Nonfiction > Upton Sinclair, ed. > The Cry for Justice

Upton Sinclair, ed. (1878–1968).
The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest.  1915.
An Italian Restaurant
(From “A Bed of Roses”)

By W. L. George

(Contemporary English novelist)
THEY sat at a marble topped table, flooded with light by incandescent gas. In the glare the waiters seemed blacker, smaller and more stunted than by the light of day. Their faces were pallid, with a touch of green: their hair and moustaches were almost blue black. Their energy was that of automata. Victoria looked at them, melting with pity.  1
  “There’s a life for you,” said Farwell, interpreting her look. “Sixteen hours’ work a day in an atmosphere of stale food. For meals, plate scourings. For sleep and time to get to it, eight hours. For living, the rest of the day.”  2
  “It’s awful, awful,” said Victoria. “They might as well be dead.”  3
  “They will be soon,” said Farwell, “but what does that matter? There are plenty of waiters. In the shadow of the olive groves tonight in far-off Calabria, at the base of the vine-clad hills, couples are walking hand in hand, with passion flashing in their eyes. Brown peasant boys are clasping to their breast young girls with dark hair, white teeth, red lips, hearts that beat and quiver with ecstasy. They tell a tale of love and hope. So we shall not be short of waiters.”  4

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