No you dont, little wax-skinno you dontnot through that door no how, wed git stuck there, boy,and theyd niver pull us out; and wed starve likely with the smell o the dinner in our noses, and the champagne a bustin under our eyes out o the very bottles to be drinked, and us not there to drink it. No, no, well run no resks now.
And with the words they passed into the dining-room, arranged as on the previous evening except that, for two covers, four were now laid on the white damask cloth, and that a pair of tall silver wine-coolers occupied the centre of the table with the long necks of hock and champagne flasks protruding.
At the left of each guest stood a pint decanter of delicate straw-colored sherry: and at his right, four glasses, a long stalked beaker of old-fashioned Venice crystal, a green German hock-glass embossed with grapes and vine leaves, a thin capacious sherry-glass with a curled lip so slender that it almost bent as you drank from it, and a slim-shanked shallow goblet for Bourdeaux or Burgundy.
I would have given you some raw natives to begin with, said Harry, knowing how much Tom likes them, but we cant get the crustaceous bivalves up hither with distinguished success, until the frost sets in.
Im right glad ont, by the Etarnal! exclaimed Tom, nasty, cold, chillin, watery trash! jist blowin out your innards for no good, afore you git to the grist o dinnerwhat kind o soups that, Timothy?
A soup of my own inventionanswered Harryand the best soup in the world me judice.Strong venison soup, made as we make hare soup at homea good rich stock to begin with, about ten pounds of the lean from the haunch brayed down into the pottage, about a dozen cloves and a pint of port, and, to conclude, the scrag of the neck cut into bits two inches square, done brown in a covered stew-pan, and thrown in with a few forced-meat balls when the soup is ready. You can add, if you please, a squeeze of a lemon and a dash of cayenne, which I think improve it. It is piping hot; and not bad I think.
Youd think just about right, then, answered Tom, as he thrust out his plate for a second ladleful. He and I did make the first bowl of it, as iver was made. And it tuk us a weekyes, a fortnight I guess, before we got it jest right. I will say that for Harry! the darned critter is about as good at bringing game up right on the table as he is at bringing them down right in the field.
Yes! and for that very thing I have been assailed, said Harry laughing, as lacking the true spirit of a sportsman, as not enjoying the thing in its high ennobling spirit, as not a pure worshipper in heart and intellectual love of the divine Artemis, but a mere sensualist and glutton, making my belly a god, and degrading my good gun into a mere tool for the slaves of Epicurus!
I am gravely in earnest, when I say that he taxed me seriously, though sportively, with all that I have stated.He said that, in my admiration of good things, in dwelling on the melting richness of a wood-duck, or the spicy game flavor of a grouse, in preferring a silver plate whereon to eat my venison to an earthen trencher, in carrying out a bottle of champagne and cooling it in a fresh spring for my luncheon, instead of trusting to execrable rye or apple whiskey, I prove myself degenerate and no true votary of the gentle woodcraft. He is afraid that I cannot rough it!
He dont know much then, no how, that chap! answered Tom, as he went largely into the barbacued perch, which had taken the place of the pottageLeastways he dont know much if he thinks as a chap carnt rough it becase he knows how to eat and drink, when theres no need of roughing it. Ive seen fellows as niver had seen nauthen fit to eat nor drink in their lives, turn up their darned nasty noses at a good country dinner in a country tavern, where a raal right down gentleman, as had fed allus on the fat of the land, could dine pleasantly. Give me a raal gentleman, one as sleeps soft, and eats high, and drinks highest kind, to stand roughing itand more sense to C. E., next time he warnts to teach his grandmother.
And how should I have learned to barbecue it, if I had not thought about such things? No, no, boysI despise a man very heartily who cannot dine just as happily upon a bit of salt pork and a biscuit, and perhaps an onion, aye! and enjoy it as well, washed down with a taste of whiskey qualified by the mountain brookor washed down with a swallow of the brook unqualifiedas he would enjoy canvas-back and venison with champagne and Bordeaux;who cannot bivouac as blithely and sleep as soundly under the starlit canopy of heaven as under damask hangingswhen there is cause for dining upon pork, and for bivouacking. But there is one thing, boys, that I despise a plaguy sight moreand that is a thick-headed fool who likes salt pork as well as canvas-back and turtle;who does not see any difference between an ill-cooked dish swimming in rancid butter and a chef duvre of Carême or Ude, rich with its own pure gravy. And yet more than the thick-headed fool, do I abhor the pig-headed fool, who thinks it brave forsooth and manly and heroical withal, and philosophical, to affect a carelessness, which does not belong to him, and to drink cider sperrits when he can drink Sillery sec of the first growth! And that being said, open that champagne, Timothy.
No, no! exclaimed Harry, eagerlyI deny any such sequitur as that; C. E. is a right good fellowor was, at least, when I knew himIt is a weary while ago since he supped with me in New York, the very night before he left itnever, I believe, to returnat least since then I have never seen himand, many a warm heart has grown cold, and many a brown head gray in the interim. But when I knew C. E. he would never drink bad liquor when he could come by goodand right well did he know the differenceand by the way, while vituperating me for my gourmandize, he shows that he is tarred a little with the same stick. He abuses me for saying that the wood-duck is as good a bird as flies, except the canvas-back, asserting that the blue-winged teal is better.
Aye! Frankbut he is speaking of the teal on the great lakes; and I dare say he is right. It is to the fact that he is the only duck seen on the seaboard, who eschews salt water and salt sedges that the summer duckfor that is his proper nameowes his preëminence over all the other wild fowl of this region.Now, as the blue-winged teal, or Garganey, is in the same predicament on the lakes, I think it very questionable whether in that country he may not be as good, nay better, than my favorite.
So much? It makes all the difference.What renders the canvas-back of the waters of the Chesapeake the very best bird that flies; while here, in Long Island Sound, or on the Jersey shore, he is, at the best, but a fourth-rate duck?the wild celery, which he eats there, and which he cannot get here, for his life.
This is six years old, answered ArcherBlack-faced, Scotch, mountain, of my own importation, my own feeding, and my own killing. It has been hanging three weeks, and, by the way it cuts, I believe it is in prime orderdone to a turn I can see that it is. Will you have some?
I dont prohibit anythingbut I dont eat it, and I think it bad taste to do so. Venison I think the only thing that is improved by it. Canvas-back ducks I think it ruins. Nor should I think C. E.s plum jelly with grouse one whit better. The sharpness of currant jelly is very suitable to the excessive fat of English park-fed venison; but with any lean meat I think it needless, to say the best. There is but one sauce for any kind of gallinaceous game, when roasted, whether his name be grouse, partridge, pheasant, quail, or wild turkey.
And that is bread sauce; made of the crumb of a very light French roll, stewed in cream and passed through a tamis, one small white onion may be boiled in it, but must be taken out before it is served up to table; a lump of fresh butter as big as a walnut may be added, and a very little black pepper. Let it be thick and hot, and nothing else is needed; unless, indeed, you like a few fried crumbs, done very crisp and brown.
Pass it round, Timothy, said Harrythats not a bad move of old Toms by any means. I believe I was riding one of my hobbies a little hard. But it provokes me to see the good things which are destroyed in this country by bad cookery; and it provokes me yet worse to hear hypocrites and fools talk as if it were wrong for the creature to enjoy the good things designed for his use by a good Creator.
Right, Frank, for a thousand! said Harry, and after the woodcock, which Tim is bringing in, well broach a flask of Burgundy.Hock with your white game, Burgundy with your brown! But hold, hold! Timothy, Mr. Draw will not touch that hockits too thin and cold for his palate.
The woodcock followed, were discussed, and pronounced perfect; they were diluted with a flask of Nuits Richelieu, so exquisitely rich and fruity, and of so absolute a bouquet, that even the hostility of fat Tom toward all French wines was drowned in the goblet, thrice the full of which, mantling to the brim, he quaffed in quick succession.
The Stilton cheese, red herring, and caviare, which succeeded, again moved his ire, and were denounced as stinkin trash fit for no one to eat but a darned greedy Englishman; but the bumper of port again mollified him, and he said that if they ate them cussed nasty things jist to make the wine taste the better for the contrast, he didnt see no sense in that, for it was mazin nice without no nastiness afore it.
The devilled biscuits he approved mightily, as creating a wholesome drought, which he applied himself to assuage by emptying three bottles of pale sherry to his own cheek, while the three young men were content with one double magnum of Chateau Latour. But when he emptied the third bottle he was as cool and collected as if he had not tasted a single drop, and was half disposed to run rusty at being summoned into the library to take a cup of coffee and an old cherootbut here again his wrath was once more assuaged by the curaçoa, of which he drank off half a tumbler, and then professed himself ready for a quiet rubber, while Tim was gittin supper.