These peculiarities soon made Joplin the storm-centre of every discussion. Not only were his views on nutrition ridiculed, but all his fads were treated with equal disrespect. “Impressionism,” “plein air,” the old “line engraving” in contrast to the modern “half-tone” methods—any opinion of Joplin’s, no matter how sane or logical, was jostled, sat on, punched in the ribs and otherwise maltreated until every man was breathless or black in the face with assumed rage—every man except the man jostled, who never lost his temper no matter what the provocation, and who always came up smiling with some such remark as: “Smite away, you Pharisees; harmony is heavenly—but stupid. Keep it up—here’s the other cheek!”
On this particular night Joplin, as I have said, had broken out on diet. Some movement of Marny’s connected with the temporary relief of the lower button of his waistcoat had excited the great Bostonian’s wrath. The men were seated at dinner inside the coffee-room, Johann and Tine serving.
“Yes, Marny, I’m sorry to say it, but the fact is you eat too much and you eat the wrong things. If you knew anything of the kinds of food necessary to nourish the human body, you would know that it should combine in proper proportions proteid, fats, carbohydrates and a small percentage of inorganic salts—these are constantly undergoing oxidation and at the same time are liberating energy in the form of heat.”
“Hear the bloody bounder!” bawled Pudfut from the other end of the table.
“Silence!” called Marny, with his ear cupped in his fingers, an expression of the farthest-away-boy-in-the-class on his face.
Joplin waved his hand in protest and continued, without heeding the interruption: “Now, if you’re stupid enough to stuff your epigastrium with pork, you, of course, get an excess of non-nitrogenous fats, and in order to digest anything properly you must necessarily cram in an additional quantity of carbohydrates —greens, potatoes, cabbage—whatever Tine shoves under your nose. Consult any scientist and see if I am not right—especially the German doctors who have made a specialty of nutrition. Such men as Fugel, Beenheim and—”
Here a slice of Tine’s freshly-cut bread made a line-shot, struck the top of Joplin’s scalp, caromed on Schonholz’s shirt-front and fell into Stebbins’s lap, followed instantly by “Order, gentlemen!” from Marny. “Don’t waste that slab of proteid. The learned Bean is most interesting and should not be interrupted.”
“Better out than in,” continued Joplin, brushing the crumbs from his plate. “Bread—fresh bread particularly—is the very worst thing a man can put into his stomach.”
“And how about pertaties?” shouted Malone. “I s’pose ye’d rob us of the only thing that’s kep’ us alive as a nation, wouldn’t ye?”