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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 XXIII. The great change.

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Although it was early in the evening when I
left the hotel, the streets were very dark, and there
being a thick fog, I very soon lost myself, and my
mind not being in a very quiet state, I got quite
bewildered. I was afraid to ask any one to show
me to St. Louis street, lest they might suspect my
motive in going there; so I groped along till I
came to a half-opened door, with the light streaming
out of it. I thought it was the place for which I
was searching, and hastily pushed open the door
and walked in. But I perceived at a glance that
I had stumbled upon a house of quite a different
character. It was a large room dimly lighted
with tallow candles, and about half filled with men
and women, and not a small portion of them were
black; I stepped back, and was about to leave the
place, when an old negro woman, bent almost
double, and shrivelled with age, put her hand upon
the door, and said:

“Massa, what for you don't sit down; take a
seat, do young massa.”

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“What should I stay here for,” I said, trying to
push the woman aside.

“Stop and hear good sarment, do your soul
good, massa,” replied the negro.

I made an attempt to pass out again, but she
kept hold of the door.

“Now do stop, massa, do; I love your precious
soul, and the Lord Jesus love you too. Do stop,
young massa, and hear what the Lord do for
you; he is good for your soul, sartain true; I
am only poor old nigger slave, massa, but I will
pray for your soul all I can.”

The old slave was very earnest in her manner,
and perceiving that the eyes of the congregation
were turned upon me, I sat down upon one of the
benches, with the intention of slipping out as soon
as I could do so unperceived. Strange as it may
appear, I actually thought the old negro suspected
the errand on which I was bound, and I felt
ashamed to encounter the glance of her eye.

At one end of the room was a little temporary
pulpit, which was occupied by a very young looking
man, apparently still in his teens; he immediately
stood up and commenced the services by
making a short prayer, and then he gave out the
hymn. He was a fair haired and light complexioned
youth, with a delicate blush on his cheeks,

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and withal so modest and unassuming in his manner,
that my curiosity was excited to hear what
kind of a sermon could proceed from such a source,
and I made up my mind to remain a few minutes
and hear him. He named his text; it was the last
words of the Bible, “and the spirit and the bride
say, come,” &c. The words were familiar to my
ear, for they had been read to me by Georgiana,
and her soft and tender voice had imparted a
sweetness and beauty to them which had impressed
them upon my mind. But now they seemed not
to fall upon my ear alone, but upon my heart; I
did not hear them only, I felt them.

The young preacher spoke with great boldness
and strength, as if roused by the majesty and holiness
of the words he had uttered. My attention
was arrested, and I soon forgot my determination
of leaving the room. Every word he uttered seemed
like the effect of inspiration, and he appeared to
me an impersonation of the spirit whose message
he uttered. I knew not why it was, but I felt
strangely. I had listened to many sermons before,
and from men too who had convulsed whole communities
by their preaching, but never until now
had I experienced the slightest emotion. The very
words which the preacher spoke, passed from me
as they fell upon my ear, but they left an

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impression upon my heart, which I believe will exist in
eternity. I listened with eager attention to the
whole of the sermon, and at the close, wished that
he had continued to preach longer. I felt anxious
to stay and speak to him, but I was ashamed to be
seen by those present; but most of all by the old
slave who had detained me. I looked upon them
with envious feelings, as I observed their quiet,
placid faces, if those feelings can be called envious,
in which there is neither malice nor ill-will.

When the meeting was dismissed, I left the
house without speaking to any one, and hastened
back to my hotel; and on my way I passed the
gambling house which I had been in search of, but
I shuddered as I passed it; the door was partly
open, and the click of silver, and loud oaths and
curses, struck upon my ear. I drew the pistol from
my pocket, and threw it into the street. O! that
I could as easily have torn from my breast the load
of conscious guilt which oppressed me.

I reached my chamber, and locked myself in, in
an unquiet state of mind. I wanted relief, but I
knew not how to obtain it; my first impulse was
to seek for it in the Bible, but alas! alas! I had
none. It was late in the evening; the stores were
all closed, and I knew not where to find one. O!
how I longed to look into its precious pages, and

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how cutting to my soul was the reflection that I
had often turned over its sacred leaves with an idle
curiosity, and then thrown it heedlessly aside. I
tried to recall to my mind some of those passages,
which Georgiana had so often repeated to me, but
in vain. All I could remember was, “Search the
Scriptures;” but whether these words were the injunction
of some kind friend, or of the Holy Book
itself, I could not remember; they were continually
before me.

But why should I obtrude upon the world the
wrestlings of my spirit with its maker? While I
glory in acknowledging that I found peace in believing,
that peace which they alone find who hang
their sins upon the cross, I draw the veil of time
over the tears and struggles which will be revealed
in eternity.

Within a very few days my feelings were all
changed, and although I no longer looked upon
the world with the same eyes with which I regarded
it before, I could not be insensible to the events
passing around me. Scarce a day passed in which
some poor wretch, whose worldly prospects were
suddenly blasted, did not, with his own hands, deprive
himself of the life which had become a burden
to him. But the disasters of this period are
still fresh in the minds of men; and their effects

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are still felt. I am conscious it is not a proper subject
to dilate upon, except as it concerns myself.
My operations for account of Marisett & Co. were
not very extensive, and as I was not personally
liable for any of the contracts I had made, I concluded
to return immediately to New York. I went
down to the levée to engage a passage in one of
the packets, and going on board, I inquired for the

“I am the captain of this barkey,” said a big
headed man, in a voice that sounded familiar to
me, as he stepped out of the hurricane house on

“Are you, indeed,” I replied; “I am very
happy to hear it, for although I have forgotten
your name, I remember you are an old acquaintance.”

“His name is Capting Davis,” said the mate,
stepping up.

“So it is; I am happy to see you, Captain Davis,”
I said.

“How do you do, sir,” said Captain Davis,
raising his hat with one hand, and extending his
other for a shake. “You are welcome on board
the Ocean; but you have got the advantage of me,
I do not remember your name.”

“My name is Franco,” I replied; “perhaps

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you will remember me when I remind you that
I met you at the `Foul Anchor,' in Water

Captain Davis looked a little confused, and
said he recollected having met me there very

“And I suppose you don't remember me no
how?” said the mate.

“What, Mr. Ruffin!” I exclaimed, as I looked
at him; “is it possible; I do indeed remember
you very well.” And thereupon, Mr. Ruffin and
I shook hands very cordially, and talked over the
particulars of our adventures together; and I
learned from him that Captain Gunnell had got
tired of the sea, and gone west, and purchased a

“And pray, when did you see Miss Mary Ann
last?” I inquired of Captain Davis.

“Not five minutes since,” replied the captain;
“she is my lady; if you will walk down into
the cabin, I will introduce you to her.”

I found Mrs. Davis, the late Miss Mary Ann,
in full possession of the ladies' cabin of the
Ocean, looking quite as pretty as when I saw her
last, and a good deal happier. She looked somewhat
confused when she saw me, but I pretended
to take no notice of it, and after drinking a glass

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of wine, and eating a piece of her wedding cake,
and chatting with her a few minutes, I went on
deck again, and engaged my passage; luckily,
I was just in time to secure the last berth. The
next day after, we left, and after a pleasant
passage of twenty-one days, arrived at New

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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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