168 THE PRINCESS AND CURD1E.
But the king, who for weeks had scarcely known what he did, was to-day so much himself as to be aware that he was not quite himself; and the moment he saw the paper, he resolved that he would not sign without understanding and approving of it. He requested the lord chamberlain therefore to read it His lordship commenced at once but the difficulties he seemed to encounter, and the fits of stammering that seized him, roused the king's suspicion tenfold He called the princess.
" I trouble his lordship too much," he said to her: " you can read print well, my childólet me hear how you can read writing. Take that paper from his lordship's hand, and read it to me from beginning to end, while my lord drinks a glass of my favourite wine, and watches for your blunders.
"Pardon me, your majesty,"said the lord chamberlain, with as much of a smile as he was able to extemporize, " but it were a thousand pities to put the attainments of her royal highness to a test altogether too severe. Your majesty can scarcely with justice expect the very organs of her speech to prove capable of compassing words so long, and to her so unintelligible." *
" I think much of my little princess and her capabili≠ties," returned the king, more and more aroused. " Pray, my lord, permit her to try."
"Consider, your majesty: the thing would be alto-