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A Diplomatic Woman by Huan Mee

A Diplomatic Woman

By HUAN MEE

HARPER & BROTHERS NEW YORK AND LONDON M D C C C C

Copyright, 1900, by Sands & Co.

_All rights reserved._

CONTENTS

THE RUSSIAN CIPHER

LE DIABLE

THE ABDUCTED AMBASSADOR

PRINCE FERDINAND'S ENTANGLEMENT

A DEAL WITH CHINA

MONSIEUR ROCHE'S DEFEAT

THE RUSSIAN CIPHER

"Saints defend us!" I pettishly exclaimed. "Is there no one in the world with an atom of brains? I don't want to go as 'Night' or 'Morning,' nor as 'Marguerite' or 'Pierrette,' or 'Madame la Pompadour'; I want something original!" And I stamped my foot to give emphasis to the remark.

"Shall it be as 'Carmen,' madame?"

I sank into a chair in dismay. "Carmen!" This was the creature's idea of originality. It was too ludicrous for anger. I laughed, and then, as I raised my eyes to Madame Virot's indignantly bewildered countenance, my glance fell upon a dress in a wardrobe behind her, and I pointed to it in a flutter of excitement.

"Some one has originality, after all," I cried. "What does that dress represent?"

"An ice palace, madame."

"_Mon Dieu!_ It is superb."

"_Mais oui, madame, c'est magnifique, c'est un miracle_," and then, carried away with enthusiasm, she brought it forth and dilated upon it. A pale green dress, covered with a shimmering, sparkling net-work that looked like frost itself.

"You see, madame, the head-dress forms the snowy pinnacle of the tower, and the _eau de Nil_ embroidered skirt follows the frosted outlines of the building, which is a _fac-simile_ of the ice palace raised last winter upon the Neva. An emerald satin mask, with tiny crystal icicles hanging from the edge, in place of the usual fringe of lace, completes the costume."

"I must have it," I cried; "it is incomparable."

"It is sold, madame."

"I will pay double."

"Impossible!"

"Treble!"

"I would willingly give it to madame, as it pleases her fancy, but I cannot; it was designed according to sketches sent to me."

"Tush!" I impatiently exclaimed; "make a duplicate."

"It is impossible, madame, for the dress is for the same _bal masque_ that you will attend."

"And for whom?" I superciliously queried, for I was beside myself with vexation. "Some nobody who has secured a card by chance, and wishes to be thought a princess in disguise, eh?"

"I make for no such people," Madame Virot exclaimed, with a reflection of my own annoyance. "The dress is for the Countess Zarfine. If madame will suggest something else--"


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