Muriel Spark

Day Ten

A postcard which arrived in today’s mail has reminded me of an elderly Eastern European lady I knew many years ago in Rome. She was very proud of her family name and of the fact that she had once been lady-in-waiting to one of the seven sisters of King Zog of Albania when that country was a monarchy (from 1928 to 1946). She insisted on keeping her “incognito.”

This lady-in-waiting, named Clémentine Klopstock (if my memory serves me) was walking up Via Condotti in Rome one day accompanied by a woman friend whose father had been an ambassador to Albania. Clémentine was altogether indistinguishable from any other elderly shop-gazer and few people by then had the slightest interest in, or even remembrance of, King Zog and his family of sisters.

On this occasion, Clémentine’s friend happened to see an American man of her acquaintance coming toward them, and joyfully told Clémentine, “Oh, here comes someone I know.”

Clémentine Klopstock grasped her friend’s arm in panic. “Introduce me as Miss Smith,” she whispered