John Mallet is a young engineer employed by a Canadian tycoon. He has been sent to the village of Roccosparta in Umbria to pay for an antique bath bought by his employer and bring it back on a lorry. En route he meets a pretty girl and gives her a lift in his lorry, but she demands to be put down as soon as she knows why he has come.
In the village he is a pariah, though the parish priest ensures he is at least given a room in the inn. He meets the count, an eccentric man intent on emigrating to New Zealand to set up a chicken farm, for which the only way to raise the capital is to sell the bath, a famous antique for which the village is famous. The villagers know that if it goes they will lose all tourist trade. John inspects the bath and finds the pretty girl, who turns out to be the Count's daughter Gabriella, using it. She is completely against its being sold. Her unconventional solution and the deviousmess of some villains provide several further plot twists before the bath can be saved and the hero and heroine fall in love.
Part of Victor Canning's war service in 1944 to '46 was spent in Italy, and he set a number of books and short stories there, writing of the country with great affection.
First published in the Toronto Star Weekly, 26 January 1957
Included in the collection Young Man on a Bicycle