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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Slim Princess - Chapter 10. On The Wing
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The Slim Princess - Chapter 10. On The Wing Post by :windermere Category :Long Stories Author :George Ade Date :May 2012 Read :940

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The Slim Princess - Chapter 10. On The Wing

CHAPTER X. ON THE WING

The train rolled away from the low and dingy station and was in the open country of Morovenia. Kalora and her elderly guardian and the young women who were to be her companions during the period of exile had been tucked away into adjoining compartments. Each young woman was muffled and veiled according to the most discreet and orthodox rules.

Popova's bright red fez contrasted strangely with his silvering hair, but no more strangely than did this wondrous experience of starting for a new world contrast with the quiet years that he had spent among his books.

The train sped into the farm-lands. On either side was a wide stretch of harvest fields, heaving into gentle billows, with here and there a shabby cluster of buildings. If Kalora had only known, Morovenia was very much like the far-away America, except that Morovenia had not learned to decorate the hillsides with billboards.

At last she was to have a taste of freedom! No father to scold and plead; no much-superior sister to torment her with reproaches; no peering through grated windows at one little rectangle of outside sunshine. To be sure, Popova had received explicit and positive instructions concerning her government. But Popova--pshaw!

She unwound her veil and removed her head-gear and sat bareheaded by the car-window, greedily welcoming each new picture that swung into view.

"You must keep your face covered while we are in public or semi-public places," said Popova gently, repeating his instructions to the very letter.

"I shall not."

Thus ended any exercise of Popova's authority during the whole journey.

Before the train had come to Budapest all the young women, urged on to insubordination, had removed their veils, and Kalora had boldly invaded another compartment to engage in rapt and feverish dialogue with a little but vivacious Frenchwoman.

Two hours out from Vienna, the tutor found her involved in a business conference with a guard of the train. She had learned that the tickets permitted a stopover in Vienna. She wished to see Vienna. She had decided to spend one whole day in Vienna.

Popova, as usual, made a feeble show of maintaining his authority, but he was overruled.

Count Selim Malagaski, at home, consulting the prearranged schedule, said, "This morning they have arrived in Paris and Popova is arranging for the steamship tickets."

At which very moment, Kalora was in an open carriage driving from one Vienna shop to another, trying to find ready-made garments similar to those worn by Mrs. Rawley Plumston. Popova was now a bundle-carrier.

The shopping in Vienna was merely a prelude to a riotous extravagance of time and money in Paris. Popova, writing under dictation, sent a message to Morovenia to the effect that they had been compelled to wait a week in order to get comfortable rooms on a steamer.

Kalora had the dressmakers working night and day.

She and her mother and her grandmother and her great-grandmother and the whole line of maternal ancestors had been under suppression and had attired themselves according to the directions of a religious Prophet, who had been ignorant concerning color effects. And yet, now that Kalora had escaped from the cage, the original instinct asserted itself. The love of finery can not be eliminated from any feminine species.

When she boarded the steamer she was outwardly a creature of the New World.

From the moment of embarking she seemed exhilarated by the salt air and the spirit of democracy.

She lingered in New York--more shopping.

By the time she arrived at Washington and went breezing in to call upon a certain dignified young Secretary, the transformation was complete. She might not have been put together strictly according to mode, but she was learning rapidly, and willing to learn more rapidly.

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