To her regret the DeMille dinner interfered with the opening of the performance, but Monty consoled her with the promise that the opera and its democratic audience should follow. During the day Mrs. Dan had been deep in preparations for her banquet, but her plans were elaborately concealed. They culminated at eight o’clock in the Cova not far from the Scala, and the dinner was eaten in the garden to the sound of music. Yet it was an effect of simplicity with which Mrs. Dan surprised her guests. They were prepared for anything but that, and when they were served with consomme, spaghetti—a concession to the chef—and chops and peas, followed by a salad and coffee, the gratitude of the crowd was quite beyond expression. In a burst of enthusiasm “Subway” Smith suggested a testimonial.
Monty complained bitterly that he himself had never received a ghost of a testimonial. He protested that it was not deserved.
“Why should you expect it?” exclaimed Pettingill, “when you have risen from terrapin and artichokes to chops and chicory? When have you given us nectar and ambrosia like this?”
Monty was defeated by a unanimous vote and Mrs. Dan’s testimonial was assured. This matter settled, Peggy and Mrs. Valentine, with Brewster and Pettingill, walked over to the Scala and heard again the last two acts of Aida. But the audience was different, and the applause.
The next day at noon the chauffeurs from Paris reported for duty, and five gleaming French devil-wagons steamed off through the crowd in the direction of Venice. Through Brescia and Verona and Vicenza they passed, scattering largess of silver in their wake and leaving a trail of breathless wonder. Brewster found the pace too fast and by the time they reached Venice he had a wistful longing to take this radiant country more slowly. “But this is purely a business trip,” he thought, “and I can’t expect to enjoy it. Some day I’ll come back and do it differently. I could spend hours in a gondola if the blamed things were not more expensive by the trip.”
It was there that he was suddenly recalled to his duty from dreams of moonlight on the water by a cablegram which demanded $324.00 before it could be read. It contained word for word the parable of the ten talents and ended with the simple word “Jones.”
AN OFFER OF MARRIAGE
The summer is scarcely a good time to visit Egypt, but Monty and his guests had a desire to see even a little of the northern coast of Africa. It was decided, therefore, that after Athens, the “Flitter” should go south. The yacht had met them at Naples after the automobile procession,—a kind of triumphal progress,—was disbanded in Florence, and they had taken a hurried survey of Rome. By the middle of July the party was leaving the heat of Egypt and finding it not half bad. New York was not more than a month away as Brewster reckoned