Morrissy became yellower than his diamonds. Ben flung aside his chair and left the hall. He went straight to Martin’s saloon. He found Bill Osborne alone at a table.
“Will they strike, Ben?” he asked in a rough whisper.
“Yes. I thought I might influence them, Bill, but I’ve only made an ass of myself. Two whiskies,” he ordered, “and make one of them stiff. I told Morrissy.”
“You didn’t mention my name, Ben? Don’t say you told him that I was on the other side of the partition!” Bill’s eyes nearly stood out of his head.
“I told him nothing. How’d you happen to land in Schmuck’s saloon, anyhow? Why didn’t you telephone me when you heard Morrissy come in?”
“Oh. Ben, I was drunk! If I hadn’t been so drunk!” Bill’s eyes overflowed remorsefully.
“And say, Ben, that fellow Bolles is back in town. He was in here a few minutes ago, drunk as a lord. He flashed a roll of bills that would have choked an ox.”
“Where is he now?”
“Up stairs playing the wheel.”
Ben shook his head. He had his salary in his pocket, and he vividly remembered what roulette had done to it a fortnight gone.
“If Bolles is drunk, it wouldn’t do any good to talk to him.” Ben sighed and drank his liquor neat. He was tired.
Regularly once a week Mrs. Franklyn-Haldene visited a hair-dresser. This distinguished social leader employed a French maid who was very adept at dressing hair, but the two never got along very well verbally; Mrs. Franklyn-Haldene insisted on speaking in broken French while the maid persisted in broken English. Such conversation is naturally disjointed and leads nowhere. The particular hair-dresser who received Mrs. Haldene’s patronage possessed a lively imagination together with an endless chain of gossip. Mrs. Haldene was superior to gossiping with servants, but a hair-dresser is a little closer in relation to life. Many visited her in the course of a week, and some had the happy faculty of relieving their minds of what they saw and heard regardless of the social status of the listener. Mrs. Haldene never came away from the hair-dresser’s empty-handed; in fact, she carried away with her food for thought that took fully a week to digest.
Like most places of its kind, the establishment was located in the boarding-house district; but this did not prevent fashionable carriages from stopping at the door, nor the neighboring boarders from sitting on their front steps and speculating as to whom this or that carriage belonged. There was always a maid on guard in the hall; she was very haughty and proportionately homely. It did not occur to the proprietress that this maid was a living advertisement of her incompetence to perform those wonders stated in the neat little pamphlets piled on the card-table; nor did it impress the patrons, who took it for granted that the maid, naturally enough, could not afford to have the operation of beauty performed.