I.—The double rendezvous.
The Princess Ludovicka Hollandine walked restlessly to and fro in her apartment. Sometimes she stopped at the window and listened intently; then, finding all without still dark and silent, she stepped back and continued her restless walk, at times listening again at door or window. While passing the great Venetian mirror on the wall, on both sides of which were placed two silver candlesticks with immense burning wax tapers, she caught sight of her image as brightly and distinctly as if it had been a portrait, and she drew nearer, like a connoisseur bent on examining a picture. She saw before her within the carved gilt framework a beautiful maiden’s form, in sky-blue satin robe that fell in wide, heavy folds around her full and blooming figure. The low-necked bodice left wholly uncovered her dazzling white shoulders, and beneath the transparent gauze of her sleeves shone the fair white arms as from out a silver cloud. Her head rested proudly and gracefully upon the slender alabaster neck, and was crowned by a profusion of black hair, caught up behind in great loops, and fastened with bows of blue satin ribbon. On the broad and lofty brow it was massed in the form of a diadem, with numberless pretty little ringlets. Her cheeks were pale, but of that clear, transparent paleness which has nothing in common with sickness and suffering, but is only peculiar to vehement, passionate natures, with whom the cheeks are colorless, because all the blood concentrates in the heart. Her large dark eyes had at the same time a languid, melting expression and the fire and glow of passion; the finely cut, slightly curved nose, the firm, somewhat projecting chin, indicated energy and decision; and around the full, rosy lips hovered a singular expression of good nature and frivolity.