FRIGHTENED AT A GONG.
We have heard a funny story told of a young fellow, residing in one of the tobacco-growing counties of Virginia, who recently made his first visit to Richmond, the capital of the “Old Dominion,” for the purpose of selling his crop, seeing the sights, and rubbing off some of the rust which his backwoods “fetching-up” had thrown upon his manners.
He reached Richmond about the middle of the afternoon, and was fortunate in selling his crop at an advantageous rate and almost immediately. Meeting with an old school-fellow—one who had lived in the city long enough to know its ways—he was advised to take up his lodgings at Boyden’s, the crack house of the place, and thither he at once went with a bag and baggage. Just before dinner his country friend called upon him, and found him comfortably located in a room just at the head of the first stairs. It was close upon dinner time.
“Supposing we take something to start an appetite,” said the chap who had “just come down.”
“Agreed,” rejoined his city friend, “a glass of wine and bitters for me.”
“Let’s go down to the bar and get it—dinner’s most ready,” continued the tobacco grower.
“We might as well have it up here,” was the rejoinder.
“Good lick ; but how are we to call for it?”
“Ring that bell there.”
“Pull that rope hanging there.”
The young fellow laid hold of the rope and gave it a jerk, and just at that moment the gong sounded for dinner. Never had he heard such a sound before, and the rumbling crash came upon his ear with a report that stunned him. He staggered back from the rope, raised both hands in horror, and exclaimed,
“Great Jerusalem, what a smash! I’ve broke every piece of crockery in the house! There aint a whole dish left! You must stick by me, old fellow,” addressing his friend, “don’t leave me in this scrape, for my whole crop won’t half pay the breakage. What did you tell me to touch that cursed rope for?”
But before his friend, who was all but bursting with laughter, could answer, a servant entered the room with
“Did you ring the bell, sir?”
“Bell, no, d—n your bell : I never touched a bell in my life : what bell? I never saw your bell.”
“Somebody rung the bell of this room, that’s certain,” continued the servant.
“No, they didn’t. There’s nobody here that ever saw a bell”—and then, turning to his friend he exclaimed, aside, “Let’s lie him out of it ; I shan’t have a cent left to get home if I pay the entire damage. What do they set such rascally traps as that for, to take in folks from the country?”
After a violent fit of laughter, the friend was enabled to explain that it was only the gong sounding for dinner—as simple summons to “walk down to soup” got up on the Chinese plan. They made their way to the dining-room, but it was some time before the young tobacco grower could get over the stunning and awful effects of that dreadful gong—“It was a God send” he said, “that the crash did not turn his hair gray upon the spot.”
Source: New York Spirit of the Times 15.40 (29 November 1845): 468. University of Virginia Alderman Library.
Erin Bartels prepared this typescript.
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