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Page:The White House Cook Book.djvu/641

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crossed ; the old custom of crossing them was in obedience to an an- cient religious formula. The servant should offer everything at the left of the guest, that the guest may be at liberty to use the right hand. If one has been given a napkin ring, it is necessary to fold one's nap- kin and use the ring ; otherwise the napkin should be left unfolded. One's teeth are not to be picked at table; but if it is impossible to hinder it, it should be done behind the napkin. One may pick a bone at the table, but, as with corn, only one hand is allowed to touch it ; yet one can easily get enough from it with knife and fork, which is certainly the more elegant way of doing; and to take her teeth to it gives a lady the look of caring a little too much for the pleasures of the table ; one is, however, on no account to suck one 's finger after it.

Whenever there is any doubt as to the best way to do a thing, it is wise to follow that which is the most rational, and that will almost invariably be found to be proper etiquette. To be at ease is a great step towards enjoying your own dinner, and making yourself agree- able to the company. There is reason for everything in polite usage ; thus the reason why one does not blow a thing to cool it, is not only that it is an inelegant and vulgar action intrinsically, but because it may be offensive to others cannot help being so, indeed; and it, moreover implies, haste, which, whether from greediness or a desire to get away, is equally objectionable. Everything else may be as easily traced to its origin in the fit and becoming.

If, to conclude, one seats one's self properly at table and takes reason into account, one will do tolerably well. One must not pull one's chair too closely to the table, for the natural result of that is the inability to use one's knife and fork without inconveniencing one's neighbor; the elbows are to be held well in and close to one's side, which cannot be done if the chair is too near the board. One must not lie or lean along the table, nor rest one 's arms upon it. Nor is one to touch any of the dishes ; if a member of the family, one can exercise all the duties of hospitality through servants, and wherever there are servants, neither family nor guests are to pass or help from any dish. Finally, when rising from your chair leave it where it stands.

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