The Princess Elopes (Chapter II, page 1 of 16)


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As I have already remarked, I used frequently to take long rides into
the country, and sometimes I did not return till the following day. My
clerk was always on duty, and the work never appeared to make him
round-shouldered.

I had ridden horses for years, and to throw a leg over a good mount was
to me one of the greatest pleasures in the world. I delighted in
stopping at the old feudal inns, of studying the stolid German peasant,
of drinking from steins uncracked these hundred years, of inspecting
ancient armor and gathering trifling romances attached thereto. And
often I have had the courage to stop at some quaint, crumbling
_Schloss_ or castle and ask for a night's lodging for myself and horse.
Seldom, if ever, did I meet with a refusal.

I possessed the whimsical habit of picking out strange roads and riding
on till night swooped down from the snow-capped mountains. I had a bit
of poetry in my system that had never been completely worked out, and I
was always imagining that at the very next _Schloss_ or inn I was to
hit upon some delectable adventure. I was only twenty-eight, and
inordinately fond of my Dumas.

I rode in grey whipcord breeches, tan boots, a blue serge coat, white
stock, and never a hat or cap till the snow blew. I used to laugh when
the peasants asked leave to lend me a cap or to run back and find the
one I had presumably lost.

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