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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Slim Princess - Chapter 12. The Governor Cables
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The Slim Princess - Chapter 12. The Governor Cables Post by :windermere Category :Long Stories Author :George Ade Date :May 2012 Read :1788

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The Slim Princess - Chapter 12. The Governor Cables

CHAPTER XII. THE GOVERNOR CABLES

"I don't believe it. It's too good to be true. I am in a trance. It isn't you, is it?"

And he was still holding her hand.

"Yes--it is."

"The Princess--ah--?"

"Kalora."

"_That's it. I was so busy thinking of you after I left your cute little country that I couldn't remember the name. I thought of 'calico' and 'Fedora' and 'Kokomo' and a lot of names that sounded like it, but I knew I was wrong. _Kalora_--_Kalora_--I'll remember that. I knew it began with a 'K.' But what in the name of all that is pure and sanctified are you doing in the land of the free?"

"You invited me to come. Don't you remember? You urged me to come."

"That's why you notified me as soon as you arrived, isn't it? How long have you been here?"

"I forget--three months--four months. Surely you have seen my name in the papers. Every morning you may read a full description of what Princess Kalora of Morovenia wore the night before. For a simple and democratic people you are rather fond of high-sounding titles, don't you think?"

"I haven't read the papers, because I'm always afraid I'll find something about myself. They don't describe my costumes, however. They simply say that I am trying to blow up and scuttle the ship of State. But this has nothing to do with your case. It is customary, when you accept an invitation, to let the host know something about it. In other words, why didn't you drop me a line?"

"I will confess--the whole truth--since you have been candid enough to admit that you had forgotten my name. I tried to find you, through the Legation. I described you, but--your name--_please tell me your name again? You mentioned it, that day in the garden. Popova promised to go to the hotel and get it for me, but we were bundled away in such a hurry."

"Heavens! Imagine any one forgetting such a name! Alexander H. Pike, Bessemer, Pennsylvania, tariff-fed infant and all-round plutocrat."

"Why, of course, _Pike, Pike_--it is the name of a fish."

"Thank you."

The young gentleman from the army moved uneasily, and they remembered that he was present. He hoped they wouldn't mind if he went to look up his partner for the next dance, and they assured him that they wouldn't, and he believed them and was backing away when Popova arrived to suggest the lateness of the hour and intimate his willingness to return to the hotel.

His sudden journey to the western hemisphere and his period of residence at Washington had been punctuated with surprises, but the amazement which smote him when he saw Kalora leaning across the table toward the young man who had introduced the gin fizz into Morovenia was sudden and shocking.

Mr. Pike greeted him rapturously and gave him the keys to North America, and then Kalora patted him on the arm and sent him away to wait for her.

They sat and talked for an hour--sat and talked and laughed and pieced out between them the wonderful details of that very lively day in Morovenia.

"And you have come all the way to Washington, D.C. in order to increase your weight?" he asked. "That certainly would make a full-page story for a Sunday paper. Think of anybody's coming to Washington to fatten up! Why, when I come down here to regulate these committees, I lose a pound a day."

"I never dreamed that there could be a country in which women are given so much freedom--so many liberties."

"And what we don't give them, they take--which is eminently correct. Of all the sexes, there is only one that ever made a real impression on me."

"And to think that some day I shall have to return to Morovenia!"

"Forget it," urged Mr. Pike, in a low and soothing tone. "Far be it from me to start anything in your family, but if I were you, I would never go back there to serve a life sentence in one of those lime-kilns, with a curtain over my face. You are now at the spot where woman is real superintendent of the works, and this is where you want to camp for the rest of your life."

"But I can not disobey my father. I dare not remain if he--"

She paused, realizing that the talk had led her to dangerous ground, for Mr. Pike had dropped his large hand on her small one and was gazing at her with large devouring eyes.

"You won't go back if I can help it," he said, leaning still nearer to her. "I know this is a little premature, even for me, but I just want you to know that from the minute I looked down from the wall that day and saw you under the tree--well, I haven't been able to find anything else in the world worth looking at. When I met you again to-night, I didn't remember your name. You didn't remember my name. What of that? We know each other pretty well--don't you think we do? The way you looked at me, when I came across to speak to you--I don't know, but it made me believe, all at once, that maybe you had been thinking of me, the same as I had been thinking of you. If I'm saying more than I have a right to say, head me off, but, for once in my life, I'm in earnest."

"I'm glad--you like me," she said, and she pushed back in her chair and looked down and away from him and felt that her face was burning with blushes.

"When you have found out all about me, I hope you'll keep on speaking to me just the same," he continued. "I warn you that, from now on, I am going to pester you a lot. You'll find me sitting on your front door-step every morning, ready to take orders. To-morrow I must hie me to New York, to explain to some venerable directors why the net earnings have fallen below forty per cent. But when I return, O fair maiden, look out for me."

He would be back in Washington within three days. He would come to her hotel. They were to ride in the motor-car and they were to go to the theaters. She must meet his mother. His mother would take her to New York, and there would be the opera, and this, and that, and so on, for he was going to show her all the attractions of the Western Hemisphere.

The night was thinning into the grayness of dawn when he took her to the waiting carriage. She put her hand through the window and he held it for a long time, while they once more went over their delicious plans.

After the carriage had started, Popova spoke up from his dark corner.

"I am beginning to understand why you wished to come to America. Also I have made a discovery. It was Mr. Pike who overcame the guards and jumped over the wall."

"I shall ask the Governor-General to give you Koldo's position."

An enormous surprise was waiting for them at the hotel. It was a cable from Morovenia--long, decisive, definite, composed with an utter disregard for heavy tolls. It directed Popova to bring the shameless daughter back to Morovenia immediately--not a moment's delay under pain of the most horrible penalties that could be imagined. They were to take the first steamer. They were to come home with all speed. Surely there was no mistaking the fierce intent of the message.

Popova suffered a moral collapse and Kalora went into a fit of weeping. Both of them feared to return and yet, at such a crisis, they knew that they dared not disobey.

The whole morning was given over to hurried packing-up. An afternoon train carried them to New York. A steamer was to sail early next day, and they went aboard that very night.

Kalora had left a brief message at her hotel in Washington. It was addressed to Mr. Alexander H. Pike, and simply said that something dreadful had happened, that she had been called home, that she was going back to a prison the doors of which would never swing open for her, and she must say good-by to him for ever.

She tried to communicate with him before sailing away from New York. Messenger boys, bribed with generous cab-fares, were sent to all the large hotels, but they could not find the right Mr. Pike. The real Mr. Pike was living at a club.

She leaned over the railing and watched the gang-plank until the very moment of sailing, hoping that he might appear. But he did not come, and she went to her state-room and tried to forget him, and to think of something other than the reception awaiting her back in the dismal region known as Morovenia.

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