“Yet a little group of men,” the King continued, “who know no more about the nations whose destinies they are deciding than Lloyd George knew about the Banat, have abrogated to themselves the right to cut up and apportion territories as casually as though they were dividing apple-tarts.”
[Illustration: KING FERDINAND TELLS MRS. POWELL HIS OPINION OF THE FASHION IN WHICH THE PEACE CONFERENCE TREATED RUMANIA, WHILE QUEEN MARIE LISTENS APPROVINGLY]
The impression prevails in other countries that it is Queen Marie who is really the head of the Rumanian royal family and that the King is little more than a figurehead. With this estimate I do not agree. Rumania could have no better spokesman than Queen Marie, whose talents, beauty, and exceptional tact peculiarly fit her for the difficult role she has been called upon to play. But the King, though he is by nature quiet and retiring, is by no means lacking in political sagacity or the courage of his convictions, being, I am convinced, as important a factor in the government of his country as the limitations of its constitution permit. Though none too well liked, I imagine, by the professional politicians, who in Rumania, as in other countries, resent any attempt at interference by the sovereign with their plans, the royal couple are immensely popular with the masses of the people, Ferdinand frequently being referred to as “the peasants’ King.” In the darkest days of the war, when Rumania was overrun by the enemy and it seemed as though Moldavia and the northern Dobrudja were all that could be saved to the nation, King Ferdinand and Queen Marie, instead of escaping from their country or asking the enemy for terms, retreated with the army to Jassy, on the easternmost limits of the kingdom, where they underwent the horrors of that terrible winter with their soldiers, the King serving with the troops in the field and the Queen working in the hospitals as a Red Cross nurse. Less than three years later, however, on November twentieth, 1919, there assembled in Bucharest the first parliament of Greater Rumania, attended by deputies from all those Rumanian regions—Bessarabia, Transylvania, the Banat, the Bucovina and the Dobrudja—which had been restored to the Rumanian motherland. At the head of the chamber, in the great gilt chair of state, sat Ferdinand I, who, from the fugitive ruler, shivering with his ragged soldiers in the frozen marshes beside the Pruth, has become the sovereign of a country having the sixth largest population in Europe and has taken his place in Rumanian history beside Stephen the Great and Michael the Brave as Ferdinand the Liberator.
MAKING A NATION TO ORDER