When be came to pay the driver he found the trip from Thirty-fifth Street to the foot of Liberty was two dollars and a half, and the fruit and flowers came to twenty-two dollars. He was greatly distressed over this, and could not see how it had happened. He rode back in the elevated for five cents and felt much better. Then some men just back from a yachting trip joined him at the club and ordered a great many things to drink, and of course he had to do the same, and seven dollars were added to his economy fund. He argued that this did not matter, because he signed a check for it, and that he would not have to pay for it until the end of the month, when the necessity of economizing would be over.
Still, his conscience did not seem convinced, and he grew very desperate. He felt he was not doing it at all properly, and he determined that he would spend next to nothing on his dinner. He remembered with a shudder the place he had taken the tramp to dinner, and he vowed that before he would economize as rigidly as that he would starve; but he had heard of the table d’hote places on Sixth Avenue, so he went there and wandered along the street until he found one that looked clean and nice. He began with a heavy soup, shoved a rich, fat, fried fish over his plate, and followed it with a queer entree of spaghetti with a tomato dressing that satisfied his hunger and killed his appetite as if with the blow of a lead pipe. But he went through with the rest of it, for he felt it was the truest economy to get his money’s worth, and the limp salad in bad oil and the ice-cream of sour milk made him feel that eating was a positive pain rather than a pleasure; and in this state of mind and body, drugged and disgusted, he lighted his pipe and walked slowly towards the club along Twenty-sixth Street.
He looked in at the cafe at Delmonico’s with envy and disgust, and, going disheartenedly on, passed the dining-room windows that were wide open and showed the heavy white linen, the silver, and the women coolly dressed and everybody happy.
And then there was a wild waving of arms inside, and white hands beckoning him, and he saw with mingled feelings of regret that the whole party of the Fourth of July were inside and motioning to him. They made room for him, and the captain’s daughter helped him to olives, and the chaperon told how they had come into town for the day, and had been telegraphing for him and Edgar and Fred and “dear Bill,” and the rest said they were so glad to see him because they knew he could appreciate a good dinner if any one could.