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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 XXII. Return to Buenos Ayres and Departure for Rio.

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When the sun rose the next morning, the towers
and domes of the city were in sight; glad enough
we were to see them once more. For fear of exciting
suspicion, we dismounted from our horse
and proceeded into town on foot. We went directly
to Irish Jemmy's, where we learned that the
Two Marys had parted her cables, during the
pampara which we had encountered in the pampas,
and that in consequence of all the cargo being out,
she had capsized and sunk; the water being shallow,
the crew had saved themselves by clinging to
the tops of the masts which were still out of water.

We were now no longer in fear of Captain Gunnell,
and I prevailed upon Jerry to return him the
watch. After having satisfied myself with rambling
about the city, and having discovered that
the precious metals were no longer the principal
articles of traffic, and that nothing more precious
than hides and horns had taken their place, I determined
to seek my fortune elsewhere, and accordingly
I shipped on board the brig Juno, bound
to Rio de Janeiro. Jerry had shipped, unbeknown

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to me, to go to the coast of Africa, in a slaver
which lay at Encinada. We parted very reluctantly,
for we were endeared to each other, and I
could not help shedding tears when I shook his
hand and bade him good bye.

Just ten days after leaving the mouth of the river,
we entered the magnificent harbor of Rio. I felt
myself amply repaid for all the hardships I had
encountered since leaving home, by the sight of
this beautiful bay, with its mountains clothed with
eternal green, and its waters and sky of unchanging

Our brig lay at anchor, and after the cargo was
discharged, I went ashore one afternoon, to look
at the city, and while I stood in the palace square,
watching the young Emperor, who was playing in
one of the balconies of the palace, I felt myself
suddenly seized by the arms, and looking up, found
that I was in the hands of a Brazilian naval officer,
who was accompanied by two men with cutlasses
in their hands. The captain of the brig had cautioned
me before I went ashore, to keep an eye to
windward for a press gang who were picking up
all the sailors they could pounce upon for a frigate
in the harbor.

As the officer who had seized me by the arms,
turned to speak to one of the men, I gave a sud

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den spring and cleared myself from his grasp. I
immediately took to my heels and ran for life, the
two men with the cutlasses following in pursuit.
Fortunately, I was not encumbered with any superfluous
clothing; a pair of duck trowsers, a calico
shirt, and a light straw hat, was all the weight I
carried. By a dexterous leap over a heap of bannanas,
I gained a slight advantage over my pursuers;
away I went, making my heels fly, but without
knowing where I should land. In turning the
corner of a street, I overturned an old bald-headed
priest, who stood under an awning, with a silver
plate in his hand, begging patacs of the passers by;
I meant no disrespect to his black gown, but I was
in too great a hurry to stop to make an apology,
so I kept on my way and reached the wharf just as
a boat was shoving off with an American ensign
flying at her stern. I gave a leap and landed just
inside of her gunwale, without doing any other damage
than knocking the skin off of my shins, and
breaking in the corner of the bowman's tarpaulin.

“How dare you leap on board this boat,” exclaimed
a cadaverous looking man, with an epaulet
on his shoulder, who sat with his arms folded in
the stern sheets.

As soon as I recovered my breath, I explained
the cause of my hasty visit.

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“Very well, sir,” said he, “I will teach you
better manners. Back water.”

The boat was backed up along side of the stairs
at the end of the wharf.

“Go ashore, sir,” said the man with the epaulet.

“I hope, sir,” I replied, “you will not turn me
ashore to the mercy of the press gang, from which
I have just escaped.”

“How dare you hesitate, you scoundrel!” said
the epauletted gentleman, with severity.

“Because I am an American,” I replied,
“and I thought I had a right to claim your protection.”

“How do I know you are an American?”
he replied snappishly. “Where is your protection?”

“I have got none,” I answered; “the ship to
which I belonged capsized in a pampara, and I
lost the one I had.”

“That is no fault of mine,” replied the officer;
“go to the consul and get a certificate from him
that you are an American, and then I may allow
you to go on board.”

There was another officer in the boat, a light
haired young gentleman, with an anchor worked
on the collar of his jacket, who interfered in my
behalf, and observed, that there would be no

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harm in allowing me to go on board the ship, and
then I could return in the market boat in the morning,
and, if necessary, the coxswain could take
me under his protection to the consul's office.

“Very well,” replied the elder officer, “shove

I took a seat in the bows of the boat, and in a
very few minutes we were along side of the ship.
Two little boys, looking like miniature sailors,
with blue shirt collars, and white duck trowsers,
buttoned very tightly round the hips, reached out
the man ropes to the officers for them to ascend
by, and when they had left the boat, I asked
the bowman the name of the ship, and of the

“The name of the ship,” replied the bowman,
“is the sloop of war Columbia, and the name of
the brute who wouldn't allow you to stay on
board the boat is Mr. Wollop; but all hands call
him dismal Jerry, except Mike, the mast man,
and he calls him Sergeant Longshanks; he is first
leftenant of the ship, but he is much fittinger to
be captain of a millinery store than one of Uncle
Sam's ships. The other officer aint no officer at
all; he is nothing but a drunken swab of a young
gentleman by the name of Mr. Ruffalley.”

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The boat being made fast to the swinging
boom, I climbed on board the ship, and never having
been on the deck of an armed vessel before, I
was amazed at the sight of such a number of men
lounging about without apparently having anything
to do. Some were reading, others were
sewing, and some were playing drafts with the
marines between the guns. Nobody seemed to
be doing any other duty than amusing themselves,
excepting a sailor dressed in a snowy white shirt
and trowsers, who was walking the poop-deck
with a spy glass under his arm.

But, notwithstanding the apparent contentment
and ease of the sailors, such a set of grumblers
I never encountered before; they all agreed that
a certain unmentionable place would be a pleasant
abode compared with their ship. For my part, I
thought that nothing could be more delightful
than to lounge about a ship's deck, with an awning
spread over your head, an abundance of
oranges and bananas to eat, and the loveliest and
most picturesque scenery in the world to gaze upon.
I found that the Columbia had been almost
three years on the station, and that she would
soon be relieved, and I resolved not to go ashore
again unless I was sent.

At sun down, the band was stationed on the

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poop, and played some martial airs, which were
answered, seemingly by echo, from the French and
English frigates which lay moored at some distance
from us. The last tune played was, “Hail
Columbia,” and as the final note died away, a
couple of violins struck up a sadly merry Scotch
reel, in the starboard gangway, and all the
younger and thoughtless part of the crew capered
away with great industry till the perspiration
ran from their faces in streams.

This was all very pleasant, and fixed me in the
determination to stay on board if I could. The
Captain, a man of kind and gentlemanly looks,
was walking the deck with his thumbs thrust in
the arm holes of his waistcoat, apparently utterly
regardless of every thing around him. I thought
he might be thinking of his wife and little ones at
home, and that it would be a favorable opportunity
to speak to him; so I stationed myself by
the fife rail of the main mast, and, as he approached
me, I touched my hat to him. He stopped
and asked me what I wanted.

I told him the reason of my being on board his
ship, and asked him to allow me to enter as an
ordinary seaman.

He replied that he would speak to the first

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lieutenant about me in the morning, and then
resumed his walk.

It was a bright and pleasant evening, the sea
breeze had just begun to ripple the still surface
of the bay, and the Magellan clouds, and other
celestial beauties, which are hid from the gaze of
northern eyes, were beginning to show their
bright faces. I felt melancholy, notwithstanding
the mirth and laughter and boisterous gayety of
those around me. Thoughts of home, of the
beautiful Georgiana De Lancey, and of the harsh
prophecy of my cousin, came over me and oppressed
me; I yearned for a sympathetic bosom,
with one throb which beat in unison with my
own; there were none among the living souls
around me. I crept away unperceived, and lay
down on the top gallant forecastle, and stretched
out my arms to the huge fantastic hills which
reared their giant heads against the night sky.

* * * * * * *

The next morning one of the boatswain's mates
told me to go down to the doctor. I accordingly
went and found him on the birth deck with the
lob-lolly boy. The doctor was a little man, with
red hair and a very long nose; he was dressed
in a thread-bare blue suit with tarnished buttons,

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and a black bombazine stock; pretty sure signs
that he had a growing family at home, which absorbed
about seven eighths of his pay and rations;
but that was no business of mine. He felt of my
arms and legs, pounded on my chest, and did
some other things, the propriety of which I could
not exactly understand, and having pronounced
me sound in limbs and body, I was enrolled on
the ship's papers as an ordinary seaman.

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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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