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


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The princess rose at dawn the following day. She routed out Hans, the
head groom, and told him to saddle Artemis, the slim-limbed, seal-brown
filly which an English nobleman had given to her. Ten minutes later
she was in the saddle, and the heaviness on her heart seemed to rise
and vanish like the opal mists on the bosom of the motionless lake. A
pale star blinked at her, and the day, flushed like the cheek of a
waking infant, began drowsily to creep over the rolling mountains.

How silent all the city was! Only here and there above the chimneys
rose a languid film of smoke. The gates of the park shut behind her
with a clang, and so for a time she was alone and free. She touched
Artemis with a spur, and the filly broke into a canter toward the lake
road. The girl's nostrils dilated. Every flower, the thousand
resinous saps of the forest, the earth itself, yielded up a cool sweet
perfume that was to the mind what a glass of wine is to the blood,
exhilaration.

Mottled with pink, and gray, and blue, and gold, the ever-changing hues
of the morning, the surface of the lake was as smooth as her mirror
and, like it, always reflecting beauty. Fish leaped forth and fell
with a sounding splash, and the circles would widen and gradually
vanish. A blackbird dipped among the silent rushes; a young fox barked
importantly; a hawk flashed by. The mists swam hither and thither
mysteriously, growing thinner and fainter as the gold of day grew
brighter and clearer. Suddenly--in the words of the old
tent-maker--the false morning died, and it was day.

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