The Lad and the Lionby Edgar Rice Burroughs
A stately pile of ancient masonry rose in a great park of linden trees and ash and oak. There were broad, formal gardens and great expanses of level sward. There were gleaming marble fountains throwing their shimmering waters into the warm sunlight. There were men in uniform standing guard-tall, splendid fellows. A sad-faced old man walked along neat gravelled… See more details below
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A stately pile of ancient masonry rose in a great park of linden trees and ash and oak. There were broad, formal gardens and great expanses of level sward. There were gleaming marble fountains throwing their shimmering waters into the warm sunlight. There were men in uniform standing guard-tall, splendid fellows. A sad-faced old man walked along neat gravelled pathways through the gardens, past the marble fountains. He was a very erect old man whose unbending shoulders and firm gait belied his age, for he was really a very old man. At the old man's side walked a little boy; and when the two approached them, the soldiers snapped their burnished pieces smartly in salute.
The old man was inordinately proud of the little boy. That was why he liked to have him walk with him in the gardens and down near the great gates where people often gathered to see them as they passed. He liked to have him ride with him through the city in one of the royal carriages where all the people might see him; for when the old man died, the little boy would be king.
"The people seem to like us," said the boy, as they passed the gates and the crowd waved and smiled and cheered. "That is why I cannot understand why they killed my father."
"They do not all like us," said the old man.
"Why don't they?" asked the boy.
"It is not so much that they do not like us as that they do not like kings. They believe that they, who know nothing about ruling, can rule better than we who are trained to rule and whose families have ruled for centuries."
"Well," said the boy, with finality, "they like you; and when I am king, I shall try to rule as you have."
"I could wish that you might never be king," said the old man, bitterly. "It is a thankless job, Michael."
Three men sat on the verandah of a hunting lodge in the cool woods a few miles from the capital. One was a little, myopic man with horn-rimmed spectacles and thin, disordered hair that had not known shears for many weeks. His collar was soiled; so was his shirt, but most of that which showed in the V of his coat collar was hidden by a Windsor tie. He was a mussy little man with mussy clothes and trousers which made him appear about to jump, when he stood. His mind, however, was not mussy. Its facts were well ordered and easily accessible to a glib tongue which could marshal them in any formation that seemed best adapted to the occasion; on it, all facts seemed plastic, assuming any guise the little man desired to give them. Often the little facts' own mothers would not have recognized them.
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