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By Corinne Roosevelt Robinson
HAVE you heard it, the dominant call
Have you felt in the crowds of the street
By the infinite fear of our fears,
(E was one of the most intrepid of our you, meaning to conclude later whether to
war correspondents, and his name bring it out.
was Mitchell. Something was be- “Where?” ing said about the creation of little imagin- “Oh, lots of places: men's minds, if you ary kingdoms since the Prisoner of Zenda like.” showed the way. One of us had smiled at My triumph this,—but I was not allowed the poverty of imagination visible in the to score. efflorescence of multiple kingdoms, but it “I could tell you what happened in one was somebody who had no more conception of those same kingdoms.” of the richness of cerebral life involved in “Same latitude, I dare say, round the even daring to infringe the Zenda copyright corner from Roumania ?” than he had of the force that goes to the “Not so far away. We'll call it the kingbursting of buds in the spring.
dom of Arcady. Good old name. Stands “But you know," said Mitchell, “there for illogical content, makes you lubricated really are those little kingdoms, rafts of 'em, and expectant at the start. I dropped in if you're clever enough to hunt 'em down." there because for five years there'd been the
“You don't mean to tell me,” said I, most eccentric goings on. King Solon“that any inch of Europe lies there un- I'm making up names—he'd died, and his charted, waiting for your swashbuckling wife, Queen Ismia, in the minority of the pen? That you can put out a careless young prince, Belphabus, had been acting finger, to the east presumably, somewhere regent. The things that woman had done! round Bulgaria or Roumania, and hit a To begin with, the king, some time before kingdom made to your hand?”
his death, had got up a report that a few of “Oh, but they exist,” said he, with the his former subjects living in the little provirritating dogmatism of the man who has ince of Flos, nominally under the protecin his pocket the very fact that will floor tion of the King of Altaria, were unjustly treated there. They were allowed to natu- by a poet they had, and altogether it was a ralize only after a residence of seven years. proud little festival. It brought tears to the During that seven years they were ineligible eyes, if you'll permit the banality. And so for public office, and he called it a sin and it was with all trades. If workers wanted a shame to leave them unchampioned. So to give a little bit of extra time, they were he proposed to annex Flos—for purely phil- furnished with raw material, and they threw anthropic reasons, mind you, -and he did in the finished product toward the national it. The Florians didn't make any resist- theatre. So it was their theatre. See?”. ance. They'd been indifferently miserable I was irritating enough to ask here if he under the Altarians, and couldn't do much were a socialist, and he brought his comworse here."
plex capable hand down on the table. "What did the King of Altaria say to it?” “Now,” said he, “don't accuse me of
“Oh, he did what a pig does at crucial propaganda. I'm telling you what happoints of pig history. He squealed. Be- pened, that's all. And it happened. You'd cause, you see, he knew the true inward- better believe it. It was always my imness.”
pression that the queen had shown all a “Paternal feeling?"
woman's guile—a woman's in addition to a “Not for a minute. That was the second queen's, and you know a queen must have reason, made to wear outside. There's al- some instinct of statecraft even if she's only ways a serviceable reason hidden by the expected to bear princes. She's neighbor other, like a flannel petticoat under moth- to it, so to speak, and snuffed it in with her er's black silk. The real reason was that breath. She had used her arsenal of perthe Florians had discovered quicksilver to suasive weapons to convince the kingdom an astounding extent. It was a good time it wasn't she that brought about the kind, to annex 'em. Also because Altaria was pretty, sanitary ways of government, but busy with a boundary war on her other bor- the prince. All through his minority she der, with the Tellurians. I never felt sure was weaving a magic carpet for him to ride Arcady and old Telluria hadn't hatched up straight into the affections of his people. the whole thing between themselves and And he had done that very thing. He was shared the loot. Briefly, then, Flos became a fine upstanding fellow with honest eyes, Arcadian."
but not tried at all as yet, not forced up "Wasn't there any row?” said I. “Didn't against circumstance and made to take his it stir up the tribunal at The Hague? I leap or die in the ditch. My first sight of never heard ”
him was the day I pottered into the king“You make me tired,” said Mitchell. dom. I was in no particular hurry, and I "When I tell you these things happened, if wanted to go in just that way, walking, you're a polite person you wont pin me down Rücksack for luggage, to test the demoand ask me fool questions. It hurts my cratic feel of the place. I'd heard a lot professional feelings. Well, the first thing about it, and if there was plenty of material Queen Ismia did was to ask the Florians lying round loose, I was going to write a if they wanted to be given back. They book. Just as I was sitting down by the deliberated. They'd developed a caution roadside—there was an oleander hedge at bump after untold experiences of frying- my back—to eat my cheese sandwich, to pan and fire, and they implied they'd wait give me heart to storm the castle, a young and see how the regent behaved herself, and man went by, clattery-bing, on a big gray whether the prince was a good provider and horse. Two old road-menders saluted, and the old ship of state didn't seem likely to he returned it in a kind of gayety I liked; careen too far. The queen was all there and then the road-menders, as if they from the start. She shortened the hours couldn't contain their pride in him, turned of work for the silk spinners, and she built to me and clacked, “That's our prince.' ”. up the national theatre. And on Lady Day “Oh,' said I, blowing my sandwich (for the girls from the silk mill would come to microbes are no respecters of the dust of the palace, bales in hand, and present them princes), 'where's his retinue?'” toward the support of the theatre. They “One of the old men was bent like a came crowned with garlands and sang na- sickle, but he straightened up to something tional songs, old ones dug out of the past rather magnificent.
“That's our prince,' said he. Our a sympathetic sort of fellow, and finding by prince has no call for guards. We're Ar- my own word that I was an American on my cadians. He's Prince of Arcady.'
travels, with a great desire to pay my re“But I turned, by the chance that is the spects, he passed me on, and another offiinner direction of the mind, and saw in the cial did the same; and I was actually, toilfield a running figure. It leaped ditches. stained as I was from my tramp and the It ran like a scarecrow made of sticks, and prince's passing, led into the morning-room I even fancied scarecrow's rags were flut- where the prince and his mother were at tering from its thin, swift legs.
table like any simple folk. The signs of “Look at that,' said I. 'Is that going grandeur were in the hall itself, the wonderto head off your prince?'
ful lancet-windows, the cedars outside with “But the gaffer had gone back to his centuries since Lebanon in their bones, – chronic apathy, and looked, open-mouthed, and, too, in the prince and his mother, the for a minute, and then fell to work at his very cut of them. They looked mighty stones. And I finished my sandwich, and nice to me, that mother and son. She was tramped on into the town and up to the a slim, small woman-yes, really little; open castle gates. I had understood that there wasn't much to her except her royal in Arcady you might have free access to the manners—with lots of white hair, and he prince and Queen Ismia, and indeed might was the big lad I told you about. They claim shelter there so long as the bedrooms wore the ancient costume of the country, held out. There was a soldier at the gate, and it fitted the lancet-windows like a glove. I was prepared for that. It had been one They said, “Arcady's looking up.' Then of her astounding clevernesses, though they said it was comic opera. Then when ascribed, of course, to the prince. They they began to run over the tax list it made had thought it encouraging to national 'em sit up. But I'm giving you only the feeling, national industries, to return to the retail side of it. When breakfast was over, national dress. No head waiter's swallow- we three, the prince and the queen and me, tail in his. No Parisian latest agony for the plain American, we went out to walk on lady. The clothes were ready for a picture the terrace, and there was a sunken garden gallery, for grand opera. And they looked and a peacock strutting back and forth indestructible. I could believe they'd been through a pleached alley, and there were laid away in cedar chests for longer than the flags on the towers. And the queen began prince had lived.
- to tell me what a festival it was to-day: for “The queen had my card beside her you see, by luck, it was the day for the silkplate. She smiled at me and she looked weavers to come and bring their bales; and very charming. I could see at once she was by George they did come, and a mighty the sort of woman you want to pick a nose- pretty sight it was, girls walking two and gay for, or lay down your cloak in the mud. two, holding up their bales as if they were
*You have come on a gala day,' said shields with heroes on 'em, and everybody she. “We are going on pilgrimage. Will garlanded. And the girls sang: and the you join us?'
songs were all gentle, simple songs of sow“The man had brought another plate ing seed and reaping grain and blessing the there was very informal service and the apple-trees and thanking the good God. prince motioned me to his right hand. And And then the queen asked me if I had ever I sat down as I was, and wished I had not heard of Erdreich, the poet, and I said I eaten the cheese sandwich.”
had, and knew a lot of his stuff by heart. "What language do they speak?” I You see Erdreich was one of those destined asked.
chaps that aren't perhaps discovered when "Oh, any language. There's an Arca- the curtain goes up, but have an entrance dian patois something like German, but that determines the course of the play. often they speak French.”
With all this revival of the ancient humble “They knew who you were," said I. life, here was Erdreich, by God's luck, “They had your card. They wouldn't ready to snatch the old ballads out of time admit any obscure man to breakfast. You forgot, and put them in modern dress, just know that, Mitchell.”
as simple, just as pure; and there were “Oh, go 'way," said Mitchell. “Go'way those, scholars and such, that said the rewid yer blarney. Anyhow, I was there, and vival of the ancient spirit of Arcady was the queen was good to me. Well, I asked just because Erdreich had taught the poplots about Arcady, hinted at my book, and ulace to sing peace and kindliness into they were as right down cosey and sensible themselves, and there was great bandying as you please. She, the queen, came to about of the old saw about caring not who business at once, straight as a string. She made the history of the nation so somebody told me what the prince had done to touch might make the songs. And this day, said up the government and trim it with gimp the queen, she and the prince and certain and fancy lace, and how they'd gone a long of the royal household were going to ride to way on the road before anybody got wind the home of Erdreich, perhaps ten miles of it. They're such an inconsiderable king- out in the valley of the Arca, and pay their dom, you see, in point of territory. Even respects. His crowning would come later, you never heard of 'em."
and that would be official and the kingdom “Mrs. Prig never did either,” said I. would take part. But this was only to show "We don't believe there's no sich a per- in what love they held him. The princeson.'»
always the prince!-had judged it best. "Well, you pack your grip next summer, “While we were talking about Erdreich, and I'll buy you a ticket and give you an a man came out: I hesitate to say lackey. elementary phrase-book and you see. But You see everybody had the same look of when the outlying continents did hear of intentness on the business in hand and, if the changes in Arcady, first they got gay. I may make a very subtle thing so definite,