No person ever wants to tell us again how to save two shillings. When we started for Chippewa Falls, to attend the celebration, we only had a few hundred dollars along, and we felt like saving all that was possible. Just before arriving at Sparta, where we were to take supper, Dan McDonald got to telling about how to save twenty-five cents on meals at these eating houses, when traveling. He said that all you had to do when you come out from supper was to look like a bummer, or “traveling man,” hand the door-keeper fifty cents and wink twice with the left eye, and he would pass you right out, as though you had paid seventy-five cents. If you handed out a dollar bill, and he only gave you back twenty-five cents, you only had to hold out your hand and wink a couple of times, and the man would give you the other quarter. Dan said he always did that way, and he had saved hundreds of dollars. He said these bummers only paid fifty cents a meal, and there was no use of anybody else paying more, if they had cheek enough to play it on the landlord.
[Illustration: “Oh, that will be all right!”]
We never had anything strike us any more reasonable than the statement of Mr. McDonald, and we determined to try it. To a man who was traveling a good deal lecturing, a saving of twenty-five cents a meal was worth looking into, and we made up our mind to begin to economize that very night. The train stopped and we walked across the platform as near like a bummer as possible. With our hat on one side, we threw a cigar stub into the parlor window, said “Hello, old tapeworm,” to the landlord in a familiar sort of way, chucked our hat into a chair; rushed into the dining-room, took a seat at the head of the table, and told a girl to cart out all she had got. The landlord looked at us as though he thought we were one of Field, Leiter & Co.’s bummers, his good wife looked frightened, as though she feared we would kick a leg off the table and spill things. However, there is no use of describing the meal, and how we went through brook trout and strawberry shortcake, and things. We couldn’t help feeling sorry for the man that was destined to furnish all that for fifty cents. Finally we went out. We felt a sort of palpitation of the heart when we approached the hungry-looking man at the door, taking the money. He looked as though he was a sick orphan trying to save money enough to get to a water cure. Picking our teeth with our finger, like a Chicago bummer, and pulling our handkerchief out of our pistol pocket and blowing our nose like a thirty-two pounder, just as we had heard a Chicago fellow do, we handed the man fifty cents, winked a couple of times and started to go by. The tobacco sign standing there said, “twenty-five cents more, please.” We looked at him, winked, and said, “O, that will be all right.”