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The Lost Prince Frances Hodgson Burnett

XX Marco Goes to the Opera

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For some time Marco waited in the square and watched the carriages roll up and pass under the huge pillared portico to deposit their contents at the entrance and at once drive away in orderly sequence. He must make sure that the grand carriage with the green and silver liveries rolled up with the rest. If it came, he would buy a cheap ticket and go inside.

It was rather late when it arrived. People in Munich are not late for the opera if it can be helped, and the coachman drove up hurriedly. The green and silver footman leaped to the ground and opened the carriage door almost before it stopped. The Chancellor got out looking less genial than usual because he was afraid that he might lose some of the overture. A rosy-cheeked girl in a white frock was with him and she was evidently trying to soothe him.

``I do not think we are really late, Father,'' she said. ``Don't feel cross, dear. It will spoil the music for you.''

This was not a time in which a man's attention could be attracted quietly. Marco ran to get the ticket which would give him a place among the rows of young soldiers, artists, male and female students, and musicians who were willing to stand four or five deep throughout the performance of even the longest opera. He knew that, unless they were in one of the few boxes which belonged only to the court, the Chancellor and his rosy-cheeked daughter would be in the best seats in the front curve of the balcony which were the most desirable of the house. He soon saw them. They had secured the central places directly below the large royal box where two quiet princesses and their attendants were already seated.

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When he found he was not too late to hear the overture, the Chancellor's face become more genial than ever. He settled himself down to an evening of enjoyment and evidently forgot everything else in the world. Marco did not lose sight of him. When the audience went out between acts to promenade in the corridors, he might go also and there might be a chance to pass near to him in the crowd. He watched him closely. Sometimes his fine old face saddened at the beautiful woe of the music, sometimes it looked enraptured, and it was always evident that every note reached his soul.

The pretty daughter who sat beside him was attentive but not so enthralled. After the first act two glittering young officers appeared and made elegant and low bows, drawing their heels together as they kissed her hand. They looked sorry when they were obliged to return to their seats again.

After the second act the Chancellor sat for a few minutes as if he were in a dream. The people in the seats near him began to rise from their seats and file out into the corridors. The young officers were to be seen rising also. The rosy daughter leaned forward and touched her father's arm gently.

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The Lost Prince
Frances Hodgson Burnett

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