One evening in early May, the Count is sitting in the lobby when he spies a young Italian couple exit the hotel. He quickly runs upstairs to the fourth floor. At suite 428, he takes out Nina’s key and lets himself inside. He goes into the closet and steals a pair of tan pants and a white shirt, stuffing the clothes into a pillowcase. When the Count leaves the room, he considers going back to pick up a newsboy cap he saw in the closet, but he hears the wheels of a room service cart and bolts back up the stairs.
Where before Nina’s key had expanded the Count’s sense of freedom by allowing him access to more of the hotel, here the key begins to grant him his literal freedom, as he uses it to procure different objects to help him escape. This scene even mimics the one in the “Around and About” chapter in which Nina and the Count wait for a man to leave in order to go to his suite.
At eleven o’clock that evening, the Count reviews his checklist over a glass of brandy in the bar. Nearly everything he needs has been acquired or accomplished. As he leaves, Audrius offers him a drink on the house, which he politely accepts. He sees an American salesman named Webster who has been trying to get meetings with officials in the government to sell vending machines in Russia. The man reminds him of Richard, particularly when he sees the man wave at a certain eminent professor.
The chance of seeing Webster wave to the eminent professor makes the Count realize that Webster might know Richard, as a few years prior, Richard had used the same professor to get the Count to meet with him in private in his suite. This fortunate observation allows the Count to get in contact with Richard.
Shortly after midnight, Webster returns to his room on the fourth floor—only to find the Count sitting in his chair. The man is confused at first, until the Count clarifies that he has a letter he needs delivered to Richard in Paris, thinking that Webster might know him. He and Webster then share two more drinks before the Count leaves the suite.
Speaking with Webster allows the Count to send a message to Richard, whose friendship has been invaluable to the Count, and who becomes yet another key piece in helping Sofia and the Count escape.
The Count walks down the fourth-floor hall and spies room 428 again. He knocks, and when no one answers, he slips into the room and opens the closet to retrieve the newsboy cap he had spied earlier. He notices a bundle wrapped in paper he had missed before, and carefully unwraps it. Inside is a set of nesting dolls, which he thinks could easily be used to hide something.
Once again, this chance of returning to the Italians’ room and happening upon the nesting dolls sparks the Count’s idea to hide various objects within others so that he can smuggle money and information to Sofia when she escapes.
Suddenly the Count hears a key in the door. He jumps into the closet and quietly closes the door. He hears a couple get ready for bed, read for about fifteen minutes, and then turn out the lights. The Count exits the closet, creating quite a stir as he goes, and shocking the Italian couple. He exits the room with a final crash and an “Arrivederci!”
The Count’s escapades are not without a few humorous turns, as he causes quite a stir retrieving the newsboy cap and discovering the nesting dolls. Like Sofia with the geese, in order to escape, the Count will have to ruffle a few feathers.