Long Live the King
Mary Roberts Rinehart
Part 8 out of 8
He shook his head. She had asked a question in her glance, and
he had answered. The Crown Prince was gone. Perhaps the
search would be successful. Could he not be held, then, until
the boy was found? And Doctor Wiederman had answered "No."
In the antechamber the Council waited, standing and without
speech. But in an armchair beside the door to the King's room
the Chancellor sat, his face buried in his hands. In spite of
precautions, in spite of everything, the blow had fallen. The
Crown Prince, to him at once son and sovereign, the little
Crown Prince, was gone. And his old friend, his comrade of
many years, lay at his last hour.
Another regiment left the Palace, to break ranks beyond the
crowd, and add to the searchers. They marched to a muffled
drum. As the sound reached him, the old warrior stirred. He
had come to this, he who had planned, not for himself, but for
his country. And because he was thinking clearly, in spite of
his grief, he saw that his very ambition for the boy had been
his undoing. In the alliance with Karnia he had given the
Terrorists a scourge to flay the people to revolt.
Now he waited for the King's death. Waited numbly. For, with
the tolling of St. Stefan's bell would rise the cry for the new
And there was no King.
In the little room where the Sisters kept their medicines, so
useless now, Hedwig knelt at the Prie-dieu and prayed.
She tried to pray for her grandfather's soul, but she could
not. Her one cry was for Otto, that he be saved and brought
back. In the study she had found the burntwood frame, and she
held it hugged close to her with its broken-backed "F," its
tottering "W," and wavering "O", with its fat Cupids in sashes,
and the places where an over-earnest small hand had slipped.
Hilda stood by the stand, and fingered the bottles. Her nose
was swollen with crying, but she was stealthily removing corks
and sniffing at the contents of the bottles with the automatic
curiosity of the young.
The King roused again. "Mettlich?" he asked.
The elder Sister tiptoed to the door and opened it. The
Council turned, dread on their faces. She placed a hand on the
"His Majesty has asked for you."
When he looked up, dazed, she bent down and took his hand.
"Courage!" she said quietly.
The Chancellor stood a second inside the door. Then he went to
the side of the bed, and knelt, his lips to the cold, white
hand on the counterpane.
"Sire!" he choked. "It is I - Mettlich."
The King looked at him, and placed his hand on the bowed gray
head. Then his eyes turned to Annunciata and rested there. It
was as if he saw her, not as the embittered woman of late
years, but as the child of the woman he had loved.
"A good friend, and a good daughter," he said clearly. "Few
men die so fortunate, and fewer sovereigns." His hand moved
from Mettlich's head, and rested on the photograph.
The elder Sister leaned forward and touched his wrist.
"Doctor!" she said sharply.
Doctor Wiederman came first, the others following. They
grouped around the bed. Then the oldest of them, who had
brought Annunciata into the world, touched her on the shoulder.
"Madame!" he said. "Madame, I - His Majesty has passed away."
Mettlich staggered to his feet, and took a long look at the
face of his old sovereign and king.
In the mean time, things had been happening in the room where
the Council waited. The Council, free of the restraint of the
Chancellor's presence, had fallen into low-voiced consultation.
What was to be done? They knew already the rumors of the
streets, and were helpless before them. They had done what
they could. But the boy was gone, and the city rising.
Already the garrison of the fortress had been ordered to the
Palace, but it could not arrive before midnight. Friese had.
questioned the wisdom of it, at that, and was for flight as
soon as the King died. Bayerl, on the other hand, urged a
stand, in the hope that the Crown Prince would be found.
Their voices, lowered at first, rose acrimoniously; almost they
penetrated to the silent room beyond. On to the discussion
came Nikky Larisch, covered with dust and spotted with froth
from his horse. He entered without ceremony, his boyish face
drawn and white, his cap gone, his eyes staring.
"The Chancellor?" he said.
Some one pointed to the room beyond.
Nikky hesitated. Then, being young and dramatic, even in
tragedy, he unbuckled his sword-belt and took it off, placing
it on a table.
"Gentlemen," he said, "I have come to surrender myself."
The Council stared.
"For what reason?" demanded Marschall coldly.
"I believe it is called high treason." He closed his eyes for
a moment. "It is because of my negligence that this thing has
happened. He was in my charge, and I left him."
No one said anything. The Council looked at a loss, rather
like a flock of sheep confronting some strange animal.
"I would have shot myself," said Nikky Larisch, "but it was too
Then, rather at a loss as to the exact etiquette of arresting
one's self, he bowed slightly and waited.
The door into the King's bedchamber opened.
The Chancellor came through, his face working. It closed
"Gentlemen of the Council," he said. "It is my duty my duty -
to announce - " His voice broke; his grizzled chin quivered;
tears rolled down his cheeks. "Friends," he said pitifully,
"our good King - my old comrade - is dead!"
The birthday supper was over. It had ended with an American
ice-cream, brought in carefully by Pepy, because of its
expensiveness. They had cut the cake with Boby on the top, and
the Crown Prince had eaten far more than was good for him.
He sat, fingering the Lincoln penny and feeling extremely full
and very contented.
Then, suddenly, from a far-off church a deep-toned bell began
to toll slowly.
Prince Ferdinand William Otto caught it. St. Stefan's bell!
He sat up and listened. The sound was faint; one felt it
rather than heard it, but the slow booming was unmistakable.
He got up and pushed his chair back.
Other bells had taken it up, and now the whole city seemed
alive with bells - bells that swung sadly from side to side, as
if they said over and over: "Alas, alas!"
Something like panic seized Ferdinand William Otto. Some
calamity had happened. Some one was perhaps his grandfather.
He turned an appealing face to Mrs. Thorpe. "I must go," he
said: "I do not wish to appear rude, but something is wrong.
The bells - "
Pepy had beet listening, too. Her broad face worked. "They
mean but one thing," she said slowly. "I have heard it said
many times. When St. Stefan's tolls life that, the King is
"No! No!" cried Ferdinand William Otto and ran madly out of
LONG LIVE THE KING!
While the birthday supper was at its height, in the bureau of
the concierge sat old Adelbert, heavy and despairing. That
very day had he learned to what use the Committee would put the
information he had given them, and his old heart was dead
within him. One may not be loyal for seventy years, and then
easily become a traitor.
He had surveyed stonily the costume in which the little Prince
was to be taken away. He had watched while the boxes of
ammunition were uncovered in their barrels, he had seen the
cobbler's shop become a seething hive of activity, where all
day men had come and gone. He had heard the press beneath his
feet fall silent because its work was done, and at dusk he had
with his own eyes beheld men who carried forth, under their
arms, blazing placards for the walls of the town.
Then, at seven o'clock, something had happened.
The concierge's niece had gone, leaving the supper ready cooked
on the back of the stove. Old Adelbert sat alone, and watched
the red bars of the stove fade to black. By that time it was
done, and he was of the damned. The Crown Prince, who was of
an age with the American lad upstairs, the Crown Prince was in
the hands of his enemies. He, old Adelbert, had done it.
And now it was forever too late. Terrible thoughts filled his
mind. He could not live thus, yet he could not die. The
daughter must have the pension. He must live, a traitor, he on
whose breast the King himself had pinned a decoration.
He wore his new uniform, in honor of the day. Suddenly he felt
that he could not wear it any longer. He had no right to any
uniform. He who had sold his country was of no country.
He went slowly out and up the staircase, dragging his wooden
leg painfully from step to step. He heard the concierge come
in below, his heavy footsteps reechoed through the building.
Inside the door he called furiously to his niece. Old Adelbert
heard him strike a match to light the gas.
On the staircase he met the Fraulein hurrying down. Her face
was strained and her eyes glittering. She hesitated, as though
she would speak, then she went on past him. He could hear her
running. It reminded the old man of that day in the Opera,
when a child ran down the staircase, and, as is the way of the
old, he repeated himself: "One would think new legs grew in
place of old ones, like the claws of sea-creatures," he said
fretfully. And went on up the staircase.
In his room he sat down on a straight chair inside the door,
and stared ahead. Then, slowly and mechanically, he took off
his new uniform and donned the old one. He would have put on
civilian clothes, had he possessed any. For by the deeds of
that day he had forfeited the right to the King's garb.
It was there that Black Humbert, hurrying up, found him. The
concierge was livid, his massive frame shook with excitement.
"Quick!" he said, and swore a great oath. "To the shop of the
cobbler Heinz, and tell him this word. Here in the building is
The concierge closed a great hand on the veteran's shoulder.
"Who but the Crown Prince himself!" he said.
"But I thought - how can he be here?"
"Here is he, in our very hands. It is no time to ask
"If he is here - "
"He is with the Americans," hissed the concierge, the veins on
his forehead swollen with excitement. "Now, go, and quickly.
I shall watch. Say that when I have secured the lad, I shall
take him there. Let all be ready. An hour ago," he said,
raising his great fists on high, "and everything lost. Now
hurry, old wooden leg. It is a great night."
"But - I cannot. Already I have done too much. I am damned.
I have lost my soul. I who am soon to die "
"YOU WILL GO."
And, at last, he went, hobbling down the staircase recklessly,
because the looming figure at the stair head was listening. He
reached the street. There, only a block away, was the
cobbler's shop, lighted, but with the dirty curtains drawn
across the window.
Old Adelbert gazed at it. Then he commended his soul to God,
and turned toward the Palace.
He passed the Opera. On Carnival night it should have been
open and in gala array, with lines of carriages and machines
before it. It was closed, and dreary. But old Adelbert saw it
not at all. He stumped along, panting with haste and
exhaustion, to do the thing he had set himself to do.
Here was the Palace. Before it were packed dense throngs of
silent people. Now and then a man put down a box, and rising
on it, addressed the crowd, attempting to rouse them. Each
time angry hands pulled him down, and hisses greeted him as he
Had old Adelbert been alive to anything but his mission, he
would have seen that this was no mob of revolutionists, but a
throng of grieving people, awaiting the great bell of St.
Stefan's with its dire news.
Then, above their heads, it rang out, slow, ominous, terrible.
A sob ran through the crowd. In groups, and at last as a
whole, the throng knelt. Men uncovered and women wept.
The bell rang on. At its first notes old Adelbert stopped,
staggered, almost fell. Then he uncovered his head.
"Gone!" he said. "The old King! My old King!"
His face twitched. But the horror behind him drove him on
through the kneeling crowd. Where it refused to yield, he
drove the iron point of his wooden leg into yielding flesh, and
so made his way.
Here, in the throng, Olga of the garderobe met him, and laid a
trembling hand on his arm. He shook her off, but she clung to
"Know you what they are saying?" she whispered. "That the
Crown Prince is stolen. And it is true. Soldiers scour the
"Let me go," said old Adelbert, fiercely.
"They say," she persisted, "that the Chancellor has made away
with him, to sell us to Karnia."
"Fools!" cried old Adelbert, and pushed her off. When she
refused to release him, he planted his iron toe on her shapely
one and worked his way forward. The crowd had risen, and now
stood expectantly facing the Palace. Some one raised a cry and
others took it up.
"The King!" they cried. "Show us the little King!"
But the balcony outside the dead King's apartments remained
empty. The curtains at the long windows were drawn, save at
one, opened for air. The breeze shook its curtains to and fro,
but no small, childish figure emerged. The cries kept up, but
there was a snarl in the note now.
"The King! Long live the King! Where is he?"
A man in a red costume, near old Adelbert, leaped on a box and
lighted a flaming torch. "Aye!" he yelled, "call for the
little King. Where is he? What have they done with him?"
Old Adelbert pushed on. The voice of the revolutionist died
behind him, in a chorus of fury. From nowhere, apparently,
came lighted box-banners proclaiming the Chancellor's treason,
and demanding a Republic. Some of them instructed the people
to gather around the Parliament, where, it was stated, leading
citizens were already forming a Republic. Some, more violent,
suggested an advance on the Palace.
The crowd at first ignored them, but as time went on, it grew
ugly. By all precedent, the new King should be now before
them. What, then, if this rumor was true? Where was the
Revolution, now, in the making. A flame ready to blaze.
Hastily, on the outskirts of the throng, a delegation formed to
visit the Palace, and learn the truth. Orderly citizens these,
braving the terror of that forbidding and guarded pile in the
interests of the land they loved.
Drums were now beating steadily, filling the air with their
throbbing, almost drowning out the solemn tolling of the bell.
Around them were rallying angry groups. As the groups grew
large, each drum led its followers toward the Government House,
where, on the steps; the revolutionary party harangued the
crowd. Bonfires sprang up, built of no one knew what, in the
public squares. Red fire burned. The drums throbbed.
The city had not yet risen. It was large and slow to move.
Slow, too, to believe in treason, or that it had no king. But
it was a matter of moments now, not of hours.
The noise penetrated into the very wards of the hospital. Red
fires bathed pale faces on their pillows in a feverish glow.
Nurses gathered at the windows, their uniforms and faces alike
scarlet in the glare, and whispered together.
One such group gathered near the bedside of the student
Haeckel, still in his lethargy. His body had gained strength,
so that he was clothed at times, to wander aimlessly about the
ward. But he had remained dazed. Now and then the curtain of
the past lifted, but for a moment only. He had forgotten his
name. He spent long hours struggling to pierce the mist.
But mostly he lay, or sat, as now, beside his bed, a bandage
still on his head, clad in shirt and trousers, bare feet thrust
into worn hospital slippers. The red glare had not roused him,
nor yet the beat of the drums. But a word or two that one of
the nurses spoke caught his ear and held him. He looked up,
and slowly rose to his feet. Unsteadily he made his way to a
window, holding to the sill to steady himself.
Old Adelbert had been working his way impatiently. The temper
of the mob was growing ugly. It was suspicious, frightened,
The cry of "To the Palace!" greeted his ears he finally emerged
breathless from the throng.
He stepped boldly to the old stone archway, and faced a line of
soldiers there. "I would see the Chancellor!" he gasped, and
The captain of the guard stepped out. "What is it you want?"
"The Chancellor," he lowered his voice. "I have news of the
Magic words, indeed. Doors opened swiftly before them. But
time was flying, too. In his confusion the old man had only
one thought, to reach the Chancellor. It would have been
better to have told his news at once. The climbing of stairs
takes time when one is old and fatigued, and has but one leg.
However, at last it way done. Past a room where sat Nikky
Larisch, swordless and self-convicted of treason, past a great
salon where a terrified Court waited, and waiting, listened to
the cries outside, the beating of many drums, the sound of
multitudinous feet, old Adelbert stumped to the door of the
room where the Council sat debating and the Chancellor paced
Small ceremony tow. Led by soldiers, who retired and left him
to enter alone, old Adelbert stumbled into the room. He was
out of breath and dizzy; his heart beat to suffocation. There
was not air enough in all the world to breathe. He clutched at
the velvet hangings of the door, and swayed, but he saw the
"The Crown Prince," he said thickly, "is at the home of the
Americans." He stared about him. Strange that the room should
suddenly be filled with a mist. "But there be those - who wait
- there - to capture him."
He caught desperately at the curtains, with their royal arms
embroidered in blue and gold. Shameful, in such company, to
"Make - haste," he said, and slid stiffly to the ground. He
lay without moving.
The Council roused then. Mettlich was the first to get to him.
But it was too late.
Old Adelbert had followed the mist to the gates it concealed.
More than that, sham traitor that he was, he had followed his
IN THE ROAD OF THE GOOD CHILDREN
Haeckel crept to a window and looked out. Bonfires were
springing up in the open square in front of the Government
House. Mixed with the red glare came leaping yellow flames.
The wooden benches were piled together and fired, and by each
such pyre stood a gesticulating, shouting red demon.
Guns were appearing now. Wagons loaded with them drove into
the Square, to be surrounded by a howling mob. The percentage
of sober citizens was growing - sober citizens no longer. For
the little King had not been shown to them. Obviously he could
not be shown to them. Therefore rumor was right, and the boy
Against the Palace, therefore, their rage was turned. The
shouts for the little King turned to threats. The Archbishop
had come out on the balcony accompanied by Father Gregory. The
Archbishop had raised his hands, but had not obtained silence.
Instead, to his horror and dismay, a few stones had been
He retired, breathing hard. But Father Gregory had remained,
facing the crowd fearlessly, his arms not raised in
benediction, but folded across his chest. Stones rattled about
him, but he did not flinch, and at last he gained the ears of
the crowd. His great voice, stern and fearless; held them.
"My friends," he said, "there is work to be done, and you lose
time. We cannot show you the King, because he is not here.
While you stand there shrieking, his enemies have their will of
him. The little King has been stolen from the Palace."
He might have swayed them, even then. He tried to move them to
a search of the city. But a pallid man, sweating with
excitement, climbed on the shoulders of two companions, and
faced the crowd.
"Aye, he is stolen," he cried. "But who stole him? Not the
city. We are loyal. Ask the Palace where he is. Ask those
who have allied themselves with Karnia. Ask Mettlich."
There was more, of course. The cries of "To the Palace!"
increased. Those behind pushed forward, shoving the ones ahead
toward the archway, where a line of soldiers with fixed
bayonets stood waiting.
The Archduchess and Hilda with a handful of women, had fled to
the roof, and from there saw the advance of the mob. Hedwig
had haughtily refused to go.
It had seemed to Hedwig that life itself was over. She did not
care very much. When the Archbishop had been driven back from
the balcony, she foresaw the end. She knew of Nikky's treason
now, knew it in all its bitterness, but not all its truth.
And, because she had loved him, although she told herself her
love was dead, she sought him out in the room where he sat and
She was there when old Adelbert had brought his news and had
fallen, before he could finish,
Nikky had risen; and looked at her, rather stonily. Then had
followed such a scene as leaves scars, Hedwig blaming him and
forgiving him, and then breaking down and begging him to
flight. And Nikky, with the din of the Place in his ears, and
forbidden to confront the mob, listening patiently and shaking
his head. How little she knew him; after all, to think that he
would even try to save himself. He had earned death. Let it
He was not very clear himself as to how it happened. He had
been tricked. But that was no excuse. And in the midst of her
appeal to him to save himself, he broke in to ask where Olga
Hedwig drew herself up. "I do not know," she said, rather
"But after all," Nikky muttered, thinking of the lady-in-
waiting, "escape is cut off. The Palace is surrounded."
For a moment Hedwig thought she had won. "It is not cut off,"
she said. And spoke of the turret door, and whither it led.
All at once he saw it all. He looked at her with eyes that
dilated with excitement, and then to her anger, shot by her and
to the room where the Council waited. He was just in time to
hear old Adelbert's broken speech, and to see him reel and
At the hospital, Haeckel, the student, stood by his window, and
little by little the veil lifted. His slow blood stirred
first. The beating of drums, the shrieks of the crowd, the
fires, all played, their, part. Another patient joined him,
and together they looked out.
"Bad work!" said the other man.
"Aye!" said Haeckel. Then, speaking very slowly, and with
difficulty, "I do not understand."
"The King is dead." The man watched him. He had been of
interest to the ward.
"Aye," observed, Haeckel, still uncomprehending. And then,
"Dead - the King?"
"Dead. Hear the bell."
"Then -" But he could not at once formulate the thought in his
mind. Speech came hard. He was still in a cloud.
"They say," said the other man, "that the Crown Prince is
missing, that he has been stolen. The people are frenzied."
He went on, dilating on the rumors. Still Haeckel labored.
The King! The Crown Prince! There was something that he was
to do. It was just beyond him, but he could not remember.
Then, by accident, the other man touched the hidden spring of
"There are some who think that Mettlich - "
"Mettlich!" That was the word. With it the curtain split, as
it were, the cloud was gone. Haeckel put a hand to his head.
A few minutes later, a strange figure dashed out of the
hospital. The night watchman had joined the mob, and was at
that moment selecting a rifle from a cart. Around the cart
were students, still in their Carnival finery, wearing the
colors of his own corps. Haeckel, desperate of eye, pallid and
gaunt, clad still in his hospital shirt and trousers; Haeckel
climbed on to the wagon, and mounted to the seat, a strange,
swaying figure, with a bandage on his head. In spite of that,
there were some who knew him.
"Haeckel!" they cried. The word spread. The crowd of students
"What would you do?" he cried to them. "You know me. You see
me now. I have been done almost to death by those you would
aid. Aye, arm yourselves, but not against your King. We have
sworn to stand together. I call on you, men of my corps, to
follow me. There are those who to-night will murder the little
King and put King Mob on the throne. And they be those who
have tortured roe. Look at me! This they have done to me."
He tore the bandage off and showed his scarred head. "'Quick!"
he cried. "I know where they hide, these spawn of hell. Who
will follow me? To the King!"
"To the King!"
They took up the cry, a few at first, then all of them. More
than his words, the gaunt and wounded figure of Haeckel in the
cart fought for him. He reeled before them. Two leaped up and
steadied him, finally, indeed, took him on their shoulders, and
led the way. They made a wedge of men, and pushed through the
"To the little King!" was the cry they raised, and ran, a
flying wedge of white, fantastic figures. Those who were
unarmed seized weapons from the crowd as they passed. Urged by
Haeckel, they ran through the streets.
Haeckel knew. It was because he had known that they had done
away with him. His mind, working now with almost unnatural
activity, flew ahead to the house in the Road of the Good
Children, and to what might be enacting there. His eyes
burned. Now at last he would thwart them, unless -
Just before they turned into the street, a horseman had dashed
out of it and flung himself out of the saddle. The door was
bolted, but it opened to his ring, and Nikky faced the
concierge, Nikky, with a drawn revolver in his hand, and a face
He had had no time to fire, no time even to speak. The
revolver flew out of his hand at one blow from the flail-like
arms of the concierge. Behind him somewhere was coming, Nikky
knew, a detachment of cavalry. But he had outdistanced them,
riding frenziedly, had leaped hedges and ditches across the
Park. He must hold this man until they came.
Struggling in the grasp of the concierge, he yet listened for
them. From the first he knew it was a losing battle. He had
lost before. But he fought fiercely, with the strength of a
dozen. His frenzy was equaled by that of the other man, and
his weight was less by a half. He went down finally and lay
still, a battered, twisted figure.
The cavalry, in the mean time, had lost the way, was riding its
foam-flecked horses along another street, and losing, time when
every second counted.
But Black Humbert, breathing hard, had heard sounds in the
street, and put up the chain. He stood at bay, a huge, shaken
figure at the foot of the stone staircase. He was for flight
now. But surely - outside at the door some one gave the secret
knock of the tribunal, and followed it by the pass-word. He
breathed again. Friends, of course, come for the ammunition.
But, to be certain, he went to the window of his bureau, and
looked out through the bars. Students!
"Coming!" he called. And kicked at Nikky's quiet figure as he
passed it. Then he unbolted the door, dropped the chain, and
opened the door.
Standing before him, backed by a great crowd of fantastic
figures, was Haeckel.
They did not kill him at once. At the points of a dozen
bayonets, intended for vastly different work, they forced him
up the staircase, flight after flight. At first he cried
pitifully that he knew nothing of the royal child, then he
tried to barter what he knew for his life. They jeered at him,
pricked him shamefully from behind with daggers.
At the top of the last flight he turnery and faced them.
"Gentlemen, friends!" he implored. "I have done him no harm.
It was never in my mind to do him an injury. I - "
"He is in the room where you kept me?" asked Haeckel, in a low
"He is there, and safe."
Then Haeckel killed him. He struck him with a dagger, and his
great body fell on the stairs. He was still moving and
groaning, as they swarmed over him.
Haeckel faced the crowd. "There are others," he said. "I know
them all. When we have finished here, we will go on."
They were fearful of frightening the little King, and only two
went back, with the key that Haeckel had taken from the body of
Black Humbert. They unlocked the door of the back room, to
find His Majesty sitting on a chair, with a rather moist
handkerchief in his hand. He was not at all frightened,
however, and was weeping for his grandfather.
"Has the carriage come?" he demanded. "I am waiting for a
They assured him that a carriage was on the way, and were very
much at a loss.
"I would like to go quickly," he said. "I am afraid my
grandfather - Nikky!"
For there stood Nikky in the doorway, a staggering,
white-lipped Nikky. He was not too weak to pick the child up,
however, and carry him to the head of the stairs. They had
moved the body of the concierge, by his order. So he stood
there, the boy in his arms, and the students, only an hour
before in revolt against him, cheered mightily.
They met the detachment of cavalry at the door, and thus, in
state, rode back to the Palace where he was to rule, King Otto
the Ninth. A very sad little King, for Nikky had answered his
question honestly. A King who mopped his eyes with a very
dirty handkerchief. A weary little King, too, with already a
touch of indigestion!
Behind them, in the house on the Road of the Good Children,
Haeckel, in an access of fury, ordered the body of the
concierge flung from a window. It lay below, a twisted and
shapeless thing, beside the pieces of old Adelbert's broken
THE LINCOLN PENNY
And so, at last, King Otto the Ninth reached his Palace, and
was hurried up the stairs to the room where the Council waited.
Not at all a royal figure, but a tired little boy in gray
trousers, a short black Eton coat, and a rolling collar which
had once been white.
He gave one glance around the room. "My grandfather!" he said.
And fell to crying into his dirty pocket-handkerchief.
The Chancellor eyed grimly from under his shaggy brows the
disreputable figure of his sovereign. Then he went toward him,
and put his hand on his head.
"He was very eager for this rest, Otto,", he said.
Then he knelt, and very solemnly and with infinite tenderness,
he kissed the small, not overclean, hand.
One by one the Council did the same thing.
King Otto straightened his shoulders and put away the
handkerchief. It had occurred to him that he was a man now and
must act a man's part in the world.
"May I see him?" he asked. "I - didn't see him before."
"Your people are waiting, sire," the Chancellor said gravely.
"To a ruler, his people must come first."
And so, in the clear light from the room behind him, Otto the
Ninth first stood before his people. They looked up, and hard
eyes grew soft, tense muscles relaxed. They saw the erectness
of the small figure, the steadiness of the blue eyes that had
fought back their tears, the honesty and fire and courage of
this small boy who was their King.
Let such of the revolutionists as remained scream before the
Parliament House. Let the flames burn and the drums beat. The
solid citizens, the great mass of the people, looked up at the
King and cheered mightily. Revolution had that night received
its death-blow, at the hands of a child. The mob prepared to
go home to bed.
While King Otto stood on the balcony, down below in the crowd
an American woman looked up, and suddenly caught her husband by
"Robert," she said, "Robert, it is Bobby's little friend!"
"Nonsense!" he retorted. "It's rather dramatic, isn't it?
Nothing like this at home! See, they've crowned him already."
But Bobby's mother looked with the clear eyes of most women,
and all mothers.
"They have not crowned him," she said, smiling, with tears in
her eyes. "The absurd little King! They have forgotten to
take off his paper crown!"
The dead King lay in state in the royal chapel. Tall candles
burned at his head and feet, set in long black standards. His
uniform lay at his feet, his cap, his sword. The flag of his
country was draped across him. He looked very rested.
In a small private chapel near by lay old Adelbert. They could
not do him too much honor. He, too, looked rested, and he,
too, was covered by the flag, and no one would have guessed
that a part of him had died long before, and lay buried on a
battlefield. It was, unfortunately, his old uniform that he
wore. They had added his regimental flag to the national one,
and on it they had set his shabby cap. He, too, might have
been a king. There were candles at his head and feet, also;
but, also, he had now no sword.
Thus it happened that old Adelbert the traitor lay in state in
the Palace, and that monks, in long brown robes, knelt and
prayed by him. Perhaps he needed their prayers. But perhaps,
in the great accounting, things are balanced up, the good
against the bad. In that ease, who knows?
The Palace mourned and the Palace rejoiced. Haeckel had told
what he knew and the leaders of the Terrorists were in prison.
Some, in high places, would be hanged with a silken cord, as
was their due. And others would be aesthetically disposed of.
The way was not yet clear ahead, but the crisis was passed and
Early in the evening, soon after he had appeared on the
balcony, the Court had sworn fealty to Otto the Ninth. He had
stood on the dais in the throne room, very much washed and
brushed by that time, and the ceremony had taken place. Such a
shout from relieved throats as went up, such a clatter as
swords were drawn from scabbards and held upright in the air.
"Otto!" they cried. And again, "Otto."
The little King had turned quite pale with excitement.
Late in the evening Nikky Larisch went to the Council room.
The Council had dispersed, and Mettlich sat alone. There were
papers all about him, and a glass of milk that had once been
hot stood at his elbow. Now and then, as he worked, he took a
sip of it, for more than ever now he must keep up his strength.
When Nikky was announced he frowned. Then, very faintly, he
smiled. But he was stern enough when the young soldier
entered. Nikky came to the point at once, having saluted.
Not, when you think of it, that he should have saluted. Had he
not resigned from the service? Was not his sword, in token of
that surrender, still on the table and partly covered with
documents. Still he did. Habit, probably.
"I have come," he said, "to know what I am to do, sir."
"Do?" asked the Chancellor, coldly.
"Whether the Crown - whether the King is safe or not," said
Nikky, looking dogged and not at all now like the picture of
his mother. "I am guilty of - of all that happened."
The Chancellor had meant to be very hard. But he had come
through a great deal, and besides, he saw something Nikky did
not mean him to see. He was used to reading men. He saw that
the boy had come to the breaking-point.
"Sit down," he said, "and tell me about it."
But Nikky would not sit. He stood, looking straight ahead, and
told the story. He left nothing out, the scene on the roof,
his broken promise.
"Although," he added, his only word of extenuation, "God knows
I tried to keep it."
Then the message from the Countess Loschek, and his long wait
in her boudoir, to return to the thing he had found. As he
went on, the Chancellor's hand touched a button.
"Bring here at once the Countess Loschek," he said, to the
servant who came. "Take two of the guard, and bring hey."
Then, remembering the work he had to do, he took another sip of
milk. "These things you have done," he said to Nikky. "And
weak and wicked enough they are. But, on the other hand, you
found the King."
"Others found him also. Besides, that does not affect my
guilt, sir," said Nikky steadily.
Suddenly the Chancellor got up and, going to Nikky, put both
hands on his shoulders.
Quite to the end now, with the Countess not in her rooms or
anywhere in the Palace. With the bonfires burned to cold
ashes, and the streets deserted. With the police making
careful search for certain men whose names Haeckel had given,
and tearing frenzied placards from the walls. With Hilda
sitting before her dressing-table, holding a silk stocking to
her cheek, to see if she would look well in black. With Miss
Braithwaite still lying in her drugged sleep, watched over by
the Sisters who had cared for the dead King, and with Karl,
across the mountains, dreaming of a bride who would never be
Quite to the end. Only a word or two now, and we may leave the
little King to fulfil his splendid destiny. Not a quiet life,
we may be certain. Perhaps not a very peaceful or untroubled
one. But a brave and steadfast and honorable one, be sure of
What should we gain by following Olga Loschek, eating her heart
out in England, or the Committee of Ten, cowering in its cells?
They had failed, as the wicked, sooner or later, must fail. Or
Karl, growing fat in a prosperous land, alike greedy for
conquest and too indolent for battle?
To finish the day, then, and close with midnight.
Nikky first, a subdued and rather battered Nikky. He was
possessed by a desire, not indeed unknown to lovers, to revisit
the place where he and Hedwig had met before. The roof - no
less. Not even then that he hoped for himself any more than he
had hoped before. But at least it could not be Karl.
He felt that he could relinquish her more easily since it was
not Karl. As if, poor Nikky, it would ever make any difference
who it was, so it were not he!
Strangely enough, Hedwig also had had a fancy to visit the
roof. She could not sleep. And, as she had not read the
Chancellor's mind, her dressing-room, filled to overflowing
with her trousseau, set her frantic.
So she had dismissed her maid and gone through Hubert's rooms
to the roof. Nikky found her there. He stood quite still for
a moment, because it was much too good to be true. Also,
because he began to tremble again. He had really turned quite
shaky that evening, had Nikky.
Hedwig did not turn her head. She knew his steps, had really
known he must come, since she was calling him. Actually
calling, with all her determined young will. Oh, she was
But now that he had come, it was Nikky who implored, and Hedwig
who held off.
"My only thought in all the world," he said. "Can you ever
forgive me?" This was tactless. No lover should ever remind
his lady that he has withstood her.
"For what?" said Hedwig coolly.
"For loving you so." This was much better, quite strategic,
indeed. A trench gained!
"Do you really love me? I wonder."
But Nikky was tired of words, and rather afraid of them. They
were not his weapons. He trusted more, as has been said
somewhere else, in his two strong arms.
"Too much ever to let you go," he said. Which means nothing
unless we take it for granted that she was in his arms. And
she was, indeed.
The King having been examined and given some digestive tablets
by the Court physicians - a group which, strangely enough, did
not include Doctor Wiederman - had been given a warm bath and
put to bed.
There was much formality as to the process now, several
gentlemen clinging to their hereditary right to hang around and
be nuisances during the ceremony. But at last he was left
alone with Oskar.
Alone, of course, as much as a king is ever alone, which, what
with extra sentries and so on, is not exactly solitary
"Oskar!" said the King from his pillow.
Oskar was gathering the royal garments, which the physicians
had ordered burned, in case of germs.
"Did you ever eat American ice-cream?"
"No, Majesty. Not that I recall."
"It is very delicious," observed the King, and settled down in
his sheets. He yawned, then sat up suddenly "Oskar!"
"There is something in my trousers pocket. I almost forgot it.
Please bring them here."
Sitting up in bed, and under Oskar's disapproving eye, because
he, too, was infected with the germ idea, King Otto the Ninth
felt around in his small pockets, until at last he had found
what he wanted.
"Have I a small box anywhere, a very small box?" he inquired.
"The one in which Your Majesty's seal ring came is here. Also
there is one in the study which contained crayons." -
"I'll have the ring box," said His Majesty.
And soon the Lincoln penny rested on a cushion of white velvet,
on which were the royal arms.
King Otto looked carefully at the penny and then closed the
"Whenever I am disagreeable, Oskar," he said, "or don't care to
study, or - or do things that you think my grandfather would
not have done, I wish you'd bring me this box. You'd better
keep it near you."
He lay back and yawned again.
"Did you ever hear of Abraham Lincoln, Oskar?" he asked:
"I - I have heard the name, Majesty,", Oskar ventured
"My grandfather thought he was a - great man." His voice
trailed off. "I - should - like - "
The excitements and sorrows of the day left him gently. He
stretched his small limbs luxuriously, and half turned upon his
face. Oskar, who hated disorder, drew the covering in stiff
and geometrical exactness across his small figure, and tiptoed
out of the room.
Sometime after midnight the Chancellor passed the guard and
came into the room. There, standing by the bed, he prayed a
soldier's prayer, and into it went all his hopes for his
country, his grief for his dead comrade and sovereign, his
loyalty to his new King.
King Otto, who was, for all the digestive tablets, not sleeping
well, roused and saw him there, and sat upright at once.
"Is it morning?" he asked, blinking.
"No, Majesty. Lie down and sleep again."
"Would you mind sitting down for a little while? That is, if
you are not sleepy."
"I am not sleepy," said the Chancellor, and drew up a great
chair. "If I stay, will you try to sleep?"
"Do you mind if I talk a little? It may make me drowsy."
"Talk if you like, Majesty," said the old man. King Otto eyed
"Would you mind if I got on your knee?" he asked; almost
timidly. In all his life no one had so held him, and yet
Bobby, that very evening, had climbed on his father's knee as
though it was very generally done. "I would like to try how it
"Come, then," said the Chancellor.
The King climbed out of bed and up on his lap. His Chancellor
reached over and dragged a blanket from the bed.
"For fear of a cold!" he said, and draped it about the little
figure. "Now, how is that?"
"It is very comfortable. May I put my head back?"
Long, long years since the Chancellor had sat thus, with a
child in his arms. His sturdy old arms encircled the boy
"I want to tell about running away," said the King, wide-eyed
in the dusk. "I am sorry. This time I am going to promise
not to do it again."
"Make the promise to yourself, Majesty. It is the best way."
"I will. I intend to be a very good King."
"God grant it, Majesty."
"Like Abraham Lincoln?"
"Like Abraham Lincoln," said the Chancellor gravely.
The King, for all his boasted wakefulness, yawned again, and
squirmed closer to the old man's breast.
"And like my grandfather," he added.
"God grant that, also."
This time it was the Chancellor who yawned, a yawn that was
half a sigh. He was very weary, and very sad.
Suddenly, after a silence, the King spoke: "May a King do
anything he wants?"
"Not at all," said the Chancellor hastily.
"But, if it will not hurt the people? I want to do two things,
or have two things. They are both quite easy." His tone was
"What are they?"
"You wouldn't like to promise first, would you?"
The Chancellor smiled in the darkness.
"Good strategy, but I am an old soldier, Majesty. What are
"First, I would like to have a dog; one to keep with me."
"I - probably that can be arranged."
"Thank you. I do want a dog. And - " he hesitated.
"Yes, Majesty? "
"I am very fond of Nikky," said the King. "And he is not very
happy. He looks sad, sometimes. I would like him to marry
Hedwig, so we can all be together the rest of our lives."
The Chancellor hesitated. But, after all, why not? He had
followed ambition all his life, and where had it brought him?
An old man, whose only happiness lay in this child in his arms.
"Perhaps," he said gently, "that can be arranged also."
The night air blew softly through the open windows. The little
King smiled, contentedly, and closed his eyes.
"I'm getting rather sleepy," he said. "But if I'm not too
heavy, I'd like you to hold me a little longer."
"You are not too heavy, Majesty."
Soon the Chancellor, worn not with one day, but with many, was
nodding. His eyes closed under his fierce eyebrows. Finally
they both slept. The room was silent.
Something slipped out of the little King's hand and rolled to
It was the box containing the Lincoln penny.
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