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The Austrian nobility in Rome forms a very close circle, into which only those of high rank and wealth are admitted. They managed to get along with Cecil Sterzl, who, although not one of their own, is regarded as quite an amiable man. However, when he brings his younger sister Zinka into that circle, she is received very coldly at first, if at all. And when, with her fresh and unaffected manners, she wins one heart after another, especially that of the handsome Count Sempaly, she also excites jealousy and contempt in many members of that "set". They are not willing to give up the old notions of social rank and status without a fight... Ossip Schubin [Aloisia Kirschner] is a now half-forgotten Austrian novelist of Bohemian descent, who has herself spent several years of her youth in Rome.
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