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Long Live the King

The Chancellor Pays A Visit
The Archduchess was having tea. Her boudoir was a crowded little room. Nikky had once
observed confidentially to Miss Braithwaite that it was exactly like her, all hung and
furnished with things that were not needed. The Archduchess liked it because it was
warm. The palace rooms were mostly large and chilly. She lad a fire there on the warmest
days in spring, and liked to put the coals on, herself. She wrapped them in pieces of paper
so she would not soil her hands.
This afternoon she was not alone. Lounging at a window was the lady who was in
waiting at the time, the Countess Loschek. Just now she was getting rather a wigging, but
she was remarkably calm.
"The last three times," the Archduchess said, stirring her tea, "you have had a sore
throat."
"It is such a dull book," explained the Countess.
"Not at all. It is an improving book. If you would put your mind on it when you are
reading, Olga, you would enjoy it. And you would learn something, besides. In my
opinion," went on the Archduchess, tasting her tea, "you smoke too many cigarettes."
The Countess yawned, but silently, at her window.
Then she consulted a thermometer. "Eighty!" she said briefly, and, coming over, sat
down by the tea-table.
The Countess Loschek was thirty, and very handsome, in an insolent way. She was
supposed to be the best-dressed woman at the Court, and to rule Annunciata with an iron
hand, although it was known that they quarreled a great deal over small things, especially
over the coal fire.
Some said that the real thing that held them together was resentment that the little Crown
Prince stood between the Princess Hedwig and the throne. Annunciata was not young, but
she was younger than her dead brother, Hubert. And others said it was because the
Countess gathered up and brought in the news of the Court - the small intrigues and the
scandals that constitute life in the restricted walls of a palace. There is a great deal of
gossip in a palace where the king is old and everything rather stupid and dull.
The Countess yawned again.
"Where is Hedwig?" demanded the Archduchess.
"Her Royal Highness is in the nursery, probably."
 
 
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