Page:Abroad with Mark Twain and Eugene Field.djvu/54

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horrors of having her hair bobbed behind, and her neck shaved—what else was there in store for her but a beheading party if Hal found his daughter dead? And when, in your mind's eye, you see the executioner try the edge of his axe on his thumb nail, life's delicatessen—considerations for truth, politics, and common everyday decency—lose their appeal. The axe-man was coming and that governess didn't want to be the chicken."

"That's what the gossips told me, and they had it from their great-great-great-grand-mothers, a blessed heritage."

"Go on," said Mark.

"Well, that governess knew that her life depended upon finding a substitute for Elizabeth, and the substitute couldn't materialize quickly enough. Briefly, it did materialize in the person of the late Princess' boy playmate—here are his name and affiliations, as Overcourt neighborhood has it."

"Fine," said Mark, "the rest I know or can imagine. She dressed up that kid in Elizabeth's petticoats and togs and frightened the life out of him not to betray her or himself with the King or any one else."

"Quite right," mused Mark, "for the eighth Henry was an ogre—the very unborn children of England knew it. Besides, reading up the official history of Elizabeth, I find that Hal hadn't seen his daughter for three or four years previous to his visit in Overcourt. The