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Turning The Tables
by [?]


There was great commotion in the kitchen of a large seaside hotel not many miles from Long Branch. A commotion in fact, that struck dismay to the heart of the proprietor, who, upon visiting the store-room near by, was caught and detained, an invisible listener to the uproar.

“I ‘clar ter gracious!” screamed the fat, colored cook, “I aint a-gwine ter stan’ it no longer! Po’ white trash a-layin’ up in bed all mornin,’ an’ den it’s eggs! Eggs biled, eggs scrabbled, an’ homilies (omelettes) tell yer can’t res’ nohow! I’se mazin’ tired of it all, I tell yer! I’se gwine ter quit–I is!”

“You’se gwine ter quit–you is! I speck! I’m done heerd dat talk eber day dis month,” jeered cook number two. “Ef you quits you kin jest bet yer bottom dollar I aint a-gwine to stay. Got more’n I kin do now–I is.”

“An’ what yer reckon dis chile’s goin’ ter do den?” pertly chimed in the mulatto kitchen maid. “I’m got all de runnin’ roun’ ter do, an’ yer kin jist bet I don’t have no easy time. Quit as quick as yer please–all of yer–I’ll go ‘long wid de crowd!” and with a toss of her woolly bangs, she dumped a pan of potato peelings out at the door.

“Dry up! dry up!” broke in the head waiter, appearing on the scene in true autocrat fashion. He boasted of “right smart book learnin’,” and was a recognised power in the land. “You don’t have no trouble at all to what I do. It’s run here, there and everywhere, all in a minute, with a dozen blockheads to look after. And it’s precious few tips I get here, I promise you! I never see as stingy a lot o’ people in all my born days. Say! you there, Jim! fetch that tray along! What are you gapin’ at, nigger?”

“Don’t you nigger me, you black dude!” retorted the darkey, and as he spoke a smart chambermaid pranced along, flirting back at another waiter, and ran plump against the boy, tray and all. Down went the dishes with a clatter which brought a bevy of waiters and maids on the scene, while the laundress rushed in, all dripping with soapsuds. This so irritated the head waiter that he seized a teacup and threw it at the unlucky tray man. Then followed a fusillade of broken crockery and promiscuous dodging of giggling maids and explosive men-servants.

The fat cook interposed a threatening, hissing tea-kettle to stop the war, and the perplexed housekeeper appeared among the belligerents as the overwhelmed proprietor beat a hasty retreat. Stealing unperceived along the corridors, an idea struck him. This state of things was simply dreadful; something must be done. He quickly decided. He despatched his little son to the rooms and all about the premises to request the guests to assemble to an affair of state in the imposing chamber known as the main parlor. His wife was an invalid, and the poor man was beside himself in his perplexity.

With wondering, smiling faces they came–a pleasing array of city boarders–ease and comfort written upon every face.

His audience assembled, the distressed gentleman proceeded to pour forth his grievances. He asked what he should do in such a dilemma. His help had been engaged from the swarms of colored persons who infest the stations and public resorts along the coast. They had given trouble ever since the hotel was opened. They complained and annoyed him first about one thing, then about another, till he was well on to the verge of lunacy.

“Now, ladies and gentlemen,” he pathetically continued, “if I try to soothe and satisfy, and raise wages and make promises, what guarantee have I that the same thing will not occur to-morrow, and next day, and next week? I engaged them fairly and squarely, and have held strictly to my contract. They are so spoiled and unmanageable that there is no satisfaction in their service. Even now, while I am talking they are no doubt still in an uproar. Why, it is a wholesale mutiny. Something must be done at once. I have come to you for advice. If, as I say, they could be persuaded to remain, I cannot promise you any comfort. If I discharge the whole crew, it will be a day, perhaps two days, before I can supply their places; for I shall have to go to New York for white help. Can you solve the problem?”