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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 XII. A change of quarters, and a new friend.

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I found that the high rate which they charged
me for board at the hotel, would soon exhaust my
slender means, so I applied at a genteel boarding
house in Pearl street, kept by a Mrs. Griggs, and
agreed with her for a bed in a room with only five
other young gentlemen; the price which she asked
was something less than half what they charged at
the hotel. I was very glad to make the exchange,
for I was not only continually annoyed by the sight
of Mr. Lummucks, but by the frequent mention of
my ludicrous encounter with the Southern orator.

The first time I dined at Mrs. Griggs's, I was
reminded of the advice given me by my fellow
traveller, about the salt cellar, for on casting my
eyes upon that piece of table furniture, I perceived
that it did not indicate a very sumptuous dinner:
it was a little gilt edged glass dish, with a piece
broken out of each corner, and its contents were
coarse and damp; consequently I was prepared to
find the soup cold, the mutton overdone, the vinegar
sweet, and the salad warm. But, thanks to the
poverty of my parents, I had learned to eat my

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dinner without finding fault with its quality, always
satisfied if it was not deficient in quantity; and although
I flattered myself I could distinguish a good
meal from a poor one, I could be content with

Mrs. Griggs's boarders were all young gentlemen,
fashionably dressed, apparently full of fun,
and with most excellent appetites. Their greatest
care seemed to be who should eat the greatest
quantity in the shortest space of time. I must confess
I could not but regard them with feelings of
envy, for they were mostly clerks in counting
houses and stores, and I knew it was employment
which gave them such light hearts and happy faces.
They were somewhat rude in their behavior, but,
as it was the rudeness of buoyant spirits, and not
of ill nature, there was nothing offensive about it.
A very tall young gentleman, with a ring on his
forefinger, and a gold chain round his neck, filled
the office of carver, and his perquisites of office
were, as a matter of course, sundry little pieces of
the outside, which he contrived very ingeniously
not to touch when he was helping round.

“Mister Barilla, will you, if you please, sir,”
said one of the young gentlemen to the carver, “be
so kind as to send me, per bearer, a small invoice
of that mutton?”

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“Sorry to be under the disagreeable necessity
of informing you, sir,” said Mr. Barilla, “have
none remaining in first hands, but will be'stremely
happy to send you this tumbled lot,” pointing to a
scrag on the side of his plate.

“Not as you know on, you may say to your
friends when you write home,” replied the other.

“I say, Mrs. Griggs,” said another, “hav'nt
you a very good memory, mem?”

“Why yes, sir,” said Mrs. Griggs, “I believe I
have, I was never called unforgitful; my husband
used to say I was very good at remembering
things. Why did you ask, sir?”

“Nothing in particular, mem, I only wanted to
inquire how long it might be since this bread was
baked?” said the boarder.

Mrs. Griggs blushed very red, but all the young
gentlemen tittered as though they were highly delighted
at this piece of wit; but for my part, I
looked upon it as a piece of great rudeness, and I
did not even smile.

“I will tell you what I do remember,” said Mrs.
Griggs to the quizzical boarder, “and that is, that
you hav'nt paid your last month's board, you impudence,
and I wish you would, or else leave my
house. A poor widow lady, like me, can't afford
to keep a genteel boarding house for nothing.”

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There was a general burst of laughter at this
reply of Mrs. Griggs; and the witty gentleman
turned very red, and looked very sheepish, but he
made no reply.

A young gentleman, who sat at my right, observing,
I suppose, that no one took any notice of
me, and pitying my loneliness, commenced a conversation
with me, by asking if I was fond of Manhattan

“Is it mineral?” I asked.

“I should think it was,” he replied; “it is very
hard, at least.”

“Does it promote longevity,” I inquired, thinking
that my neighbour must be a scientific gentleman,
and that it would be necessary to speak in a
dignified manner.

“It promotes longevity of office,” he replied;
“his honor, the Recorder, drinks a pint before
breakfast every morning, and he has held his office
these twenty years. And the company which supplies
it will live forever, they have got a perpetual

“Indeed,” said I, “that is very curious,” not
knowing exactly what else to say. “Pray, what
are its component parts?”

“Professor Silliman analyzed it once,” replied
my communicative neighbor, “and found it contained
two parts cats and dogs, and the other parts

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different kinds of salts, the names of which I have

“Does any body besides his honor, the Recorder,
drink it?” I inquired.

“O, yes, sir, it is drank to a very great extent in
this community — you have been drinking it yourself.”

“O, no, I have never tasted it, I am certain,” I

“O, yes, I am certain you have.”

“No, sir, I have not,” I replied sharply, not
liking to be contradicted in so positive a manner.

“Allow me to insist that you have, sir; that is
the very article in your tumbler.”

At this moment, Mrs. Griggs removed my plate,
and placed before me a saucer full of bread pudding,
and a copper tea spoon to eat it with; but the
remarks of my communicative neighbor had taken
off the keen edge of my appetite, and I rose up
from the table without tasting it.

After dinner, I wandered about the streets until
I was tired and weary, and then I returned to my
boarding house, and went early to bed, with a
vague hope of being warned in a dream of some
piece of good fortune, which might be in store for

About midnight, I was aroused out of a deep

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slumber, by the entrance of three of my room
mates; two of them had been to the theatre, and
they commenced singing “Meet me by Moonlight,”
while the third, who had been practising
at a Thespian club, delivered himself of Hamlet's
soliloquy, trying to make my head answer the purpose
of Yorick's skull, which caused a great deal
of merriment; but I twitched my head away,
and drawing the counterpane over it, pretended to
be asleep.

It was not long before my other two room mates
came in. They were firemen. They were dressed
in red flannel shirts, drab jackets and trowsers,
and large leather caps. They were not both members
of the same company, and they began talking
about their respective machines in a very animated
manner, and I expected every moment to see
them get into a fight; but after they had abused
each other, in a shocking manner, for a few minutes,
they suddenly stopped, and joined in the
song of “Meet me by Moonlight.” I ventured
to lift up my head to take a peep at them, when
one of the firemen, a little black haired man, with
steel spectacles, cried out, “hollo! chummy! come
jump out of that, and see the lions dance;” and
without more ado, he took hold of my heels and
dragged me out on to the floor before I had time

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to make any resistance. I jumped upon my feet,
full of indignation, but perceiving it was all a joke,
I joined in the laugh, which was raised at my expense,
and was very soon on as good terms with
my five room mates as need be.

They were whole-souled liberal hearted young
fellows, and therefore they would have something
to drink. They cast lots to see who should pay
for the drink, and then drew a card out of a pack
to see who should go after it, and oddly enough it
fell to the lot of the same person to do both; the
amateur Thespian was the unfortunate individual.
He went out to a neighboring bar-room, and soon
returned with a couple of tumblers, and a pitcher
full of mint juleps, which were no sooner drank,
than we were all seized with a desire to sing.

The little curly-headed fireman, it is proper that
I should mention, being pious, refused to drink
any of the juleps, but he lighted a cigar, and almost
suffocated us with smoke.

The breakfast bell rang the next morning before
any of us were awake, but my room-mates
all started up at its summons, and began to dress
themselves with great expedition, and with a most
generous indifference about whose clothes they put
on. There appeared to be a complete abandonment
of all individual ownership in such articles

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as shirt collars and stockings, and one of these
free-hearted fellows put on my stockings without
showing the slightest compunction of conscience.
One furnished a bottle of cologne water, and another
a pot of bear's grease; one a hair brush, and
another a comb. But I believe each one confined
himself to his own particular tooth brush; at all
events, I was determined to do so myself.

These young gentlemen made a very genteel
appearance when they were dressed, and I have
no doubt they made a great show in Broadway of
an evening, when they were released from their
business. I could not avoid reflecting on the ease
with which mankind can be imposed upon; and
as I had myself been most grossly deceived by
outward appearances, I determined to be on my
guard for the future, and take nothing upon trust.

I was highly delighted with the profundity of
my reflections, and flattered myself that I had made
a discovery in morals. The reader will discover,
long before he will arrive at the conclusion of my
adventures, in what manner I profited by this great

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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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