before she was discovered, and I, a commonplace Carmen--for I remember there were three of us--now felt the decisive moment had arrived. A man had been watching Thèrëse as she descended the staircase, and I touched him lightly upon the arm.
"The Provinces are lost, monsieur," I said softly. "Be content with operatic Spain," and I hummed a melody of Bizet's.
"You, madame?" he cried as he recognised my voice.
"I thought she who just left was you," he said, as though anxious to explain the attention he had devoted to Thèrëse.
"And I, monsieur, know my friends too well to be deceived by a masquerade," I answered, and, of a truth, I believe that there must have been a tell-tale trace of sentiment in my tones. And why not? Even a pretty widow may have sentimental moments at times when her dearest friend is near at hand. He looked straight into my eyes as though he would read my inmost thoughts.
"Do you mean that?"
"I mean this, Gasp
A battle of wits and wiles at the Russian Ambassador's masked ball. Someone is stealing the diplomatic cipher used to protect communications between France and Imperial Russia, endangering the treaty the two powers are attempting to forge. The French diplomatic corps enlists the services of the smartest and most beautiful widow in Paris.
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