Arms and the Woman (Chapter 5, page 1 of 10)


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Chapter 5

Hillars went to the sideboard and emptied half a glass of brandy.
Coming back to his chair he remained in a reverie for a short time.
Then he resumed his narrative.

The Princess looked up into my face and smiled.

"Yes; thence to France. Ah, I could go alone. But listen, monsieur.
Above all things there must be a scandal. A Princess elopes with an
American adventurer. The Prince will withdraw his suit. The King may
or may not forgive me; but I will risk it. He is still somewhat fond
of me, notwithstanding the worry I have caused him. This way is the
only method by which I may convince him how detestable this engagement
is to me. Yet, my freedom is more to me than my principality. Let the
King bestow it upon whom he will. I shall become a teacher of
languages, or something of that sort. I shall be free and happy. Oh,
you will have a merry tale to tell, a merry adventure. You will return
to your country. You will be the envy of your compatriots. You will
recount at your clubs a story such as men read, but never hear told!"
She was growing a bit hysterical. As she looked at me she saw that my
face was grave.

"Is there no other way?" I asked. "Can it not be accomplished without
scandal?"

"No. There must be scandal. Otherwise I should be brought back and
forgiven, and no one would know. In a certain sense, I am valuable.
The Hohenphalians love me; I am something of an idol to them. The King
appreciates my rule. It gives him a knowledge that there will be no
internal troubles in Hohenphalia so long as matters stand as they now
do. Still, there are limits to the King's patience; and I am about to
try them severely. But monsieur hesitates; he will withdraw his
promise."

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