Home  »  A Library of American Literature  »  Casey’s Table d’Hôte

Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

Casey’s Table d’Hôte

By Eugene Field (1850–1895)

[From A Little Book of Western Verse. 1889.]

OH, them days on Red Hoss Mountain, when the skies wuz fair ’nd blue,

When the money flowed like likker, ’nd the folks wuz brave ’nd true!

When the nights wuz crisp ’nd balmy, ’nd the camp wuz all astir,

With the joints all throwed wide open ’nd no sheriff to demur!

Oh, them times on Red Hoss Mountain in the Rockies fur away,—

There’s no sich place nor times like them as I kin find to-day!

What though the camp hez busted? I seem to see it still

A-lyin’, like it loved it, on that big ’nd warty hill;

And I feel a sort of yearnin’ ’nd a chokin’ in my throat

When I think of Red Hoss Mountain ’nd of Casey’s tabble dote!

Wal, yes; it’s true I struck it rich, but that don’t cut a show

When one is old ’nd feeble ’nd it ’s nigh his time to go;

The money that he ’s got in bonds or carries to invest

Don’t figger with a codger who has lived a life out West;

Us old chaps like to set around, away from folks ’nd noise,

’Nd think about the sights we seen and things we done when boys;

The which is why I love to set ’nd think of them old days

When all us Western fellers got the Colorado craze,—

And that is why I love to set around all day ’nd gloat

On thoughts of Red Hoss Mountain ’nd of Casey’s tabble dote.

This Casey wuz an Irishman,—you’d know it by his name

And by the facial features appertainin’ to the same.

He’ d lived in many places ’nd had done a thousand things,

From the noble art of actin’ to the work of dealin’ kings,

But, somehow, had n’t caught on; so, driftin’ with the rest,

He drifted for a fortune to the undeveloped West,

And he come to Red Hoss Mountain when the little camp wuz new,

When the money flowed like likker, ’nd the folks wuz brave ’nd true;

And, havin’ been a stewart on a Mississippi boat,

He opened up a caffy ’nd he run a tabble dote.

The bar wuz long ’nd rangey, with a mirror on the shelf,

’Nd a pistol, so that Casey, when required, could help himself;

Down underneath there wuz a row of bottled beer ’nd wine,

’Nd a kag of Burbun whiskey of the run of ’59;

Upon the walls wuz pictures of hosses ’nd of girls,—

Not much on dress, perhaps, but strong on records ’nd on curls!

The which had been identified with Casey in the past,—

The hosses ’nd the girls, I mean,—and both wuz mighty fast!

But all these fine attractions wuz of precious little note

By the side of what wuz offered at Casey’s tabble dote.

There wuz half-a-dozen tables altogether in the place,

And the tax you had to pay upon your vittles wuz a case;

The boardin’-houses in the camp protested ’t wuz a shame

To patronize a robber, which this Casey wuz the same!

They said a case was robbery to tax for ary meal;

But Casey tended strictly to his biz, ’nd let ’em squeal;

And presently the boardin’-houses all began to bust,

While Casey kept on sawin’ wood ’nd layin’ in the dust;

And oncet a trav’lin’ editor from Denver City wrote

A piece back to his paper, puffin’ Casey’s tabble dote.

A tabble dote is different from orderin’ aller cart:

In one case you git all there is, in t’other, only part!

And Casey’s tabble dote began in French,—as all begin,—

And Casey’s ended with the same, which is to say, with “vin;”

But in between wuz every kind of reptile, bird, ’nd beast,

The same like you can git in high-toned restauraws down east;

’Nd windin’ up wuz cake or pie, with coffee demy tass,

Or, sometimes, floatin’ Ireland in a soothin’ kind of sass

That left a sort of pleasant ticklin’ in a feller’s throat,

’Nd made him hanker after more of Casey’s tabble dote.

The very recollection of them puddin’s ’nd them pies

Brings a yearnin’ to my buzzum ’nd the water to my eyes;

’Nd seems like cookin’ nowadays ain’t what it used to be

In camp on Red Hoss Mountain in that year of ’63;

But, maybe, it is better, ’nd, maybe, I ’m to blame—

I ’d like to be a-livin’ in the mountains jest the same—

I ’d like to live that life again when skies wuz fair ’nd blue,

When things wuz run wide open ’nd men wuz brave ’nd true;

When brawny arms the flinty ribs of Red Hoss Mountain smote

For wherewithal to pay the price of Casey’s tabble dote.

And you, O cherished brother, a-sleepin’ way out West,

With Red Hoss Mountain huggin’ you close to its lovin’ breast,—

Oh, do you dream in your last sleep of how we use to do,

Of how we worked our little claims together, me ’nd you?

Why, when I saw you last a smile wuz restin’ on your face,

Like you wuz glad to sleep forever in that lonely place;

And so you wuz, ’nd I ’d be, too, if I wuz sleepin’ so.

But, bein’ how a brother’s love aint for the world to know,

Whenever I ’ve this heartache ’nd this chokin’ in my throat,

I lay it all to thinkin’ of Casey’s tabble dote.