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Long Live the King

Nikky And Hedwig
Nikky had gone back to his lodging, where his servant was packing his things. For Nikky
was now of His Majesty's household, and must exchange his shabby old rooms for the
cold magnificence of the Palace.
Toto had climbed to the chair beside him, and was inspecting his pockets, one by one.
Toto was rather a problem, in the morning. But then everything was a problem now. He
decided to leave the dog with the landlady, and to hope for a chance to talk the authorities
over. Nikky himself considered that a small boy without a dog was as incomplete as, for
instance, a buttonhole without a button.
He was very downhearted. To the Crown Prince, each day, he gave the best that was in
him, played and rode, invented delightful nonsense to bring the boy's quick laughter,
carried pocketfuls of bones, to the secret revolt of his soldierly soul, was boyish and
tender, frivolous or thoughtful, as the occasion seemed to warrant.
And always he was watchful, his revolver always ready and in touch, his eyes keen, his
body, even when it seemed most relaxed, always tense to spring. For Nikky knew the
temper of the people, knew it as did Mathilde gossiping in the market, and even better;
knew that a crisis was approaching, and that on this small boy in his charge hung that
crisis.
The guard at the Palace had been trebled, but even in that lay weakness.
"Too many strange faces," the Chancellor had said to him, shaking his head. "Too many
servants in livery, and flunkies whom no one knows. How can we prevent men, in such
livery, from impersonating our own agents? One, two, a half-dozen, they could gain
access to the Palace, could commit a mischief under our very eyes."
So Nikky trusted in his own right arm and in nothing else. At night the Palace guard was
smaller, and could be watched. There were no servants about to complicate the situation.
But in the daytime, and especially now with the procession of milliners and dressmakers,
messengers and dealers, it was more difficult. Nikky watched these people, as he
happened on them, with suspicion and hatred. Hatred not only of what they might be, but
hatred of what they were, of the thing they typified, Hedwig's approaching marriage.
The very size of the Palace, its unused rooms, its long and rambling corridors, its
rambling wings and ancient turrets, was against its safety.
Since the demonstration against Karl, the riding-school hour had been given up. There
were no drives in the park. The illness of the King furnished sufficient excuse, but the
truth was that the royal family was practically besieged; by it knew not what. Two police
agents had been found dead the morning after Karl's departure, on the outskirts of the
city, lying together in a freshly ploughed field. They bore marks of struggle, and each had
 
 
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