of feeling in the town must be. But if Fate made me a King, the least I could do was to play the part handsomely.
Why this change in our order, Marshal? said I.
The Marshal bit his white moustache.
It is more prudent, sire, he murmured.
I drew rein.
Let those in front ride on, said I, till they are fifty yards ahead. But do you, Marshal, and Colonel Sapt and my friends, wait here till I have ridden fifty yards. And see that no one is nearer to me. I will have my people see that their King trusts them.
Sapt laid his hand on my arm. I shook him off. The Marshal hesitated.
Am I not understood? said I; and, biting his moustache again, he gave the orders. I saw old Sapt smiling into his beard, but he shook his head at me. If I had been killed in open day in the streets of Strelsau, Sapts position would have been a difficult one.
Perhaps I ought to say that I was dressed all in white, except my boots. I wore a silver helmet with gilt ornaments, and the broad ribbon of the Rose looked well across my chest. I should be paying a poor compliment to the King if I did not set modesty aside and admit that I made a very fine figure. So the people thought; for when I, riding alone, entered the dingy, sparsely decorated, sombre streets of the Old Town, there was first a murmur, then a cheer, and a woman, from a window above a cookshop, cried the old local saying:
If hes red, hes right! whereat I laughed and took off my helmet that she might see that I was of the right colour and they cheered me again at that.
It was more interesting riding thus alone, for I heard the comments of the crowd.
He looks paler than his wont, said one.
Youd look pale if you lived as he does, was the highly disrespectful retort.
Hes a bigger man than I thought, said another.
So he had a good jaw under that beard after all, commented a third.
The pictures of him arent handsome enough, declared a pretty girl, taking great care that I should hear. No doubt it was mere flattery.
But, in spite of these signs of approval and interest, the mass of the people received me in silence and with sullen looks, and my dear brothers portrait ornamented most of the windowswhich was an ironical sort of greeting to the King. I was quite glad that he had been spared the unpleasant sight. He was a man of quick temper, and perhaps he would not have taken it so placidly as I did.
At last we were at the Cathedral. Its great grey front, embellished with hundreds of statues and boasting a pair of the finest oak doors in Europe, rose for the first time before me, and the sudden sense of my audacity almost overcame me. Everything was in a mist as I dismounted. I saw the Marshal and Sapt dimly, and dimly the throng of gorgeously robed priests who awaited me. And my eyes were still dim as I walked up the great nave, with the pealing of the organ in my ears. I saw nothing of the brilliant throng that filled it, I hardly distinguished the stately figure of the Cardinal as he rose from the archiepiscopal throne to greet me. Two faces only stood out side by side clearly before my eyesthe face of a girl,
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