“Your brother’s a good man,” said Leslie. “Knows what’s what, doesn’t he? If he says these are good osele, we may take it that they are good osele, though we don’t know one osele from another. That’s right, isn’t it?”
Peter said he supposed it was, if one wanted osele at all, which personally he didn’t care about; but one never knew, of course, what might come in useful. Anyhow Leslie bought some, and a visiting card belonging to the Count Amadeo Vasari, which gave him much satisfaction. Then they visited the person who, the Gem had said, had good plaques, and inspected them critically. Then they had tea at Sant’ Ortes’ tearoom, and then Peter went home.
Hilary, who was looking worried, said, “Lord Evelyn wants us to dine with him to-night,” and passed Peter a note in delicate, shaky handwriting.
“Good,” said Peter. Hilary wore a bored look and said, “I suppose we must go,” and then proceeded to question Peter concerning Leslie’s shopping adventures. He seemed on the whole more interested in the purchase of osele than of the Berovieri goblet.
“But,” said Peter presently, “your plaque friend wasn’t in form to-day. He had only shams. Rather bright shams, but still—So we didn’t get any, which, I suppose, will please you to hear. Leslie was disappointed. I told your friend we would look in on a better day, when he had some of the real thing. He wasn’t pleased. I expect he passes off numbers of those things on people as antiques. You ought to qualify your remarks in the Gem, Hilary—add that Signor Leroni has to be cautiously dealt with—or you’ll be letting the uncritical plaque-buyer through rather badly.”
“I daresay they can look after themselves,” Hilary said, easily; and Peggy added:
“After all, so long as they are uncritical, it can’t matter to them what sort of a plaque they get!” which of course, was one point of view.
DIANA, ACTAEON, AND LORD EVELYN
Hilary and Peter gondoled to Lord Evelyn Urquhart’s residence, a rather exquisite little old palace called Ca’ delle Gemme, and were received affectionately by the tall, slim, dandified-looking young-old man, with his white ringed hands and high sweet voice and courtly manner. He had aged since Peter remembered him; the slim hands were shakier and the near-sighted eyes weaker and the delicate face more deeply lined with the premature lines of dissipation and weak health. He put his monocle in his left eye and smiled at Peter, with the old charming smile that was like his nephew’s, and tilted to and fro on his heels.
“Not changed at all, as far as I can see,” he said to Peter, with the same mincing, finicking pronunciation that had pleased the boy Peter eight years ago. “Only my sight isn’t what it was. Are you changed at all? Do you still like Bow rose-bowls better than anything except Denis? Denis is coming here soon, you know, so I shall be able to discover. Oh, I beg pardon—Mr. Peter Margerison, Mr. Cheriton.”