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    Chapter 12

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    Chapter 12
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    "My Gawd!" gasped Mrs. T-S. "I'm dyin'!"

    Her husband responded, beaming, "So you gone and done it again!"

    Said Mrs. T-S: "I'll never do it no more!"

    Said the husband: "Y'allus say dat. Fergit it, Maw, you're all right now, you don't have to have your hair frizzed fer six mont's!"

    Said Mrs. T-S: "I gotta lie down. I'm dyin', Abey, I tell you. Lemme git on de sofa."

    Said the husband: "Now, Maw, we gotta git to dinner--"

    "I can't eat no dinner."

    "Vot?" There was genuine alarm in the husband's voice. "You can't eat no dinner? Sure you gotta eat your dinner. You can't live if you don't eat. Come along now, Maw."

    "O-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-oh!"

    T-S went and stood before her, and a grin came over his face. "Sure, now, ain't it fine? Say, Mary, look at dem lovely curves. Billy, shoost look here! Vy, she looks like a kid again, don't she! Madame, you're a daisy--you sure deliver de goods."

    Madame Planchet beamed, and the flesh-mountain was feebly cheered. "You like it, Abey?"

    "Sure, I like it! Maw, it's grand! It's like I got a new girl! Come on now, git up, we go git our dinner, and den we gotta see dem night scenes took. Don't forgit, we're payin' two tousand men five dollars apiece tonight, and we gotta git our money out of 'em." Then, taking for granted that this settled it, he turned to the rest. "You come vit us, Mary?"

    "I must wait for my grannie."

    "Sure, you leave your car fer grannie, and you come vit us, and we git some dinner, and den we see dem mob scenes took. You come along, Mr. Carpenter, I gotta have some talk vit you. And you, Billy? And Rosythe--come, pile in."

    "I have to wait for the missus," said the critic. "We have a date."

    "Vell, said T-S, and he went up close. "You do me a favor, Rosythe; don't say nuttin' about dis fellow Carpenter tonight. I feed him and git him feelin' good, and den I make a contract vit him, and I give you a front page telegraph story, see?"

    "All right," said the critic.

    "Mum's de vord now," said the magnate; and he waddled out, and the two caryatids lifted the flesh-mountain, and half carried it to the elevator, and Mary walked with Carpenter, and I brought up the rear.

    The car of T-S was waiting at the door, and this car is something special. It is long, like a freight-car, made all of shining gun-metal, or some such material; the huge wheels are of solid metal, and the fenders are so big and solid, it looks like an armored military car. There is an extra wheel on each side, and two more locked on to the rear. There is a chauffeur in uniform, and a footman in uniform, just to open the doors and close them and salute you as you enter. Inside, it is all like the sofas in Madame's scalping shop; you fall into them, and soft furs enfold you, and you give a sigh of Contentment, "O-o-o-o-o-o-oh!"

    "Prince's," said T-S to the chauffeur, and the palace on wheels began to glide along. It occurred to me to wonder that T-S was not embarrassed to take Carpenter to a fashionable eating-place. But I could read his thoughts; everybody would assume that he had been "on location" with one of his stars; and anyhow, what the hell? Wasn't he Abey Tszchniczklefritszch?

    "Wor-r-r-r-r! Wor-r-r-r-r-r!" snarled the horn of the car; and I could understand the meaning of this also. It said: "I am the car of Abey Tszchniczklefritszch, king of the movies, future king of the world. Get the hell out o' my way!" So we sped through the crowded streets, and pedestrians scattered like autumn leaves before a storm. "My Gawd, but I'm hungry!" said T-S. "I ain't had nuttin' to eat since lunch-time. How goes it, Maw? Feelin' better? Vell, you be all right ven you git your grub."

    So we came to Prince's, and drew up before the porte-cochere, and found ourselves confronting an adventure. There was a crowd before the place, a surging throng half-way down the block, with a whole line of policemen to hold them back. Over the heads of the crowd were transparencies, frame boxes with canvas on, and lights inside, and words painted on them. "Hello!" cried T-S. "Vot's dis?"

    Suddenly I recalled what I had read in the morning's paper. The workers of the famous lobster palace had gone on strike, and trouble was feared. I told T-S, and he exclaimed: "Oh, hell! Ain't we got troubles enough vit strikers in de studios, vitout dey come spoilin' our dinner?"

    The footman had jumped from his seat, and had the door open, and the great man began to alight. At that moment the mob set up a howl. "For shame! For shame! Unfair! Don't go in there! They starve their workers! They're taking the bread out of our mouths! Scabs! Scabs!"

    I got out second, and saw a spectacle of haggard faces, shouting menaces and pleadings; I saw hands waved wildly, one or two fists clenched; I saw the police, shoving against the mass, poking with their sticks, none too gently. A poor devil in a waiter's costume stretched out his arms to me, yelling in a foreign dialect: "You take de food from my babies!" The next moment the club of a policeman came down on his head, crack. I heard Mary scream behind me, and I turned, just in the nick of time. Carpenter was leaping toward the policeman, crying, "Stop!"

    There was no chance to parley in this emergency. I grabbed Carpenter in a foot-ball tackle. I got one arm pinned to his side, and Mary, good old scout, got the other as quickly. She is a bit of an athlete--has to keep in training for those hoochie-coochies and things she does, when she wins the love of emperors and sultans and such-like world-conquerors. Also, when we got hold of Carpenter, we discovered that he wasn't much but skin and bones anyhow. We fairly lifted him up and rushed him into the restaurant; and after the first moment he stopped resisting, and let us lead him between the aisles of diners, on the heels of the toddling T-S. There was a table reserved, in an alcove, and we brought him to it, and then waited to see what we had done.
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