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Long Live the King

Let Mettlich Guard His Treasure
Troubled times now, with the Carnival only a day or two off, and the shop windows gay
with banners; with the press under the house of the concierge running day and night, and
turning out vast quantities of flaming bulletins printed in red; with the Committee of Ten
in almost constant session, and Olga Loschek summoned before it, to be told of the
passage, and the thing she was to do; with the old King very close to the open door, and
Hedwig being fitted for her bridal robe and for somber black at one fitting.
Troubled times, indeed. The city was smouldering, and from some strange source had
come a new rumor. Nothing less than that the Royalists, headed by the Chancellor,
despairing of crowning the boy Prince, would, on the King's death, make away with him,
thus putting Hedwig on the throne Hedwig, Queen of Karnia perhaps already by secret
marriage.
The city, which adored the boy, was seething. The rumor had originated with Olga
Loschek, who had given it to the Committee as a useful weapon. Thus would she have
her revenge on those of the Palace, and at the same time secure her own safety. Revenge,
indeed, for she knew the way of such rumors, how they fly from house to house, street to
street. How the innocent, proclaiming their innocence, look even the more guilty.
When she had placed the scheme before the Committee of Ten, had seen the eagerness
with which they grasped it - "In this way," she had said, in her scornful, incisive tones,
"the onus of the boy is not on you, but on them. Even those who have no sympathy with
your movement will burn at such a rumor. The better the citizen, the more a lover of
home and order, the more outraged he will be. Every man in the city with a child of his
own will rise against the Palace."
"Madame," the leader had said, "you should be of the Committee."
But she had ignored the speech contemptuously, and gone on to other things.
Now everything was arranged. Black Humbert had put his niece to work on a Carnival
dress for a small boy, and had stayed her curiosity by a hint that it was for the American
lad.
"They are comfortable tenants," he had said. "Not lavish, perhaps, as rich Americans
should be, but orderly, and pleasant. The boy has good manners. It would be well to
please him."
 
 
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