One Morning there came into the Dining Room of the Peerless Hotel at Welby’s Junction an English Tourist and the Advance Agent of the Mabel Mooney Repertoire Company.
They took their Places at the Table underneath a Chromo representing a Pyramid of Idealized Fruit. The Table was covered with Sail Cloth, and in the Center was the Corroded Caster, which gave out a Sound similar to that of the Galloping Horse in the War Drama whenever any one walked across the Floor.
The English Traveler appeared to have received Bad News from Home, but he had not. That was the Normal Expression. His Mustache was long and wilted. Also the Weary Look around the Eyes. He traveled with a Cowhide Bag that must have used up at least one Cow. The Clothes he wore evidently had been cut from a Steamer Rug by his Mother, or some other Aged Relative suffering from Astigmatism. He had been Sleeping in them.
As for the Second Traveler, he was an Advance Agent.
“Cheer Up,” said the Advance Agent to the English Tourist. “It may not be True, and if it is True it may be for the Best.”
The English Tourist made no Response, fearing that his Fellow-Traveler might be In Trade.
Then the One that waited on the Table did the Glide from behind a Screen.
She was very Pale, up to a certain Point.
Pausing about six feet from the English Tourist she looked resolutely at a Knot-Hole in the Floor and said:
“My Good Woman,” said the Man from Stoke-on-Tritham, just as if he meant to Prorogue something. “I should like a Rasher of Bacon, and have it Jolly Well Done.”
“Ain’t got no Bacon,” she replied, feeling of her Brooch.
“Dyuh-me! Then I should like some Boiled Eggs, and mind that they are Fresh.”
“I’ll give you Regular Aigs,” she said, lifting her Head proudly, for she was no Serf.
“Approach me, Kit,” said the Advance Agent, with gentle Voice.
“Is tha-a-at so-o-o?” she asked. “I’ll have you know, Smarty, my name ain’t Kit. So There!”
“Well, make it Genevieve,” said the Advance Agent. “Come close and hold my Hand while I give you this Order. And merely as one Friend speaking to another, I want to tell you that the Blending under the Left Ear is very poor, and if you are not careful somebody will Sign you as a Spotted Girl.”
“My Mother was a Lady,” she said.
“That being the Case, I would like to have you go out and Engage a nice piece of Liver for me. And if you show yourself to be real Winsome and Chic I may be able to use you with the Troupe.”
“Tea or Coffee?”
“Don’t tell me which one you bring and see if I can Guess. And I would like some Actual Potatoes.”
“I suppose, Sir, you think I have no Feelings.”
“That is none of my Business,” he replied. “I am merely passing through your Beautiful Little City.”
“I wish Edmund was here,” said she.
“So do I,” assented the Advance Agent, promptly. “If he can wait on the Table I wish he was here. Now see if you can make the Kitchen in two Jumps.”
“He’d show you if you could get Flossy with a Lady, even though she Works.”
“You are about to lose your Tip, standing around here trying to shoot it back at the Handsome Guest,” remarked the Advance Agent. “Has Edmund about finished his Fall Plowing?”
“He don’t do no Fall Plowing,” was the Bitter Reply. “He Fires on Number Six.”
At that Moment there entered a Railroad Boy with Braid on his Clothes and Coal-Dust on his Neck. He removed the Cap that had rested on his flanging Ears and sat at the Table with the Advance Agent and the English Tourist.
“Feed me Everything, with One in the Light to come along,” he said. “If any of the Cockroaches ask for me, tell them I’m for all Night with the Yellow Rattlers, and laid out at Winona.”
The English Tourist was holding his Head.
“I guess you won’t carry on so Gay since he’s come,” said the Sensitive Waitress, addressing the Advance Agent.
“Did he Call you Down?” asked Edmund, the Loving Fireman, glancing at the Advance Agent.
“He used me like I was the Dirt under his Feet,” she replied, placing her Hand on her Breast and biting her Lower Lip.
“Well, it’s a Good Thing,” said Edmund. “You’ve needed a few of them Jolts ever since you had your Hand read by the Gypsy and started to read that Bertha Clay Book. It’s a good thing to have a Strong Josher come along now and then, just to show you Proud Dolls how to take a Joke. Do I Eat?”
The Sensitive Waitress hurried Away, feeling hurt.
“Overlook all the Phoney Acting by the Little Lady, Bud,” said the Fireman to the Advance Agent. “She’s only twenty-seven.”
Producing a small Note-Book, the English Traveler said: “Gentlemen, I regard this Incident as Most Extraordinary and somewhat Mystifying. I fear that I am not sufficiently acquainted with your Vernacular to grasp the full Purport of what has occurred here. Will you Explain it to me?”
“Did you notice the Ingenue that guaranteed you the Regular Eggs,” asked the Advance Agent.
“You mean the Young Woman who was here a moment ago?”
“That’s the Party! You saw her?”
“Now, I’ll tell you all about it, if you promise not to put it in your Book.”
“Really, you know, I had intended to Use it,” said the Traveler.
“All right, then; put it in, but don’t use any Names. This is Under the Rose, remember. The Proud Working Girl that was in here just now is my Sister.”
And the Englishman was deeply Perplexed.
MORAL: Brothers in Name only.