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Briggs, Charles F. (Charles Frederick), 1804-1877 [1839], The adventures of Harry Franco. Volume 2 (F. Saunders, New York) [word count] [eaf025v2].
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CHAPTER II. Magnificent Prospects.

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Suddenly I heard a strange noise; it was as
though all the starry host were shouting together.
I started upon my feet; my heart beat
terribly, and the sweat started upon my forehead.

It was morning. The bright warm sun was
shining full in my face, and, very much to my
astonishment, I discovered that I had not been undressed,
and that I had spent the whole night sitting
with my head resting on the sill of the window.
The stars had all modestly withdrawn
themselves, and I could not distinctly remember
whether they had answered the questions which
I had put to them or not. But with the bright
and cheerful rays of the morning, my spirits
had mounted up, and I should have been inclined
to doubt the stars themselves if they had
taken me at my word, and revealed a different
destiny from that which I wished them to. The
strange noise which had startled me was caused
by a Chinese gong; a signal for the boarders

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to make preparations for breakfast, like seven
bells on board a man of war.

After I had dressed myself, I counted my money
over, to make sure that none had been abstracted in
the night, and then buttoned it up in my pocket, and
descended to the breakfast parlor, which was also
the dining room and the drawing room. There
were but three or four gentlemen at the breakfast
table, and I took my seat rather timidly, fearing
that the hour was not strictly a genteel one. A
young man sat opposite to me, with a pale face,
and very red whiskers, which grew under his
chin, and gave his head something the appearance
of a Phœnix sitting on its funeral pyre. On
his upper lip were two tufts of light colored hair,
which threatened to soak up his coffee every time
he put the cup to his mouth. I felt very hungry,
and I could have eaten up every thing I saw before
me; but in the presence of a personage so
evidently genteel, who picked up a few crumbs of
dry toast, and carried them deliberately to his
mouth, on the ends of his long fingers, without
the least apparent satisfaction, I felt afraid to eat
any thing with a hearty good will and a smack of
the lips, a practice which I was very much given
to when I felt hungry. So I restrained the urgent
demands of my appetite, and sipped my coffee

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and nibbled a piece of dry toast, as genteelly as I

“How is lots?” said one of the gentlemen at
the table, addressing the man with the sandy moustachios.

“Pretty fair,” he replied, “but I am devlish
sorry I didn't keep that piece of property I sold
yesterday. I only made twenty thousand dollars
by the operation, and the gentleman which bought
it of me has went and made forty thousand by
selling it at Bleecker's.”

I opened my eyes very wide to hear a man
talk so coolly about making twenty thousand dollars;
but his reply did not cause any astonishment
in the others at the table, from which I concluded
they must all be immensely rich.

“Ah,” said the gentleman who made the first
remark, “I believe it is utterly impossible for a
man to buy a piece of property without doubling
his money on it.”

“I believe so,” said another gentleman.

“And so do I,” said Mrs. Riggs; “there was
my milkman, old poppy Van Krouteater, which
served his customers with milk only last Tuesday
morning, rode past here yesterday afternoon
in his own carriage, with two great black
Long Island niggers, all dressed in beautiful

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liveries. He had sold his farm for almost a million
of dollars, on the condition that the purchaser
should build a town on it, and call it Van Krouteater

“That's nothing at all,” said the gentleman
with the fiery whiskers; “there was a reskill of a
hackdriver called for me yesterday while I was
into Bleecker's, at the sale of some splendid lots in
Bulwer city, and he popped his ugly head into
the auction room just as the auctioneer was going
to knock down a corner lot at twenty-two hundred
dollars, `what shall I say for you,' said the
auctioneer, catching the twinkle of the hackman's
eye; `twenty-four,' replied the scamp, meaning the
number of his coach. `Twenty-four hundred
dollars,' exclaimed the auctioneer; and down
went the hammer. `What name, sir,' said the auctioneer.
`Barney,' said the hackman. `What is
your first name, Mr. Barney?' said the auctioneer.
`Sure that is my first name,' said the hackman.
`Ah, then what is your last name, sir?' said the
auctioneer. `McFee,' says Barney. Now when
Barney found he had bought a corner lot for
twenty-four hundred dollars, without knowing it,
he almost went crazy, he was so frightened, for
he hadn't twenty-four cents in the world to bless
himself with. So the auctioneer put the lot up

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again on Barney's account, and I wish I
may never sell another piece of property if he
didn't get forty-eight hundred dollars for it; so
Barney made twenty-four hundred dollars by the

Having tantalized my appetite beyond all possible
endurance, with nibbling a piece of dry toast,
I got up from table, and went out to a pie shop,
where I eat apple tarts and drank coffee, until the
cravings of hunger were appeased; after which, I
read all the morning papers, and then took a walk
into Wall street.

Here all was bustle, and life, and gentility; the
side walks were filled with well dressed men, some
of whom carried long half bound books under
their arms, and others maps in their hands. The
walls of the houses, the trunks of the trees, the
fences, and the lamp posts, exhibited innumerable
plans of lithographed towns and cities, which were
to be disposed of at auction, on the most liberal
terms. Every man's face wore a keen and anxious
expression; a vacant stare was not to be encountered
in that whole assemblage of busy men. Every
body was talking to somebody, or watching for
something. The questions most frequently heard
were, “how's stocks?” “how's lots?” “how's
money?” And the answers almost invariably given

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were, “up,” “so, so,” and “tight.” Nobody appeared
to have an inclination to inquire after any
body's wife and children, nor to make any sagacious
remarks about the weather.

I had no recollection of ever having heard or
seen any thing about speculations in lots and new
cities, when I was in New York before, and I stood
on the corner of William street, watching the
crowds of men as they hurried to and fro, wondering
to myself what could be the cause of all the
stir and bustle which I witnessed, when I observed
a tall young man, with a stout ebony cane, almost
as big as his leg, in his hand, and a roll of paper
under his arm, walking with a solemn stride towards
me. I recognised the gentleman instantly;
it was no less a person than Mr. Worhoss. Remembering
our former intimacy, and that he had
not paid me the five dollars which I lent him, I felt
myself free to claim his acquaintance. But Mr.
Worhoss had forgotten me entirely. However,
when I mentioned the circumstance of his borrowing
five dollars of me, it refreshened his memory

“But,” said Mr. Worhoss, “as the committee of
literary gentlemen were a stupid set of fellows, they
rejected my article, and, consequently, you cannot
expect me to return the money; the fault was all

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theirs, and not mine; so you will know where to
lay the blame.”

Mr. Worhoss also informed me, that he had
given up literary pursuits, as he found them not
only unprofitable, but quite disreputable; as all his
intimate friends cut him, when they found he was
engaged in writing for periodicals. He said he
was now getting rich fast, by operating in real estate.
He gave me to understand that he considered
poverty highly disgraceful. I blushed as I remembered
my own condition.

“I presume you have been making money since
I saw you last?” observed Mr. Worhoss.

“Some,” I replied.

“Ah,” exclaimed Mr. Worhoss, “been speculating
in fast property?”

I did not precisely comprehend the meaning of
his question, and I replied that the property which
I had acquired, was all in cash.

“In cash,” exclaimed Mr. Worhoss; “what,
money down? Perhaps you would like to make
fifteen or twenty thousand dollars by a small investment?”

I replied that nothing would be more agreeable
to me; upon which he instantly unrolled the paper
which he carried under his arm, and displayed to
me a lithographed map of Gowannus city. I had

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no recollection of ever having heard of such a city;
but Mr. Worhoss told me it was one of the most
prosperous in the union; and truly it had a very
pleasant appearance on paper. It was regularly
laid out with avenues and streets intersecting each
other at right angles, and plentifully ornamented
with squares and public places, with the very
grandest names.

Mr. Worhoss offered to sell me a choice of corner
lots, in a certain section of the city, at the very
moderate price of one thousand dollars each; and
he assured me if I kept them only one week, I
might sell them again for double that sum.

I replied that I should be very glad to make
such a speculation, but that I should not be able
to buy more than one lot.

Mr. Worhoss replied, that that should be no hinderance
to my entering into the speculation, for by
paying ten per cent. down on the purchase money,
the balance might remain on bond and mortgage,
and by repeating the operation until I had purchased
and sold a hundred lots, I could easily clear
a hundred thousand dollars.

Such magnificent prospects almost deprived me
of breath. In my wildest dreams of fortune, I had
never imagined any thing half as brilliant. One

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hundred thousand dollars! The very mention of
it bewildered me. But Mr. Worhoss spoke very
coolly about it, and said such operations were of
daily occurrence. He invited me into a coffee-house
near by, and asked me to take a mint julep,
and then took me down to an auction store in
Broad street, where there was a sale of lots, that
I might see with my own eyes the manner in
which fortunes were made.

The auction room was long and narrow, and
crowded to suffocation, with all manner of men,
who were bidding for lots, in a high state of excitement.
Some of the bidders were fuffian-looking
fellows, with long beards, and a little rivulet
of tobacco juice trickling down the corners of their
mouths; others were very neat and delicate in
their persons. Lots upon lots were knocked
down by the auctioneer; I forget in what city
they were located, but I believe it was in the city
of Julius Cæsar. After the sale was over, the
buyers began to boast of their bargains, and according
to their own showing, there was not a
man present who had not made at least twenty
thousand dollars.

For my own part, I was strongly tempted to
make a bid, but remembering my former speculation
in an auction room, I restrained my desires

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to purchase “fast property” in spite of all the
seductive temptations with which I was beset.

When we came out of the auction room, Mr.
Worhoss introduced me to a gentleman, whom he
called Mr. Dooitt. He was a tall, square-shouldered
man, with high cheek bones, a pale, freckled
face, and a paltry little nose; he shook my
hand, and begged me to excuse his glove; he
said he was extremely happy to see me, and hoped
I was very well, and concluded by observing
that the weather was remarkably pleasant for the

Mr. Worhoss told me in a whisper that his
friend Mr. Dooitt was immensely rich, although
six months before he was as poor as a church
mouse, and that he made his money by speculating
in up-town lots.

I looked at Mr. Dooitt's person again, and observed
it was ornamented with a gold chain, worn
around his neck, and an enormously large breast

Mr. Dooitt asked me if I had a mind to speculate
in fast property.

I replied that I had some thoughts of doing so,
upon hearing which he winked to me knowingly;
and while Mr. Worhoss was occupied in reading
an advertisement, he whispered in my ear,

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and told me not to make any purchases until I
had first called at his office, and looked at a map
of a city in which he was interested in Ouisconsin;
and slipping his card into my hand, he bade me
good morning, and left me.

Mr. Worhoss gave me a map of his city—
“Gowannus City,” and told me he would call on
me at my lodgings, but before he left me he cautioned
me against making any purchases except
from him, as he was bent upon making a fortune
for me for old acquaintance's sake.

After Mr. Worhoss left me, I sauntered about
the streets, under the cool shade of the awnings,
delighted with every thing and every body. I
considered myself already worth a fortune. All
my highest wishes were about to be gratified, and
more than I had dared to hope for would be realized.
The pleasurable anticipations in which I
indulged were almost maddening; there was,
however, one dark spot in my bright horizon—I
was ignorant of the dwelling-place of Georgiana
De Lancey; but I consoled myself with the
thought that fortune had now, for a certainty,
taken me under her especial charge, and that
surely so great a requisite to my happiness as the
possession of her whom I loved would not be
denied me.

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These were pleasant thoughts, and under the
influence of them I went home to my dinner, and
called for a bottle of three dollar Madeira, and
took wine with every body at the dinner table.

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Briggs, Charles F. (Charles Frederick), 1804-1877 [1839], The adventures of Harry Franco. Volume 2 (F. Saunders, New York) [word count] [eaf025v2].
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