Hon. Ransom Peabody
by George Ade
The Fable of the Hoosier Bill of Fare and How the
Women Folks Cooked Up Things for
the Well-known Citizen.
Once upon a Time there was a Hired Hand who
felt that he was cut out to be Somebody.
Among the Agriculturists he was said to be
too dosh-burned Toney because he wore gloves
when he Toiled and on Sundays put on a slew
of Agony, with sheet-iron Shoes pointed at
the End and a neat Derby purchased in Terry Hut.
Now this Freckled Swain, whose name was
Ransom, wanted to hop on the Inter-Reuben
and go zipping away to see the Great World.
He wanted to live in a Big Town where he
would not have to walk on the Ploughed
Ground and where he could get something
Good to Eat. He was tired of the plain
Vittles out on the Farm. They very seldom
had anything on the Table except Chicken
with Gravy, Salt-Rising Bread, Milk, seven
or eight Vegetables, Crulls, Cookies,
Apple Butter, Whortleberry Pie, Light Biscuit,
Spare Ribs, Pig's Feet, Hickory Nut Cake
and such like. This thing of drawing up
every A. M. to the same old Lay Out of
home-made Sausage, Buckwheat Cakes, Recent
Eggs, Fried Mush and Mother's Coffee was
beginning to wear on him. Often he dreamt
of being in the Metropolis, where he could
get an Oyster Stew, Sardines, and Ice Cream
in the Winter Time.
At last his Dream came out of the Box. He
went up to the City to attend a Law School
and found himself domiciled in a Refined
Joint that was a Cross between a Salon and
a Beanery. It was one of those Regular Places
kept by a thin Lady who had once ridden
in her Own Carriage. Her Long Suit was Home
Atmosphere. She had the Hall-Ways filled
with it. What is more, she came from an
Old Family. Lord Cornwallis once stopped at
their House to get a Drink of Water and
George Washington came very near sleeping
in one of the Bed-Rooms. So that made the
Board about 50 cents more on the Week.
Like all high class Boarding Houses, it
was infested by some Lovely People. There
was the girl who spelled it Edythe and was
having her voice done over. She had a Mother
to keep Cases on her and do the Press Work.
Also there was the Grass Widow who remembered
her Husband's name but had mislaid the Address.
Also the Old Boarder who was always under
the influence of Pepsin. He would come down
to Breakfast wearing the Hoof-Marks of a
Nightmare Seventeen Hands high and holler
about the Food and tell the Young Lawyer
how you can't believe anything you see in
the Papers. Also there was a young man
employed in a Furniture Store who knew that
he could put Eddie Sothern on the Fritz if
he ever got a Whack at the Drama. Unless
some one got out an Injunction he would
recite Poe's "Raven" while Edythe played
Chills and Fever music on the Once-Piano.
So the Astute Reader will understand that
this was a sure enough Boarding House.
Ranse could have stood for the Intellectual
Environment if there had been a little more
doing in the Food Line. Instead of stacking
it up on the Table and giving the word to
Pitch In, the Refined Landlady had it brought
on in stingy little Dabs by several Beautiful
Heiresses who hated to hold Converse with
Ordinary Boarders. About the time that Ranse,
with the Farm Appetite, began to settle down
to Business he would notice all the other
People rolling up the Red Napkins and trying
to get them into the Rings. If he kept on
eating after that, they would give him the
Cereals were strongly featured at the polite
Prunery. Ransom, while employed on the Farm,
had often mixed up Chop Feed and Bran for the
Shoats and Yearlings, but he never thought he
would come down to eating it himself. Another
Strong Card was a Soup that was quite Pale and
had a couple of Vermicelli swimming around in
it. And every Tuesday they served Dried
Currants with Clinkers in them.
Before Ranse had been against the Health Food
Proposition many moons he began to hanker for
the yellow-legged Plymouth Rocks, the golden
Butter and the kind of milk that comes from
the Cow--take a Tin Cup and go right out to
the Spring House and dip it up for yourself.
Still, he figured that as soon as he got into
Practice and began to connect with the Currency
he could shake the Oatmeal Circuit and put
up at an A1 Hotel.
Like all the other Country Boys of the Story
Books, Ransom made a Ten-Strike in the City.
He worked 18 hours per and in Due Time he was
taken into the Firm and stopped shaving his
Neck and wore Pajamas instead of a home-made
Then he moved into a Hotel that had $40,000
worth of Paintings on the First Floor, so that
no one had a right to kick even if the Push
Button failed to work. All the Furniture was
Louie Something. You take an ex-Farm-Hand and
let him sit in a Gold Chair with Satin Monogram
that is too Nice to lean against, and you can
see at a Glance that he is sure enjoying himself.
Ranse now began to go against the a la Carte
Gag. The Menu was prepared by a Near-French
Chef. For Fear that People might find Fault
with the Food he always smothered it and covered
it over with Goo.
Ranse began to find out that Goulasch meant
Boiled Dinner with Perfumery in it, and also
that there were seven different names for Hash.
The only Thing that saved it from being Hash
was the Piece of Lemon Peel tucked on the Side.
Ranse was not very strong for the French Cooking.
Sometimes he would find himself Chicken-Hungry
and he would order what he thought was Chicken
and he would get a half section of cold storage
Poulet covered with Armor Plate, a neat Ruffle
around the Ankle and an Olive reposing on the
Bosom. If he ordered Ice Cream he got something
resembling a sample Paper Weight from the Quarries
at Bedford, Indiana. And the Buckwheat Cakes!
They looked like Doilies and tasted like Blotters.
And the Demi-Tasse is an Awful Joke to spring
on the Man who wants a Cup of Coffee.
Here was the Hon. Ransom, rich and prosperous
and apparently happy, but in reality he was
Dead Sore. Things appeared to be coming very
Soft for him and yet that which he wanted most
of all he could not get. He wanted the real
old simon-pure Home Cooking: He recalled the
Happy Days of Bean Soup and Punkin Pie and
Cottage Cheese. Time and again he would see
one of those old Friends on a Score-Card in
a Restaurant and he would order it and get
some Fake Imitation with Smilax all around
the edges. So, after a while, he became
discouraged and ate all the Junk that was
set before him--Dope, Lemon Peel, Floral
Decoration and all.
Often he would go to Banquets that cost as
much as Ten a Throw. He would dally with
Fish that had Glue Dressing on top of it
and Golf Balls lying alongside. He would
tackle Siberian Slush that had Hair Tonic
floating on top of it. Then the Petrified
Quail and the Cheese that should have been
served in 1884. Often, sitting at these
Magnificent Spreads, he thought to himself
that he would willingly trade all the Tiffany
Water on the Table for one Goblet of real
After Ransom had insulted his Digestive
Apparatus for many years with the horrible
Concoctions of the Gents' Cafe he resolved
to go back to his native Town and visit
some of his Blood Relations so that he could
get at least one more Crack at real American
He wrote that he was coming and his Kin
became greatly Agitated.
"Our celebrated Cousin, the Hon. Ransom
Peabody, is coming to visit us," they said.
"We must make unusual Preparations to receive
the big Battleship. He is Rich and High-Toned
and has been living at one of those $6-a-Day
Palaces and we must cut a big Melon when he
shows up. He is accustomed to City Food and
we must not insult him with ordinary Provender."
So they began framing up Dishes out of a
Subscription Cook Book purchased the year
before from a Lady with Gold Glasses and a
grand flow of Language.
The Hon. Ransom arrived late one Evening
and all Night he lay awake in the Spare
Bed-Room, gloating over the prospect of a
"Me for the Sausage Cakes with the good
old Sage rubbed into them," said Ranse.
"I will certainly show the Buckwheats how
to take a Joke and the way I'll dip into
that Coffee will be a Caution. And mebbe I
won't go to those Eggs direct from the Hen!"
He arose early, but had to wait two Hours.
As he was from the City, the Family had
postponed Breakfast until 9 o'clock. When
he faced up to the Table he was Wolfish.
First they gave him Grape Fruit au Kirsch.
Then the Finger Bowl with the cute Rose
Leaves floating idly on the dimpled Surface.
Then a dainty Lamb Chop with an ornamental
Fence around it and a sweet little cup of
Cocoa in the China that Uncle Henry bought
at the World's Fair. Then French Toast and
Eggs a la Gazaza, with Christmas Trees stuck
The Hon. Ransom arose and howled like a
Siberian Wolf, which was Impolite of him.
Before he went Home he did manage to get
a little real Eating, but every one said
he was very Eccentric to prefer such a
simple dish as Fried Chicken.
Moral--Hurry up and get it before the
Chef and the Cook-Book have us entirely