Twenty Years of Hus'ling - novelonlinefull.com
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He was interrupted right then and there; for laying my hand gently on his shoulder, I said in a firm voice:
"_You_ have got to pay in advance, sir."
"What's up?" he asked, excitedly.
"There is nothing up, sir," I answered, "but you have got to settle right off. The cream biscuit racket don't go, with me. Pay up, or you can't stay."
He said he would pay up till the next day, which he did, and then went in to supper.
[Ill.u.s.tration: THE DOCTOR A "STAR" BOARDER.]
During this interview the Doctor had commenced to laugh, and almost danced the Highland Fling in his gleeful excitement, and attempt to leave the room. As soon as the door had closed on the young man, he returned, and laughed and hopped around in his characteristic manner, and said:
"Why the cussed fool might have known that he couldn't have said a thing on earth that would have put you onto him as quick as to flatter the cream biscuit."
In less than three minutes the other hus'ler came in, and rushed up to the wash-stand to make his toilet. The Doctor looked at him over his specs, with a broad grin on his countenance.
After washing and combing his hair, he told a funny story, and said:
"Put us down for a good room, landlord. You have a nice hotel, landlord.
It's everything in knowing how to run a house."
He then placed his hands behind him and backed up to the stove.
I glanced over towards the Doctor, who by this time was in the farther corner of the office, with one hand over his mouth, and the other holding his hat and cane; and one foot in the air, ready to make a break for out of doors.
I answered the young man by saying:
"Yes, sir, it's everything in knowing how to run a hotel; and you have got to pay in advance if you stay here."
"Well, I am surprised, landlord; but I supposed you were a good enough judge of character to know the difference between a gentleman and a dead beat."
I a.s.sured him that I didn't doubt his honesty, but I was willing to wager that he hadn't money enough to pay one week in advance. And as it took money to keep things running and----
"And buy cream biscuit," shouted the Doctor,----
---- I had got to have my pay in advance.
He then acknowledged that he was a little short, but would probably be able to pay the next day. I told him he could have his supper, lodging and breakfast, but nothing more.
The next morning they both came to me and owned up that they were "broke."
I then hired one of them for hostler and the other for clerk.
About this time I succeeded in getting the landlady's consent to re-model a part of the house. She said she didn't care to be bothered with it, nor to remain there and listen to the noise; so she would go and visit her friends in Detroit, and leave me to fix things to suit myself. She said also she had all confidence in me, and felt certain I would do even better than she could.
Before leaving, she instructed me to go ahead and get what I wanted, as her credit was good anywhere.
By the time had fairly reached the depot to take the train, I had engaged several carpenters, painters, plasterers, bricklayers, and teams to do our hauling.
I very soon had the old hotel in a condition suitable for business, by tearing down old part.i.tions, building up new ones, papering and painting thoroughly, and adding a lot of new furniture and carpets.
I had the whole outside of the old sh.e.l.l painted, a portion of which I ordered done in brick-color, and penciled.
The latter part, the neighbors claimed, fooled the landlady so badly, when she returned a few weeks later, that she didn't know when she arrived home, and kept right on up street, making inquiries and looking for her hotel. How much truth there was in this statement I do not know, but I well remember the expression on her countenance when I answered her query of how much the whole thing would cost, by informing her that I didn't think it would amount to over fifteen hundred dollars. I remember how she fell back on the sofa in a sort of swoon, and when she recovered herself, faltered out that she was ruined forever.
I very soon convinced her, however, that the improvements had greatly enhanced the value of her property; and she seemed to appreciate my services more than ever.
During her absence of several weeks, the Doctor and I had some very interesting times.
The day after her departure our chambermaid eloped with one of the boarders. I advertised for help immediately, but without success.
About this time a young Teutonic fellow came along, and asked for something to eat. After giving him his dinner, I asked if he was looking for work. He said he was, and would work mighty cheap.
I asked if he would like to be a chambermaid, and make up beds, and sweep. He exclaimed:
"Oh, yah, yah; I youst so goot a shampermait as notting else."
"Well then, Dutchy, I'll give you four dollars per week, provided I can find a coat and vest for you to wear, as yours is too rough-looking for that business."
I then took him up-stairs and made a vigorous search for second-hand clothes, but found none. I next entered the room previously occupied by the late runaway maid, and found three old dresses and a hoop skirt left by her. I took a dress from the nail, and picking up the hoop skirt said:
"Here, Dutchy, put these on."
[Ill.u.s.tration: DUTCHY AS CHAMBERMAID.--PAGE 321.]
He shook his head slowly, and indicated to me that he wouldn't do it. I reminded him that he was in my employ, and must obey me.
Then he took off his coat and vest, and was about to divest himself of his other garments, when I instructed him to leave them on, and told him how nice the dress would be to keep his comparatively new pants clean.
After donning the dress, which fitted him well and was quite becoming to him, I borrowed the Doctor's razor, and he shaved himself clean, and parted his fair, bushy hair in the middle; and there, before me, to all appearances was a typical German girl. He entered upon his duties at once. The Doctor said he guessed we would have no more serious trouble with chambermaid elopements. I told him I wasn't so certain about that, and invited him up-stairs to see Dutchy.
When we came to the room where I had left him, I said: "Go right in, Doctor; you will find Dutchy there. I'll be back in a minute."
The Doctor bolted in, and immediately dodged back, and cried out:
"Johnston, there is a woman in there!"
"Oh, thunder! you have lost your head, since the landlady left."
This was enough; and he opened up on me with several volleys of oaths, and offered to bet me the price of a new hat that there was a woman in that room making up beds. I took the bet and entered the room, the Doctor following, and immediately crying out:
"There, smarty, there! Guess you will learn to believe what I tell you, once in a while."
"But I have won, Doctor."
"Johnston, do you claim now you bet there was a woman in here?"
"No, sir; but I'll bet the price of another hat that I can prove to you that I have won."