“You are absolutely filthy. Don’t you know any better than to come in where there are gentlemen?”
“I don’t see any except him,” said Tom, indicating Ben with his glance.
“This is really too much. Here, waiter!”
A waiter answered the summons.
“What is it, sir?”
“Just remove my plate to another table, will you?”
“Is anything the matter, sir?”
“I am not accustomed to associate with bootblacks,” said the clerk loftily.
“All right, sir.”
“I am really surprised that you admit any of that low class.”
“As long as they pay their bills we are willing to receive them.”
“I don’t believe that boy has got enough to pay for his dinner.”
The waiter, at this suggestion, looked at Tom rather suspiciously. After removing the plate of the sensitive customer, he came back to the table where the two boys were seated.
“Have you given your order?” he asked.
“If you haven’t got money enough to pay your check you’ll be bounced.”
“Don’t you trouble yourself, old woolly head,” said Tom coolly. “My friend pays the bills. He’s a banker down in Wall Street, and he’s rich enough to buy out your whole place.”
“The dinner will be paid for,” said Ben, smiling.
“All right, gentlemen,” said the waiter, more respectfully. “We’ll be glad to see you any time.”
“Tom,” said Ben, “I’m afraid you don’t always tell the truth.”
“You told the waiter I was a Wall Street banker, and rich.”
“Oh, what’s the odds? You’re rich enough to pay for the dinners, and that’s all he wants.”
“You came near spoiling the appitite of that young man over at the opposite table.”
“I’d like to spoil his beauty. He feels too big. I don’t like to see a feller put on so many airs. What’s the matter of me, I’d like to know?”
“Why, you see, Tom, your face isn’t very clean. There are spots of blacking on it.”
“A feller can’t be always washin’ his face. I’ll wash it to-morrow mornin’ at the lodge. Does it take away your appetite, too?”
“Not a bit,” said Ben, laughing. “Nothing but a good dinner will take away that.”
“You’re the kind of feller I like,” said Tom emphatically. “You don’t put on no airs.”
“I can’t afford to,” said Ben. “I’m a poor boy myself.”
“I wouldn’t feel poor if I had fifty dollars,” returned Tom.
“I hope you’ll have it sometime, and a good deal more.”
“So do I. When I’m a rich man, I’ll wash my face oftener.”
“And put blacking on your boots instead of your face,” added Ben.
“It might look better,” Tom admitted.
When dinner was over the two boys directed their steps
California steamship office, on one of the North River piers.