“Nebber seen de like afore. Reckon I isn’t g’wine to tote soup and fish for no nigger: I’ll see de boss.”
That meant an appeal to the lordly and pompous but quite gentlemanly “head waiter,” a man as white as Ford Foster. A word or two to him, a finger pointed towards the upper end of the hall, and the keen eyes of the “man in authority” took it all in.
“Six of them,—five white and one black. Well, Gus, do they look as if they could pay their bill before they go?”
“Yes, sah, dey does. De young gen’lman wid de bill ob fare in his han’, he’s got moah cheek, an’ moah tongue, an’ moah lip, sah”—
“Well then, Gus, you just tramp right along. If he and the rest don’t care, I don’t. It’ll be time enough for me to make a fool of myself when somebody offers to pay me for it. Give ’em their dinner! Sharp!”
“It’s jes’ a mons’ous outrage,” growled the offended waiter, as he stalked away; but he took good care to obey his orders, for he had a consciousness that the eyes of his “master” were on him. He could hardly have guessed how completely his errand had been understood by the six boys, or how closely Ford Foster had “hit it.” Said he, in reply to an angry remark from Dab Kinzer,—
“It’s all humbug. They run this concern to make money, and they want some of ours. Mr. Marigold’ll be sent right back with our soup.”
He was right; but, before they had eaten their way to the pie and pudding, Ford was dignifiedly informed,—
“If you please, sah, my name isn’t Mr. Marigold, sah, it is Mr. Bellerington, sah; an’ my first name isn’t Coffee, sah, it’s Augustus.”
“You don’t say,” replied Ford: “well, Augustus, don’t forget the little remark I made about pie and the other things.”
It was a capital dinner; and Ford was proud of it, for he had picked out every item of it, from the soup to the macaroons. Dick Lee had enjoyed it hugely, after he began to feel that his first social victory had been fairly won for him. Still, he had doubts in his own mind as to whether he would ever dare such another undertaking with less than five white boys along to “see him through.”
Joe and Fuz ate well; but their spirits were manifestly low, for they were painfully conscious of having forever lost the good opinion of that mulatto waiter.
“But for Dick Lee’s being with us,” they thought, “he and everybody else would have known we were gentlemen. We’ll never be caught in such a trap again.”
It is a very sad matter, no doubt, to lose the intelligent respect of such gentlemen as Mr. Augustus Bellerington, but it sometimes has to be done; that is, unless their good opinion is to be gained by some nice little stroke of sneaking cowardice.
Joe and Fuz stood it out, indeed, mainly because they were in some way more afraid of Dab and Ford and Frank than they were of even Augustus.
That, too, was strange; for they were older than either of the others, and taller than any but Dabney himself.