s government. Most simply know nothing else. If they can be taught that they have rights, a constitution… ”
Bismarck Busch!
VICKY moves into BISMARCK’s light.
Vicky Are you frightened? Are the people speaking of “rights?” “Constitution?”
Bismarck Words.
Vicky Words with meaning.
Bismarck The world is full of meaningful words, but it’s never the words that matter. It’s iron and blood. That’s how the great questions are decided. You English know that better than anyone. You just use words to make conquest palatable.
BUSCH enters
Busch Sir?
Bismarck What? Oh, Busch. I was… (At his desk)Look at this.
Busch Oh, Sir… (He goes to tidy up)
Bismarck Not the desk, the newspapers! They agitate the masses with this election nonsense. You will prepare a series of articles.
Busch Yes, Sir. (He prepares to take notes)
Bismarck Something to take the people’s mind off this… this…
Vicky “Quaint” election?
Busch The subject, Sir?
Bismarck English influence in the German Court. She would have me genuflect…
Busch The Crown Princess?
Bismarck Yes! Must I explain everything? God, the only other brain on the continent belongs to an English woman who would have me genuflect to monkeys in Parliament! How can anyone govern that way? I answer to one man, and to no woman.
Vicky What about God?
Bismarck I’m devoted to God! But on my terms. (Sees BUSCH writing) Don’t put that in.
Vicky You’re medieval. You’ve never understood the concept of liberty.
Bismarck Liberty?
Busch Sir?
Bismarck (Spitting them out) Liberty, Peace, Humanity! These are always the English pretexts when they force themselves
on more primitive peoples.
Busch Second point?
Bismarck The Colonies. She opposes our African adventure.
Vicky I think it’s infantile: England has colonies so Germany wants some.
Bismarck The people want Colonies!
Vicky Tell the people what it will cost. Ask them if they want to pay taxes to conquer Africans?
Bismarck (Loudly)Point three…
Busch (Writing furiously) Third…
Bismarck I’m told her daughter is in love with that moth-eaten Prince Alexander of Battenberg. She will try to secure the match.
Busch (Stops)Sir…
Bismarck The Czar of Russia despises Alexander. If he were to marry a German princess, it might lead to war.
Busch Sir, you’re dealing with…
Bismarck I know who I’m dealing with! Her daughter’s marriage threatens the peace!
Vicky Of all the far-fetched excuses! Of all the feeble, petty, ignorant ways to conduct foreign policy!
Bismarck If Russia turns France will be close behind.
They ache for Alsace & Lorraine.
Vicky Why not just admit you’re afraid of me?
Bismarck Germans fear God and nothing else!
BISMARCK notices BUSCH scribbling madly
Bismarck You, er, need not write all that. I was thinking. Sometimes I have to shout to hear myself.
Lights fade

SCENE 6 San Remo. Lights reveal VICKY. TORY enters, brandishing a newspaper, followed by SECKENDORFF.
Tory Mother… here’s another one.
VICKY looks at the paper
Vicky This is Bismarck’s work.
Seckendorff Leave it to him to trace Prince Alexander to a low Polish family.
Vicky I’m sure he had a good laugh over it.
Tory How could anyone think this funny? Why is he doing this to me?
Vicky It’s not you he’s thinking of, it’s Russia, France…
Seckendorff It’s you, your Highness. He’s thinking of you.
Tory I don’t understand.
Seckendorff Your mother represents, in one person, everything Bismarck has fought for a lifetime. Constitutional monarchy, a free press…
Vicky It seems I was improperly raised. I speak when not spoken to, express my opinion.
Seckendorff That you have an opinion is radical, your Highness. That you express it makes you dangerous.
Tory What does all that have to do with me?
Vicky It means that you and Prince Alexander have been put into play. Pawns, to be used against me.
Tory But that’s… Father won’t think this a game.
Vicky Victoria…
Tory When I tell him…
Vicky I forbid it.
Tory But…
Vicky Your father doesn’t need to see these concocted stories, nor have you crying at his feet.
Tory Mama…
Vicky I’m sorry. We must wait.
Tory I had to wait to be asked.
Vicky Now you must wait for consent.
Tory Whose consent? (Realising)Bismarck’s? Is that whose permission I need to marry?
Vicky Try to be patient.
Tory What good will that do? You’ve been patient for years.
Vicky Victoria!
WILLIE enters behind them< strong>Tory You were married at seventeen. I’m already twenty-two.
Willie Tory’s twenty-two and never been…
Vicky Willie!
Willie Hello, Mother.
Vicky Do you ever have yourself announced?
Willie Announcing His Royal Highness…
He bursts into laughter, then lets slip a loud hiccough
Vicky You’ve been drinking.
Willie It passes the time. All those mountains. I swear, if the Romans had travelled by train…
Vicky This is inexcusable. Your father will not tolerate such behaviour.
Willie I’m sorry. I apologise for my behaviour, Mother. Count Seckendorff, I apologise. Tory, I hope everything works out for you and your… Polish prince!
Tory He is not Polish!
Willie Oh?
Vicky Enough! Victoria, you are excused. Count, if you’d
be so kind.
Willie I said I was sorry.
Vicky You obviously didn’t mean it.
Willie I did. At least to you. It’s just that Tory’s so stupid: “I’m twenty-two.” As if her silly marriage was the only thing that mattered.
Vicky It matters to her.
Willie She thinks only of herself.
Vicky And what on earth are you thinking of?
Willie My country.
Vicky Is that what inspires you to drink? (Pause)Why are you here?
Willie (Smirks) What a familiar question. It doesn’t matter which piper calls the tune, it’s always the same. (Singing) “Tra-la-la, not now Willie. Tra-la -la, run along and play.”
(Speaks, acting this out)Yes, let’s play. Tennis, anyone? Pardon my ineptitude, but it’s not really my game. Does it go something like this? Service! Go to Italy, Willie. Whack! Go back to Berlin. Whack! Go back to Italy, Willie! Whack! Go back to…
Vicky William, I am trying to be patient. I am trying to understand these childish games.
Willie Well don’t. That’s all they are. Games. Isn’t that all there is?
Vicky Did you come to visit your father?
Willie No.
Vicky You cannot see him when you’re like this.
Willie Why should today be any different? “You canno see him like this. You certainly cannot see him if you act like
Vicky You may have free access when he’s better.
Willie When will that be, Mother? It’s not just me, all Germany would like to know.
Vicky If we could stay here quietly, without a circus in the newspapers, without this perpetual interference from Berlin…
Willie The Kaiser is dying! I came all this way to tell Father. You could at least pretend to have respect.
Vicky Willie… I know how much your grandfather means to you. How you’ve always talked with him, planned your future…
Willie Oh, please… and played with tin soldiers?
Vicky I know his death will come as a great blow to you.
Willie He’s old! Old people are supposed to die!
Vicky William!
Willie And spare me the trappings of shock; it cannot possibly be real to you. You’re good, Mother. But then, the English have always been first rate at pretending feelings. Perhaps that’s why your English doctor is so successful. Good bedside manner. It’s certainly not his diagnostic ability.
Vicky I’ve heard enough.
Willie But we haven’t even begun to talk about you.
Vicky You’ve talked of nothing else! My English doctor. My English pretence. My English influence…
Willie I’m getting to that.
Vicky My English foot! It’s bad enough to be the scapegoat
for every ignorant demagogue in Germany, but you… Willie…
Willie If you had at least learned the first time, it might have been different.
Vicky Learned what?
Willie If one English quack hadn’t been enough.
Vicky (Hardening) So that’s it. Your timing is poor, William. I really don’t have the energy.
Willie That’s it, run away. (He calls after her) I’m not afraid of you!
Vicky (Stops) Then have pity.
Willie Pity!? What an interesting request. Really, Mother, I had no idea the word was in your vocabulary.
Vicky Willie, please…
Willie And “please” now. “Willie, please.” It has a lovely ring to it, but who would say such a thing? Not my mother.
Vicky Oh, stop it!
Willie That’s my mother.
Vicky If you wish to fight, at least fight like a man.
Willie I’d know her anywhere.
Vicky Or are you?
Willie Half a man. The other half is damaged.
Vicky Come on, then. Let’s have it all.
Willie I can’t have it all! Ever! Your English doctor saw to that!
Vicky You have a remarkable memory of your own birth.
Willie You’re quick, Mother. Much too quick for me. How is it that you weren’t quick then?
Vicky I was dying!
Willie Oh, yes, I’ve heard: a difficult birth, they feared for your life, a frightening three days. I’ve heard the litany of excuses!

Vicky Why do you persist in blaming me? What happen to you was an awful, terrible accident.
Willie Well, accidents happen. Nobody is perfect. Certainly not English physicians. Why, they’ve been known to let a new-born baby lie on his dislocated arm for three days. Until the arm, which could easily have been put back in its socket, is hopelessly, permanently crippled. But, let’s not dwell on it. In fact, let’s pretend it never happened. Let’s treat him like other boys, have him learn shooting, and swimming, and horseback riding, where a keen sense of balance is everything. Except the atrophied arm ruins his sense of balance, so the boy falls off his horse. At a walk, at a trot, a canter, over and over, until he’s a lump of bruised flesh – and still he’s put back on that hideous horse!
Vicky Stop it!
Willie Why didn’t you stop it?!
Vicky I couldn’t! Your father was at war. I was alone worried sick. This was your fine Prussian upbringing, inducted into the Army at the age of ten.
Willie Why didn’t you say something?
Vicky To whom? Your doting grandfather? I was younger than you are now, and a woman, and English. Do you think he’d have listened to me?
Willie Did you try? (Hardening) You see, I’ve never known you to give up on anything you really wanted. But wanting isn’t enough this time, is it? You’ve made the same mistake. German doctors weren’t good enough.
Vicky That’s not so.
Willie Then why send for MacKenzie?
Vicky I didn’t!
Willie Everyone knows you did! Everyone knows he’s bungled the case! Everyone know Father is dying except you; and you’re the one responsible!
She strikes him
Vicky You cut me to ribbons, Willie. Do you think if you shred me into small enough pieces you can tread me underfoot? Does it make you feel big, to see to what you can reduce me to?
Willie Now you know how you make me feel.
Vicky (Bursting)I love you!
Willie And I love you, Mother. We just don’t believe each other.
Fade to black

SCENE 7 Distant cannonfire. Music: funereal. Letterbox reveals FRITZ
Fritz “Dear Prince Bismarck, on assuming power I write to you, the long-tried servant of my father. I’m resolved to conduct my government according to the Constitution. Not caring for splendour nor striving for glory, I shall be satisfied if it is one day said my reign was beneficial for my people, useful to my country, and a blessing to the Empire. For the realisation of my plans, I shall rely on your oft-proved devotion.”
Sound/music/letterbox fade. Lights reveal Cronberg. VICKY and BISMARCK with the chest of letters.
Vicky The old man looked peaceful in his coffin.
Bismarck I almost envied him
Vicky Berlin was cold.
Bismarck I didn’t feel it.
Vicky Can you feel anything? (Pause)Why have you come? Why dredge all this up? To record your victory? So you can stick pins in your map?
Bismarck Your letters…
Vicky Scraps of paper! My letters, your map! I am flesh
and bone and sinew. When you stick pins in me I bleed!
Bismarck Bravo. Really, that was excellent. Perhaps the boy was right: the game is all there is.
Vicky Are we not finished?
Bismarck Now, that was poor by comparison. Consistency is what you lack.
Vicky Forgive me if two years away from Berlin has dulled my sense of Court humour, but I find this interview monotonous.
Bismarck Two years ago your husband was clearly dying.
Vicky That’s not so; he worked.
Bismarck To hide it from you.
Vicky No, he was strong. He met with you every day.
Bismarck Do you know what took place during most of our meetings? He slept. He was exhausted from the effort of appearing well for you. (Pause) I used to bring my Great Dane, Tyrus, for company. We’d sit and watch him sleep.
Vicky But I heard you speaking. From outside the door, I could hear your voice.
Bismarck Dogs are good listeners. (Pause)I knew you were there. I remember at first tying the dog outside the door to keep you away. Remember? Then one day I emerged to find you sitting just outside. You had a soft expression I’d never seen on your face. There were tears on your cheek, but you were smiling. And you stroked the dog’s ears as he rested his head on your knee.
Vicky You deliberately deceived me. I thought Fritz was making progress.
Bismarck For your Petticoat Government?
Vicky You might have been honest.
Bismarck I’m not a fool.
Vicky You made me think you were doing business.
Bismarck When he was awake, we did do business.
Vicky Of all the smug, self-satisfied… of all the ways you could possibly have out-manoeuvred me…
Bismarck Just once, stop thinking of yourself! He wa dying! Awake or asleep, he had no need for manoeuvres! With him
I could allow myself a brief respite from everyone and everything else. That’s all. What use is there in trying to explain? Why don’t you simply pack up all my sins, put them in a box marked “China” and ship them off to God for His judgement? You’ve collected them all!
Cronberg fades out. BISMARCK turns to FRITZ, who appears on stage,
and takes a note from his hand.

Bismarck All except this one. (Reads) “Take care of her.” Why? Why me?
Lights fade

SCENE 8 Lights up on BISMARCK’s office. BISMARCK pours himself a drink, drinks and pours another as BUSCH enters.
Busch Sir, the Russian Ambassador is… you have an appointment, Sir.
Bismarck I believe our new Kaiser is dying.
Busch Dr. Bergmann says it is just a matter of time.
Bismarck And MacKenzie?
Busch The Englishman is silent.
Bismarck But the English woman… as her husband weakens, she will grow more powerful. How to handle her?
Busch There is talk of a regency, Sir. Prince Wilhelm could…
Bismarck She won’t allow it.
Busch Unfortunate.
Bismarck Don’t be an ass. There’s nothing unfortunate about putting off my tenure as Imperial Nursemaid.
Busch But I thought…
Bismarck The Kaiser could linger for months. She sustains
Busch Please, Sir, is that good or bad? I must know what to tell people. How else am I to keep your foot out of my mouth?
Bismarck You’re a survivor, Busch.
Busch So far, Serene Highness.
Bismarck I too am a survivor. The difference is, you survive by getting out of the way. I move others.
Busch Sir, you always say that one must be ready to act, but also ready to wait. Why not just wait and let Death move her for you? It is what everyone expects.
Bismarck It’s comforting to be surrounded by men of such character.
Busch You always say…
Bismarck I know what I always say! It’s different when I say it! I know what I mean. Were I a sentimental man, I might think I owed him something.
Busch Fortunately, you are not sentimental. Everyone understands, Sir. Everyone knows she is the one against Germany.
Bismarck Who is this “everyone” and why is “everyone” so stupid? She loves Germany! That she wants it to be another England is her highest compliment! Doesn’t everyone see that?
Busch I meant only…
Bismarck Please, Busch, don’t say any more! My mind aches from wrestling with her. Your mind is just in the way. Oh, get that hurt look off your face. Believe it or not, you’re exactly what I want in a secretary. Now, where were we?
Busch Moving her aside.
Bismarck Yes. We must show the Kaiser the danger of his wife’s interference.
Busch And how will we do that?
Bismarck You know how, Busch. The papers are so dull without your contributions.
Dog barks loudly off. RADOLINSKY runs on.
Radolinsky Serene Highness…
Busch Count Radolinsky, I’ve told you…
Radolinsky You don’t understand…
Busch We expect the Russian Ambassador…
Radolinsky That’s why I’m here, you fool! She’s plotting her daughter’s marriage. Serene Highness…
Bismarck Radolinsky! (Silence) I thought I’d made it clear your services are no longer needed.
Radolinsky But Serene Highness…
Bismarck Her husband is Kaiser now. I deal with him alone. I suggest you run along before I deal with you.
RADOLINSKY clicks his heels and exits. Dog barks off.
Bismarck Move the dog before the Ambassador arrives.
BUSCH starts to exit, comes nose-to-nose with WILLIE entering. They do a little two-step.
Willie (Finally) Serene Highness, how many guard dogs do you have?
Bismarck Your Highness… I wasn’t expecting… Busch, the dog.
BUSCH exits, the barking subsides
Willie They must come from the same litter. Think how you could economise if you were to teach the dog shorthand. Or Busch to bark.
Bismarck Your Highness, it’s considerate of you to stop by and brighten my day but just now…
Willie You’re overwhelmed, I know. That’s why I came. It was obvious when you failed to answer my notes.
Bismarck Your Highness…
Willie So I said to myself, “He must be overwhelmed.”
Bismarck Your Highness, I am not overwhelmed. Not yet.
Willie But I’ve been waiting. I’ve so many ideas. There are so many ways in which I can help you.
Bismarck Your Highness… I know your grandfather’s death has been a great blow to you. I know how much time you used to spend with him, how you’d play chess, and move tin soldiers.
Willie That was long ago.
Bismarck Believe me, we’re all adjusting. But we must adapt to our new roles. Fate reserves many parts.
Willie That is why I…
Bismarck Each of us has a destiny.
Willie (Aside) How poetic.
Bismarck What’s that?
Willie Prophetic.
Bismarck Here, look. (To map) Thirty years ago the map of Germany was broken by unnatural lines. A nation lay divided. It was my fate to make it one.
Willie And Father’s.
Bismarck Of course. His fate was on the field, serving the Master Plan of the Green Table.
Willie And Grandfather’s.
Bismarck Yes, yes, of course! The point is, we each have a calling. Yours will be something else, and in your own time Be patient, your Highness. There will be other maps.
WILLIE exits then re-enters.
Willie Africa.
Bismarck What?
Willie I need a map of Africa. I was thinking of what
you said…
Bismarck Your Highness…
Willie No, really. About how I could make my mark; and
then it came to me.
Bismarck Your Highness, the African Colonies are an experiment…
Willie Precisely! That’s why I could start planning…
Bismarck There are other, more pressing matters.
Willie Such as?
Bismarck Your father’s health for one.
Willie His health? Please, serene Highness, we’re alone here. No need to put on your diplomat’s cloak yet. Everyone knows MacKenzie bungled the case from the start. And, since my mother prevented the only operation which might have helped…
Bismarck I understood the removal of the larynx could be as deadly as the disease.
Willie That’s what they want you to think.
Bismarck Who?
Willie My parents.
Bismarck Why should they want that?
Willie How do I know? They don’t tell me anything. Father’s still upset I spoke for Grandfather.
Bismarck Your Highness…
Willie It’s so stupid. Here I am, ready and able to help.
Bismarck Your Highness, traditionally…
Willie The Crown Prince has no official role. I am well aware! I hardly think this the time to spout tradition.
BUSCH enters
Busch Serene Highness…
Willie You’re interrupting!
Bismarck What is it, Busch?
Busch The Russian Ambassador.
Bismarck Good Lord…
Willie (To BUSCH) Tell him to wait.
Bismarck Tell him I shall be with him directly.
BUSCH exits
Bismarck Your Highness, I know how the situation with you parents appears.
Willie They won’t let me help.
Bismarck I’m sure, if you were to present yourself…
Willie I have…
Bismarck Tactfully…
Willie Tactfully…
Bismarck Diplomatically…
Willie Diplomatically…
Bismarck With a minimum of…
Willie It doesn’t matter how minimal I make myself, it’s never minimal enough! I want to help you now.
Bismarck I’m flattered…
Willie Give me something to do.
Bismarck Your Highness…
Willie Anything.
Bismarck I cannot.
Willie Why not?
Bismarck It is not appropriate.
Willie Why not?
Bismarck Because it’s not.
Willie That’s not an answer.
Bismarck It will have to do.
Willie But there’s no reason…
Bismarck The reason is the Ambassador is waiting! The reason is I haven’t slept and my head is splitting! The reason is it’s not appropriate, it’s not your place, it’s not your time! Now, is that reason enough, Your Highness, or must I continue?
Willie No. I see now. Thank you, Serene Highness.
You have made everything quite clear.
Lights fade

SCENE 9 The corridor outside BISMARCK’s office. RADOLINSKY waits, WILLIE enters.
Radolinsky Your Highness… I couldn’t help overhearing. The Chancellor always shouts.
Willie What do you want?
Radolinsky Only what you want: to serve Germany.
Willie You’re wasting your time.
Radolinsky We’re all wasting our time as long as we look to the past!
WILLIE stops
Radolinsky In Germany, in England, everywhere you look: grey heads. It’s enough to make a young man look… far away.
Willie That’s where we should look.
Radolinsky Of course.
Willie To Africa.
Radolinsky To the future.
Willie Yes.
Radolinsky That takes vision, your Highness.
Willie It’s the most obvious thing in the world.
Radolinsky To you. And to me. But you must remember, old people don’t see very well. They get caught up in the perils close at hand. (Acts this out)A step, a kerb. They’re afraid of falling.
Willie Well, I’m not.
Radolinsky Neither am I.
RADOLINSKY falls ridiculously. WILLIE looks at him, then begins to laugh. RADOLINSKY laughs with him. Lights fade.

SCENE 10 Letterbox reveals BISMARCK. Letterbox reveals VICKY.
Bismarck “April 1888. Report of his Majesty’s physician, M. MacKenzie.”
Vicky “Dear Mama… ”
Bismarck “Kaiser Frederick required a breathing tube to be placed in his neck.” (With gradually increasing intensity) The tube is made of metal and designed to slide in easily, but Dr. Bergmann, unable to find the passage, tried to force the metal tube into the Kaiser’s windpipe, where there was no passage.”
Vicky “Willie ran out, his uniform spattered with blood. He looked at me the way a startled child looks in the instant before he starts to cry. I said, ‘Willie, what’s happened?’ Then the look disappeared. He said, very gravely, ‘There has been an accident.'”
Bismarck The boy was the only witness. Why wouldn’t he confirm MacKenzie’s report?
Vicky “The good of Germany.”
Crossfade: letterbox out/lights reveal FRITZ asleep on his
chaise. SECKENDORFF watches him. VICKY moves to FRITZ, strokes his head. He stirs.

Vicky I didn’t mean to wake you.
FRITZ shakes his head
Vicky Not sleeping?
He taps his temple
Vicky Ah, thinking. About me, your Majesty?
He smiles, shakes his head, takes pad & pencil, writes
Vicky “Bismarck?” No wonder you weren’t sleeping.
FRITZ writes
Vicky Not again? How can he keep threatening to resign and not expect to be taken up on it? Couldn’t we accept? Ju to see the look on his face? (Pause) You realise this
is how he gets what he wants.
FRITZ shakes his head
Vicky Then what? Why else does the most powerful man in Europe threaten to take his toys and go home?
FRITZ writes, shows her the pad
Vicky “Fear?” You’re joking.
FRITZ writes. VICKY reads
Vicky “We fear what we don’t understand” And what on earth does Bismarck not understand?
FRITZ indicates VICKY. Pause
Vicky I suppose I should be flattered. What is the price of retaining his services?
Seckendorff No Battenberg marriage.
Vicky It’s outrageous! We don’t dictate who his children marry.
Seckendorff The Chancellor’s children are not strategic.
Vicky Mama was right. She said I could be a monarch or a mother. To be both in the same moment is too painful.
Fritz (In a faint, unnatural voice) She should know.
Vicky Darling… you’re supposed to save your voice.
Fritz I have been. Saving it for you. And for Tory.
Vicky She’ll be heartbroken.
Fritz Where is she?
Vicky Where else: working on your memoir. She’s so proud of you.
Fritz She understands…
Coughs, in great pain
Vicky Sshhh. Don’t try to talk anymore. Here. (Hands him his pad) What does Tory understand? About Prince Alexander?
FRITZ writes
Vicky About your memoir?
FRITZ shows her the pad.
Vicky (Reading) “If you preserve what is written, one day it will speak for itself.”

Lights fade

©2003 by Richard Carter