Long Live the King HTML version

The Birthday
The Crown Prince Ferdinand William Otto of Livonia was having a birthday. Now, a
birthday for a Crown Prince of Livonia is not a matter of a cake with candles on it; and
having his ears pulled, once for each year and an extra one to grow on. Nor of a holiday
from lessons, and a picnic in spring woods. Nor of a party, with children frolicking and
scratching the best furniture.
In the first place, he was wakened at dawn and taken to early service in the chapel, a
solemn function, with the Court assembled and slightly sleepy. The Crown Prince, who
was trying to look his additional dignity of years, sat and stood as erect as possible, and
yawned only once.
After breakfast he was visited by the chaplain who had his religious instruction in hand,
and interrogated. He did not make more than about sixty per cent in this, however, and
the chaplain departed looking slightly discouraged.
Lessons followed, and in each case the tutor reminded him that, having now reached his
tenth birthday, he should be doing better than in the past. Especially the French tutor,
who had just heard a rumor of Hedwig's marriage.
At eleven o'clock came word that the King was too ill to have him to luncheon, but that
he would see him for a few moments that afternoon. Prince Ferdinand William Otto, who
was diagramming the sentence, "Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves in America," and
doing it wrong, looked up in dismay.
"I'd like to know what's the use of having a birthday," he declared rebelliously.
The substitution of luncheon with the Archduchess Annunciata hardly thrilled him.
Unluckily he made an observation to that effect, and got five off in Miss Braithwaite's
little book.
The King did not approve of birthday gifts. The expensive toys which the Court would
have offered the child were out of key with the simplicity of his rearing. As a matter of
fact, the Crown Prince had never heard of a birthday gift, and had, indeed, small
experience of gifts of any kind, except as he made them himself. For that he had a great
fondness. His small pocket allowance generally dissipated itself in this way.
So there were no gifts. None, that is, until the riding-hour came, and Nikky, subverter of
all discipline. He had brought a fig lady, wrapped in paper.
"It's quite fresh," he said, as they walked together across the Place. "I'll give it to you
when we get to the riding-school. I saw the woman myself take it out of her basket. So it
has no germs on it."