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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 XXI. Arrive at New Orleans, and meet with an old acquaintance.

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It was just at dark when I landed on the levee,
in New Orleans, and after seeing my baggage
deposited at Bishop's hotel, I took a stroll through
the town. Some of the streets reminded me
strongly of the dark Calle which I first entered in
Buenos Ayres, and some of the houses were fac
similes of those in that city. As I sauntered
along through the Rue St. Louis, my attention
was arrested by a bright light, and the jingling
of silver, issuing through a partly closed
door. My curiosity was excited, and I pushed
open the door and entered. I perceived at a
glance that I was in a gambling house. It was a
large room, brilliantly illuminated with argand
lamps, and well filled with a motley assemblage
of men. There were three roulette tables, and
two faro tables, and in one corner of the apartment
was a capacious mahogany sideboard, on
which was placed an abundance of what is called
refreshments, viz.: claret and whiskey, Bologna
sausages, and segars.

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There was an excited crowd round each of the
tables; and oaths, and curses, and sometimes
long drawn signs, were mingled with the continual
jingle of dollars, and the gruff voices of the
croupiers, calling out the numbers which decided
the issue of the games. These croupiers were
sturdy looking men, dressed in snowy white jackets,
and very much ornamented with jewelry.
One of them, a long nosed man, I thought I had
seen before; he was dressed very fine, and
his manner appeared familiar to me. I stood
looking at him earnestly, as he exercised his
long mahogany stick, and hauled in the little heap
of half dollars and quarters which were lost on the
roulette table at which he was sitting, when suddenly
he caught sight of me, and exclaimed,
“Franco, my pippin, how are you?” He gave
up his stick to a man who was sitting at his elbow,
and came from behind the table and shook me
heartily by the hand.

It was my old acquaintance, Jack Lummucks,
the drummer. He said he was most infernal happy
to see me; although the last time I met him, he
turned his head away from me.

Mr. Lummucks took me by the arm, and walked
me into a coffee-house close by, and insisted on
my drinking a julep; there was no escape, so I

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submitted. I should have been very glad to get
rid of him, but he would cling to me. He had
acquired the habit of hanging on to one when he
was a drummer, and he couldn't leave it off now
that there was nothing to be gained by it; it was
also as natural for him to treat, as it was for him
to breathe. He invited me to go to his boarding
house to supper, but I refused. However, I
might as well have gone willingly, for he at last
compelled me to go; I could not shake him off.
As his boarding house was in the lower part of
the city, before we reached it, he related to me,
without shame or reserve, how his old employers,
J. Smith Davis & Co. had sent him down South,
on a collecting and drumming tour, and that having
collected some thousands of dollars, he came
down the Mississippi with the intention of embarking
in one of the packets for New York; but he
dropped into the gambling house one night, where
I met him, and lost all the money which he had
collected for his employer, and afterwards the
proprietor of the house had engaged him for a
croupier. It was the most natural change in the
world; his habits as a jobber's drummer, exactly
qualified him for a gambler's croupier. But I
could not help expressing my opinion of Mr.
Lummucks very plainly; he took it very coolly,

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however, and justified his misconduct by laying
all the blame to the door of his old employer, Mr.
J. Smith Davis, who, he said, had brought him
up to it.

When we got to the door of Mr. Lummuck's
boarding house, I hesitated about going in; but
calling to mind that holy and good men had sat
down to meat with evil ones, I thought it would not
be becoming in one so imperfect as myself, to be
over scrupulous in the choice of my company.

The house was a little shingle cottage, with a
projecting roof, and a door which opened from the
street into the parlor. We found the table spread,
and the family just sitting down to supper. Mr.
Lummucks introduced me as his particular friend,
from the North, and I took a seat at table by the
side of the landlady, Madame Grandemaison, a
jovial French woman, with a treble chin; her two
daughters, pretty, black eyed girls, sat opposite to
me. There were two gentlemen besides Mr. Lummucks
and myself, a tall, red nosed, blue eyed,
sandy haired Scotchman; and a little sleek looking
Frenchman, whose body bore no small resemblance
to an apple pudding, with an apple dumpling
placed on top of it.

Madame talked incessantly; and the two Mademoiselles
talked incessantly. Monsieur talked

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without ceasing, and so did the Scotchman. I
could not repeat their conversation if I were disposed,
for it was in French, and I could not understand
a syllable. But spite of the talking,
there was no interruption to the eating and drinking,
and a large dish of rice and gumbo, and
half a dozen bottles of sour claret, with a due proportion
of bread and artichokes, disappeared very

After the supper, and while the table was still
standing on the floor, the young ladies expressed
a strong desire to waltz; and as the proposition
found favor with all present, Marie, the black
cook, was called in to sing.

Now I had never waltzed in my life, but I had
seen others waltz, and I thought nothing could be
easier. So I yielded to the entreaties of Mr. Lummucks,
and offered my arm to Madame Grandemaison
herself; a huge mountain of flesh though
she was, she whirled around with the velocity of a
top. Mr. Lummucks put his arm around the
waist of one of the Mademoiselles, the Scotchman
paired off with the other, and the sleek little
Frenchman being left without a partner, caught
up a chair, and with great good nature exclaimed,
toujours gai, clasped it to his breast, and joined
in. The black cook struck up in a loud and

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clear voice, the waltz from Der Freyschutz, and
away we went. It was with difficulty that I kept
hold of my partner, for the circumference of her
waist was entirely beyond the capacity of my arms.

The supper table was in the centre of the room,
and the circuits we made around it would have
been a very pretty illustration of the solar system.
Black Marie was giving us her musci in double
quick time, and consequently our revolutions were
very rapid; how many we had made, I could not
tell; they appeared to me a million at least; I
began to grow very giddy; the sweat started from
all the pores in my body; my head grew lighter
and lighter; the candles appeared to be flying
about the room, and the floor seemed to be rising
and falling; objects began to grow dim and indistinct;
the shrill tones of Marie's voice sounded
in my ears like the hum of a monstrous moscheto,
and her sable visage, as I caught short glimpses
of it, with her white teeth and scarlet gums,
looked like the face of the evil one. I tried to
stop, but in vain; Madame grasped me tightly by
the shoulders; round and round we continued to
spin. I grew sicker and sicker, till at last my
knees could no longer support me, and down I
tumbled, bringing Madame Grandemaison with
me in my fall. She made the cottage shake to its

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foundations, if it had any. Over went the supper
table, scattering the gumbo, and claret, and china,
and glasses, in every direction. The others were
whirling around with such an impetus, they could
not stop themselves, and down they came on top
of us. Mr. Lummucks and his partner first, then
the Scotchman and his partner, and lastly, the
little Frenchman, who, in his fall, forced the leg
of his chair down the throat of the Scotchman,
who lay on his back with his mouth open, and demolished
two thirds of his front teeth. Such
screaming, such swearing, such spoiled dresses,
and such broken crockery, I will venture to assert,
were never heard nor seen before, on a similar
occasion. I contrived to extricate myself from
the ruins, with the loss only of my coat tail, and
the supper I had eaten; part of which I bestowed
on each of my companions, in my struggles to get
clear of them. What damage they received individually,
I do not know, for I found my hat, and
rushed out of the door, and never returned to
Madame Grandemaisons's again.

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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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