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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Slim Princess - Chapter 13. The Home-Coming
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The Slim Princess - Chapter 13. The Home-Coming Post by :windermere Category :Long Stories Author :George Ade Date :May 2012 Read :1269

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The Slim Princess - Chapter 13. The Home-Coming

CHAPTER XIII. THE HOME-COMING

The Governor-General waited in the main reception-room for the truant expedition. He was hoping against hope. Orders had been given that Popova, Kalora and the whole disobedient crew should be brought before him as soon as they arrived. His wrath had not cooled, but somehow his confidence in himself seemed slowly to evaporate, as it came time for him to administer the scolding--the scolding which he had rehearsed over and over in his mind.

He heard the rolling wheels grit on the drive outside, and then there was murmuring conversation in the hallway, and then Kalora entered. His most dreadful suspicions were ten times confirmed. She wore no veil and no flowing gown. She was tightly incased in a gray cloth suit, and there was no mistaking the presence of a corset underneath. On her head was a kind of Alpine hat with a defiant feather standing upright at one side. Before her father had time to study the details of this barbaric costume, he sat staring at her as she was silhouetted for an instant between him and the open window.

Merciful Mahomet! She was as lean and supple as an Austrian race-horse!

He could say nothing. She ran over and gave him a smack on the forehead and then said cheerily:

"Well, popsy, here I am! What do you think of me?"

While Count Selim Malagaski was holding to his chair and trying to sort out from the limited vocabulary of Morovenia the words that could express his boiling emotions, he saw Popova standing shamefaced in the doorway. Was it really Popova? The tutor wore a traveling-suit with large British checks, a blue four-in-hand, and, instead of a fez, a rakish cap with a peak in front. As he edged into the room the young women attendants filed timidly behind him. Horror upon horrors! They were in shirt-waists, with skirts that came tightly about the hips, and every one of them wore a chip hat, and not one of them was veiled!

The Governor-General tried to steady himself in order to meet this unprecedented crisis.

"So this is how you have managed my affairs?" he said in angry tones to the trembling Popova.

"What is the meaning of this shocking exhibition?"

"Don't blame him, father," spoke up Kalora. "I am responsible for whatever has happened. We have seen something of the world. We have learned that Morovenia is about two hundred years behind the times. They knew that you would not approve, but I have compelled them to have the courage of their convictions. You can see for yourself that we no longer belong here. There is but one thing for you to do, and that is to send us away again."

"No!" exclaimed her father, banging his fist on the table, and then coming to his feet. "You shall remain here--all of you--and be punished! You have ruined your own prospects; you have condemned your poor sister to a life of single misery, and you have made your father the laughing-stock of all Morovenia! If I can not reform you and make you a dutiful child, at least I can make an example of you!"

"Stop!" she said very sharply. "Let us not have an unfortunate scene in the presence of the servants. If you have anything to say to me, send them away, and remember also, father, I have certain rights which even you must respect. Also, I have a great surprise for you. I am beautiful. Hundreds of young men have told me so. Under no circumstances would I permit myself to become large and gross and bulky. You are disheartened because no young man in Morovenia wishes to marry me. Bless you, there isn't a young man in this country worth marrying!"

"Young woman, you have taxed my patience far beyond the limit," said her father, speaking low in an effort to control his wrath. "Hereafter you shall never go beyond the walls of this palace! You shall be a waiting-maid for your sister! The servants shall be instructed to treat you as a menial--one of their own class! These shameless women are dismissed from my service! As for you"--turning upon the old tutor--"you shall be put away under lock and key until I can devise some punishment severe enough to fit your case!"

That night Kalora slept on a hard and narrow cot in a bare apartment adjoining her sister's gorgeous boudoir--quite a change from the suite overlooking the avenue.

The shirt-waist brigade had been sent into banishment, and poor Popova was sitting on a wooden stool in a dungeon, thinking of the dinners he had eaten at Old Point Comfort and wondering if he had not overplayed himself in the effort to be avenged upon the Governor-General.

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