Long Live the King HTML version
Prince Ferdinand William Otto was supremely happy. Three quite delightful things had
happened. First, Nikky had returned. He said he felt perfectly well, but the Crown Prince
thought he looked as though he had been ill, and glanced frequently at Nikky's cigarette
during the riding-hour. Second, Hedwig did not come to the riding-lesson, and he had
Nikky to himself. Third, he, Prince Ferdinand William Otto, was on the eve of a birthday.
This last, however, was not unmixed happiness. For the one day the sentence of exile was
to be removed so that he might lunch with the King, and he was to have strawberry jam
with his tea, some that Miss Braithwaite's sister had sent from England. But to offset all
this, he was to receive a delegation of citizens.
He had been well drilled for it. As a matter of fact, on the morning of Nikky's return, they
took a few minutes to go over the ceremony, Nikky being the delegation. The way they
did it was simple.
Nikky went out into the corridor, and became the Chamberlain. He stepped inside,
bowed, and announced: "The delegation from the city, Highness," standing very stiff, and
a trifle bowlegged, as the Chamberlain was. Then he bowed again, and waddled out - the
Chamberlain was fat - and became the delegation.
This time he tried to look like a number of people, and was not so successful. But he
looked nervous, as delegations always do when they visit a Royal Highness. He bowed
inside the door, and then came forward and bowed again.
"I am, of course, standing in a row," said Nikky, sotto voce. "Now, what comes next?"
"I am to shake hands with every one."
So they shook hands nine times, because there were to be nine members of the
delegation. And Nikky picked up a brass inkwell from the desk and held it out before
"Your Highness," he said, after clearing his throat, for all the world as Prince Ferdinand
William Otto had heard it done frequently at cornerstones and openings of hospitals,
"Your Highness - we are here to-day to felicitate Your Highness on reaching the mature
age of ten. In testimonial of our - our affection and - er loyalty, we bring to you a casket
of gold, containing the congratulations of the city, which we beg that Your Highness may
see fit to accept. It will be of no earthly use to you, and will have to be stuck away in a
vault and locked up. But it is the custom on these occasions, and far be it from us to give
you a decent present that you can use or enjoy!"