PRINCE AND PEASANTS
The peacefulness of fairyland was something which Brewster could not afford to continue, and with Bertier he was soon planning to invade it, The automobile which he was obliged to order for the mysterious marquise put other ideas into his head. It seemed at once absolutely necessary to give a coaching party in Italy, and as coaches of the right kind were hard to find there, and changes of horses most uncertain, nothing could be more simple and natural than to import automobiles from Paris. Looking into the matter, he found that they would have to be purchased outright, as the renting of five machines would put his credit to too severe a test. Accordingly Bertier telegraphed a wholesale order, which taxed the resources of the manufacturers and caused much complaint from some customers whose work was unaccountably delayed. The arrangement made by the courier was that they were to be taken back at a greatly reduced price at the end of six weeks. The machines were shipped at once, five to Milan, and one to the address of the mysterious marquise in Florence.
It was with a sharp regret that Monty broke into the idyl of the villa, for the witchery of the place had got into his blood. But a stern sense of duty, combined with the fact that the Paris chauffeurs and machines were due in Milan on Monday, made him ruthless. He was astonished that his orders to decamp were so meekly obeyed, forgetting that his solicitous guests did not know that worse extravagance lay beyond. He took them to Milan by train and lodged them with some splendor at the Hotel Cavour. Here he found that the fame of the princely profligate had preceded him, and his portly host was all deference and attention. All regret, too, for monsieur was just too late to hear the wonderful company of artists who had been singing at La Scala. The season was but just ended. Here was an opportunity missed indeed, and Brewster’s vexation brought out an ironical comment to Bertier. It rankled, but it had its effect. The courier proved equal to the emergency. Discovering that the manager of the company and the principal artists were still in Milan, he suggested to Brewster that a special performance would be very difficult to secure, but might still be possible. His chief caught at the idea and authorized him to make every arrangement, reserving the entire house for his own party.
“But the place will look bare,” protested the courier, aghast.
“Fill it with flowers, cover it with tapestries,” commanded Brewster. “I put the affair in your hands, and I trust you to carry it through in the right way. Show them how it ought to be done.”