Leonides Lunch recently stepped in to a dining saloon, not more than a hundred rods from Franklin statue, and with a composed but hungry countenance asked for a plate of hash in a very genteel voice. It happened, fortunately for him that the desired compound was not quite ready - and one of the waiters told him so, at the same time handing him a paper and politely asked him to take a seat. Leonides did so, with a grateful bow, nonchalently remarking that he was in no hurry; and he was not, as will be, presently peeved. He observed, as he was compleasantly reading the last news of the Alabaster claims, that the waiter was blacking his boots; which done, Leonides rose and asked for the brush "Just to rub a bit of mud off my boots."
Taking the brush in one hand, and the blacking in the other, in a few moments he had given his foot casings a brilliant polish; then followed up his luck by a liberal and adroit use of the broom-brush over his clothes. He took up a hat-brush and removed the map of his sad silk hat. |
"Those hash are not quite ready yet, are they?" he coolly inquired; and, being answered in the negative, he said it was no matter, "as he was not wanted at the City Hall just yet." And turning around calmly surveyed the arrangements of the place, and condescended the remark that "it was not quite equal to the Metropolitan or Delmonico's, still neat - very neat indeed." Upon careful examination of his hands he observed that the blacking had soiled them ; he proceeded to the wash basin, he turned on the faucet and, with free use of scented soap, he scoured his hands most thoroughly. Then he whisked out a once white handkerchief, quickly washed and wrung it, and returned it to his hat to dry. The waiter, being busy with other customers, took but little notion of his maneuvers, and taking advantage of this auspicious fact, Leonides removed the dirty paper collar and substituted a clean one ; immediately subsequent, he had possession of a bottle containing sweet oil, and pouring out about an ounce, treated his distracted head to a bath of it. And now, before a mirror, he made a rapid and tasteful use of the comb and the brush. Observing his surroundings, one of the waiters approached him with-
"Have you given your order, sir?"
"Oh yes, thank you. It's coming on soon."
"What dish was it, sir?"
"Hash. A plate of nice hash to begin."
"Here is your hash, sir. Hash, sir, hash."
Leonides laid down his tooth-brush and strode with dignity to the table, where he seated himself with a satisfied "Ha!" as if one of John Ludin's banquets had been spread before him.
After one mouthful, "Here, waiter," exclaims he, "fill this water-pitcher and give me the walnut ketchup." This mandate being fulfilled, he proceeded to lay waste the hash. After finishing that, with which he devoured half a dozen slices of bread, and about a quarter of a pound of butter, he tumbled the remaining slices into a tumbler of milk, the pitcher happening to hold about two quarts. Seeing nothing else to eat on the table except a plate of pickles, he swallowed them all regardless of curds, probably considering that he had stomach enough for anything.
By this time, Leonides Lunch appeared to have gotten quite comfortable, for, utilizing his chair back against the wall, crossing his legs and folding his hands, he fell into a snooze, having achieved one of the cheapest dinners on record. In a little while, he began to snore harmoniously, resounding blasts of victory.
"I say, Jack," said one waiter to another, "who is that snoozer out there agin the wall?"
"I don't know. Thought you did, he makes himself so much at home. He called for a plate of hash about two hours ago. Said something about not being in a hurry to go to City Hall - clerk, perhaps."
"I noticed he swallowed all the bread and milk and pickles, and thinned that butter down."
"What makes him snore so?"
"I suppose it's the pickles quarreling with the milk."
At this moment Leonides sneezed with such violence that his chair tilted forward, and he awoke amidst a peal of laughter from the waiters - the customers having long before gone about their business.
"Had a good sleep, sir?" gravely inquired a waiter, as Leonides strode up to the counter to settle for his hash.
"Sleep? Me? Yes, I did done a little. Ten cents, I believe?"
"For the hash," said the clerk, laying particular emphasis on the word.
"Y-e-s," said Leonides airily, stroking his English whiskers. "One plate only, I believe, of the hash."
"Ten cents a plate for hash only," replied the clerk, winking slyly to the waiters, who were making all sorts of grim faces.
Leonides put his hand in his pocket, and after fumbling awhile, he drew out from a corner a dilapidated ten-cent stamp., so wretchedly withered and defaced - such a mutilated evidence of the evils of civil war- that the clerk started aghast at the sight.
"That ain't worth more than five cents," said he, feebly. "It looks sick- had the small-pox, or must have been badly vaccinated."
"Oh, never mind," said Leonides with lofty carelessness, and yawning. "I shall come in and take dinner here every day. I'll pay you the other five cents next time. I like your hash - and when I like a place I stick to it."
His threats of coming every day increased the clerk's alarm, and he thought it best to be rid of such a customer as soon as possible.
"Very well," said he, forcing a smile. "It's a small affair any way."
"Of course," replied Leonides, with a happy coincidence of opinion. "Have you such a useful tool as a penknife on you?"
The clerk looked rather savage at this, and felt as if a carving-knife would have been more serviceable just then. He thought of Felix Larkin and John Glass, but with heroic self-command he smoothed down the bristles of his indignation and presented his penknife. Leonides took it and commenced paring and cleansing his nails, apparently unconscious of being the "cynosure of neighboring eyes."
"Jack," shouted the clerk, fiercely, "put another cord of pickles and another mountain of bread on the table out there, and see that we take an extra gallon of milk after this."
"Yes," shouted Jack, "sure not to forget it."
"Thank you sir," said Leonides, returning the penknife. "Oh, by the way, I suppose you don't care about that evening paper out there. There's an article in it I'm anxious to preserve - a money article."
"Jack," cried the clerk, biting his lip in despair, "hand this gentleman the evening paper."
"Yes sir," exclaimed Jack, rushing and presenting the paperto Leonides as if waiting upon the Grand Duke."
Jack," said Leonides familiarly, "now I'll trouble you for a bit of your tobacco."
And Leonides helped himself liberally.
"I shall be round again to-morrow," said Leonides, "but I must go now and tend to my city accounts."
And waving his hand gracefully to the clerk, he left the establishment.
"Round again! Heaven prevent him!" said the clerk as he disappeared.
"He didn't pay for the tooth-brush," said Jack, "and washed - oh! here he comes again."
"I say, my friend, "it is just beginning to rain," said Leonides, popping his head in at the door. "Can't you lend me an umbrella? In again, you know, tomorrow."
"Umbrella? No sir, haven't got any. I say, you didn't pay for the tooth-brush."
"The tooth-brush. Tooth-bru-oh, no, no I didn't did I? Well the fact was, you see, I tried it but the bristles were altogether too soft. I like your hash, however - I could live on that hash! Goodbye! In again tomorrow.
And again waving his hand gracefully and shaking out his clean, wet handkerchief, Leonides Lunch departed in the direction of Printing House Square.