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    Chapter 13

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    Chapter 13
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    Carpenter turned to me-and those sad but everchanging eyes were flashing. "You have taken a great liberty!"

    "There wasn't any time to argue," I said. "If you knew what I know about the police of Western City and their manners, you wouldn't want to monkey with them."

    Mary backed me up earnestly. "They'd have mashed your face, Mr. Carpenter."

    "My face?" he repeated. "Is not a man more than his face?"

    You should have heard the shout of T-S! "Vot? Ain't I shoost offered you five hunded dollars a veek fer dat face, and you vant to go git it smashed? And fer a lot o' lousy bums dat vont vork for honest vages, and vont let nobody else vork! Honest to Gawd, Mr. Carpenter, I tell you some stories about strikes vot we had on our own lot--you vouldn't spoil your face for such lousy sons-o'-guns--"

    "Ssh, Abey, don't use such langwich, you should to be shamed of yourself!" It was Maw, guardian of the proprieties, who had been extracted from the car by the footman, and helped to the table.

    "Vell, Mr. Carpenter, he dunno vot dem fellers is like--"

    "Sit down, Abey!" commanded the old lady. "Ve ain't ordered no stump speeches fer our dinner."

    We seated ourselves. And Carpenter turned his dark eyes on me. "I observe that you have many kinds of mobs in your city," he remarked. "And the police do interfere with some of them."

    "My Gawd!" cried T-S. "You gonna have a lot o' bums jumpin' on people ven dey try to git to dinner?"

    Said Carpenter: "Mr. Rosythe said that the police would not work unless they were paid. May I ask, who pays them to work here? Is it the proprietor of the restaurant?"

    "Vell," cried T-S, "ain't he gotta take care of his place?"

    "As a matter of fact," said I, laughing, "from what I read in the 'Times' this morning, I gather that an old friend of Mr. Carpenter's has been paying in this case."

    Carpenter looked at me inquiringly.

    "Mr. Algernon de Wiggs, president of the Chamber of Commerce, issued a statement denouncing the way the police were letting mobs of strikers interfere with business, and proposing that the Chamber take steps to stop it. You remember de Wiggs, and how we left him?"

    "Yes, I remember," said Carpenter; and we exchanged a smile over that trick we had played.

    I could see T-S prick forward his ears. "Vot? You know de Viggs?"

    "Mr. Carpenter possesses an acquaintance with our best society which will astonish you when you realize it."

    "Vy didn't you tell me dat?" demanded the other; and I could complete the sentence for him: "Somebody has offered him more money!"

    Here the voice of Maw was heard: "Ain't we gonna git nuttin' to eat?"

    So for a time the problem of capital and labor was put to one side. There were two waiters standing by, very nervous, because of the strike. T-S grabbed the card from one, and read off a list of food, which the waiter wrote down. Maw, who was learning the rudiments of etiquette, handed her card to Mary, who gave her order, and then Maw gave hers, and I gave mine, and there was only Carpenter left.

    He was sitting, his dark eyes roaming here and there about the dining-room. Prince's, as you may know, is a gorgeous establishment: too much so for my taste--it has almost as much gilded moulding as if T-S had designed it for a picture palace. In front of Carpenter's eyes sat a dame with a bare white back, and a rope of big pearls about it, and a tiara of diamonds on top; and beyond her were more dames, and yet more, and men in dinner-coats, putting food into red faces. You and I get used to such things, but I could understand that to a stranger it must be shocking to see so many people feeding so expensively.

    "Vot you vant to order, Mr. Carpenter?" demanded T-S; and I waited, full of curiosity. What would this man choose to eat in a "lobster palace"?

    Carpenter took the card from his host and studied it. Apparently he had no difficulty in finding the most substantial part of the menu. "I'll have prime ribs of beef," said he; "and boiled mutton with caper sauce; and young spring turkey; and squab en casserole; and milk fed guinea fowl--" The waiter, of course, was obediently writing down each item. "And planked steak with mushrooms; and braised spare ribs--"

    "My Gawd!" broke in the host.

    "And roast teal duck; and lamb kidneys--"

    "Fer the love o' Mike, Mr. Carpenter, you gonna eat all dat?"

    "No; of course not."

    "Den vot you gonna do vit it?"

    "I'm going to take it to the hungry men outside."

    Well, sir, you'd have thought the world had stopped turning round, so still it was. The two waiters nearly dropped their order-pads and their napkins; they did drop their jaws, and Mrs. T-S's permanent wave seemed about to go flat.

    "Oh, hell!" cried T-S at last. You can't do it!"

    "I can't?"

    "You can't order only vot you gonna eat."

    "But then, I don't want anything. I'm not hungry."

    "But you can't sit here like a dummy, man!" He turned to the waiter. "You bring him de same vot you bring me. Unnerstand? And git a move on, cause I'm starvin'. Fade out now!" And the waiter turned and fled.
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