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Briggs, Charles F. (Charles Frederick), 1804-1877 [1839], The adventures of Harry Franco. Volume 2 (F. Saunders, New York) [word count] [eaf025v2].
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CHAPTER XIII. Love and Religion.

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The next Sabbath, after the conversation with
Mrs. Butler, related in the last chapter, I went in
the morning to the chapel where Miss De Lancey
worshipped. It may be supposed, very justly,
that my only object in going, was to see her. I
had not been in a church of any kind, excepting
the Cathedral at Buenos Ayres, since I left my
native village. And old Doctor Slospoken, our
domine at home, who had regularly put his congregation
to sleep every morning, for almost half
a century, was the sole idea of a preacher in my

The officiating minister at this place, gave me
a new idea of a preacher, if he did nothing more.
He allowed no one to close an eye, who sat under
the droppings of his voice. He was a tall spare
man, with high cheek bones, gray eyes, large and
protuberant, a high broad forehead, a mouth remarkably
expressive of firmness, and peculiar
from the upper teeth projecting very much over the
lower ones. His manner was very startling, at
least it was to me, and yet there was neither rant nor

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affectation about him; but his voice was soft and
clear, although his words were harsh; his statements
were so plain, and there was such a positiveness
in his assertious, that it was impossible to
hear him without becoming somewhat interested in
what he was saying. However, I did not go to
be preached to; I had another object in view, and
having sought her out, the preacher's words
fell on a deaf ear.

Georgiana appeared to listen with great attention
to the preacher, and during the prayer she
meekly bowed her head It was enough for me
that she was there; the preacher, the place, and
the people, were all sanctified by her presence, and
made holy. When the plate was handed round,
I put into it all the money I had in my pocket,
and would very freely have given more if I could.

When the sermon was closed, and the benediction
pronounced, the minister requested all the
church, and such of the congregation as were disposed,
to assemble in the lecture room adjoining
the chapel. As Georgiana went in, I waited until
all had gone in who seemed disposed, and then I
entered myself, and took a seat near the door.

It was a dull cold day, and a mixture of snow
and hail was falling; the wind was high, and it
beat against the windows of the room in which we

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were assembled, and howled in the open court in
front. The ceiling of the room was low, and the
walls were dusky with smoke; the windows were
few and small, and the glass being covered with
frost, they admitted but little light; a large black
stove in the centre of the lecture room sent forth
more smoke than heat, and added by its cheerless
aspect to the uncomfortable and dreary appearance
of the room, and every thing in it.

The assemblage was large, and for a short
time there was a dead silence, broken only by an
occasional groan, or a long drawn sigh.

Presently, the minister stood up behind a plain,
unpainted desk, and looked upon the people with
a severe frown. It was not an easy matter for a
stranger to decide whether it was pity or contempt,
which caused him to knit his eyebrows together,
and compress his lips as though some
mighty truth was struggling for an outlet.

“I have called you together,” he said, after a
long pause, “for the express purpose of keeping
you from your dinners, and I trust I shall succeed
in thawing out some of your icy hearts.”

Having explained to his church the benevolent
feelings which had caused him to call them together,
he turned to a middle aged man, who sat
near, and told him to pray. The man did as he

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was told, and knelt down, and prayed very loud,
and very long; but he did not appear to give entire
satisfaction to the pastor, who kept nudging
and whispering in the ear of the suppliant, “pray;
why don't you pray, brother Jones, pray! PRAY”
Brother Jones increased the loudness of his voice
at each nudge of his pastor, but to little purpose;
for he had no sooner pronounced amen, than his
spiritual leader jumped up, and reproved him for
not praying with more spirit; “such a prayer as
that,” he said, “is no prayer at all, but a mere
mockery.” He also made some other remarks
which I do not feel disposed to repeat.

When he sat down, a pale young man stood up
in a dark corner of the lecture room, and after
hemming two or three times, said, in a faint, tremulous
voice, that he thought no man had a right
to criticize another's prayer; that, to his mind, it
appeared right for a man to pray to his Marker,
and not to his minister; and that if there was a
holy spot upon earth, it was that on which the
christian knelt in prayer, within the holy precints
of which no mortal should intrude. He was about
to make another remark, when the preacher interrupted

“O, brother Smith! brother Smith! Is it possible
that you can throw yourself down right at

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the threshold of the church, for sinners to stumble
over your body down into hell! O!”

The pale faced young man made no reply to
this reproof of his pastor, but knelt down and buried
his face in his pocket handkerchief. The
preacher then proceeded to call out the names of
his people, who rose as they were called; and
having received a reproof for some alleged
transgression, they sat down again, and followed
the example of brother Smith. When he called
the name of Georgiana De Lancey, the blood
tingled in my veins to hear the name of her,
whom I regarded as but little less than a divinity,
spoken with so little reverence.

Georgiana stood up in her place, and answered
softly, “here.”

“Is it true, Georgiana,” said the preacher,
“can it be true, that you said you did not want to
attend the morning prayer meeting, because it
was held at four o'clock?”

“I did,” replied Georgiana.

“O! O! Oh! And did you say that you
could pray in your chamber at that hour as well
as you could in the lecture room?”


“What levity! what obduracy! what blindness
of heart!” he exclaimed, rolling up his eyes

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devoutly; “your heart is harder than the nether
millstone. I shall never be able to bring about a
revival as long as there is such worldly mindedness
among us. Sit down, Georgiana. Now let
all who intend, from this hour, to renounce all the
follies and vanities of the world, kneel down,
while I pray for their souls.” Nearly every one
present kneeled down, but I was rejoiced to perceive
that Georgiana kept her seat. For my own
part, I did not care to be singled out as an obdurate
sinner; so I sat down, and looked as penitent
as I could. The prayer was accompanied by
a perfect whirlwind of sighs and groans, and
when it was completed, a man with light gray
eyes, a long nose, and a brown wig, came and
sat down by my side, and whispering in my ear,
asked me if I was a christian.

I was at a loss for an answer to so pointed a
question, but I replied, “I hope so.”

“What makes you hope so?”

“I don't know, exactly.”

“Don't know? are you an American?”


“How do you know?”

“I was born in America.”

“Then if you are a christian, you have been
born into Christ's kingdom; is it so?”

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I shook my head.

“Come forward, then, and sit upon the anxious
seat, and have your soul prayed for.”

I thanked him, but refused.

“Do come, do, only to please me, do; I am
sure you will get a hope.”

But I persisted in my refusal, and he left me,
and commenced operations upon a little boy who
was soon prevailed upon to take a seat upon the
anxious bench.

After another prayer and another exhortation,
the pastor very considerately let his people go home,
probably highly satisfied with the reflection, that
their dinner would be either spoiled or cold, if
they got any at all.

The sleet which had fallen was frozen hard,
and the steps of the chapel and the side-walk in
the street, was slippery as glass. I stood at the
door of the lecture-room, and when Georgiana
came out I offered her my arm. She could not
refuse it, for it would have been impossible for her
to have walked alone without falling, and she would
not allow the carriage to be sent for her on a Sunday.
It was the happiest moment of my life when
I felt her hand resting on my arm, and I blessed
the hard-hearted pastor for gaining me this happiness
by keeping his people from their dinners.

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As the distance from home was long, and the
walking slippery, Georgiana had frequent occasion
to cling with both hands to my arm for support;
and notwithstanding her seriousness when
we left the chapel, she laughed outright two or
three times before we reached home. But whenever
either of us made a misstep, she would take
occasion to remark, that we all stood upon slippery
places, and unless we leaned upon the outstretched
arm of one who was mighty to save, we
should be sure to fall and perish.

The wind was piercing cold, but I felt it not;
a warm and thrilling delight pervaded my whole
frame. When we reached home, we found Mr.
Marisett dozing in the parlor, and Mrs. Butler in
the dining-room with some dinner kept nice and
warm for us by the grate.

Georgiana retired, for a few minutes, to her
chamber, and when she returned, we sat down to
the dinner-table together, Mrs. Butler sitting by
the fire. But I could scarce swallow a mouthful,
and Miss De Lancey eat very sparingly.

I have remarked before that every time I saw
Miss De Lancey, she appeared lovelier than before;
and at this time she did appear more exceedingly
beautiful than ever; whether it was
owing to the peculiar dress which she wore, to

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the exercise she had taken in the keen air, or to
my own excited feelings, I know not; but her eyes
beamed with a deeper blue, her cheeks appeared
more ruddy, and her hair of a more golden hue;
even her voice sounded more musical, and her
movements were more graceful than ever. As
soon as she had finished her dinner, she retired
into the parlor, and left me sitting at the table.

“Why, Mr. Franco,” said Mrs. Butler, “why
didn't you wait on Miss Georgy into the parlor?”

“Would it have been proper, Mrs. Butler?”
I asked.

“Proper! I am surprised at you; to be sure it

“I am very sorry, I hope she will not think me
very unmannerly.”

“She will forgive you, I dare say.”

“Do you think so?” I said sighing.

“I guess you would think so too, if you knew
all that I know. But a still tongue is a wise one.”
And so saying Mrs. Butler sailed out of the dining
room, leaving me to conjecture as many delightful
things as I chose, and to magnify to the extent
of its capability the share of bliss which had already
fallen to my lot.

The next day I dined at home; it was an unusual
occurrence, and I deemed it a good omen.

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I sat opposite to Georgiana, and felt unspeakably

“How does it happen, Mrs. Butler,” said Mr.
Marisett, “that you never give us any appledumplings?
It is a long time since I have seen
any on the table.”

Mrs. Butler made no reply, but I obseved she
colored slightly, and her eyes filled with tears.

“Eh, Mrs. Butler,” continued Mr. Marisett;
“are apple dumplings out of fashion, or how
is it.”

“My poor Charles,” said Mrs. Butler, wiping
the tears from her eyes, “was always so fond of
dumplings, I can never endure to see them while
he is away, poor boy! I could not sit at table
where they were, without thinking of him. It is
very silly of me, but I hope you will excuse me.”

“Well, well, say no more about it,” replied Mr.
Marisett, “but when your Charles comes home,
which I hope may be soon, we will then be treated
to some dumplings.”

That evening, the kind old lady came into the
office where I was writing alone, and as usual, began
to talk about her son, her dear boy. She knew
I had been a sailor, and she wanted to ask me if
there was any probability of her darling child
ever getting any of his favorite dumplings at sea.

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I told her I had never seen them served up on ship
board myself, but that plumb puddings were very
common, and I had no doubt her son Charles got
his fill of that luxury, at least once a week. This
piece of information seemed to give the good old
lady great satisfaction.

As usual, when she spoke of her absent boy,
she was very communicative, and I thought she
would never cease. And from speaking of him,
she very naturally branched off into the subject of
his father, her first husband. “Ah!” she exclaimed,
“there never was such a man as poor,
dear Captain Bowhorn.”

“Captain Bowhorn, did you say?”

“Yes, my husband, my first husband. I dare
say you have heard of him, for he was beloved
by every body.”

“I once had a shipmate named Bowhorn, but
he was quite young. I thought he might have
been a relation of yours. His name was Jeremiah.”

“Why, that is my child's name,” almost
shrieked out the old lady. “His name is Charles

Sure enough, a few more questions and answers,
established the fact very clearly, that Mrs.
Butler's darling Charles, and my old shipmate
Jerry, were one and the same person.

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The joy of the old house-keeper, when she
found I had actually sailed in the same ship with
her boy, was unbounded. She hung upon my
neck, and wept aloud; she kissed me again and
again, and laughed and wept by turns. And I
was scarcely less affected, for Jerry had been my
best friend, and the last act of kindness he had
shown me, had enabled me to obtain the situation
which I now held. I was rejoiced to have an opportunity
of repaying his kindness to me, by attentions
to his mother.

From this time forth, my prospects brightened.
Every indication in my favor which the old hous-keeper
perceived, either in Mr. Marisett or his
niece, was faithfully reported to me, and I have
every reason to believe, that she was not backward
in speaking well of me to them. Many
months did not elapse, before Georgiana knew that
I loved her, and I knew that she loved me; although
we had neither spoken a word of love to
the other. The sympathies which attract souls,
made in the beginning for each other, are secret;
they do not show themselves by corresponding actions
in those they affect, and often they only
know of their existence, who are affected by them.
It was so with us.

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Briggs, Charles F. (Charles Frederick), 1804-1877 [1839], The adventures of Harry Franco. Volume 2 (F. Saunders, New York) [word count] [eaf025v2].
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