Reprinted from yesterday's late editions

Princess Grace of Monaco, draped like a Parthenon goddess, looked down at her 500 eager little children (that is, the young and the old of the Hartke Theater audience) and read them "The Owl and the Pussycat," in what must have been a milestone of the winter season here Friday night.

She sat on a chair with a high back, rather like a throne, and an Oriental rug (now on sale at Bloomingdale's for $1,500 it was learned) beneath her feet.

For two solid hours, with time out for coffee and cookies wrapped in cellophane at intermission, she read verse and short prose pieces about nature, including great works of the language (Marvell's "Garden," etc.) and less serious, but still glorious items like "The Owl and the Pussycat," in which the characters set off in a pea-green boat with some honey and plenty of money and got the brass ring from the pig.

Assisting her with the readings (they alternated) was Richard Pasco, an associate artist of the Royal Shakespeare Company.

The princess, known to millions as the former actress Grace Kelly, is visiting several American cities to read for audiences, as a benefit for the World Wildlife Fund -- her first appearance on the American stage in 26 years.

She switched from an ice-green dress to one of the flame-colored taffeta after the performance and was the chief ornament of a reception at the State Department.

A harpist Christine Carpenter played Handel and "Believe Me if All Those Endearing Young Charms" and other genteel airs in the Jefferson Room, which boasts exactly the cornices the architect-president loved. guests there had contributed $100 (tickets for the reading were .20).

Melanie Hannan (whose uncle, the archbishop of New Orleans, gave the eulogy at John Kennedy's funeral) was taking in the music and the room at once:

"Perfect," she said of her surroundings. As for the readings, "More than delightful -- superb."

The princess asked not to be photographed or interviewed, but in general looked great with a lot of pearls woven around in her hair (the Fund does not protect oysters) and little silvery slippers on her feet.

Among her admirers was Emerson Meyers, retired professor of music at Catholic University, who said his last poetry reading was in 1957 -- fine poetry lasts a long time, of course --and who said he loves to see the theater bring people out. Unexpected people. Two ancient ladies, he said, showed up the other day to buy 14 advance tickets for the Hartke's rock musical, "Joseph and Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat."