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The Puppet Crown   By: (1871-1932)

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First Page:

THE PUPPET CROWN

by Harold MacGrath

TO THE MEMORY OF THAT GOOD FRIEND AND COMRADE OF MY YOUTH MY FATHER

CONTENTS

I. THE SCEPTER WHICH WAS A STICK II. THE COUP D'ETAT OF COUSIN JOSEF III. AN EPISODE TEN YEARS AFTER IV. AN ADVENTURE WITH ROYALTY V. BEHIND THE PUPPET BOOTH VI. MADEMOISELLE OF THE VEIL VII. SOME DIALOGUE, AN SPRAINED ANKLE, AND SOME SOLDIERS VIII. THE RED CHATEAU IX. NOTHING MORE SERIOUS THAN A HOUSE PARTY X. BEING OF LONG RIDES, MAIDS, KISSES AND MESSAGES XI. THE DENOUEMENT XII. WHOM THE GODS DESTROY AND A FEW OTHERS XIII. BEING OF COMPLICATIONS NOT RECKONED ON XIV. QUI M'AIME, AIME MON CHIEN XV. IN WHICH FORTUNE BECOMES CARELESS AND PRODIGAL XVI. WHAT HAPPENED AT THE ARCHBISHOP'S PLACE AND AFTER XVII. SOME PASSAGES AT ARMS XVIII. A MINOR CHORD AND A CHANGE OF MOVEMENT XIX. A CHANCE RIDE IN THE NIGHT XX. THE LAST STAND OF A BAD SERVANT XXI. A COURT FETE AT THE RED CHATEAU XXII. IN WHICH MAURICE RECURS TO OFFENBACH XXIII. A GAME OF POKER AND THE STAKES XXIV. THE PRISONER OF THE RED CHATEAU XXV. THE FORTUNES OF WAR XXVI. A PAGE FORM TASSO XXVII. WORMWOOD AND LEES XXVIII. INTO THE HANDS OF AUSTRIA XXIX. INTO STILL WATERS AND SILENCE

Ah Love! Could you and I with Him conspire To grasp this sorry Scheme of Things entire Would not we shatter it to bits and then Re mold it nearer to the Heart's desire!

Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

CHAPTER I. THE SCEPTER WHICH WAS A STICK

The king sat in his private garden in the shade of a potted orange tree, the leaves of which were splashed with brilliant yellow. It was high noon of one of those last warm sighs of passing summer which now and then lovingly steal in between the chill breaths of September. The velvet hush of the mid day hour had fallen.

There was an endless horizon of turquoise blue, a zenith pellucid as glass. The trees stood motionless; not a shadow stirred, save that which was cast by the tremulous wings of a black and purple butterfly, which, near to his Majesty, fell, rose and sank again. From a drove of wild bees, swimming hither and thither in quest of the final sweets of the year, came a low murmurous hum, such as a man sometimes fancies he hears while standing alone in the vast auditorium of a cathedral.

The king, from where he sat, could see the ivy clad towers of the archbishop's palace, where, in and about the narrow windows, gray and white doves fluttered and plumed themselves. The garden sloped gently downward till it merged into a beautiful lake called the Werter See, which, stretching out several miles to the west, in the heart of the thick wooded hills, trembled like a thin sheet of silver.

Toward the south, far away, lay the dim, uneven blue line of the Thalian Alps, which separated the kingdom that was from the duchy that is, and the duke from his desires. More than once the king leveled his gaze in that direction, as if to fathom what lay behind those lordly rugged hills.

There was in the air the delicate odor of the deciduous leaves which, every little while, the king inhaled, his eyes half closed and his nostrils distended. Save for these brief moments, however, there rested on his countenance an expression of disenchantment which came of the knowledge of a part ill played, an expression which described a consciousness of his unfitness and inutility, of lethargy and weariness and distaste.

To be weary is the lot of kings, it is a part of their royal prerogative; but it is only a great king who can be weary gracefully. And Leopold was not a great king; indeed, he was many inches short of the ideal; but he was philosophical, and by the process of reason he escaped the pitfalls which lurk in the path of peevishness.

To know the smallness of the human atom, the limit of desire, the existence of other lives as precious as their own, is not the philosophy which makes great kings... Continue reading book >>




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