Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

with such theories, the entire royal family, king, queen, and prince, were just exactly what was needed. They were as simple and unpretentious as they were good and charming. Olaf was a dear little boy, and the people at large were immensely pleased with him. The King was a trump, privately and publicly; he took a keen and intelligent interest in every question affecting his people, treated them and was treated by them with a curiously simple democracy of attitude which was free from make-believe on either side, and therefore free from the offensive and unpleasant characteristics that were evident in, for instance, the relations of Louis Philippe and the Parisian populace, and while he unhesitatingly and openly discussed questions with his ministers, never in the slightest way sought to interfere with or hamper their free action.

In such a monarchy formal state and ceremonial at the court would have been absurd. Staying at the palace was like staying at any gentleman's house with exceptionally charming and friendly hosts. On the first afternoon, shortly after arriving, I was in the sitting room, when in came the King and Queen with Olaf. Mrs. Roosevelt was in her room, dressing. I gave Olaf various bits of bloodcurdling information about lions and elephants; and after a while his mother and father rose, and said: “Come, Olaf, we must go.” Olaf's face fell. “But am I not to see the wife?" he said. We assured him he should see the wife at tea. He was not a bit spoiled; his delight was a romp with his father, and he speedily pressed Kermit and Ethel, whom he adored, into the games. In the end I too succumbed and romped with him as I used to romp with my own children when they were small. Outside of his own father and mother we were apparently the only persons who had ever really played with him in a fashion which he considered adequate; and he loudly bewailed our departure:

When we reached London, where he had been brought by his father and mother to attend his grandfather's funeral, Princess Beatrice brightened up for a moment as she told me that Olaf had announced to her: "I would like to marry Ethel; but I know I never shall!” Later, after the funeral, when I called to pay my respects to Queen Alexandra at Buckingham Palace, after being received by her I was taken to see her sister the Dowager-Empress of Russia. She was a very intelligent woman, and kept me nearly an hour discussing all kinds of subjects. Towards the end I began to hear little squeals in the hall, and when I left the Empress, there was Olaf patiently waiting outside the door. He had heard I was in the Palace, and had refused to go down to his dinner until he could see me-with the obvious belief that I would have a game of romps with him. I tossed him in the air, and rolled him on the floor while he shouted with delight; then happening to glance up, I saw that the noise had attracted the Empress, who had opened the door to look on; I paused for a moment, whereupon Olaf exclaimed with a woe-begone face "but aren't you going on with the play?"

At Christiania I saw Nansen the arctic explorer; he reminded me that a dozen years before, when he had dined with me while in America, he had told me that Peary was the best man among the living arctic explorers, and that he had a first-class chance to reach the pole. I had to speak to the Nobel Committee, at the University, at a huge “Banquet” of the canonical--and unspeakably awful type-and thoroughly enjoyed seeing the vigorous, self-reliant people; they lined the streets in dense masses, and had a peculiar barking cheer, unlike any I ever heard elsewhere. But we enjoyed most the family life—it was real family life-of our host and hostess; it was not only very pleasant, but restful, in the palace; we felt as if we were visiting friends, who were interesting and interested, and who wished us to be comfortable in any way we chose. They both frankly commiserated us because we were to stay in the palace at Berlin, for they looked back with lively horror to the way the Kaiser had drilled them when they were at the palace. Said Queen Maud: “I was so frightened that finally I grew afraid to speak to any of them; and when I tried to speak to the servants, I found that they were just as much

[ocr errors]

afraid of me!" They were much interested when I told them my experience about the invitation the Emperor had sent me. This was at Cairo; and the invitation to stay at the palace was to me only. I saw Count Hatzfeld, the German diplomatic agent, an old friend, and told him that I was sure that this was a mistake, and that the Emperor did not know that Mrs. Roosevelt was with me; because of course I could not accept if Mrs. Roosevelt was not included. A couple of days later he came to see me, told me that he had cabled to Berlin, that, as I had supposed, it was simply a mistake, and that we would at once receive an invitation for both of us; which came immediately afterwards.

In Norway I got an attack of bronchitis, which nearly destroyed my voice, and I had to do a good deal of doctoring for the rest of the trip; but I managed to meet every engagement, though in Sweden and Germany I had some hard times.

[ocr errors]

CHAPTER XVII

FROM KHARTOUM TO LONDON-CONCLUDED

SWEDEN was delightful! We stayed at the Palace, and the Crown Prince and Princess were our hosts, as the king was in the South of Europe. There was a serious-minded uncle, a very strong Y. M. C. A. man, and another uncle, of the hussar colonel type. The Crown Prince himself was a thoroughly good fellow, very serious and honest, the kind of man who, if he were in England, would have made a good, rather radical, Liberal Member of Parliament, and I am sure would on the whole have backed up your son. His wife was physically, mentally and morally a thoroughly healthy and charming woman, and their three little children were evidently being brought up well in all respects, and were as attractive, busy, vigorous small souls as one could wish to see; the elder couple playing with steam-engine-like energy, and the baby crowing with lusty delight. We lunched with a younger brother, Prince Wilhelm. He had lunched with me in America, but as at that time there had been nothing specially to identify him, it had entirely slipped my mind, and I nearly got into a scrape by asking his wife if I had not met him before. She, by the way, was a Russian princess, rather a young girl with a pretty mutinous face, very fond of her baby. She was a curiously Russian type; one of the things that amused me with all these royalties was the way that they resembled the types of their respective countries, although of course they were all of mixed blood, and, in all of them, the predominant strain was German-this quite as much out of Germany as within it. The princess in question was intelligent and cultivated.

There was one little incident in connection with our host and hostess which quite amused me. We breakfasted and dined with them either alone or with only other members of the family present, owing to the court being in mourning for the King of England. This was a great relief to us. They were thoroughly nice people, and we enjoyed being with them, as it was interesting to get their ideas; although we found that there was no use trying to talk of books with these or any other of the royalties, excepting the Italians and the Queen of Belgium. At dinner the Crown Princess turned to me and said: “Will you let me aşk a question which I have no right to ask?" I answered:“Certainly," and she said: “Is it true that Mrs. Roosevelt would not meet the Grand Duke Boris when he was in America; and why?" I laughed and told her I had not the slightest objection to answering; that the Grand Duke in question had led a scandalous life in America, quite openly taking women whose character was not even questionable to public places, and behaving in restaurants and elsewhere so that the police would have been warranted in interfering. We were not at the White House but at Sagamore Hill at the time, and the Russian Ambassador asked permission to bring the Grand Duke to see me, coming over from Newport in a yacht. The request, coming in such a way, I did not feel I could refuse, and told the Ambassador to bring the Grand Duke to lunch; but I made up my mind that I would make the meeting as obviously formal as possible; and Mrs. Roosevelt, who more than shared my feelings and regarded his presence in our private house as both a scandal and an insult, said that she intended to go out, as she saw no necessity why she should meet him, and her absence would emphasize the entirely formal character of the reception. Accordingly out she went. The Ambassador and the Grand Duke were both disturbed by her absence and the former asked me if she would not return in time to meet the Grand Duke, and when I did not answer, repeated the question, whereupon I merely said: “Mrs. Roosevelt has gone out to lunch and is not in the house, Mr. Ambassador." Neither Mrs. Roosevelt nor I ever said anything on the

« PreviousContinue »