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8. THE MAKING OF MAC'S
Mac's Restaurant--nobody calls it MacFarland's--is a mystery. It is off the beaten track. It is not smart. It does not advertise. It provides nothing nearer to an orchestra than a solitary piano, yet, with all these things against it, it is a success. In theatrical circles especially it holds a position which might turn the white lights of many a supper-palace green with envy.
This is mysterious. You do not expect Soho to compete with and even eclipse Piccadilly in this way. And when Soho does so compete, there is generally romance of some kind somewhere in the background.
Somebody happened to mention to me casually that Henry, the old waiter, had been at Mac's since its foundation.
'Me?' said Henry, questioned during a slack spell in the afternoon. 'Rather!'
'Then can you tell me what it was that first gave the place the impetus which started it on its upward course? What causes should you say were responsible for its phenomenal prosperity? What--'
'What gave it a leg-up? Is that what you're trying to get at?'
'Exactly. What gave it a leg-up? Can you tell me?'
'Me?' said Henry. 'Rather!'
And he told me this chapter from the unwritten history of the London whose day begins when Nature's finishes.
* * * * *
Old Mr MacFarland (said Henry) started the place fifteen years ago. He was a widower with one son and what you might call half a daughter. That's to say, he had adopted her. Katie was her name, and she was the child of a dead friend of his. The son's name was Andy. A little freckled nipper he was when I first knew him--one of those silent kids that don't say much and have as much obstinacy in them as if they were mules. Many's the time, in them days, I've clumped him on the head and told him to do something; and he didn't run yelling to his pa, same as most kids would have done, but just said nothing and went on not doing whatever it was I had told him to do. That was the sort of disposition Andy had, and it grew on him. Why, when he came back from Oxford College the time the old man sent for him--what I'm going to tell you about soon--he had a jaw on him like the ram of a battleship. Katie was the kid for my money. I liked Katie. We all liked Katie.
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