Long Live the King
Old Adelbert The Traitor
"Thus," said the concierge, frying onions over his stove; "thus have they always done.
But you have been blind. Rather, you would not see."
Old Adelbert stirred uneasily. "So long as I accept my pension - "
"Why should you not accept your pension. A trifle in exchange for what you gave. For
them, who now ill-use you, you have gone through life but half a man. Women smile
behind their hands when you hobble by."
"I do not hold with women," said old Adelbert, flushing. "They take all and give
nothing." The onions were done, and the concierge put them, frying-pan and all, on the
table. "Come, eat while the food is hot. And give nothing," he repeated, returning to the
attack. "You and I ride in no carriages with gilt wheels. We work, or, failing work, we
starve. Their feet are on our necks. But one use they have for us, you and me, my friend -
to tax us."
"The taxes are not heavy," quoth old Adelbert.
"There are some who find them so." The concierge heaped his guest's plate with onions.
And old Adelbert, who detested onions, and was besides in no mood for food, must
perforce sample them.
"I can cook," boasted his host. "The daughter of my sister cannot cook. She uses milk,
always milk. Feeble dishes, I call them. Strong meat for strong men, comrade."
Old Adelbert played with his steel fork. "I was a good patriot," he observed nervously,
"until they made me otherwise."
"I will make you a better. A patriot is one who is zealous for his country and its welfare.
That means much. It means that when the established order is bad for a country, it must
be changed. Not that you and I may benefit. God knows, we may not live to benefit. But
that Livonia may free her neck from the foot of the oppressor, and raise her head among
>From which it may be seen that old Adelbert had at last joined the revolutionary party,
an uneasy and unhappy recruit, it is true, but - a recruit. "If only some half-measure
would suffice," he said, giving up all pretense of eating. "This talk of rousing the mob, of
rioting and violence, I do not like them."
"Then has age turned the blood in your veins to water!" said the concierge
contemptuously. "Half-measures! Since when has a half-measure been useful? Did half-
measures win in your boasted battles? And what half-measures would you propose? "