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A Study in Still Life

The Country Hotel

The country hotel stands on the sunny side of Main Street.
It has three entrances.

There is one in front which leads into the Bar. There is
one at the side called the Ladies' Entrance which leads
into the Bar from the side. There is also the Main Entrance
which leads into the Bar through the Rotunda.

The Rotunda is the space between the door of the bar-room
and the cigar-case.

In it is a desk and a book. In the book are written down
the names of the guests, together with marks indicating
the direction of the wind and the height of the barometer.
It is here that the newly arrived guest waits until he
has time to open the door leading to the Bar.

The bar-room forms the largest part of the hotel. It
constitutes the hotel proper. To it are attached a series
of bedrooms on the floor above, many of which contain

The walls of the bar-room are perforated in all directions
with trap-doors. Through one of these drinks are passed
into the back sitting-room. Through others drinks are
passed into the passages. Drinks are also passed through
the floor and through the ceiling. Drinks once passed
never return. The Proprietor stands in the doorway of
the bar. He weighs two hundred pounds. His face is
immovable as putty. He is drunk. He has been drunk for
twelve years. It makes no difference to him. Behind the
bar stands the Bar-tender. He wears wicker-sleeves, his
hair is curled in a hook, and his name is Charlie.

Attached to the bar is a pneumatic beer-pump, by means
of which the bar-tender can flood the bar with beer.
Afterwards he wipes up the beer with a rag. By this means
he polishes the bar. Some of the beer that is pumped up
spills into glasses and has to be sold.

Behind the bar-tender is a mechanism called a cash-register,
which, on being struck a powerful blow, rings a bell,
sticks up a card marked NO SALE, and opens a till from
which the bar-tender distributes money.

There is printed a tariff of drinks and prices on the wall.

It reads thus:

Beer . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 cents.
Whisky. . . . . . . . . . 5 cents.
Whisky and Soda. . . . . . . 5 cents.
Beer and Soda . . . . . . 5 cents.
Whisky and Beer and Soda . . 5 cents.
Whisky and Eggs . . . . . 5 cents.
Beer and Eggs . . . . . . 5 cents.
Champagne. . . . . . . 5 cents.
Cigars . . . . . . . . 5 cents.
Cigars, extra fine . . . . . 5 cents.

All calculations are made on this basis and are worked
out to three places of decimals. Every seventh drink is
on the house and is not followed by a distribution of

The bar-room closes at midnight, provided there are enough
people in it. If there is not a quorum the proprietor
waits for a better chance. A careful closing of the bar
will often catch as many as twenty-five people. The bar
is not opened again till seven o'clock in the morning;
after that the people may go home. There are also,
nowadays, Local Option Hotels. These contain only one
entrance, leading directly into the bar.

Stephen Leacock