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Long Live the King

In The Park
At nine o'clock the next morning the Chancellor visited the Crown Prince. He came
without ceremony. Lately he had been coming often. He liked to come in quietly, and sit
for an hour in the schoolroom, saying nothing. Prince Ferdinand William Otto found
these occasions rather trying.
"I should think," he protested once to his governess, "that he would have something else
to do. He's the Chancellor, he?"
But on this occasion the Chancellor had an errand, the product of careful thought. Early
as it was, already he had read his morning mail in his study, had dictated his replies, had
eaten a frugal breakfast of fruit and sausage, and in the small inner room which had heard
so many secrets, had listened to the reports of his agents, and of the King's physicians.
Neither had been reassuring.
The King had passed a bad night, and Haeckel was still missing. The Chancellor's heart
was heavy.
The Chancellor watched the Crown Prince, as he sat at the high desk, laboriously writing.
It was the hour of English composition, and Prince Ferdinand William Otto was writing a
theme.
"About dogs," he explained. "I've seen a great many, you know. I could do it better with a
pencil. My pen sticks in the paper."
He wrote on, and Mettlich sat and watched. From the boy his gaze wandered over the
room. He knew it well. Not so many years ago he had visited in this very room another
bright-haired lad, whose pen had also stuck in the paper. The Chancellor looked up at the
crossed swords, and something like a mist came into his keen old eyes.
He caught Miss Braithwaite's glance, and he knew what was in her mind. For nine years
now had come, once a year, the painful anniversary, of the death of the late Crown Prince
and his young wife. For nine years had the city mourned, with flags at half-mast and the
bronze statue of the old queen draped in black. And for nine years had the day of grief
passed unnoticed by the lad on whom hung the destinies of the kingdom.
Now they confronted a new situation. The next day but one was the anniversary again.
The boy was older, and observant. It would not be possible to conceal from him the
significance of the procession marching through the streets with muffled drums. Even the
previous year he had demanded the reason for crape on his grandmother's statue, and had
been put off, at the cost of Miss Braithwaite's strong feeling for the truth. Also he had not
been allowed to see the morning paper, which was, on these anniversaries, bordered with
black. This had annoyed him. The Crown Prince always read the morning paper -
especially the weather forecast.
 
 
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