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    #1

    forfeit

    Hello, teachers.
    I am puzzled over the word "forfeit" in the following dialog.

    "Von Ragastein," he said, "my decree of banishment against you was a just one. The morals of my people are as sacred to me as my oath to win for them a mightier empire. You first of all betrayed the wife of one of the most influential noblemen of a State allied to my own, and then, in the duel that followed, you slew him."
    "It was an accident, your Majesty," Dominey pleaded. "I had no intention of even wounding the Prince." ...
    "The accident should have happened the other way," he rejoined sharply. "I should have lost a valuable servant, but it was your life which was forfeit, and not his. "
    (The Great Impersonation from Project Gutenberg)

    Is the Majesty saying "You should have died, but you are left alive and must pay for your conduct," since, according to my dictionary, "forfeit" means "something that you have to give up because you have done something wrong"? I appreciate your comments very much.

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    #2

    Re: forfeit

    Yes, your interpretation is fairly accurate. In fact, in the next sentence, the Kaiser gives him the opportunity to 'make up' for the wrong he has done.

    "Still, they tell me that your work in Africa was well and thoroughly done. I give you this one great chance of rehabilitation. If your work in England commends itself to me, the sentence of exile under which you suffer shall be rescinded."

    You seem to have a very good grasp on the language.

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    #3

    Re: forfeit

    Thank you so much for your comment and encouragement!!

  1. BobK's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: forfeit

    Sorry to butt in, but I think this is an adjectival use of 'forfeit' that does not necessarily have a strong sense of punishment or recompense or payment. It can just mean 'That has been lost'. I think the King is just saying that the servant would have died - and perhaps there is a sense of repayment in that the King would have 'paid for' his son with the life of his servant.



    b

    PS This adjectival use of forfeit is rare and/or archaic. The dictionary definition you found is for the much more common noun. (The same word can also be a verb!)
    Last edited by BobK; 08-Mar-2009 at 16:55. Reason: PS added; typo fixed

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    #5

    Re: forfeit

    Bob,

    I am glad that you interjected. My original thought was to offer the same opinion as you do here, however, when I went back and read the larger context of the story it does seem to have a sense of punishment, as evidenced in the ensuing paragraph which I quoted in my original response. Your interjection certainly gives more food for thought.

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