Fitz-Cowles at Home
|The scene changes to a Chamber in the fourth story of the TON HOTEL, which arises along Chesnut street, a
monster-building, with some hundred windows varying its red-brick face, in the way of eyes, covered with
green-blind shutters, looking very much like so many goggles intended to preserve the sight of the visual organs
aforesaid; while the verandah, on the ground floor, affording an entrance to the bar-room, might be likened to
the mouth of the grand-edifice, always wide open and ready to swallow a customer.
The sunshine of a cold, clear winter morning was streaming dimly, between the half-closed inside shutters, of
the small chamber on the fourth story. The faint light, pouring between the shutters, of the two windows, looking
to the south, served to reveal, certain peculiar characteristics of the place.
There was a dressing bureau, surmounted by a hanging mirror, standing between the two windows of the
chamber. Along the marble top of the bureau, were disposed various bottles of perfumes, whose strong scent
impregnated the atmosphere with remarkable reminiscences of musk, and orange, and lemon, and patchoully; a
pair of well-used kid gloves, which had been white yesterday; a rumpled black scarf; a Play bill figured off with
intoxicated letters, displaying the entertainment at the Walnut Street Theatre the night before; and a glittering
bowie knife, side by side with its silver sheath.
All over the carpet, were scattered Windsor Chairs, either grouped in circles, as though they were talking
about the various gentry who had reposed on their well-cushioned seats; or fixed in strange positions along the
walls, like waiters at a party, overburdened with coats and vests and stocks, and other articles of apparel,
thrown carelessly over their rounds; or yet again flung down on the floor, with their heels in the air, as though
they had taken a drop too much, and didn’t know how to get up again.
There was a large sofa on one side of the room, a coal fire blazing in the grate opposite; while in the dim
distance, you might perceive the outlines of a bed, and hear the deep bass of a heavy snore, which held a
concert of its own, within the closely drawn curtains.
Altogether, that entire room, located in the fourth story of the Ton House, said as plainly as a room can say,
that somebody had come home very late last night, or very early this morning, most probably in liquor; and
called up as witnesses to this interesting assertion, the chairs thrown disorderly about the floor, the gloves and
Bowie knife on the dressing bureau, the hat on the sofa, and the heavy snore within the bed.
Sitting in the blaze of light streaming between the aperture of the half-closed shutters, was a small Creole boy,
whose slight yet perfectly proportioned form, was perched on the edge of a Windsor chair, as with his legs
crossed and his hair flung back from his tawny face, the young gentleman was briskly engaged in elaborating a
fashionable boot into the requisite degree of polish.
The Boy was eminently handsome. His face was a light brown in hue, yet perfectly regular in every feature; his
complexion clear as a ripe Seckel pear; his lips red as May cherries; his eyebrows penciled and arching, and his
eyes full, large, and black; brilliant as diamonds, and glittering as icicles. Long curling hair, marked by that
peculiar jet black, tinged with a shade of deep blue, which designates the child of white and African parents, fell
waving around his neck and face, in stiffened locks, resembling in their texture, the mane of a horse. His form,
light, springy and agile, was the Ideal of a Creole Cupid. Not an outline too large or too small, not the slightest
disproportion visible in a single limb; with small feet and delicate hands, a waist as lithe as a willow, and a hollow
in the back like a bow gently bent, the Creole, was altogether one of the most beautiful things, ever fashioned by
the hand of Nature.
He was a pretty child, and yet his large black eyes had something in their glance which spoke of a precocious
intimacy with the vices and intrigues of manhood.
"Massa tole Dim to polish dat boot until he see his face in de morroccor—" muttered the young gentleman,
brushing away at the glittering leather—"Dim can see his nose, and his two eyes in de boot, but the mouth aint
not perfect. Stop a minnit, I bring dat feature out—ha, ha, hah!"
It was a pleasure to hear the little fellow talk, there was such a delicate accent lingering on his words; and his
laugh, not at all similar to the usual African guffaw, was a quiet chuckle, which rolled lusciously in his mouth like
a delicious morsel, whose sweetness he wished to enjoy at leisure.
"Tink I shall hab to discharge Massa. Debbil of a flare-up ‘tween me and him some day when I tells him; ‘I
don’t want you any more, you sah!—you kin take dem wages and go!’ Kep Dim up till broke ob day. Say dat
Morroccor don shine? Break de lookin’-glasses heart—I tells you. Till broke ob day kep Dim a-waitin’, and
den tumbles into bed, widout so much as giving de chile a-quataw! Oh—de High-Golly!"
This appeal to Master Endymion’s favorite Saint, the High-Golly, supposed to be some imaginary Deity,
created by the fertile fancy of the young Creole, was occasioned by a sudden mishap with the boot, which
resenting a vigorous push of the brush, slipped out of his hands, and went spinning across the room.
"Wonder if the debbil aint in dat Morroccor? I jis does. Nebber see sich a boot in all my born days. I lay a
bran new brass dollar, dat if I was to set dat boot at de head of the stair, and no watch him, he’d streak it right
off to de bar room, and call for a mint-julap, an pull out his quartair to pay for it! I jis try him some day—Ha!
"I say Dim!"
"Yes Massa—I’se about—"
"I say, Dim!" continued the voice which resounded from the interior of the bed-curtains, in the dark corner of
the room, where the snore had been heard—"I say Dim, what kind of a day is it ?"
"Bran new day Massa. Got it’s new coat and trowse’s on."
"I say Dim, what have we got to do to day?"
"Last night de Curnel, gib dis chile a kick, in order to mem’randum dese tings on Dim’s memory. Dis mornin’
you got to pay all your creditors. Dey comes in about an hour. High-Golly—aint dere a lot ob ‘em? Den you got
to see de Lady, who libs in Fourth street. Den you got to go, down town, to see if ole Devil-Bug, keeps dat
dere feller safe. You knows who I means? Den you got to gib Dim, a qua-taw, and not to gib him no kick, by
"Got any hot water, ready for me, Dim?"
"Biles like a steam ingine—"
"Light up the room, Dim!"
And in obedience to this request, Endymion flung back the shutters, and the full glare of the sunlight poured
into the room. The owner of the voice and snore heard from within the curtains, sprung from the bed and
assuming the dressing gown, advanced toward the windows.
Col. Fitz-Cowles, the handsome colonel Fitz-Cowles, stood revealed in the light, his dark-hued face looking
somewhat worn and haggard, around the eyes, while his slender form, attired in the rainbow morning-gown and
close fitting drawers, though well proportioned, and graceful in its outlines, by no means displayed that
perfection of symmetry, which distinguished the person of the millionaire in broad daylight, along Chesnut street.
For instance , the Colonel was thicker around the waist, thinner about the hips, smaller in the region of the
calves, than was usual with him, when arrayed in full dress. His face was very pale and his cheeks lacked that
deep vermillion tint, which gave such life to his dusky countenance at the evening party, or the afternoon parade.
"Dim you d——l—" exclaimed the Colonel, bestowing a gentle hint upon the gentleman of color, with the toe
of his slipper—"Go down and get my breakfast. Tell, the cook to butter my toast, and broil my steak. Vanish!"
Dim vanished through the door at the extreme end of the apartment. Arranging his shaving materials on the
marble top of the dressing bureau, Fitz-Cowles commenced the solemn ceremonies of the toillette.
"Good razor that! Keen! Bad soap this—must kick the barber who sold it to me. Just think of my ticklish
position! In debt up to the ears, forced to leave the United States Hotel * only a day since, in order to avoid my
creditors: perched in the fourth story of the Ton House; and why? Be cause I can’t use the solid stuff, locked up
in that old hair trunk. Can’t use it. Somebody might find out something if I did. Curse the thing but I think the old
trunk’s laughing at me—"
Razor in hand Fitz-Cowles stooped to the floor, and drew from beneath the sofa, an old hair trunk, which
looked as if it had been through all Napoleon’s campaigns, and suffered in the battle of Waterloo; it was so
battered, and scarred and weather-beaten, with great wounds of uncovered leather visible among the worn-out
hair, of its exterior.
"An hundred thousand locked up in that old ruffian of a trunk—" muttered Fitz-Cowles, gazing upon the
object, with an angry scowl—"Half in sovereigns—half in notes! The d——l throttle the fool, why could’nt he
get it all in American gold?"
"De toast is buttered and de steak is briled—" and as he spoke, Endymion entered the room, carrying the
breakfast of his Master in his hands—"Muss discharge dat cook. She gits quite sassy—"
"Dim—" cried Fitz-Cowles, making a hideous face at the glass in the effort to shave his chin—"Set my
breakfast down by the fire, and come here. Now, Dim, answer me, one question. Who are we?"
"Massa take de chile for a philly sofer? Dat berry cute question! Sometime we are a plantaw from the Souf—
sometime we are a son of Mexican Prince; oder time we come from Englan’ and our fader is a Lord. De High-
Golly! We are so many tings, dat de debbil hisself could’nt count ‘em—"
"Where were we this time last month?"
"The month before?"
"New Orleans, Massa—"
"Month afore, that, eh, Dim?"
"How long since we first fixed our quarters in this city?"
"Six month ago, and been a travellin’ about eber since. Led dis chile a debbil ob a life—"
"What were we travelling about for—eh?"
"Axe de ole hair trunk. He tell you plain as pie-crust—"
"I’ll tell you what it is, Dim—" exclaimed Fitz-Cowles laying down the razor, and turning to the handsome
Creole boy—"If you ever whisper a word to any body, about any-thing you may have seen or heard, while you
travelled about with me, these last six months, I’ll just take this knife, and skin you, you black scoundrel, skin
Dim looked up into the scowling face of his master, with a glance of perfect calmness. The brow of Fitz-
Cowles was disfigured by a hideous frown, and his entire countenance, wore an expression, characteristic of a
low bully, who has been accustomed to the vilest haunts, in the most corrupt cities of the South. Dim was used
to these sudden outbursts of passion, when his master, dropping his gentlemanly repose of manner, was wont to
stand before him with his Bowie knife in hand, while with a threatening tongue and sullen brow, he bade him
reveal the things he had seen and the words he had heard; if he dared.
"You black scoundrel, d’ye hear?"
"De High-Golly! Dim aint black and Dim aint no scoundrel. Yes Massa, I hears—"
"If you ever whisper a word, mind, a word, I’d just take this Bowie knife, and cut your heart from your body!
I’d do’t I tell you—"
"What make you do dat for? Dim could’nt draw bref den—"
"Pshaw! You know better than to whisper a word! Here help me to dress, Dim. My corsets, Dim—"
"Here they are Massa—" cried Dim, throwing open, one of the drawers of the dressing bureau—"New pair
"Lay that Morning gown on the chair. Now lace me. Tighter I say—that ‘ill do. That’s about the waist we
want is n’t it Dim?"
"Yes Massa. Dat’s de wasp com-plete!"
"Which hip you want, Massa? Big hip or little hip?" cried Endymion, rummaging in the open drawer—"Dis
"More subdued, Dim, more subdued. Just large enough to make my frock coat set out in the skirt. That’s the
With a careful movement Endymion strapped certain detached portions of padding, around his master’s form
below the waist, and in a moment, this part of the ceremony was finished, giving quite a voluptuous swell to the
outline of the Colonel’s figure.
"Which boots Massa wear to-day? Hab dis big calf or de toder one?"
"We want a good calf to-day, Dim. A large, fat calf. That pair will do. Tie it round the leg—there, there. Draw
the stocking over it—gently—gent-ly! That’s about the outline—eh?"
"Dicky or a shirt, to-day, eh, Dim?"
"Shirt, Massa, as you are goin’ to hold your Lebee!"
"Ha! ha! Wont there be a lot o’ ‘em—the creditors? Black scarf—Dim?"
"Dar it is, Massa. Turn de collar down and tie up de scarf wid dis gole pin—dat’s de ticket!"
"Now, Dim, my slippers. She worked them for me, you know, Dim? How many ladies are engaged to be
married to us, if we will have them?"
"Dare’s de soap biler’s daughter, who spends her fader’s fortin in perfumery. Dare’s de rich grocery man’s
daughter, and de hardware merchant’s daughter, and de wool merchant’s only chile, and dare’s—"
"Oh, d——d them; the set is cursed low. Black pants, Dim? Which is our principle ticket in the female line?
"Ha, ha, ha! Down Fourth street, Massa. De old genelman in New York, and de lady at home by herself! De
"Vest, Dim. The new black vest, which, last night, came home from the tailor. What hour will the creditors be
"Dey comes in that ar door—" observed Endymion, pointing to the door on the right of the western window—
" And, accordin’ to your directions, dey is shown into dat door, which conducts ‘em into de large salloon, where
dere’s fire to warm their hands,and cheers to rest their bodies—"
"Hallo, Dim, there’s a tap at the door—" exclaimed Fitz-Cowles, as, arrayed in the full splendor of his morning
costume, with a gaudy silk wrapper, all broken out into spots of green, blue, and red, thrown round his limbs, he
resumed his seat in the easy chair, beside the breakfast table—"I know the knock. It is Count Common
Sewer—show him in."
Opening the door near the western window, Dim made a profound bow, as he ushered the visiter into the
presence of Col. Fitz-Cowles.
"De Editaw ob de Daily Black Mail. Mistaw Poodle, sah—Buzby Poodle—s-a-h!"
"Ha-ha! Curnel—Bon jour, as we say in French. Seen the Black Mail this morning. Capital on dit about your
gold mines—quite the thing—ensemble de chose, as we say in domestic French—"
As he spoke, Buzby Poodle, Esq., stood bowing and scraping in the centre of the vacant space of carpet,
extending before the breakfast table. Buzby Poodle wasn’t handsome. Not precisely. He was a little thickset
man, with a short heavy body, shaped something like a pine-knot, and irregular legs, fashioned like a pair of
inverted parentheses, or like a pair of sickles with their backs placed together. It must be confessed that his legs
were deplorably knock-kneed, nearly acquainted with each other at the knees, and quite distant in their
intercourse at the feet. Buzby’s feet were not small; Douzzle the bootmaker has been heard to say, with evident
pain, that he would just as soon make slippers for a young hippopotamus, as boots for Buzby. You could not
positively say that Buzby’s hands were small, or delicate, or decently aristocratic. Very short in the fingers, and
very thick across the palm and back, Buzby’s hands reminded you of a terrapin’s fin; they were such peculiar
Buzby’s face wasn’t handsome. It may have been expressive, or intellectual, but it was not handsome.
Looking upon his countenance, you were aware of the presence of a saffron lump of flesh, with a small
projection in the centre for a nose, a delicate gash below this projection for a mouth, and two faint stripes of
whity-brown hair, in the way of eyebrows. His eyes, looking from beneath the brows, without the intervention of
anything you might call an eyelid, had a deplorable half-cooked appearance, very much like the visual organs of
a salt mackerel, roasting on the griddle. A delicate strand of forehead, about half an inch in width, was agreeably
relieved by a dense thicket of curly brown hair. There were mysterious rumors about town with regard to this
luxuriant hair. Several of Buzby’s intimates had been observed to smile, when the ladies complimented him on
his delightful curls; Pettitoes, the wigmaker, always grew mysterious when Poodle’s head of hair was called in
question, and once—but that was on a drinking party, when Pettitoes’s intellects were muddled—he had said,
with a melo-dramatic scowl, that ‘there was some people in this ere world as stuck ‘emselves up mighty high,
and yet wore dead people’s—hum—he wouldn’t say what they wore but they wore—dead people’s—hum—
he could tell what.’
The general contour of his face was so singular, and to use a word which he delighted to repeat on every
occasion—so unique, that Coddle St. Giles, the celebrated miniature painter, who, having been honored with
the patronage of Queen Victoria, had painted the whole royal family from Her Majesty down to the lap-dog;
said, with a painful grimace, that he had never experienced such extraordinary feelings as came over him, when
pourtraying Buzby on costly ivory, but once before in his life, and that—to use Coddle’s delicious cockney
dialect—‘wos when the Royal Menageries had visited my native town, and I ‘ad the extr’onery honor to depict
the lineaments of the female Hourang-Houtang.’
Altogether, Buzby Poodle, Esq., was an extraordinary man; something out of the common run of men; a
specimen of that high pressure style of editorial genius which the Quaker City admires and loves, to the bottom
of its universal heart.
"Like that hint about your gold mines—eh, Curnel?" observed Buzby, flinging his cloak on a chair, and seating
himself beside the breakfast table—"Nice steak for breakfast. Quite recherché—as we say in French. Don’t
care if I do take a pull with you. Get me a plate, Dim—"
"Why Buzby, this will do; yes certainly—" observed Fitz-Cowles, stirring his spoon in the coffee, while he
glanced over the pages of the Daily Black Mail—"But what a bad smell your paper has! Quite an odor. The
patchoully, Dim. Now get a plate for Count Common Sewer—"
"You are so jocular—" exclaimed Buzby with a pleasant laugh—"You have such a quantity of fun about you!
‘Count Common Sewer’—ha, ha, Good! You like that on dit, then?"
"Yes, Buzby, but you must touch ‘em up to-morrow, about the mysterious stranger at the Ton House;
supposed to be the son of an English Earl; perhaps a Prince. You know, my boy ?"
"Don’t I!" exclaimed Buzby taking up Fitz-Cowles’s toast between his fingers—"It takes me—Il pris moi—as
we say in Domestic French—"
"Now Buzby—" exclaimed Fitz-Cowles, fixing his dark eyes on the unmeaning face of the Editor, with a look,
that made the little fellow tremble in his shoes—"You know I pay you, well, for these little advertisements. As a
matter of course, you have some knowledge of my affairs, little knowledge, very little, but you might use it some
day to my injury. What security have I that you will not do so? "
"What security! Good Heaven’s, Curnel!" cried Buzby rising from his chair—"Can you suspect me? This is
too much—" and Poodle’s voice grew quite pathetic—"Why Curnel, to show what are my feelings toward you,
I will now place myself completely in your power—"
Buzby made no reply, but striding with a cautious step, to every door in the room, he assured himself that they
were fast locked and secured; and then with an air of the deepest mystery approached Fitz-Cowles, and gazed
steadily in his face.
"What the d——l do you mean?" exclaimed Fitz-Cowles, as he observed the boiled mackerel eyes fixed upon
"There, there, I’m in your power. The secret’s out. Nobody knows it but myself and wife. Now you know it
too. You can ruin me if you like—"
"What in the d——l do you mean?"
"Why, why—" exclaimed Buzby fingering away at his curly hair— "I wear a wig!"
"Ha! Ha! Ha! roared Fitz-Cowles, as Poodle stood before him, holding his head of hair in his hand—"Ha! Ha!
Ha! Count Common Sewer you do look like old Jocko, the Wonderful Ape whom they exhibited some time
ago at the Masonic Hall! Oh, Jupiter—I shall die! Ha! Ha! Ha! That head—that head!"
It was not the most solemn sight in the world. There stood Buzby, calm and solemn, his luxuriant head of hair
extended in his right hand, while the outline of his real head, clothed with a short, wiry stubble of real hair,
became painfully distinct in the light of the morning sun.
"And how is this, to place you in my power?" asked Fitz-Cowles, after his laughter had subsided to a quiet
chuckle—"Oh, Jupiter! that head! Buzby, do put on your wig, or you’ll drive me into convulsions—"
"How is this to place me in your power?" exclaimed Poodle in a half-offended tone, as he resumed his curly
head of hair—"Would I figure so largely behind the scenes of the Theatre, if the ballet girls knew I wore a wig?
Curse it, the very supes would laugh at me, and the scene-shifters would not hesitate to jeer me! Fitz-Cowles, it
may seem foolish to you, who have no such feelings of a tender nature, but—but—my whole existence is wound
up in that head o’ hair—"
"The deuce it is! Why, Poodle, you didn’t know that it was flung into my plate last night at Monk-Hall did
"Was it, though? Then I must have been drunk—" exclaimed Buzby, with a look of the deepest mortification.
"That accounts for the peculiar ‘sticky’ state of my hair this morning—You think any of the fellows, noticed it?"
"Too drunk for that, Buzby! By-the-bye, you must have had a great many ‘tender adventures’ in your time?
"Hallo, Massa, open dis here door—" the voice of Endymion, who had been down stairs in search of a plate
for Buzby, was heard in the entry—“I hab got de plate for ‘Common Sewer’—"
In a moment the door was opened, and Dim entered with a plate and some additional refreshments; which
having been placed upon the table, Fitz-Cowles and Buzby resumed their breakfast.
" ‘Tender adventures?’ " cried Poodle, masticating a piece of toast as he dropped his knife and fork—"D’ye
He drew a small pocket Bible, from his bosom as he spoke, and displayed it complacently, before the eyes of
the astonished Fitz-Cowles. It was corpulent with letters, inserted between the leaves, like so many anchovies,
between various thin slices of bread-and-butter.
"This rather goes a-head of the wig! What may it mean, Buzby?"
"Don’t you see, I keep all my love letters, in the Bible? Ah, me! If I wasn’t married! Well, well, it can’t be
helped! But these letters might tell a strange tale—"
"Let them tell it by all means—observed Fitz-Cowles; and Buzby pushing his chair back from the table, and
displaying his legs very wide apart, laid the pocket Bible on one knee, and commenced a soliloquy something
after the fashion.
"That’s from a delightful creature, Curnel—" he observed, turning over one of the leaves of the Bible, and
extracting a letter—"She loves me. Of course, I had to be complaisant. Faint heart never won fair lady—Le
coeur ennuyé ne jamais pas engagé la belle blanche—as we say in French. That’s from a vocalist—that from
an actress—and that—ah! Curnel there’s a mystery about it!"
"It’s from an unknown lady. I’ve tried to find out her name through the clerks of the Post Office, but in vain.
She’s a Southern Planter’s daughter, Curnel. Rich, beautiful, just seventeen. Offers me her hand—don’t know I’
m booked. Ah me! it would make the tears come into your eyes if I was to read this letter; there, Curnel, is a
lock of her hair—"
And Buzby, with a look of subdued melancholy, slowly unfolded the letter, and held up in the sunlight a lock of
reddish, brownish hair, which, long and slender, looked amazingly like a patent whip lash.
Fitz-Cowles preserved the gravity of his face with considerable difficulty, while the Creole, Endymion, who
stood at Poodle’s shoulder, placed his hands alternately to his mouth and the pit of his stomach, as though he
was suffering under intermitting attacks of the cholera and toothache.
Buzby sate in the full light of the morning sun, holding the lock of hair, extended in his right hand, while his
other hand absently grasped the pocket Bible.
"You see she is a noble girl—" he exclaimed, gazing fixedly upon the lock of hair, with a glance of painful
melancholy—"Loves me. Spoke of my early struggles in her letter. Asked me if the world hadn’t been hard with
me—if the iron grasp of persecution hadn’t been on my shoulder, ever since the days of slips and pap-spoons—
if it didn’t gall me considerable to think my genius wasn’t appreciated—if———"
Buzby paused, and with a look of tender melancholy, jerked the pinkish lock of hair up and down, as a carter
‘cracks’ his whip.
The action was too much for Fitz-Cowles. He burst into a roar of laughter, while Dim, the Creole, went rolling
over the floor, holding his hands to his side, as though he was laboring under an epileptic fit.
"Curse me if I see any reason for laughing in this manner—" exclaimed Buzby, rising angrily from his seat—
"That’s a very singular boy of yours, Curnel. D——n him, he lays there wriggling like a snake—"
"Ha! Ha! Ha! This is too good—" roared Fitz-Cowles—"Of course, I had no hand in writing that letter—" he
muttered to himself—"Get up, Dim, and behave yourself!"
"Massa, dis quite convulses us—it does—he! he! he!" exclaimed Dim, rising to his feet—"Massa didn’t send
me to the barber, nor nothing, to buy dat hair?" he chuckled, in a whisper inaudible to Buzby’s ears—"Dim didn’
t take de letter to de Pos’ Offis? De High-Golly!"
"This is quite a tender affair—Il est une affaire tendre—as we say in domestic French—" exclaimed Buzby,
resuming his seat, with this sentiment in his peculiarly detestable French—"Pon honor, Curnel—It’s a fact. The
girl—the unknown—loves me devotedly. I should suppose that she read my—paper. How d’ye feel after the
bruise last night?"
"Capital. I intend to have some fun this morning. You see my Governor hasn’t sent me the usual quarterly
remittance. My creditors have been hunting me down for the last fortnight. I have been attacked in the street,
assaulted in the Theatre, beseiged in my Hotel. As a last resort, I appointed a day for each of them to call and
see me; and even named the hour. Of course each creditor is ignorant of the fact, that I have made the same
appointment, with every one of his fellow blood-suckers. It happens to-day at ten o clock, in the next room—
this glorious family party!"
"Ha! Ha! Ha!" laughed Buzby Poodle—"This beats some insolvent schedules quite hollow! I say some—
because I’ve had a little business in that line myself. Out of curiosity—mind ye—only from curiosity, I have
looked over some of the schedules in the court, devoted to such interesting affairs—"
"And you discovered something rich, I s’pose?"
"The old proverb says ‘a man is known by the company he keeps’—comprenez-vous un homme par ses
compagnons du voyage—as we say in domestic French. Now I’m of the opinion that a man is known by his
insolvent schedule. There’s a schedule filed in the proper court, under the delicate nose of their Honors, which
says queer things for the character of its signer. One day he went round town—the jolly dog—getting seven
coats—on credit, mind ye—from seven tailors; rings from this jeweller and breast-pins from that; boots by the
quantity, and hats by the half-dozen; in short, there was scarcely a store in Chesnut street that he didn’t do; not a
credulous merchant—ha, ha, ha!—but was diddled by him, on this remarkable day—"
"Well, well, what was the result?"
"One day, like a clock, he went exclusively ‘on tick:’ the next day the clock stopped going. It was wound up
to some considerable extent. The creditors look blue. Their ‘friend and pitcher’ took the Bankrupt Law!"
"De High-Golly! By de way dat chap tells de story, one ‘ud think he did all dat his ownsef ! Ha—hah!"
"Buzby, your paper must make you some considerable amount of ‘l’argent.’ How d’ye manage the ‘Daily
Black Mail?’ "
This question appealed to the noblest sympathies of Poodle’s heart. He rose slowly from his seat, he glanced
round with an expression of condescending pride, and his face became radiant with a sudden enthusiasm.
"How do I manage the ‘Daily Black Mail?’ " he exclaimed, extending his right fin, in the manner of a stump-
orator, who wishes to enrapture a mass meeting, consisting of a few dirty boys, one loafer, and two small dogs—
"I do it a little in the footpad line. A big motto at the paper’s head—‘Fiat justitia’—you know the rest. Do I
want the cash? I stick in an article charging some well-known citizen with theft, or seduction, or some more
delightful crime. Citizen comes down in a rage wants the article contradicted in next day’s paper. He pays for
the contradiction, of course. I have known a mere on dit that so-and-so, had committed a ‘hideous crime,’ to
bring me in as much as a cool hundred at a ‘lick—’ "
"How do you manage to acquire so much favor with the ‘sex?’ "
"Take the Theatre, for instance. A new actress appears. Suppose her virtuous or silly. I make advances. She
foolishly repels me: very likely calls me a—puppy. Next day an on dit appears in ‘Black Mail,’ headed,
‘Licentiousness of the stage,’ and embracing some compassionate allusion to the lady aforesaid. You
understand? I damage her reputation by a paragraphical slur—"
"And she capitulates?"
"Sometimes; and sometimes she don’t. But I keep up this delightful fire of genteel insinuations, delicate
allusions, and spicy on dits. If the girl’s character is ruined, it isn’t my fault, I’m sure—"
"It’s quite refreshing to hear you talk in this way. Are not times pretty dull with you now?"
"Oh, Lord, yes ! Hasn’t been a suicide for a week. Not even a murder down town, nor a nigger baby killed. I
do wish something lively would spring up for Christmas—now an ‘abduction case’ with the proper trimmings,
would go it with a rush! Allez avec une furie—as we say in domestic French!"
"How d’ye stand with the other papers?"
"Guess—when I tell you one slight circumstance. They regard my paper as a sort of literary galleys, in which
every aspirant for fame, must serve his time. An author, who has once been connected with my sheet, is
regarded as a convict all his life, by the rest of the world newspaporial. Good phrase that!"
"D’ye edit your paper, by yourself!"
"Bless you, no! I know a trick worth two o’ that—Je comprend un artifice double-la—as we say in
domestic French. Whenever I find an author in extreme distress—rather out of pocket, you know?—I take him
into my office; give him a dog’s salary, and make him do a dog’s work."
"Dog’s work, indeed! If he assists in getting up your paper!" was the murmured remark of Fitz-Cowles.
"Should he leave me—and they always do leave me after a month or so—I libel him on every occasion, and
talk about ‘ingratitude’—ha, ha, ha! But the poor devil, can never get rid of the crime of having been connected
with my paper! That sticks to him, like ‘original sin’ to a Puritan!"
"Well, Buzby, you have given me some fresh ideas about newspapers—" observed Fitz-Cowles—"I thought I
knew them like a book! You have given me a new wrinkle!"
He said this and gazed silently into the saffron face of Buzby Poodle.
Oh, glorious Liberty of the Press, let us take the opportunity afforded by this quiet moment, and chaunt a
psalm in your praise! Oh, glorious Press, what a comfort it must be to you, to think and feel in your inmost heart,
that Buzby Poodle who sits smiling in yonder chair, is no reality, no fact; but a mere fictitious impersonation of all
the evils, which spring around your life, and darken your existence!
Oh, magnificent Quaker City, with your warehouses, and your Churches, your Theatres and your Brothels,
your Banks and your Insane Hospitals, your Loan Companies and your Alms Houses, how delightful to all your
denizens, must be the reflection that Buzby Poodle s no living nuisance, but an airy, though loathsome creation of
the author’s brain!
Nursed from his very infancy in the purlieus of the dance-house; an associate of the ruffian and the courtezan,
from his earliest childhood; crawling from the pages of his foul journal, over the fairest reputations in the
community; sneering at the character of this man’s virtuous wife; blasting with his leprous pen, that man’s
stainless child; in his person and soul, one hideous blot and breathing deformity; an ulcer cankering over the
bosom of society; a bravo who stabs for his dollar; a hireling who without character, without reputation, without
even a name, prowls abroad, selling his sheet, to any man that will buy it, for any purpose under heaven; a
tolerated infamy; an uncaged jail-bird an unconvicted felon—oh, Glorious, Quaker City, does it not make your
moral heart grow warm, when you remember that a creature, despicable as this, has no existence in fact,
but is only a fancy of the author, a fiction of his brain!
Other cities may have their abominations in the shape of a licentious press, with marketable Editors, who have
in their time, pursued every honest occupation, from body-snatching up to newspaper publishing; but the Quaker
City, like the Ideal town of some far-off El Dorado, is so pure, so spotless, that an Author in search of a cut-
throat Editor, by the portraiture of whose character, he means to throw a dark relief around the brighter portions
of his pages, must set his wits to work, and invent, a Buzby Poodle!
Oh, rare invention—Buzby Poodle—long may it be, ere a thing like you shall start into tangible existence, and
all be-wigged and sickle-legged, walk visibly along Chesnut Street; a diminutive incarnation of a most nauseous
"Go to the door, Dim! There’s the first of the Creditors! Be quiet, Poodle and enjoy the fun—"
"Yes Massa, I opens the door—" cried Endymion as the hoarse voice of Creditor One, was heard in the next
"Tell Col. Fitz-Cowles, that Mr. Bluffly Bulk want’s to see him."
And as the hoarse voice echoed through the aperture, Mr. Bluffly Bulk, appeared in the doorway, driving an
immense paunch before him, as he walked along. His small head overlooked his immense corporation, like a pea
observing the circumference of a pumpkin.
"Well, Fitz-Cowles—" said Mr. Bulk—"I’ve called according to appointment. You owe me a fee in the case
of ‘Commonwealth vs. Fitz-Cowles’—charge, lathering a watchman. The fee is ‘fifty.’ Pay it, and let me go—"
"Do me the kindness to step this way—" exclaimed Fitz-Cowles with one of his best bows as he motioned
Creditor One, toward the small door, opposite—"In a moment I’ll see you; and settle this little matter."
Bluffly Bulk Esq., disappeared within the eastern door, muttering strange curses as he walked along.
"Dar goes ten o’ Cloc’ Massa—" exclaimed Dim listening at the keyhole of the western door—"De High-
Golly! I hear more of ‘em in the nex’ room—"
"Show ‘em in Dim! One at a time! Ha! Whom have we here! My friend Smith—John Smith theUpholster—"
A little thin man, with a narrow face, a starved nose, and a green overcoat, advanced and seized Fitz-Cowles
earnestly by the hand.
"Note to pay to day Sir—" he said in a thrilling whisper—"Bill for the curtains, you got of me, when you was
at the United States Hotel—Six hundred and fifty two dollars, twelve and a half cents. Tight times Sir. Money
very scarce—shall I give you a receipt Sir?—"
"In the next room if you please—" observed Fitz-Cowles with a pleasant smile—"You see my old fellow, we’ll
fix that matter in a minute—"
"Bress your eyes, Massa, dey are a-growlin’ like cat-an’ dog in toder room!" observed Dim holding the door
slightly open—"I hear’s ‘em a-comin up de stairs; and I hear’s de sarvant a-showin’ ‘em into the next room—"
"This grows quite refreshing! Almost equal to a Schedule at the Insolvent Court!"
"Is Misther Fitz-Cow-howles, in the house himself, jest? Be aisy thare ye nager, and let me come in. Dhrop a
word into his private ear, that Michael O’Flannagan, French Boot Maker from Paris, is a wantin’ to get the taste
ov a sight ov him—"
And a large boned man, attired in a shabby white great coat, with an old fur cap drawn over his eyes, came
rushing into the room. He stood full six feet in his stockings; and his red face, seen through the apertures of his
hair and whiskers, all of the same burning red, looked very much like the countenance of a man who won’t stand
upon trifles; or occupy his time in breaking the hind legs of a flea.
"Oh—the blazes! But them sixteen pair of stairs give me a pain in the side; the top o’ th marnin’ to ye
Colonel—its yerself that’s lookin’ like a canary bird the-day. Shall we fingher the pewther Curnel? Cinshider the
seventeen pair o’ boots, all done and complated by Michael O’Flannagan, French Boot Maker, from the City of
Pari-i-s, in the ould Counthry—"
"He’s got the real Parisian accent!" exclaimed Buzby Poodle—"Talks like a native. Quite au fait!"
"The accshent? And who the divil should have the accshent, but me? Wasn’t I brot up all my life, a giniwine
Frenchman, and didn’t my father fight with ould Boney, in the scrimmage of Watherloo?"
"You speak it like a native Mikey. This way; I’ll talk to you in minute. Show ‘em in, Dim."
"Mistaw Douzzle, de toder Boot Maker from Paris!"
A mouldy looking man, of short stature, and a heavy face, invested by a dampish beard of some indefinable
color, was now shown into the room, with his arms hanging straight by his sides, like pendulums to some walking
"Curnel, I ish in want fery mosh ov dat small bill for de French Boots. Times is hardt; mine wife is sick, and
von childt has got de measles. Eight pair of fine French Boots—seven dollars a-pair—seven eight ish fordy-
"Next room Douzzle. See you in a minute. Keep on showin’ ‘em in Dim!"
"I ‘ave the honour, to present my small bill—" exclaimed a little man in a Cockney face, and brown sack
coat—"To one portrait of Col. Fitz-Cowles, fifty dollars. Very much in want of money, to day Sir. Obliged to
you for a little. Never since I ‘ad the extron’ery honor, to paint Her Royal Majesty Victoria, and Prince Albert
with the ‘ouses o’ Parliament and the lap-dog in the background, never since that ere blessed moment, ‘ave I
taken so much pains with a mini’ture as with yours! Out of wood sir—out of coal sir—out of ivory, Sir— "
"Not out of brass I hope? Ha! Ha! Ha! There I had you St. Giles! Walk into the next room if you please! Pass
‘em this way, Dim!"
And Dim did pass them that way to some considerable extent. It should be borne in mind, that Col. Fitz-
Cowles had been living for some time past in a style of princely splendor, kept up and supported by a numerous
retinue of credulous tradesmen. The results of this princely style, now manifested themselves in the shape of
some four-and-thirty creditors, who came pouring from the ante-room, one after another, in quick succession,
with their bills in hand, and their demands ringing loudly on the air, like a delightful chorus to the grand drama of
the Bankrupt law.
"A small bill for horse hire. To a chaise and four—" began a little thick set man, with brown whiskers, and a
short bang-up, smelling strongly of the race-course—"To a chaise and four, seventeen times—"
"My little bill for ten coats, fifteen pair of pants—fourteen vests and a dickey—" interrupted a solemn looking-
personage pressing hurriedly forward—"Firm of Flunk, Checkley and Co. Five hundred and fifty dol—"
"I ‘ave furnish you with parfumerie, to dis amount—"
"Seventy one pair of gloves. White kid. Hoskin’s—"
"To the use of my cab, Gineral Washington won-hunder’ and fafty times—"
"To, the ‘Genelman’s Universal Wardrobe, an Furnishin’ store,’ Col. Fitz-Cowle’s, Debtor—Sixteen fine
"My bill for Dry Goods, sir—" said a pompous man, with a snub nose and immense ragged whiskers—
"McWhiley Mumshell, sir. Two hundred and six—"
" ‘Pothecary’s bill for med’cine. Seven bottles Swain’s Panacea—"
"Ha—ha! This beats the Insolvent Court! What a scene for the next Black Mail!"
"De High-Golly! Dey come wid a parfac looseness, dis time!"
"Gentlemen, gentle-men—" exclaimed Fitz-Cowles, looking from face to face with a pleasant smile—"You
are really too impatient. To see you rushing forward in this style, one would think I had the wealth of Girard in
my pockets. Step into the next room, gentlemen. All your demands shall be satisfied—"
A murmur of satisfaction burst from the contrasted throng, and in an instant they had all disappeared into the
"Now, Buzby, let’s wait a few minutes, until they begin to grow feverish. When I think they’ve worked
themselves up into the proper humor, we’ll step in, and take a look at them. I’ll show you how to bluff off a
"I thought I was rather au fait at that business myself. However—onter noos—as we say in domestic
Come back next week
and see how the Colonel bluffs the collectors
Fitz-Cowles and his Creditors