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Long Live the King

The Gate Of The Moon
A curious friendship had sprung up between old Adelbert and Bobby Thorpe. In off
hours, after school, the boy hung about the ticket-taker's booth, swept now to a wonderful
cleanliness and adorned within with pictures cut from the illustrated papers. The small
charcoal fire was Bobby's particular care. He fed and watched it, and having heard of the
baleful effects of charcoal fumes, insisted on more fresh air than old Adelbert had ever
breathed before.
"You see," Bobby would say earnestly, as he brushed away at the floor beneath the
burner, "you don't know that you are being asphyxiated. You just feel drowsy, and then,
poof! - you're dead."
Adelbert, dozing between tickets, was liable to be roused by a vigorous shaking, to a pair
of anxious eyes gazing at him, and to a draft of chill spring air from the open door.
"I but dozed," he would explain, without anger. "All my life have I breathed the fumes
and nothing untoward has happened."
Outwardly he was peaceful. The daughter now received his pension in full, and wrote
comforting letters. But his resentment and bitterness at the loss of his position at the
Opera continued, even grew.
For while he had now even a greater wage, and could eat three meals, besides second
breakfast and afternoon coffee, down deep in his heart old Adelbert felt that he had lost
caste. The Opera - that was a setting! Great staircases of marble, velvet hangings, the
hush before the overture, and over all the magic and dignity of music. And before his stall
had passed and repassed the world - royalties, the aristocracy, the army. Hoi polloi had
used another entrance by which to climb to the upper galleries. He had been, then, of the
elect. Aristocrats who had forgotten their own opera-glasses had requested him to give
them of his best, had through long years learned to know him there, and had nodded to
him as they swept by. The flash of jewels on beautiful necks, the glittering of decorations
on uniformed chests, had been his life.
And now, to what had he fallen! To selling tickets for an American catch-penny scheme,
patronized by butchers, by housemaids, by the common people a noisy, uproarious
crowd, that nevertheless counted their change with suspicious eyes, and brought lunches
in paper boxes, which they scattered about.
"Riff-raff!" he said to himself scornfully.
There was, however, a consolation. He had ordered a new uniform. Not for twenty years
had he ventured the extravagance, and even now his cautious soul quailed at the price.
For the last half-dozen years he had stumped through the streets, painfully aware of
 
 
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