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Long Live the King

Old Adelbert
Old Adelbert of the Opera had lost his position. No longer, a sausage in his pocket for
refreshment, did he leave his little room daily for the Opera. A young man, who made
ogling eyes at Olga, of the garde-robe, and who was not careful to keep the lenses clean,
had taken his place.
He was hurt in his soldier's soul. There was no longer a place in the kingdom for those
who had fought for it. The cry was for the young. And even in the first twenty-four hours
a subtle change went on in him. His loyalty, on which he had built his creed of life,
turned to bitterness.
The first day of his idleness he wandered into the back room of the cobbler's shop near
by, where the butter-seller from the corner, the maker of artificial flowers for graves, and
the cobbler himself were gathered, and listened without protest to such talk as would
have roused him once to white anger.
But the iron had not yet gone very deep, and one thing he would not permit. It was when,
in the conversation, one of them attacked the King. Then indeed he was roused to fury.
"A soldier and a gentleman," he said. "For him I lost this leg of mine, and lost it without
grieving. When I lay in the hospital he himself came, and - "
A burst of jeering laughter greeted this, for he had told it many times. Told it, because it
was all he had instead of a leg, and although he could not walk on it, certainly it had
supported him through many years.
"As for the little Crown Prince," he went on firmly, "I have seen him often. He came
frequently to the Opera. He has a fine head and a bright smile. He will be a good king."
But this was met with silence.
Once upon a time a student named Haeckel had occasionally backed him up in his
defense of the royal family. But for some reason or other Haeckel came no more, and old
Adelbert missed him. He had inquired for him frequently.
"Where is the boy Haeckle?" he had asked one day. "I have not seen him lately."
No one had replied. But a sort of grim silence settled over the little room. Old Adelbert,
however, was not discerning.
"Perhaps, as a student, he worked too hard" he had answered his own question. "They
must both work and play hard, these students. A fine lot of young men. I have watched
them at the Opera. Most of them preferred Italian to German music."
 
 
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