Chapter 6: Roaming the shops of Rome

Roaming the shops of Rome

Rudy arrived in Rome in peak physical condition, ready to take up his fight for Europe’s elks with renewed energy.

The world, meanwhile, was more interested in his private life. While Rudy had been relaxing at Verdura, the press had made up for his absence with a series of invented scandals, romances and reindeer rivalries involving Donner and Blitzen. He was the star of the moment – as well as the subject of endless showbiz gossip.

Rudy didn’t mind. Fortified by his time in Sicily, he simply relaxed at Hotel de Russie and waited for the rumours to die down. It was hardly like him to be so calm – but then, he hadn’t read the stories.

After a private tour of the city’s hidden nativity scenes, Rudy returned to find a beautifully-wrapped gift from Fendi waiting for him in the Nijinsky Suite. He spent the evening on the private terrace, looking down at the lights of the Eternal City and growing dangerously close to enjoying the festive season.

By the time he turned to open his fan mail at breakfast the next morning, he’d almost forgotten the reindeer problem altogether.

Going through hundreds of envelopes, Rudy found invitations to exclusive soirées, formal dances and gala dinners – each a hot ticket… and each addressed to ‘Rudolph the Reindeer’.

Rudy fumed. The only envelope addressed to ‘Mr R. Elk’ was a letter from The Charles Hotel, inviting Rudy to its New Year’s ball in Munich.

Sensing Rudy’s frustration, the Concierge bundled him out of the hotel and down to the boutiques of Via Condotti. If Rudy was going to a ball, then he’d need something to wear – and if the Concierge knew anything about despondent elks, it was that a spot of shopping could do them wonders.

Naturally, he was right. After finding the perfect bow tie for the New Year’s ball, Rudy was soon trotting from shop to shop with bags swinging from his antlers, humming festive tunes and full of newfound generosity.

He snapped up a little something for the hotel team, and that evening, when nobody was looking, left a Rocco Forte gift certificate at the Concierge’s desk.

Still, there was more work to do for the elks of Europe, and much as Rudy wanted to, he couldn’t stay for the presents to be opened.

He packed his bags for Scotland, and was on his way.