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Three weeks in the pine forests

 had been better than all the physicians in Berlin. Besides, I was tired of the monotonous country life and was hungry for the fleshpots of Egypt. Between the lines of Wedel's letter I could read the opportunities for earning a handsome fee. I wrote Wedel that I had no objections, providing the mission was something I could accomplish, for I was still in the dark as to its nature. I knew that intruding into the private affairs of ducal and princely houses is often a most unthankful business. I have ever found it more satisfactory and less nerve racking to undertake a mission into some foreign country than to become involved with some petty local affair of royalty. For some such affair I judged to be the dilemma of the house of Mecklenburg-Schwerein.

Within two days there came another communication from Wedel asking me to be at Mecklenburg-Schwerein on a certain immediate day. Taking leave of my friends, and thanking them for their hospitality, I left for Schwerein. Upon my arrival at the seat of the dukedom I was met by a quiet landau of the Grand Ducal stables. Two flunkies in the Grand Duke's livery took my luggage, escorted me to the carriage and I was driven up to the old castle. The landau took me to a side entrance and I was promptly shown into an austere and unpretentious chamber. Scarcely had I entered when a quiet, elderly, benevolent-looking gentleman dressed in a shooting jacket appeared in another doorway, evidently much perturbed. I at once recognized him as the old Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerein. He appraised me for fully a minute; then as if to himself he said:

"You're only a boy, but I suppose they know," shaking his great gray head. "Strange times. Strange times." Then suddenly realizing his inhospitality, he urged me to be seated. "Take a seat, take a seat."