CHAPTER XI. Tells of my reception by Mr. Lummucks, and of the manner in which that polite gentleman answered my solicitations.
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Having dressed myself in my very best clothes,
which, to tell the truth, were my very worst also,
I set out, soon after breakfast, in search of the
store of Messrs. J. Smith Davis & Co., whose
names were on the card which Mr. Lummucks had
It was a bright and pleasant morning; the -- 072 --
streets were full of life and animation, and every
thing looked promising and joyous to me. Men
were hurrying past me in every direction, with
looks full of business and importance, and I
thought, where all seemed to be so well employed,
and in such haste, there could be no difficulty in
finding something to do. But, as I was not stinted
for time, I did not hurry myself, and walked
leisurely along beneath the awnings, stopping
occasionally to gaze at the heaps of goods which
were displayed in the stores, or to read some curious
sign which attracted my attention. After a
while I succeeded in finding Hanover Square,
which I was astonished to find was triangular in
shape, and soon discovered the large gilt sign of
[figure description] Page 072.[end figure description]
Messrs. J. Smith Davis & Co. Luckily, Mr.
Lummucks was standing in the door with his hat
off, and his hair brushed down smooth and glossy.
As soon as he saw me, he caught me by the hand,
and dragged me into the store.
“How are you this morning, Colonel?” he
“Very well, I thank you,” I replied, speaking
as respectfully as I knew how; “are you well?”
“Fine as silk,” said Mr. Lummucks.
I was glad to hear him say so, and congratulated
myself upon finding him in such a pleasant
The store of Messrs. J. Smith Davis & Co.
was not very large, but it was crowded with goods
to the very ceiling, and in the middle of the floor
were long piles of calicoes, about which were
several young gentlemen, as busily employed as
bees in a hive.
A very little man approached us from the further -- 073 --
end of the store, jerking his little arms and
legs with the precision and ease of an automaton.
His dress was new, and bright, and neat. Mr.
Lummucks introduced me to him. He was no
other than Mr. Smith Davis himself, the principal
of the firm. I was almost struck dumb to see so
much importance confined within so small a
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compass. He shook me cordially by the hand, and
asked Mr. Lummucks if he knew me.
“Know him like a book,” replied Mr. Lummucks.
Mr. Smith Davis shook me by the hand again,
and said he was very happy to see me; he asked
me how the times were, and offered me a cigar,
which I took for fear of giving offence, but the
first opportunity I got I threw it away.
“Buy for cash, or time?” he asked.
I was a little startled at the abruptness of the
question, but I replied, “for cash.”
“Would you like to look at some prints, Major?”
“I am much obliged to you,” I replied, “I am
very fond of seeing prints.”
With that, Mr. Smith Davis commenced turning
over one piece of calico after another, with
“There, Major,—very desirable article—splendid
style—only two-and-six; we done a first rate
business in that article last season; cheapest goods
in the street.”
Before I could make any reply, or even guess
-- 074 --
at the meaning of Mr. Davis's remarks, he was
called away, and Mr. Lummucks stepped up and
supplied his place.
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“You had better buy 'em, Colonel,” said Mr.
Lummucks, “they will sell like hot cakes. But
did you say you bought for cash.”
“Of course,” I said, “if I buy at all.”
He took a memorandum book out of his pocket,
and looked in it for a moment.
“Let me see,” he said, “Franco, Franco,
Franco, what did you say your firm was, something
and Franco, or Franco and somebody?”
“I have no firm,” I replied.
“O, you haven't, haven't you? all alone, hey?
but I don't see that I have got your first name down
in my tickler.”
“My first name is Harry,” I said.
“Right, yes, I remember,” said Mr. Lummucks,
making a memorandum; “and your references,
Colonel, who did you say were your references?”
“I have no references,” I replied, “indeed I
know of no one to whom I could refer, unless to
“What, the old boy in the country?”
“My father is in the country,” I answered seriously,
not very well pleased to hear my parent
called the old boy.
“Then you have no city references, hey?”
“None at all, sir; I have no friends here except
-- 075 --
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“Me!” exclaimed Mr. Lummucks, apparently
in great amazement. “Oh, ah! But how much of
a bill do you mean to make with us, Colonel?”
“Perhaps I may buy a vest pattern,” I replied,
“if you have got some genteel patterns.”
“A vest pattern,” cried Mr. Lummucks, “what,
hav'nt you come down for the purpose of buying
“No, sir,” I replied, “I came to New York to
seek for employment, and as you had shown me
so many kind attentions, I thought you would be
glad of an opportunity to assist me in finding a
Mr. Lummucks' countenance underwent a very
singular change when I announced my reasons for
calling on him.
“Do you see any thing that looks green in
there?” he said, pulling down his eyelid with his
“No, sir, I do not,” I replied, looking very earnestly
into his eye.
“Nor in there, either?” he said, pulling open
his other eye.
“Nothing at all, sir,” I replied.
“I guess not,” said Mr. Lummucks; and without
-- 076 --
making me any other answer, he turned on his
heel and left me.
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“Reg'larly sucked, Jack?” asked a young
man who had been listening to our conversation.
“Don't mention it,” said Mr. Lummucks.
“No you don't,” said the other.
Mr. Lummucks walked up to Mr. Smith Davis,
and whispered in his ear a few words, upon which
that little gentleman turned round, and frowned
upon me most awfully.
I was about to demand an explanation of this
strange conduct, when Mr. Smith Davis came up
to me, and told me he was not a retailer, but a jobber,
and advised me if I wanted to negotiate for
a vest pattern to go into Chatham street.
My first impulse was to take Mr. Smith Davis
up in my arms, and give him a good smart cuff on
his ears. But I restrained my indignation, and
merely remarked to him, that if he was not a retailer,
he was in a remarkably small way.
“Leave my store, sir,” said Mr. Smith Davis,
turning very pale.
“Don't be frightened,” I said, “I would not -- 077 --
stay in it upon any account.” And without more
ado I did leave it; but with feelings very different
from those with which I had entered it. To meet
with such a rebuff upon my first application for assistance,
was a cruel disappointment to me, and I
could scarcely refrain from tears. I thought of
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my poor mother and sister, and above all of my
cousin's prophecy, and my heart sunk within me.
It was not until I had gone to my chamber, and
given vent to my feelings in a flood of tears, that
I could regain my self-possession, and revolve in
my mind some other plan of operations.
I sat opposite to Mr. Lummucks again, at dinner,
but he did not even give me a look of recognition.
I thought it was well, perhaps, that I had
met, at the very outset of life, with such an instance
of hollow heartedness and deceit, as it would learn
me forever after to be on my guard in my intercourse
with strangers, and not to put too much dependance
upon their professions of friendship, until
I had an opportunity of testing their motives.
Mr. Lummucks, I found out afterwards, was a
-- 078 --
drummer, who, having been sent out to drum up
customers for his employers, was returning home
when I met him in the stage coach, and imagining
that I was a country merchant, on my way to New
York to purchase goods, he endeavored, by his
attention, to lay me under an obligation to make
my purchases of his employers.
Briggs, Charles F. (Charles Frederick), 1804-1877 , The adventures of Harry Franco. Volume 1 (F. Saunders, New York) [word count] [eaf025v1].