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Crown Prince Karl Heinrich, nephew of the king of a small domain, has a joyless existence in the pretentious formalism of the moribund court until his tutor, Dr. Juttner, arrives. After several years, Juttner takes Karl Heinrich to Heidelberg to study at the university. Here the prince falls in love with Kathi, the niece of the owner of an inn where the tutor and the prince have taken rooms. Karl Heinrich's happiness is shattered when the king dies and he must return to take the throne. Lonely and still in love with Kathi, although he is betrothed to an unattractive princess, Karl Heinrich returns to Heidelberg and finds that everything has changed: the students who were once his comrades salute him stiffly; his tutor has died; and only Kathi welcomes him as of old. After brief reunion they part again, for the Princess Ilse and he are celebrating their betrothal.