And then there was Little Eva, whose real name was Edith. She was a demure looking little girl, who came in every afternoon at four o’clock for her breakfast. She usually came to Jimmy’s table when it was vacant, and at four o’clock she always ate alone. Later in the evening she would come in again with a male escort, who was never twice the same.
“I wonder what’s the matter with me?” she said to Jimmy one day as he was serving her breakfast. “I’m getting awfully nervous.”
“That’s quite remarkable,” said Jimmy. “I should think any one who smoked as many cigarettes and drank as much whisky as you would have perfect nerves.”
The girl laughed, a rather soft and mellow laugh. “I suppose I do hit it up a little strong,” she said.
“Strong?” exclaimed Jimmy. “Why, if I drank half what you do I’d be in the Washingtonian Home in a week.”
She looked at him quizzically for a moment, as she had looked at him often since he had gone to work for Feinheimer.
“You’re a funny guy,” she said. “I can’t quite figure you out. What are you doing here anyway?”
“I never claimed to be much of a waiter,” said Jimmy, “but I didn’t know I was so rotten that a regular customer of the place couldn’t tell what I was trying to do.”
“Oh, go on,” she cried; “I don’t mean that. These other hash-slingers around here look the part. Aside from that, about the only thing they know how to do is roll a souse; but you’re different.”
“Yes,” said Jimmy, “I am different. My abilities are limited. All I can do is wait on table, while they have two accomplishments.”
“Oh, you don’t have to tell me,” said the girl. “I wasn’t rubbering. I was just sort of interested in you.”
“Thanks,” said Jimmy.
She went on with her breakfast while Jimmy set up an adjoining table. Presently when he came to fill her water-glass she looked up at him again.
“I like you, kid,” she said. “You’re not fresh. You know what I am as well as the rest of them, but you wait on me just the same as you would on”—she hesitated and there was a little catch in her voice as she finished her sentence—“just the same as you would on a decent girl.”
Jimmy looked at her in surprise. It was the first indication that he had ever had from an habitue of Feinheimer’s that there might lurk within their breasts any of the finer characteristics whose outward indices are pride and shame. He was momentarily at a loss as to what to say, and as he hesitated the girl’s gaze went past him and she exclaimed:
“Look who’s here!”
Jimmy turned to look at the newcomer, and saw the Lizard directly behind him.
“Howdy, bo,” said his benefactor. “I thought I’d come in and give you the once-over. And here’s Little Eva with a plate of ham and at four o’clock in the afternoon.”
The Lizard dropped into a chair at the table with the girl, and after Jimmy had taken his order and departed for the kitchen Little Eva jerked her thumb toward his retreating figure.