Written for the “ Spirit of the Times,” by U. J. JONES.

Some famous writer, whose name has slipped my memory, once asserted that he never opened a book or newspaper but what he learned something. As an offset to this, I can safely assert that I never listened to the “ bar-room yarns” of any company, however unintellectual an appearance it wore, without gaining a new idea, and occasionally one worth circulation.

A week or two ago, during my peregrinations through Northern Pennsylvania, spreading knowledge among the denizens thereof, (I sell books !) I “ just dropt in” at a comfortable looking inn, where I concluded to remain for a day or two. After a good substantial supper, I lit a “ York County Principe,” (the like of which sell in these regions at the rate of four for a penny,) and seated myself in the ring formed around the bar-room stove. There was the brawny butcher, the effeminate tailor, a Yankee fidler, two horse dealers, a speculator, a blackleg, the village Esculapius, and “ the Captain,” who, in consequence of being able to live on his means, was a person of no small importance, and therefore allowed to sit before the firestove with the poker to stir the fire--a mark of respect granted only to persons of standing.

Yarn after yarn had been spun and the hour for retiring had arrived--the landlord was dosing behind his bar,--and the spirit of the conversation was beginning to flag, when the Doctor whispered to me that if I would pay attention, he would “ top off” with a good one.

“ I believe, Captain,” said the Doctor, “ I never told you about my adventure with a woman at my boarding house, when I was attending the lecture ?”

“ No, let’s have it,” replied the individual addressed, who was a short, flabby, fat man of about fifty, with a highly nervous temperament, and a very red face.

“ At the time I attended the lectures, I boarded at a house in which there were no females, but the landlady and an old colored cook------”

(Here the Doctor made a slight pause, and the Captain, by way of requesting him to go on, said “ Well.”)

“ I often felt the want of female society to soften the severe labors of deep study, and dispel the ennui to which I was subject---------”

“ Well,” said the Captain.

“ But as I feared that forming acquaintances among the ladies might interfere with my studies, I avoided them all------”

“ Well.”

“ One evening after listening to a long lecture on Physical Anatomy, and after dissecting a large negro, fatigued in body and mind, I went to my lodgings------”

“ Well,” said the Captain.

“ I went into the hall, took a large lamp, and went directly to my room, it being then after 1 o’clock------”

“ Well !”

“ I placed the light upon the table, and commenced undressing. I had hardly got my coat off when my attention was attracted to a frock, and a quantity of petticoats lying on a chair near the bed------”

“ Well !” said the Captain, who began to show signs that he was getting deeply interested.

“ And a pair of beautiful small shoes and stockings on the floor. Of course I thought it strange, and was about to retire--but then I thought as it was my room, I had at least a right to know who was in my bed------”

“ Exactly,” nodded the Captain, “ well !”

“ So I took the light, went softly to the bed, and with a trembling hand, drew aside the curtain. Heavens ! what a sight ! A young girl--I should say an angel, of about 18, was in there asleep------”

“ Well !” said the Captain, giving his chair a hitch.

“ As I gazed upon her, I thought that I had never witnessed anything more beautiful. From underneath a little night-cap, rivalling the snow in whiteness, being a stray ringlet over a neck and shoulders of alabaster------”

“ Well !” said the excited Captain, giving his chair another hitch.

“ Never did I look upon a bust more perfectly formed. I took hold of the coverlid------”

“ Well !” said the Captain, throwing his right leg up over his left.

“ And softly pulled it down------”

“ Well !” said the Captain, betraying the utmost excitement.

“ To her waist------”

“Well ! ” said the Captain, dropping the paper, and renewing the position of his legs.

“ She had on a night dress, buttoned up before, but softly I opened the first two buttons------”

“ WELL ! ! !” said the Captain, wrought to the highest pitch of excitement. [1]

“ And then, ye Gods ! what a sight to gaze upon—a Hebe—pshaw ! words fail. Just then------”

“ WELL ! ! !” said the Captain hitching his chair right and left, and squirting his tobacco juice against the stove that it fairly fizzed again.

“ I thought that I was taking a mean advantage of her, so I covered her up, seized my coat and boots, and went and slept in another room !”

“It’s a lie ! ” shouted the excited Captain, jumping up and kicking over his chair. “ It’s a lie ! I’ll bet you fifty dollars that you got into the bed ! ”

HARRISBURG, Pa., Dec. 7th.

Notes: Though set outside the Southern Frontier, this piece illustrates well what could be called a sub-genre of frontier sketch: a person forced to undress before a member of the opposite sex (usually awake instead of sleeping, as we have it here).

Source: New York Spirit of the Times 15.42 (13 December 1845): 490. University of Virginia Alderman Library.

Erin Bartels prepared this typescript.

[1] "ell" appears in small caps here--we have retained it. This could be a typo, or the typesetter may have tried his best to reflect the Captain's ever-more-salacious interest in the story!

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