CHRISTMAS AT THE COURT
and she burst out into a merry laugh. The next moment she was falling headlong down the marble stairway, and then lay quite still, bruised and bleeding. In the stillness that ensued—for the music had stopped—Countess Spinx flew upstairs, where she was confronted by Princess Christobel, who pushed roughly past her and hurried down to her sister's side. Her screams for help brought people running from every side. The injured girl, still unconscious, was quickly borne to her apartments, and the Court physicians surrounded her.
All sorts of rumours were set afloat in the Castle, but all that was gathered for certain by the company, as they dispersed, was that Princess Veronica slipped on the marble stair owing to her new high-heeled shoes—that the sweet face was strapped and bandaged, for it was all cut and bruised, that the nose was broken, and her beauty spoilt for ever. Prince Olivin was half wild with grief, and poor King Jorum was shedding tears all alone in his study when Christobel sought admittance. Her face was set and stern, and the sight of his weakness didn't unnerve her as she said bluntly—
" Father, Veronica did not slip on the stair— she was purposely and viciously thrown down."
" Eh, what ? " exclaimed the King, staring at her. " Are you taking leave of your senses ? There's