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Synopsis

In a dusty, time-soiled packet of legal papers which had lain untouched for nigh upon two hundred years, the extraordinary history of Wilhelmine von Grävenitz is set forth in all the colourless reticence of official documents. And yet something of the thrill of the superstitious fear, and the virtuous disapproval of the lawyers who composed these writings, pierces through the stilted phrases. Like a faint fragrance of faded rose-leaves, a breath of this woman's charm seems to cling and elusively to peep out of the curt record of her crimes. Enough at least to incite the wanderer in History's byways to a Further study of this potent German forerunner of the Pompadour. To search through the Stuttgart archives, to ferret out forgotten books in dusty old book-shops, to fit together the links in the chain of events of the woman's story, to haunt the scenes of bygone splendour in deserted palace and castle, old-world garden and desolate mansion; such has been the delightful labour which has gone to the telling of the true history of the Grävenitz. The Land-despoiler the downtrodden peasantry and indignant burghers named her, for they hated her as their sort must ever hate the beautiful, elegant, haughty woman of the great world. They called her sinner, which she was; and she called them canaille, which they probably were.

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