But then the way in which it had been composed was so out of the common! And the fact that this was the first and only time in his life he had been able to catch and carry a tune was in itself a proof of its merit.
The first time Jan of Ruffluck had gone to Loevdala on a seventeenth of August the visit had not passed off as creditably for him as he could have wished; so he had never repeated it, although he had been told that each year it was becoming more lively and festive at the Manor.
But now that the little girl had come up in the world, it was altogether different with him. He felt that it would be a great disappointment to Lieutenant Liljecrona if so exalted a personage as the Emperor Johannes of Portugallia did not do him the honour of wishing him happiness on his birthday.
So he donned his imperial regalia and sallied forth, taking good care not to be among the first arrivals. For him who was an emperor it was the correct thing not to put in an appearance until all the guests had made themselves quite at home, and the festivities were well under way.
Upon the occasion of his former visit he had not ventured farther than the orchard and the gravelled walk in front of the house. He had not even gone up to pay his respects to the host. But now he could not think of behaving so discourteously.
This time he made straight for the big bower at the left of the porch, where the lieutenant sat with a group of dignitaries from Svartsjoe and elsewhere, grasped him by the hand, and wished him many happy returns of the day.
“So you’ve come out to-day, Jan,” said the lieutenant in a tone of surprise.
To be sure he was not expecting an honour like this, which probably accounted for his so far forgetting himself as to address the Emperor by his old name. Jan knew that so genial a man as the lieutenant could have meant no offense by that, therefore he corrected him in all meekness.
“We must make allowances for the lieutenant,” he said, “since this is his birthday; but by rights we should be called Emperor Johannes of Portugallia.”
Jan spoke in the gentlest tone possible, but just the same the other gentlemen all laughed at the lieutenant for having made such a bad break. Jan had never intended to cause him humiliation on his birthday, so he promptly dismissed the matter and turned to the others. Raising his cap with an imperial flourish, he said:
“Go’-day, go’-day, my worthy Generals and Bishops and Governors.” It was his intention to go around and shake hands with everybody, as one is expected to do at a party.
Nearest the lieutenant sat a short, stocky man in a white cloth jacket, with a gold-trimmed collar, and a sword at his side, who, when Jan stepped up to greet him did not offer his whole hand, but merely held out two fingers. The man’s intentions may have been all right, but of course a potentate like Emperor Johannes of Portugallia knew he must stand upon his dignity.