The Oakdale Affair

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 75

on Broadway; but at heart he was not happy for never before
had he realized what a great proportion of his anatomy was made up
of hands and feet. As he glanced fearfully at the former, silhouetted
against the white of the table cloth, he flushed scarlet, assured as he
was that the waitress who had just turned away toward the kitchen with
his order was convulsed with laughter and that every other eye in the
establishment was glued upon him. To assume an air of nonchalance and
thereby impress and disarm his critics Willie reached for a toothpick in
the little glass holder near the center of the table and upset the sugar
bowl. Immediately Willie snatched back the offending hand and glared
ferociously at the ceiling. He could feel the roots of his hair being
consumed in the heat of his skin. A quick side glance that required all
his will power to consummate showed him that no one appeared to have
noticed his faux pas and Willie was again slowly returning to normal
when the proprietor of the restaurant came up from behind and asked him
to remove his hat.

Never had Willie Case spent so frightful a half hour as that within the
brilliant interior of The Elite Restaurant. Twenty-three minutes of this
eternity was consumed in waiting for his order to be served and seven
minutes in disposing of the meal and paying his check. Willie's method
of eating was in itself a sermon on efficiency--there was no lost
motion--no waste of time. He placed his mouth within two inches of his
plate after cutting his ham and eggs into pieces of a size that would
permit each mouthful to enter without wedging; then he mixed his mashed
potatoes in with the result and working his knife and fork alternately
with bewildering rapidity shot a continuous stream of food into his
gaping maw.

In addition to the meat and potatoes there was one vegetable in a
side-dish and as dessert four prunes. The meat course gone Willie placed
the vegetable dish on the empty plate, seized a spoon in lieu of knife
and fork and--presto! the side-dish was empty. Whereupon the prune dish
was set in the empty side-dish--four deft motions and there were no
prunes--in the dish. The entire feat had been accomplished in 6:34 1/2,
setting a new world's record for red-headed farmer boys with one splay
foot.

In the remaining twenty five and one half seconds Willie walked what
seemed to him a mile from his seat to the cashier's desk and at the
last instant bumped into a

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