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Briggs, Charles F. (Charles Frederick), 1804-1877 [1839], The adventures of Harry Franco. Volume 1 (F. Saunders, New York) [word count] [eaf025v1].
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CHAPTER VIII. A school for morals, and the beginning of an adventure.

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At the tea table I met Mr. Lummucks; he had
heard of my encounter with the great orator from
the South the day before, and he laughed heartily
at my blunder, and said, if I would put myself
under his tuition, he would soon make a man of
me, and learn me what life was. By way of giving
me an introductory lesson, he said, I must go
to the theatre with him that evening; and as he
offered to pay for my ticket, I did not feel at
liberty to refuse.

As I had often heard the theatre spoken of as a
school for morals, I was not much surprised to
meet a good many people there whose morals
seemed to stand in need of a pretty severe schooling;
for my own part, I do not think my own
morals were much the better for any thing that I
saw or heard while there.

Mr. Lummucks said he was acquainted with all
the principal actors and actresses, and he promised
to take me behind the scenes, and introduce me
to some of them, but first he took me up two or
three flights of stairs into a long room with green

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walls and red moreen curtains, with a bar at one
end, behind which were half a dozen yellow women
serving out cakes and coffee, and all manner
of liquors. There were a great many young ladies
moving about, some with gentlemen, and
some without, but all very gayly dressed, and very
free in their manners; indeed, one of them had
the boldness to ask me to treat her to an orange,
which I did, and then she asked me to treat her
to a glass of cordial, which I could not refuse to
do, because she was a lady, and I judged from
the familiar manner in which Mr. Lummucks
spoke to her, that she was an intimate acquaintance
of his. Another young lady came up to me,
and offered me her card, which I took, and promised
to call on her. Mr. Lummucks appeared to be
perfectly at home; he called one Bess, another
Sue, and another Liz. If this, I thought, is the
first lesson in life, I shall not be astonished at any
thing which I may meet with hereafter.

I heard a great clapping of hands and stamping
of feet, and as I began to grow tired of the
company I was in, I made an excuse that I wanted
to see the play; so I went out of the punch room
into the gallery to see what had called forth the
clapping of hands, and to take a lesson in morals.
On the stage, which was a long distance below

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me, were a man and a woman singing with all
their might, with their hands stretched out as if
imploring mercy from the audience. He was tall
and thin, with sunken cheeks, which were, notwithstanding,
very red; and she was short and
fat: they were both dressed in the strangest looking
clothes I had ever seen, but apparently very
richly. I listened attentively, but I could not understand
a word of the song, and the musicians
kept up such a noise I was hardly able to distinguish
the tune. I must acknowledge that I was
greatly disappointed in the exhibition; but it
would be wrong in me to condemn what I could
not understand, and, as some do, pronounce every
thing bad which is above my comprehension.

Not feeling any interest for the people on the
stage, I began to look around among the audience,
and soon discovered something more interesting
and beautiful than I had anticipated. There
were a great many ladies among the audience,
who, being dressed in gay clothes, gave a bright
and beautiful appearance to the theatre; but the
lights were so glaring, and the whole scene was so
strange to me, it was some time before I could look
composedly, and view in detail the lovely beings
who were clustered together in the circle below
me. When my eye had become more familiar

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with the scene, and my perception keener, as I
glanced from group to group, my attention was
suddenly arrested by a beautiful girl, who sat in
the lower tier of boxes, dressed in white, and looking
like a lily in a bed of tulips. Upon looking
at her more attentively, I was electrified at discovering
in her my gentle companion of the stage
coach. It gave a momentary shock to my feelings
to find one whom I had, in imagination, invested
with a pure and holy character, breathing
the atmosphere of such a place; but descending to
the next tier of boxes, I took a seat opposite to her,
and soon became so completely absorbed in the
contemplation of her beauties, as to be insensible
to every thing else. She was very beautiful, and
having gazed on her for hours, I thought her image
was stamped upon my heart, and that it would
be ever present to the eyes of my mind; but when
I could see her no longer, and I tried to recall her
to my mind, it was in vain; I could only remember
that I had seen a being of light and loveliness,
but the form she wore had left no distinct impression
upon my memory.

She sat between an elderly gentleman, and a
lady apparently older than herself, to whom she
occasionally spoke; and I thought I could distinguish
the gentle tones of her voice above all the

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noise of the orchestra and the hubbub of the pit.
When the performances were ended, I hurried
down to the lobby, that I might catch a parting
glimpse of her as she left the theatre. I saw her
come out leaning on the arm of the elderly gentleman
who sat by her side, and I got as close to
her as I dared, hoping to catch the sound of her
voice. They stood on the steps a few minutes,
until a carriage drove up, into which they got with
the other lady; the footman banged too the door
and got up behind, and away they drove. I stood
for a moment almost bewildered, and then darted
off in pursuit of the carriage; I ran with all my
might, and hard work I had to keep it in sight.
It was a weary long chase, up one street and down
another, 'till at length, when I was quite exhausted,
and scarcely able to move another step, the
sweat pouring from every pore in my body, and
my wind quite gone, it stopped in front of a brick
house opposite to a large square filled with trees.

The party got out of the carriage, and the old
gentleman handed the ladies up the steps of the
house. “Good night, uncle,” said the youngest
lady, in a voice which I could have distinguished
among all the babel tongues of the world. “Good
night, Georgy, good night,” said the old gentleman.
The door closed upon the ladies, and the

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old gentleman stepped into the carriage again,
and drove off.

I sat down opposite to the house, under the
shade of the trees, to recover my breath; and
having rested myself, I very reluctantly quitted
the spot; but not until I had noted down the number
of the house, and read the name on the silver
door plate; it was simply, “Mrs. Smith.”

It was past midnight when I got back to the
hotel, but I found Mr. Lummucks sitting in the
bar-room, drinking and smoking with two or three
bilious looking gentlemen, whom he introduced
to me as merchants from Mississippi. Mr. Lummucks
tried to make me sit down and smoke and
drink with them, but I resolutely refused, notwithstanding
the Mississippi merchants joined in the
request, promising me that they would tell me a
mighty big heap of good stories, and that the way
they would amuse me would be sinful to a christian.
But I was in a hurry to be alone in my
chamber, where I could shut my eyes upon the
world, and think only of her who had enchanted

When I got to my chamber, I locked the door,
and took out the pocket handkerchief, of which I
had by a lucky accident become the possessor, and
having pressed it to my heart, spread it out for

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examination, with the hope of discovering about
it some clue to the name of its owner. It was a
beautiful bandkerchief; the material was of a
delicate texture, surpassing any thing of the kind
I had ever seen before; it was edged with broad
lace, and the corners were curiously embroidered
with fruits and flowers, the like of which I had
never seen in nature; on one of the corners was
a scroll, surrounded by a wreath of roses, and on
it was printed, in delicate little letters, “Georgiana
De Lancy.” I pressed the name to my lips, and
kissed it a thousand times, and did many other
foolish things, 'till at last growing weary, I lay
down upon my bed with the handkerchief in my
hand, and dreamed that the lovely Georgiana was
hovering over me, poised in the air by a pair of
purple wings, the gentle motion of which fanned
the cool air across my brow.

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Briggs, Charles F. (Charles Frederick), 1804-1877 [1839], The adventures of Harry Franco. Volume 1 (F. Saunders, New York) [word count] [eaf025v1].
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