“There, darn ye!” said the Object at last. “I’ve eat all I can eat for a year. You think you’re mighty smart, don’t ye? But if you choose to pay that high for your fun, I s’pose you can afford it. Only don’t let me catch you around these streets after dark, that’s all.”
And the Object started off, shaking his fist.
“Wait a minute,” said Van Bibber. “You haven’t paid them for your breakfast.”
“Haven’t what?” shouted the Object. “Paid ’em! How could I pay him? Youse asked me to come in here and eat. I didn’t want no breakfast, did I? Youse’ll have to pay for your fun yerself, or they’ll throw yer out. Don’t try to be too smart.”
“I gave you,” said Van Bibber, slowly, “seventy-five cents with which to buy a breakfast. This check calls for eighty-five cents, and extremely cheap it is,” he added, with a bow to the fat proprietor. “Several other gentlemen, on your representation that you were starving, gave you other sums to be expended on a breakfast. You have the money with you now. So pay what you owe at once, or I’ll call that officer across the street and tell him what I know, and have you put where you belong.”
“I’ll see you blowed first!” gasped the Object.
Van Bibber turned to the waiter. “Kindly beckon to that officer,” said he.
The waiter ran to the door and the Object ran too, but the tough waiter grabbed him by the back of his neck and held him.
“Lemme go!” yelled the Object. “Lemme go an’ I’ll pay you.”
Everybody in the place came up now and formed a circle around the group and watched the Object count out eighty-five cents into the waiter’s hand, which left him just one dime to himself.
“You have forgotten the waiter who served you,” said Van Bibber, severely pointing with his stick at the dime.
“No, you don’t,” groaned the Object.
“Oh, yes,” said Van Bibber, “do the decent thing now, or I’ll—”
The Object dropped the dime in the waiter’s hand, and Van Bibber, smiling and easy, made his way through the admiring crowd and out into the street.
“I suspect,” said Mr. Van Bibber later in the day, when recounting his adventure to a fellow-clubman, “that, after I left, fellow tried to get tip back from waiter, for I saw him come out of place very suddenly, you see, and without touching pavement till he lit on back of his head in gutter. He was most remarkable waiter.”
Young Van Bibber had never spent a Fourth of July in the city, as he had always understood it was given over to armies of small boys on that day, who sat on all the curbstones and set off fire-crackers, and that the thermometer always showed ninety degrees in the shade, and cannon boomed and bells rang from daybreak to midnight. He had refused all invitations to join any Fourth-of-July parties at the seashore or on the Sound or at Tuxedo, because he expected his people home from Europe, and had to be in New York to meet them. He was accordingly greatly annoyed when he received a telegram saying they would sail in a boat a week later.