Page:Hope--Sophy of Kravonia.djvu/183

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eral and Stafnitz witness it. In silence they obeyed him, meaning to make waste-paper of the thing to which they set their names.

That business done—and the King alone seemed happy in the doing of it (even Stafnitz had frowned) —the King turned suddenly to Stenovics.

"I should like to see Baroness Dobrava. Pray let her be sent for this afternoon."

The shock was sudden, but Stenovics's answer came steady, if slow.

"Your Majesty desires her presence?"

"I want to thank her once again, Stenovics. She's done much for us."

"The Baroness is not in Slavna, sir, but I can send for her."

"Not in Slavna? Where is she, then?"

He asked what the whole kingdom knew. Save himself, nobody was ignorant of Sophy's whereabouts.

"She is on a visit to his Royal Highness at Praslok, sir." Stenovics's voice was a triumph of neutrality.

"On a visit to the Prince?" Surprise sounded in his voice.

"Madame Zerkovitch is there too, sir," Stenovics added. "The ladies have been there during the whole of the Prince of Slavna's stay."

The King shot a glance at Countess Ellenburg; she was looking prim and grim. He looked, also, at Stafnitz, who bit his mustache, without quite hiding an intentional but apparently irrepressible smile. The King did not look too grave and most of his gravity was for Countess Ellenburg.

"Is that hum at this moment, quite desirable?" he asked.

His question met with silence; the air of all three intimated that the matter was purely one for His