the crown on his wife's head, she sank weeping at his feet and embraced his knees.
Catherine, however, had not worn her crown many months when she found herself in considerable danger of losing not only her dignities but even her liberty. For some time, it is said, she had been engaged in a liaison with William Mons, a handsome, gay young courtier, brother to a former mistress of the Tsar. The love affair had been common knowledge at the Court--to all but Peter himself, and it was accident that at last opened his eyes to his wife's dishonour. One moonlight night, so the story is told, he chanced to enter an arbour in the palace gardens, and there discovered her in the arms of her lover.
His vengeance was swift and terrible. Mons was arrested the same night in his rooms, and dragged fainting into the Tsar's presence, where he confessed his disloyalty. A few days later he was beheaded, at the very moment when the Empress was dancing a minuet with her ladies, a smile on her lips, whatever grief was in her