First Season at
Ha, ha! said Uncle Joe Blinks, as the subject of summer travel, a
jaunt somewhere, was being discussed among the regular boarders in Mrs.
Bamberry's spacious old-fashioned parlors; Ha! ha! ha! ladies, did
Mrs. Bamberry ever tell you of my tour to Saratogy
Springs?last summer was two years.
No, said several of us neuter genders who had repeatedly
heard all about it, but were desirous that those who had not been thus
gratified, especially the ladies, and particularly a Miss Scarlatina,
who was dieting for a tour to the famed Springstell us all
about it, Major.
Then, said the Major, with his favorite exclamation, then, by the
banks of Brandywine, if I don't tell you. You see, last summer was two
years, I came to the conclusion, that I'd stop off business,
altogether, brush up a little, and go forth a mite more in the world,
and I went. A friend of mine, a married man, was going up north to
Saratogy, with his wife and sistera plaguy nice young woman, the
sister was, too; well, I don't know how it was, exactly, but somehow or
other, it came into my head, especially as my friend Padlock had asked
me if I wouldn't like to go up to Saratogythat I'd go, and I went. It
was odd enough, to be sure, said Uncle Joe, taking a pinch of rappee
from his tortoise-shell boxvery odd, in fact, but somehow or other,
Mrs. Padlock, being in poor health, and her sister, a rather volatile
and inexperienced young woman, you may say
So that you had to beau her along the way, Uncle Joe? says
several of the company.
Well, yes; it was very odd, I don't know how it was, but somehow or
Out with it, Uncle Joeown up; you cottoned to the young lady,
gallant as possible, eh? says the gents.
Ha! ha! it's a very delicate thing, very delicate, I assure you,
gentlemen, for an old bachelor to be on the slightest terms of intimacy
with a young
And beautiful! echoed the company.
Unexperienced, continued the Major.
And unprotected, says the chorus.
Volatile, added the Major.
And marriageable young lady, like Miss
Miss Catchem, said the Major.
Catchem! cried the gents.
Catchem, that was her name; she was the daughter of a very
respectable widow, continued the Major.
A widow's daughter, eh? said they all, now much interested in
Uncle Joe's journey to Saratoga, andbut we won't anticipate.
Of a very respectable widow, whose husband, I believe, was abut
no matter, they were of good family, and a
Yes, yes, Uncle Joe, said the ladies, no doubt of that; go on
with your story; you paid attention to Miss Catchem; you grew
familiaryou became mutually pleased with each other, and you
finallywell, tell us how it all came out, Uncle Joe, do! they cried.
Bless me, ladies! You've quite got ahead of my storyaltogether!
Miss Catchem and I never spoke a word to each other in our lives, said
Why, Uncle Joe! cried the whole party.
By banks of Brandywine, it's a fact.
Well, we never! cried all the ladies.
Well, ladies, I don't suppose you ever did, Uncle Joe responds.
The fact is, Mrs. Padlock died suddenly the week Padlock spoke to me
of going to Saratogy, and he married her sister, Miss Catchem, in
course of a few weeks after, himself! I don't know how it was, but
somehow or other, I thought it was all for the best; things might have
turned out that I should have got tangled up with that girl, and a
Been a married man, now, instead of a bachelor, Uncle Joe! said
the young ladies.
It's odd; I don't know how it was, ladies; it might have been so,
but it turned out just as I have stated.
Well, well, Major, said an elderly person of the group; go on;
how about Saratoga?
I will, says Uncle Joe, again resorting to his rappee, I will.
You see Padlock didn't go, it was very odd; but somehow or
other, I made up my mind to go, and I went. I calculated to be
gone three or four weeks, and I concluded for once, at least, to loosen
the strings of my purse, if I never did again; so I laid out to expend
three dollars or so, each day, say eighty dollars for the trip; a good
round sum, I assure you, to fritter away; but, by banks of Brandywine,
I was determined to do it, and I did. It was very odd, but the
first person I met at New York was an old friend, a schoolmate of mine.
I was glad to see him, and sorry enough to learn that he had failed in
businesshad a large familypoorin distress. It was very odd, but
somehow or other, we dined at the hotel togetherhad a bottle of
Madeira, and I awell, I loanedyes, by banks of Brandywine, I gave
the poor fellow a twenty dollar bill, shook hands and parted; yes, poor
Billy Merrifellow, we never met again; hehe died soon after, in
distress, his family broke upscattered; it was very odd; poor fellow,
he's gone; and Uncle Joe again had recourse to his rappee, while a
large tear hung in the corner of his full blue eye. Closing his box,
and wiping his face with his pongee, the Major continued:
Next morning I called for my bill. I was astonished to find that a
couple of bottles of good wine, two extra meals, and something over one
day's board, figured up the round sum of ten dollars. I was three days
out, so far, and my pocket-book was lessened of half the funds intended
for a month's expenses! By banks of Brandywine, thinks Major, my boy,
this won't do; you must economize, or you shall be short of your
reckonings before you are a week out of port. That morning at the
steam-boat wharf I meets a young man very genteelly dressed; he looked
in deep distress about something. It was very odd, I don't know how it
was, but somehow or other, he came up to me and asked if I was going up
the river, and I very civilly told him I was; then, he up and tells me
he was a stranger in the city, had lost all his money by gambling, was
in great distresshad nothing but a valuable watcha present from his
deceased father, a Virginia planter, and a great deal more. He begged
me to buy the watch, when I refused at first, but finally he so
importuned me, and offered the watch at a rate so apparently below its
real value that I up and gave him forty dollars for it, thinking I
might in part, indemnify my previous extravagance by this little bit of
a trade. It was very odd; I don't know how it was, but somehow or
other, upon my arrival at Saratogy, I found that watch wasn't worth the
powder that would blow it up! I was imposed upon, cheated by a
scoundrel! Here I was, four days from home, and my whole month's outfit
nigh about gone. In the stage that took us from the boat to the
Springs, rode a very respectable youngish-looking woman, with a very
cross child in her arms; we had not rode far before I found the other
passengers, all gentlemen, apparently much annoyed by the child; for my
part I sympathized with the poor woman, got into a conversation with
herlearned she was on her way to Saratogy to see her husband, who was
engaged there as a builder. Upon arriving at Saratogy, the young woman
requested me to hold her childit was fast asleepuntil she stepped
over to a new building to inquire about her husband. I did so; she went
away, and I never saw her from that to this!
A loud and prolonged laugh from his auditors followed this
tableau in Uncle Joe's story. A little more rappee, and the Major
Well, it was very odd, I don't know how it was, but somehow or
other I was left with the child, and a plaguy time had I of it; the
town authorities refused to take charge of it, nobody else would; so by
Brandywine, there I was; the people seemed to be suspicious of
mesniggered and went on as though I knew more about the woman and her
child than I let on. In short, I had to father the child, and provide
for it, and I did, said the Major, quite patriotically.
Well, never mind, Uncle Joe, said Mrs. Bamberry; that boy may pay
you yetpay you for all your trouble; he's growing nicely, and will
make a fine man.
So you really had to keep the child! cried several.
O yes, says the Major; I was in for it; I got a nurse and had the
youngster taken care of. The hotels were crowded, very uncomfortable,
rooms wretched, small, damp, and dirty. The landlords were quite
independent, and the servants the most impudent set of extorting
varlets I ever encountered! To keep from starving, I did as
othersbribed a waiter to keep my plate supplied. At night they had
what they called 'hops!' in other words, dances, shaking the whole
house, and raising such a noise and hullabaloo, with cracked horns,
squeaky fiddlesbawling and yelling, that no sailor boarding house
could be half so disturbant of the peace. By banks of Brandywine, I got
enough of such folderols; at the end of the week I asked for my
bill, augmented by some few sundriesit made my hair stand up. Now
what do you suppose my bill was, for one week, board, lodging,
servants' bribes and sundries? I'll tell you, said the Major,
for you never could guess itit was forty-one dollars, fifty cents. I
took my protege, bag and baggage, and started for home. I was
absent on this memorable tour to Saratogy just two weeks, and by banks
of Brandywine, if the expense of that tournot including the time
wasted, vexation, bother, mortification of feelings, fuss, and
rumpuswas but a fraction less than three hundred dollars! Four times
the cost of my anticipated trip, lessened half the time, with fifty per
cent. more humbug about it than I ever dreamed of!
Miss Scarlatina agreed with the rest of the company, that it cost
Uncle Joe Blinks more to go to Saratogy than it came to, and they all
concludednot to go there themselves, just thenany how!