Part 1 out of 8
Long Live the King
by Mary Roberts Rinehart
I. The Crown Prince runs away
II. And sees the World
IV. The Terror
V. At the Riding-School
VI. The Chancellor pays a Visit
VII. Tea in the Schoolroom
VIII. The Letter
IX. A Fine Night
X. The Right to live and love
XI. Rather a Wild Night
XII. Two Prisoners
XIII. In the Park
XIV. Nikky does a Reckless Thin
XV. Father and Daughter
XVI. On the Mountain Road
XVII. The Fortress
XVIII. Old Adelbert
XIX. The Committee of Ten
XX. The Delegation
XXI. As a Man may love a Woman
XXII. At Etzel
XXIII. Nikky Makes a Promise
XXIV. The Birthday
XXV. The Gate of the Moon
XXVI. At the Inn
XXVII. The Little Door
XXVIII. The Crown Prince's Pilgrimage
XXIX. Old Adelbert the Traitor
XXX. King Karl
XXXI. Let Mettich guard his Treasure
XXXII. Nikky and Hedwig
XXXIII. The Day of the Carnival
XXXIV. The Pirate's Den
XXXV. The Paper Crown
XXXVI. The King is dead
XXXVII. Long live the King
XXXVIII. In the Road of the Good Children
XXXIX. The Lincoln Penny
LONG LIVE THE KING!
THE CROWN PRINCE RUNS AWAY
The Crown Prince sat in the royal box and swung his legs. This
was hardly princely, but the royal legs did not quite reach the
floor from the high crimson-velvet seat of his chair.
Prince Ferdinand William Otto was bored. His royal robes,
consisting of a pair of blue serge trousers, a short Eton jacket,
and a stiff, rolling collar of white linen, irked him.
He had been brought to the Opera House under a misapprehension.
His aunt, the Archduchess Annunciata, had strongly advocated "The
Flying Dutchman," and his English governess, Miss Braithwaite,
had read him some inspiring literature about it. So here he was,
and the Flying Dutchman was not ghostly at all, nor did it fly.
It was, from the royal box, only too plainly a ship which had
length and height, without thickness. And instead of flying,
after dreary aeons of singing, it was moved off on creaky rollers
by men whose shadows were thrown grotesquely on the sea backing.
The orchestra, assisted by a bass solo and intermittent thunder
in the wings, was making a deafening din. One of the shadows on
the sea backing took out its handkerchief and wiped its nose.
Prince Ferdinand William Otto looked across at the other royal
box, and caught his Cousin Hedwig's eye. She also had seen the
handkerchief; she took out her own scrap of linen, and mimicked
the shadow. Then, Her Royal Highness the Archduchess Annunciata
being occupied with the storm, she winked across at Prince
Ferdinand William Otto.
In the opposite box were his two cousins, the Princesses Hedwig
and Hilda, attended by Hedwig's lady in waiting. When a princess
of the Court becomes seventeen, she drops governesses and takes
to ladies in waiting. Hedwig was eighteen. The Crown Prince
liked Hedwig better than Hilda. Although she had been introduced
formally to the Court at the Christmas-Eve ball, and had been
duly presented by her grandfather, the King, with the usual
string of pearls and her own carriage with the spokes of the
wheels gilded halfway, only the King and Prince Ferdinand William
Otto had all-gold wheels, - she still ran off now and then to
have tea with the Crown Prince and Miss Braithwaite in the
schoolroom at the Palace; and she could eat a great deal of
Prince Ferdinand William Otto winked back at the Princess Hedwig.
And just then - "Listen, Otto," said the Archduchess, leaning
forward. "The 'Spinning Song' - is it not exquisite?"
"They are only pretending to spin," remarked Prince Ferdinand
Nevertheless he listened obediently. He rather liked it. They
had not fooled him at all. They were not really spinning, - any
one could see that, but they were sticking very closely to their
business of each outsinging the other, and collectively of
drowning out the orchestra.
The spinning chorus was followed by long and tiresome solos. The
Crown Prince yawned again, although it was but the middle of the
afternoon. Catching Hedwig's eye, he ran his fingers up through
his thick yellow hair and grinned. Hedwig blushed. She had
confided to him once, while they were walking in the garden at
the summer palace, that, she was thinking of being in love with a
young lieutenant who was attached to the King's suite. The
Prince who was called Otto, for short, by the family, because he
actually had eleven names - the Prince had been much interested.
For some time afterward he had bothered Miss Braithwaite to
define being in love, but he had had no really satisfactory
In pursuance of his quest for information, he had grown quite
friendly with the young officer, whose name was Larisch, and had
finally asked to have him ride with him at the royal
riding-school. The grim old King had granted the request, but it
had been quite fruitless so far after all. Lieutenant Larisch
only grew quite red as to the ears, when love was
mentioned, although he appeared not unwilling to hear Hedwig's
The Crown Prince had developed a strong liking for the young
officer. He assured Hedwig one time when she came to tea that
when he was king he would see that she married the lieutenant.
But Hedwig was much distressed.
"I don't want him that way," she said. "Anyhow, I shall probably
have to marry some wretch with ears that stick out and a bad
temper. I dare say he's selected already. As to Lieutenant
Larisch, I'm sure he's in love with Hilda. You should see the
way he stares at her."
"Pish!" said Prince Ferdinand William Otto over his cup. "Hilda
is not as pretty as you are. And Nikky and I talk about you
"Nikky" was the officer. The Crown Prince was very informal with
the people he liked.
"Good gracious!" exclaimed the Princess Hedwig, coloring. "And
what do you say?"
Miss Braithwaite having left the room, Prince Ferdinand William
Otto took another lump of sugar. "Say? Oh, not much, you know.
He asks how you are, and I tell him you are well, and that you
ate thirteen pieces of bread at tea, or whatever it may have
been. The day Miss Braithwaite had the toothache, and you and I
ate the fruit-cake her sister had sent from England, he was very
anxious. He said we both deserved to be ill."
The Princess Hedwig had been blushing uncomfortably, but now she
paled. "He dared to say that?" she stormed. "He dared!" And she
had picked up her muff and gone out in a fine temper.
Only - and this was curious - by the next day she had forgiven
the lieutenant, and was angry at Ferdinand William Otto. Women
are very strange.
So now Ferdinand William Otto ran his fingers through his fair
hair; which was a favorite gesture of the lieutenant's, and
Hedwig blushed. After that she refused to look across at him,
but sat staring fixedly at the stage, where Frau Hugli, in a
short skirt, a black velvet bodice, and a white apron, with two
yellow braids over her shoulders, was listening with all the
coyness of forty years and six children at home to the
love-making of a man in a false black beard.
The Archduchess, sitting well back, was nodding. Just outside
the royal box, on the red-velvet sofa, General Mettlich, who was
the Chancellor, and had come because he had been invited and
stayed outside because he said he liked to hear music, not see
it, was sound asleep. His martial bosom, with its gold braid,
was rising and falling peacefully. Beside him lay the Prince's
crown, a small black derby hat.
The Princess Hilda looked across, and smiled and nodded at
Ferdinand William Otto. Then she went back to the music; she
held the score in her hand and followed it note by note. She was
studying music, and her mother, who was the Archduchess, was
watching her. But now and then, when her mother's eyes were
glued to the stage, Hilda stole a glance at the upper balconies
where impecunious young officers leaned over the rail and gazed
at her respectfully.
Prince Ferdinand William Otto considered it all very wearisome.
If one could only wander around the corridor or buy a sandwich
from the stand at the foot of the great staircase - or, better
still, if one could only get to the street, alone, and purchase
one of the fig women that Miss Braithwaite so despised! The
Crown Prince felt in his pocket, where his week's allowance of
pocket-money lay comfortably untouched.
The Archduchess, shielded by the velvet hangings with the royal
arms on them, was now quite comfortably asleep. From the
corridor came sounds indicating that the Chancellor preferred
making noises to listening to them. There were signs on the
stage that Frau Hugli, braids, six children, and all, was about
to go into the arms of the man with the false beard.
The Crown Prince meditated. He could go out quickly, and be back
before they knew it. Even if he only wandered about the
corridor, it would stretch his short legs. And outside it was a
fine day. It looked already like spring.
With the trepidation of a canary who finds his cage door open,
and, hopping to the threshold, surveys the world before venturing
to explore it, Prince Ferdinand William Otto rose to his feet,
tiptoed past the Archduchess Annunciata, who did not move, and
looked around him from the doorway.
The Chancellor slept. In the royal dressing-room behind the box
a lady in waiting was sitting and crocheting. She did not care
for opera. A maid was spreading the royal ladies' wraps before
the fire. The princesses had shed their furred carriage boots
just inside the door. They were in a row, very small and dainty.
Prince Ferdinand William Otto picked up his hat and concealed it
by his side. Then nonchalantly, as if to stretch his legs by
walking ten feet up the corridor and back, he passed the
dressing-room door. Another moment, and he was out of sight
around a bend of the passageway, and before him lay liberty.
Not quite! At the top of the private staircase reserved for the
royal family a guard commonly stood. He had moved a few feet
from his post, however, and was watching the stage through the
half-open door of a private loge. His rifle, with its fixed
bayonet, leaned against the stair-rail.
Prince Ferdinand William Otto passed behind him with outward
calmness. At the top of the public staircase, however, he
hesitated. Here, everywhere, were brass-buttoned officials of
the Opera House. A garderobe woman stared at him curiously.
There was a noise from the house, too, - a sound of clapping
hands and "bravos." The little Prince looked at the woman with
appeal in his eyes. Then, with his heart thumping, he ran past
her, down the white marble staircase, to where the great doors
Olga, the wardrobe woman, came out from behind her counter, and
stood looking down the marble staircase after the small flying
"Blessed Saints!" she said, wondering. "How much that child
resembled His Royal Highness!"
The old soldier who rented opera glasses at the second landing,
and who had left a leg in Bosnia, leaned over the railing. "Look
at that!" he exclaimed. "He will break a leg, the young rascal!
Once I could have - but there, he is safe! The good God watches
over fools and children."
"It looked like the little Prince," said the wardrobe woman. "I
have seen him often - he has the same bright hair."
But the opera-glass man was not listening. He had drawn a long
sausage from one pocket and a roll from the other, and now,
retiring to a far window, he stood placidly eating - a bite of
sausage, a bite of bread. His mind was in Bosnia, with his leg.
And because old Adelbert's mind was in Bosnia, and because one
hears with the mind, and not with the ear, he did not hear the
sharp question of the sentry who ran down the stairs and paused
for a second at the cloak-room. Well for Olga, too, that old
Adelbert did not hear her reply.
"He has not passed here," she said, with wide and honest eyes;
but with an ear toward old Adelbert. "An old gentleman came a
moment ago and got a sandwich, which he had left in his overcoat.
Perhaps this is whom you are seeking?"
The sentry cursed, and ran down the staircase, the nails in his
shoes striking sharply on the marble.
At the window, old Adelbert cut off another slice of sausage with
his pocket-knife and sauntered back to his table of opera glasses
at the angle of the balustrade. The hurrying figure of the
sentry below caught his eye. "Another fool!" he grumbled,
looking down. "One would think new legs grew in place of old
ones, like the claws of the sea-creatures!"
But Olga of the cloak-room leaned over her checks, with her lips
curved up in a smile. "The little one!" she thought. "And such
courage! He will make a great king! Let him have his prank like
the other children, and - God bless him and keep him!"
AND SEES THE WORLD
The Crown Prince was just a trifle dazzled by the brilliance of
his success. He paused for one breathless moment under the
porte-cochere of the opera house; then he took a long breath and
turned to the left. For he knew that at the right, just around
the corner; were the royal carriages, with his own drawn up
before the door, and Beppo and Hans erect on the box, their
haughty noses red in the wind, for the early spring air was
So he turned to the left, and was at once swallowed up in the
street crowd. It seemed very strange to him. Not that he was
unaccustomed to crowds. Had he not, that very Christmas, gone
shopping in the city, accompanied only by one of his tutors and
Miss Braithwaite, and bought for his grandfather, the King, a
burnt-wood box, which might hold either neckties or gloves, and
for his cousins silver photograph frames?
But this was different, and for a rather peculiar reason. Prince
Ferdinand William Otto had never seen the back of a crowd! The
public was always lined up, facing him, smiling and bowing and
God-blessing him. Small wonder he thought of most of his future
subjects as being much like the ship in the opera, meant only to
be viewed from the front. Also, it was surprising to see how
stiff and straight their backs were. Prince Ferdinand William
Otto had never known that backs could be so rigid. Those with
which he was familiar had a way of drooping forward from the
middle of the spine up. It was most interesting.
The next hour was full of remarkable things. For one, he dodged
behind a street-car and was almost run over by a taxicab. The
policeman on the corner came out, and taking Ferdinand William
Otto by the shoulder, gave him a talking-to and a shaking.
Ferdinand William Otto was furious, but policy kept him silent;
which proves conclusively that the Crown Prince had not only
initiative - witness his flight - but self-control and diplomacy.
Lucky country, to have in prospect such a king!
But even royalty has its weaknesses. At the next corner
Ferdinand William Otto stopped and invested part of his allowance
in the forbidden fig lady, with arms and legs of dates, and eyes
of cloves. He had wanted one of these ever since he could
remember, but Miss Braithwaite had sternly refused to authorize
the purchase. In fact, she had had one of the dates placed under
a microscope, and had shown His Royal Highness a number of
interesting and highly active creatures who made their homes
His Royal Highness recalled all this with great distinctness,
and, immediately dismissing it from his mind, ate the legs and
arms of the fig woman with enjoyment. Which - not the eating of
the legs and arms, of course, but to be able to dismiss what is
unpleasant - is another highly desirable royal trait.
So far his movements had been swift and entirely objective. But
success rather went to his head. He had never been out alone
before. Even at the summer palace there were always tutors, or
Miss Braithwaite, or an aide-de-camp, or something. He
hesitated, took out his small handkerchief, dusted his shoes with
it, and then wiped his face. Behind was the Opera, looming and
gray. Ahead was - the park.
Note the long allee between rows of trees trimmed to resemble
walls of green in summer, and curiously distorted skeletons in
winter; note the coffee-houses, where young officers in uniforms
sat under the trees, reading the papers, and rising to bow with
great clanking and much ceremony as a gold-wheeled carriage or a
pretty girl went by.
Prince Ferdinand William Otto had the fulfillment of a great
desire in his small, active mind. This was nothing less than a
ride on the American scenic railroad, which had secured a
concession in a far corner of the park. Hedwig's lieutenant had
described it to him - how one was taken in a small car to a dizzy
height, and then turned loose on a track which dropped giddily
and rose again, which hurled one through sheet-iron tunnels of
incredible blackness, thrust one out over a gorge, whirled one in
mad curves around corners of precipitous heights, and finally
landed one, panting, breathless, shocked, and reeling; but safe,
at the very platform where one had purchased one's ticket three
eternities, which were only minutes, before.
Prince Ferdinand William Otto had put this proposition, like the
fig woman, to Miss Braithwaite. Miss Braithwaite replied with
the sad history of an English child who had clutched at his cap
during a crucial moment on a similar track at the Crystal Palace
"When they picked him up," she finished, "every bone in his body
"Every bone," said Miss Braithwaite solemnly.
"The little ones in his ears, and all?"
"Every one," said Miss Braithwaite, refusing to weaken.
The Crown Prince had pondered. "He must have felt like jelly,"
he remarked, and Miss Braithwaite had dropped the subject.
So now, with freedom and his week's allowance, except the outlay
for the fig woman, in his pocket, Prince Ferdinand William Otto
started for the Land of Desire. The allee was almost deserted.
It was the sacred hour of coffee. The terraces were empty, but
from the coffee-houses along the drive there came a cheerful
rattle of cups, a hum of conversation.
As the early spring twilight fell, the gas-lamps along the allee,
always burning, made a twin row of pale stars ahead. At the end,
even as the wanderer gazed, he saw myriads of tiny red, white,
and blue lights, rising high in the air, outlining the crags and
peaks of the sheet-iron mountain which was his destination. The
Land of Desire was very near!
There came to his ears, too, the occasional rumble that told of
some palpitating soul being at that moment hurled and twisted and
joyously thrilled, as per the lieutenant's description.
Now it is a strange thing, but true, that one does not reach the
Land of Desire alone; because the half of pleasure is the sharing
of it with someone else, and the Land of Desire, alone, is not
the Land of Desire at all. Quite suddenly, Prince Ferdinand
William Otto discovered that he was lonely. He sat down on the
curb under the gas-lamp and ate the fig woman's head, taking out
the cloves, because he did not like cloves. At that moment there
was a soft whirring off to one side of him, and a yellow bird,
rising and failing erratically on the breeze, careened suddenly
and fell at his feet.
Prince Ferdinand William Otto bent down and picked it up. It was
a small toy aeroplane, with yellow silk planes, guy-ropes of
waxed thread, and a wooden rudder, its motive power vested in a
tightly twisted rubber. One of the wings was bent. Ferdinand
William Otto straightened it, and looked around for the owner.
A small boy was standing under the next gas-lamp. "Gee!" he said
in English. "Did you see it go that time?"
Prince Ferdinand William Otto eyed the stranger. He was about
his own age, and was dressed in a short pair of corduroy
trousers, much bloomed at the knee, a pair of yellow
Russia-leather shoes that reached well to his calves, and, over
all, a shaggy white sweater, rolling almost to his chin. On the
very back of his head he had the smallest cap that Prince
Ferdinand William Otto had ever seen.
Now, this was exactly the way in which the Crown Prince had
always wished to dress. He was suddenly conscious of the long
trousers on his own small legs, of the ignominy of his tailless
Eton jacket and stiff, rolling collar, of the crowning disgrace
of his derby hat. But the lonely feeling had gone from him.
"This is the best time for flying," he said, in his perfect
English. "All the exhibition flights are at sundown."
The boy walked slowly over and stood looking down at him. "You
ought to see it fly from the top of Pike's Peak!" he remarked.
He had caught sight of the despised derby, and his eyes widened,
but with instinctive good-breeding he ignored it. "That's Pike's
Peak up there."
He indicated the very top of the Land of Desire. The Prince
"How does one get up?" he queried.
"Ladders. My father's the manager. He lets me up sometimes."
Prince Ferdinand William Otto stared with new awe at the boy. He
found the fact much more remarkable than if the stranger had
stated that his father was the King of England. Kings were, as
you may say, directly in Prince Ferdinand William Otto's line,
but scenic railroads -
"I had thought of taking a journey on it," he said, after a
second's reflection. "Do you think your father will sell me a
"Billy Grimm will. I'll go with you."
The Prince rose with alacrity. Then he stopped. He must, of
course, ask the strange boy to be his guest. But two tickets!
Perhaps his allowance was not sufficient.
"I must see first how much it costs," he said with dignity.
The other boy laughed. "Oh, gee! You come with me. It won't
cost anything," he said, and led the way toward the towering
For Bobby Thorpe to bring a small boy to ride with him was an
everyday affair. Billy Grimm, at the ticket-window, hardly
glanced at the boy who stood, trembling with anticipation, in the
shadow of the booth.
The car came, and they climbed in. Perhaps, as they moved off,
Prince Ferdinand William Otto had a qualm, occasioned by the
remembrance of the English child who had met an untimely end; but
if he did, he pluckily hid it.
"Put your lid on the floor of the car," said Bobby Thorpe'
depositing his own atom there. "Father says, if you do that;
you're perfectly safe."
Prince Ferdinand William Otto divined that this referred to his
hat, and drew a small breath of relief. And then they were off,
up an endless, clicking roadway, where at the top the car hung
for a breathless second over the gulf below; then, fairly
launched, out on a trestle, with the city far beneath them, and
only the red, white, and blue lights for company; and into a
tunnel, filled with roaring noises and swift moving shadows.
Then came the end of all things a flying leap down, a
heart-breaking, delirious thrill, an upward sweep just as the
strain was too great for endurance.
"Isn't it bully?" shouted the American boy against the onrush of
"Fine!" shrieked His Royal Highness, and braced himself for
another dip into the gulf.
Above the roaring of the wind in their ears, neither child had
heard the flying feet of a dozen horses coming down the allee.
They never knew that a hatless young lieutenant, white-lipped
with fear, had checked his horse to its haunches at the
ticket-booth, and demanded to know who was in the Land of Desire.
"Only the son of the manager, and a boy friend of his," replied
Billy Grimm, in what he called the lingo of the country. "What's
wrong? Lost anybody?"
But Hedwig's lieutenant had wheeled his horse without a word,
and, jumping him aver the hedge of the allee, was off in a
despairing search of the outskirts of the park, followed by his
As the last horse leaped the hedge and disappeared, the car came
to a stop at the platform. Quivering, Prince Ferdinand William
Otto reached down for the despised hat.
"Would you like to go around again?" asked Bobby, quite casually.
His Highness gasped with joy. "If - if you would be so kind!" he
And at the lordly wave of Bobby's hand, the car moved on.
At eight o'clock that evening the Crown Prince Ferdinand William
Otto approached the Palace through the public square. He
approached it slowly, for two reasons. First, he did not want to
go back. Second, he was rather frightened. He had an idea that
they would be disagreeable.
There seemed to be a great deal going on at the palace.
Carriages were rolling in under the stone archway and, having
discharged their contents, mostly gentlemen in uniform, were
moving off with a thundering of hoofs that reechoed from the
vaulted roof of the entrance. All the lights were on in the wing
where his grandfather, the King, lived alone. As his grandfather
hated lights, and went to bed early, Prince Ferdinand William
Otto was slightly puzzled.
He stood in the square and waited for a chance to slip in
He was very dirty. His august face was streaked with soot, and
his august hands likewise. His small derby hat was carefully
placed on the very back of his head at the angle of the American
boy's cap. As his collar had scratched his neck, he had, at
Bobby's suggestion, taken it off and rolled it up. He decided,
as he waited in the square, to put it on again. Miss Braithwaite
was very peculiar about collars.
Came a lull in the line of carriages. Prince Ferdinand William
Otto took a long breath and started forward. As he advanced he
stuck his hands in his pockets and swaggered a trifle. It was,
as nearly as possible, an exact imitation of Bobby Thorpe's walk.
And to keep up his courage, he quoted that young gentleman's
farewell speech to himself: "What d' you care? They won't eat
you, will they?"
At the entrance to the archway stood two sentries. They stood as
if they were carved out of wood. Only their eyes moved. And
within, in the court around which the Palace was built, were the
King's bodyguards. Mostly they sat on a long bench and exchanged
conversation, while one of them paced back and forth, his gun
over his shoulder, in front of them. Prince Ferdinand William
Otto knew them all. More than once he had secured cigarettes
from Lieutenant Larisch and dropped them from one of his windows,
which were just overhead. They would look straight ahead and not
see them, until the officer's back was turned. Then one would be
lighted and passed along the line. Each man would take one puff
and pass it on behind his back. It was great fun.
Prince Ferdinand William Otto stood in the shadows and glanced
across. The sentries stood like wooden men, but something was
wrong in the courtyard inside. The guards were all standing, and
there seemed to be a great many of them. And just as he had made
up his mind to take the plunge, so to speak, a part of his own
regiment of cavalry came out from the courtyard with a thundering
of hoofs, wheeled at the street, and clattered off.
Very unusual, all of it.
The Crown Prince Ferdinand William Otto felt in his pocket for
his handkerchief, and, moistening a corner with his tongue, wiped
his face. Then he wiped his shoes. Then, with his hands in his
trousers pockets, he sauntered into the light.
Now sentries are trained to be impassive. The model of a sentry
is a wooden soldier. A really good sentry does not sneeze or
cough on duty. Did any one ever see a sentry, for instance, wipe
his nose? Or twirl his thumbs? Or buy a newspaper? Certainly
Therefore the two sentries made no sign when they saw Ferdinand
William Otto approaching. But one of them forgot to bring his
musket to salute. He crossed himself instead. And something
strained around the other sentry's lower jaw suddenly relaxed
into a smile as His Royal Highness drew a hand from its refuge
and saluted. He glanced first at one, then at the other, rather
sheepishly, hesitated between them, clapped his hat on more
securely, and marched in.
"The young rascal!" said the second sentry to himself. And by
turning his head slightly - for a sentry learns to see all around
like a horse, without twisting his neck - he watched the runaway
into the palace.
Prince Ferdinand William Otto went up the stone staircase. Here
and there he passed guards who stared and saluted. Had he not
been obsessed with the vision of Miss Braithwaite, he would have
known that relief followed in his wake. Messengers clattered
down the staircase to the courtyard. Other messengers,
breathless and eager, flew to that lighted wing where the Council
sat, and where the old King, propped up in bed, waited and fought
The Archduchess Annunciata was with her father. Across the
corridor the Council debated in low tones.
"Tell me again," said the King. "How in God's name could it have
happened? In daylight, and with all of you there!"
"I have told you all I know," said the Archduchess impatiently.
"One moment he was there. Hedwig and he were making gestures,
and I reproved him. The next he was gone. Hedwig saw him get up
and go out. She thought - "
"Send for Hedwig."
"She has retired. She was devoted to him, and - "
"Send for her," said the King shortly.
The Archduchess Annunciata went out. The old King lay back, and
his eyes, weary with many years of ruling, of disappointments and
bitterness, roved the room. They came to rest at last on the
photograph of a young man, which stood on his bedside, table.
He was a very young man, in a uniform. He was boyish, and
smiling. There was a dog beside him, and its head was on his
knee. Wherever one stood in the room, the eyes of the photograph
gazed at one. The King knew this, and because he was quite old,
and because there were few people to whom a king dares to speak
his inmost thoughts, he frequently spoke to the photograph.
The older he grew, the more he felt, sometimes, as though it knew
what he said. He had begun to think that death, after all, is
not the end, but only the beginning of things. This rather
worried him, too, at times. What he wanted was to lay things
down, not to take them up.
"If they've got him," he said to the picture, "it is out of my
hands, and into yours, my boy."
Much of his life had been spent in waiting, in waiting for a son,
in waiting for that son to grow to be a man, in waiting while
that son in his turn loved and married and begot a man-child, in
waiting, when that son had died a violent death, for the time
when his tired hands could relinquish the scepter to his
He folded his old hands and waited. From across the corridor
came the low tones of the Council. A silent group of his
gentlemen stood in the vestibule outside the door. The King lay
on his bed and waited.
Quite suddenly the door opened. The old man turned his head.
Just inside stood a very dirty small boy.
The Crown Prince Ferdinand William Otto was most terribly
frightened. Everything was at sixes and sevens. Miss
Braithwaite had been crying her head off, and on seeing him had
fallen in a faint. Not that he thought it was a real faint. He
had unmistakably seen her eyelids quiver. And when she came to
she had ordered him no supper, and four pages of German
translation, and to go to bed at seven o'clock instead of
seven-thirty for a week. All the time crying, too. And then she
had sent him to his grandfather, and taken aromatic ammonia,
His grandfather said nothing, but looked at him.
"Here - here I am, sir," said the Crown Prince from the door.
The King drew a long breath. But the silence persisted. Prince
Ferdinand William Otto furtively rubbed a dusty shoe against the
back of a trousers leg.
"I'm afraid I'm not very neat, sir," said Prince Ferdinand
William Otto, and took a step forward. Until his grandfather
commanded him, he could not advance into the room.
"Come here," said the King.
He went to the side of the bed.
"Where have you been?"
"I'm afraid - I ran away, sir."
Prince Ferdinand William Otto considered. It was rather an awful
moment. "I don't exactly know. I just thought I would."
You see, it was really extremely difficult. To say that he was
tired of things as they were would sound ungrateful. Would,
indeed, be most impolite. And then, exactly why had he run away?
"Suppose," said the King, "you draw up a chair and tell me about
it. We'd better talk it over, I think."
His Royal Highness drew up a chair, and sat on it. His feet not
reaching the floor, he hooked them around the chair-rung. This
was permissible because, first, the King could not see them from
his bed. Second, it kept his knees from shaking.
"Probably you are aware," said the King, "that you have alarmed a
great many people."
"I'm sorry, sir. I didn't think - "
"A prince's duty is to think."
"Although," observed His Royal Highness, "I don't really believe
Miss Braithwaite fainted. She may have thought she fainted, but
her eyelids moved."
"Where did you go?"
"To the park, sir. I - I thought I'd like to see the park by
"It's very hard to enjoy things with Miss Braithwaite, sir. She
does not really enjoy the things I like. Nikky and I - "
"By 'Nikky' you mean Lieutenant Larisch?"
"We like the same things, sir - the Pike's-Peak-or-Bust, and all
The King raised himself on his elbow. "What was that?" he
Prince Ferdinand William Otto blushed, and explained. It was
Bobby's name for the peak at the top of the Scenic Railway. He
had been on the railway. He had been - his enthusiasm carried
him away. His cheeks flushed. He sat forward on the edge of his
chair, and gesticulated. He had never had such a good time in
"I was awfully happy, sir," he ended. "It feels like flying,
only safer. And the lights are pretty. It's like fairyland.
There were two or three times when it seemed as if we'd turn
over, or leap the track. But we didn't."
The King lay back and thought. More than anything in the world
he loved this boy. But the occasion demanded a strong hand.
"You were happy," he said. "You were disobedient, you were
causing grave anxiety and distress - and you were happy! The
first duty of a prince is to his country. His first lesson is to
obey laws. He must always obey certain laws. A king is but the
servant of his people."
"Yes, sir," said Prince Ferdinand William Otto.
The old King's voice was stern. "Some day you will be the King.
You are being trained for that high office now. And yet you
would set the example of insubordination, disobedience, and
reckless disregard of the feelings of others."
"Yes, sir," said prince Ferdinand William Otto, feeling very
small and ashamed.
"Not only that. You slipped away. You did not go openly. You
sneaked off, like a thief. Are you proud of it?"
"I shall," said the King, "require no promise from you. Promises
are poor things to hold to. I leave this matter in your own
hands, Otto. You will be punished by Miss Braithwaite, and for
the next ten days you will not visit me. You may go now."
Otto got off his chair. He was feeling exceedingly crushed.
"Good-night, sir," he said. And waited for his grandfather to
extend his hand. But the old King lay looking straight ahead,
with his mouth set in grim lines, and his hands folded over his
At the door the Crown Prince turned and bowed. His grandfather's
eyes were fixed on the two gold eagles over the door, but the
photograph on the table appeared to be smiling at him.
Until late that night General Mettlich and the King talked
together. The King had been lifted from his bed and sat propped
in a great chair. Above his shabby dressing-gown his face showed
gaunt and old. In a straight chair facing him sat his old friend
"What it has shown is not entirely bad," said the King, after a
pause. "The boy has initiative. And he made no attempt at
evasion. He is essentially truthful."
"What it has also shown, sire, is that no protection is enough.
When I, who love the lad, and would - when I could sleep, and let
him get away, as I did - "
"The truth is," said the King, "we are both of us getting old."
He tapped with his gnarled fingers on the blanket that lay over
his knees. "The truth is also," he observed a moment later,
"that the boy has very few pleasures. He is alone a great deal."
General Mettlich raised his shaggy head. Many years of wearing a
soldier's cap had not injured his heavy gray hair. He had
bristling eyebrows, white new, and a short, fighting mustache.
When he was irritated, or disagreed with any one, his eyebrows
came down and the mustache went up.
Many years of association with his king had given him the right
to talk to him as man to man. They even quarreled now and then.
It was a brave man who would quarrel with old Ferdinand II.
So now his eyebrows came down and his mustache went up. "How -
"You do not regard that bigoted Englishwoman as a companion, do
"He is attached to her."
"I'm damned if I know why," observed the old King. "She doesn't
appear to have a single human quality."
Human quality! General Mettlich eyed his king with concern.
Since when had the reigning family demanded human qualities in
their governesses? "She is a thoughtful and conscientious woman,
sire," he said stiffly. It happened that he had selected her.
"She does her duty. And as to the boy being lonely, he has no
time to be lonely. His tutors - "
"How old is he?"
"Ten next month."
The King said nothing for a time. Then - "It is hard," he said
at last, "for seventy-four to see with the eyes of ten. As for
this afternoon - why in the name of a thousand devils did they
take him to see the 'Flying Dutchman'? I detest it."
"Her Royal Highness - "
"Annunciata is a fool," said His Majesty. Then dismissing his
daughter with a gesture, "We don't know how to raise our children
here," he said impatiently. "The English do better. And even
the Germans - "
It is not etiquette to lower one's eyebrows at a king, and glare.
But General Mettlich did it. He was rather a poor subject. "The
Germans have not our problem, sire," he said, and stuck up his
"I'm not going to raise the boy a prisoner," insisted the King
stubbornly. Kings have to be very stubborn about things. So
many people disapprove of the things they want to do.
Suddenly General Mettlich bent forward and placed a hand on the
old man's knee. "We shall do well, sire," he said gravely, "to
raise the boy at all."
There was a short silence, which the King broke. "What is new?"
"We have broken up the University meetings, but I fancy they go
on, in small groups. I was gratified, however, to observe that a
group of students cheered His Royal Highness yesterday as he rode
past the University buildings."
"Socialism at twenty," said the King, "is only a symptom of the
unrest of early adolescence. Even Hubert" - he glanced at the
picture - "was touched with it. He accused me, I recall, of
being merely an accident, a sort of stumbling-block in the way of
He smiled faintly. Then he sighed. "And the others?" he asked.
"The outlying districts are quiet. So, too, is the city. Too
"They are waiting, of course, for my death," said the King
quietly. "If only, you were twenty years younger than I am, it
would be better." He fixed the General with shrewd eyes. "What
do those asses of doctors say about me?"
"With care, sire - "
"Come, now. This is no time for evasion."
"Even at the best, sire - " He looked very ferocious, and
cleared his throat. He was terribly ashamed that his voice was
breaking.. "Even at the best, but of course they can only give
an opinion - "
"A year, sire."
"And at the worst!" said the King, with a grim smile. Then;
following his own line of, thought: "But the people love the boy,
"They do. It is for that reason, sire, that I advise particular
caution." He hesitated. Then, "Sire," he said earnestly, "there
is something of which I must speak. The Committee of Ten has
Involuntarily the King glanced at the photograph on the table.
"Forgive me, sire, if I waken bitter memories. But I fear - "
"You fear!" said the King. "Since when have you taken to
"Nevertheless,"maintained General Mettlich doggedly, "I fear.
This quiet of the last few months alarms me. Dangerous dogs do
not bark. I trust no one. The very air is full of sedition."
The King twisted his blue-veined old hands together, but his
voice was quiet. "But why?" he demanded, almost fretfully. "If
the people are fond of the boy, and I think they are, to - to
carry him off, or injure him, would hurt the cause. Even the
Terrorists, in the name of a republic, can do nothing without the
"The mob is a curious thing, sire. You have ruled with a strong
hand. Our people know nothing but to obey the dominant voice.
The boy out of the way, the prospect of the Princess Hedwig on
the throne, a few demagogues in the public squares - it would be
The King leaned back and closed his eyes. His thin, arched nose
looked pinched. His face was gray.
"All this," he said, "means what? To make the boy a prisoner, to
cut off his few pleasures, and even then, at any time - "
"Yes, sire," said Mettlich doggedly. "At any time."
Outside in the anteroom Lieutenant Nikky Larisch roused himself,
yawned, and looked at his watch. It was after twelve, and he had
had a hard day. He put a velvet cushion behind his head, and
resolutely composed himself to slumber, a slumber in which were
various rosy dreams, all centered about the Princess Hedwig.
Dreams are beyond our control.
Therefore a young lieutenant running into debt on his pay may
without presumption dream of a princess.
All through the Palace people were sleeping. Prince Ferdinand
William Otto was asleep, and riding again the little car in the
Land of Delight. So that, turning a corner sharply, he almost
fell out of bed.
On the other side of the city the little American boy was asleep
also. At that exact time he was being tucked up by an entirely
efficient and placid-eyed American mother, who felt under his
head to see that his ear was not turned forward. She liked
Nobody, naturally, was tucking up Prince Ferdinand William Otto.
Or attending to his ears. But, of course, there were sentries
outside his door, and a valet de chambre to be rung for, and a
number of embroidered eagles scattered about on the curtains and
things, and a country surrounding him which would one day be his,
"At any time," said General Mettlich, and was grimly silent.
It was really no time for such a speech. But there is never a
good time for bad news.
"Well?" inquired the King, after a time. "You have something to
suggest, I take it."
The old soldier cleared his throat. "Sire," he began, "it is
said that a chancellor should have but one passion - his King. I
have two: my King and my country."
The King nodded gravely. He knew both passions, relied on both.
And found them both a bit troublesome at times!
"Once, some years ago, sire, I came to you with a plan. The
Princess Hedwig was a child then, and his late Royal Highness was
- still with us. For that, and for other reasons, Your Majesty
refused to listen. But things have changed. Between us and
revolution there stand only the frail life of a boy and an army
none too large, and already, perhaps, affected. There is much
discontent, and the offspring of discontent is anarchy."
The King snarled. But Mettlich had taken his courage in his
hands, and went on. Their neighbor and hereditary foe was
Karnia. Could they any longer afford the enmity of Karnia? One
cause of discontent was the expense of the army, and of the
fortifications along the Karnian border. If Karnia were allied
with them, there would be no need of so great an army. They had
the mineral wealth, and Karnia the seaports. The old dream of
the Empire, of a railway to the sea, would be realized.
He pleaded well. The idea was not new. To place the little King
Otto IX on the throne and keep him there in the face of
opposition would require support from outside. Karnia would
furnish this support. For a price.
The price was the Princess Hedwig.
Outside, Nikky Larisch rose, stretched, and fell to pacing the
floor. It was one o'clock, and the palace slept. He lighted a
cigarette, and stepping out into a small balcony which overlooked
the Square, faced the quiet night.
"That is my plea, sire," Mettlich finished. "Karl of Karnia is
anxious to marry, and looks this way. To allay discontent and
growing insurrection, to insure the boy's safety and his throne,
to beat our swords into ploughshares" - here he caught the King's
scowl; and added - "to a certain extent, and to make us a
commercial as well as a military nation, surely, sire, it gains
much for us, and loses us nothing."
"But our independence!" said the King sourly.
However, he did not dismiss the idea. The fright of the
afternoon had weakened him, and if Mettlich were right - he had
what the King considered a perfectly damnable habit of being
right - the Royalist party would need outside help to maintain
"Karnia!" he said. "The lion and the lamb, with the lamb inside
the lion! And in, the mean time the boy - "
"He should be watched always."
"The old she-dragon, the governess - I suppose she is
"Perfectly. But she is a woman."
"He has Lussin." Count Lussin was the Crown Prince's
"He needs a man, sire," observed the Chancellor rather tartly.
The King cleared his throat. "This youngster he is so fond of,
young Larisch, would he please you better?" he asked, with ironic
"A good boy, sire. You may recall that his mother - " He
Perhaps the old King's memory was good. Perhaps there was a
change in Mettlich's voice.
"A good boy?"
"None better, sire. He is devoted to His Royal Highness. He is
still much of a lad himself. I have listened to them talking.
It is a question which is the older! He is outside now."
"Bring him in. I'll have a look at him."
Nikky, summoned by a chamberlain, stopped inside the doorway and
"Come here," said the King.
"How old are you?"
"In the Grenadiers, I believe."
"Like horses?" said the King suddenly.
"Very much, sire."
"I - some boys, sire."
"Humph! Quite right, too. Little devils, most of them." He
drew himself tap in his chair. "Lieutenant Larisch," he said,
"His Royal Highness the Crown Prince has taken a liking to you.
I believe it is to you that our fright to-day is due."
Nikky's heart thumped. He went rather pale.
"It is my intention, Lieutenant Larisch, to place the Crown
Prince in your personal charge. For reasons I need not go into,
it is imperative that he take no more excursions alone. These
are strange times, when sedition struts in Court garments, and
kings may trust neither their armies nor their subjects. I
want," he said, his tone losing its bitterness, "a real friend
for the little Crown Prince. One who is both brave and loyal."
Afterward, in his small room, Nikky composed a neat, well-rounded
speech, in which he expressed his loyalty, gratitude, and undying
devotion to the Crown Prince. It was an elegant little speech.
Unluckily, the occasion for it had gone by two hours.
"I - I am grateful, sire," was what he said. "I -" And there he
stopped and choked up. It was rather dreadful.
"I depend on you, Captain Larisch," said the King gravely, and
nodded his head in a gesture of dismissal. Nikky backed toward
the door, struck a hassock, all but went down, bowed again at the
door, and fled.
"A fine lad," said General Mettlich, "but no talker."
"All the better," replied His Majesty. "I am tired of men who
talk well. And" - he smiled faintly -"I am tired of you. You
talk too well. You make me think. I don't want to think. I've
been thinking all my life. It is time to rest, my friend."
AT THE RIDING-SCHOOL
His Royal Highness the Crown Prince Ferdinand William Otto was in
He had risen at six, bathed, dressed, and gone to Mass, in
disgrace. He had breakfasted at seven-thirty on fruit, cereal,
and one egg, in disgrace. He had gone to his study at eight
o'clock for lessons, in disgrace. A long line of tutors came and
went all morning, and he worked diligently, but he was still in
disgrace. All morning long and in the intervals between tutors
he had tried to catch Miss Braithwaite's eye.
Except for the most ordinary civilities, she had refused to look
in his direction. She was correcting an essay in English on Mr.
Gladstone, with a blue pencil, and putting in blue commas every
here and there. The Crown Prince was amazingly weak in commas.
When she was all through, she piled the sheets together and wrote
a word on the first page. It might have been "good." On the
other hand, it could easily have been "poor." The motions of the
hand are similar.
At last; in desperation, the Crown Prince deliberately broke off
the point of his pencil, and went to the desk where Miss
Braithwaite sat, monarch of the American pencil-sharpener which
was the beloved of his heart.
"Again!" said Miss Braithwaite shortly. And raised her
"It's a very soft pencil," explained the Crown Prince. "When I
press down on it, it - it busts."
"It busts - breaks." Evidently the English people were not
familiar with this new and fascinating American word.
He cast a casual glance toward Mr. Gladstone. The word was
certainly "poor." Suddenly a sense of injustice began to rise in
him. He had worked rather hard over Mr. Gladstone. He had done
so because he knew that Miss Braithwaite considered him the
greatest man since Jesus Christ, and even the Christ had not
written "The Influence of Authority in Matters of Opinion."
The injustice went to his eyes and made him blink. He had
apologized for yesterday, and explained fully. It was not fair.
As to commas, anybody could put in enough commas.
The French tutor was standing near a photograph of Hedwig, and
pretending not to look at it. Prince Ferdinand William Otto had
a suspicion that the tutor was in love with Hedwig. On one
occasion, when she had entered unexpectedly, he had certainly
given out the sentence, "Ce dragon etait le vieux serpent, la
princesse," instead of "Ce dragon etait le vieux serpent, le
Prince Ferdinand William Otto did not like the French tutor. His
being silly about Hedwig was not the reason. Even Nikky had that
trouble, and once, when they were all riding together, had said,
"Canter on the snaffle, trot on the curb," when he meant exactly
the opposite. It was not that. Part of it was because of his
legs, which were inclined to knock at the knees. Mostly it was
his eyes, which protruded. "When he reads my French exercises,"
he complained once to Hedwig, "he waves them around like an
He and Hedwig usually spoke English together. Like most
royalties, they had been raised on languages. It was as much as
one's brains were worth, sometimes, to try to follow them as they
leaped from grammar to grammar.
"Like an aunt's?" inquired Hedwig, mystified.
"An ant's. They have eyes on the ends of their feelers, you
But Miss Braithwaite, overhearing, had said that ants have no
eyes at all. She had no imagination.
His taste of liberty had spoiled the Crown Prince for work.
Instead of conjugating a French verb, he made a sketch of the
Scenic Railway. He drew the little car, and two heads looking
over the edge, with a sort of porcupine effect of hairs standing
"Otto!" said Miss Braithwaite sternly.
Miss Braithwaite did not say "sir" to him or "Your Royal
Highness," like the tutors. She had taken him from the arms of
his mother when he was a baby, and had taught a succession of
nurses how to fix his bottles, and made them raise the windows
when he slept - which was heresy in that country, and was brought
up for discussion in the Parliament. When it came time for his
first tooth, and he was wickedly fretful, and the doctors had a
consultation over him, it was Miss Braithwaite who had ignored
everything they said, and rubbed the tooth through with her
silver thimble. Boiled first, of course.
And when one has cut a Royal Highness's first tooth, and broken
him of sucking his thumb, and held a cold buttered knife against
his bruises to prevent their discoloring, one does get out of the
way of being very formal with him.
"Otto!" said Miss Braithwaite sternly.
So he went to work in earnest. He worked at a big desk, which
had been his father's. As a matter of fact, everything in the
room was too big for him. It had not occurred to any one to make
any concessions to his size. He went through life, one may say,
with his legs dangling, or standing on tiptoe to see things.
The suite had been his father's before him. Even the heavy old
rug had been worn shabby by the scuffing of his father's feet.
On the wall there hung a picture his father had drawn. It was of
a yacht in full sail. Prince Hubert had been fifteen when he
drew it, and was contemplating abandoning his princely career and
running away to be a pirate. As a matter of fact, the yacht
boasted the black flag, as Otto knew quite well. Nikky had
discover it. But none of the grown-ups had recognized the
damning fact. Nikky was not, strictly speaking a grown-up.
The sun came through the deep embrasures of the window and set
Prince Ferdinand William Otto's feet to wriggling. It penetrated
the gloomy fastnesses of the old room and showed its dingy
furniture, its great desk, its dark velvet portieres, and the old
cabinet in which the Crown Prince kept his toys on the top shelf.
He had arranged them there himself, the ones he was fondest of in
the front row, so he could look up and see them; a drum which he
still dearly loved, but which made Miss Braithwaite's headache; a
locomotive with a broken spring; a steam-engine which Hedwig had
given him, but which the King considered dangerous, and which had
never, therefore, had its baptism of fire; and a dilapidated and
lop-eared cloth dog.
He was exceedingly fond of the dog. For quite a long time he had
taken it to bed with him at night, and put its head on his
pillow. It was the most comforting thing, when the lights were
all out. Until he was seven he had been allowed a bit of
glimmer, a tiny wick floating in a silver dish of lard-oil, for a
night-light. But after his eighth birthday that had been done
away with, Miss Braithwaite considering it babyish.
The sun shone in on the substantial but cheerless room; on the
picture of the Duchess Hedwig, untouched by tragedy or grief; on
the heavy, paneled old doors through which, once on a time,
Prince Hubert had made his joyous exits into a world that had so
early cast him out; on his swords, crossed over the fireplace;
his light rapier, his heavy cavalry saber; on the bright head of
his little son, around whom already so many plots and
counterplots were centering.
The Crown Prince Ferdinand William Otto found the sun unsettling.
Besides, he hated verbs. Nouns were different. One could do
something with nouns, although even they had a way of having
genders. Into his head popped a recollection of a delightful
pastime of the day before - nothing more nor less than flipping
paper wads at the guard on the Scenic Railway as the car went
Prince Ferdinand William Otto tore off the corner of a piece of
paper, chewed it deliberately, rounded and hardened it with his
royal fingers, and aimed it at M. Puaux. It struck him in the
Instantly things happened. M. Puaux yelled, and clapped a hand
to his eye. Miss Braithwaite rose. His Royal Highness wrote a
rather shaky French verb, with the wrong termination. And on to
this scene came Nikky for the riding-lesson. Nikky, smiling and
tidy, and very shiny as to riding-boots and things, and wearing
white kid gloves. Every one about a palace wears white kid
gloves, except the royalties themselves. It is extremely
Nikky surveyed the scene. He had, of course, bowed inside the
door, and all that sort of thing. But Nikky was an informal
person, and was quite apt to bow deeply before his future
sovereign, and then poke him in the chest.
"Well!" said Nikky.
"Good-morning," said Prince Ferdinand William Otto, in a small
and nervous voice.
"Nothing wrong, is there?" demanded Nikky.
M. Puaux got out his handkerchief and said nothing violently.
"Otto!" said Miss Braithwaite. "What did you do?"
"Nothing." He looked about. He was quite convinced that M. Puaux
was what Bobby would have termed a poor sport, and had not played
the game fairly. The guard at the railway, he felt, would not
have yelled and wept. "Oh, well, I threw a piece of paper.
That's all. I didn't think it would hurt."
Miss Braithwaite rose and glanced at the carpet. But Nikky was
quick. Quick and understanding. He put his shiny foot over the
"Paper!" said Miss Braithwaite. "Why did you throw paper? And
at M. Puaux?"
"I - just felt like throwing something," explained His Royal
Highness. "I guess it's the sun, or something."
Nikky dropped his glove, and miraculously, when he had picked it
up the little wad was gone.
"For throwing paper, five marks," said Miss Braithwaite, and put
it down in the book she carried in her pocket. It was rather an
awful book. On Saturdays the King looked it over, and demanded
explanations. "For untidy nails, five marks! A gentleman never
has untidy nails, Otto. For objecting to winter flannels, two
marks. Humph! For pocketing sugar from the tea-tray, ten marks!
Humph! For lack of attention during religious instruction, five
marks. Ten off for the sugar, and only five for inattention to
religious instruction! What have you to say, sir?"
Prince Ferdinand William Otto looked at Nikky and Nikky looked
back. Then Ferdinand William Otto's left eyelid drooped. Nikky
was astounded. How was he to know the treasury of strange things
that the Crown Prince had tapped the previous afternoon? But,
after a glance around the room, Nikky's eyelid drooped also. He
slid the paper wad into his pocket.
"I am afraid His Royal Highness has hurt your eye, M. Puaux,"
said Miss Braithwaite. Not with sympathy. She hated tutors.
"Not at all," said the unhappy young man, testing the eye to
discover if he could see through it. "I am sure His Royal
Highness meant no harm." M. Puaux went out, with his
handkerchief to his eye. He turned at the door and bowed, but as
no one was paying any attention to him, he made two bows. One
was to Hedwig's picture.
While Oskar, his valet, put the Crown Prince into riding-clothes,
Nikky and Miss Braithwaite had a talk. Nikky was the only person
to whom Miss Braithwaite really unbent. Once he had written to a
friend of his in China, and secured for her a large box of the
best China tea. Miss Braithwaite only brewed it when the
Archduchess made one of her rare visits to the Crown Prince's
But just now their talk was very serious. It began by Nikky's
stating that she was likely to see him a great deal now, and he
hoped she would not find him in the way. He had been made
aide-de-camp to the Crown Prince, vice Count Lussin, who had
resigned on account of illness, having been roused at daybreak
out of a healthy sleep to do it.
Not that Nikky said just that. What he really observed was: "The
King sent for me last night, Miss Braithwaite, and - and asked me
to hang around."
Thus Nikky, of his sacred trust! None the less sacred to him,
either, that he spoke lightly. He glanced up at the crossed
swords, and his eyes were hard.
And Miss Braithwaite knew. She reached over and put a hand on
his arm. "You and I," she said. "Out of all the people in this
palace, only you and I! The Archduchess hates him. I see it in
her eyes. She can never forgive him for keeping the throne from
Hedwig. The Court? Do they ever think of the boy, except to
dread his minority, with Mettlich in control? A long period of
mourning, a regency, no balls, no gayety that is all they think
of. And whom can we trust? The very guards down below, the
sentries at our doors, how do we know they are loyal?"
"The people love him," said Nikky doggedly.
"The people! Sheep. I do not trust the people. I do not trust
any one. I watch, but what can I do? The very food we eat - "
"He is coming," said Nikky softly. And fell to whistling under
Together Nikky and Prince Ferdinand William Otto went out and
down the great marble staircase. Sentries saluted. Two flunkies
in scarlet and gold threw open the doors. A stray dog that had
wandered into the courtyard watched them gravely.
"I wish," said Prince Ferdinand William Otto, "that I might have
"A dog! Why?"
"Well, it would be company. Dogs are very friendly. Yesterday I
met a boy who has a dog. It sleeps on his bed at night."
"You have a good many things, you know," Nikky argued. "You've
got a dozen horses, for one thing."
"But a dog's different." He felt the difference, but he could
not put it into words. "And I'd rather have only one horse. I'd
get better acquainted with it."
Nikky looked back. Although it had been the boast of the royal
family for a century that it could go about unattended, that its
only danger was from the overzeal of the people in showing their
loyalty, not since the death of Prince Hubert had this been true
in fact. No guards or soldiers accompanied them, but the secret
police were always near at hand. So Nikky looked, made sure that
a man in civilian clothing was close at their heels, and led the
way across the Square to the riding-school.
A small crowd lined up and watched the passing of the little
Prince. As he passed, men lifted their hats and women bowed. He
smiled right and left, and, took two short steps to one of
Nikky's long ones.
"I have a great many friends," he said with a sigh of content, as
they neared the riding-school. "I suppose I don't really need a
"Look here," said Nikky, after a pause. He was not very quick in
thinking things out. He placed, as a fact, more reliance on his
right arm than on his brain. But once he had thought a thing
out, it stuck. "Look here, Highness, you didn't treat your
friends very well yesterday."
"I know;" said Prince Ferdinand William Otto meekly. But Prince
Ferdinand William Otto had thought out a defense. "I got back
all right, didn't I?" He considered. "It was worth it. A
policeman shook me!"
"Which policeman?" demanded Nikky in a terrible tone, and in his
fury quite forgot the ragging he had prepared for Otto.
"I think I'll not tell you, if you don't mind. And I bought a
fig lady. I've saved the legs for you."
Fortune smiled on Nikky that day. Had, indeed, been smiling
daily for some three weeks. Singularly enough, the Princess
Hedwig, who had been placed on a pony at the early age of two,
and who had been wont to boast that she could ride any horse in
her grandfather's stables, was taking riding-lessons. From
twelve to one - which was, also singularly, the time Prince
Ferdinand William Otto and Nikky rode in the ring - the Princess
Hedwig rode also. Rode divinely. Rode saucily. Rode, when
Nikky was ahead, tenderly.
To tell the truth, Prince Ferdinand William Otto rather hoped,
this morning, that Hedwig would not be there. There was a
difference in Nikky when Hedwig was around. When she was not
there he would do all sorts of things, like jumping on his horse
while it was going, and riding backward in the saddle, and so on.
He had once even tried jumping on his horse as it galloped past
him, and missed, and had been awfully ashamed about it. But when
Hedwig was there, there was no skylarking. They rode around, and
the riding-master put up jumps and they took them. And finally
Hedwig would get tired, and ask Nikky please to be amusing while
she rested. And he would not be amusing at all. The Crown
Prince felt that she never really saw Nikky at his best.
Hedwig was there. She had on a new habit, and a gardenia in her
buttonhole, and she gave Nikky her hand to kiss, but only nodded
to the Crown Prince.
"Hello, Otto!" she said. "I thought you'd have a ball and chain
on your leg to-day."
"There's nothing wrong with my legs," said Prince Ferdinand
William Otto, staring at the nets habit. "But yours look rather
Hedwig flushed. The truth was that she was wearing, for the
first time, a cross-saddle habit of coat and trousers. And coat
and trousers were forbidden to the royal women. She eyed Otto
with defiance, and turned an appealing glance to Nikky. But her
voice was very dignified.
"I bought them myself," she said. "I consider it a perfectly
modest costume, and much safer than the other."
"It is quite lovely - on you, Highness," said Nikky.
In a stiff chair at the edge of the ring Hedwig's lady in waiting
sat resignedly. She was an elderly woman, and did not ride.
Just now she was absorbed in wondering what would happen to her
when the Archduchess discovered this new freak of Hedwig's.
Perhaps she would better ask permission to go into retreat for a
time. The Archduchess, who had no religion herself, approved of
it in others. She took a soft rubber from her pocket, and tried
to erase a spot from her white kid gloves.
The discovery that Hedwig had two perfectly good legs rather
astounded Prince Ferdinand William Otto. He felt something like
"I've never seen any one else dressed like that," he observed, as
the horses were brought up.
Hedwig colored again. She looked like an absurdly pretty boy.
"Don't be a silly," she replied, rather sharply. "Every one does
it, except here, where old fossils refuse to think that anything
new can be proper. If you're going to be that sort of a king
when you grow up, I'll go somewhere else to live."
Nikky looked gloomy. The prospect, although remote, was dreary.
But, as the horses were led out, and he helped Hedwig to her
saddle, he brightened. After all, the future was the future, and
now was now.
"Catch me!" said Hedwig, and dug her royal heels into her horse's
flanks. The Crown Prince climbed into his saddle and followed.
They were off.
The riding-school had been built for officers of the army, but
was now used by the Court only. Here the King had ridden as a
lad with young Mettlich, his close friend even then. The
favorite mare of his later years, now old and almost blind, still
had a stall in the adjacent royal stables. One of the King's
last excursions abroad had been to visit her.
Overhead, up a great runway, were the state chariots, gilt
coaches of inconceivable weight, traveling carriages of the
post-chaise periods, sleighs in which four horses drove abreast,
their panels painted by the great artists of the time; and one
plain little vehicle, very shabby, in which the royal children of
long ago had fled from a Karnian invasion.
In one corner, black and gold and forbidding, was the imposing
hearse in which the dead sovereigns of the country were taken to
their long sleep in the vaults under the cathedral. Good, bad,
and indifferent, one after the other, as their hour came, they
had taken this last journey in the old catafalque, and had joined
their forbears. Many they had been: men of iron, men of blood,
men of flesh, men of water. And now they lay in stone crypts,
and of all the line only two remained.
One and all, the royal vehicles were shrouded in sheets, except
on one day of each month when the sheets were removed and the
public admitted. But on that morning the great hearse was
uncovered, and two men were working, one at the upholstery, which
he was brushing. The other was carefully oiling the wood of the
body. Save for them, the wide and dusky loft was empty.
One was a boy, newly come from the country. The other was an
elderly man. It was he who oiled.
"Many a king has this carried," said the man. "My father, who
was here before me, oiled it for the last one."
"May it be long before it carries another!" commented the boy
"It will not be long. The old King fails hourly. And this
happening of yesterday - "
"What happened yesterday?" queried the boy.
"It was a matter of the Crown Prince."
"Was he ill?"
"He ran away," said the man shortly.
"Ran away?" The boy stopped his dusting, and stared,
"Aye, ran away. Grew weary of back-bending, perhaps. I do not
know. I do not believe in kings."
"Not believe in kings?" The boy stopped his brushing."
"You do, of course," sneered the man. "Because a thing is, it is
right. But I think. I use my brains. I reason. And I do not
believe in kings."
Up the runway came sounds from the ring, the thudding of hoofs,
followed by a child's shrill, joyous laughter. The man scowled.
"Listen!" he said. "We labor and they play."
"It has always been so. I do not begrudge happiness."
But the man was not listening.
"I do not believe in kings," he said sullenly.
THE CHANCELLOR PAYS A VISIT
The Archduchess was having tea. Her boudoir was a crowded little
room. Nikky had once observed confidentially to Miss Braithwaite
that it was exactly like her, all hung and furnished with things
that were not needed. The Archduchess liked it because it was
warm. The palace rooms were mostly large and chilly. She lad a
fire there on the warmest days in spring, and liked to put the
coals on, herself. She wrapped them in pieces of paper so she
would not soil her hands.
This afternoon she was not alone. Lounging at a window was the
lady who was in waiting at the time, the Countess Loschek. Just
now she was getting rather a wigging, but she was remarkably
"The last three times," the Archduchess said, stirring her tea,
"you have had a sore throat."
"It is such a dull book," explained the Countess.
"Not at all. It is an improving book. If you would put your
mind on it when you are reading, Olga, you would enjoy it. And
you would learn something, besides. In my opinion," went on the
Archduchess, tasting her tea, "you smoke too many cigarettes."
The Countess yawned, but silently, at her window.
Then she consulted a thermometer. "Eighty!" she said briefly,
and, coming over, sat down by the tea-table.
The Countess Loschek was thirty, and very handsome, in an
insolent way. She was supposed to be the best-dressed woman at
the Court, and to rule Annunciata with an iron hand, although it
was known that they quarreled a great deal over small things,
especially over the coal fire.
Some said that the real thing that held them together was
resentment that the little Crown Prince stood between the
Princess Hedwig and the throne. Annunciata was not young, but
she was younger than her dead brother, Hubert. And others said
it was because the Countess gathered up and brought in the news
of the Court - the small intrigues and the scandals that
constitute life in the restricted walls of a palace. There is a
great deal of gossip in a palace where the king is old and
everything rather stupid and dull.
The Countess yawned again.
"Where is Hedwig?" demanded the Archduchess.
"Her Royal Highness is in the nursery, probably."
"She goes there a great deal."
The Archduchess eyed her. "Well, out with it," she said. "There
is something seething in that wicked brain of yours."
The Countess shrugged her shoulders. Not that she resented
having a wicked brain. She rather fancied the idea. "She and
young Lieutenant Larisch have tea quite frequently with His Royal
"Three times this last week, madame."
"Little fool!" said Annunciata. But she frowned, and sat tapping
her teacup with her spoon. She was just a trifle afraid of
Hedwig, and she was more anxious than she would have cared to
acknowledge. "It is being talked about, of course?"
The Countess shrugged her shoulders.
"Don't do that!" commanded the Archduchess sharply. "How far do
you think the thing has gone?"
"He is quite mad about her."
"And Hedwig - but she is silly enough for anything. Do they meet
"At the riding-school, I believe. At least, I - "
Here a maid entered and stood waiting at the end of the screen.
The Archduchess Annunciata would have none of the palace flunkies
about her when she could help it. She had had enough of men, she
maintained, in the person of her late husband, whom she had
detested. So except at dinner she was attended by tidy little
maids, in gray Quaker costumes, who could carry tea-trays into
her crowded boudoir without breaking things.
"His Excellency, General Mettlich," said the maid.
The Archduchess nodded her august head, and the maid retired.
"Go away, Olga," said the Archduchess. "And you might," she
suggested grimly, "gargle your throat."
The Chancellor had passed a troubled night. Being old, like the
King, he required little sleep. And for most of the time between
one o'clock and his rising hour of five he had lain in his narrow
camp-bed and thought. He had not confided all his worries to the
Evidences of renewed activity on the part of the Terrorists were
many. In the past month two of his best secret agents had
disappeared. One had been found the day before, stabbed in the
back. The Chancellor had seen the body - an unpleasant sight.
But it was not of the dead man that General Mettlich thought. It
was of the other. The dead tell nothing. But the living, under
torture, tell many things. And this man Haeckel, young as he
was, knew much that was vital. Knew the working of the Secret
Service, the names of the outer circle of twelve, knew the codes
and passwords, knew, too the ways of the palace, the hidden room
always ready for emergency, even the passage that led by devious
ways, underground, to a distant part of the great park.
At five General Mettlich had risen, exercised before an open
window with an old pair of iron dumbbells, had followed this with
a cold bath and hot coffee, and had gone to early Mass at the
And there, on his knees, he had prayed for a little help. He
was, he said, getting old and infirm, and he had been too apt all
his life to rely on his own right arm. But things were getting
rather difficult. He prayed to Our Lady for intercession for the
little Prince. He felt, in his old heart, that the Mother would
understand the situation, and how he felt about it. And he asked
in a general supplication, and very humbly, for a few years more
of life. Not that life meant anything to him personally. He had
outlived most of those he loved. But that he might serve the
King, and after him the boy who would be Otto IX. He added, for
fear they might not understand, having a great deal to look
after, that he had earned all this by many years of loyalty, and
besides, that he knew the situation better than any one else.
He felt much better after that. Especially as, at the moment he
rose from his knees, the cathedral clock had chimed and then
struck seven. He had found seven a very lucky number, So now he
entered the boudoir of the Archduchess Annunciata, and the
Countess went out another door, and closed it behind her,
immediately opening it about an inch.
The Chancellor strode around the screen, scratching two tables
with his sword as he advanced, and kissed the hand of the
Princess Annunciata. They were old enemies and therefore always
very polite to each other. The Archduchess offered him a cup of
tea, which he took, although she always made very bad tea. And
for a few moments they discussed things. Thus: the King's
condition; the replanting of the Place with trees; and the date
of bringing out the Princess Hilda, who was still in the
But the Archduchess suddenly came to business. She was an abrupt
person. "And now, General," she said, "what is it?"
"I am in trouble, Highness," replied the Chancellor simply.
"We are most of us in that condition at all times. I suppose you
mean this absurd affair of yesterday. Why such a turmoil about
it? The boy ran away. When he was ready he returned. It was
absurd, and I dare say you and I both are being held for our
sins. But he is here now, and safe."
"I am afraid he is not as safe as you think, madame."
He sat forward on the edge of his chair, and told her of the
students at the University, who were being fired by some powerful
voice; of the disappearance of the two spies; of the evidence
that the Committee of Ten was meeting again, and the failure to
discover their meeting-place; of disaffection among the people,
according to the reports of his agents. And then to the real
purpose of his visit. Karl of Karnia had, unofficially, proposed
for the Princess Hedwig. He had himself broached the matter to
the King, who had at least taken it under advisement. The
Archduchess listened, rather pale. There was no mistaking the
urgency in the Chancellor's voice.
"Madame after centuries of independence we now face a crisis
which we cannot meet alone. Believe me, I know of what I speak.
United, we could stand against the world. But a divided kingdom,
a disloyal and discontented people, spells the end.
And at last he convinced her. But, because she was built of a
contrary mould, she voiced an objection, not to the scheme, but
to Karl himself. "I dislike him. He is arrogant and stupid."
"But powerful, madame. And - what else is there to do?"
There was nothing else, and she knew it. But she refused to
broach the matter to Hedwig.
She stated, and perhaps not without reason, that such a move was
to damn the whole thing at once. She did not use exactly these
words, but their royal equivalent. And it ended with the
Chancellor, looking most ferocious but inwardly uneasy,
undertaking to put, as one may say, a flea into the Princess
Hedwig's small ear.
As he strode out, the door into the next room closed quietly.
TEA IN THE SCHOOLROOM
Tea at the Palace, until the old King had taken to his bed, had
been the one cheerful hour of the day. The entire suite gathered
in one of the salons, and remained standing until the King's
entrance. After that, formality ceased. Groups formed, footmen
in plush with white wigs passed trays of cakes and sandwiches and
tiny gilt cups of exquisite tea. The Court, so to speak, removed
its white gloves, and was noisy and informal. True, at dinner
again ceremony and etiquette would reign. The march into the
dining-hall between rows of bowing servants, the set
conversation, led by the King, the long and tedious courses, the
careful watch for precedence that was dinner at the Palace.
But now all that was changed. The King did not leave his
apartment. Annunciata occasionally took tea with the suite, but
glad for an excuse, left the Court to dine without her.
Sometimes for a half-hour she lent her royal if somewhat
indifferently attired presence to the salon afterward, where for
thirty minutes or so she moved from group to group, exchanging a
few more or less gracious words. But such times were rare. The
Archduchess, according to Court gossip, had "slumped."
To Hedwig the change had been a relief. The entourage, with its
gossip, its small talk, its liaisons, excited in her only
indifference and occasional loathing. Not that her short life
had been without its affairs. She was too lovely for that. But
they had touched her only faintly.
On the day of the Chancellor's visit to her mother she went to
tea in the schoolroom. She came in glowing from a walk, with the
jacket of her dark velvet suit thrown open, and a bunch of
lilies-of-the-valley tucked in her belt.
Tea had already come, and Captain Larisch, holding his cup, was
standing by the table. The Crown Prince, who was allowed only
one cup, was having a second of hot water and milk, equal parts,
Hedwig slipped out of her jacket and drew off her gloves. She
had hardly glanced at Nikky, although she knew quite well every
motion he had made since she entered. "I am famished!" she said,
and proceeded to eat very little and barely touch the tea.
"Please don't go, Miss Braithwaite. And now, how is everything?"
Followed a long half-hour, in which the Crown Prince talked
mostly of the Land of Desire and the American boy. Miss
Braithwaite, much indulged by long years of service, crocheted,
and Nikky Larisch, from the embrasure of a window, watched the
little group. In reality he watched Hedwig, all his humble,
boyish heart in his eyes.
After a time Hedwig slipped the lilies out of her belt and placed
them in a glass of water.
"They are thirsty, poor things," she said to Otto. Only - and
here was a strange thing, if she were really sorry for them - one
of the stalks fell to the floor, and she did not trouble to pick
it up. Nikky retrieved it, and pretended to place it with the
others. But in reality he had palmed it quite neatly, and a
little later he pocketed it. Still later, he placed it in his
The tea-table became rather noisy. The room echoed with
laughter. Even Miss Braithwaite was compelled to wipe her eyes
over some of Nikky's sallies, and the Crown Prince was left quite
gasping. Nikky was really in his best form, being most
unreasonably happy, and Hedwig, looking much taller than in her
boyish riding-clothes - Hedwig was fairly palpitating with