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This article displays in one automatically-generated column. View the full page to see article in its original form.

PRINCE RODERICK.

By James Brixsley-Ricilauds,

Author of 'Seven Years at Eton,' 'The Duke's Marriage,' etc.

VOL. 1.-CHAPTER I,

My uncle, the Bishop of Surrey, who must have found mo a troublesome relative, for he had plenty of his own young ones to provide for, wrote to me one day Eaying that he thought he could at last put a gond appoiutment in my way, and ho requested me to call on h'.in the ii"xb morning.

The situation offu-'.-d was that of private secretary to Prince Roderick of Kronheini. His Royal Highness wanted an English secretary in order that he might practise our language, and he stipulated sundry conditions not usual in connection with such posts, and which, as it happened, I could fulfil. His secretary was to be: "An orphan of good education, not engaged to be married; fond of dangerous sports, able to ride, skate, and sing. A tall man, very particular about his dress, and oi good nerve, at the curd table preferred." The bishop looked slightly shocked, but amused, a 9 he read from a letter bearing the stamp of a British Legation. " All this is written to me by my old friend, Sir George Malmsey, our Minister atSabelburg. I should have expected him to say that he ' wanted a double first-class man, but nothing is.said about double or single firstclass ; so I may indulge in a piece of nepotism." " And do you really advise me t~> accept ?" " Why not, if they accept you ? We mast tell them that you never took a university degree, but that you were five years in the dragoons and could say Militari lion sine ylorUl. Ah ! but how about the other line in that ode : Vixi puettix nuper idonew'! You are not engaged to be married, Dandie '{" "No, sir." Dandie was a school nickname corrupted from my name of Ferdinand. " We are right on that score then, but stay, here is a sequel to the letter," and the bishop scanned the paper at arm's length through his spectacles. " The prir.ee is a little eccentric."

" H'm, that means insane ?" "No. Sir George does not say insane. He writes : ' The prince is a little eccentric. From what I have seen of him and from all I hear I should take him to be a man of talent who frets under the restraints of his position. He talks well, and can be very amiable, but is not liked. I daresay he haa an ugly temper, but please treat this as confidential.'" My good uncle closed the letter, remarking mildly that the temper of all princes was like a nettle and required careful handling. As for Prince Roderick's requirement of "an orphan, nnengagec\" he presumed this proviso meant simply that His Royal Highness desired a secretary who had no strong ties in England, and could therefore attach himself to auother country. " For the rest, Dandie," he said seriously, " this is a chance, and I would not let it slip." I had inherited a small Irish property, but my tenants had decided not to pay their rents, and that i 3 why I had left the army. Soldieringonsevcn and sixpence, a day would have been a fine feat, but it was above my ambition. I bad been told that if I freely renonnced my rents and set up as a penitent landlord I might be elected to the House of Commons in the beggar-my-neighbor interest, and ho salaried out of a fund raised by Irish kitchenroaids in America. I had also received an offer to sell wines on commission in houses where I was invited to evening parties and five o'clock teas. I might have become the secretary of a club for bringing the two sexes together; and an old schoolfellow, who was doing capitally as a bookmaker, had proposed that I should go partners with jii m _a suggestion which my uncle the bishoD, who imagined that bookmaking must be connected with publishing, had at first earnestly advised me to accept. But this offer of becoming secretary to Prince Roderick was the first eligible thing that bad fallen in my way since I had laid aside my helmet and red coat; and of course I did not let the chance slip. So my undo wrote Sir George Malmsey an extremely conscientious letter, in which he described me as a good-natured dunce in whose fbgers sovereigns melted like butter. Talk of jobbery ! why, the good old man would rather have lodged and boarded me in his over-populated palace for the remainder of his life than have written a lino about me to which he could not, have sworn as an nflidavit. I laughed outright when he banded me his letter to read, and was more, than surprised when an nnswer arrived within a week, snatching, as it seemed to me, somewhat eagerly at m v service?, and promising me a salary «nnal to the full pay of a colonel in our army, besides free quarters. Mv orders were to start at once; and now'l ought to have emulated the conscientiousness of my uncle by informing h.m that although not engaged to be married /the determined attitude of my tenants on rent question debarred all idea of supDc >rting a wife), yet I had a hope that if L filing or other turned up, Connie Devetwit, my old general's daughter, would put her portionless hand in mine T did <iaV a word or two on the subject, but {he bKop only exclaimed«Pi.h.tn.h!» and advised me to say nothing about this to mv aunt if I wished to preserve her good opinion. My Aunt Episcopa took very severe views of the portionless. " Something enough to provide two daily rations of bread and cheese was the waV in which I had once stated my hopes to Connie, whose reply was : Bread would be enough for me, Ferdie, and I believe the dear little girl would have been content with a crust for that matter, but Mrs Davenant was on the watch a motherly, frank spoken, domineering woman, shrewd with the experience ef orison towns. Connie had threo hungry brothers at school and two younger sister*. Half nav, agricultural depression, and investments at 2 per cent, kept the family funds at low tide ; and then I was in Mrs r>avenant's bad books because I had not into a West Indian regiment Pamuda, she said, had a first-rate climate, and was just ttu place for a youngman, who had no business to think of marrying One word, however, had to be spoken to Connie before I went to Kronheim. I railed in Cromwell road at a few minutes before six, calculating that the last afternoon visitor would be gone, or going, and that I Sht possibly be invited to stay for dinner The stone balcony with its geraniums and pink awning received a wistful glance from Se as I knocked at the door, /or I had Taught sight of Connie in a hght blue foulard dress • but she was talking with Fred Lemeinrier, the man with an eyeglass, » white hat, and a red tie, who is heir to a peerage and sits for a Radical constituency £ Parliament. We exchanged opinions about this gentleman in two glances that crossed over hU shining amber head, but not a word in private passed between us; 2nd I was not invited to dinner. LemeCler had this favor, and pulling out his • watch talked of going home to dress. No, pray don't dress," said Mrs Davenant, "we shall be quite alone." Mrs Davenant was tall and handsome, always very smartly dressed in impenal'ooking silks, and she wore becoming caps made of about four square inches of point luce She had a good-humored twinkle in her'eyes, and these always looked you ■rtttUßht in the face. She stood on no ceremony with me, for when I was a " sub an her regiment had I not fetched and carried for her, driven her in drags, rowed her on rivers, led her cotillons for her and kept her visiting list '! . On thi3 occasion she was charming ; tor Bbe was delighted to hear that I was going abroad. ''Such a nice place Kronheim, and iust the post for you. I am wire you w iU be marrying a German wi» soon. Mind vou bring her here, even if she is mad on Wagner." This was said loud and laughine go a3 to reach Connie's ear?. When Mrs Davenant was called away for „ mnmH it to eive a domestic order she made sign to the general who some i" V r hj 0 t three My old chief was a "ttie man with a blue spotted neckerchief, ,orwdn« frock coat, grey, trousers and gaiters When angry, he twisted a mousDleased he winked and prodded you in the £ He was a fierce Tory, and wagging Chead towards Lemesurier, who was st.fi

on the balcony, lie said: "We're taking that fellow in hand. I'm hanged if a week ago he didn't think the army estimates too high." But not a word could I get with Connie. I had to go, and there was a squeeze—a long squeeze of the hand —with just one more glance, which mamma observed. Accordingly Mrs Davenant followed me out of the drawing room, and, closing the door, Bpoko to me on the landing. " Dandie—Mr Meredith, I have a word to say to you. You must not bo writing to Connie from abroad or think of her any more, for you can't marry her." «' Well, but "

"There's no but about it; and it's not fair on the child that you should spoil her chances in life. So don't let me see your good-looking, good-for-uothing face again until you or she are married." "That's hard lines, Mrs Davenant."

"It's duty, Mr Meredith; so good-bye. You can writo to me if you like, for you and I aro old friends. There now, be off with you."

Three days after this I arrived at Kronheini. Sir George Malmsey's carriage was waiting for me at the railway station and drove me to the Legation, where I was to stay for the night. There was a dinner party, and I had only time for a few minutes' conversation with Sir George—a bluff and hearty old gentleman with more of the country squire than of the diplomatist about him—before going up to chaugo my things. When I came downstairs the drawing room iiad its gathering of guests. I was introduced to a small nvm with spectacles, and a broad yellow riband across his waistcoat, to whom everybody spoke with great respect, and who was Count Hochort, Prime Minister of the country. It seemed to me that he scrutinised me very narrowly; and I fancied—though I could not have said why—that he was displeased to find that I spoke German. Several times during the dinner I met his cold, sharp eye, which was fastened on mo with an expression neither friendly nor unfriendly, but prying. I paid little attention to this, for I was seated beside a lovely and agreeablo English girl, a Miss Meadowes, who was on a visit to Sabelburg with her mother, Lady Springfield. She had a face and figure liko those girls whom Mr Du Marnier is so fond of sketching, Tall, dark, with sparkling eyes, sedate and selfpossessed in manner, but full of talk, she made a delightful companion. _ After dinner, when we joined the ladies in the drawing , room, she sung a couple of English songs in a beautifully - trained soprano voice, and I turned over the leaves of her music for her. This led me to sit beside her after the singing ; but she became silent and absent, till, supposing I had tired her, I made a pretence of moving away. But suddenly she east a curious glance on me, and rising, said : " Sir George han one of the prettiest conservatories. You ought to see it." I followed her, but my astonishment may be imagined when, as soon as we were alone, she turned and whispered eagerly : "Mr Meredith, excuse this boldness in a perfect stranger, but do you know why jou have been brought here ?" "I have been offered an appointment," I began, stammering. "Then, for God's sake take care," s-he interrupted. " I can say no more than this, for I know little, but if you have friends in England who would grieve if anything happened to you—go home." "One question," I asked quickly. "Is this Prince Roderick mad ?"

" No, it's worse than that," she answered breathless; "but I can't say more. If I learn more yoa shall know. There's someoody coming." She abruptly left me ; and turning round [ saw Count Hochort, whose glance followed the retreating girl like u hawk's.

CHAPTER II

All this was not so good as a dose of chloral for making one sleep. I lay awake in my bed several hours thinking over Miss Meadowes's warning, but without seeing how I could profit by it, except by keeping on the look-out. Evidently there was something wrong about Prince Roderick ; but Miss Meadowes had rather overdone it by saying that this something was worse than madness.

The singular conditions of my engagement recurred to me. " Fond ofdanye.roufi sport*, and v:ilh a yowl nerre at the card table. To the mind of n young lady it might seem that a prince who had a passion for hunting wolves and bears, and who risked large sums at baccarat, was more dangerous than a peaceablo lunatic. So perhaps Miss Meadowes had only been animated by a (Uttering anxiety for my lim'>s and morals. If she had been a bread-and-butter misa this explanation would have satisfied me. Recollecting her face and manuer, it did not; and I was haunted by presentiments of strange things. But to go home and say that I had been scared away from Kronheim by a girl was out of the question. If I was booked for an adventure I must through with it. Breakfast was brought to my room in the morning, and at ten o'clock a Court carriage came to fetch me. Sir George Malmsey met me in the hall, and said cheerfully : " My duty to Prince Rodorick, and mind you come to us when you have nothing better to do. By-the-bye, there's a, message from Lady Malmsey with this book, whi.:h she promised to lend the prince. Will you please take charge of it? It's Herbert Spencer's last volume. " I must have stared at the book, for the minister smiled and said something about " hard nuts for p'tncely teeth to crack." Had the volume been the 4 Manual of the Perfect Card-Player,' or ' Wild Sports in the Trackless Desert,' my night thoughts would have received confirmation, hut Herbert Spencer threw me into fresh perplexities. The carriage was a brougham, with a pair of finely-trotting greys. The servants wore blue liveries with oraDge facings. We

drove through the principal streets of the town, which were teeming with the usual hustle of continent'l cities on a sunny morning. Cafea, restaurants, and tramways everywhere. Plenty of priests, marketwomen in picturesque costumes, and swarms of officers and soldiers in uniforms of Prussian cut. The carriage passed through a much - gilded gate, where two sentries presented arms, while a big door porter, dressed like a beadle, bowed, sweeping his cocked hat level with his knees. We drove through a courtyard carpeted with thick gravel, and so to a door, where the officer on guard received me, lifting a white-gloved hand to his helmet and clicking his heels smartly together. My regimental servant, Joe Trotman, whom I had brought with me, took charge of my luggage, which followed the carriage in a small Court omnibus; and I was ushered upstairs at once to a suite of apartments on the second floor, which a major-domo, in black silk stockings and with a steel chain round his neck, respectfully informed me -were to be mine. The rooms wero large and contained handsome ungainly furniture of the Empire style, at least eighty years old. Oil portraits of 1 princes in out-of-date uniforms hung on the walls. In some of the rooms the chairs and sofas were colored red, in others yellow. Drawing room, study, bedroom, dressing room were all en suite, and looked on to a garden with trim-kept ilower beds, gravel walks, and white statues. I had to wait nearly an hour time enough for Joe to unpack most of my things—before the major-domo reappeared and said: "Seiner kSnigliche Tlohett lavs bitten." (The Prince is ready to receive I had never seen a photograph of the prince, but had made a mental picture of him which I guessed would not be realised. At first sight he impressed me as a highly intelligent and agreeable man. He was wearing that neat undress German uniform, the long double-breasted frockcoat, buttoned up to the shoulder and with the high red collar, which makes any man look smart. He was a little over twenty-five, of middle height, with brown wavy and curly hair parted down the centre, and a short, fair beard. There was dignity in his manner, but affability decidedly predominated as he returned my bow and motioned me to a seat. "It is very good of you that you came to Kronheim, Captain Meredith," he said in fluent though incorrect English; " but I must tell you that it is Count Hochort '. who said tP me J rnujjj; hpive an English

secretary, and I really do not know what we shall find for you to do. You like shooting, riding ?" " Very much, sir," I answered, seeing a drove of bears already loom on the horizon. "It ia well, then. And the other accomplishments of a secretary are no doubt yours ? You speak French, German ?" " French poorly, German a little better, sir," I said, snrprised; "but your Royal Highness will excuse me for remarking that I was not engaged as a good linguist, I hope there has been no misunderstanding ?" "Oh no—at least I knotv nothing about it," replied the prince, lighting a cigarette. " It 13 the King who appoints members of my household, and Count Hochort advises His Majesty ; I pray you tell me how you were engaged " I recapitulated the conditions stated in Sir George Malmsey's letter to my uncle; and I could not make out from the prince's physiognomy whether he was offended. Whatever may have been his first feelings, he heard mo attentively to the end, and then laughed. " I remember to have once said to Count Hochort that I hoped if ever ho gave me a new secretary in place of Dr Grinzener he would choose me a man who knew a horse from a cow, for you see I have no State business, and rny correspondence is more about sport than politics. However, I say again you are very welcome, Captain Meredith. And now tell me; you dined at your Legation yesterday, and you met there a most beautiful young lady, Miss Meadowes, Are her parents of the highest aristocracy ?" " Lord Springfield is of old family, sir. lie was in the diplomatic service." " Yes, .1 know; but his daughter is very proud. Are all the young ladies in England so proud ? I have not found them so when 1 have visited London."

There was a gentle tap at the door, and an aide-de-camp brought in a letter. While the prince read it I took a discreet survey of the study, but without discovering in it any marked indications of the owner's character or tastes. The writing table was a heavy bureau encumbered with papers. The book shelves contained volumes of all kinds, set without arrangement, for valuable editions in gold-lettered calf and morocco were flanked by yellow French novels. On the walls hung portraits, landscapes, pictures of battles, trophies of arms, antlers, a rackful of costly canes and riding whips, a glass case of curious old watches, and .mother case, which held a number of odd things, such as bits of rusty iron, and rags which must have been relics. There were a good many valuable knick-knacks lying about—silver cigar cases, match boxes, pocket-books; and the iloor was strewn with rich furs, the rinc3t being a huge white bearskin spread over a divan. Tho prince having read his letter, told me he was going out, "I will send Grinzener to you," he said, " and you can settle with him about your work. You will dine with, me to-night. Have you a uniform ?'' Holding a Yeomanry commission, I had brought a uniform with me, but I had only contemplated wearing it at Court balls, and I thought it as well to explain my present military position. " Yes, yes : but wear your uniform," said the prince. " Everything is military here. The babies are born with spurs on, and the nurses lull them to (deep with kettle drums." Thereupon with a ncd he intimated that mv audience was over.

CHAPTER 111,

Prince Roderick waa heir presumptive to the throne of Kronheim; that is, he was nephew of King Franz, who had only a, daughter. Prince Roderick waa unmarried, and the next in succession to him was Prince Wolfgang, who had married the King's daughter, and had a family increasing at the rate of three in two years, including twins. This much I had learned from the ' Almanch do Gotha.' For my information as to Prince Roderick's fortune and general manner of life I was indebted, during the first few days of my stay at Sabelburg, to my servant Joe, for I scarcely spoke to anybody else. Returning to my rooms after my audience with the prince, I felt more puzzled than ever about Miss Meadowes's warning. There waa something ludicrous in the contrast between the prince as I had found him und the prince whom my imagination bad pictured ; for I had nearly made up my mind that I should have to do with a young gentleman of weak intellect, or with a sullen, passionate creature of vicious instincts. Although no particularly good judge of character, I felt already persuaded that I should never be Prince Roderick's master, though it was possible he might acquire ascendency over me. I confess I liked him. Nobody took any notios of mo for several hours. Dim suspicions that I was the victim of a practical joke disturbed me ever and anon ; and I could not but reflect that the terms of my engagement, having been formulated without the prince's knowledge, were exceedingly impertinent to him.

I kept pulling out my watch, but not knowing whether I was at liberty to go out, there was nothing for it but to kill time until l)r Grinzeuer turned up. I stared into the garden, tried to write a letter, and made ineffectual attempts to read. At last, when two o'clock arrived without any signs of luncheon, I rang for Joe, who came up wiping his lips from his own dinner in the servant's hall.

"Joe, just try and find out what are the hours for lunching and dining here." A quarter of an hour had not elapsed before two powdered footmen came in carrying a couple of silver trays. These were set on a table in the study. The fare provided was a mayonnaise of trout, some pAlddefoie i/ras, a dish of cutlets, fruit, two bottles of wine, red and white, and a bottle of aerated waters. The footmen were going to wait, but I dismissed them. One then requested that I would ring for coffee when I was ready. " They keep a first-rate table downstairs, sir," remarked Joe, as ho removed the plates, " and most of the stable servants are English. I dined with the two head coachmen and head groom, all English, and I don't think I ever saw finer horses, sirnearly a hundred of 'em." " We are not in the Royal palace, are

we ?" " No, sir ; we are in Prince Roderick s own palace. His Royal Highness's sister, the Princess Dorothea, lives here with her ladies ; but they've got a wing to themselves. The prince don't live much here, as I'm told. He's got a grand place on a lake ; they call it Griinsee, and another place right on the top of a mountain, where he goes for 'is shooting." " Wolves, I daresay?" " Lots of them, sir, it appears, and boars, a kind of wild pig, so to say, not much seen out of furrin parts. The dinner to-day, sir, i 3 at five o'clock. It's a grand affair in honor of one of the Austrian archdukes, and the gueßts 'ave to muster at half-past four."

Joe said nothing more then ; but later, as I was dressing, he observed that Prince Roderick was not so popular in the country as his cousin Prince Wolfgang. «* They say Prince Wolfgang is a smart officer, sir, always a soldierin'. Prince Roderick don't much care for the army. But Prince Roderick spends a lot of money, while Prince Wolfgang has a lot of babies." "It's curious that Prince Roderick shouldn't yet have married." "Aye, sir. I asked Mr Bobbs—he's the head coachman —why His Royal Highness didn't marry the King's daughter instead lof Prince Wolfgang doing it; but it seems there's all kinds of stories about that. Princo Roderick 'as been engaged several times to be married, but the matches was always broken off." "I must remind you, Joe, that it's your duty to avoid speaking about the prince downstairs," I interrupted at this point. " I'll be very careful, sir," replied Joe, " but the conversations isn't what you might think, sir. There ain't nothing mysterious about 'em. The hall for the upper servants is a large place, and servants coming in at all moments callin' out for their dinners. There's a special sort of upper footman they call chassow, who Bits besides the prince's coachman, and stands beside the prince's chair at meals. He wears a cocked hat with white feathers like a general, and appears to think a deal of himself, As he don't do any work in the way of handing plates and dishes about, except waiting on the prince himself, as it seems, he hears all the conversation at table; and when he

comes down among the other servants lie reports it all quite free at the top of hia

voice." " Is the household a large one ?" " Yes, sir, it is indeed. Grooms, footmen, cookboys in white caps and aprons—there'd be enough to remount two troops with 'em; aud there's a goodisli number of females too. In one of the rooms I saw at least twenty housemaids eating o' their dinners and talkin' away in German like the cockatoos at the Zoological Gardens." I had just put on my uniform—which was much like that of the 10th Hussars, but with silver lace instead of gold—when a card was brought me bearing the name " Dr Felix Grinzener, Royal Court Secretary to H R, FI. Prince Rodorick."

I walked into the drawing room and saw a fat man with black clothes, u bald head, and a round pink face like a ripe peach, having a quiet laugh to himself opposite a looking-glass. Ho was stupefied at the sight of me in my military glory, and became grave for a moment, but only for a moment. His face then broke out into broad smiles again, and remained grinning. He addressed me as "dear colleague." He patted my hand between two plump warm hands of his own, on one fat fiDger of which glittered an enormous agate ring. He ogled me ouitc affectionately through his tortoiseshell - rimmed double eyeglasses, and at every remark I made he either gave an enjoyable little laugh of nssont or nodded gleefully, stroking his chin with a soft noise as of a razor passing over lather. I never saw a jollier man than this Dr Felix Grinzener.

He was not short, nor ill-favored. He reminded me ot a good comic actor in high comedy on the stage. Off the atage comic actors are preoccupied with exercises of memory, and their complexions have been spoilt by whitening and rouge. But Dr Grinzener (he was a Doctors of Laws) seemed to have not a trouble on his mind, aud his smooth brow had no more wrinkles on it than a ball of lard. All the wrinkles were wanted for hia checks and chins, which were everlastingly puckered up with merriment. It was contagious merriment too, which set mo laughing, though I should have liked to know what I was laughing about. The learned doctor made no attempts at being funny ; his good-humor was that of the man who sits on the box of a stage coach ready to split his sides at the smallest pleasantry of the coachman's, or at the moat common occurrences on the roadside. Yet it was easy to see that he was no fool. When it came to giving mo instructions about my work, ho pretended that I should have very little to do, and might gad to and fro as I pleased ; nevertheless he conveyed some very precise and startling instructions. " Pray always be at home, my dear colleague, between teu and two—day and night—that is, if you can." Every instruction was put in this polite, requestful wo.y. "Never be away from the palace more than two hours at a time without leaving word with the equerry in attendance where you may be found, If you want a carriage, order one from the stables. As you ride, two saddle-horses will be at your disposal. If you like to go to the Opera or the Court Theatre, this red card, which bears your name and the prince's seal, will admit yon to the equerries' box. When summoned to attend upon His Royal Highness, pray be so good as always to carry a loaded revolver in your pocket." "I beg your pardon. What did you say ?" I asked, tying the peach face hard. "Aha! The prince might be attacked, you see—and—and, aha! you would be glad to defend him," answered the jolly doctor, without the slightest embarrassment. He was speaking in elegant, copious German, without any of that hemming, hawing, which characterises the speech of Englishmen, and he now pulled a comic newspaper from hia pocket. "Pray do me the favor to look at this." " It's the German ' Kladderadatch.' " Yes, a most amusing aud uever-to-bc rivalled publication. Well, you and I might be apart and yet wish to communicate with each other. Letters by post or hand may miscarry or he opened,_ but newspapers are safe. So if you receive a • Kladderadatch' by post pray look through it for a letter with a small dot under it. Then look for other dots. The further dotted letters will make up brief messages, and, my dear colleague, may I bog you to deliver these messages instantly to the prince ':" "If the prince will give me a general permission to do so," I answered, gazing again very intently at my dear colleague, ""in fact, Herr Doctor, you must excuse me for saying that if I am to obey this last instruction, and the other order about the revolver, they must be given me in writing." "I wa3 prepared for that," chirped Dr Grinzener. and he drew a loiter from his pocket. "See here, this iB addressed to you. aud contains all I have said to you so far." " And may I show the paper to the prince ?"

"If you could have the great goodness not to clo so I would prefer it; but act as you please. And now a word more of private advice. Never speak to his Royal Highness about marriage." "Why not?" " Because it is a painful subject to him—he has had many disappointments. You would not like to pass for a matchmaker, aha ! But I hear the dinner bell. I have the honor, my dear colleague. Your obedient servant. My office is on the ground floor, and if you want to see mo, send a newspaper rather than a note—a newspaper with dots. My humble compliments."

It was half-past four, so I buckled on my sword and put on my busby. A regimental band had begun playing in the courtyard as I entered the reception room, which was already crowded with officers in uniform. The master of the household, a lean and courtly old general, received the guests and gave me a benign greeting. My appearance occasioned some whispering, but nobody spoke to me, although every officer whom I passed drew his heels together and bowed from the waist. I suppose scarcely anybody knew who I was. Gradually the guests arranged themselves in order of military rank along the two sides of the room, leaving the spaces in the middle clear. I took a place among the captainß, and overheard the two officers next mo say in an undertone : " So he's really going to be married this time?" " Yes, a morganatic marriage, privately in the chapel of the palace. Ho tried hard to prevail on the King to give her the title of princess, for she would not consent without that, but the King refused; and so this afternoon, as I hear, she gave way." , " Hasn't she any title, then > " She's English—a Miss Meadowes. Her father is an English lord. They were saying at the Club that an English officer has come over to give her away in place of milord Springfield, who is ill." "Hush !" said the other, giving his friend a nudge, upon which both looked round suddenly at me, and remained silent. At this moment an official rapped a white wand on the floor ; some folding doors were thrown open, and Prince Roderick appeared, walking to the left of an Austrian archduke, and followed by a train of aides-de-camp. The archduke wore a white tunic with red trousers, and carried a cocked hat with green plumes. Prince Roderick was in light blue infantry uniform as a colonel of the Guards, and was covered with diamond stars. Both princes walked down the room, bowing to right and left as they went, and passed through the open doors at the farther end of the room into a magnificent banqueting hall. The blaze of wax candles in crystal chandeliers, the mass of gold plate and flowers on the table, the gorgeous liveries of some thirty footmen, made up a striking picture; and the menu of the dinner was evidently the work of a knowing French cook. The band in the courtyard continued to play throughout the dinner as only the military bands of Germany can play. p . I have noticed tbat men who are accustomed to very good dinners do not, as is commonly believed, grow tired of rich things and diet themselves. They do this when their stomachs give way—not before. Prince Roderick ate lobster and truffles as if they were rarities to him, and he drank champagne and claret freely. These wines soon excited him, and he talked with the i J utmost gaiety to all the guests who were i within earshot.

At our end of the table the wine produced a similar exhilaration on my neighbors, and they dropped into conversation with me. I told them who I wao, and admitted having unwillingly overheard some of their remarks.

" Is this story about the prince's marriage really true ?" I asked. " I met Miss Meadcwes last night, and not a hint of the matter reached me."

"It's quite true," answered one of the officers. "Mis 3 Meadowcs refused him several times; but to-day he was so pressing, and she so stung by the King's refusal to ennoble her, that she consented. Sir George M:ilmscy is in a great flurry." Alter dinner the company adjourned to a picture gallery, where coffee, cigars, and cigarettes were served. Prince Roderick, who appeared in the highest spirits, went, coffee-cup and cigarette in hand, from guest to guest, chattering and saying pleasant things. From all I observed I should not have judged him to be unpopular, though it struck mo that he sometimes unbent a little more than a prince should, if he wishes to preserve distances. At last ho noticed me, and approached smiling.

"Well, you have seen Dr Grinzeuer? What do you say of his English '('' " Hefspoke only German with me, sir." "Oh ! Unit's his fun ; lie talks English to perfection. Did he caution you to bring a rifle and a sword-bayonet with you whenever you came to see me V"

"He did say something about a revolver," I replied, nearly in a whisper. " That's hia craze, to think me in danger, ever since a man shot at me. But you needn't take the trouble. If I were assassinated, and you shot a bullet at my murderer, it would not bring me to life again."

(To he, continued.)

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD18891012.2.37.2

Bibliographic details

PRINCE RODERICK., Evening Star, Issue 8036, 12 October 1889, Supplement

Word Count
6,135

PRINCE RODERICK. Evening Star, Issue 8036, 12 October 1889, Supplement

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