Long Live the King HTML version

King Karl
"They love us dearly!" said King Karl.
The Chancellor, who sat beside him in the royal carriage, shrugged his shoulders. "They
have had little reason to love, in the past, Majesty," he said briefly.
Karl laughed, and watched the crowd. He and the Chancellor rode alone, Karl's
entourage, a very modest one, following in another carriage. There was no military
escort, no pomp. It had been felt unwise. Karl, paying ostensibly a visit of sympathy, had
come unofficially.
"But surely," he observed, as they passed between sullen lines of people, mostly silent,
but now and then giving way to a muttering that sounded ominously like a snarl, - "surely
I may make a visit of sympathy without exciting their wrath!"
"They are children," said Mettlich contemptuously. "Let one growl, and all growl. Let
some one start a cheer, and they will cheer themselves hoarse."
"Then let some one cheer, for God's sake!" said Karl, and turned his mocking smile to the
packed streets.
The Chancellor was not so calm as he appeared. He had lined the route from the station to
the Palace with his men; had prepared for every contingency so far as he could without
calling out the guard. As the carriage, drawn by its four chestnut horses, moved slowly
along the streets, his eyes under their overhanging thatch were watching ahead, searching
the crowd for symptoms of unrest.
Anger he saw in plenty, and suspicion. Scowling faces and frowning brows. But as yet
there was no disorder. He sat with folded arms, magnificent in his uniform beside Karl,
who wore civilian dress and looked less royal than perhaps he felt.
And Karl, too, watched the crowd, feeling its temper and feigning an indifference he did
not feel. Olga Loschek had been right. He did not want trouble. More than that, he was of
an age now to crave popularity. Many of the measures which had made him beloved in
his own land had no higher purpose than this, the smiles of the crowd. So he watched and
talked of indifferent things.
"It is ten years since I have been here," he observed, "but there are few changes."
"We have built no great buildings," said Mettlich bluntly. "Wars have left us no money,
Majesty, for building!"
That being a closed road, so to speak, Karl tried another. "The Crown Prince must be
quite a lad," he experimented. "He was a babe in arms, then, but frail, I thought."