The Worship of the American Puritans

Early American Furniture

Customs and Fashions in Old New England

serted, and the proprietors pondered for a week trying to invent some way to still further cut down the entirely vanished rates. They at last placarded the taverns with announcements that they would not only carry their patrons free of expense, but would give each traveller on their coaches a good dinner at the end of his journey. The old coach-line was rich and at once counter-advertised a free dinner and a good bottle of wine too, to its patrons—and there, for a time, the fierce controversy came to a standstill, both lines having crowded trips each day.

Mr. Shaffer, who was a fashionable teacher of dancing and deportment in Boston, and a well-known "man about town," a jolly good fellow, got upon the Providence coach one Monday morning in Boston, had a gay ride to Providence and a good dinner and bottle of wine at the end of the journey, all at the expense of the coach company. On Tuesday he rode more gayly still back to Boston, had his dinner and his wine, and was up on Wednesday morning to mount the Providence coach for the third ride and dinner and bottle. He returned to Boston on Thursday in the same manner. On Friday the fame of his cheap fun was thoroughly noised all over Boston, and he collected a crowd of gay young sparks who much enjoyed their frolicking ride and the fine Providence dinners and wine. All returned in high spirits with Shaffer to Boston on Saturday to meet the sad, sad news that the rival coach lines had made a compromise and had both signed a contract to carry passengers thereafter for two dollars a trip.

Upon Tremont Street, near Winter Street, in Boston, there stood at that time in a garden a fine old house which was kept as a restaurant, and was a pleasant summer lounging-place for all gay cits. One day a very portly, aldermanic man presented himself at the entrance of the restaurant and asked the price of a dinner. Shaffer, who was present, immediately assumed all the obsequious airs of a waiter, and calling for a tape-measure, proceeded to measure the distance around the protuberant waist of the astonished and insulted inquirer, who could hardly believe his sense of hearing when the impudent Shaffer very politely answered, "Price of dinner, sir!—about four dollars, sir!—for that size, sir!" Such were the practical jokes of stage and tavern life in olden days.

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