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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 XVI. Is full of disappointments, and ends with the commencement of a new career.

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Mr. Worhoss repeated his kindnesses to me so
often, in showing me the lions, as he called it, that
I was soon left without a sixpence in my pocket;
for it so happened that I was always left to pay
all the expenses incurred for drink and oysters, for
these were necessaries, it appeared, which could
not be dispensed with on any occasion. And as
he had not yet received the money for his prize
article, I had no other resource but the casket and
its contents; and I determined to avail myself of
the offer of Mr. Isaacs, who had promised to buy
them of me at just double what I gave for them;
so I took the casket under my arm, and went in
pursuit of that gentleman, expecting to find him at
the auction store where I made the purchase. But
I was disappointed in not finding him there. I
asked the auctioneer if he could inform me where
Mr. Isaacs was to be seen.

“Bless your innocent heart, my friend,” said
the auctioneer, “how should I know any thing
about him?”

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“Why, I thought he was a friend of yours,” I

“A friend of mine,” said the auctioneer contemptuously,
“why I never seen the gentleman
but once in my life, and I probably shall never see
him again.”

I was struck aghast at this intelligence, for all
my expectations of profit were founded upon Mr.
Isaacs' promise. I told the auctioneer that as he
had not promised to give me double the cost of the
casket, although Mr. Isaacs had, I did not think I
could, in strict justice, demand it of him, notwithstanding
he had sworn that it was worth more than
three times the money that I gave for it; therefore,
I would only request him to take back the casket,
and return me the money that I gave for it, as it
was much too costly an article for me to keep.

“That is a very unmercantile proposition, young
man,” said the auctionner, “it is quite out of the
common course of business. I couldn't think of
doing any such thing.”

“Perhaps it may not be strictly according to
mercantile usages,” I replied, “but as the advantage
will all be on your side, I should not think
you would refuse my offer.”

“You talk exactly like a book, young man,” replied
the auctioneer, “but it would never do for

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me to make such an unmercantile operation; if I
should, there is no knowing what the Board of
Trade might do with me; they would haul me up
to Albany right off.”

“Is it possible,” I asked, “that the rules of
trade are so positive?”

“Certainly, my dear sir,” replied the auctioneer;
“the Board of Trade is a very positive
body of individuals; look how that respectable
institution used up the Phenix, down there in Wall
street, just because it conferred a favor on an individual
one morning, just as you want me to do to
you. It will never do in the world. But I will
tell you what I can do for you, and perhaps it will
meet your views. I will take the casket, and sell
it for you to-morrow. I expect a very good company,
as I have advertised some splendid watches.”

Being unwilling to take the casket back again,
I thanked the auctioneer, and told him he might
sell it the next day, provided he could get what it
cost me.

“You had better not limit it, young man,” said
the auctioneer, “it would be a pity to lose the sale
of it for the sake of a shilling or such a matter.”

“Well, then,” I replied, “sell it for what it
will bring; but if Mr. Isaacs should come in,

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please ask him to take it at the price which he offered.”

“I will with pleasure, sir,” said the auctioneer,
“but I think it is extremely improbable whether
he comes.”

I left the auctioneer's store, and sauntered about
the streets in a very unpleasant state of mind, for
the disappointment of not seeing Miss De Lancey,
and of not finding Mr. Isaacs, added to the
mortifying reflection that I had, in so short a
space of time, spent the little money that my father
had given me, made me very unhappy. I was
still without any prospect of a situation, although
Mr. Worhoss had promised to procure one for
me, and I resolved to keep closely all the money
that I might receive from the sale of my casket.

The next day I called at the auction store, and
was told that my casket was sold for five dollars.

The auctioneer reached me four dollars and a
half, saying that his commissions were half a dollar.

“Five dollars!” I exclaimed; “you mean fifty-five,
I presume.”

“No I don't,” said the auctioneer, “I mean
five dollars; it was every cent the casket fetched;
I can prove it by my book-keeper.”

I grew sick at the intelligence. “Certainly the
silver was worth more than that,” I said.

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“German silver is not very valuable,” replied
the auctioneer, at the same time winking to a
man who was paying a bill. “Is it, mister?”

“Not very,” replied the man; “German silver
is something like German philosophy, not
worth much when you come to use it.”

“Here is your money, young man,” said the
auctioneer, reaching me four dollars and a half.

“I won't have it,” I replied, growing angry
at the insolence of the auctioneer. “You have
cheated me most grossly either in the first or the
last sale.”

But the auctioneer, instead of resenting my imputation
on his honesty, only laughed and picked
his teeth. “Very well, young man,” he said, “if
you don't choose to take the money, I shall be very
glad to keep it these hard times.”

“You had better take it,” said the man who
had given his opinion about German philosophy.
“It will be the only satisfaction you can ever obtain;
he has the law on his side.”

After a moment's reflection I came to the same
conclusion, and I took the money and put it in my
pocket, feeling that I owed my disappointment to
my own credulity and avarice. I said nothing
farther to the auctioneer, but as I was going out

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of the store, I happened to look behind a green
baize curtain at the end of the counter, and there,
to my great astonishment, I saw Mr. Isaacs himself,
scouring a watch case. It was well both
for him and myself, that I had no deadly weapon
in my hand, for I felt that I could kill him on the
spot. As it was, I said nothing to him, but I
gave him a look which he must remember till
his dying day.

The sale of my casket was a bitter disappointment
to me, and when I reached my chamber I
could not refrain from tears. Mr. Worhoss came
in while I was crying, and asked me if I had
heard any bad news. I told him the cause of my
grief, and requested him to return me the money
I had loaned him, as I wanted it to pay my board
with. But that scrupulous gentleman said that
he could not return it until the committee of literary
gentlemen had decided about his prize article,
as it would not be fulfilling the conditions on
which he borrowed it, if he should. But I told
him if he would return me the five dollars I
would not require ten. He said, however, that
his principles were too honorable to allow him to
do so, and that he could not think of paying me
less than he agreed to. I then reminded Mr.
Worhoss of his promise to procure me a situation,

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thinking, of course, that a gentleman who was so
scrupulous in fulfilling all his promises, would
like to be reminded of any that he had forgotten.

“That is very true,” said Mr. Worhoss, “there
is a house of my acquaintance that wants a young
man from the country, and I will give you their
number, and then you can make your own arrangements
with them.”

“What kind of a house is it?” I inquired.

“O, a first rate house,” replied Mr. Warhoss,
“Stripes & Co.; they do a splendid domestic
commission business in Pine street.”

My feelings were so elated with the prospect of
employment, that I told Mr. Worhoss I would forgive
him the debt he owed me, in consideration of
his kindness, and begged him to give me the address
of Stripes & Co., that I might call on
them without delay. He took a newspaper out of
his pocket, from which he cut an advertisement,
stating that Stripes & Co. were in want of a
clerk. I asked him if I should make use of his
name, and he said I might if I chose, but he
didn't think it would be of any particular benefit
to me, as they didn't know him, although he knew
them very well. So I started immediately for
Pine street, hoping to make a favorable

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impression upon Stripes & Co., but I was so agitated by
my hopes and fears, that, when I got to their
counting room I could scarcely speak, and my
agitation was not at all soothed by meeting five or
six young men coming out as I went in. I inquired
for Mr. Stripes, and was shown into a little
room just big enough to contain Mr. Stripes and
the desk at which he sat writing. I held my hat
in my hand, and in a trembling voice, asked him
if he was in want of a clerk.

“We have advertised for one,” said Mr.
Stripes, laying down his pen, and looking me full
in the face, “are you an applicant?”

I replied that I should be glad to obtain the
situation, if it would afford me a living.

“What do you think you could live upon?”
asked Mr. Stripes.

I replied that I was a stranger in the city, and
consequently ignorant of the expenses of a clerk,
but that I could, no doubt, live on whatever salary
he might pay me.

“I dare say,” said Mr. Stripes, “young men
can live very cheap when they are so inclined. I
used to live on a shilling a day when I first came
to the city. Do your parents live in the country?”

“Yes, sir.”

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“Are they wealthy?”

“Not very; indeed, I am afraid they are quite

“Ah, then they are not in the manufacturing

“Not much; my mother used to make all my

“Indeed; did she make those you have got

“No, sir, I bought these in Maiden Lane.”

“Any relations living in the city?”

“None, sir, that I know of.”

“Are your parents pious?”

“I dont know, indeed.”

“Then I guess they are not. Are you pious

As I didn't know what answer to make to this
question, I only blushed and remained silent, feeling
sensible that I looked very foolish.

“Would you like to distribute tracts?” continued
Mr. Stripes.

“I should be willing to do any thing that was
not dishonorable.”

“What did you say your name was?”


“Franco, hey, what is your first name?”


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“Harry Franco, Harry Franco, it seems to
me I have heard that name before. Are you not
the abolitionist?”

“No, sir.”

“Are you not mistaken? I am pretty certain
I saw it in the papers. Are you a colonizationist?”

“I dont know exactly; I believe not.”

“I don't know what to think about it. I
wouldn't have an abolitionist in my employ. Can
you write well?”

“Tolerably; I can show you a specimen.”

“I suppose you have been a good deal to

“No, sir, but very little.”

“Have you any brothers?”

“No, sir, I am an only son.”

“Are you, indeed! There were thirteen of
us; two are dead, and the rest are all doing a good
business. Are you acquainted with domestics?”

“What, servants?”

“No, no; Ticks and Shirtings and bleached

“Not at all, sir.”

“Hem, I don't think we shall want to engage
you now; we have had applications from—let
me see how many—I will foot up the list: six

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hundred and eighty-three. But we have engaged
a young man who is to come in the morning.
He is to have nothing for his services the first
year, and the empty boxes the second.”

I was completely astounded at the termination
of Mr. Stripes' catechism, for I had made up my
mind that he meant to employ me, from the minuteness
of his inquiries, and I stood looking at
him without moving, thinking I had certainly
misunderstood him.

“That will do,” said Mr. Stripes, “I have no
farther inquiries to make; we have engaged
an individual to fill the vacancy in our office.”

“Then why did you put all these impertinent
questions to me,” I said, my anger getting the
better of my discretion.

“Don't be saucy, sir,” exclaimed Mr. Stripes,
turning blue, for his face before was as white as his
bleached goods, “or I will send you to the police

I came out of the store of Stripes & Co. with
my heart in my throat; the last hope on which I
rested was knocked from under my feet, and the
terrible prophecy of my cousin seemed about to
be fulfilled. His words sounded in my ears, and
the forms of my heart-broken mother and sister
were the only objects that presented themselves to

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my vision. “Alas! alas!” I exclaimed, “O that
the earth would open and swallow me up.” But
my wish was unheeded, and I continued to walk
on over the hard bosom of the earth, if the paved
streets of a city can be so called, until I found
myself at the foot of Pine street, in sight of the
East River and the shipping. This was a new
scene to me, for since the morning on which I
landed from the steamboat, I had not seen the water.
The life and bustle and novelty of every
thing about me soon engrossed my attention, and
I forgot my chagrin and disappointments; and even
the sound of my cousin's hateful voice no longer
range in my ears; it was completely drowned in
the cheerful “ho, cheerly!” which proceeded
from the ships, where they were discharging and
taking on board their cargoes. Every thing around
was full of liveliness and joy, and I wondered at
the stupidity of Mr. Worhoss in taking me to
walk in Broadway, while here was a scene so full
of noble sights. The sky was bright and blue,
and a thousand penons and signals, and the flags
of many nations, floated gracefully upon the breeze.
The magnificent proportions of the ships, with
their beautiful figure-heads, and rich gilding, and
bright waists, and tall taper masts, and outstretched
spars, filled me with amazement; and the

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countless multitude of smaller vessels, their curious
and varying shapes, and the regular confusion
of their ropes and spars, gave me no less astonishment.
Perhaps those who are in the daily
habit of seeing sights like these, may think it extravagant
in me to speak of them in such terms;
but those who have spent their lives in a secluded
village will remember with what wondering eyes
they first looked upon the crowded wharves of a
thronged seaport like New York in its hey day of
activity, and they will think my words are cold,
and my descriptions tame, as in truth they appear
to me. Since that day I have seen the navies of
half the world, and the crowds of merchant ships
which fill the walled docks of London and Liverpool,
with their flags floating heavily in the murky
atmosphere of those smoky cities; and I have
visited most of the seaports worth seeing in the
old world and in the new, but I have never seen
any, for brightness and beauty, for liveliness and
joy, that can compare with New York.

As I sauntered along the wharves, I thought of
Robinson Crusoe, and Sinbad the Sailor, and
Christopher Columbus, and Americus Vespucius,
and all of a sudden it struck me that greater things
were to be accomplished on the ocean than upon
the land, and that it would be a greater triumph

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if I could achieve a fortune in a foreign land than
if I were to acquire one by regular drudgery at
home. It as suddenly occurred to me, that I had
heard my father speak of a relation of his, whom
he used to call Tom Gunnell, who came down to
New York, a wild youth from the country, and
went to sea in one of my father's ships previous
to the embargo. I thought that by this time he
certainly ought to be captain of a ship at least,
and I determined if possible to find him, and if it
should prove that he had a ship, to ask him to take
me to sea with him. I popped into the first grocery
store I came to, and took up the morning
paper to look over the marine list, with the hope
of finding the name of Captain Gunnell, and almost
the first advertisement that I caught sight of
was the “Ship Two Marys, Captain T. Gunnell,
for Buenos Ayres;” I could scarcely believe my
eyes at first, and I read the advertisement over
three times before I was convinced that there was
no deception about it. This was a piece of real
good luck. I thought the tide of fortune had
turned in my favor, and I took heart again; but
remembering the many disappointments I had encountered
already, I controlled my feelings, and
set off immediately in pursuit of Captain Gunnell's
ship, determined to know, before I went back

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to my boarding-house, whether he was my relation
or not. With the help of an old sailor, who
offered his services in consideration of a glass of
gin, I found the Two Marys. She was a smaller
ship, and much blacker and dirtier looking than
those which had attracted my attention at first;
she had neither gilding on her stern, nor a varnished
waist, nor a figure-head; but the old sailor
who had assisted me in finding her, observed that
she was a “good wholesome lump of a barkey.”
Without being very critical in my observations, I
climbed up a rope-ladder at her side and jumped
upon deck. A stout red-faced man, with whiskers
of the same hue, and dressed in a blue coat and a
white marseilles vest, was standing under an awning
on the after part of the deck. I stepped up
to him, and asked him if Captain Gunnell was on

“That is my name, sir,” he said.

I then informed the captain who I was, upon
which he lifted his hat very politely, and shook
me by the hand, and said he was very happy to
seem; told me I was welcome on board the
Two Marys, and inquired very kindly after my
father, and asked me how many sisters I had, and
whether all the girls were married up in the country.
And then Captain Gunnell called out in a

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gruff voice, “Steward!” But no steward came,
and in a few moments he called again still more
gruffly, “you steward!” But still no steward
came, and then Captain Gunnell called “Mr.
Ruffin!” “Ay, ay, sir,” answered a voice in
the ship's hold, in a still gruffer tone than Captain
Gunnell's. “Mr. Ruffin,” said the Captain,
“send that black rascal to me.” “Ay, ay, sir,”
answered a voice, which I presume was Mr. Ruffin's.
Presently, a dirty looking negro, with his
head covered with flour, made his appearance from

“You black scoundrel,” said Captain Gunnell
to the steward, “why did'nt you reply to me
when I called?”

“Cause I don't hear,” replied the steward; “I
was stowing away eggs, with my head in flour

“Silence, sir,” said the captain, “don't ma e
any back answers; but the next time I call, do
you answer me whether you hear me or not; or
I'll pick your ears with a crowbar, you black

“Ay, ay, sir,” said the steward. And he was
turning to go away, when Captain Gunnell again
called out, “steward!”

“Sir,” replied the steward.

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“What did I call you for, steward?” said
Captain Gunnell.

“Captain Gunnell didn't say what he call me
for,” replied the negro, meekly.

“Steward,” again exclaimed the captain,
“bring me two chairs.”

“Ay, ay, sir,” said the steward, and disappeared
down the cabin stairs, and soon returned, bringing
two chairs with him; one had no back, and the
other but three legs. Captain Gunnell invited
me to sit down, apologizing for not inviting me
into the cabin, as they were stowing away the ship's
grub, and it was not in a fit condition to receive

I was impatient to know whether Captain Gunnell
would take me to sea with him or not, and in
a very few words I told him the object of my visit,
the which he no sooner heard than he put his hat
upon his head, and looked at me from head to
foot. I have found it to be almost invariably the
case, that when I have asked a favor of a man, his
bearing towards me has undergone an immediate
and by no means an agreeable change. Captain
Gunnell was not an exception to this rule.

However, I was not disposed to be very particular,
so I did not pretend to notice that he spoke
to me, after he heard the object of my visit, very

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much in the same manner that he spoke to his
steward, as he consented to take me with him, if I
chose to go as a green hand. I did not exactly
understand the meaning of the term, but I told
him I had no objections to going in any capacity
that he thought me qualified for.

“Qualified!” said the captain, “I don't think
you are qualified for any thing but eating duff.
However, young fellow, you are like a young
bear, all your troubles are before you, and if you
insist on going, I will take you with me for your
father's sake; he did me a good turn once, and
one good turn deserves another.” And then he
called for Mr. Ruffin.

Mr. Ruffin answered “ay, ay, sir,” from below,
and then followed his voice by springing out of the
hold on to the deck. He was not by any means a
very pleasant man to look at; he was short, and thin
visaged, and bow legged; he had a most awful
squint, and his nose was all bent on one side; his
shirt sleeves were rolled up above his elbows, and
displayed his long ape like arms as brown as a
piece of old mahogany, and with all their cords
and sinews plainly developed; he was dressed in
a pair of canvass trowsers and a calico shirt,
neither of which was remarkably clean, and on
his head he wore a low crowned drab wool hat,

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with a piece of red quality for a band; every time
he spoke he turned over an enormous quid of tobacco
in his mouth, and squirted out a torrent of
juice; he was the chief mate of the ship.

“Mr. Ruffin,” said Captain Gunnell, addressing
the mate, “is all the hands shipped?”

“No, sir,” replied Mr. Ruffin, “there is one

“Then don't give another order, sir,” said the
captain, “this youngster wants to ship as a green
hand, and I will give him an order myself on the

“Ay, ay, sir,” replied the mate; and then
bringing his eyes to a focus, he surveyed me from
head to foot, and jumped down into the hold
again; he had no sooner disappeared, however,
than the captain again called out in his gruff
voice, “Mr. Ruffin!”

“Ay, ay, sir,” again answered the mate, and
sprang on deck once more.

“Mr. Ruffin,” said the captain, “you underderstand,
sir, that I will give this young man an
order myself.”

“Ay, ay, sir,” replied the mate, without showing
the slightest impatience at being called up on
so trifling an occasion, or indeed on no occasion at

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Captain Gunnell then gave me an order on the
notary, to ship me as a green hand, at ten dollars
per month, and told me if I wanted a month's advance,
to tell Tom Goin that he would be security
for me. After I had left the ship, he called me
back, and told me to be on board the next day at
twelve o'clock.

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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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