Scene 16, the first scene of Part Two, opens in Morocco. Peer is middle-aged, wearing “elegant travelling clothes” (117) and hosting a meal for a group of friends. His friends ask Peer how he came to be so worldly, and he responds, “Simple, gentlemen. It’s because I never married. To yourself be true. That’s my philosophy. Look out for Number One. You can’t do that if you’re a pack-camel for someone else’s well-being” (118). Peer alludes to a young princess who almost trapped him, but that her father demanded that he change himself and he refused. He reveals that he earned his fortune exporting goods, beginning with “heathen idols” that were “bound for China” (120). When he felt guilty for participating in such an “immoral trade” (120), he began to also export missionaries and their supplies for a profit. Peer refers to himself as “a citizen of the world” (121). Peer tells his friends that he plans to use his money to travel, but that his real goal is to become the emperor of the world.
Peer claims that he has been preparing to become emperor for his entire life, and that now he will achieve it “by the power of gold” (122).