“WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TOAST?” asked the friendly inebriate supporting himself on the bar at Pelvhi’s Chopping-House.
“I have several,” replied Prosatio Silban with some delicacy, given the circumstance. “There is stone-rye with blackberry preserves, or sourdough with yak-butter, or …”
“No, no!” the man protested through tipple-thickened lips. “I mean, what is your favorite pledge to drink to?”
“Ah. I have several of those as well. ‘To Life’ is one; then there is ‘To Good Days and Better Tomorrows.’ But I suppose the one to which I will always drink is ‘To Absent Friends.’ There is always one somewhere in someone’s mind, whatever the situation or company. Tell me: What is your favorite toast?”
“Only one,” said the man with a half-chortle as he raised his glass of barley-spirit. “I prefer to drink, ‘To Excess!’”