From the moment stephen snaps ""Beethoven? That old crosspatch! Yes, of course (I know him),"" you know that this page from the Emperor Francis' court (1808) is no amateur at the diversionary lie. Of course Paul, the effeminate nine-year-old violin prodigy, is impressed and even more astounded when the page divulges his mission to the accompaniment of ominous pounding on the door: he's delivering a cipher (""Romance in G-Major"") to his Emperor from Metternich in Paris, handed to Stephen by a dying courier found in the woods. Nine-year-old Paul is actually fourteen-year-old Paulette (who wants to hear a female, especially past her prime?) but before the two walk off hand in hand, his?/her? Stradivarius and the ""Romance"" fall into many other hands: Napoleon's captain, the Emperor's head of espionage (selling out), a band of gypsies, etc. Together they do get the message to Francis (via his manuvers her memory) but only those who can laugh off such high-strung antics will make it to the coded coda.