As soon as she had passed into the concert-room, we who had waited to see her go in ran round to another door and joined the two or three thousand people who were standing to receive the Queens. These had already mounted to the royal box, and they stood there while the orchestra played one of the Dutch national airs. (One air is not enough for the Dutch; they must have two.) Then the mother faded somewhere into the background, and the daughter sat alone in the front, on a gilt throne, with a gilt crown at top, and a very uncomfortable carved Gothic back. She looked so young, so gentle, and so good that the rudest Republican could not have helped wishing her well out of a position so essentially and irreparably false as a hereditary sovereign’s. One forgot in the presence of her innocent seventeen years that most of the ruling princes of the world had left it the worse for their having been in it; at moments one forgot her altogether as a princess, and saw her only as a charming young girl, who had to sit up rather stiffly.
At the end of the programme the Queens rose and walked slowly out, while the orchestra played the other national air.
I call them the Queens, because the Dutch do; and I like Holland so much that I should hate to differ with the Dutch in anything. But, as a matter of fact, they are neither of them quite Queens; the mother is the regent and the daughter will not be crowned till next year.
But, such as they are, they imparted a supreme emotion to our dying season, and thrilled the hotel with a fulness of summer life. Since they went, the season faintly pulses and respires, so that one can just say that it is still alive. Last Sunday was fine, and great crowds came down from The Hague to the concert, and spread out on the seaward terrace of the hotel, around the little tables which I fancied that the waiters had each morning wiped dry of the dew, from a mere Dutch desire of cleaning something. The hooded chairs covered the beach; the children played in the edges of the surf and delved in the sand; the lovers wandered up into the hollows of the dunes.