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Long Live the King

The Crown Prince Runs Away
The Crown Prince sat in the royal box and swung his legs. This was hardly princely, but
the royal legs did not quite reach the floor from the high crimson-velvet seat of his chair.
Prince Ferdinand William Otto was bored. His royal robes, consisting of a pair of blue
serge trousers, a short Eton jacket, and a stiff, rolling collar of white linen, irked him.
He had been brought to the Opera House under a misapprehension. His aunt, the
Archduchess Annunciata, had strongly advocated "The Flying Dutchman," and his
English governess, Miss Braithwaite, had read him some inspiring literature about it. So
here he was, and the Flying Dutchman was not ghostly at all, nor did it fly. It was, from
the royal box, only too plainly a ship which had length and height, without thickness.
And instead of flying, after dreary aeons of singing, it was moved off on creaky rollers by
men whose shadows were thrown grotesquely on the sea backing.
The orchestra, assisted by a bass solo and intermittent thunder in the wings, was making a
deafening din. One of the shadows on the sea backing took out its handkerchief and
wiped its nose.
Prince Ferdinand William Otto looked across at the other royal box, and caught his
Cousin Hedwig's eye. She also had seen the handkerchief; she took out her own scrap of
linen, and mimicked the shadow. Then, Her Royal Highness the Archduchess Annunciata
being occupied with the storm, she winked across at Prince Ferdinand William Otto.
In the opposite box were his two cousins, the Princesses Hedwig and Hilda, attended by
Hedwig's lady in waiting. When a princess of the Court becomes seventeen, she drops
governesses and takes to ladies in waiting. Hedwig was eighteen. The Crown Prince liked
Hedwig better than Hilda. Although she had been introduced formally to the Court at the
Christmas-Eve ball, and had been duly presented by her grandfather, the King, with the
usual string of pearls and her own carriage with the spokes of the wheels gilded halfway,
only the King and Prince Ferdinand William Otto had all-gold wheels, - she still ran off
now and then to have tea with the Crown Prince and Miss Braithwaite in the schoolroom
at the Palace; and she could eat a great deal of bread-and-butter.
Prince Ferdinand William Otto winked back at the Princess Hedwig. And just then -
"Listen, Otto," said the Archduchess, leaning forward. "The 'Spinning Song' - is it not
exquisite?"
"They are only pretending to spin," remarked Prince Ferdinand William Otto.
Nevertheless he listened obediently. He rather liked it. They had not fooled him at all.
They were not really spinning, - any one could see that, but they were sticking very
 
 
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