Lose no time. You will have a score of guests; mind you let them know the hour of the repast. Take care, too, that your invitations are sent round by nine o'clock in the morning."
All these instructions were uttered with lightning speed, and I, enchanted with the power my mistress thought she possessed over me, thought only of obeying, without reflecting whether I owed her obedience. Bruhl, breakfast, a score of people like the Prince Deux- Ponts, invitations to the ladies, Count Verita; I knew as much as she could have told me if she had taken an hour.
I left the room in my peasant's dress, and begged a page to take me to Count Verita, who began to laugh on seeing my attire. I told my business with the importance of an ambassador, and this made him in a still better humour.
"It can all easily be arranged," said he, "I have only to write to the steward, and I will do so immediately. But how much do you want to spend?"
"As much as possible."
"As little as possible, I suppose you mean."
"Not at all; I want to treat my guests with magnificance."
"All the same you must fix on a sum, as I know whom I've got to deal with."
"Well, well! two-three hundred ducats; will that do?"
"Two hundred; the Prince de Deux-Ponts did not spend more."
He began to write, and gave me his word that everything should be in readiness. I left him and addressing myself to a sharp Italian page said that I would give two ducats to the valet who would furnish me with the names of the Cologne ladies who were in Bonn, and of the gentlemen who had accompanied them. I got what I wanted in less than half an hour, and before leaving the ball I told my mistress that all should be done according to her desires.
I wrote eighteen notes before I went to bed, and in the morning a confidential servant had delivered them before nine o'clock.
At nine o'clock I went to take leave of Count Verita, who gave me, on behalf of the Elector, a superb gold snuff-box with his portrait set in diamonds. I was very sensible of this mark of kindness, and I wished to go and thank his serene highness before my departure, but my friendly fellow-countryman told me that I might put off doing so till I passed through Bonn on my way to Frankfort.
Breakfast was ordered for one o'clock. At noon I had arrived at Bruhl, a country house of the Elector's, with nothing remarkable about it save its furniture. In this it is a poor copy of the Trianon. In a fine hall I found a table laid for twenty-four persons, arranged with silver gilt plates, damask linen, and exquisite china, while the sideboard was adorned with an immense quantity of silver and silvergilt plate. At one end of the room were two other tables laden with sweets and the choicest wines procurable. I announced myself as the host, and the cook told me I should be perfectly satisfied.
"The collation," said he, "will be composed of only twenty-four dishes, but in addition there will be twenty-four dishes of English oysters and a splendid dessert."
I saw a great number of servants, and told him that they would not be necessary, but he said they were, as the guests' servants could not be admitted.
I received all my guests at the door, confining my compliments to begging their pardons for having been so bold as to procure myself this great honour.
The breakfast was served at one exactly, and I had the pleasure of enjoying the astonishment in my mistress's eyes when she saw that I had treated them as well as a prince of the empire. She was aware that everybody knew her to be the chief object of this lavish outlay, but she was delighted to see that I did not pay her any attentions which were at all invidious. The table was seated for twenty-four, and though I had only asked eighteen people every place was occupied. Three couples, therefore, had come without being asked; but that pleased me all the more. Like a courtly cavalier I would not sit down, but waited on the ladies, going from one to the other, eating the dainty bits they gave me, and seeing that all had what they wanted.