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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 III. The first impulse which set the locomotive of my destiny in motion.

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It was one of those peculiar days in March, of
which the words bitter, intense, freezing, chilly, or
piercing, do not convey an adequate idea, but
which the term raw, very nearly defines. I had
been on an errand for my mother, and was returning
home chilled to the midriff, for I had neither
cloak nor great coat, when, as I turned the corner
of the street, I met my cousin John, who was
advancing towards me clothed in a handsome surtout
with a fur collar; his flushed cheek, and his
laughing mouth, showed how well at ease he felt,
and how well he was defended against the inclemency
of the weather. He was a proud, overbearing
boy, and I had always tried to avoid him;
but I encountered him so suddenly now, that I
could not get out of his way without appearing to
be either afraid or ashamed of meeting him.

“What,” he said, tapping me on the shoulder
with his rattan, “have you got no cloak to wear
this chilly weather, cousin Harry?”

“I do'nt mind the cold,” I said, trying to look

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very warm and cheerful, although my lips were so
benumbed I could hardly move them.

“I see you do'nt,” he replied.

I felt too indignant to make him any answer,
and I turned to leave him, when he called me

“I will tell you something,” he said, “if you
will promise not to let on to any body.”

“What is it?” I asked eagerly, thinking it
might be something in relation to my grandfather's

“I am a prophet,” he said.

“Is that all!” I replied.

“O, no, not quite all; I prophesy that you will
die the death of old Cole's dog one of these days.
Do you know what complaint he died of?”


“He died of pride and poverty.” And so
saying, he laughed sneeringly, and we parted.

There is neither heat nor cold, sunshine nor
gloom, in outward nature; they exist in the mind
alone. The raw east wind still beat in my face—
the long icicles still hung from the branches of the
leafless trees—the ground was still frozen beneath
my feet, and my back was still unprotected by the
friendly warmth of a furred great coat — but I no
longer shivered with the cold; the blood burned

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in my veins, and the sweat started upon my forehead.
The words of my cousin entered into my
heart; they had either created or put in motion
feelings which I had never known before. In a
moment, in the twinkling of an eye, I was changed.
I was an altered being. I felt desires and aspirations
springing up within me, which almost drove
me mad.

I hurried home, and throwing myself on the
floor, covered my face with my hands, and burst
into tears. I had never known the bitterness of
grief before. My heart seemed to be running out
at my eyes, and at each sob the cause of my grief
seemed but to increase. My mother was in the
middle of a new novel, but she threw it aside, and
caught me in her arms, and began to examine to
see if my limbs were broken; and my sister, without
asking the cause of my grief, lifted up her
voice, and wept from sympathy. My father looked
on in silent wonder, until finding that none of my
bones were broken, he said it was extremely indecorous
for a lad of my time of life to behave so

I could make no reply to my father's remarks,
nor to my mother's tender inquiries, other than to
beg them to ask me no questions, and to let me retire
to my chamber.

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“Alas! alas!” I exclaimed, when left to myself,
“it is too true; I shall die, as my cousin has
predicted; pride and poverty will lead me to an
ignominious grave. I must live, while I do live,
known to but few, and despised even by them; and
at last I shall die, despised by myself.”

After a while my grief began to subside; the
fountain of my tears was exhausted; the dreadful
words of my cousin grew more and more indistinct,
and in their place came thronging into my brain
the many wonderful stories I had read, of good
luck befalling the poor and the friendless; of
great men having taken a fancy to adventurous
boys, who had left their homes with nothing but a
wallet and a mother's blessing; and of their making
their fortunes, and returning with their pockets
lined with gold. These fine stories, it is true,
were nothing but fictions; but I did not then
know nor indeed dream, that there were men and
women in the world wicked enough to invent stories
to mislead the minds of the young and simple.
They were to me veritable histories, the truth of
which it had never entered into my head to call in
question. And so I asked myself why I might
not be as acceptable to fortune as others who had
stood in need of her favors, and boldly sought
them at her hands; and as I could make no

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objection to this very reasonable demand, I resolved
at once, that I would set out in quest of a fortune
myself, and trust to that friendly divinity for aid,
who had conferred favors on others no better entitled
to them than myself.

“Yes, yes,” I exclaimed, in the pleasant excitement
of my feelings, “I will prove my cousin a
lying prophet; I will gain a name among men—I
will become rich—my parents shall lean on me as a
staff in their old age, and my sister shall look to
me for support, and she shall not look in vain.”

With such bold exclamations as these on my
lips, and with high resolves in my heart, I fell
asleep, and bright and pleasant were the visions
which visited me in my slumbers. When I awoke
in the morning, I made fresh resolutions to avert
the doom which the sneering prophecy of my
cousin had invoked upon my head; and when I
told my parents of my determination to seek my
fortune in the world, they made fewer objections
than I had anticipated. In truth, I believe my
father was not at all displeased to have the responsibility
of providing for me shifted from his shoulders
to mine; and my mother was so sanguine of
my success, that she could not find it in her heart
to oppose my wishes. Indeed, she had always
said I should some day get to be governor,

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and my early ambition she considered as an earnest
of my future greatness. But my poor sister
did nothing but cry at the prospect of our being
parted, and for her sake I should have been willing
to give up all my ambitious designs.

After many days spent in debating the subject,
it was at last determined that my father should
furnish me with all the money he could raise, and
that I should proceed to New York, and seek for
employment as clerk in a counting house, it being
agreed on all hands that that was one of the genteelest
avenues which led up to the temple of the fickle
goddess; for it was a primary consideration with
my parents, that whatever I did should be done
genteely. But I made a mental reservation myself,
that fortune should not be rejected, let her
approach in what guise she might, but particularly
if in the shape of a young and beautiful heiress.
My plan of operations having been determined
upon, no time was lost in getting me ready for my
entrance into the world. Although my wardrobe
was by no means extensive, it required a great
many days to complete all the ripping and altering
which my mother considered necessary. I thought
there would never be an end to the preparation
for my departure; but at last the end came, and
unfortunately, the last article of dress which my

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mother completed was a white Marseilles vest,
which she had altered out of an old one of my
father's, but it was so bespotted with tears and
snuff I was never able to wear it; I prized it more
highly, notwithstanding, than I did my new coat,
which was made at the tailor's. Very much to
my surprise, I succeeded in packing all my clothes
into a small hair trunk, which had been a travelling
companion of my father's many years before; the
corners of it were secured with strong iron clamps,
and the top was studded with my initials in brass
nails; altogether, I thought it made a very grand
appearance, and felt very proud of it. All things
being prepared, the night before my departure was
spent in talking over with my parents and sister
the great things that I was to accomplish in the
world; and every moment I felt myself increase
in importance, as the time drew near when I
should not only be uncontrolled in my actions,
but should also have the care of making provision
for my own wants.

As you, gentle reader, have no doubt known
the sad feelings of one who leaves his home for
the first time, it would be superfluous to relate
what mine were on this melancholy occasion.
Were I a poet, or, indeed, had I any other object
in view than simply to make a record of my

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adventures, this would afford me an excellent opportunity
for dilating to the very edge of endurance
upon this most interesting period of a man's life.
But I shall spare the reader any further reflections
on this momentous occasion; and in the next chapter,
we will take our seats together in the stage
coach, and so proceed on.

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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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