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IDALIA

I have the honour of meeting you most? As yet, you know, I am in ignorance of your nation."

He spoke with the natural careleasnesa of so natural a question; the Countess Vassalis must as he deemed be known by the representatives of all the great Powers. A shadow of impatience came on her face, a defiant hauteur in her eyes.

"You will meet me at none of the Embassies," she said, briefly and coldly.

And in that moment Erceldoune saw Idalia as he had never seen her before; saw in her a certain grandeur of disdainful defiance, a certain outlawed sovereignty as of one life against a world.

"The Countess Idalia has come to the East for rest," interposed Victor Vane, with his musical, gliding voice. "How is it possible to obtain it if you go en pénitence to those tedious travesties of little courts, his Excellency's receptions? Visiting your Ambassador is, I think, one of the severest penalties of foreign residence."

"Our Representative will consent, I dare say, to release you from it if you petition him; or, most likely, he will not notice your choice de briller par votre absence," said Erceldoune, curtly.

He knew the explanation was a diplomatic lie; he was tortured with bitter impatience to know why the