The Princess Elopes (Chapter VIII, page 1 of 12)


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Shortly before six o'clock--dinner in the palace was rarely served
until half-after eight--the Honorable Betty sat down to her
writing-desk in her boudoir, which opened directly into that belonging
to the princess, to write a few letters home. A dinner was to be given
to the state officials that night, and she knew from experience that
after that solemn event was concluded it would be too late for the
departing mails. She seemed to have no difficulty in composing her
thoughts and transferring them to paper. There were times when she
would lean back, nibble the end of her pen and smile in a dreamy,
retrospective fashion. No doubt her thoughts were pleasant and
agreeable.

She had completed addressing three envelopes, when she heard the door
leading into the princess' boudoir open and close. She turned to
behold the princess herself.

"Why, Gretchen, where are you going?"--noting the grey walking-dress,
the grey hat, the sensible square-toed shoes.

"I am going to visit a sick nurse," replied her Highness, avoiding the
other's eye.

"But shall you have time to dress for dinner?"

"That depends. Besides, the official dinners are a great bore." Her
Highness came forward, caught the dark head of the English girl between
her gloved hands, pressed it against her heart, bent and kissed it.
"What a lovely girl you are, Betty! always unruffled, always
even-tempered. You will grow old very gracefully."

"I hope so; but I do not want to grow old at all. Can't I go with
you?"--eagerly.

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