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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 XIX. Will bring us into port.

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The next morning we were out of the Gulph,
and the sky was as blue, the wind as fair, and the
sun as bright and as warm as before; the waves
again seemed to leap up with joy, and the ship
bounded and dashed through the water as gayly as
ever; and I should have forgotten the events of the
night before, had it not been that Jack Snaggs
was missing from our mess.

“Harry,” said Mr. Ruffin, the mate.

“Sir?” said I.

“Take a slush shoe, and go up aloft and grease
the peril of the maintopsail yard; the slush was all
washed off by the rain last night.”

“I don't comprehend you, sir,” I replied.

“Don't what?” exclaimed the mate.

“I don't comprehend you.”

“What the h—is that? don't spout any of
your dictionary to me, but go do as I order you.”

All hands, except the man at the wheel, were
aloft, some at one mast head and some at another;
there was no one to whom I could apply for information,
and I had not the most vague idea of what

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a peril could be. However, I thought, I will go
up and grease the maintopsail yard all over, and
then I shall be sure of greasing the peril. So I
got a bucket of warm grease from the cook, and,
not without a good deal of difficulty, succeeded in
getting it into the main top. I sat the bucket of
grease down in the top to rest myself, and at the
same time to take a look at the maintopsail yard,
to see if there was any curious looking article
about it, that probably bore the name of a peril.
But I could see nothing which apparently needed
greasing. I looked down on deck again, and observing
that the Captain and Mr. Ruffin were busy
on the quarter deck looking at the sun, with their
quadrants, it occurred to me that I might slip
down on deck, and get my Blunt's Navigator out
of the forecastle, and take it up into the top with me,
where I could look for the meaning of the puzzling
word at my leisure. I accordingly left the bucket of
warm grease standing in the top, and slid down on
deck by the mainstay, and got into the forecastle
unperceived; but I had scarcely got the Navigator
into my hand, when I heard a terrible outcry
on deck, and Mr. Ruffin calling out my name with
all his might. I dropped the Navigator, and jumped
upon deck, and it was not long before I found
out the cause of the tumult.

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Now it happened, that in consequence of Captain
Gunnell having got all his sea clothes wet the
night before, he had been obliged to dress himself
in his long shore suit, while his other duds, as he
called them, were hung up on the spanker boom
to dry; it being also clean shirt day with Mr.
Ruffin, he too had dressed himself in a new calico
shirt and a blue roundabout, for which he paid two
pound ten to a Liverpool tailor, and which was as
good as new, for Mr. Ruffin having a wife and
half a dozen children, was very careful of his
clothes. Now, Captain Gunnell and Mr. Ruffin,
as I have observed before, were on the quarter
deck, taking an observation of the sun, but as the
wind was drawing aft, and the ship kept coming
up, the maintopsail kept dodging against the sun,
and obstructing their view, so they took their stations
amidships directly under the maintop, where
they could have a better sight

“Does she rise yet?” asked Capt. Gunnell,
putting his quadrant to his eye, and turning his
face upward; “does she rise, sir?” for sailors
call every thing she, even the sun.

“Ay, ay, sir,” replied the mate, who also had
his face turned upward, with one eye shut, and
the other applied to his quadrant, while his mouth
was wide open.

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It unluckily happened that while the captain
and mate were in this position, the man at the
wheel put his hand in his pocket to feel for his tobacco,
and a sea striking the ship at the same
moment under the counter, the wheel was knocked
out of his other hand, which caused the ship
suddenly to broach to, and the motion overturned
the bucket of warm grease in the top, and down
came a torrent of slush, which covered the Captain
and his mate from head to foot; and not a small
quantity found its way down Mr. Ruffin's throat.
Of course there was no observation got that day. I
cannot pretend to relate what happened after I came
upon deck, for I was so much terrified when I discovered
the mischief that was done, as to be quite
beside myself. The captain ordered Mr. Ruffin to
log me, and swore he would send me back to the
States in irons, by the first man of war he should
meet with, to be tried for my life. He threatened,
besides, to feed me on bread and water the remainder
of the voyage, and to stop all my wages,
to pay for his clothes which I had spoiled.

I told Captain Gunnell the reason of my leaving
the grease bucket in the top; and after that,
neither he nor the mate ever refused to explain
the meaning of any term which I did not understand.

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It was more than two months after we left the
Hook, when, at day break in the morning, we
made the land on our lee bow. It proved to be
Cape St. Marys, at the mouth of the Rio de la
Plata, and as the wind was fair, we were soon
making our way up the yellow waters of this famous
river. We passed by Monte Video without
dropping anchor, and on the fourth day after
entering the river, we were moored in five fathom
hole, opposite Buenos Ayres. Captain Gunnell
dressed himself in his greasy blue suit, and went
ashore in the jolly boat. He sent back orders to
the mate not to allow a soul to leave the ship. I
was grieved to hear this order, for I longed to set
my feet once more upon dry land; and the sight
of the domes and towers rising above the flatroofs
of the distant city, excited the strongest curiosity
in me to have a nearer view of them. I had
heard extravagant stories told of the magnificence
of the old churches, which were erected in
this city by the Jesuits, when the province abounded
with gold and silver; of crucifixes of solid
ingots, and altars and images of gold, sparkling
with precious stones. Night after night, when
the labor of the day was over, have I sat gazing at
the faint and glimmering lights ashore, until I fell
asleep, and dreamed of walking with black eyed

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Spanish girls beneath the lofty roof of some cathedral,
the floors of which were paved with pure

But Mr. Ruffin was determined that dreams
like these should never be realized. It was a favorite
maxim with him, to obey orders if you
break owners; and I do not believe he would
have consented for a man to leave the ship if she
had been sinking. He was one of those strict
disciplinarians, who will keep the letter of the
law, even though they break the spirit of it in
so doing.

Jerry Bowhorn and I had become fast friends,
and he was as anxious as myself to go ashore,
though from different motives; he wanted to see
the girls, and have a blow out of grog, and I
wanted to see the churches and hear the women
talk Spanish. Had Jack Snaggs been living,
we would have tied the mate to the fife rail, and
gone ashore in spite of him, and the Captain's orders.
There was no one in the forecastle besides
Jerry to whom I could have safely trusted a
plan for committing such an outrage, and, even
had I been disposed to do so, we were all so tired
and weary with hard work when it came night,
that we were glad enough to lay down to rest.
There is nothing which will so effectually quell

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discontent, and put an end to a revolt, as good hard
work; a man who is tired to death with labor has
but an indifferent appetite for treason.

At last an opportunity offered for both Jerry
and myself to gratify our desires. We had been
in the roads almost three weeks, and we had not
seen Captain Gunnell during that time, when at
the close of a dark and blustering day, he came
on board in a shore boat, which he dismissed as
soon as he left her. I thought he had taken a
very strange time to visit us, but I was glad to
see him again, although he didn't put himself to
the trouble of speaking to me. He was dressed
in a new suit of clothes, and I thought he looked
remarkably fine; indeed it was so long since I
had seen any body besides Mr. Ruffin and the
swarthy custom house officer, that he must have
looked very bad indeed for me to have thought

As soon as the Captain came on board, he took
the custon house officer on one side, and I observed
they were in very earnest conversation.
The officer at last shrugged his shoulders, and
was walking away, when the Captain took a roll
of bank bills, as I supposed, from his pocket
book, and gave him, upon which they resumed
their conversation, and then the Captain ordered

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the jolly boat to be lowered away, and Jerry and
I were told to get into her. I obeyed the order
with great alacrity, thinking an opportunity had
come of visiting the city. But Jerry told me I
had no great cause for rejoicing, as he understood
perfectly well the nature of the expedition on
which we were bound; he said the Captain had
chosen a stormy night for smuggling some goods
on shore, and that he had bribed the custom
house officer to assist him in landing them. “However,”
said Jerry, “if you choose to join me, we
will work a traverse, and get ashore in spite of

I told him I would join him in any thing he
might propose or undertake short of murder and
robbery, for my desire to go ashore amounted to
a frenzy.

Jerry's supposition proved true; the jolly boat
was filled with small packages of light goods,
and then the Captain and the custom house officer
got into her, and we shoved off from the ship,
and began to pull in for the shore, the second mate
acting as coxswain, while Jerry and I pulled at
the oars. The night was dark and stormy, and
the waves ran high, which caused us to make but
little headway. I rowed with all my might, but
the Captain got angry, and swore at me for not

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rowing better. I had never been accustomed to
handle an oar, and I suppose I exerted myself
twice as much as was necessary, for, by the time
we reached the shore, my hands and arms
were so violently cramped I could hardly move

The faithless guardian of the customs pointed
to a spot opposite to the Recolata, a spacious cemetery,
with a large chapel for the performance of
the burial services, as being the best and most secure
place to land the goods; but the boat was
deep, and there being no pier, we could not approach
very near to the beach. So the Captain
asked Jerry if he thought he could carry him
ashore on his shoulders.

“Certainly I can, sir,” replied Jerry, “I could
carry two just like you.”

“But, consider,” said Captain Gunnell, “I
am very heavy, much heavier than you think I

“And I am very strong in my back,” replied
Jerry, “I was always considered so; I once carried
old Commodore Pottgut ashore on my back,
in Ballyparaso.”

“You did?” said the Captain.

“To to sure I did,” replied Jerry, “when I
was in the States' service.”

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“Well,” replied the Captain, “if you carried
him, you can carry me, I know.”

Accordingly, Jerry jumped into the water,
which was almost up to his middle, and Captain
Gunnell tucked the tails of his coat under his
arms, and took the watch out of his fob, and held
it in his hand to prevent it from getting wet in
case of an accident, and then mounted himself
upon Jerry's shoulders. He was a pretty good
load, but Jerry, as he said, was very strong in
his back, and he bore off his burden very steadily,
but not exactly in the direction of the shore.
When he had gone about three times the length
of the boat, he suddenly stopped, and gave a
loud scream.

“Hush, you rascal,” said the Captain, in a
suppressed voice, “you will alarm the guard.”

“I can't help it,” roared Jerry, “I have got
the cramp. Oh!”

“Silence, you villain,” exclaimed the Captain;
“if you let me drop, I'll send you on board the
prison ship, and have you flogged.”

“O, Captain Gunnell,” again shouted Jerry,
“I shall let you drop unless somebody comes to
my assistance. Come here, Franco, and lend
me a hand to keep the Captain from falling.”

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“Jump,” said the second mate, “before he lets
the Captain fall.”

I didn't wait to be ordered a second time, but
leaped into the water, and Jerry seeing me coming
towards him, suddenly shook his burden from
his shoulders, and called to me to follow him, and
off we started, leaving the Captain floundering in
the water. We soon reached the shore, and
climbed up a steep bank, and ran about half a
mile, without stopping either to speak or look behind

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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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