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Michael Strogoff - Or, The Courier of the Czar by Jules Verne
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These words were exchanged about two hours after midnight,
at the moment when the fete given at the New Palace was at
the height of its splendor.

During the whole evening the bands of the Preobra-jensky and Paulowsky
regiments had played without cessation polkas, mazurkas, schottisches,
and waltzes from among the choicest of their repertoires.
Innumerable couples of dancers whirled through the magnificent saloons
of the palace, which stood at a few paces only from the "old house
of stones"--in former days the scene of so many terrible dramas,
the echoes of whose walls were this night awakened by the gay strains
of the musicians.

The grand-chamberlain of the court, was, besides, well seconded
in his arduous and delicate duties. The grand-dukes and their
aides-de-camp, the chamberlains-in-waiting and other officers of
the palace, presided personally in the arrangement of the dances.
The grand duchesses, covered with diamonds, the ladies-in-waiting
in their most exquisite costumes, set the example to the wives
of the military and civil dignitaries of the ancient "city
of white stone." When, therefore, the signal for the "polonaise"
resounded through the saloons, and the guests of all ranks took
part in that measured promenade, which on occasions of this kind
has all the importance of a national dance, the mingled costumes,
the sweeping robes adorned with lace, and uniforms covered with orders,
presented a scene of dazzling splendor, lighted by hundreds of lusters
multiplied tenfold by the numerous mirrors adorning the walls.

The grand saloon, the finest of all those contained in the New Palace,
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