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No one answered; each one looked at the ground. Oldenburg had for some time perceived the relations arising between Olympia and Spinoza by their occasional glances and turns of speech. He was diplomatist enough to believe he could employ these intercepted secret messages towards founding a friendly compromise without an open explanation.

"What do you say," he said, "to Queen Christina of Sweden having presented her crown and sceptre to her cousin, not, as we at first supposed, to garland herself merely with the poet's laurel, but to deck her brows with the myrtle wreath?"

"What!" exclaimed Olympia; "is Queen Christina going to be married?"

"Commercial advices arrived yesterday from Rome, in which it is decidedly affirmed that the daughter of Gustavus Adolphus will return to the bosom of the one true Church, in order to be able to marry her High-Chamberlain Monaldeschi."

"Indeed Queen Christina has cast off all earthly considerations freely and unrestrainedly to partake of the blessings of our faith," said Cecilia in a gentle voice, and no one contradicted her.

"If the daughter of Gustavus Adolphus has done this," said Olympia after a pause, "that she might belong wholly to the man of her choice, the deed is above all reproach; love is a bond which ought to loosen all earlier ones. How simply and truly it is