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14

ROYAL HIGHNESS

"As you wish, your Excellency! Then I have the honour to beg your Excellency to assume this most important charge.…"

This dialogue referred to the attributes of the Minister of State, as registrar of the Grand Ducal house, in which capacity he was required to satisfy himself with his own eyes of the sex of the princely offspring and to make an official declaration on the subject. Herr von Knobelsdorff complied with this formality in the so-called powder-closet in which the new-born babe was bathed. He stayed longer there, however, than he had intended to, as he was puzzled and arrested by a painful sight, which at first he mentioned to nobody except the midwife.

Doctor Gnadebusch showed him the child, and her eyes, gleaming mysteriously behind her thick spectacles, travelled between the Minister of State and the little copper-coloured creature, as it groped about with one-only one—little hand, as if she were saying: "Is it all-right?"

It was all right. Herr von Knobelsdorff was satisfied, and the wise woman wrapped the child up again. But even then she continued to look down at the Prince and then up at the Baron, until she had drawn his eyes to the point to which she wished to attract them. The wrinkles at the corners of his eyes disappeared, he knit his brows, tried, compared, felt, examined for two or three minutes, and at last asked: "Has the Grand Duke yet seen it?"

"No, Excellency."

"When the Grand Duke sees it," said Herr von Knobelsdorff," tell him that he will grow out of it."

And to the others on the ground-floor he reported—"A splendid prince!"

But ten or fifteen minutes after him the Grand Duke also made the disagreeable discovery,—that was unavoidable, and resulted for Surgeon-General Eschrich in a