Off-Hand Sketches, a Little Dashed with Humour
Part 1 out of 4
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A little dashed with humour
By T. S. Arthur
THE reader cannot but smile at some of the phases of life presented
in this volume. Yet the smile will, in no case, the author thinks,
be at the expense of humanity, good feeling, or virtue. Many of the
incidents given, are facts embellished by a few touches of fancy. In
all, lessons may be read that some, at least, will do well to lay to
OR, WHAT A MAN SAVED BY STOPPING HIS NEWSPAPER
HUNTING UP A TESTIMONIAL
TRYING TO BE A GENTLEMAN
TAKING A PRESCRIPTION
THE YANKEE AND THE DUTCHMAN;
OR, I'LL GIVE OR TAKE
A TIPSY PARSON
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING;
OR, THE REASON WHY MRS. TODD DIDN'T SPEAK TO MRS. JONES
ALMOST A TRAGEDY
THAT JOHN MASON
A NEW WAY TO COLLECT AN OLD DEBT
A SHOCKING BAD MEMORY
DRIVING A HARD BARGAIN
OUT OF THE FRYING-PAN INTO THE FIRE;
OR, THE LOVE OF A HOUSE
MARRYING A COUNT
OR, THE LADY WITH NERVES
THE CODE OF HONOUR
TREATING A CASE ACTIVELY
THE Methodist circuit-preacher is in the way of seeing human nature
in many rare and curious aspects. Under the itinerating system, the
United States are divided into conferences, districts, and circuits.
The conference usually embraces a State, the district a certain
division of the State or conference, and the circuit a portion of
the district. To every circuit is assigned a preacher, who is
expected to provide himself with a horse, and his duty is to pass
round his circuit regularly at appointed seasons through the year,
and meet the members of the church at the various places of worship
established on the circuit. Every year, he attends the annual
conference of preachers, at which one of the bishops presides, and
is liable to be assigned a new circuit, in the selection of which,
as a general thing, he has no choice--the bishop making all the
appointments; and so, term after term, he goes to a new place, among
strangers. Before any strong attachments can be formed, the relation
between him and his people is severed; and he begins, as it were,
life anew, hundreds of miles away, it may be, from any former field
of labour. To a married man, this system is one involving great
self-denial and sacrifice, assuming often a painful character.
In those circuits that embrace wealthy and populous sections of the
country, the Methodist minister is well taken care of; but there are
many other sections, where the people are not only very poor, but
indifferent to matters of religion, ignorant in the extreme, and not
over-burdened with kind or generous feelings. On circuits of this
character, the preacher meets sometimes with pretty rough treatment;
and if, for his year's service, he is able to get, being, we will
suppose, a single man, fifty or sixty dollars in money, he may think
himself pretty well off.
To one of these hard circuits, a preacher, whom we shall call the
Rev. Mr. Odell, of the New Jersey conference, found himself assigned
by the bishop who presided at the annual conference. The change was
felt as pretty severe, he having been on a comfortable station for
two years; but as he must take the evil with the good, he
conscientiously repressed all natural regrets and murmurings, and,
as in duty bound, started, at the close of the conference, for his
new field of labour. A day or two before leaving, and after the
appointments were announced, Mr. Odell said to the brother who had
ridden that circuit during the previous year--"So, I am to follow in
"It appears so," was the brief reply.
"How did you like the circuit?"
"I am very well pleased to change."
Not much encouragement in that answer."
"We can't all have good places. Some of us must take our turn in the
highways and byways of the land."
"True; I am not disposed to complain. I have taken up the cross, and
mean to bear it to the end, if possible, without a murmur."
"As we all should. Well, brother Odell, if you pass the year on the
circuit without a murmur, your faith and firmness will be strong. I
can assure you that it will be more than I did--a great deal more."
"I have been among some pretty rough people in my time."
"So have I; but"--and he checked himself; "however, I will not
prejudice your mind; it would be wrong. They do as well, I suppose,
as they know how, and the best can do no more."
"Truly said. And the more rude, ignorant, and selfish they are, the
more need they have of gospel instruction, and the more willing
should we be to break the bread of life for them. If our Master had
not even 'where to lay his head,' it ill becomes us to murmur
because every natural good is not spread out before us."
In this state of mind, Odell went to his new circuit. Having
deposited his family, consisting of a wife and one child, in the
little village of S--, with a kind brother, who offered them a
home at a mere nominal board, he mounted his horse and started forth
on a three weeks' tour among the members of the church to whom he
was to minister, during the next twelve months, in holy things. The
first preaching-place was ten miles distant, and the little
meeting-house stood on the roadside, nearly a mile from any
dwelling, and in an exceedingly poor district of country.
Before leaving S--, Mr. Odell made inquiries of the brother at
whose house he was staying, in regard to the route he was to take,
and the people among whom he was going. As to the route, all that
was made satisfactory enough; but the account given of the people
was not encouraging in a very high degree.
"The fact is," said the brother, rather warmly, "it's my opinion
that they don't deserve to have the gospel preached among them."
To this, however, the preacher very naturally demurred, and said
that he was not sent to call the righteous, but sinners, to
"Where will I stop to-night?" he inquired. It was Saturday
afternoon, and on Sunday morning he was to preach at his first
"Well," said the brother, slowly and thoughtfully, "I can tell you
where you ought to stop, but I don't know you will be so welcome
there as at a poorer place. Brother Martin is better able to
entertain the preachers comfortably than any one else in that
section; but I believe he has never invited them home, and they have
generally gone to the house of a good widow-lady, named Russell,
whose barrel of meal and cruse of oil deserve never to fail. She is
about the only real Christian among them."
"Is brother Martin a farmer?"
"Yes, and comfortably off; but how he ever expects to get his load
of selfishness into heaven, is more than I can tell."
"You must not be uncharitable, brother," said Odell.
"I know that; but truth is truth. However, you must see and judge
for yourself. I think you had better go to the house of sister
Russell, who will welcome you with all her heart, and give you the
best she has."
"And I want no more," said the preacher.
After getting precise directions for finding sister Russell, he
started on his journey. It was nearly five o'clock, and he made his
calculation to reach sister Russell's by seven, where he would
remain all night, and go with her to the preaching-place on Sunday
morning. He had not, however, been half an hour on his journey,
before heavy masses of deep blue clouds began to roll up from the
horizon and spread over the sky; and ere he had accomplished half
the distance he was going, large drops of rain began to fall, as the
beginning of a heavy storm. The preacher was constrained to turn
aside and seek the shelter of a farm-house, where he was received
with much kindness.
Night-fall brought no abatement of the tempest. The lightning still
blazed out in broad masses of fire, the thunder jarred and rattled
amid the clouds like parks of artillery, and the rain continued to
pour down unceasingly. The invitation to remain all night, which the
farmer and his wife tendered in all sincerity, was not, of course,
declined by the preacher.
In the morning, after being served with a plentiful breakfast, Odell
returned his warmest thanks for the kindness he had received, and
proceeded on his journey. He had five miles to ride; but it was only
half-past eight o'clock when he started, and as the hour for
preaching was ten, there was plenty of time for him to proceed at
his leisure. As sister Russell lived nearly a mile away from a
direct course, he did not turn aside to call upon her, but went on
to the meeting-house. On reaching the little country church, Mr.
Odell found a small company of men assembled in front of the humble
building, who looked at him curiously, and with something of shyness
in their manner, as he rode up and dismounted. No one offering to
take his horse, he led him aside to a little grove and tied the
reins to a tree. One or two of the men nodded, distantly, as he
passed them on his way to the meeting-house door, but none of them
spoke to him.
On entering the meeting-house, Mr. Odell found some thirty persons
assembled, most of them women. If there were any "official members"
present, they made themselves in no way officious in regard to the
preacher, who, after pausing at the door leading into the little
altar or chancel for a short time, and looking around with an
expression of inquiry on his face, ascended the pulpit-stairs and
took his seat. All was as silent, almost, as if the house had been
In a little while, the preacher arose and gave out a hymn; but there
was no one to raise the tune. One looked at another uneasily; sundry
persons coughed and cleared their throats, but all remained silent.
Odell was not much of a singer, but had practised on "Old Hundred"
so much, that he could lead that air very well; and the hymn
happening, by good luck, to be set to a long-metre tune, he was able
to start it. This done, the congregation joined in, and the singing
went off pretty well. After praying and reading a chapter in the
Bible, Odell sat down to collect his thoughts for the sermon, which
was, of course, to be extempore, as Methodist sermons usually are.
It is customary for the choir, if there is one, to sing an anthem
during this pause; or, where no singers are set apart, for some
members to strike up an appropriate hymn, in which the congregation
joins. On this occasion, all was silent. After the lapse of a few
minutes, Mr. Odell arose, and turning, in the Bible, to the chapter
where the text, from which he was to preach, was recorded, read the
verse that was to form the groundwork of his remarks. Before opening
the subject, he stated, briefly, that he was the preacher who was to
labour among them during the ensuing year, and hoped, in the Divine
Providence, that good, both to them and to him, would result from
the new spiritual relations that were about to be commenced. Then
proceeding with his discourse, he preached to and exhorted them with
great earnestness, but without seeming to make any impression. Not
an "amen" was heard from any part of the house; not an eye grew
moist; not an audible groan or sigh disturbed the air. Nothing
responded to his appeals but the echo of his own voice.
Never had the preacher delivered a discourse in which he felt so
little freedom. His words came back upon his ears with a kind of a
dull reverberation, as if the hearts of his hearers were of ice,
instead of flesh.
Before singing the last hymn, which Mr. Odell gave out at the
conclusion of the sermon, he announced that he would hold a
class-meeting. After he had finally pronounced the benediction,
there was a general movement towards the door; only seven remained,
and these were all female members, most of them pretty well advanced
in their life-journey. Mr. Martin was at the meeting, but ere the
preacher had descended the pulpit-stairs, he was out of the house
and preparing to leave for home.
"Where is the new preacher going?" asked a member, of Mr. Martin, as
he led out his horse.
"To sister Russell's, I presume."
"Sister Russell is not here."
"No; she's sick."
"He stayed there last night, I suppose, and will go back after
class." Martin sprang upon his horse as he said this.
"We ought to be sure of it," remarked the other.
"I can't invite him home," said Martin. "If I do, I shall have him
through the whole year, and that is not convenient. The preachers
have always stayed at sister Russell's, and there is no reason why
they shouldn't continue to do so."
"I haven't a corner to put him in," remarked the other. "Besides,
these preachers are too nice for me."
"It's all right, no doubt," said Martin, as he balanced himself in
his saddle; "all right. He stayed at sister Russell's last evening,
and will go back and stay there until to-morrow morning. Get 'up,
Tom!" And, with this self-satisfying remark, the farmer rode away.
The man with whom he had been talking, was, like him, a member; and,
like him, had omitted to attend class, in order to shift off upon
some one else the burden of entertaining the new preacher; for
whoever first tendered him the hospitalities of his house and table
would most probably have to do it through the year. He, too, rode
off, and left others to see that the preacher was duly cared for. An
icy coldness pervaded the class-meeting.
Only four, out of the seven sisters, one of whom was an old black
woman, could muster up courage enough to tell, in answer to the
preacher's call, the "dealing of God" with their souls; and only two
of them could effect an utterance louder than a whisper. What they
did say had in it but little coherence, and Mr. Odell had to content
himself with an exhortation to each, of a general rather than a
particular character. When the hymn was sung at the close, only one
thin voice joined in the song of praise, and not a sob or sigh was
heard in response to his prayer. The class-paper showed the names of
thirty members, but here were only seven! This was rather
discouraging for a commencement. Mr. Odell hardly knew what course
to take; whether to stir up with some pretty sharp remarks the
little company of believers who were present, and thus seek to
impress the whole through them; or to wait until he came round
again, and have a good chance at them from the pulpit. He concluded
in the end, that the last course might be the best one.
In calling over the names on the class-paper he found that sister
Russell was absent. On dismissing the meeting, all except the old
black woman retired. She lingered, however, to shake hands with the
new preacher, and to show him that, if she was old, her teeth were
good, and her eyes bright and lively.
On emerging into the open air, Odell saw the last of his flock
slowly retiring from the scene of worship. For two of the women,
their husbands had waited on the outside of the meeting-house, and
they had taken into their wagons two other women who lived near
them. These wagons were already in motion, when the preacher came
out followed by the old black woman, who it now appeared, had the
key of the meeting-house door, which she locked.
"Then you are the sexton, Aunty," remarked Odell, with a smile.
"Yes, massa, I keeps de key."
"Well, Nancy," said Odell, who had already made up his mind what he
would do, "I am going home to dinner with you."
"Me, massa!" Old Nancy looked as much surprised as a startled hare.
"Yes. You see they've all gone and left me, and I feel hungry.
You'll give me some of your dinner?"
"Yes, massa, please God! I'll give you all of it--but, it's only
pork and hominy."
"Very good; and it will be all the sweeter because I am welcome."
"'Deed massa, and you is welcome, five hundred times over! But it
was a downright shame for all de white folks to go off so. I never
seed such people."
"Never mind, Nancy, don't trouble yourself; I shall be well enough
taken care of. I'll trust to you for that."
And so Mr. Odell mounted his horse, and accompanied the old woman
home. She lived rather over a mile from the meeting-house--and the
way was past the comfortable residence of Mr. Martin. The latter did
not feel altogether satisfied with himself as he rode home. He was
not certain that the preacher had stayed at sister Russell's the
night before. He might have ridden over from S--since morning.
This suggestion caused him to feel rather more uneasy in mind; for,
if this were the case, it was doubtful whether, after class was
over, there would be any one to invite him home.
"What kind of a man is the new preacher?" asked Mrs. Martin of her
husband, on his return from meeting.
"He seemed like a very good sort of man," replied Martin,
"Is he young or old?"
"He's about my age, I should think."
"I'm sure I don't know."
"Did you speak to him?"
"No, I came away after the sermon."
"Then you didn't stop to class?"
"Sister Russell was not there, of course?"
"No; she's sick."
"So I heard. The preacher didn't stay at her house last night."
"How do you know?"
"Mrs. Williams called in while you were away. She had just been to
"And the new preacher didn't stay at her house last night?"
"No. Mrs. Williams asked particularly."
"He must have ridden over from S--this morning. I am sorry I
didn't wait and ask him to come home and stay with us."
"I wish you had. Sister Russell is too sick to have him at her
house, if he should go there. Who stayed to class-meeting?"
"Not over half a dozen, and they were all women. I left Bill Taylor
and Harry Chester waiting outside for their wives."
"They wouldn't ask him home."
"No; and if they did, I should be sorry to have him go there. I wish
I had stayed in, and invited him home. But it can't be helped now,
and there's no use in fretting over it."
Soon after this, dinner was announced, and the farmer sat down with
his family to a table loaded with good and substantial things. He
ate and enjoyed himself; though not as highly as he would have done,
had not thoughts of the new preacher intruded themselves.
After dinner, Martin took a comfortable nap, which lasted about an
hour. He then went out and took a little walk to himself. While
standing at the gate, which opened from his farm on to the county
road, a man, who lived half a mile below, came along. This man was
not a member of any church, and took some delight, at times, in
having his jest with professors of religion.
"Fine afternoon, Mr. Ellis," said Martin, as the man stopped.
"Very fine. How are you all?"
"Quite well. Any news stirring?"
"Why, no, not much. Only they say that the Methodists about here
have all joined the Amalgamation Society."
"Who says so?" inquired Martin, slightly colouring.
"Well, they say it down our way. I thought it was only a joke, at
first. But a little while after dinner, Aunt Nancy's Tom came over
to my house for some oats and hay for your new minister's horse. He
said the preachers were going to stop at the old woman's after this.
I half-doubted the rascal's story, though I let him have the
provender. Sure enough, as I came along just now, who should I see
but the preacher sitting before the door of old Nancy's log-hut, as
much at home as if his skin were the colour of ebony. These are
rather queer doings, friend Martin; I don't know what folks 'll
We will not pause to describe the astonishment and confusion of
Martin, on learning this, but step down to Aunt Nancy's, where
Odell, after dining on pork and hominy, with the addition of
potatoes and corn-bread, was sitting in the shade before the log
cabin of the old negro. The latter was busy as a bee inside in
preparation of something for the preacher's supper, that she thought
would be more suited to his mode of living and appetite, than pork,
corn-bread, and hominy.
Odell was rather more inclined to feel amused than annoyed at his
new position. Aunt Nancy's dinner had tasted very good; and had been
sweetened rather than spoiled by the old creature's loquacious
kindness and officious concern, lest what she had to set before him
would not be relished. While he thus sat musing--the subject of his
thoughts is of no particular consequence to be known--his attention
was arrested by hearing Aunt Nancy exclaim--
"Ki! Here comes Massa Martin!"
The preacher turned his head and saw a man approaching with the
decided and rather quick step of one who had something on his mind.
"Is that brother Martin?" asked Mr. Odell, calling to Aunt Nancy,
who was near the window of her hut.
"Yes, please goodness! Wonder what he comin' here 'bout."
"We'll soon see," returned the preacher, composing himself in his
In a few minutes, the farmer, looking sadly "flustered," arrived at
the door of the old negro's humble abode. Odell kept his seat with
an air of entire self-possession and unconcern, and looked at the
new comer as he would have done at any other stranger.
"Mr. Odell, the new preacher on this circuit?" said Martin, in a
respectful manner, as he advanced towards the minister.
"Yes, sir," replied Odell, without rising or evincing any surprise
at the question.
"I am very sorry indeed, sir! very sorry," began Martin in a
deprecating and troubled voice, "that you should have been so badly
neglected as you were to-day. I had no idea--I never once
thought--the preachers have always stayed at sister Russell's--I
took it for granted that you were there. To think you should not
have been invited home by any one! I am mortified to death."
"Oh, no," returned the preacher, smiling; "it is not quite so bad as
that. Our good old sister here very kindly tendered me the
hospitalities of her humble home, which I accepted gratefully. No
one could be kinder to me than she has been--no one could have given
me a warmer welcome."
"But--but," stammered forth Martin, "this is no place for a preacher
"A far better place than my Lord and Master had. _The foxes have
holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man hath
not where to lay his head._ The servant must not seek to be greater
than his Lord."
"But my dear sir! my house is a far more suitable and congenial home
for you," urged the distressed brother Martin. "You must go home
with me at once. My wife is terribly hurt about the matter. She
would have come over for you herself, but she is not very well
"Tell the good sister," replied Odell, affecting not to know the
individual before him, "that I am so comfortable here; that I cannot
think of changing my quarters. Besides, after Aunt Nancy has been so
kind as to invite me home, and provide for both me and my horse,
when no one else took the least notice of me, nor seemed to care
whether I got the shelter of a roof or a mouthful of food, it would
not be right for me to turn away from her because a more comfortable
place is offered."
It was in vain that Martin argued and persuaded. The preacher's mind
was made up to stay where he was. And he did stay with Aunt Nancy
until the next morning, when, after praying with the old lady and
giving her his blessing, he started on his journey.
When, at the end of four weeks, Mr. Odell again appeared at the
little meeting-house, you may be sure he was received with marked
attention. Martin was the most forward of all, and, after preaching
and class-meeting--there was a pretty full attendance at both--took
the minister home with him. Ever since that time, the preachers have
been entertained at his house.
READER! did you ever have a visit from that dreaded
functionary--that rod in pickle, held in terrorem over the heads of
the whole note-paying fraternity, yclepted a notary? I do not mean
to insult you: so don't look so dark and dignified. I am serious. If
no--why no, and there let the matter rest, as far as you are
concerned; if yes, why yes, and so I have an auditor who can
As for me, I have been protested. I say it neither with shame nor
pride. Yes, I have suffered notarial visitation, and am still alive
to tell the tale.
I was in business when the exciting event occurred, and I am still
in business, and I believe as well off as I was then. But let me
relate the circumstance.
When I first started in the world for myself, I had a few thousand
dollars. In a little while, I found myself solicited on all sides to
make bills. I could have bought fifty thousand dollars' worth of
goods as easily as to the amount of five thousand dollars; and the
smallest sum I have named was about the extent of my real capital.
There was one firm importunate above the rest, and they were
successful in getting me into their debt more heavily than I was to
any other house. If I happened to be passing their store, I would be
called in, with--
"Here, Jones, I want to show you something. New goods just in; the
very thing for your sales."
"Ah! how are you, Jones? Can't we sell you a bill, to-day?"
They were for ever importuning me to buy, and often tempted me to
make purchases of goods that I really did not want. I was young and
green then, and did not know any thing about shelves full of odds
and ends, and piece upon piece of unsaleable goods, all of which had
to be paid for.
For two or three years, I managed to keep along, though not so
pleasantly as if I had used my credit with less freedom. By that
time, however, the wheels of my business machinery were sadly
clogged. From a salesman behind my counter, I became a "financier."
During the best hours of the day, and when I was most wanted in the
store, I was on the street, hunting for money. It was borrow,
borrow, borrow, and pay, pay, pay. My thoughts were not directed
toward the best means of making my business profitable, but were
upon the ways and means of paying my notes, that were falling due
with alarming rapidity. I was nearly all the time in the delectable
state of mind of the individual who, on running against a sailor,
was threatened with being knocked "into the middle of next week."
"Do it, for heaven's sake!" he replied--"I would give the world to
On Monday morning, I could see my way through the week no clearer
than this note-haunted sufferer. In fact, I lived a day at a time.
On the first of each month, when I looked over my bill-book, and
then calculated my resources, I was appalled. I saw nothing ahead
but ruin. Still I floundered on, getting myself deeper and deeper in
the mire, and rendering my final extrication more and more
At last, I found that my principal creditors, who had sold me so
freely from the first, and to whom nearly the half of what I owed
was due, began to be less anxious about selling me goods. They did
not call me in, as of old, when I passed, nor did they urge me to
buy when I went to their store. Still they sent home what I ordered;
but their prices, which before were the lowest in the trade, were
now above the average rates. I noticed, felt, and thought I
understood all this. I had been careful not to borrow money from
that firm; still, I was borrowing, somewhere, every day, and they,
of course, knew it, and began to be a little doubtful of my
At last, I was cornered on a note of a thousand dollars, due this
house. Besides this note, I had fifteen hundred dollars of borrowed
money to pay. At nine o'clock, I started forth, leaving good
customers in the store, to whom no one could attend as well as
myself. By twelve o'clock, I was able to return my borrowed money,
and had the promise of a thousand dollars by half-past one. Until
half-past one I waited, when a note came from the friend who had
promised the loan, informing me with many expressions of regret,
that he had been disappointed, and, therefore, could not accommodate
Here was a dilemma, indeed. Half-past one o'clock, and a thousand
dollars to raise; but there was no time for regrets. I started forth
with a troubled heart, and not feeling very sanguine of success.
Borrowing money is far from being pleasant employment, and is only
endurable as a less evil than not meeting your obligations. For that
day, I had thought my trials on this head over; but I erred. I had
again to put on my armour of _brass_ and go forth to meet coldness,
rebuffs, and polite denials. Alas! I got no more; not a dollar
rewarded my earnest efforts. Two o'clock found me utterly
discouraged. Then, for the first time, it occurred to me to go to
the holders of the note and frankly tell them that I could not lift
"But that will ruin your credit with them."
Yes, that was the rub; and then it was so mortifying a resource.
After a short space of hurried reflection, I concluded that as I had
twice as much credit in other quarters as it was prudent to use, I
would ask a renewal of the note, which would be a great relief. It
was better, certainly, than to suffer a protest. At the thought of a
protest I shuddered, and started to see the parties to whom the note
was due, feeling much as I suppose a culprit feels when about being
arraigned for trial. It was twenty minutes past two when I called at
"I am sorry," I said to one of the firm, whom I first met, speaking
in a husky, agitated voice, "to inform you that I shall not be able
to lift my note that falls due to-day."
His brows fell instantly.
"I had made every arrangement to meet it," I continued, "and was to
receive the money at one o'clock to-day, but was unexpectedly
disappointed. I have tried since to raise the amount, but find it
too late in the day."
The man's brows fell still lower, while his eyes remained steadily
fixed upon my face.
"I shall have to ask you to extend it for me."
"I don't think we can do that," he coldly replied.
"Will you consult your partners?" I said; "time presses."
The man bowed stiffly, his aspect about as pleasing as if I had
robbed him, and turned away. I was standing near the door of the
counting-room, inside of which were his two partners, with whom he
had retired to confer.
"Jones can't pay his note," I heard him say, in tones most
unpleasant to my ear.
"What!" was replied; "Jones?"
"What does he want?"
"Nonsense! He can pay, if he finds he must."
"It is nearly half-past two," one of them remarked.
"No matter. It's of too much importance to him to keep his good
name; he'll find somebody to help him. Threaten him with a protest;
shake that over his head, and the money'll be raised."
With a Siberian aspect, the man returned to me.
"Can't do any thing for you," he said. "Sorry for it."
"My note must lie over, then," I replied.
"It will be protested."
The very sound of the word went through me like an arrow. I felt the
perspiration starting from every pore; but I was indignant at the
same time, and answered, as firmly as I could speak--"Very well; let
"As you like," he said, in the same cold tone, and with the same
dark aspect, partly turning away as he spoke.
"But, my dear sir"--
"It is useless to waste words," he remarked, interrupting me. "You
have our ultimatum."
As I left the store, I felt as if I had been guilty of some crime; I
was ashamed to look even the clerks in the face. A feeble resolution
to make an effort to save myself from the disgrace and disaster of a
protest stirred in my mind; but it died away, and I returned to my
store to await the dread result that must follow this failure to
take up my paper. I looked at the slow-moving hand on the clock, and
saw minute after minute go by with a stoicism that surprised even
myself. At last the stroke of the hammer fell; the die was cast. I
would be protested, that greatest of all evils dreaded by a man of
business. As to going home to dinner, that was out of the question;
I could not have eaten a mouthful to save me. All I had now to do
was to wait for the visit of the notary, from which I shrank with a
nervous dread. Everybody in the street would know him, I thought,
and everybody would see him enter my store and comprehend his
Half-past three arrived, and yet I had not been bearded by the dread
monster, at whose very name thousands have trembled and do still
tremble. I sat awaiting him in stern silence. Four o'clock, and yet
he had not come. Perhaps, it was suggested to me, the holders of the
note had withdrawn it at the last moment. Cheering thought!
Just then I saw a lad enter the store and speak to one of the
clerks, who pointed back to where I sat. The boy was not over
fourteen, and had, I noticed as he approached, a modest, rather
"Mr. Jones?" he said, when he had come near to me.
"Yes," I replied, indifferently, scarcely wondering what he wanted.
"Will you pay this note?" he said, opening a piece of paper that I
had not observed in his hand, and presenting it to me.
My head was in a whirl for an instant, but was as quickly clear
"No, my lad," I replied, in a composed voice, "I shall not pay it."
"You will not pay it?" he repeated, as if he had not heard me
"No," said I.
The lad bowed politely, slipped the dishonoured note into his
pocket, and retired.
I drew a long breath, leaned back in my chair with a sense of
relief, and murmured--"Not such a dreadful affair, after all. So, I
am protested! The operation is over, and I hardly felt the pain. And
now what next?"
As I said this, the man whose Siberian face had almost congealed me
entered my store, and came hurriedly back to where I still remained
sitting. His face was far less wintry. The fact was, I owed the firm
fifteen thousand dollars, which was no joke; and they were nearly as
much alarmed, when they found that my note was actually under
protest, as I was before the fact.
"Is it possible, Mr. Jones," he said, his voice as husky and
tremulous as mine was when I called upon him an hour or two before,
"that you have suffered your note to lie over!"
"Did I not inform you that such would be the case?" I replied, with
assumed sternness of voice and manner. The boot was on the other
leg, and I was not slow in recognising the fact.
"But what do you intend to do, Mr. Jones? What is the state of your
"At the proper time, I will inform you," I answered, coldly. "You
have driven me into a protest, and you must stand the consequences."
"Are your affairs desperate, Mr. Jones?" The creditor became almost
imploring in his manner.
"They will probably become so now. Does a man's note lie over
without his affairs becoming desperate?"
There was a pause. I looked unflinchingly into the man's face.
"If we extend this note, and keep the matter quiet, what then?"
"It won't do," I returned. "More than that will be required to save
My creditor looked frightened, while I maintained an aspect of as
much indifference and resolution as I could assume.
"What will save you?" he asked.
I was thinking as rapidly as I could, in order to be prepared for
striking while the iron was hot, and that to good purpose.
"I'll tell you," I replied.
"Well, what is it?" He looked eager and anxious.
"My fault has been one into which your house led me, that of buying
too freely," said I; "of using my credit injudiciously. The
consequence is, that I am cramped severely, and am neglecting my
legitimate business in order to run about after money. I owe your
house more than half of the aggregate of my whole liabilities. Give
me the time I ask, in order to recover myself and curtail my
business, and I can go through."
"What time do you ask?"
"I owe you fifteen thousand dollars."
"Yes; and the whole of it falls due within seven months. What I
propose is, to pay you five per cent. on the amount of my present
indebtedness every thirty days from this time until the whole is
liquidated; you to hand me a thousand dollars to-morrow morning, to
enable me to get my note out of bank, in order to save my credit."
The gentleman looked blank at the boldness of my proposition.
"Is that the best you can do?" he asked.
"The very best. You have driven me into a protest, and now, the
bitterness of that dreaded ordeal being past, I prefer making an
assignment and having my affairs settled up, to going on in the old
way. I will not continue in business, unless I can conduct it easily
and safely. I am sick of being on the rack; I would rather grub for
I was eloquent in my tone and manner, for I felt what I said.
"It shall be as you wish," said my creditor. "You should not, you
must not, make an assignment; every interest will suffer in that
event. We will send you a check for a thousand dollars early
to-morrow morning, and, as to what has occurred, keep our own
I bowed, and he bowed. I was conscious of having risen in his
estimation. Get such a man in your power, and his respect for you
My sleep was sound that night, for I was satisfied that the thousand
dollars would come. And they did come.
After that, I was as easy as an old shoe. I was soon off the
borrowing list; my business I contracted into a narrower and safer
sphere, and really made more profit than before.
I have never stood in fear of notaries or protests since. Why should
I? To me the notary proved a lamb rather than a lion, and my credit,
instead of being ruined, was saved by a protest.
OR, WHAT A MAN SAVED BY STOPPING HIS NEWSPAPER.
NOT many years ago, a farmer who lived a hundred or two miles from
the seaboard, became impressed with the idea that unless he adopted
a close-cutting system of retrenchment, he would certainly go to the
wall. Wheat, during the preceding season, had been at a high price;
but, unluckily for him, he had only a small portion of his land in
wheat. Of corn and potatoes he had raised more than the usual
quantity; but the price of corn was down, and potatoes were low.
This year he had sown double the wheat he had ever sown before, and,
instead of raising a thousand bushels of potatoes, as he had
generally done, only planted about an acre in that vegetable, the
product of which was about one hundred and fifty bushels.
Unluckily for Mr. Ashburn, his calculations did not turn out well.
After his wheat was harvested, and his potatoes nearly ready to dig,
the price of the former fell to ninety cents per bushel, and the
price of the latter rose to one dollar. Everywhere, the wheat crop
had been abundant, and almost everywhere the potato crop promised to
Mr. Ashburn was sadly disappointed at this result.
"I shall be ruined," he said at home, and carried a long face while
abroad. When his wife and daughters asked for money with which to
get their fall and winter clothing, he grumbled sadly, gave them
half what they wanted, and said they must retrench. A day or two
afterwards, the collector of the "Post" came along and presented his
Ashburn paid it in a slow, reluctant manner, and then said--
"I wish you to have the paper stopped, Mr. Collector."
"Oh, no, don't say that, Mr. Ashburn. You are one of our old
subscribers, and we can't think of parting with you."
"Sorry to give up the paper. But must do it," returned the farmer.
"Isn't it as good as ever? You used to say you'd rather give up a
dinner a week than the 'Post.'"
"Oh, yes, it's as good as ever, and sometimes I think much better
than it was. It's a great pleasure to read it. But I must retrench
at every point, and then I don't see how I'm to get along. Wheat's
down to ninety cents, and falling daily."
"But the paper is only two dollars a year, Mr. Ashburn."
"I know. But two dollars are two dollars. However, it's no use to
talk, Mr. Collector; the 'Post' must be stopped. If I have better
luck next year, I will subscribe for it again."
This left the collector nothing to urge, and he withdrew. In his
next letter to the publishers, he ordered the paper to be
discontinued, which was accordingly done.
Of this little act of retrenchment, Jane, Margaret, and Phoebe knew
nothing at the time, and the farmer was rather loathe to tell them.
When the fact did become known, as it must soon, he expected a
buzzing in the hive, and the anticipation of this made him half
repent of what he had done, and almost wish that the collector would
forget to notify the office of his wish to have the paper stopped.
But, the collector was a prompt man. On the second Saturday morning,
Ashburn went to the post-office as usual. The postmaster handed him
a letter, saying, as he did so--
"I (sic) cant't find any paper for you, to-day. They have made a
mistake in not mailing it this week."
"No," replied Ashburn. "I have stopped it."
"Indeed! The Post is an excellent paper. What other one do you
intend to take?"
"I shall not take any newspaper this year," replied Ashburn.
"Not take a newspaper, Mr. Ashburn!" said the postmaster, with a
look and in a tone of surprise.
"No. I must retrench. I must cut off all superfluous expenses. And I
believe I can do without a newspaper as well as any thing else. It's
a mere luxury; though a very pleasant one, I own, but still
"Not a luxury, but a necessary, I say, and indispensable," returned
the postmaster. "I don't know what I wouldn't rather do without than
a newspaper. What in the world are Phbe, and Jane, and Margaret
going to do?"
"They will have to do without. There is no help for it."
"If they don't raise a storm about your ears that you will be glad
to allay, even at the cost of half a dozen newspapers, I am
mistaken," said the postmaster, laughing.
Ashburn replied, as he turned to walk away, that he thought he could
face all storms of that kind without flinching.
"Give me the 'Post,' papa," said Margaret, running to the door to
meet her father when she saw him coming.
"I haven't got it," replied Mr. Ashburn, feeling rather
"Why? Hasn't it come?"
"No; is hasn't come."
Margaret looked very much disappointed.
"It has never missed before," she said, looking earnestly at her
No suspicion of the truth was in her mind; but, to the eyes of her
father, her countenance was full of suspicion. Still, he had not the
courage to confess what he had done.
"The 'Post' hasn't come!" he heard Margaret say to her sisters, a
few minutes afterwards, and their expressions of disappointment fell
rebukingly upon his ears.
It seemed to Mr. Ashburn that he heard of little else, while in the
house, during the whole day, but the failure of the newspaper. When
night came, even he, as he sat with nothing to do but think about
the low price of wheat for an hour before bedtime, missed his old
friend with the welcome face, that had so often amused, instructed,
and interested him.
On Monday morning the girls were very urgent for their father to
ride over to the post-office and see if the paper hadn't come; but,
of course, the farmer was "too busy" for that. On Tuesday and
Wednesday, the same excuse was made. On Thursday, Margaret asked a
neighbour, who was going by the office, to call and get the
newspaper for them. Towards evening, Mr Markland, the neighbour, was
seen riding down the road, and Margaret and Jane ran down eagerly to
the gate for the newspaper.
"Did you get the paper for us?" asked Margaret, showing two smiling
rows of milk-white teeth, while her eyes danced with anticipated
Mr. Markland shook his head.
"Why?" asked both the girls at once.
"The postmaster says it has been stopped."
"Stopped!" How changed were their faces and tones of voice.
"Yes. He says your father directed it to be stopped."
"That must be a mistake," said Margaret. "He would have told us."
Mr. Markland rode on, and the girls ran back into the house.
"Father, the postmaster says you have stopped the newspaper!"
exclaimed his daughters, breaking in upon Mr. Ashburn's no very
pleasant reflections on the low price of wheat, and the difference
in the return he would receive at ninety cents a bushel to what he
would have realized at the last year's price of a dollar
"It's true," he replied, trenching himself behind a firm, decided
"But why did you stop it, father?" inquired the girls.
"Because I can't afford to take it. It's as much, as I shall be able
to do to get you enough to eat and wear this year."
Mr. Ashburn's manner was decided, and his voice had a repelling
Margaret and Phbe could say no more; but they did not leave their
father's presence without giving his eyes the benefit of seeing a
free gush of tears. It would be doing injustice to Mr. Ashburn's
state of mind to say that he felt very comfortable, or had done so,
since stopping the "Post," an act for which he had sundry times more
than half repented. But, as it had been done, he could not think of
Very sober were the faces that surrounded the supper-table that
evening; and but few words were spoken. Mr. Ashburn felt oppressed,
and also fretted to think that his daughters should make both
themselves and him unhappy about the trifle of a newspaper, when he
had such serious troubles to bear.
On the next Saturday, as Mr. Ashburn was walking over his farm, he
saw a man sitting on one of his fences, dressed in a jockey-cap, and
wearing a short hunting-coat. He had a rifle over his shoulder, and
carried a powder-flask, shot and bird bags. In fact, he was a fully
equipped sportsman, a somewhat _rara avis_ in those parts.
"What's this lazy fellow doing here?" said Ashburn, to himself. "I
wonder where he comes from?"
"Good morning, neighbour," spoke out the stranger, in a familiar
way, as soon as the farmer came within speaking distance. "Is there
any good game about here? Any wild-turkeys, or pheasants?"
"There are plenty of squirrels," returned Ashburn, a little
sarcastically, "and the woods are full of robbins."
"Squirrels make a first-rate pie. But I needn't tell you that, my
friend. Every farmer knows the taste of squirrels," said the
sportsman with great good-humour. "Still, I want to try my hand at a
wild-turkey. I've come off here into the country to have a crack at
game better worth the shooting than we get in the neighbourhood of
"You're from P--, then?" said the farmer.
"Yes, I live in P--."
"When did you leave there?"
"Four or five weeks ago."
"Then you don't know what wheat is selling for now?"
"Wheat? No. I think it was ninety-five or a dollar, I don't remember
which, when I left."
"Ninety is all it is selling for here."
"Ninety! I should like to buy some at that."
"I have no doubt you can be accommodated," replied the farmer.
"That is exceedingly low for wheat. If it wasn't for having a week's
sport among your wild-turkeys, and the hope of being able to kill a
deer, I'd stop and buy up a lot of wheat on speculation."
"I'll sell you five hundred bushels at ninety-two," said the farmer,
half-hoping that this green customer might be tempted to buy at this
advance upon the regular rate.
"Will you?" interrogated the stranger.
"I'm half-tempted to take you up. I really believe I--no!--I must
knock over some wild-turkeys first. It won't do to come this far
without bagging rarer game than wheat. I believe I must decline,
"What would you say to ninety-one?" The farmer had heard a rumour, a
day or two before, of a fall of two or three cents in wheat, and if
he could get off five hundred bushels upon this sportsman, who had
let the breast of his coat fly open far enough to give a glimpse of
a large, thick pocketbook, at ninety-one, it would be quite a
"Ninety-one--ninety-one," said the stranger, to himself. "That is a
temptation! I can turn a penny on that. But the wild-turkeys; I must
have a crack at a wild-turkey or a deer. I think, friend," he added,
speaking louder, "that I will have some sport in these parts for a
few days first. Then, maybe, I'll buy up a few thousand bushels of
wheat, if the prices haven't gone up."
"I shouldn't wonder if prices advanced a little," said the farmer.
"Wouldn't you?" And the stranger looked into the farmer's face with
a very innocent expression.
"It can't go much lower; if there should be any change, it will
doubtless be an improvement."
"How much wheat have you?" asked the sportsman.
"I've about a thousand bushels left."
"A thousand bushels. Ninety cents; nine hundred dollars;--I'll tell
you what, friend, since talking to you has put me into the notion of
trying my hand at a speculation on wheat, I'll just make you an
offer, which you may accept or not, just as you please. I'll give
you ninety cents cash for all you've got, one half payable now, and
the other half on delivery of the wheat at the canal, provided you
get extra force and deliver it immediately."
Ashburn stood thoughtful for a moment or two, and then replied--
"Very well, sir, it's a bargain."
"Which, to save time, we will close immediately. I will go with you
to your house, and pay you five hundred dollars on the whole bill
for a thousand bushels."
The farmer had no objection to this, of course, and invited the
stranger to go to his house with him, where the five hundred dollars
were soon counted out. For this amount of money he wrote a receipt
and handed it to the stranger, who, after reading it, said--
"I would prefer your making out a bill for a thousand bushels, and
writing on it, 'Received on account, five hundred dollars.'"
"It may overrun that quantity," said Ashburn.
"No matter, a new bill can be made out for that. I'll take all you
The farmer saw no objection to the form proposed by the stranger,
and therefore tore up the receipt he had written, and made a bill
out in the form desired.
"Will you commence delivering to-day?" inquired the sportsman, who
all at once began to manifest a marked degree of interest in the
"Yes," replied the farmer.
"How many wagons have you?"
"As it is down hill all the way to the canal, they can easily take a
hundred bushels each."
"Very well. They can make two loads apiece to-day, and, by starting
early, three loads apiece on Monday, which will transfer the whole
thousand bushels to the canal. I will go down immediately and see
that a boat is ready to commence loading. You can go to work at
By extra effort, the wheat was all delivered by Monday afternoon,
and the balance of the purchase-money paid. As Mr. Ashburn was
riding home, a neighbour who had noticed his wagons going past his
house with wheat for the two days, overtook him.
"So I see, friend Ashburn, that, like me, you are content to take
the first advance of the market, instead of running the risk of a
decline for a further rise in prices. What did you get for your
"I sold for ninety cents."
"Ninety cents!" exclaimed the neighbour. "Surely you didn't sell for
"I certainly did. I tried to get ninety-two, but ninety was the
highest offer I could obtain."
"Ninety cents! Why, what has come over you, Ashburn. Wheat is
selling for a dollar and twenty cents. I've just sold five hundred
bushels for that."
"Impossible!" ejaculated the farmer.
"Not at all impossible. Don't you know that by the last arrival from
England have come accounts of a bad harvest, and that wheat has
taken a sudden rise?"
"No, I don't know any such a thing," returned the astonished
"Well, it's so. Where is your newspaper?--Haven't you read it? I got
mine on Friday evening, and saw the news. Early on Saturday morning
I found two or three speculators ready to buy up all the wheat they
could get at old prices; but they didn't make many operations. One
fellow who pretended to be a fancy sportsman, thrust himself into my
way, but, even if I had not know of a rise in the price of wheat, I
should have suspected it as soon as I saw him, for I read, last
week, of just such a looking chap as him having got ahead of some
ignorant country farmers by buying up their produce, on a sudden
rise of the market, at price much below its real value."
"Good day!" said Ashburn, suddenly applying his whip to the flank of
his horse; and away dashed homeward at a full gallop.
The farmer never sat down to make a regular calculation of what he
had lost by stopping his news paper; but it required no formality of
pencil and paper to arrive at this. A difference of thirty cents on
each bushel, made, for a thousand bushels, the important sum of
three hundred dollars, and this fact his mind instantly saw.
By the next mail, he enclosed two dollars to the publishers of the
"Post," and re-ordered the paper. He will, doubtless, think a good
while, and retrench at a good many points, before he orders an other
HUNTING UP A TESTIMONIAL.
"DOCTOR," said a man with a thin, sallow countenance, pale lips, and
leaden eyes, coming up to the counter of a drug-store in Baltimore,
some ten years ago--"Doctor, I've been reading your advertisement
about the 'UNIVERSAL RESTORER, AND BALSAM OF LIFE,' and if that Mr.
John Johnson's testimony is to be relied on, it ought to suit my
case, for, in describing his own sufferings, he has exactly
described mine. But I've spent so much money in medicine, to no
purpose, that I am tired of being humbugged: so, if you'll just tell
me where I can find this Mr. Johnson, I'll give him a call. I'd like
to know if he's a real flesh-and-blood man."
"You don't mean to insinuate that I'd forge a testimonial?" replied
the man of medicine, with some slight show of indignation.
"Oh, no. I don't insinuate any thing at all, doctor," answered the
pale-looking man. "But I'd like to see this Mr. John Johnson, and
have a little talk with him."
"You can do that, if you'll take the trouble to call on him," said
the doctor, in an off-hand way.
"Where can I find him?" asked the man.
"He lives a little way out of town; about three miles on the
"Ah, so far?"
"Yes. Go out until you come to the three-mile stone; then keep on to
the first road, turning off to the right, along which you will go
about a quarter of a mile, when you will see a brick house. Mr.
Johnson lives there."
The thin, sallow-faced man bowed and retired. As he left the store,
the doctor gave a low chuckle, and then said, half aloud--"I guess
he won't try to find this Mr. John Johnson."
But he was mistaken. Three hours afterwards, the sick man entered
the shop, and, sinking upon a chair with an expression of weariness,
said, in a fretful tone--
"Well, doctor, I've been out where you said, but no Mr. John Johnson
"Mr. Johnson lives at the place to which I directed you," said the
But the man shook his head.
"You went out the Fredrick road to the three-mile stone?"
"And turned off at the first road on the left-hand side?"
"You told me the _right_ hand side!" said the man.
"Oh, there's the mistake," replied the doctor, with the air of a man
who had discovered a very material error, by which an important
result was affected; "I told you to turn off to the _left_."
"I'm sure you said the right," persisted the man.
"Impossible!" returned the doctor, in a most confident tone of
voice. "How could I have said the right-hand side when I knew it was
the left? I know Mr. Johnson as well as I know my own brother, and
have been at his house hundreds of times."
"I am almost sure you said the right!" persisted the man.
"Oh, no! You misunderstood me," most positively answered the doctor.
"Well, I must only try it again," said the man, languidly; "but
shall have to defer the walk until to-morrow, for I'm completely
"You'd better try a bottle of the RESTORER," said the doctor with a
benevolent smile. "I know it will just suit your case. Mr. Johnson
looked worse than you do, when he commenced taking it, and three
bottles made a well man of him."
And the doctor held up a bottle of the Restorer, with its handsome
label, temptingly, before the eyes of the sick man, adding, as he
"It is only fifty cents."
"I've been humbugged too often!" replied the suspicious patron of
patent-medicine venders. "No; I'll see Mr. Johnson first."
"Well, did you see Mr. Johnson?" asked the doctor with a pleasant
smile and confident air, as the testimonial-hunter entered his shop
on the next day, about noon.
"No, I did not," was replied, a little impatiently. "Ah? How comes
that? Did you follow the directions I gave?"
"Yes, to the very letter."
"Then you must have found Mr. Johnson."
"But I tell you, I didn't."
"It's very strange! I can't understand it. You turned off at the
first road to the left, after passing the third milestone?"
"Two tall poplars stood at the gate which opened from the turnpike?"
"The gate opening into the lane leading to Mr. Johnson's house."
"I didn't turn of at any gate," said the man. "I kept on, as you
directed, to the first road that led off from the turnpike. You
didn't mention any thing about a gate."
"I didn't suppose it necessary," replied the doctor, with a show of
impatience. "A road is a road, whether you enter it by a gate or in
any other manner. Roads leading to gentlemen's country-seats are not
usually left open for every sort of ingress and egress. I don't
wonder that you were unable to find Mr. Johnson."
"I wish you'd give me a more particular direction," said the
invalid. "I'm nearly dead now with fatigue; I'll try once more to
find this man, and if I don't turn him up, I'll let the matter drop.
I don't believe your medicine will do me much good, anyhow."
"I'm sure it will help you," replied the doctor. "I can tell from
your very countenance that it is what you want. Hundreds affected as
you are have been restored to health. Better take a bottle."
"I want to see this Mr. Johnson first," persisted the sick man.
"Get a carriage, then. This walking in the hot sun is too much for
"Can't afford to ride in carriages. Have spent all my money in
doctor-stuffs. Oh, dear! Well! You say this man lives just beyond
the three-mile stone, at the first road leading off to the left?"
"Two poplars stand at the gate?"
"I ought to find that," said the man.
"You can find it, if you try," returned the doctor.
The man started off again.
"Plague on the persevering fellow!" muttered the man of drugs, as
soon as the invalid retired.
"I wish I'd sent him six miles, instead of three."
The day wore on, but the testimonial-hunter did not reappear. Early
on the next morning, however, his pale, thin face and emaciated
brows were visible in the shop of the quack-doctor.
"Ah! good morning! good morning!" cried the latter, with one of the
most assured smiles in the world. "You found Mr. Johnson, and
pleasant of course?"
"Confound you, and Mr. Johnson, too! No!" replied the invalid
The doctor was a man of great self-control, and, of course, did not
in the least become offended.
"Strange!" said he, seriously. "You surely didn't follow my
"I surely did. The first gate on the left-hand side. But your two
tall poplars was one tall elm."
"There it is again!" and the doctor, in the fulness of his surprise,
actually let a small package, that he held in his hand, fall upon
the counter. "I told you poplars, distinctly. The elm-tree gate is
at least a quarter of a mile this side. But, to settle the matter at
once," and the doctor, speaking like a man who was about doing a
desperate thing, turned to his shelves and took therefrom a bottle
of the Universal Restorer--" here's the medicine. I know it will
cure you. Take a bottle. It shall cost you nothing."
The sick man, tempted strongly by the hope of a cure, hesitated for
a short time, and then said--
"I don't want your stuff for nothing. But half a dollar won't kill
So he drew a coin from his pocket, laid it upon the counter, and,
taking the medicine, went slowly away.
"Rather a hard customer that," said the doctor to himself, with a
chuckle, as he slipped the money in his drawer. "But I'll take good
care to send the next one like him a little farther on his fool's
errand. He'd much better have taken my word for it in the
The sick man never came back for a second bottle of the "Restorer."
Whether the first bottle killed or cured him is, to the chronicler,
TRYING TO BE A GENTLEMAN.
THE efforts which certain young men make, on entering the world, to
become gentlemen, is not a little amusing to sober, thoughtful
lookers on. To "become" is not, perhaps, what is aimed at, so much
as to make people believe that they are gentlemen; for if you should
happen to insinuate any thing to the contrary, no matter how wide
from the mark they go, you may expect to receive summary punishment
for your insolence.
One of these characters made himself quite conspicuous, in
Baltimore, a few years ago. His name was L--, and he hailed from
Richmond, we believe, and built some consequence upon the fact that
he was a son of the Old Dominion. He dressed in the extreme of
fashion; spent a good deal of time strutting up and down Market
street, switching his rattan; boarded at one of the hotels; drank
wines freely, and pretended to be quite a judge of their quality;
swore round oaths occasionally, and talked of his honour as a
His knowledge of etiquette he obtained from books, and was often
quite as literal in his observance of prescribing modes and forms,
as was the Frenchman in showing off his skill in our idioms, when he
informed a company of ladies, as an excuse for leaving them, that he
had "some fish to fry." That he was no gentleman, internally or
externally, was plain to every one; yet he verily believed himself
to be one of the first water, and it was a matter of constant care
to preserve the reputation.
Among those who were thrown into the society of this L--, was a
young man, named Briarly, who had rather more basis to his
character, and who, although he dressed well, and moved in good
society, by no means founded thereon his claim to be called a
gentleman. He never liked L--, because he saw that he had no
principle whatever; that all about him was mere sham. The
consequence was that he was hardly civil to him, a circumstance
which L--was slow either to notice or resent.
It happened, one day, that the tailor of Briarly asked him if he
knew any thing about L--.
"Not much," replied Briarly. "Why do you ask?"
"Do you think him a gentleman?"
"How do you estimate a gentleman?" asked the young man.
"A gentleman is a man of honour," returned the tailor.
"Very well; then L--must be a gentleman, for he has a great deal
to say about his honour."
"I know he has; but I find that those who talk much of their honour,
don't, as a general thing, possess much to brag of."
"Then, he talks to you of his honour?"
"Oh, yes; and gives me his word as a gentleman."
"Does he always keep his word as a gentleman?"
The tailor shrugged his shoulders.
"Not always," he replied.
"Then I should say that the word of a gentleman isn't worth much,"
smilingly remarked Briarly.
"Not the word of such broadcloth and buckram gentlemen as he is."
"Take care what you say, or you may find yourself called to account
for using improper language about this gentleman. We may have a duel
on the carpet."
"It would degrade him to fight with a tailor," replied the man of
shears. "So I may speak my mind with impunity. But if he should
challenge me, I will refuse to fight him, on the ground that he is
"Indeed! How will you prove that?"
"Every man must be permitted to have his own standard of gentility."
"I have mine."
"Ah! Well, how do you measure gentility?"
"By my ledger. A man who doesn't pay his tailor's bill, I consider
no gentleman. If L--sends me a challenge, I will refuse to fight
him on that ground."
"Good!" said Briarly, laughing. "I'm afraid, if your standard were
adopted, that a great many, who now pass themselves off for
gentlemen, would be held in little estimation."
"It is the true standard, nevertheless," replied Shears. "A man may
try to be a gentleman as much as he pleases, but if he don't try to
pay his tailor's bill at the same time, he tries in vain."
"You may be right enough," remarked Briarly, a good deal amused at
the tailor's mode of estimating a gentleman, and possessed of a new
fact in regard to L--'s claim to the honourable distinction of
which he so often boasted.
Shortly after this, it happened that L--made Briarly angry about
something, when the latter very unceremoniously took hold of the
handle on the young man's face, and moved his head around.
Fortunately, the body moved with the head, or the consequences might
have been serious. There were plenty to assure L--that for this
insult he must, if he wished to be considered a gentleman, challenge
Briarly, and shoot him--if he could. Several days elapsed before
L--'s courage rose high enough to enable him to send the deadly
missive by the hand of a friend.
Meantime, a wag of a fellow, an intimate friend of Briarly's,
appeared in Market street in an old rusty coat, worn hat, and
well-mended but clean and whole trowsers and vest. Friend after
friend stopped him, and, in astonishment, inquired the cause of this
change. He had but one answer, in substance. But we will give his
own account of the matter, as related to three or four young bucks
in an oyster-house, where they happened to meet him. L--was of the
"A patch on your elbow, Tom, as I live!" said one; "and here's
another on your vest. Why, old fellow, this is premeditated
"Better wear patched garments than owe for new ones," replied Tom,
with great sobriety.
"Bless us! when did you turn economist?"
"Ever since I tried to be a gentleman."
"Ever since I tried to be a gentleman. I may strut up and down
Market street in fine clothes, switch my rattan about, talk nonsense
to silly ladies, swear, and drink wine; but if I don't pay my
tailor, I'm no gentleman."
"Nonsense," was replied. There was a general laugh, but few of Tom's
auditors felt very much flattered by his words.
"No nonsense at all," he said. "We may put on airs of gentility,
boast of independence and spirit, and all that; but it's a mean kind
of gentility that will let a man flourish about in a fine coat for
which he owes his tailor. Wyville has a large bill against me for
clothes, Grafton another for boots, and Cox another for hats. I am
trying to pay these off--trying to become a gentleman."
"Then you don't consider yourself a gentleman now?" said one.
"Oh, no. I'm only trying to become a gentleman," meekly replied Tom,
though a close observer could see a slight twitching in the corner
of his mouth, and a slight twinkle in the corner of his eye. "My
honour is in pawn, and will remain so until I pay these bills. Then
I shall feel like holding up my head again, and looking gentlemen in
The oddness of this conceit, and the boldness with which it was
carried out, attracted attention, and made a good deal of talk at
the time. A great many tailors' bills were paid instanter that would
not have been paid for months, perhaps not at all. In a few days,
however, Tom appeared abroad again, quite as handsomely dressed as
before, alleging that his uncle had taken compassion on him, and,
out of admiration for his honest principles, paid off his bills and
made a gentleman of him once more.
No one, of course believed Tom to be sincere in all this. It was
looked upon as one of his waggish tricks, intended to hit off some
one, or perhaps the whole class of fine tailor-made gentlemen who
forget their benefactors.
While Tom was metamorphosed as stated, Briarly was waited upon one
day, by a young man, who presented him with a challenge to mortal
combat from the insulted L--, and desired him to name his friend.
"I cannot accept the challenge," said Briarly, promptly.
"Why not?" asked the second of L--, in surprise.
"Because your principal is no gentleman."
"Is no gentleman," coolly returned Briarly.
"Explain yourself, sir, if you please."
"He doesn't pay his tailor, he doesn't pay his boot-maker, he
doesn't pay his hatter--he is, therefore, no gentleman, and I cannot
"You will be posted as a coward," said the second, fiercely.
"In return for which I will post him as no gentleman, and give the
evidence," replied Briarly.
"I will take his place. You will hear from me shortly," said the
second, turning away.
"Be sure you don't owe your tailor any thing, for if you do, I will
not stoop to accept your challenge," returned Briarly. "I will
consider it _primâ facie_ evidence that you are no gentleman.
I know Patterson very well, and will, in the mean time, inform
myself on the subject."
All this was said with the utmost gravity, and with a decision of
tone and manner that left no doubt of the intention.
The second withdrew. An hour elapsed, but no new challenge came.
Days went by, but no "posters" drew crowds at the corners.
Gradually, the matter got wind, to the infinite amusement of such as
happened to know L--, who was fairly driven from a city where it
was no use trying to be a gentleman without paying his tailor's
TAKING A PRESCRIPTION.
SUMMER before last, the time when cholera had poisoned the air, a
gentleman of wealth, standing and intelligence, from one of the
Southern or Middle States, while temporarily sojourning in Boston,
felt certain "premonitory symptoms," that were rather alarming, all
things considered. So he inquired of the hotel-keeper where he could
find a good physician.
"One of your best," said he, with an emphasis in his tones that
showed how important was the matter in his eyes.
"Doctor--stands at the head of his profession in our city,"
returned the hotel-keeper. "You may safely trust yourself in his
"Thank you. I will call upon him immediately," said the gentleman,
and away he went.
The doctor, fortunately, as the gentleman mentally acknowledged, was
in his office. The latter, after introducing himself, stated his
case with some concern of manner; when the doctor felt his pulse,
looked at his tongue, and made sundry professional inquiries.
"Your system is slightly disturbed," remarked the doctor, after
fully ascertaining the condition of his patient, "but I'll give you
a prescription that will bring all right again in less than
And so he took out his pencil and wrote a brief prescription.
"How much am I indebted, doctor?" inquired the gentleman, as he
slipped the little piece of paper into his vest pocket.
"Five dollars for the consultation and prescription," replied the
"Cheap enough, if I am saved from an attack of cholera," said the
patient as he drew forth his pocket-book and abstracted from its
folds the required fee. He then returned to the hotel, and, going to
one of the clerks, or bar-keeper, in the office, said to him--
"I wish you would send out and get me this prescription."
"Prescription! Why, Mr.--, are you sick?" returned the bar-keeper.
"I'm not very well," was answered.
"What's the matter?"
"Symptoms of the prevailing epidemic."
"Oh! Ah! And you've been to see a doctor?"
The bar-keeper shrugged his shoulders, as he replied--
"Good physician. None better. That all acknowledge. But, if you'll
let me prescribe for you, I'll put you all straight in double-quick
"Well, what will you prescribe, Andy?" said the gentleman.
"I'll prescribe this." And, as he spoke, he drew from under the
counter a bottle labelled--"Mrs.--'s Cordial."
"Take a glass of that, and you can throw your doctor's prescription
into the fire."
"You speak confidently, Andy?"
"I do, for I know its virtue."
The gentleman, who had in his hand a prescription for which he had
paid five dollars to one of the most skilful and judicious
physicians in New England, strange as it may seem, listened to this
bar-keeper, and in the end actually destroyed the prescription, and
poured down his throat a glass of "Mrs.--'s Cordial."
It is no matter of surprise that, ere ten o'clock in the evening,
the gentleman's premonitory symptoms, which had experienced a
temporary abatement, assumed a more alarming character. And now,
instead of going to, he was obliged to send for, a physician.
Doctor--, whom he had consulted, was called in, and immediately
recognised his patient of the morning.
"I'm sorry to find you worse," said he. "I did not in the least
doubt the efficacy of the remedy I gave you. But, have you taken the
"Wh--wh--why no, doctor," stammered the half-ashamed patient. "I
confess that I did not. I took something else."
"Something else! What was it?"
"I thought a glass of Mrs.--'s cordial would answer just as well."
"You did! and, pray, who prescribed this for you?" said the doctor,
moving his chair instinctively from his patient and speaking in a
rather excited tone of voice.
"No one prescribed it. I took it on the recommendation of the
bar-keeper down-stairs, who said that he knew it would cure me."
"And you had my prescription in your pocket at the same time! The
prescription of a regular physician, of twenty-five years' practice,
set aside for a quack nostrum, recommended by a bar-keeper! A fine
compliment to common sense and the profession, truly! My friend, if
I must speak out plainly, you deserve to die--and I shouldn't much
wonder if you got your deserts! Good evening!"
Saying this, the doctor arose, and was moving towards the door, when
the frightened patient called to him in such appealing tones, that
he was constrained to pause. A humble confession of error, and
repeated apologies, softened the physician's suddenly awakened
anger, and he came back and resumed his seat.
"My friend," said he, on recovering his self-possession, which had
been considerably disturbed, "Do you know the composition of
Mrs.--'s cordial, which you took with so much confidence?"
"I do not!" replied the gentleman.
"Humph! Well, I can tell you. About nine-tenths of it is cheap
brandy, or New-England rum, which completely destroys or neutralizes
the salutary medicaments that form the tithe thereof. I don't wonder
that this stuff has aggravated all your symptoms. I would, if in
your state of health, about as leave take poison."
"Pray, don't talk to me in that way, doctor," said the patient,
imploringly. "I am sick, and what you say can only have the effect
to make me worse. I am already sufficiently punished for my folly.
Prescribe for me once more, and be assured that I will not again
play the fool."
Doctor--'s professional indignation had pretty well burned itself
out by this time; so he took up the case again, and once more gave a
prescription. In a couple of days, the gentleman was quite well
again; but that Mrs.--'s cordial cost him twenty dollars.
He is now a little wiser than he was before; and is very careful as
to whose prescriptions he takes. It would be better for the health
of the entire community if every individual would be as careful in
the same matter as he is now. Those who are sick should, ere taking
medicine, consult a physician of experience and skill; but, above
all things, they should shun advertised nostrums, in the sale of
which the manufacturers and vendors are interested. Often
testimonials as to their efficacy are mere forgeries. Health is too
vital a thing to be risked in this way.
THE YANKEE AND THE DUTCHMAN;
OR, I'LL GIVE OR TAKE.
A SHREWD Yankee, with about five hundred dollars in his pocket, came
along down South, a few years ago, seeking for some better
investment of his money than offered in the land of steady habits,
where he found people, as a general thing, quite as wide awake as
In Philadelphia, our adventurer did not stay long; but something in
the air of Baltimore pleased him, and he lingered about there for
several weeks, prying into every thing and getting acquainted with
everybody that was accessible. Among others for whom the Yankee
seemed to take a liking, was a Dutchman, who was engaged in
manufacturing an article for which there was a very good demand, and
on which there was a tempting profit. He used to drop in almost
every day and have a talk with the Dutchman, who seemed like a good,
easy kind of a man, and just the game for the Yankee, if he should
think it worth the candle.
"Why don't you enlarge your business?" asked Jonathan, one day. "You
can sell five times what you make."
"I knows dat," returned the Dutchman, "but I wants de monish. Wait a
while, den I enlarsh."
"Then you are laying by something?"
In two or three days, Jonathan came round again. He had thought the
matter all over, and was prepared to invest his five hundred dollars
in the Dutchman's business, provided the latter had no objections.
"It's a pity to creep along in the way you are going," he said,
"when so much money might be made in your business by the investment
of more capital. Can't you borrow a few hundred dollars?"
"Me borrow? Oh, no; nobody lend me few hunnard dollar. I go on, save
up; bimeby I enlarsh."
"But somebody else, with plenty of money, might go into the business
and fill the market; then it would be no use to enlarge."
"Sorry, but can't help it. No monish, no enlarsh."
"I've got five hundred dollars."
The phlegmatic Dutchman brightened up.
"Fife hunnard dollar?"
"Much monish. Do great business on fife hunnard dollar."
"That you could."
"You lend me de monish?" asked the Dutchman.
Jonathan shook his head.
"Can't do that. I'm going into business myself."
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