As they spend time together, they fall in love. With the coronation accomplished, Rassendyll returns to resume his real identity, only to find the king has been kidnapped by Rupert of Hentzau Douglas Fairbanks Jr. Rassendyll is forced to continue the impersonation while Zapt searches for Rudolf.
However, Michael cannot denounce the masquerade without incriminating himself. Help comes from an unexpected quarter. To secure his claim to the throne, Michael must marry his cousin Flavia. Antoinette de Mauban Mary Astor , Michael's French mistress, reveals that the king is being held in Michael's castle near Zenda and promises to help rescue him.
Since Rudolf would be executed at the first sign of a rescue attempt, she insists that one man must swim across the moat and hold off his would-be assassins while loyal troops storm the castle. Rassendyll decides that he is that man, over Zapt's strenuous objections.
External Reviews. Metacritic Reviews. Photo Gallery. Trailers and Videos. Crazy Credits. Alternate Versions. Rate This. An Englishman vacationing in a Ruritarian kingdom is recruited to impersonate his cousin, the soon-to-be-crowned king after the monarch is drugged and kidnapped. Director: Richard Thorpe. Writers: John L. Added to Watchlist. Vintage Looks: Stars at the Beach. Adventure Classics. The Castle of Zenda. Plan of the Castle of Zenda.
Categories : Index Validated Indexes validated in September Hidden category: Fully transcluded. Resume playing? Yes, please. No, thanks. The balconies were full of gaily dressed ladies, who clapped their hands and curtsied and threw their brightest glances at me.
The Marshal smiled grimly. I had stolen some glances at his face, but he was too impassive to show me whether his sympathies were with me or not. But the truth is, that I was drunk with excitement. At that moment I believed—I almost believed—that I was in very truth the King; and, with a look of laughing triumph, I raised my eyes to the beauty-laden balconies again.
For, looking down on me, with her handsome face and proud smile, was the lady who had been my fellow traveller—Antoinette de Mauban; and I saw her also start, and her lips moved, and she leant forward and gazed at me. And I, collecting myself, met her eyes full and square, while again I felt my revolver. Well, we went by; and then the Marshal, turning round in his saddle, waved his hand, and the Cuirassiers closed round us, so that the crowd could not come near me.
But if Fate made me a King, the least I could do was to play the part handsomely. But do you, Marshal, and Colonel Sapt and my friends, wait here till I have ridden fifty yards. And see that no one is nearer to me. I will have my people see that their King trusts them. I saw old Sapt smiling into his beard, but he shook his head at me. Perhaps I ought to say that I was dressed all in white, except my boots. I wore a silver helmet with gilt ornaments, and the broad ribbon of the Rose looked well across my chest.
I should be paying a poor compliment to the King if I did not set modesty aside and admit that I made a very fine figure. So the people thought; for when I, riding alone, entered the dingy, sparsely decorated, sombre streets of the Old Town, there was first a murmur, then a cheer, and a woman, from a window above a cookshop, cried the old local saying:.
No doubt it was mere flattery. I was quite glad that he had been spared the unpleasant sight. He was a man of quick temper, and perhaps he would not have taken it so placidly as I did.
At last we were at the Cathedral. Its great grey front, embellished with hundreds of statues and boasting a pair of the finest oak doors in Europe, rose for the first time before me, and the sudden sense of my audacity almost overcame me.
Everything was in a mist as I dismounted. I saw the Marshal and Sapt dimly, and dimly the throng of gorgeously robed priests who awaited me. And my eyes were still dim as I walked up the great nave, with the pealing of the organ in my ears.
I saw nothing of the brilliant throng that filled it, I hardly distinguished the stately figure of the Cardinal as he rose from the archiepiscopal throne to greet me. Two faces only stood out side by side clearly before my eyes—the face of a girl, pale and lovely, surmounted by a crown of the glorious Elphberg hair for in a woman it is glorious , and the face of a man, whose full-blooded red cheeks, black hair, and dark deep eyes told me that at last I was in presence of my brother, Black Michael.
And when he saw me his red cheeks went pale all in a moment, and his helmet fell with a clatter on the floor. Till that moment I believe that he had not realized that the King was in very truth come to Strelsau. Of what followed next I remember nothing. I knelt before the altar and the Cardinal anointed my head. Then I rose to my feet, and stretched out my hand and took from him the crown of Ruritania and set it on my head, and I swore the old oath of the King; and if it were a sin, may it be forgiven me I received the Holy Sacrament there before them all.
Then the great organ pealed out again, the Marshal bade the heralds proclaim me, and Rudolf the Fifth was crowned King; of which imposing ceremony an excellent picture hangs now in my dining-room. The portrait of the King is very good. Then the lady with the pale face and the glorious hair, her train held by two pages, stepped from her place and came to where I stood. And a herald cried:.
She curtsied low, and put her hand under mine and raised my hand and kissed it. And for an instant I thought what I had best do. Then I drew her to me and kissed her twice on the cheek, and she blushed red, and—then his Eminence the Cardinal Archbishop slipped in front of Black Michael, and kissed my hand and presented me with a letter from the Pope—the first and last which I have received from that exalted quarter!
And then came the Duke of Strelsau. His step trembled, I swear, and he looked to the right and to the left, as a man looks who thinks on flight; and his face was patched with red and white, and his hand shook so that it jumped under mine, and I felt his lips dry and parched.
And I glanced at Sapt, who was smiling again into his beard, and, resolutely doing my duty in that station of life to which I had been marvellously called, I took my dear Michael by both hands and kissed him on the cheek. I think we were both glad when that was over!
But neither in the face of the princess nor in that of any other did I see the least doubt or questioning. Yet, had I and the King stood side by side, she could have told us in an instant, or, at least, on a little consideration. But neither she nor anyone else dreamed or imagined that I could be other than the King.
So the likeness served, and for an hour I stood there, feeling as weary and blase as though I had been a king all my life; and everybody kissed my hand, and the ambassadors paid me their respects, among them old Lord Topham, at whose house in Grosvenor Square I had danced a score of times. Thank heaven, the old man was as blind as a bat, and did not claim my acquaintance.
Then back we went through the streets to the Palace, and I heard them cheering Black Michael; but he, Fritz told me, sat biting his nails like a man in a reverie, and even his own friends said that he should have made a braver show. I was in a carriage now, side by side with the Princess Flavia, and a rough fellow cried out:. Now I felt in a difficulty, because I had forgotten to ask Sapt the state of my affections, or how far matters had gone between the princess and myself.
Frankly, had I been the King, the further they had gone the better should I have been pleased. These thoughts passed through my head, but, not being sure of my ground, I said nothing; and in a moment or two the princess, recovering her equanimity, turned to me.
The princess seemed to hold of the King much the same opinion that Lady Burlesdon held of me. So I continued and what I said was perfectly true:. Bang, bang! Blare, blare! We were at the Palace. Guns were firing and trumpets blowing. Rows of lackeys stood waiting, and, handing the princess up the broad marble staircase, I took formal possession, as a crowned King, of the House of my ancestors, and sat down at my own table, with my cousin on my right hand, on her other side Black Michael, and on my left his Eminence the Cardinal.
Behind my chair stood Sapt; and at the end of the table, I saw Fritz von Tarlenheim drain to the bottom his glass of champagne rather sooner than he decently should.
I flung myself exhausted into an armchair. Sapt lit his pipe. He uttered no congratulations on the marvellous success of our wild risk, but his whole bearing was eloquent of satisfaction.
The triumph, aided perhaps by good wine, had made a new man of Fritz. I remarked on it in a joking tone. By Heaven! Do you know, friend, that Michael has had news from Zenda? He went into a room alone to read it—and he came out looking like a man dazed. You must sign the order. He is upset. You understand—no one? My orderly rides with me to the hunting-lodge tonight. Now, are you ready? I followed him, and we walked, as I should estimate, near two hundred yards along a narrow passage.
Then we came to a stout oak door. Sapt unlocked it. We passed through, and found ourselves in a quiet street that ran along the back of the Palace gardens. A man was waiting for us with two horses. One was a magnificent bay, up to any weight; the other a sturdy brown. Sapt signed to me to mount the bay.
Without a word to the man, we mounted and rode away. The town was full of noise and merriment, but we took secluded ways. My cloak was wrapped over half my face; the capacious flat cap hid every lock of my tell-tale hair.
Down a long narrow lane we went, meeting some wanderers and some roisterers; and, as we rode, we heard the Cathedral bells still clanging out their welcome to the King. It was half-past six, and still light. At last we came to the city wall and to a gate.
I put my hand on my revolver. Sapt hailed the doorkeeper. The stars fought for us! A little girl of fourteen tripped out. Show it to your father. Orderly, open the gate! I leapt down. Between us we rolled back the great gate, led our horses out, and closed it again. Now then, lad, for a canter. Once, however, outside the city, we ran little danger, for everybody else was inside, merry-making; and as the evening fell we quickened our pace, my splendid horse bounding along under me as though I had been a feather.
It was a fine night, and presently the moon appeared. We talked little on the way, and chiefly about the progress we were making. We stopped for a draught of wine and to bait our horses, losing half an hour thus.
I dared not go into the inn, and stayed with the horses in the stable. Then we went ahead again, and had covered some five-and-twenty miles, when Sapt abruptly stopped.
I listened. The wind blowing strong behind us, carried the sound. I glanced at Sapt. When we next paused to listen, the hoof-beats were not audible, and we relaxed our pace. Then we heard them again. Sapt jumped down and laid his ear to the ground. We galloped on. We seemed to be holding our own. We had entered the outskirts of the forest of Zenda, and the trees, closing in behind us as the track zigged and zagged, prevented us seeing our pursuers, and them from seeing us.
Each about eight miles. Get down. The wood was dense up to the very edge of the road. We led our horses into the covert, bound handkerchiefs over their eyes, and stood beside them. Nearer and nearer came the hoofs. The moon shone out now clear and full, so that the road was white with it. The ground was hard, and we had left no traces. It was the duke; and with him a burly fellow whom I knew well, and who had cause to know me afterwards—Max Holf, brother to Johann the keeper, and body-servant to his Highness.
They were up to us: the duke reined up. I believe he would have given ten years of his life for a shot; and he could have picked off Black Michael as easily as I could a barn-door fowl in a farmyard. I laid my hand on his arm. He nodded reassuringly: he was always ready to sacrifice inclination to duty. If all is well, why go to the lodge? If they had found us, they had been dead men, or our prisoners. Fireworks light up L.
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