“Go on, please,” said Olivia eagerly.
“Olivia, I’m sure,” protested Mrs. Hastings, “I think it’s very unwomanly of you to show such an interest in these things.”
“Will you bear with me for one moment, Mrs. Hastings?” begged the prince, “and perhaps I shall be able to interest you. The submarine returned, bringing the sole survivor of the wreck of the African transport.”
“Ah, now,” Mrs. Hastings assured him blandly, “you are dealing with things that can happen. My brother Otho, my niece’s father, was just this last year the sole survivor of the wreck of a very important vessel.”
“I have the honour, Mrs. Hastings, to be narrating to you the circumstances attending the discovery of your brother and Miss Holland’s father, after the wreck of that vessel.”
“My father?” cried Olivia.
The prince bowed.
“After this manner, Chance had rewarded us. We crowned your father King of Yaque.”
Prince Tabnit’s announcement was received by his guests in the silence of amazement. If they had been told that Miss Holland’s father was secretly acting as King of England they could have been no more profoundly startled than to hear stated soberly that he had been for nearly a year the king of a cannibal island. For the cannibal phase of his experience seemed a foregone conclusion. To St. George, profoundly startled and most incredulous, the possible humour of the situation made first appeal. The picture of an American gentleman seated upon a gold throne in a leopard-skin coat, ordering “oysters and foes” for breakfast, was irresistible.
he shaved with a shell when he chose,
’Twas the manner of Primitive Man”
floated through his mind, and he brought himself up sharply. Clearly, somebody was out of his head, but it must not be he.
“What?” cried Mrs. Hastings in two inelegant syllables, on the second of which her uncontrollable voice rose. “My brother Otho, a vestry-man at St. Mark’s—”
“Aunt Dora!” pleaded Olivia. “Tell us,” she besought the prince.
“King Otho I of Yaque,” the prince was begining, but the title was not to be calmly received by Mrs. Hastings.
“King Otho!” she articulated. “Then—am I royalty?”
“All who may possibly succeed to the throne Blackstone holds to be royalty,” said the lawyer in an edictal voice, and St. George looked away from Olivia.
The Princess Olivia!
“King Otho,” continued the prince, “ruled wisely and well for seven months, and it was at the beginning of that time that the imperial submarine was sent to the Azores with letters and a packet to you. The enterprise, however, was attended by so great danger of discovery that it was never repeated. This is why, for so long, you have had no word from the king. And now I come,” said the prince with hesitation, “to the difficult part of my narrative.”