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The Indiscretion of Elsbeth

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The Indiscretion of Elsbeth

by Bret Harte

Genre: Drama
Format of Original Source: Short Story
Recommended Adaptation Length:

Candidate for Adaptation? Promising


“You must never come here again.”

“Then you must come where I am. We will meet somewhere when you have an afternoon off. You shall show me the town–the houses of my ancestors–their tombs; possibly–if the Grand Duke rampages–the probable site of my own.”

She looked into his laughing eyes with her clear, stedfast, gravely questioning blue ones. “Do not you Americans know that it is not the fashion here, in Germany, for the young men and the young women to walk together–unless they are VERLOBT?”


“Engaged.” She nodded her head thrice: viciously, decidedly, mischievously.

“So much the better.”

“ACH GOTT!” She made a gesture of hopelessness at his incorrigibility, and again attempted to withdraw her hands.

“I must go now.”

“Well then, good-by.”

It was easy to draw her closer by simply lowering her still captive hands. Then he suddenly kissed her coldly startled lips, and instantly released her. She as instantly vanished.

“Elsbeth,” he called quickly. “Elsbeth!”

Her now really frightened face reappeared with a heightened color from the dense foliage–quite to his astonishment.

“Hush,” she said, with her finger on her lips. “Are you mad?”


The story hinges on a single moment (a Princess hiding her identity from a young American photographer, and a brief but earnest romantic moment between them). It could make for a sweet if old-fashioned 15-minute musical; probably not more than that.


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