THE TALE OF THE LOST LAND
CHAPTER 31: MARCO
This was the best store we had come across yet; it had everything
in it, in small quantities, from anvils and drygoods all the way
down to fish and pinchbeck jewelry. I concluded I would bunch
my whole invoice right here, and not go pricing around any more.
So I got rid of Marco, by sending him off to invite the mason and
the wheelwright, which left the field free to me. For I never care
to do a thing in a quiet way; it's got to be theatrical or I don't
take any interest in it. I showed up money enough, in a careless
way, to corral the shopkeeper's respect, and then I wrote down
a list of the things I wanted, and handed it to him to see if he
could read it. He could, and was proud to show that he could.
He said he had been educated by a priest, and could both read
and write. He ran it through, and remarked with satisfaction that
it was a pretty heavy bill. Well, and so it was, for a little
concern like that. I was not only providing a swell dinner, but
some odds and ends of extras. I ordered that the things be carted
out and delivered at the dwelling of Marco, the son of Marco,
by Saturday evening, and send me the bill at dinner-time Sunday.
He said I could depend upon his promptness and exactitude, it was
the rule of the house. He also observed that he would throw in
a couple of miller-guns for the Marcos gratis--that everybody
was using them now. He had a mighty opinion of that clever
device. I said:
"And please fill them up to the middle mark, too; and add that
to the bill."
He would, with pleasure. He filled them, and I took them with
me. I couldn't venture to tell him that the miller-gun was a
little invention of my own, and that I had officially ordered that
every shopkeeper in the kingdom keep them on hand and sell them
at government price--which was the merest trifle, and the shopkeeper
got that, not the government. We furnished them for nothing.
The king had hardly missed us when we got back at nightfall. He
had early dropped again into his dream of a grand invasion of Gaul
with the whole strength of his kingdom at his back, and the afternoon
had slipped away without his ever coming to himself again.