CHAPTER 22

AND that night, in one of the daintily furnished sitting-rooms of Claridge's Hotel, before a gaily blazing fire, a man and a woman sat discussing their late mutual adventures over the hunt after the Emperor's candlesticks. They each had handed over to the other the respective compromising papers, and when that was done each heaved a sigh of relief, and a dainty white hand was stretched out in token of friendship and bond of mutual silence.

And the writer has been told, on the surest authority, that this compact has been most faithfully kept, for Lobkowitz and Mirkovitch never could afterwards induce Iván Volenski to join them in their numberless plots and plans; having handed the fateful papers back safely into the keeping of grim old Mirkovitch, the brotherhood looked to him in vain for help, and he never once joined in their meetings, up the back stairs of the dreary Vienna house; and as for Madame Demidoff, the Russian government had soon to accept her resignation, in view of her approaching marriage.

Last winter, at the brilliant ball given by the Princess Marïonoff, in her palace at St. Petersburg, certainly the most admired among all the belles was Madame Volenski, née Demidoff.

No one noticed, however, that she and her husband exchanged a meaning smile as the Princess displayed to her guests a pair of the rarest vieux Vienne candlesticks, which it was discreetly whispered had been presented to her by His Eminence the Papal Nuncio himself, on behalf of no less a person than His Catholic and Apostolic Majesty Franz Jozef I.

 

The End