Dave Porter in the Far North/Chapter 2
A ROW IN A RESTAURANT
The majority of the boys had been home only for the Thanksgiving hoHdays. The exception was poor Phil Lawrence, who had been laid up for a number of weeks as the result of a blow on the head while playing a game of football. Phil said he felt as well as ever, but he was somewhat pale and in no humor for anything in the way of roughness.
As the train stopped at one station and another along the line, it began to fill up with passengers, including a goodly number of Oak Hall students. At one place Sam Day and Shadow Hamilton came on board, followed by half a dozen snowballs, sent after them by boys who had come to see them off.
"Hi! stop that!" cried Sam Day, as he tried to dodge, and just then a snowball meant for his head took a somewhat stout man in the ear. The man uttered a cry of surprise, slipped on the platform of the car, and fell flat, crushing his valise under him. At this a shout of laughter rang out from the depot platform, and the lads standing there lost no time in disappearing.
"You—you villains!" roared the stout man when he could catch his breath. "I'll—I'll have you locked up!"
"It wasn't my fault," answered Sam Day, trying hard to suppress the grin on his face. "Shall I help you up?"
"No," grunted the man, and arose slowly. "Do you know I have a dozen fresh eggs in that valise?"
"Sorry, I'm sure."
"A dozen eggs!" cried Shadow Hamilton. "Well, I never! Say, that puts me in mind of a story. Once a man bought some eggs that weren't strictly fresh, and——"
"Pah! who wants to listen to your stories?" interrupted the stout man. "You had better pay for the eggs that are smashed," and he entered the car in anything but a pleasant humor.
Dave had come to the car door to greet Sam and Shadow and conduct them to a seat near his own. The stout man was so upset mentally that he bumped roughly into the youth.
"Get out of my way, will you?" grunted the irate passenger.
"Excuse me, I didn't know you owned the whole aisle," said Dave, coldly. He did not like the manner in which he had been addressed.
"See here, are you another one of them good-for-nothing schoolboys?" bellowed the stout individual. "If you are, I want you to understand you can't run this train—not as far as I am concerned, anyhow."
Dave looked at the man for a moment in silence. "You are very polite, I must say," he observed. "I haven't done anything to you, have I?"
"No, but you young bloods are all in together. I know you! Last spring I was on the train with a lot of college boys, and they tried to run things to suit themselves. But we fixed 'em, we did. And we'll fix you, too, if you try to run matters here," and with a savage shake of his head the stout man passed down the aisle and dropped heavily into the first vacant seat he reached.
"Isn't he a peach?" murmured Sam Day to Dave. "Meekest man I ever saw, and ought to have a monument for politeness."
"I hope all his eggs are smashed," said Shadow Hamilton. "He certainly deserves it."
"Shouldn't wonder if they are—he came down hard enough," answered Dave.
By good luck all the students had seats close to each other, and as the train rolled along they told of their various holiday experiences and discussed school matters.
"Just four weeks and then we'll close down for Christmas," said Roger.
"We ought to have lots of fun," said Ben. "We can go skating and ice-boating, and we can build a fort——"
"And snowball Pop Swingly and Horsehair," interrupted Sam, mentioning the janitor of Oak Hall and the driver for the institution. "Don't forget them or they'll feel slighted."
"What's the matter with snowballing Job Haskers?" asked Phil, mentioning a teacher who was anything but popular with the students.
"Oh, we'll attend to him, never fear," answered Roger Morr.
"Has anybody heard from Plum?" questioned Sam, during a lull in the conversation.
"I got a letter from him," answered Dave, seeing that nobody else replied. "He is afraid he is going to have a hard time of it to reform. I hope you fellows will treat him as well as you can."
"I shall," said the senator's son, and several nodded.
"I think I have always treated him better than he deserved," said Shadow Hamilton. He could not forget what serious trouble the former bully of Oak Hall had once caused him, when Doctor Clay's valuable collection of postage stamps had disappeared.
It had been snowing slightly since morning, and now the flakes began to come down thicker than ever. As a consequence the engineer of the train could not see the signals ahead and had to run slowly, so that when the Junction was gained, where the boys had to change for Oakdale, they were half an hour late.
"We've missed the connection and must remain here for just an hour and a quarter," declared Dave, after questioning the station master. "We can't get to Oak Hall until after dark."
"I move we have something to eat," said Roger.
"A sandwich, a piece of mince-pie, and a cup of hot chocolate wouldn't go bad."
"Second the commotion!" cried Ben. "All in favor raise their left ear."
"Which puts me in mind of a story," said Shadow. "Two men went to a restaurant and ordered——"
"Fried snakes' livers on mushrooms," interrupted Dave. "You've told that story before."
"No, I didn't, and it wasn't fried——"
"I know what he means," said Phil. "It was robins' wings salted in sauerkraut."
"It wasn't. This was an order of——"
"Blue pumpkin rinds with mackerel sauce," interrupted Sam Day. "Very fine dish. I ate it once, when I was dining at the White House with the President."
"It wasn't pumpkin rinds, or anything like it. It was a plain order of——"
"Cherry roast, with minced sunflowers?" suggested Roger. "The girls at Vassar dine on 'em regularly, after playing football."
"This was a plain everyday order of pork and beans," shouted Shadow, desperately. "And after the men got 'em, what do you think they did? Oh, this is a good one;" and Shadow's eyes began to sparkle.
"Found fault, I suppose, because the beans weren't from Boston," said Dave.
"Don't keep us waiting. Shadow. Tell the story to a finish," said Phil.
"Well, they got the pork and beans——"
"And they sat down, facing each other——"
"All right—fire away," said Sam, as the storyteller paused.
"And they began to eat——"
"Glad to know they didn't begin to weep," was Roger's soft comment.
"And they ate the pork and beans all up," continued Shadow, soberly. And then he stopped short and looked around blankly.
"Well, I never!"
"Is that all there is to the story?" demanded Sam.
"Certainly. You didn't expect they'd buy the beans and throw them away, did you?" asked Shadow, innocently.
"Sold that time!" cried Dave, good-naturedly. "Never mind; we'll let Shadow pay for the lunch we're going to have. Come on."
"Not on your tintype," murmured the storyteller. "Not unless you pass around the hat and make me treasurer."
They found a convenient restaurant and, pushing together two of the tables, sat down in a merry group. The proprietor knew some of them, and nodded pleasantly as he took their orders. Soon they were eating as only happy and healthy schoolboys can eat.
"My, but this mince-pie is good!" declared Roger. "I could eat about a yard of it!"
"A yard of pie is good," said Dave, with a smile.
"Talking about a yard of pie puts me in mind of a story," came from Shadow, who was stowing away the last of a hot roast-beef sandwich.
"Hold on, we've had enough!" cried Sam.
"If you pile on another like that last one, we'll roll you out in the snow," was Phil's comment.
"This is a real story, really it is, and it's a good one, too."
"Vintage of 1864, or before Columbus landed?" inquired Ben.
"I've never told this before. Some Yale students went into a butcher shop and one of 'em, to be funny, asked the butcher if he'd sell him a yard of mutton. 'Certainly,' says the butcher. 'Fifty cents a yard.' 'All right,' says Mr. Student. 'I'll take two yards.' 'A dollar, please,' says the butcher. 'Here you are,' says the student, and holds up the money. Then the butcher takes the bill, puts it in his cash drawer, and hands out—six sheep feet."
"Very old and musty," was Dave's comment. "Washington told that to Cæsar when the two were planning to throw Socrates into Niagara." And then a laugh went up all around.
The boys were just finishing their lunch when the door opened and a stout man walked in. He was covered with snow, and looked anything but happy.
"Our friend of the smashed eggs," whispered Sam to Dave. "Wonder if he has cleaned out his valise yet."
The man sat down at a side table and ordered several things. Then he happened to glance around, noticed the students for the first time, and scowled.
"Humph! what you fellows doing here?" he growled.
"Haven't we a right to come here?" demanded Dave, for the man was looking straight at him.
"Shouldn't think the proprietor would want such gay larks as you here."
"I shouldn't think he'd want such a grunt as you here," retorted Sam Day.
"Hi! now, don't you talk to me that way!" roared the stout man. "I want you to understand I am a gentleman, I am."
"See here, we can't have any quarreling in here," said the restaurant proprietor, coming forward.
"Some of them fellows knocked me down on the train and smashed a valise full of eggs on me, Mr. Denman."
"We did nothing of the sort," answered Sam. "He fell on the icy platform of the car and right on top of his valise."
"And then he got up and bumped into me," added Dave. "He was very impolite, to say the least."
"Look here!" roared the stout man, "I want you to understand——"
"Wait a minute," interrupted Amos Denman, the restaurant keeper. "Isn't your name Isaac Pludding?"
"Then you are the man who caused the trouble at Mr. Brown's restaurant last week. I know you. Some time ago you were in here, and nothing suited you. I don't want to serve you, and you can go elsewhere for your meal."
"Don't want to sell me anything?" snarled Isaac Pludding.
"Not a mouthful. And, let me add, I consider these young men gentlemen, and I won't have them annoyed while they are in my place."
"Oh, all right, have your own way," snarled the stout man. "I'll take my money elsewhere, I will!" He glared at the students. "But I'll get square some day for this—don't forget that!" And shaking his head very savagely, he stormed out of the restaurant, banging the door after him.