“Oh, that’s all right, your majesty,” says Brown. “Hi, Chianti, come here a minute! Here’s your old college chum, the count, been and put his foot in it.”
When the new barber showed up the count never made another move, just wilted like a morning-glory after sunrise. But you never see a worse upset man than Ebenezer Dillaway.
“But what does this mean?” says he, kind of wild like. “Why don’t you take that thing off his foot?”
“Oh,” says Peter, “he’s been elongating my pedal extremity for the last month or so; I don’t see why I should kick if he pulls his own for a while. You see,” he says, “it’s this way:
“Ever since his grace condescended to lend the glory of his countenance to this humble roof,” he says, “it’s stuck in my mind that I’d seen the said countenance somewhere before. The other night when our conversation was trifling with the razor subject and the Grand Lama here”—that’s the name he called the count—“was throwing in details about his carving his friends, it flashed across me where I’d seen it. About a couple of years ago I was selling the guileless rural druggists contiguous to Scranton, Pennsylvania, the tasty and happy combination called ’Dr. Bulger’s Electric Liver Cure,’ the same being a sort of electric light for shady livers, so to speak. I made my headquarters at Scranton, and, while there, my hair was shortened and my chin smoothed in a neat but gaudy barber shop, presided over by my friend Spaghetti here, and my equally valued friend the count.”
“So,” says Peter, smiling and cool as ever, “when it all came back to me, as the song says, I journeyed to Scranton accompanied by a photograph of his lordship. I was lucky enough to find Macaroni in the same old shop. He knew the count’s classic profile at once. It seems his majesty had hit up the lottery a short time previous for a few hundred and had given up barbering. I suppose he’d read in the papers that the imitation count line was stylish and profitable and so he tried it on. It may be,” says Brown, offhand, “that he thought he might marry some rich girl. There’s some fool fathers, judging by the papers, that are willing to sell their daughters for the proper kind of tag on a package like him.”
Old man Dillaway kind of made a face, as if he’d ate something that tasted bad, but he didn’t speak.
“And so,” says Peter, “Spaghetti and I came to the Old Home together, he to shave for twelve per, and I to set traps, etcetera. That’s a good trap,” he says, nodding, “I bought it in Boston. I had the teeth filed down, but the man that sold it said ’twould hold a horse. I left the ladder by his grace’s window, thinking he might find it handy after he’d seen his friend of other days, particularly as the back door was locked.
“And now,” goes on Brown, short and sharp, “let’s talk business. Count,” he says, “you are set back on the books about sixty odd for old home comforts. We’ll cut off half of that and charge it to advertising. You draw well, as the man said about the pipe. But the other thirty you’ll have to work out. You used to shave like a bird. I’ll give you twelve dollars a week to chip in with Macaroni here and barber the boarders.”