The Four Million HTML version
Springtime À La Carte
It was a day in March.
Never, never begin a story this way when you write one. No opening could possibly be
worse. It is unimaginative, flat, dry and likely to consist of mere wind. But in this
instance it is allowable. For the following paragraph, which should have inaugurated the
narrative, is too wildly extravagant and preposterous to be flaunted in the face of the
reader without preparation.
Sarah was crying over her bill of fare.
Think of a New York girl shedding tears on the menu card!
To account for this you will be allowed to guess that the lobsters were all out, or that she
had sworn ice-cream off during Lent, or that she had ordered onions, or that she had just
come from a Hackett matinee. And then, all these theories being wrong, you will please
let the story proceed.
The gentleman who announced that the world was an oyster which he with his sword
would open made a larger hit than he deserved. It is not difficult to open an oyster with a
sword. But did you ever notice any one try to open the terrestrial bivalve with a
typewriter? Like to wait for a dozen raw opened that way?
Sarah had managed to pry apart the shells with her unhandy weapon far enough to nibble
a wee bit at the cold and clammy world within. She knew no more shorthand than if she
had been a graduate in stenography just let slip upon the world by a business college. So,
not being able to stenog, she could not enter that bright galaxy of office talent. She was a
free-lance typewriter and canvassed for odd jobs of copying.
The most brilliant and crowning feat of Sarah's battle with the world was the deal she
made with Schulenberg's Home Restaurant. The restaurant was next door to the old red
brick in which she hall-roomed. One evening after dining at Schulenberg's 40-cent, five-
course table d'hôte (served as fast as you throw the five baseballs at the coloured
gentleman's head) Sarah took away with her the bill of fare. It was written in an almost
unreadable script neither English nor German, and so arranged that if you were not
careful you began with a toothpick and rice pudding and ended with soup and the day of
The next day Sarah showed Schulenberg a neat card on which the menu was beautifully
typewritten with the viands temptingly marshalled under their right and proper heads
from "hors d'oeuvre" to "not responsible for overcoats and umbrellas."
Schulenberg became a naturalised citizen on the spot. Before Sarah left him she had him
willingly committed to an agreement. She was to furnish typewritten bills of fare for the