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among the bottles, the flowers, the tiny laboratory; this confusion of identities

      Voyan’s answer was noncommittal. “Some people need no stimulants,” he said.
      Mihailo began to explore the liqueur cabinet. But for his cheerful puttering among the bottles a tense silence hung over the room. After some sampling he returned at last, shaking a square flask of Danziger Goldwasser. The clear liquid was speckled with flakes of pure yellow...

Her speculations on the possibilities inherent in this resemblance had been heightened by the fact that strangers passing the villa gardens could be heard whispering to one another: “Look, the Emperor of Austria puttering among the flowers!” How could this confusion of identities be exploited?

... of their speech they were now watched with doubled intensity because of their silence. Anthony, in particular, gave ample provocation to patriotic busybodies round about. His constant hammering and puttering inside the tiny laboratory he had fashioned for himself...

respectively, woven from snippets and “found inside” previews of three books by Bertita Harding —

  1. Royal Purple : The Story of Alexander and Draga of Serbia (1935) : 145 : link
  2. Imperial Twilight : The Story of Karl and Zita of Hungary (1939) : 144 : link, and
  3. Hungarian Rhapsody : The Portrait of an Actress (1940) : 244 : link

the search was for “puttering” + author:harding : link

  1. Bertita Harding (1902-1971), pianist, romantic historical biographer, dramatic lecturer (channeling her heroines), painter
    wikipedia : link
  2. several of her books available (some borrowable) at archive.org : link
  3. Bertita Harding Writings (drafts, proofs) at Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
    YCAL MSS 485 : link
  4. see also this wonderful dissertation —
    Kathy Kirry Wockley, The Life and Works of Bertita Carla Camille Leonarz Harding (Florida Atlantic University, 1977) : link (pdf)

1 June 2023