But it is rich in clever devices of flavouring, and in combinations, and I am sure that by its help English people of moderate means may fare better and spend less than they spend now, if only they will take a little trouble."
Menu -- Lunch
Gnocchi alla Romana. Semolina with parmesan. Filetto di Bue al pistacchi. Fillet of beef with pistachios Bodini marinati. Marinated rissoles.
Menu -- Dinner.
Zuppa Crotopo. Croute au pot soup. Sogliole alla Veneziana. Fillets of sole. Ateletti alla Sarda. Atelets of ox-palates, &c. Costolette di Montone alla Nizzarda. Mutton cutlets. Pollo alla Fiorentina. Fowl with macaroni. Crema tartara alla Caramella. Caramel cream. Uova rimescolati al tartufi. Eggs with truffles.
The Sixth Day
The following morning, at breakfast, a servant announced that Sir John Oglethorpe was taking his breakfast in his room, and that there was no need to keep anything in reserve for him. It was stated, however, that Sir John was in no way indisposed, and that he would join the party at lunch.
He seated himself in his usual place, placid and fresh as ever; but, unharmed as he was physically, it was evident to all the company that he was suffering from some mental discomposure. Miss Macdonnell, with a frank curiosity which might have been trying in any one else, asked him point-blank the reason of his absence from the meal for which, in spite of his partiality for French cookery, he had a true Englishman's devotion.
"I feel I owe the company some apology for my apparent churlishness," he said; "but the fact is, that I have received some very harrowing, but at the same time very interesting, news this morning. I think I told you the other day how the vacancy in my kitchen has led up to a very real tragedy, and that the abhorred Fury was already hovering terribly near the head of poor Narcisse. Well, I have just received from a friend in Paris journals containing a full account of the trial of Narcisse and of his fair accomplice. The worst has come to pass, and Narcisse has been doomed to sneeze into the basket like a mere aristocrat or politician during the Terror I was greatly upset by this news, but I was interested, and in a measure consoled, to find an enclosure amongst the other papers, an envelope addressed to me in the handwriting of the condemned man. This voix d'outre tombe, I rejoice to say, confides to me the secret of that incomparable sauce of his, a secret which I feared might be buried with Narcisse in the prison ditch."
The Marchesa sighed as she listened. The recipe of the sauce was safe indeed, but she knew by experience how wide might be the gulf between the actual work of an artist and the product of another hand guided by his counsels, let the hand be ever so dexterous, and the counsels ever so clear. "Will it be too much," she said, "to ask you to give us the details of this painful tragedy ?"
"It will not," Sir John replied reflectively. "The last words of many a so-called genius have been enshrined in literature: probably no one will ever know the parting objurgation of Narcisse. I will endeavour, however, to give you some notion as to what occurred, from the budget I have just read. I fear the tragedy was a squalid one. Madame, the victim, was elderly, unattractive in person, exacting in temper, and the owner of considerable wealth--at least, this is what came out at the trial. It was one of those tangles in which a fatal denouement is inevitable; and, if this had not come through Mademoiselle Sidonie, it would have come through somebody else. The lovers plotted to remove madame by first drugging her, then breaking her skull with the wood chopper, and then pitching her downstairs so as to produce the impression that she had met her death in this fashion. But either the arm of Mademoiselle Sidonie--who was told off to do the hammering--was unskilled in such work, or the opiate was too weak, for the victim began to shriek before she gave up the ghost. Detection seemed imminent, so Narcisse, in whom the quality of discretion was evidently predominant, bolted at once and got out of the country.