Page:Wolfe - Of Time and the River.djvu/441

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This, indeed, seemed to be the truth about them: as they sat together in one corner of the lobby talking, all their conversation seemed made up of dreary dialogues such as these:

“How do you do, Mrs. Grey? I didn’t see you in the restaurant tonight.”

“No—” the old woman spoke triumphantly, proudly conscious of a sensational adventure—“I ate out tonight at a new place that my son-in-law told me about!—Oh! I had the most dee-licious meal—a won-derful meal—all anyone could eat and only sixty cents. First I had a dish of nice fruit salad—and then I had a bowl of soup—oh-h! dee-licious soup, Mrs. Martin—it was vegetable soup, but oh-h! dee-licious!—a whole meal in itself—and then—” with a ruminant satisfaction she continued her arid catalogue—“I had some nice lamb chops, and some dee-licious green peas—and a nice baked potato—and some salad—and some rolls and butter—and then I had a nice cup of coffee—and a piece of apple-pie—oh-h! the apple-pie was simply dee-licious, Mrs. Martin, I had—”

“I’d think you’d be getting hungry by that time,” said another of the group, an old man, who was their humorist, with a wink around him at the others. They all laughed appreciatively, and he continued: “You’re sure you didn’t miss anything as you went along—” he winked again and they all laughed dryly, with appreciation.

“No, sir!”—firmly, positively, with an emphatic nod of the head—“I ate every bite of it, Doctor Withers—oh-h, it was so dee-licious, I just couldn’t bear to see anything go to waste—only,” regretfully, “I did have to leave my apple-pie—I couldn’t finish it—”

“What!” the humorist exclaimed in mock astonishment. “You mean you left something behind! Why, you hardly ate enough to feed an elephant! You’ll be getting all run down if you starve yourself this way!”—and the jester winked again, and the old women of his audience cackled aridly with appreciative laughter.

“—Well, I know,” the glutton said regretfully, “I just hated to see that good apple-pie go to waste—oh-h! I wish you could have tasted it, Mrs. Martin, —it was simply dee-licious—’What’s the matter?’the girl says to me—the waitress, you know—’Don’t you like your pie?—I’ll go get you something else if you don’t like it.’—Oh! yes—” with sudden recollection—“oh, yes! she says to me,’How’d you like some ice cream?—You can have ice cream instead of pie,’she says,’if you’d rather have it’—'Oh-h!’I said,”—spoken with a kind of gasp, the withered old hand upon the meagre stomach—“’Oh-h!’I says,’I couldn’t!’—She had to laugh, you know,