The Troubles of Tidson
SPEAKIX* about butlers, you
ought to see Tidson, that but
tles for us. Sure! Why not?
Say, you don't think me and Sadie's
livin' on the cheap, do you? Had
an idea I was lettin' her in for a
four-room-flat romance, eh? Well.
sponge it off. So long as I was
travelin' single, the boardin' house
was good enough for me; but when
I comes to pick out a place for Mrs.
Shorty McCabe to stow her trunks.
the best is none too good. We had
only one talk about that.
"Well," says Sadie, as we was
comin' back from our yachtin' trip.
"I suppose I ought to buy a house
"For why?" says I.
"For lis to live in, stupid!" says
"Oh. no, Sadie," says I. "You
don't buy any house for me to live
in?not yet. I don't care how else
you blow in your surplus, but when
it comes to providin' the latch keys.
that's up to me. And I'm on the
Sadie, she just laughs, and reaches
out and?well, there wa'n't anyone
Inokin', and she's got the right. She
says if that's the way I feel, why,
it goes, and she wa'n't stuck on
havjn' a house.
"You could worry along with a few furnished
rooms for awhile, could you?" says I.
" I'll go wherever you say, Shorty," says she.
"Trainin' you is a cinch," says I. "I'll look up
That's only a bluff, though. I'd had my eye on
this new Hotel Perzazzer ever since they put on
the green copper roof, and when I hears how the
manager is an old reg'lar of mine I don't lose any
time after we've landed in callin' him up on the
"Billy," says I, after he's through jollyin' me
on the honeymoon business, "how about one of
them two-in-the-family-and-no-dog suites of yours?
Got the red tin flag up on any of em?"
" Why, certainlv," says he. " I can give you
your choice of half a dozen."
"That's nice," says I. "But do they come so
steep I'll have to rob a bank every time I pay the
Billy says they don't. "Of course," he goes on,
"if vou wish a Central Park exposure?"
"1 don't," says I. "It might be catchin'. What
looks good to me is that southeast corner with the
windows lookin' down Fifth-ave. Now give me
your bargain day figures for a bunch of three and
And say, knowin' that Alfy G. and a lot more of
the same kind was reg'lar lodgers there, I braced
myself for a jolt. At that, too, the figure he names
takes more'n half the breath out of me.
"Gee!" says I. "that'd buy a house and lot on
Staten Island. Maybe I can stand it, though.
We'll come up and look you over.''
And when I helps Sadie out of the cab at the
carriage entrance, and she finds it's the Perzazzer
that I've picked out, she's tickled to death. Billy
comes out of his satin finished mahogany office and
does the guide act for us himself. When we're let
out on the seventh floor he leads us to our corner,
and explains the good points, like pointin' out that
the rooms is all done in Looey Cans.
"I was just noticin' that." says I. "And some
of them Dutchmen knew what was what, didn't
they? How does it strike you, Sadie?"
"Oh, it's perfectly bully!" says she.
Well, say. it's all of that. Every chair back has
a hand embroidered picture on it, the rugs was
handsome enough to frame, and there was more
knobs and electric buttons and switches than you
could learn how to use in a month. There wa'n't
a fancy stunt, from strainin' the air to makin' your
own ice, that hadn't been worked in But the little
private dinin' room, with the rotind table and the
candles, gets me. There's no chasin' out for your
grub, if you don't want to. All you have to do is
write out your bill of fare, drop it in a tube, and in
side of half an hour it's lugged in under the silver
covers by a butler who is there to do the food jugglin'.
" Home could never be like this, Sadie," says I.
"Let's go send up the trunks."
I'll bet Pinckney couldn't have done it quicker
himself, for by dinner time next day we're all set
tled, even to my knowin' which three hooks in the
two closets was mine, and just what corner of the
third bureau drawer I could keep my laundry in.
Then we starts gettin' acquainted with Tidson.
Course, I've seen plenty of butlers before, havin'
knocked around more or less among folks that
keeps 'em reg'lar, but I never thought to have the
bossin' of one myself. So, when this chap in the
dinky black coat and red vest shows up the first
morrun' and begins handin' out the grape fruit and
soft boiled eggs, I gets a bad case of stage fright.
?f' il ,
Drawings by F. Vi
Sadie catches me watchin' him with my mouth
open, and gives me a dig with her slipper tinder
"Eh?" says I. "Ain't I doing things right?"
" Don't look at him as though he was a curiosity,"
"But he is, to me," says I.
"Then order him about a bit," says she.
"Gee!" says I, "I ain't got the nerve."
And say, that was straight. I'd as soon think of
givin' orders to Marconi about how to call up Poldhu
through the air; for if anyone ever knew his business
from the ground up, it was this party of the second
part. He ain't one of the stiff necked, sour faced
from his head to his heels, and every time he puts
down a plate he bends in four places. That was
some surprisin', considerin' that he's gettin' along
towards the age where the hinges usually rusts up.
You could easy tell he was tryin' to keep within
the age limit, for the hair is nicely slicked over his
bald spot, and the ear tab whiskers is a lovely blue
black, such as you get by usin' restorer reg'lar.
But he sure has the butlin' game down to an
art. He moves around without makin' any more
noise than a trained nurse, never seemin' to be in
any rush, but always on sched. He's got his mind
on the work too. Just as you're about to think
you need the pepper, you look up and find him
handin' you the silver shaker. Along with it he
has the mildest voice and gentlest ways, and one
of these nice old Joe Jefferson faces.
I couldn't help gettin' int'rested in Tidson right
away, and after I've got over bein' skittish I tries
to work up a little friendly dialogue. He wa'n't
much of a converser. Tidson wa'n't. Sadie says it's
because he knows his place too well.
"I expect I'll never get to know mine," says I;
"for I'm goin' to teach Tidson to be sociable if I
go hoarse tryin'."
It's a week or ten days, though, before I makes
any headway. And then one night after dinner,
just as I starts to go into the next room, where
Sadie was chinnin' Mrs. Purdy Pell, I accident'lly
brushes a fork off on the floor. Course, I don't know
any better'n to make a dive for it. Tidson dives
too, my shoulder takes him in the breastbone, and
then somethin' rattles out of his pocket.
Missin' the fork, I picks up the other thing. It's a
curious kind of a trinket for a butler to be carrvin',
?a round, carved bone affair, about a foot long,
like the handle to something. I was just heftin' it,
when my thumb hits some sort of a button, and out
comes a long, slim, wicked lookin' blade, as sharp
and shiny as a new razor.
"Hello!" says I. "What kind of a patent can
opener is this, Tidson?"
Say, of all the sickly attempts at a grin, the one
he tries was the worst failure I ever watched. He
gets real ashy around the gills, the hand he sticks
out trembles like he was havin' a chill, and them
sharp little eyes of his was glued to what I was
"It's?it's only a keepsake, sir," says he.
"So?" savs I. "Strikes me it's one of the kind
that calls for explanations. Now what are you
walkin' around loaded up this way for, eh?"
Tidson, he mumbles something about bein' sorry.
"Now see here, Tidson!" says I. "I ain't one
to pry into anybody's private fads; but so long as
you have the run of these rooms I can't stand for
any assassination hardware like this. Why, I'm
surprised?you such a mild, tame, house broke
He's limber all the wav
"Pardon," says he, "but I am not English.'!
" But you're an aitch dropper." says I.
Tidson's shoulders go up and his palms go out.
"That I have learn," says he.
"Oh!" says I. "Goes with the business, does it?
Well, I thought you was odd colored for a Cockney.
Just where do you hail from, then?"
"Corsica," says he.
"You don't say!" says I. "Well, that explains
the cutlery. But who was it you was plannin' to
use this keepsake on? Me?"
".Vow, tton. non!" says he, wavin' his hands and
shakin' his head.
"Well, who then?" says I. "A knife like that
means business. Come, give up!"
It was like pullin' a cork out with your fingers;
but I backs him into a corner, throws a scare into
him about ringin' up the house detective, and fin'lly
he unloosens. And say. it's almost as good as readin'
it out of a ten-cent magazine.
The tale begins way back when Tidson?Jules
something, he says his real name is?was a gay young
Corsicite, wearin' a red sash and herdin' goats, and
tendin' out on all the chowder parties from his
ward. Also there's Felice. She's the only daughter
of a district boss, or some big gun, but she's more or
less of a mixer. Anyway, Jules gets to know her
real well, takin' her to matinees and so on; but all
on the quiet, for he wa'n't hardly in her class. Ac
cordin' to his description, Felice was one of the
cherry ripe kind, all curves and red tints, a reg'lar
brunette Maizy May. Jules must have been a
likely lookin' lad then himself, for Felice turns down
a lot of swell dressers, wears the brass breastpin he
gives her, and lets him hold her hand while they're
partin' at the gate.
It was all goin' lovely, when the old folks gets
wise, and then there's ructions. Felice is shut up
in the back chamber while her old gent gets out the
carvin' knife and chases the merry goatherd into
the next county on the jump. Takin' that as a
hint, Jules keeps right on till he gets to Paris.
Then, with the old homestead crossed off the map
and nothin' comin' in, he looks around for some
easy job with good pay.
By rights that was where he should have found
himself sore eyed and sorry. But before he has time
to starve he gets himself knocked down by a cab
horse on the Rue de Bombom, and the gent that
yanks him out from under the wheels in time to
save his ribs is so worked up with gratitude over
the chance that he sets up a pint of red wine, listens
to Jules's hard luck story, and ends by tellin' him
where to call next mornin' before the whistle blows.
The noble rescuer turns out to be Emil Bourdonne.
none other. New one on you. eh? Never mind.
Look at the next bottle of brilliantine you see on the
barber's shelf?none genuine without the signature.
That's him. He takes Jules into the shop, givin'
him a label pastin' job, with a chance to double as
night watch and sleep behind the boiler.
The whole thing is a cinch. About twice a day
Jules is paraded in the front office as the man that
Emil rescued from a horrible death, and every now
and-then his pay is raised. If it hadn't been that
he kept worryin' about Felice he'd been happy as
a clam. But the longer he's away from her the
worse he feels. Emil begins to kick because he
don't look cheerful enough for an exhibit; so Jules
lets out what's the matter.
"Well, well!" says Emil. "That's too bad."
Then he fixes up a scheme for Jules to take a
trip home, have a talk with Felice, and maybe bring
her on to the brilliantine fact'rv, where there's a
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