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   Chapter 29 AFTER WAR—PEACE

Princess Maritza By Percy James Brebner Characters: 3410

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:03

Peaceful times had fallen upon Wallaria. It is whispered sometimes that the relations between the King and the Queen are not of the happiest; but who that would publish such a statement can possibly know the truth with any certainty. It is a fact that the country is better governed. At nights the streets of Sturatzberg are far safer than they were formerly, and the brigands in the hills have been dispersed. Some political malcontents among them have been banished, but many have been pardoned, and go in and out of the city unmolested. The Court is still a brilliant one, but in these days there is no woman there as beautiful as Frina Mavrodin, and Lord Cloverton is no longer British Ambassador. He has been transferred to Paris, and this fact alone is sufficient to show that the Powers are more agreed concerning Wallaria. A less experienced man than Lord Cloverton is now at the Embassy, and has had no such troublous times to steer through as fell to his predecessor.

Yet Princess Maritza is not forgotten in Sturatzberg, and for a small bribe many a man will tell the traveler her romantic history, and will perhaps whisper in his ear, as though the spirit of revolution were not altogether dead in him:

"I was among those who fought that day in the Grande Place." So long as they live, Desmond Ellerey and his wife will not forget that day, but they seldom speak of it. It is quite certain that Maritza has never regretted the kingdom she lost. Love has crowned her life, and she is satisfied.

Long since has it been known that the story which drove Ellerey away from his country was a lie, told and substantiated by the real culprit to shield himself. By this man's tardy confession,

Ellerey's character was cleared, and many expected him to return to England at once, but he did not do so. When his brother died, and he became Sir Desmond Ellerey, he did return for a while, however, staying for some time with his old and staunch friends, Sir Charles and Lady Martin, and his beautiful wife caused a sensation. She visited her old school, and she stood with her husband upon the downs on the very spot where they had first met. But England was not for them, they decided, and their permanent home is in Italy, in sight of dancing blue waters and under a blue sky.

And in this Italian home is Stefan, whose chief duty seems to consist in worshipping Ellerey's small son, who is going to be a soldier when he grows up and win a wife like his mother, just as his father did. It is Stefan who tells him stories of the past, Stefan who fashions wooden swords for him, and who would willingly lay down his life for his father, mother, or son.

"Once I didn't care for anybody," Stefan said to the lad one day.

"You didn't know father then."

"No; and for a long time after that I hated women."

"Until you met my mother?" asked the boy.

"Yes; and until I knew Grigosie."

"Grigosie? Who was Grigosie?"

"She was a Princess."

"My mother is a Princess. Father says so."

"And some day, when you are old enough, he will tell you all about

Grigosie, too, and how it is you are not a king."

"Mother sometimes calls me her little king," said the boy.

"I don't wonder. Now it's time to mount and charge home."

So the little warrior is quickly lifted on Stefan's shoulder, and with waving wooden sword, and with curls flying, is whirled off on his willing charger.

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