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Prince Tabnit's announcement was received by his guests in the silence of amazement. If they had been told that Miss Holland's father was secretly acting as King of England they could have been no more profoundly startled than to hear stated soberly that he had been for nearly a year the king of a cannibal island. For the cannibal phase of his experience seemed a foregone conclusion. To St. George, profoundly startled and most incredulous, the possible humour of the situation made first appeal. The picture of an American gentleman seated upon a gold throne in a leopard-skin coat, ordering "oysters and foes" for breakfast, was irresistible.
"But he shaved with a shell when he chose,
'Twas the manner of Primitive Man"
floated through his mind, and he brought himself up sharply. Clearly, somebody was out of his head, but it must not be he.
"What?" cried Mrs. Hastings in two inelegant syllables, on the second of which her uncontrollable voice rose.