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This passage is adapted from William Maxwell, The Folded Leaf. ©1959 by William Maxwell. Originally published
The Alcazar Restaurant was on Sheridan Road near Devon A venue. It was long and narrow, with tables for two along the walls and tables for four
Line down the middle. The decoration was art moderne,
s except for the series of murals depicting the four seasons, and the sick ferns in the front window. Lymie sat down at the second table from the cash register, and ordered his dinner. The history book, which he propped against the catsup and the glass sugar bowl, had been used by others before him.
Blank pages front and back were filled in with maps, drawings, dates, comic cartoons, and organs of the body; also with names and messages no longer clear and never absolutely legible. On nearly every other page there was some marginal notation, either in ink or in very hard pencil. And unless someone had upset a glass of water, the marks on page 177 were from tears.
While Lymie read about the Peace of Paris, signed
20 on the thirtieth of May, 1814, between France and the Allied powers, his right hand managed again and again to bring food up to his mouth. Sometimes he chewed, sometimes he swallowed whole the food that he had no idea he was eating. The Congress of Vienna met, with some allowance for delays, early in November of the same year, and all the powers engaged in the war on either side sent plenipotentiaries. It was by far the most splendid and important assembly ever convoked to discuss and 30 determine the affairs of Europe. The Emperor of ussia, the King of Prussia, the Kings of Bavaria, Denmark, and Wurttemberg, all were present in person at the court of the Emperor Francis I in the Austrian capital. When Lymie put down his fork and of his left hand, the waitress, whose name was Irma, thought he was through eating and tried to take his plate away. He stopped her. Prince Metternich (his right thumb) presided over the Congress, and Prince Talleyrand (the index finger) represented France.