Story type: Essay
Two delegates to the General Convocation of the Sons of Ice Water were sitting in the lobby of the Windsor, in the city of Denver, not long ago, strangers to each other and to everybody else. One came from Huerferno county, and the other was a delegate from the Ice Water Encampment of Correjos county.
From the beautiful billiard hall came the sharp rattle of ivory balls, and in the bar-room there was a glitter of electric light, cut glass, and French plate mirrors. Out of the door came the merry laughter of the giddy throng, flavored with fragrant Havana smoke and the delicate odor of lemon and mirth and pine apple and cognac.
The delegate from Correjos felt lonely, and he turned to the Ice Water representative from Huerferno:
“That was a bold and fearless speech you made this afternoon on the demon rum at the convocation.”
“Think so?” said the sad Huerferno man.
“Yes, you entered into the description of rum’s maniac till I could almost see the red-eyed centipedes and tropical hornets in the air. How could you describe the jimjams so graphically?”
“Well, you see, I’m a reformed drunkard. Only a little while ago I was in the gutter.”
“So was I.”
“How long ago?”
“Week ago day after to-morrow.”
“Next Tuesday it’ll be a week since I quit.”
“Well, I swan!”
“Ain’t it funny?”
“It’s going to be a long, cold winter; don’t you think so?”
“Yes, I dread it a good deal.”
“It’s a comfort, though, to know that you never will touch rum again.”
“Yes, I am glad in my heart to-night that I am free from it. I shall never touch rum again.”
When he said this he looked up at the other delegate, and they looked into each other’s eyes earnestly, as though each would read the other’s soul. Then the Huerferno man said:
“In fact, I never did care much for rum.”
Then there was a long pause.
Finally the Correjos man ventured: “Do you have to use an antidote to cure the thirst?”
“Yes, I’ve had to rely on that a good deal at first. Probably this vain yearning that I now feel in the pit of the bosom will disappear after awhile.”
“Have you got any antidote with you?”
“Yes, I’ve got some up in 232-1/2. If you’ll come up I’ll give you a dose.”
“There’s no rum in it, is there?”
Then they went up the elevator. They did not get down to breakfast, but at dinner they stole in. Tho man from Huerferno dodged nervously through the archway leading to the dining-room as though he had doubts about getting through so small a space with his augmented head, and the man from Correjos looked like one who had wept his eyes almost blind over the woe that rum has wrought in our fair land.
When the waiter asked the delegate from Correjos for his dessert order, the red-nosed Son of Ice Water said: “Bring me a cup of tea, some pudding without wine sauce, and a piece of mince pie. You may also bring me a corkscrew, if you please, to pull the brandy out of the mince pie with.”
Then the two reformed drunkards looked at each other, and laughed a hoarse, bitter and joyous laugh.
At the afternoon session of the Sons of Ice Water, the Huerferno delegate couldn’t get his regalia over his head.