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Long Live the King

The Right To Live And Love
Dinner was over in the dull old dining-room. The Archduchess Annunciata lighted a
cigarette, and glanced across the table at Hedwig.
Hedwig had been very silent during the meal. She had replied civilly when spoken to, but
that was all. Her mother, who had caught the Countess's trick of narrowing her eyes,
inspected her from under lowered lids.
"Well?" she said. "Are you still sulky?"
"I? Not at all, mother." Her head went up, and she confronted her mother squarely.
"I should like to inquire, if I may," observed the Archduchess, "just how you have spent
the day until the little divertissement on which I stumbled. This morning, for instance?"
Hedwig shrugged her shoulders, but her color rose. It came in a soft wave over her neck
and mounted higher and higher. "Very quietly, mother," she said.
"Naturally. It is always quiet here. But how?"
"I rode."
"Where?"
"At the riding-school, with Otto."
"Only with Otto?"
"Captain Larisch was there."
"Of course! Then you have practically spent the day with him!"
"I have spent most of the day with Otto."
"This devotion to Otto - it is new, I think. You were eager to get out of the nursery. Now,
it appears, you must fly back to schoolroom teas and other absurdities. I should like to
know why."
"I think Otto is lonely, mother."
Hilda took advantage of her mother's preoccupation to select another peach. She was
permitted only one, being of the age when fruit caused her, colloquially speaking, to
"break out." She was only faintly interested in the conversation. She dreaded these family
meals, with her mother's sharp voice and the Countess Loschek's almost too soft one. But
 
 
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