"The Scarlet Death," Edwin corrected.
"An' don't work all that funny lingo on us," Hare-Lip went on. "Talk sensible, Granser, like a Santa Rosan ought to talk. Other Santa Rosans don't talk like you."
The old man showed pleasure in being thus called upon. He cleared his throat and began.
"Twenty or thirty years ago my story was in great demand. But in these days nobody seems interested—"
"There you go!" Hare-Lip cried hotly. "Cut out the funny stuff and talk sensible. What's interested? You talk like a baby that don't know how."
"Let him alone," Edwin urged, "or he'll get mad and won't talk at all. Skip the funny places. We'll catch on to some of what he tells us."
"Let her go, Granser," Hoo-Hoo encouraged; for the old man was already maundering about the disrespect for elders and the reversion to cruelty of all humans that fell from high culture to primitive conditions.
The tale began.
"There were very many people in the world in those days. San Francisco alone held four millions—"
"What is millions?" Edwin interrupted.