CHAPTER IV. A change, Mr. Dooitt turns out to be any thing but a gentleman.
[figure description] Page 033.[end figure description]
After repeated consultations with Mr. Worhoss,
and the examination of a great number of
lithographed maps, I, at last, concluded a bargain
with him for one hundred lots in the city of
Communipaw, at one hundred dollars each, ten
per cent. of the purchase money to be paid down,
and the balance to be paid in five annual instalments,
for the security of which I was to give a
mortgage on the property.
Mr. Worhoss proved to me very clearly that
the lots were worth five hundred dollars each,
and he assured me upon his word and honor that
he would not sell them for less than that to any
“It is first rate property,” said Mr. Worhoss,
“and you may consider yourself worth fifty thousand
dollars as soon as the bargain is closed, by
your paying the first instalment.”
I had set my heart upon a hundred thousand, -- 034 --
so I did not feel much elated when I found I
should be worth only half that snm. I asked Mr.
[figure description] Page 034.[end figure description]
Worhoss if he would oblige me by selling me one
hundred more lots at the same price, if I should
“Perhaps I might,” said Mr. W. “if you
would not object to taking a few water lots with
“What are water lots?” I inquired.
“Some very beautiful situations,” he replied,
which extend about two hundred yards into the
river; they require nothing but merely to be filled
up, to make them very desirable spots to build
He pointed them out to me on the map, and
as they looked quite as well as the others, I promised
to take them; it was a matter of very trifling
moment with me, where the lots were situated;
all that I wanted was to speculate with
Mr. Worhoss reminded me that it was near
three o'clock, and that he had made his calculations
to pay a note at the bank with the money
which I was to pay him.
So I ran in great haste to the office of Mr. -- 035 --
Dooitt, and requested that lucky operator to give
me a check for the amount I had loaned him.
But Mr. Dooitt requested me to call at some other
[figure description] Page 035.[end figure description]
time, as he was busily engaged in transferring
Of course, it was not for me to urge a gentleman,
through whose influence I expected to make
a fortune, and I ran back empty-handed to Mr.
Worhoss, who was pacing the floor of his little
office in great agony. It lacked but five minutes
of three. When he found I had returned without
the money, he cursed and swore most vilely. He
stuffed half a dozen blank checks into his hat, and
said he must go out and kite it to save his credit.
I must confess it astonished me not a little, to
find that men so immensely rich as Mr. Worhoss
and Mr. Dooitt represented themselves to be,
should be put to such shifts for so trifling a sum
as a thousand dollars.
The next day I called again at the office of
Mr. Dooitt, and luckily I found him disengaged;
he shook me cordially by the hand, said he was
very happy to see me, and hoped I was quite
well; asked me if I had heard any news from
Europe, and whether I should like to travel with
I was quite overcome with his politeness, and -- 036 --
in my turn inquired after his health, the health of
Mrs. Dooitt, and the health of the little boy; and
[figure description] Page 036.[end figure description]
then added, that he would oblige me by returning
the money which I had loaned him.
“O, ah, yes, certainly,” said Mr. Dooitt; “if
you will call at precisely half past one o'clock, it
will give me great pleasure to do so.”
I promised to return at that hour, and I did, to
a second. But Mr. Dooitt was not in his office,
neither did he return again on that day.
The next morning I waited on him again; he
was not quite as polite as he had been, and when
I reminded him that he had not kept his promise
the day before, he looked very surly, and asked
if I meant to insult him in his own office.
“No, Sir,” I replied, “I certainly do not mean
to insult you, and I hope you did not mean to
insult me when you appointed an hour to meet
me here, without any intention of keeping the
“Don't bully me in this office,” said Mr. Dooitt,
raising his voice, “I wont stand it no how.
Walk in here, Mr. Carrygutt, and hear what this
fellow says.” This was addressed to a cadaverous
looking clerk in the outer office, for Mr. Dooitt
was in his sanctum.
“Now repeat that again, will you, Mister,” he
said, as his clerk poked his head in at the door.
“There is no need of my repeating it,” I said, -- 037 --
[figure description] Page 037.[end figure description]
“but I repeat that I want my money, and I must
have it, and I will have it.”
“Well, Sir,” said Mr. Dooitt, “if you must
have it, and will have it, of course I have nothing
more to say about it; get it if you can. Mind
this, I always deal fairly and honestly with every
I was completely thunderstruck by this strange
conduct of Mr. Dooitt's, and I walked out of his
office without making him any farther reply.
Fortunately, I had his note of hand for the money
I had loaned him, with the exorbitant rate of interest
named in it, and I was determined to let
him know, that he should not trifle with me with
impunity. I went straightway to a lawyer, determined
to prosecute him on the note, and take the
full measure of vengeance which the law might
I remembered to have read in the newspapers,
a few days before, of a counsellor who threw an
ink-stand at the head of the judge, in one of the
courts, and I thought he would be a very proper
person to carry on a suit with spirit. I found his
direction in the city directory, and called upon
him at his office in Beekman street; his name was
Seeing Mr. Slobber's name on a tin plate on -- 038 --
[figure description] Page 038.[end figure description]
the window shutter, I walked boldly into a little
musty room, the walls of which were blackened
with smoke, and the windows and shelves covered
with dust and cobwebs. A young man was writing
at a desk in one corner of the room. I asked if I
could see Mr. Slobber.
“Certainly you can,” replied the young man,
in a voice enriched by an unaffected brogue, “if
you will please to walk into the back office.”
I walked through a long, dirty hall, and feeling
a little timid at the idea of entering unbidden into
the presence of so spirited an individual as Mr.
Slobber, I tapped gently at the door at the end
of the passage.
“Come in,” exclaimed a voice inside.
I took off my hat, and opening the door, found
myself in the presence of a little gray-headed man,
stretched out at his full length on a dirty, red
sofa, smoking a cigar.
“Well, sir?” said the little man, looking up in
my face, but without moving.
“I wanted to speak with Mr. Slobber,” I replied.
“Well, sir, that is me, I am that individual;
“I have a claim for a thousand dollars,” I replied, -- 039 --
“against a gentleman, who has not only
[figure description] Page 039.[end figure description]
refused to pay me, but has insulted me grossly. I
should like to take out a writ immediately, and
have him sent to prison.”
“I will attend to you with a gwate deal of pleasure,”
replied Mr. Slobber, and forthwith he leaped
off the sofa, and took a seat at his baize covered
table, and having favored me with three or four
puffs of segar smoke, he said, “Well, sir?” again.
I related to Mr. Slobber the whole story of my
loaning the money to Mr. Dooitt; told him how I
was like to lose an opportunity of making fifty
thousand dollars, by an operation in lots, and was
proceeding to tell him some other things, when a
rap was heard on the floor above our heads.
“Stop one minute, if you please, young man,”
said Mr. Slobber, “and I will return and hear
Mr. Slobber was gone more than half an hour;
and as he left me without any means of amusement,
I am very certain he will not take it amiss when he
finds that I employed part of the time in writing a
description of his office.
It was a little old fashioned room, with a very -- 040 --
low ceiling, and from its shape and situation, I
presume it had once been used for a dining-room;
from the dusky appearance of the wall, and the
tattered condition of the paper with which the sides
[figure description] Page 040.[end figure description]
were covered, and the venerable looking cobwebs
which rounded off all the angles, it would not be
unfair to infer that neither mop, broom, nor duster,
had invaded its precincts since the late war.
There was a wooden clock in one corner, without
any pendulum, and a pair of monstrous jack
boots hung directly under it; an Indian bow and
arrow hung in another corner, and a small birchen
canoe was suspended over one of the windows;
there were two book cases, neither of which had a
whole pane of glass, and one of them had a faded
green silk curtain, which displayed innumerable
rents; there were piles upon piles of soiled papers,
tied with red tape, and half a dozen shelves of
sheepskin covered books, well filled with dust, as
though time had been sifting the sand from his
hour glass upon them. I took one of them down
and opened it, and it emitted an odour, which suggested
no other idea than that it was caused by the
flapping of the gray wings of the old destroyer.
At last, Mr. Slobber reappeared, picking his
-- 041 --
teeth, his face giving a pretty sure indication that
he had just risen from dinner. He took his seat
in an old arm chair, and having lighted a segar
with a loco foco match, he asked me to let him see
the note of hand which Mr. Dooitt had given me.
[figure description] Page 041.[end figure description]
I reached it to him, and he contracted his eye
brows and screwed up his mouth, as he read it.
“Of course, you are appwised, young man,”
said Mr. Slobber, “that it is the custom always
to pay for legal adwice?”
“I suppose it is,” I replied.
“Of course,” said Mr. Slobber, “I am not such
a downwight fool as to spend my pwecious time
and money in acquiring knowledge for the benefit
of indiwiduals for nothing.”
“Of course not,” I said, “and how much must
I pay you for the advice which you are going to
give me in this business?”
“Why, sir,” replied Mr. Slobber, “the charges
are warous for legal adwice, sometimes fifty dollars,
and sometimes less. I think a ten dollar bill
would be about fair in this case.”
This was more than I could afford to give, indeed
it was nearly all the money I had in the world;
but I saw no other alternative, so I took out my
wallet, and reached Mr. Slobber two fives.
He put the bills into his pocket, and gave me
back Mr. Dooitt's note of hand.
“Well, sir,” said Mr. Slobber, “as you have -- 042 --
paid me for my adwice, of course I shall give the
best I am capable of. Don't think of going to law,
[figure description] Page 042.[end figure description]
you will only incur a heavy bill of costs for nothing.
The note isn't worth two stwaws.”
“Why not?” I inquired, although it was with
difficulty I spoke, I was so agitated.
“Why not, sir,” said Mr. Slobber, “because
it is tainted, sir.”
“Tainted!” I replied, looking at the note,
“Tainted with woosuwy, sir,” replied the lawyer.
He then explained to me the beauty of the usury
laws, and to my great astonishment, as well as
grief and mortification, made me acquainted with
the fact, that in our free country, a man has no
right to pay what he pleases for the use of his
I was astounded at this intelligence. I felt humbled -- 043 --
and abased; I was caught in a pit of my own
digging. But I could not believe that Mr. Dooitt
would be guilty of such an act of wicked cruelty,
as to withhold my money from me. I hurried
back to his office, and requested him, very humbly,
to return me my money, and offered to give
him all the interest that was due on the note. But
he pretended that I had insulted him grossly, by
doubting his honor, and ordered me to leave his
[figure description] Page 043.[end figure description]
office. He even went so far as to say, he didn't
owe me a copper.
I did leave his office, and without saying a
word; I was too full of grief to make a reply.
I saw too plainly that Mr. Dooitt had intended to
cheat me, from the beginning; and I had no doubt,
but that my old friend, Mr. Worhoss, had similar
designs upon me; I, however, went immediately
to the office of that gentleman, and told him all
the particulars of my transactions with Mr. Dooitt,
and observed to him, that as he had introduced
me to Mr. D., I should look to him for assistance
in getting my money back again.
“Well,” said Mr. Worhoss, when I had finished,
“you are a devilish sight greener than I
took you to be; if you had put confidence in me,
I would have made your fortune for you; but as
you saw proper to act on your own responsibility,
you must continue to do so. There is the door;
I have business of my own to attend to.”
My feelings were almost too keen for endurance; -- 044 --
the sudden overthrow of my hopes, left me without
one prop; so deep and bitter was my grief,
that I was denied the poor solace of tears. I am
ashamed to confess that I had recourse to the vulgar
expedient of drinking brandy to drown my
reflections. Having, as I thought, drank myself
[figure description] Page 044.[end figure description]
into an oblivious condition, I staggered to my
chamber, and threw myself upon the bed, and was
tormented in my drunken sleep with visions, a
thousand times more frightful than any that my
sober senses could have conjured up.
A very short acquaintance with almost any of
the ills of this life, will reconcile us to them.
When I arose in the morning, I felt much more
serene than when I lay down at night. I bathed
my temples in cologne water, and having dressed
myself with uncommon care, I assumed as pleasant
and unconcerned a look as I could, and descended
to the breakfast room; and at the table I had the
gratification of hearing the particulars of my transaction
with Mr. Dooitt related by one of the
boarders, who had not learned the names of the
parties. It caused a good deal of merriment, and
to my utter astonishment, nobody spoke a syllable
in condemnation of the scoundrel who had wronged
me; but, on the contrary, every one spoke of him
as a confounded smart fellow. In addition to
this pleasant story, I had the mortification of hearing
each of the boarders tell of some lucky fellow
who had made a fortunate operation by purchasing
lots the day before.
I made out to swallow one cup of coffee, and -- 045 --
then I left the table with my blood in a
[figure description] Page 045.[end figure description]
commotion. I knew not which way to turn, nor whither
to go for relief; but with the hope of diverting
my thoughts from my melancholy situation, I took
a stroll through Broadway.
I was always hoping for something, I hardly
knew what; a dim form, like the shadow of a desire,
was ever before me, to beguile my senses. I
could not even now divest myself of the idea that
some piece of sudden good luck would befal me.
With feelings like these, I stumbled upon a lottery
office, and immediately purchased a ticket in a lottery,
which was to draw the next day; after I had
paid for the chance, I had but seven and six-pence
remaining in my pocket. But the possession
of the ticket placed me two or three steps
from absolute despair. My hopes had now something
tangible to feed upon, and miserable fare
though it was, they thrived upon it amazingly;
they were like balloons, the lighter the substance
with which they were filled, the higher they rose.
When I went to my boarding house to dinner, -- 046 --
I was struck aghast by the sight of my bill, which
Mrs. Riggs put into my hand as soon as I entered
the parlor door. I took it in as careless a manner
as I could, and told her I expected to receive
some money in the morning, when I would pay it.
My manner did not seem to impress my landlady
[figure description] Page 046.[end figure description]
very favorably, and when I went up to my chamber,
I found the door locked; I asked for the key,
and was told that I could not have it until I had
paid my bill.
I afterwards found that Mr. Dooitt had called
on Mrs. Riggs, and cautioned her against keeping
me any longer in her house, as he knew I had no
money to pay my board with.
Of course I did not eat my dinner at Mrs.
Riggs's, but I went and satisfied my appetite with
a bowl of oyster soup, in an oyster cellar in the
vicinity of the Bear Market. Afterwards I sauntered
about the battery, and about midnight,
when the tread of feet was no longer heard, I
stretched myself out on one of the benches, and
soon fell asleep; my feverish brow cooled by a
gentle breeze, which just rippled the water, and
caused the tiny waves to dash with a pleasant
sound against the sea wall. In the morning, I
awoke refreshed and invigorated, and without experiencing
any inconvenience from sleeping on an
outdoor couch, other than a most ravenous appetite.
Let those enervate gentlemen who turn and -- 047 --
toss through a weary night, and rise from their
beds more fatigned than refreshed in the morning,
try a night's lodging on one of the battery
[figure description] Page 047.[end figure description]
-- 048 --
couches, and they will learn to speak with less contempt
of those houseless loafers who sometimes
spend a night on that lovely spot. For my own
part, I was so well pleased with my first night's
lodging, I did not scruple to sleep there again
and again. But there are, it must be confessed,
two disadvantages in making your bed on the
battery; one is, that you sometimes lay down in
company with gentlemen, who may be well
enough when the mantle of night covers them,
but whom you would not care to acknowledge
were your bed fellows when the bright sun
shines upon them; the other is, that you get up
with such a devouring appetite, that you will find
some difficulty in appeasing it, if your means do
not happen to be extensive.
Briggs, Charles F. (Charles Frederick), 1804-1877 , The adventures of Harry Franco. Volume 2 (F. Saunders, New York) [word count] [eaf025v2].