“Your Highness,” he said to Phyllis, “what shall I do with this man who has so grossly wronged you?”
The King passed on. I was not looking at him, but at the innkeeper. I saw his lip tremble and his eyes fill. Suddenly he fell upon his knees before Phyllis and raised her hand to his lips.
“Will Your Highness forgive a sinner who only now realizes the wrong he has done to you?”
“Yes, I forgive you,” said Phyllis. “The only wrong you have done to me is to have made me a Princess. Your Majesty will forgive me, but it is all so strange to me who have grown up in a foreign land which is dearer to my heart than the land in which I was born.”
I felt a thrill of pride, and I saw that Mr. Wentworth’s lips had formed into a “God bless her!”
“It is a question now,” said the King, “only of duty.”
“And Your Majesty’s will regarding my marriage?” put in the Prince, holding his watch in his hand. It was ten o’clock.
“Well, well! It shall be as you desire.” Then to me: “I thank you in the name of Their Highnesses for your services. And you, Mr. Wentworth, shall always have the good will of the King for presenting to his court so accomplished and beautiful a woman as Her Highness the Princess Elizabeth. Hermann Breunner, return to your inn and remain there; your countenance brings back disagreeable recollections. I shall expect Your Highnesses at dinner this evening. Prince, I leave to you the pleasant task of annulling your nuptial preparations. Good morning. Ah! these women!” as he passed from the room. “They are our mothers, so we must suffer their caprices.”
And as we men followed him we saw Gretchen weeping silently on Phyllis’s shoulder.
The innkeeper touched the Prince.
“I give you fair warning,” he said. “If our paths cross again, one of us shall go on alone.”
“I should be very lonely without you,” laughed the Prince. “However, rest yourself. As the King remarked, your face recalls unpleasant memories. Our paths shall not cross again.”
When the innkeeper and the Chancellor were out of earshot, I said: “She is mine!”
“Not yet,” the Prince said softly. “On Tuesday morn I shall kill you.”
The affair caused considerable stir. The wise men of diplomacy shook their heads over it and predicted grave things in store for Hohenphalia. Things were bad enough as they were, but to have a woman with American ideas at the head—well, it was too dreadful to think of. And the correspondents created a hubbub. The news was flashed to Paris, to London, thence to New York, where the illustrated weeklies printed full-page pictures of the new Princess who had but a few months since been one of the society belles. And everybody was wondering who the “journalist” in the case was. The