Long Live the King HTML version
Tee Crown Prince's Pilgrimage
The day when Olga Loschek should have returned to the city found her too ill to travel.
No feigned sickness this, but real enough, a matter of fever and burning eyes, and of
mutterings in troubled sleep.
Minna was alarmed. She was fond of her mistress, in spite of her occasional cruelties, and
lately the Countess had been strangely gentle. She required little attention, wished to be
alone, and lay in her great bed, looking out steadily at the bleak mountain-tops, to which
spring never climbed.
"She eats nothing," Minna said despairingly to the caretaker. "And her eyes frighten me.
They are always open, even in the night, but they seem to see nothing."
On the day when she should have returned, the Countess roused herself enough to send
for Black Humbert, fretting in the kitchen below. He had believed that she was
malingering until he saw her, but her flushed and hollow cheeks showed her condition.
"You must return and explain," she said. "I shall need more time, after all." When he
hesitated, she added: "There are plenty to watch that I do not escape. I could not, if I
would. I have not the strength."
"Time is passing," he said gruffly, "and we get nowhere."
"As soon as I can travel, I will come."
"If madame wishes, I can take a letter."
She pondered over that, interlacing her fingers nervously as she reflected.
"I will send no letter," she decided, "but I will give you a message, which you can
"Say to the Committee," she began, and paused. She had thought and thought until her
brain burned with thinking, but she had found no way out. And yet she could not at once
bring herself to speech. But at last she said it: "Say to the Committee that I have reflected
and that I will do what they ask. As far," she added, "as lies in my power. I can only - "
"That is all the Committee expects," he said civilly, and with a relief that was not lost on
her. "With madame's intelligence, to try is to succeed."