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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Slim Princess - Chapter 9. As To Washington, D.C.
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The Slim Princess - Chapter 9. As To Washington, D.C. Post by :MSCOTT Category :Long Stories Author :George Ade Date :May 2012 Read :3009

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The Slim Princess - Chapter 9. As To Washington, D.C.


About the time that Mr. Pike arrived in Vienna, and after Kalora had been in voluntary retirement for some forty-eight hours, the famous Koldo, head of the secret police, came into possession of a most important clue.

Having searched for two days, without finding the trail of the criminal with the black mustache and the German accent, he bethought himself of the wisdom of going to the garden where the intruder had engaged in a desperate struggle with the two guards. Possibly he would discover incriminating footprints. Instead, he found some scraps of paper, with printing of a foreign character.

By questioning the guards he learned that these tatters had come from a printed book which the mysterious stranger had carried, and which he never relinquished even while reducing his foes to insensibility.

Koldo put these pieces of paper into a strong envelope, which he sealed and marked "Exhibit A," and delivered his precious find to the Governor-General.

While Mr. Pike sat in Ronacher's at Vienna, watching a most entertaining vaudeville performance, Count Selim Malagaski was in his library, conferring with the wise Popova.

"How did he escape?" asked Count Malagaski again and again, shaking his head. "The police have searched every corner of the town, and can find no one answering the description."

"Have you questioned Kalora again?"

"Yes, and she now remembers that he had a very heavy scar over his right eye. Her description and these few scraps of paper torn from the book he was carrying are all that we have to guide us in our search."

The Governor-General held up the several remnants of a ten-cent magazine.

"It is in English; I read it badly."

He gave the torn pages to the old tutor, and Popova, picking up the first, read as follows:

What is the great danger that threatens the American woman? It is _obesity_. It is well known that ninety-nine per cent of all the women in the United States are striving to reduce their weight. For all such we have a message of hope. Write to Madam Clarissa and she----

"The remainder is torn away," said Popova.

The Governor-General had been leaning forward, listening intently. "Do you mean to say that there is a country in which all the woman are fat?" he asked.

"It would seem so," replied Popova. "Let us read further." He picked up another of the torn pages and read aloud:

To the Oatena Company of Pine Creek, Michigan:

When I began using your wonderful health-food I was a mere skeleton. I have been living on it for three months and I have gained a pound a day. Permit me to express the conviction that you are real benefactors to the human race. Gratefully yours,

Oakdale, Arkansas.

"Stop!" exclaimed the Governor-General, striking the table. "Is it possible that somewhere in this world there is a food which will add a pound a day?"

"The testimonial seems genuine," replied Popova. "It has been sworn to before a notary."

"What country is this?"

"America, the land of milk and honey."

"Both very fattening," commented the Governor-General. "Popova, I have an inspiration. You well know that my situation here is most desperate. I must find husbands for these two daughters, but I dare not hope that any one will come for Kalora until the disgraceful affair has been forgotten and I can absolutely demonstrate that she has developed into some degree of attractiveness. It is better for all concerned that she should leave Morovenia until the present scandal blows over. Now, why not America? It is a remote, half-savage country, and she will be far from the temptations which would beset her at any fashionable capital in Europe. We read in this magazine that all the women in America are fat. She will come back to us in a little while as plump as a partridge. From the sworn testimonial it would appear that she can obtain in America a marvelous food which will cause her to gain a pound a day. She now weighs one hundred and eighteen pounds. If she remained there a year she would weigh, let me see--one hundred and eighteen plus three hundred and sixty-five--oh, that doesn't seem possible! That is too good to be true! But even six months, or only three months, would be sufficient. She _must be sent away for a while, in the care of some one who will guard her carefully. Read up on America to-night, and let me know all about it in the morning."

Next day Popova, having consulted all the British authorities at hand, reported that the United States of America covered a large but undeveloped area, that the population was so engrossed with the accumulation of wealth that it gave little heed to pleasures or intellectual relaxation, and that the country as a whole was unworthy of consideration except as the abode of a swollen material prosperity.

"Just the place for her," exclaimed the Governor-General. "No pleasures to distract her, an atmosphere of plodding commercialism, an abundance of health-giving nourishment! Perhaps the mere change of climate will have the desired effect. We will make the experiment. She is doomed if she remains here, and America seems to be our only hope. I suppose our beloved Monarch sends a minister to that country. If so, communicate with the Secretary of the Legation and request him to secure secluded apartments for her and a suite. You shall accompany her."

"I?" exclaimed Popova, unable to conceal his joy.

"Yes; she must be under careful restraint all the time. What is the capital of the United States?"

"Washington. It is a sleepy and well-behaved town. I have looked it up."

"Good! You shall take her to Washington. If one of the many civil wars should break out, or there should be an uprising of the red men, she can hurry to the protection of the Turkish Embassy. Let us make immediate preparations--and remember, Popova, that my whole future happiness as a father depends upon the success of this expedition."

When Kalora was gravely informed by her father that she and the tutor and a half-dozen female attendants were to be bundled up and sent away to America, and that she was to do penance, take a dieting treatment, and come back in due time to try and atone for her unfortunate past, did she weep and beg to be allowed to remain at her own dear home? No; she listened in apparently meek and rather mournful submission, and, after her father went away, she turned handsprings across the room.

Her utmost dream of happiness had been realized. She was to go to the land of the red-headed stranger where she would be admired and courted, and where, in time, she might aspire to the ultimate honor of having her picture in a ten-cent magazine.

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CHAPTER X. ON THE WINGThe 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.

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CHAPTER V. HE ARRIVESKalora was alone. After putting the company to consternation she had flung herself defiantly back into the chair and directed a most contemptuous gaze at all the desirable young men of her native land. The Governor-General made a choking attempt to apologize and explain, and then, groping for an excuse to send the people away, suggested that the company view the new stables. The acrobats were dismissed. The guests went rapidly to an inspection of the carriages and horses. They were glad to escape. Jeneka, crushed in spirit and shamed at the brazen performance of her sister, began