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Cupid a la Carte
by [?]

“The dispositions of woman,” said Jeff Peters, after various opinions on the subject had been advanced, “run, regular, to diversions. What a woman wants is what you’re out of. She wants more of a thing when it’s scarce. She likes to have souvenirs of things that never happened. She likes to be reminded of things she never heard of. A one-sided view of objects is disjointing to the female composition.

“‘Tis a misfortune of mine, begotten by nature and travel,” continued Jeff, looking thoughtfully between his elevated feet at the grocery stove, “to look deeper into some subjects than most people do. I’ve breathed gasoline smoke talking to street crowds in nearly every town in the United States. I’ve held ’em spellbound with music, oratory, sleight of hand, and prevarications, while I’ve sold ’em jewelry, medicine, soap, hair tonic, and junk of other nominations. And during my travels, as a matter of recreation and expiation, I’ve taken cognisance some of women. It takes a man a lifetime to find out about one particular woman; but if he puts in, say, ten years, industrious and curious, he can acquire the general rudiments of the sex. One lesson I picked up was when I was working the West with a line of Brazilian diamonds and a patent fire kindler just after my trip from Savannah down through the cotton belt with Dalby’s Anti-explosive Lamp Oil Powder. ‘Twas when the Oklahoma country was in first bloom. Guthrie was rising in the middle of it like a lump of self-raising dough. It was a boom town of the regular kind–you stood in line to get a chance to wash your face; if you ate over ten minutes you had a lodging bill added on; if you slept on a plank at night they charged it to you as board the next morning.

“By nature and doctrines I am addicted to the habit of discovering choice places wherein to feed. So I looked around and found a proposition that exactly cut the mustard. I found a restaurant tent just opened up by an outfit that had drifted in on the tail of the boom. They had knocked together a box house, where they lived and did the cooking, and served the meals in a tent pitched against the side. That tent was joyful with placards on it calculated to redeem the world-worn pilgrim from the sinfulness of boarding houses and pick-me- up hotels. ‘Try Mother’s Home-Made Biscuits,’ ‘What’s the Matter with Our Apple Dumplings and Hard Sauce?’ ‘Hot Cakes and Maple Syrup Like You Ate When a Boy,’ ‘Our Fried Chicken Never Was Heard to Crow’– there was literature doomed to please the digestions of man! I said to myself that mother’s wandering boy should munch there that night. And so it came to pass. And there is where I contracted my case of Mame Dugan.

“Old Man Dugan was six feet by one of Indiana loafer, and he spent his time sitting on his shoulder blades in a rocking-chair in the shanty memorialising the great corn-crop failure of ’96. Ma Dugan did the cooking, and Mame waited on the table.

“As soon as I saw Mame I knew there was a mistake in the census reports. There wasn’t but one girl in the United States. When you come to specifications it isn’t easy. She was about the size of an angel, and she had eyes, and ways about her. When you come to the kind of a girl she was, you’ll find a belt of ’em reaching from the Brooklyn Bridge west as far as the courthouse in Council Bluffs, Ia. They earn their own living in stores, restaurants, factories, and offices. They’re chummy and honest and free and tender and sassy, and they look life straight in the eye. They’ve met man face to face, and discovered that he’s a poor creature. They’ve dropped to it that the reports in the Seaside Library about his being a fairy prince lack confirmation.