the Fodder! by
A DINNER SKETCH.
A few weeks ago, during a passage from Gotham to Boston, on the
Empire State, one of the most elegant and swift steamers that ever
man's ingenuity put upon the waters, I met a well-known joker from the
Quaker city, on his first trip down East. After mutually examining
and eulogising the external appearance and internal arrangements of the
Empire, winding up our investigation, of course, with a look
into a small corner cupboard in the barber's office, where a superb
smileas is a smilecan be usually enjoyed by the
nobbish investment of a York shilling; soon after passing through
Hell Gategliding by the beautiful villas, chateaux, and almost
princely palaces of the business men of the great city of New York, we
were soon out upon the broad, deep Sound, a glorious place for
steam-boating. Soon after, the bells announced supper readya
general stampede into the spacious cabin took place, and though the
tables strung along forty rods on each side of the great cabin, not
over half the crowd got seats upon this interesting occasion. I was
about with my friendin time, stuck our legs under the
mahogany, and gazed upon the open prospect for a supper superb enough
in all its details to tempt a jolly old friar from his devotions. We
got along very nicely. An old chap who sat above us some seats, and
whose rotund developments gave any ordinary observer reason to suppose
his appetite as unquenchable as the Maelstrom, kept reaching about, and
when tempting vessels were too remote, he'd bawl right eout for them.
Halloo! I say you, Mister there, just hand along that saas; give us
a chance, will ye, at that; notion on't, what d'ye call that stuff?
This? says one, passing along a dish.
Pshaw, no, t'other there.
Oh! ah! yes, this, says my facetious friend.
Well, that ain't it, but no odds; fetch it along! and down we sent
the biggest dish of meat in our neighborhood.
Now, says I, my boy, I'll show you a 'dodge.' We'll see how it
Filling a plate full to the brim, with all and each of the various
heavy courses in our vicinity, I very politely passed it over to my
next neighbor with
Please to pass that up, sir?
Umph, eh? says the gentleman, taking hold of the plate very
gingerly; pass it up?
Aye, yes, if you please, says I.
By this time he had fairly got the loaded plate in his fists, and
began to look about him where to pass the plate to. Nobody in
particular seemed on the watch for a spare plate. The gent
looked back at me, but I was cutting away and watching from the
extreme corner of my left eye the victim and his charge, while I
pressed hard upon the corn pile of my friend's foot under the table.
At length, the victim thought he saw some one up the table waiting
for the plate, and quickly he whispered to his next neighbor
Please, sir, to-to-a, just pass this plate up!
The man took the plate, and being more of a practical operator than
his neighbor, gave the plate over to his next neighbor, with
Pass this plate up to that gentleman, if you please, dodging his
head towards an old gent in specs, who sat near the head of the table,
grinning a ghastly smile over the field of good things.
What? says my friend.
The plate; it's going the rounds; just you keep quiet, you'll see a
The plate, at length, got to the head of the table. It was given to
the old gentleman in specs; he looked over the top of his specs very
deliberately at the fodder, then back at the thin, pale,
student-looking youth who handed it to him, then up and down the table.
A raw-boned, gaunt and hollow-looking disciple caught the eye of the
old gent; he must be the man who wanted the load. His lips quacked as
if in the act ofpass this plate, sir,to his next neighbor; he was
too far off for us to hear his discourse. Well, the plate came
booming along down the opposite side; the tall man declined it and gave
it over to his next neighbor, who seemed a little tempted to take hold
of the invoice, but just then it occurred to him, probably, that he was
keeping somebody (!) out of his grub, so he quickly turned to
his neighbor and passed the plate. One or two more moves brought the
plate within our range, and there it liked to have stuck, for a
fussy old Englishman, in whom politeness did not stick out very
I don't want it, sir.
Well, but, sir, please pass it, says the last victim,
beseechingly holding out the plate.
Pass it? Here, mister, 's your plate, says Bull, at length
reluctantly seizing on the plate, and rushing it on to his next
neighbor, who started
Not mine, sir.
Not yours! Who does it belong to? Pass it down to somebody.
Off went the plate again. Several ladies turned up their pretty eyes
and noses while the gents passed it by them.
Why, if there ain't that plate a going the rounds, that you gave
me! says my next neighbor, to whom I had first given the currency.
That plate? Oh, yes, so it is; well, says I, with feigned
astonishment, this is the first time I ever saw a good supper so
The plate was off again. It reached the foot of the table. An
elderly lady looked up, looked around, removed a large sweet potato
from the pilethen passed it along. An old salty-looking captain, just
then took a vacant seat, and the plate reached him just in the nick of
time. He looked voracious
Ah, said he, with a savage growl, that's your sort; thunder and
oakum, I'm as peckish as a shark, and here's the duff for me!
That ended the peregrinations of the plate, and I and my friend
yelled right out!