An envisioning . . .1881 in winter and Aswan with Austria-Hungary’s Crown Prince Rudolf.

Oh to be here.

Mother in Corfu, Father in Vienna and sisters who knows where.

One of those houseboats that they rent to tourists with a dragoman to steer and others for the sails. Awnings that go sideways all the way out like the ones Mother said they have on Lake Como but stripes that go sideways instead of up and down.

All the doves in the world to shoot and a special man to stuff each one. Better by far than what they do in Austria. No, one of those hunting jackets like the ones they take rabbits in with the big pocket in the back for the rabbits to be stuffed in. A beater to carry them out, yes, but that Father would do. More manly to carry them out oneself the tutors always said.

But the Nile and a whole winter. Jackals to hunt up and down the stones of the pyramids and in and out of abandoned tombs.

Slave girls for dancing. Sherbet houses, they call them. Hookahs, something in the glasses near as strong as the schnapps the cousins in Bavaria buy from the gypsies at the edge of town.

A state visit with the viceroy and another at the other end.  All the way up river from their palace and free. More dinners in Cairo but not now. Stamboul after with its sultan and then home. But now and something . . . the future yet to see. . . .

Crown Prince Rudolf was born in 1858, the heir and only son of Emperor Franz Joseph and his Empress Sissi. Journeying to the East in 1881, he went home to Vienna and did his best to live, dying in a suicide pact with his teenage mistress in late January, 1889 at his hunting lodge in Mayerling in the Vienna Woods.

Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria-Hungary. January, 1889.
Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria-Hungary in hunting clothes against a forest backdrop smoking a cigar. January, 1889. From his last photo series. Ludwig Angerer, photographer. Image in the public domain. via

Leave a Reply