Translated from the German by Lionel Strachey.
When I was a young man I once made a foreign journey, betaking myself to the royal court of X. on affairs of state. In those days politics would take strange turns, not of unmixed delight, and so it happened that my mission was prolonged well into the winter, and kept me at X. until the carnival season. But at this I did not repine, for to pass a winter in a beautiful climate and amid the fascinating society of a court seemed a welcome change to my enthusiastic, pleasure-loving young soul.
The reigning sovereign had a predilection for masked balls,--a traditionally favorite amusement at the palace, I was told--and accordingly several fancy dress festivities were enacted on the royal premises during the carnival. The first I was unable to participate in because of an inflamed eye, and therefore awaited the second with all the keener anticipation.
In the becoming costume of a Prussian officer in the army of Frederick the Great, and with the agreeable sensation of being specially well disguised beneath my mask and safe from recognition, I mingled in the gay throng of the dancers and enjoyed to the full the charm of the brilliant and delicious event. An