CHAPTER XIX. RESTAURANTS.

Thousands of persons, sometimes entire families, live in rooms, and either take their meals at restaurants, or have them sent to them. This has become so common now that it ceases to attract attention in the city, but strangers are struck with it, and are quick to notice the bad effects of it.

Living at restaurants begets irregularity in the meal hours, and thus promotes bad health; and the absence of the restraints which the table of a family at home, or even the public board of a hotel, imposes, is the beginning of a looseness of manners, which is generally sure to be followed by a similar defect in morals. The cooking, at the majority of restaurants, is unhealthy, and intoxicating liquors are sold, to an extraordinary extent, as a part of the bill of fare.

The principal up-town restaurants are largely patronized by the disreputable classes. Women of the town go there to pick up custom, and men to find such companions. Women of good social position do not hesitate to meet their lovers at such places, for there is a great deal of truth in the old adage which tells us "there's no place so private as a crowded hall." A quiet, but close observer will frequently see a nod, or a smile, or a meaning glance pass between most respectable-looking persons of opposite sexes, and will sometimes see a note slyly sent by a waiter, or dropped adroitly into the hand of the woman as the man passes out. Some of these nominally respectable places are so largely patronized by this class, that a virtuous woman is in constant danger of being insulted should she chance to enter one of them.

                     THE BITER BITTEN.

Restaurants, like hotels, are the object of the constant attention of swindlers, though the operations are conducted on a smaller scale. Some of these persons are nominally respectable.

A bank clerk, with a fair salary and respectable connections, was in the habit of patronizing a fashionable restaurant, partaking of sumptuous lunches and dinners, and evading full payment, under pretence that he had forgotten his pocket-book, or had omitted, in the hurry of business, to provide himself with small change, etc. Thus, if his check called for one dollar he would pay sixty cents, but invariably forgot upon the next, or any succeeding day, to 'settle' the balance due of forty cents. This 'little game,' so profitable to himself, was carried on for some time triumphantly, but retribution came at last, and unexpectedly and very cleverly. The clerk, seeing how matters stood, commenced to keep an account on a piece of paper of the sums due and sums paid on each successive day at his establishment by this ingenious customer, and on one occasion, when the bank clerk had deposited his check for one dollar and a quarter and a ten dollar note in payment upon the counter (as he wished on this particular occasion to procure some small change for his own purposes), the clerk quietly took the note and then handed out two dollars and twenty cents in change. 'There must be some mistake,' said the bank clerk. 'Oh! none at all.' said the cashier. 'Did I not hand you a ten dollar note?' 'You did, sir.' 'And did not my check call for one dollar and a quarter?' 'It did, sir.' 'Then where is my change?' asked the bank clerk. 'It is there, sir' replied the cashier, pointing to a piece of paper which he handed to the astonished bank clerk. 'What is this paper?' 'It is your account.' 'My account!' 'Yes, sir, you will find it correct in every particular,' said the cashier; 'I will go over the items with you. On such and such a day your check called for such and such a sum; you paid only so and so, leaving such and such balance. The next day you ordered so and so, only paid so much, and left, of course, you see, this balance. Altogether, sir, you owe the establishment, as back balances due for food and liquors, up to date, just seven dollars and a half. I have taken out this amount, and you will find the change correct.'

"Words were useless - the bank clerk was outwitted, and left in disgust, and from that day to this has never set foot inside of that restaurant again."