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The Princess Priscilla's Fortnight


Her Grand Ducal Highness the Princess Priscilla of Lothen-Kunitz was up to the age of twenty-one a most
promising young lady. She was not only poetic in appearance beyond the habit of princesses but she was
also of graceful and appropriate behavior. She did what she was told; or, more valuable, she did what
was expected of her without being told. Her father, in his youth and middle age a fiery man, now an
irritable old gentleman who liked good food and insisted on strictest etiquette, was proud of her on
those occasions when she happened to cross his mind. Her mother, by birth an English princess of an
originality uncomfortable and unexpected in a royal lady that continued to the end of her life to crop up
at disconcerting moments, died when Priscilla was sixteen. Her sisters, one older and one younger than
herself, were both far less pleasing to look upon than she was, and much more difficult to manage; yet
each married a suitable prince and each became a credit to her House, while as for Priscilla,--well, as for
Priscilla, I propose to describe her dreadful conduct.
But her first appearance. She was well above the average height of woman; a desirable thing in a
princess, who, before everything, must impress the public with her dignity. She had a l ong pointed chin,
and a sweet mouth with full lips that looked most kind. Her nose was not quite straight, one side of it
being the least bit different from the other,--a slight crookedness that gave her face a charm absolutely
beyond the reach of those whose features are what is known as chiseled. Her skin was of that fairness
that freckles readily in hot summers or on winter days when the sun shines brightly on the snow, a
delicate soft skin that is seen sometimes with golden eyelashes and eyebrows, and h air that is more red
than gold. Priscilla had these eyelashes and eyebrows and this hair, and she had besides beautiful grey-
blue eyes--calm pools of thought, the court poet called them, when her having a birthday compelled him
to official raptures; and because everybody felt sure they were not really anything of the kind the poet's
utterance was received with acclamations. Indeed, a princess who should possess such pools would be
most undesirable--in Lothen-Kunitz nothing short of a calamity; for had they not had one already? It was
what had been the matter with the deceased Grand Duchess; she would think, and no one could stop
her, and her life in consequence was a burden to herself and to everybody else at her court. Priscilla,
however, was very silent. She had never expressed an opinion, and the inference was that she had no
opinion to express. She had not criticized, she had not argued, she had been tractable, obedient, meek.
Yet her sisters, who had often criticized and argued, and who had rarely been o bedient and never meek,
became as I have said the wives of appropriate princes, while Priscilla, --well, he who runs may read what
it was that Priscilla became.
But first as to where she lived. The Grand Duchy of Lothen -Kunitz lies in the south of Europe; that
smiling region of fruitful plains, forest-clothed hills, and broad rivers. It is one of the first places Spring
stops at on her way up from Italy; and Autumn, coming down from the north sunburnt, fruit-laden, and
blest, goes slowly when she reaches it, lingering there with her serenity and ripeness, her calm skies and
her windless days long after the Saxons and Prussians have lit their stoves and got out thei r furs. There
figs can be eaten off the trees in one's garden, and vineyards glow on the hillsides. There the people are
Catholics, and the Protestant pastor casts no shadow of a black gown across life. There as you walk
along the white roads, you pass the image of the dead Christ by the wayside; mute reminder to those
who would otherwise forget of the beauty of pitifulness and love. And there, so near is Kunitz to the soul
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