Life And Adventures Of Martin Chuzzlewit
Part 6 out of 20
supposing that any cold scrap of the Bachelor's wisdom could cheer
him in such circumstances, found!--
Well, well! not much, but Tom's all. The half-sovereign. He had
wrapped it hastily in a piece of paper, and pinned it to the leaf.
These words were scrawled in pencil on the inside: 'I don't want it
indeed. I should not know what to do with it if I had it.'
There are some falsehoods, Tom, on which men mount, as on bright
wings, towards Heaven. There are some truths, cold bitter taunting
truths, wherein your worldly scholars are very apt and punctual,
which bind men down to earth with leaden chains. Who would not
rather have to fan him, in his dying hour, the lightest feather of a
falsehood such as thine, than all the quills that have been plucked
from the sharp porcupine, reproachful truth, since time began!
Martin felt keenly for himself, and he felt this good deed of Tom's
keenly. After a few minutes it had the effect of raising his
spirits, and reminding him that he was not altogether destitute, as
he had left a fair stock of clothes behind him, and wore a gold
hunting-watch in his pocket. He found a curious gratification, too,
in thinking what a winning fellow he must be to have made such an
impression on Tom; and in reflecting how superior he was to Tom; and
how much more likely to make his way in the world. Animated by
these thoughts, and strengthened in his design of endeavouring to
push his fortune in another country, he resolved to get to London as
a rallying-point, in the best way he could; and to lose no time
He was ten good miles from the village made illustrious by being the
abiding-place of Mr Pecksniff, when he stopped to breakfast at a
little roadside alehouse; and resting upon a high-backed settle
before the fire, pulled off his coat, and hung it before the
cheerful blaze to dry. It was a very different place from the last
tavern in which he had regaled; boasting no greater extent of
accommodation than the brick-floored kitchen yielded; but the mind
so soon accommodates itself to the necessities of the body, that
this poor waggoner's house-of-call, which he would have despised
yesterday, became now quite a choice hotel; while his dish of eggs
and bacon, and his mug of beer, were not by any means the coarse
fare he had supposed, but fully bore out the inscription on the
window-shutter, which proclaimed those viands to be 'Good
entertainment for Travellers.'
He pushed away his empty plate; and with a second mug upon the
hearth before him, looked thoughtfully at the fire until his eyes
ached. Then he looked at the highly-coloured scripture pieces on
the walls, in little black frames like common shaving-glasses, and
saw how the Wise Men (with a strong family likeness among them)
worshipped in a pink manger; and how the Prodigal Son came home in
red rags to a purple father, and already feasted his imagination on
a sea-green calf. Then he glanced through the window at the falling
rain, coming down aslant upon the sign-post over against the house,
and overflowing the horse-trough; and then he looked at the fire
again, and seemed to descry a double distant London, retreating
among the fragments of the burning wood.
He had repeated this process in just the same order, many times, as
if it were a matter of necessity, when the sound of wheels called
his attention to the window out of its regular turn; and there he
beheld a kind of light van drawn by four horses, and laden, as well
as he could see (for it was covered in), with corn and straw. The
driver, who was alone, stopped at the door to water his team, and
presently came stamping and shaking the wet off his hat and coat,
into the room where Martin sat.
He was a red-faced burly young fellow; smart in his way, and with a
good-humoured countenance. As he advanced towards the fire he
touched his shining forehead with the forefinger of his stiff
leather glove, by way of salutation; and said (rather unnecessarily)
that it was an uncommon wet day.
'Very wet,' said Martin.
'I don't know as ever I see a wetter.'
'I never felt one,' said Martin.
The driver glanced at Martin's soiled dress, and his damp shirt-
sleeves, and his coat hung up to dry; and said, after a pause, as he
warmed his hands:
'You have been caught in it, sir?'
'Yes,' was the short reply.
'Out riding, maybe?' said the driver
'I should have been, if I owned a horse; but I don't,' returned
'That's bad,' said the driver.
'And may be worse,' said Martin.
Now the driver said 'That's bad,' not so much because Martin didn't
own a horse, as because he said he didn't with all the reckless
desperation of his mood and circumstances, and so left a great deal
to be inferred. Martin put his hands in his pockets and whistled
when he had retorted on the driver; thus giving him to understand
that he didn't care a pin for Fortune; that he was above pretending
to be her favourite when he was not; and that he snapped his fingers
at her, the driver, and everybody else.
The driver looked at him stealthily for a minute or so; and in the
pauses of his warming whistled too. At length he asked, as he
pointed his thumb towards the road.
'Up or down?'
'Which IS up?' said Martin.
'London, of course,' said the driver.
'Up then,' said Martin. He tossed his head in a careless manner
afterwards, as if he would have added, 'Now you know all about it.'
put his hands deeper into his pockets; changed his tune, and
whistled a little louder.
'I'm going up,' observed the driver; 'Hounslow, ten miles this side
'Are you?' cried Martin, stopping short and looking at him.
The driver sprinkled the fire with his wet hat until it hissed again
and answered, 'Aye, to be sure he was.'
'Why, then,' said Martin, 'I'll be plain with you. You may suppose
from my dress that I have money to spare. I have not. All I can
afford for coach-hire is a crown, for I have but two. If you can
take me for that, and my waistcoat, or this silk handkerchief, do.
If you can't, leave it alone.'
'Short and sweet,' remarked the driver.
'You want more?' said Martin. 'Then I haven't got more, and I can't
get it, so there's an end of that.' Whereupon he began to whistle
'I didn't say I wanted more, did I?' asked the driver, with
something like indignation.
'You didn't say my offer was enough,' rejoined Martin.
'Why, how could I, when you wouldn't let me? In regard to the
waistcoat, I wouldn't have a man's waistcoat, much less a
gentleman's waistcoat, on my mind, for no consideration; but the
silk handkerchief's another thing; and if you was satisfied when we
got to Hounslow, I shouldn't object to that as a gift.'
'Is it a bargain, then?' said Martin.
'Yes, it is,' returned the other.
'Then finish this beer,' said Martin, handing him the mug, and
pulling on his coat with great alacrity; 'and let us be off as soon
as you like.'
In two minutes more he had paid his bill, which amounted to a
shilling; was lying at full length on a truss of straw, high and dry
at the top of the van, with the tilt a little open in front for the
convenience of talking to his new friend; and was moving along in
the right direction with a most satisfactory and encouraging
The driver's name, as he soon informed Martin, was William Simmons,
better known as Bill; and his spruce appearance was sufficiently
explained by his connection with a large stage-coaching establishment
at Hounslow, whither he was conveying his load from a farm belonging
to the concern in Wiltshire. He was frequently up and down the road
on such errands, he said, and to look after the sick and rest
horses, of which animals he had much to relate that occupied a long
time in the telling. He aspired to the dignity of the regular box,
and expected an appointment on the first vacancy. He was musical
besides, and had a little key-bugle in his pocket, on which,
whenever the conversation flagged, he played the first part of a
great many tunes, and regularly broke down in the second.
'Ah!' said Bill, with a sigh, as he drew the back of his hand across
his lips, and put this instrument in his pocket, after screwing off
the mouth-piece to drain it; 'Lummy Ned of the Light Salisbury, HE
was the one for musical talents. He WAS a guard. What you may call
a Guard'an Angel, was Ned.'
'Is he dead?' asked Martin.
'Dead!' replied the other, with a contemptuous emphasis. 'Not he.
You won't catch Ned a-dying easy. No, no. He knows better than
'You spoke of him in the past tense,' observed Martin, 'so I
supposed he was no more.
'He's no more in England,' said Bill, 'if that's what you mean. He
went to the U-nited States.'
'Did he?' asked Martin, with sudden interest. 'When?'
'Five year ago, or then about,' said Bill. 'He had set up in the
public line here, and couldn't meet his engagements, so he cut off
to Liverpool one day, without saying anything about it, and went and
shipped himself for the U-nited States.'
'Well?' said Martin.
'Well! as he landed there without a penny to bless himself with, of
course they wos very glad to see him in the U-nited States.'
'What do you mean?' asked Martin, with some scorn.
'What do I mean?' said Bill. 'Why, THAT. All men are alike in the
U-nited States, an't they? It makes no odds whether a man has a
thousand pound, or nothing, there. Particular in New York, I'm
told, where Ned landed.'
'New York, was it?' asked Martin, thoughtfully.
'Yes,' said Bill. 'New York. I know that, because he sent word
home that it brought Old York to his mind, quite vivid, in
consequence of being so exactly unlike it in every respect. I don't
understand what particular business Ned turned his mind to, when he
got there; but he wrote home that him and his friends was always a-
singing, Ale Columbia, and blowing up the President, so I suppose it
was something in the public line; or free-and-easy way again.
Anyhow, he made his fortune.'
'No!' cried Martin.
'Yes, he did,' said Bill. 'I know that, because he lost it all the
day after, in six-and-twenty banks as broke. He settled a lot of
the notes on his father, when it was ascertained that they was
really stopped and sent 'em over with a dutiful letter. I know
that, because they was shown down our yard for the old gentleman's
benefit, that he might treat himself with tobacco in the workus.'
'He was a foolish fellow not to take care of his money when he had
it,' said Martin, indignantly.
'There you're right,' said Bill, 'especially as it was all in paper,
and he might have took care of it so very easy, by folding it up in a
Martin said nothing in reply, but soon afterwards fell asleep, and
remained so for an hour or more. When he awoke, finding it had
ceased to rain, he took his seat beside the driver, and asked him
several questions; as how long had the fortunate guard of the Light
Salisbury been in crossing the Atlantic; at what time of the year
had he sailed; what was the name of the ship in which he made the
voyage; how much had he paid for passage-money; did he suffer
greatly from sea-sickness? and so forth. But on these points of
detail his friend was possessed of little or no information; either
answering obviously at random or acknowledging that he had never
heard, or had forgotten; nor, although he returned to the charge
very often, could he obtain any useful intelligence on these
They jogged on all day, and stopped so often--now to refresh, now to
change their team of horses, now to exchange or bring away a set of
harness, now on one point of business, and now upon another,
connected with the coaching on that line of road--that it was
midnight when they reached Hounslow. A little short of the stables
for which the van was bound, Martin got down, paid his crown, and
forced his silk handkerchief upon his honest friend, notwithstanding
the many protestations that he didn't wish to deprive him of it,
with which he tried to give the lie to his longing looks. That
done, they parted company; and when the van had driven into its own
yard and the gates were closed, Martin stood in the dark street,
with a pretty strong sense of being shut out, alone, upon the dreary
world, without the key of it.
But in this moment of despondency, and often afterwards, the
recollection of Mr Pecksniff operated as a cordial to him; awakening
in his breast an indignation that was very wholesome in nerving him
to obstinate endurance. Under the influence of this fiery dram he
started off for London without more ado. Arriving there in the
middle of the night, and not knowing where to find a tavern open, he
was fain to stroll about the streets and market-places until
He found himself, about an hour before dawn, in the humbler regions
of the Adelphi; and addressing himself to a man in a fur-cap, who was
taking down the shutters of an obscure public-house, informed him
that he was a stranger, and inquired if he could have a bed there.
It happened by good luck that he could. Though none of the
gaudiest, it was tolerably clean, and Martin felt very glad and
grateful when he crept into it, for warmth, rest, and forgetfulness.
It was quite late in the afternoon when he awoke; and by the time he
had washed and dressed, and broken his fast, it was growing dusk
again. This was all the better, for it was now a matter of absolute
necessity that he should part with his watch to some obliging pawn-
broker. He would have waited until after dark for this purpose,
though it had been the longest day in the year, and he had begun it
without a breakfast.
He passed more Golden Balls than all the jugglers in Europe have
juggled with, in the course of their united performances, before he
could determine in favour of any particular shop where those symbols
were displayed. In the end he came back to one of the first he had
seen, and entering by a side-door in a court, where the three balls,
with the legend 'Money Lent,' were repeated in a ghastly
transparency, passed into one of a series of little closets, or
private boxes, erected for the accommodation of the more bashful and
uninitiated customers. He bolted himself in; pulled out his watch;
and laid it on the counter.
'Upon my life and soul!' said a low voice in the next box to the
shopman who was in treaty with him, 'you must make it more; you must
make it a trifle more, you must indeed! You must dispense with one
half-quarter of an ounce in weighing out your pound of flesh, my
best of friends, and make it two-and-six.'
Martin drew back involuntarily, for he knew the voice at once.
'You're always full of your chaff,' said the shopman, rolling up the
article (which looked like a shirt) quite as a matter of course, and
nibbing his pen upon the counter.
'I shall never be full of my wheat,' said Mr Tigg, 'as long as I
come here. Ha, ha! Not bad! Make it two-and-six, my dear friend,
positively for this occasion only. Half-a-crown is a delightful
coin. Two-and-six. Going at two-and-six! For the last time at
'It'll never be the last time till it's quite worn out,' rejoined
the shopman. 'It's grown yellow in the service as it is.'
'Its master has grown yellow in the service, if you mean that, my
friend,' said Mr Tigg; 'in the patriotic service of an ungrateful
country. You are making it two-and-six, I think?'
'I'm making it,' returned the shopman, 'what it always has been--two
shillings. Same name as usual, I suppose?'
'Still the same name,' said Mr Tigg; 'my claim to the dormant
peerage not being yet established by the House of Lords.'
'The old address?'
'Not at all,' said Mr Tigg; 'I have removed my town establishment
from thirty-eight, Mayfair, to number fifteen-hundred-and-forty-two,
'Come, I'm not going to put down that, you know,' said the shopman
with a grin.
'You may put down what you please, my friend,' quoth Mr Tigg. 'The
fact is still the same. The apartments for the under-butler and the
fifth footman being of a most confounded low and vulgar kind at
thirty-eight, Mayfair, I have been compelled, in my regard for the
feelings which do them so much honour, to take on lease for seven,
fourteen, or twenty-one years, renewable at the option of the
tenant, the elegant and commodious family mansion, number fifteen-
hundred-and-forty-two Park Lane. Make it two-and-six, and come and
The shopman was so highly entertained by this piece of humour that
Mr Tigg himself could not repress some little show of exultation.
It vented itself, in part, in a desire to see how the occupant of
the next box received his pleasantry; to ascertain which he glanced
round the partition, and immediately, by the gaslight, recognized
'I wish I may die,' said Mr Tigg, stretching out his body so far
that his head was as much in Martin's little cell as Martin's own
head was, 'but this is one of the most tremendous meetings in
Ancient or Modern History! How are you? What is the news from the
agricultural districts? How are our friends the P.'s? Ha, ha!
David, pay particular attention to this gentleman immediately, as a
friend of mine, I beg.'
'Here! Please to give me the most you can for this,' said Martin,
handing the watch to the shopman. 'I want money sorely.'
'He wants money, sorely!' cried Mr Tigg with excessive sympathy.
'David, will you have the goodness to do your very utmost for my
friend, who wants money sorely. You will deal with my friend as if
he were myself. A gold hunting-watch, David, engine-turned, capped
and jewelled in four holes, escape movement, horizontal lever, and
warranted to perform correctly, upon my personal reputation, who
have observed it narrowly for many years, under the most trying
circumstances'--here he winked at Martin, that he might understand
this recommendation would have an immense effect upon the shopman;
'what do you say, David, to my friend? Be very particular to
deserve my custom and recommendation, David.'
'I can lend you three pounds on this, if you like' said the shopman
to Martin, confidentially. 'It is very old-fashioned. I couldn't
'And devilish handsome, too,' cried Mr Tigg. 'Two-twelve-six for
the watch, and seven-and-six for personal regard. I am gratified;
it may be weakness, but I am. Three pounds will do. We take it.
The name of my friend is Smivey: Chicken Smivey, of Holborn, twenty-
six-and-a-half B: lodger.' Here he winked at Martin again, to
apprise him that all the forms and ceremonies prescribed by law were
now complied with, and nothing remained but the receipt for the
In point of fact, this proved to be the case, for Martin, who had no
resource but to take what was offered him, signified his
acquiescence by a nod of his head, and presently came out with the
cash in his pocket. He was joined in the entry by Mr Tigg, who
warmly congratulated him, as he took his arm and accompanied him
into the street, on the successful issue of the negotiation.
'As for my part in the same,' said Mr Tigg, 'don't mention it.
Don't compliment me, for I can't bear it!'
'I have no such intention, I assure you,' retorted Martin, releasing
his arm and stopping.
'You oblige me very much' said Mr Tigg. 'Thank you.'
'Now, sir,' observed Martin, biting his lip, 'this is a large town,
and we can easily find different ways in it. If you will show me
which is your way, I will take another.'
Mr Tigg was about to speak, but Martin interposed:
'I need scarcely tell you, after what you have just seen, that I
have nothing to bestow upon your friend Mr Slyme. And it is quite
as unnecessary for me to tell you that I don't desire the honour of
'Stop' cried Mr Tigg, holding out his hand. 'Hold! There is a most
remarkably long-headed, flowing-bearded, and patriarchal proverb,
which observes that it is the duty of a man to be just before he is
generous. Be just now, and you can be generous presently. Do not
confuse me with the man Slyme. Do not distinguish the man Slyme as
a friend of mine, for he is no such thing. I have been compelled,
sir, to abandon the party whom you call Slyme. I have no knowledge
of the party whom you call Slyme. I am, sir,' said Mr Tigg,
striking himself upon the breast, 'a premium tulip, of a very
different growth and cultivation from the cabbage Slyme, sir.'
'It matters very little to me,' said Martin coolly, 'whether you
have set up as a vagabond on your own account, or are still trading
on behalf of Mr Slyme. I wish to hold no correspondence with you.
In the devil's name, man' said Martin, scarcely able, despite his
vexation, to repress a smile as Mr Tigg stood leaning his back
against the shutters of a shop window, adjusting his hair with great
composure, 'will you go one way or other?'
'You will allow me to remind you, sir,' said Mr Tigg, with sudden
dignity, 'that you--not I--that you--I say emphatically, YOU--have
reduced the proceedings of this evening to a cold and distant matter
of business, when I was disposed to place them on a friendly
footing. It being made a matter of business, sir, I beg to say that
I expect a trifle (which I shall bestow in charity) as commission
upon the pecuniary advance, in which I have rendered you my humble
services. After the terms in which you have addressed me, sir,'
concluded Mr Tigg, 'you will not insult me, if you please, by
offering more than half-a-crown.'
Martin drew that piece of money from his pocket, and tossed it
towards him. Mr Tigg caught it, looked at it to assure himself of
its goodness, spun it in the air after the manner of a pieman, and
buttoned it up. Finally, he raised his hat an inch or two from his
head with a military air, and, after pausing a moment with deep
gravity, as to decide in which direction he should go, and to what
Earl or Marquis among his friends he should give the preference in
his next call, stuck his hands in his skirt-pockets and swaggered
round the corner. Martin took the directly opposite course; and so,
to his great content, they parted company.
It was with a bitter sense of humiliation that he cursed, again and
again, the mischance of having encountered this man in the pawnbroker's
shop. The only comfort he had in the recollection was, Mr
Tigg's voluntary avowal of a separation between himself and Slyme,
that would at least prevent his circumstances (so Martin argued)
from being known to any member of his family, the bare possibility
of which filled him with shame and wounded pride. Abstractedly
there was greater reason, perhaps, for supposing any declaration of
Mr Tigg's to be false, than for attaching the least credence to it;
but remembering the terms on which the intimacy between that
gentleman and his bosom friend had subsisted, and the strong
probability of Mr Tigg's having established an independent business
of his own on Mr Slyme's connection, it had a reasonable appearance
of probability; at all events, Martin hoped so; and that went a long
His first step, now that he had a supply of ready money for his
present necessities, was, to retain his bed at the public-house
until further notice, and to write a formal note to Tom Pinch (for
he knew Pecksniff would see it) requesting to have his clothes
forwarded to London by coach, with a direction to be left at the
office until called for. These measures taken, he passed the
interval before the box arrived--three days--in making inquiries
relative to American vessels, at the offices of various shipping-
agents in the city; and in lingering about the docks and wharves,
with the faint hope of stumbling upon some engagement for the
voyage, as clerk or supercargo, or custodian of something or
somebody, which would enable him to procure a free passage. But
finding, soon, that no such means of employment were likely to
present themselves, and dreading the consequences of delay, he drew
up a short advertisement, stating what he wanted, and inserted it in
the leading newspapers. Pending the receipt of the twenty or thirty
answers which he vaguely expected, he reduced his wardrobe to the
narrowest limits consistent with decent respectability, and carried
the overplus at different times to the pawnbroker's shop, for
conversion into money.
And it was strange, very strange, even to himself, to find how, by
quick though almost imperceptible degrees, he lost his delicacy and
self-respect, and gradually came to do that as a matter of course,
without the least compunction, which but a few short days before had
galled him to the quick. The first time he visited the
pawnbroker's, he felt on his way there as if every person whom he
passed suspected whither he was going; and on his way back again, as
if the whole human tide he stemmed, knew well where he had come
from. When did he care to think of their discernment now! In his
first wanderings up and down the weary streets, he counterfeited the
walk of one who had an object in his view; but soon there came upon
him the sauntering, slipshod gait of listless idleness, and the
lounging at street-corners, and plucking and biting of stray bits of
straw, and strolling up and down the same place, and looking into
the same shop-windows, with a miserable indifference, fifty times a
day. At first, he came out from his lodging with an uneasy sense of
being observed--even by those chance passers-by, on whom he had
never looked before, and hundreds to one would never see again--
issuing in the morning from a public-house; but now, in his comings-
out and goings-in he did not mind to lounge about the door, or to
stand sunning himself in careless thought beside the wooden stem,
studded from head to heel with pegs, on which the beer-pots dangled
like so many boughs upon a pewter-tree. And yet it took but five
weeks to reach the lowest round of this tall ladder!
Oh, moralists, who treat of happiness and self-respect, innate in
every sphere of life, and shedding light on every grain of dust in
God's highway, so smooth below your carriage-wheels, so rough
beneath the tread of naked feet, bethink yourselves in looking on
the swift descent of men who HAVE lived in their own esteem, that
there are scores of thousands breathing now, and breathing thick
with painful toil, who in that high respect have never lived at all,
nor had a chance of life! Go ye, who rest so placidly upon the
sacred Bard who had been young, and when he strung his harp was old,
and had never seen the righteous forsaken, or his seed begging their
bread; go, Teachers of content and honest pride, into the mine, the
mill, the forge, the squalid depths of deepest ignorance, and
uttermost abyss of man's neglect, and say can any hopeful plant
spring up in air so foul that it extinguishes the soul's bright
torch as fast as it is kindled! And, oh! ye Pharisees of the
nineteen hundredth year of Christian Knowledge, who soundingly
appeal to human nature, see that it be human first. Take heed it
has not been transformed, during your slumber and the sleep of
generations, into the nature of the Beasts!
Five weeks! Of all the twenty or thirty answers, not one had come.
His money--even the additional stock he had raised from the disposal
of his spare clothes (and that was not much, for clothes, though
dear to buy, are cheap to pawn)--was fast diminishing. Yet what
could he do? At times an agony came over him in which he darted
forth again, though he was but newly home, and, returning to some
place where he had been already twenty times, made some new attempt
to gain his end, but always unsuccessfully. He was years and years
too old for a cabin-boy, and years upon years too inexperienced to
be accepted as a common seaman. His dress and manner, too,
militated fatally against any such proposal as the latter; and yet
he was reduced to making it; for even if he could have contemplated
the being set down in America totally without money, he had not
enough left now for a steerage passage and the poorest provisions
upon the voyage.
It is an illustration of a very common tendency in the mind of man,
that all this time he never once doubted, one may almost say the
certainty of doing great things in the New World, if he could only
get there. In proportion as he became more and more dejected by his
present circumstances, and the means of gaining America receded from
his grasp, the more he fretted himself with the conviction that that
was the only place in which he could hope to achieve any high end,
and worried his brain with the thought that men going there in the
meanwhile might anticipate him in the attainment of those objects
which were dearest to his heart. He often thought of John Westlock,
and besides looking out for him on all occasions, actually walked
about London for three days together for the express purpose of
meeting with him. But although he failed in this; and although he
would not have scrupled to borrow money of him; and although he
believed that John would have lent it; yet still he could not bring
his mind to write to Pinch and inquire where he was to be found.
For although, as we have seen, he was fond of Tom after his own
fashion, he could not endure the thought (feeling so superior to
Tom) of making him the stepping-stone to his fortune, or being
anything to him but a patron; and his pride so revolted from the
idea that it restrained him even now.
It might have yielded, however; and no doubt must have yielded soon,
but for a very strange and unlooked-for occurrence.
The five weeks had quite run out, and he was in a truly desperate
plight, when one evening, having just returned to his lodging, and
being in the act of lighting his candle at the gas jet in the bar
before stalking moodily upstairs to his own room, his landlord
called him by his name. Now as he had never told it to the man, but
had scrupulously kept it to himself, he was not a little startled by
this; and so plainly showed his agitation that the landlord, to
reassure him, said 'it was only a letter.'
'A letter!' cried Martin.
'For Mr Martin Chuzzlewit,' said the landlord, reading the
superscription of one he held in his hand. 'Noon. Chief office.
Martin took it from him, thanked him, and walked upstairs. It was
not sealed, but pasted close; the handwriting was quite unknown to
him. He opened it and found enclosed, without any name, address, or
other inscription or explanation of any kind whatever, a Bank of
England note for Twenty Pounds.
To say that he was perfectly stunned with astonishment and delight;
that he looked again and again at the note and the wrapper; that he
hurried below stairs to make quite certain that the note was a good
note; and then hurried up again to satisfy himself for the fiftieth
time that he had not overlooked some scrap of writing on the
wrapper; that he exhausted and bewildered himself with conjectures;
and could make nothing of it but that there the note was, and he was
suddenly enriched; would be only to relate so many matters of course
to no purpose. The final upshot of the business at that time was,
that he resolved to treat himself to a comfortable but frugal meal
in his own chamber; and having ordered a fire to be kindled, went
out to purchase it forthwith.
He bought some cold beef, and ham, and French bread, and butter, and
came back with his pockets pretty heavily laden. It was somewhat of
a damping circumstance to find the room full of smoke, which was
attributable to two causes; firstly, to the flue being naturally
vicious and a smoker; and secondly, to their having forgotten, in
lighting the fire, an odd sack or two and some trifles, which had
been put up the chimney to keep the rain out. They had already
remedied this oversight, however; and propped up the window-sash
with a bundle of firewood to keep it open; so that except in being
rather inflammatory to the eyes and choking to the lungs, the
apartment was quite comfortable.
Martin was in no vein to quarrel with it, if it had been in less
tolerable order, especially when a gleaming pint of porter was set
upon the table, and the servant-girl withdrew, bearing with her
particular instructions relative to the production of something hot
when he should ring the bell. The cold meat being wrapped in a
playbill, Martin laid the cloth by spreading that document on the
little round table with the print downwards, and arranging the
collation upon it. The foot of the bed, which was very close to the
fire, answered for a sideboard; and when he had completed these
preparations, he squeezed an old arm-chair into the warmest corner,
and sat down to enjoy himself.
He had begun to eat with great appetite, glancing round the room
meanwhile with a triumphant anticipation of quitting it for ever on
the morrow, when his attention was arrested by a stealthy footstep
on the stairs, and presently by a knock at his chamber door, which,
although it was a gentle knock enough, communicated such a start to
the bundle of firewood, that it instantly leaped out of window, and
plunged into the street.
'More coals, I suppose,' said Martin. 'Come in!'
'It an't a liberty, sir, though it seems so,' rejoined a man's
voice. 'Your servant, sir. Hope you're pretty well, sir.'
Martin stared at the face that was bowing in the doorway, perfectly
remembering the features and expression, but quite forgetting to
whom they belonged.
'Tapley, sir,' said his visitor. 'Him as formerly lived at the
Dragon, sir, and was forced to leave in consequence of a want of
'To be sure!' cried Martin. 'Why, how did you come here?'
'Right through the passage, and up the stairs, sir,' said Mark.
'How did you find me out, I mean?' asked Martin.
'Why, sir,' said Mark, 'I've passed you once or twice in the street,
if I'm not mistaken; and when I was a-looking in at the beef-and-ham
shop just now, along with a hungry sweep, as was very much
calculated to make a man jolly, sir--I see you a-buying that.'
Martin reddened as he pointed to the table, and said, somewhat
'Well! What then?'
'Why, then, sir,' said Mark, 'I made bold to foller; and as I told
'em downstairs that you expected me, I was let up.'
'Are you charged with any message, that you told them you were
expected?' inquired Martin.
'No, sir, I an't,' said Mark. 'That was what you may call a pious
fraud, sir, that was.'
Martin cast an angry look at him; but there was something in the
fellow's merry face, and in his manner--which with all its
cheerfulness was far from being obtrusive or familiar--that quite
disarmed him. He had lived a solitary life too, for many weeks, and
the voice was pleasant in his ear.
'Tapley,' he said, 'I'll deal openly with you. From all I can judge
and from all I have heard of you through Pinch, you are not a likely
kind of fellow to have been brought here by impertinent curiosity or
any other offensive motive. Sit down. I'm glad to see you.'
'Thankee, sir,' said Mark. 'I'd as lieve stand.'
"If you don't sit down,' retorted Martin, 'I'll not talk to you.'
'Very good, sir,' observed Mark. 'Your will's a law, sir. Down it
is;' and he sat down accordingly upon the bedstead.
'Help yourself,' said Martin, handing him the only knife.
'Thankee, sir,' rejoined Mark. 'After you've done.'
'If you don't take it now, you'll not have any,' said Martin.
'Very good, sir,' rejoined Mark. 'That being your desire--now it
is.' With which reply he gravely helped himself and went on eating.
Martin having done the like for a short time in silence, said
'What are you doing in London?'
'Nothing at all, sir,' rejoined Mark.
'How's that?' asked Martin.
'I want a place,' said Mark.
'I'm sorry for you,' said Martin.
'--To attend upon a single gentleman,' resumed Mark. 'If from the
country the more desirable. Makeshifts would be preferred. Wages
He said this so pointedly, that Martin stopped in his eating, and
'If you mean me--'
'Yes, I do, sir,' interposed Mark.
'Then you may judge from my style of living here, of my means of
keeping a man-servant. Besides, I am going to America immediately.'
'Well, sir,' returned Mark, quite unmoved by this intelligence 'from
all that ever I heard about it, I should say America is a very
likely sort of place for me to be jolly in!'
Again Martin looked at him angrily; and again his anger melted away
in spite of himself.
'Lord bless you, sir,' said Mark, 'what is the use of us a-going
round and round, and hiding behind the corner, and dodging up and
down, when we can come straight to the point in six words? I've had
my eye upon you any time this fortnight. I see well enough there's
a screw loose in your affairs. I know'd well enough the first time
I see you down at the Dragon that it must be so, sooner or later.
Now, sir here am I, without a sitiwation; without any want of wages
for a year to come; for I saved up (I didn't mean to do it, but I
couldn't help it) at the Dragon--here am I with a liking for what's
wentersome, and a liking for you, and a wish to come out strong
under circumstances as would keep other men down; and will you take
me, or will you leave me?'
'How can I take you?' cried Martin.
'When I say take,' rejoined Mark, 'I mean will you let me go? and
when I say will you let me go, I mean will you let me go along with
you? for go I will, somehow or another. Now that you've said
America, I see clear at once, that that's the place for me to be
jolly in. Therefore, if I don't pay my own passage in the ship you
go in, sir, I'll pay my own passage in another. And mark my words,
if I go alone it shall be, to carry out the principle, in the
rottenest, craziest, leakingest tub of a wessel that a place can be
got in for love or money. So if I'm lost upon the way, sir,
there'll be a drowned man at your door--and always a-knocking double
knocks at it, too, or never trust me!'
'This is mere folly,' said Martin.
'Very good, sir,' returned Mark. 'I'm glad to hear it, because if
you don't mean to let me go, you'll be more comfortable, perhaps, on
account of thinking so. Therefore I contradict no gentleman. But
all I say is, that if I don't emigrate to America in that case, in
the beastliest old cockle-shell as goes out of port, I'm--'
'You don't mean what you say, I'm sure,' said Martin.
'Yes I do,' cried Mark.
'I tell you I know better,' rejoined Martin.
'Very good, sir,' said Mark, with the same air of perfect
satisfaction. 'Let it stand that way at present, sir, and wait and
see how it turns out. Why, love my heart alive! the only doubt I
have is, whether there's any credit in going with a gentleman like
you, that's as certain to make his way there as a gimlet is to go
through soft deal.'
This was touching Martin on his weak point, and having him at a
great advantage. He could not help thinking, either, what a brisk
fellow this Mark was, and how great a change he had wrought in the
atmosphere of the dismal little room already.
'Why, certainly, Mark,' he said, 'I have hopes of doing well there,
or I shouldn't go. I may have the qualifications for doing well,
'Of course you have, sir,' returned Mark Tapley. 'Everybody knows
'You see,' said Martin, leaning his chin upon his hand, and looking
at the fire, 'ornamental architecture applied to domestic purposes,
can hardly fail to be in great request in that country; for men are
constantly changing their residences there, and moving further off;
and it's clear they must have houses to live in.'
'I should say, sir,' observed Mark, 'that that's a state of things
as opens one of the jolliest look-outs for domestic architecture
that ever I heerd tell on.'
Martin glanced at him hastily, not feeling quite free from a
suspicion that this remark implied a doubt of the successful issue
of his plans. But Mr Tapley was eating the boiled beef and bread
with such entire good faith and singleness of purpose expressed in
his visage that he could not but be satisfied. Another doubt arose
in his mind however, as this one disappeared. He produced the blank
cover in which the note had been enclosed, and fixing his eyes on
Mark as he put it in his hands, said:
'Now tell me the truth. Do you know anything about that?'
Mark turned it over and over; held it near his eyes; held it away
from him at arm's length; held it with the superscription upwards
and with the superscription downwards; and shook his head with such
a genuine expression of astonishment at being asked the question,
that Martin said, as he took it from him again:
'No, I see you don't. How should you! Though, indeed, your knowing
about it would not be more extraordinary than its being here. Come,
Tapley,' he added, after a moment's thought, 'I'll trust you with my
history, such as it is, and then you'll see more clearly what sort
of fortunes you would link yourself to, if you followed me.'
'I beg your pardon, sir,' said Mark; 'but afore you enter upon it
will you take me if I choose to go? Will you turn off me--Mark
Tapley--formerly of the Blue Dragon, as can be well recommended by Mr
Pinch, and as wants a gentleman of your strength of mind to look up
to; or will you, in climbing the ladder as you're certain to get to
the top of, take me along with you at a respectful dutance? Now,
sir,' said Mark, 'it's of very little importance to you, I know.
there's the difficulty; but it's of very great importance to me, and
will you be so good as to consider of it?'
If this were meant as a second appeal to Martin's weak side, founded
on his observation of the effect of the first, Mr Tapley was a
skillful and shrewd observer. Whether an intentional or an
accidental shot, it hit the mark fully for Martin, relenting more
and more, said with a condescension which was inexpressibly
delicious to him, after his recent humiliation:
'We'll see about it, Tapley. You shall tell me in what disposition
you find yourself to-morrow.'
'Then, sir,' said Mark, rubbing his hands, 'the job's done. Go on,
sir, if you please. I'm all attention.'
Throwing himself back in his arm-chair, and looking at the fire, with
now and then a glance at Mark, who at such times nodded his head
sagely, to express his profound interest and attention. Martin ran
over the chief points in his history, to the same effect as he had
related them, weeks before, to Mr Pinch. But he adapted them,
according to the best of his judgment, to Mr Tapley's comprehension;
and with that view made as light of his love affair as he could, and
referred to it in very few words. But here he reckoned without his
host; for Mark's interest was keenest in this part of the business,
and prompted him to ask sundry questions in relation to it; for
which he apologised as one in some measure privileged to do so, from
having seen (as Martin explained to him) the young lady at the Blue
'And a young lady as any gentleman ought to feel more proud of being
in love with,' said Mark, energetically, 'don't draw breath.'
'Aye! You saw her when she was not happy,' said Martin, gazing at
the fire again. 'If you had seen her in the old times, indeed--'
'Why, she certainly was a little down-hearted, sir, and something
paler in her colour than I could have wished,' said Mark, 'but none
the worse in her looks for that. I think she seemed better, sir,
after she come to London.'
Martin withdrew his eyes from the fire; stared at Mark as if he
thought he had suddenly gone mad; and asked him what he meant.
'No offence intended, sir,' urged Mark. 'I don't mean to say she
was any the happier without you; but I thought she was a-looking
'Do you mean to tell me she has been in London?' asked Martin,
rising hurriedly, and pushing back his chair.
'Of course I do,' said Mark, rising too, in great amazement from the
'Do you mean to tell me she is in London now?'
'Most likely, sir. I mean to say she was a week ago.'
'And you know where?'
'Yes!' cried Mark. 'What! Don't you?'
'My good fellow!' exclaimed Martin, clutching him by both arms, 'I
have never seen her since I left my grandfather's house.'
'Why, then!' cried Mark, giving the little table such a blow with
his clenched fist that the slices of beef and ham danced upon it,
while all his features seemed, with delight, to be going up into his
forehead, and never coming back again any more, 'if I an't your
nat'ral born servant, hired by Fate, there an't such a thing in
natur' as a Blue Dragon. What! when I was a-rambling up and down a
old churchyard in the City, getting myself into a jolly state,
didn't I see your grandfather a-toddling to and fro for pretty nigh
a mortal hour! Didn't I watch him into Todgers's commercial
boarding-house, and watch him out, and watch him home to his hotel,
and go and tell him as his was the service for my money, and I had
said so, afore I left the Dragon! Wasn't the young lady a-sitting
with him then, and didn't she fall a-laughing in a manner as was
beautiful to see! Didn't your grandfather say, "Come back again next
week," and didn't I go next week; and didn't he say that he
couldn't make up his mind to trust nobody no more; and therefore
wouldn't engage me, but at the same time stood something to drink as
was handsome! Why,' cried Mr Tapley, with a comical mixture of
delight and chagrin, 'where's the credit of a man's being jolly
under such circumstances! Who could help it, when things come about
For some moments Martin stood gazing at him, as if he really doubted
the evidence of his senses, and could not believe that Mark stood
there, in the body, before him. At length he asked him whether, if
the young lady were still in London, he thought he could contrive to
deliver a letter to her secretly.
'Do I think I can?' cried Mark. 'THINK I can? Here, sit down, sir.
Write it out, sir!'
With that he cleared the table by the summary process of tilting
everything upon it into the fireplace; snatched some writing
materials from the mantel-shelf; set Martin's chair before them;
forced him down into it; dipped a pen into the ink; and put it in
'Cut away, sir!' cried Mark. 'Make it strong, sir. Let it be wery
pinted, sir. Do I think so? I should think so. Go to work, sir!'
Martin required no further adjuration, but went to work at a great
rate; while Mr Tapley, installing himself without any more
formalities into the functions of his valet and general attendant,
divested himself of his coat, and went on to clear the fireplace
and arrange the room; talking to himself in a low voice the whole
'Jolly sort of lodgings,' said Mark, rubbing his nose with the knob
at the end of the fire-shovel, and looking round the poor chamber;
'that's a comfort. The rain's come through the roof too. That an't
bad. A lively old bedstead, I'll be bound; popilated by lots of
wampires, no doubt. Come! my spirits is a-getting up again. An
uncommon ragged nightcap this. A very good sign. We shall do yet!
Here, Jane, my dear,' calling down the stairs, 'bring up that there
hot tumbler for my master as was a-mixing when I come in. That's
right, sir,' to Martin. 'Go at it as if you meant it, sir. Be very
tender, sir, if you please. You can't make it too strong, sir!'
IN WHICH MARTIN BIDS ADIEU TO THE LADY OF HIS LOVE; AND HONOURS AN
OBSCURE INDIVIDUAL WHOSE FORTUNE HE INTENDS TO MAKE BY COMMENDING
HER TO HIS PROTECTION
The letter being duly signed, sealed, and delivered, was handed to
Mark Tapley, for immediate conveyance if possible. And he succeeded
so well in his embassy as to be enabled to return that same night,
just as the house was closing, with the welcome intelligence that he
had sent it upstairs to the young lady, enclosed in a small
manuscript of his own, purporting to contain his further petition to
be engaged in Mr Chuzzlewit's service; and that she had herself come
down and told him, in great haste and agitation, that she would meet
the gentleman at eight o'clock to-morrow morning in St. James's
Park. It was then agreed between the new master and the new man,
that Mark should be in waiting near the hotel in good time, to
escort the young lady to the place of appointment; and when they had
parted for the night with this understanding, Martin took up his pen
again; and before he went to bed wrote another letter, whereof more
will be seen presently.
He was up before daybreak, and came upon the Park with the morning,
which was clad in the least engaging of the three hundred and sixty-
five dresses in the wardrobe of the year. It was raw, damp, dark,
and dismal; the clouds were as muddy as the ground; and the short
perspective of every street and avenue was closed up by the mist as
by a filthy curtain.
'Fine weather indeed,' Martin bitterly soliloquised, 'to be
wandering up and down here in, like a thief! Fine weather indeed,
for a meeting of lovers in the open air, and in a public walk! I
need be departing, with all speed, for another country; for I have
come to a pretty pass in this!'
He might perhaps have gone on to reflect that of all mornings in the
year, it was not the best calculated for a young lady's coming forth
on such an errand, either. But he was stopped on the road to this
reflection, if his thoughts tended that way, by her appearance at a
short distance, on which he hurried forward to meet her. Her
squire, Mr Tapley, at the same time fell discreetly back, and
surveyed the fog above him with an appearance of attentive interest.
'My dear Martin,' said Mary.
'My dear Mary,' said Martin; and lovers are such a singular kind of
people that this is all they did say just then, though Martin took
her arm, and her hand too, and they paced up and down a short walk
that was least exposed to observation, half-a-dozen times.
'If you have changed at all, my love, since we parted,' said Martin
at length, as he looked upon her with a proud delight, 'it is only
to be more beautiful than ever!'
Had she been of the common metal of love-worn young ladies, she
would have denied this in her most interesting manner; and would
have told him that she knew she had become a perfect fright; or that
she had wasted away with weeping and anxiety; or that she was
dwindling gently into an early grave; or that her mental sufferings
were unspeakable; or would, either by tears or words, or a mixture
of both, have furnished him with some other information to that
effect, and made him as miserable as possible. But she had been
reared up in a sterner school than the minds of most young girls are
formed in; she had had her nature strengthened by the hands of hard
endurance and necessity; had come out from her young trials
constant, self-denying, earnest, and devoted; had acquired in her
maidenhood--whether happily in the end, for herself or him, is
foreign to our present purpose to inquire--something of that nobler
quality of gentle hearts which is developed often by the sorrows and
struggles of matronly years, but often by their lessons only.
Unspoiled, unpampered in her joys or griefs; with frank and full,
and deep affection for the object of her early love; she saw in him
one who for her sake was an outcast from his home and fortune, and
she had no more idea of bestowing that love upon him in other than
cheerful and sustaining words, full of high hope and grateful
trustfulness, than she had of being unworthy of it, in her lightest
thought or deed, for any base temptation that the world could offer.
'What change is there in YOU, Martin,' she replied; 'for that
concerns me nearest? You look more anxious and more thoughtful than
'Why, as to that, my love,' said Martin as he drew her waist within
his arm, first looking round to see that there were no observers
near, and beholding Mr Tapley more intent than ever on the fog; 'it
would be strange if I did not; for my life--especially of late--has
been a hard one.'
'I know it must have been,' she answered. 'When have I forgotten to
think of it and you?'
'Not often, I hope,' said Martin. 'Not often, I am sure. Not
often, I have some right to expect, Mary; for I have undergone a
great deal of vexation and privation, and I naturally look for that
return, you know.'
'A very, very poor return,' she answered with a fainter smile. 'But
you have it, and will have it always. You have paid a dear price
for a poor heart, Martin; but it is at least your own, and a true
'Of course I feel quite certain of that,' said Martin, 'or I
shouldn't have put myself in my present position. And don't say a
poor heart, Mary, for I say a rich one. Now, I am about to break a
design to you, dearest, which will startle you at first, but which is
undertaken for your sake. I am going,' he added slowly, looking far
into the deep wonder of her bright dark eyes, 'abroad.'
'Only to America. See now. How you droop directly!'
'If I do, or, I hope I may say, if I did,' she answered, raising her
head after a short silence, and looking once more into his face, 'it
was for grief to think of what you are resolved to undergo for me.
I would not venture to dissuade you, Martin; but it is a long, long
distance; there is a wide ocean to be crossed; illness and want are
sad calamities in any place, but in a foreign country dreadful to
endure. Have you thought of all this?'
'Thought of it!' cried Martin, abating, in his fondness--and he WAS
very fond of her--hardly an iota of his usual impetuosity. 'What am
I to do? It's very well to say, "Have I thought of it?" my love; but
you should ask me in the same breath, have I thought of starving at
home; have I thought of doing porter's work for a living; have I
thought of holding horses in the streets to earn my roll of bread
from day to day? Come, come,' he added, in a gentler tone, 'do not
hang down your head, my dear, for I need the encouragement that your
sweet face alone can give me. Why, that's well! Now you are brave
'I am endeavouring to be,' she answered, smiling through her tears.
'Endeavouring to be anything that's good, and being it, is, with
you, all one. Don't I know that of old?' cried Martin, gayly.
'So! That's famous! Now I can tell you all my plans as cheerfully
as if you were my little wife already, Mary.'
She hung more closely on his arm, and looking upwards in his face,
bade him speak on.
'You see,' said Martin, playing with the little hand upon his wrist,
'that my attempts to advance myself at home have been baffled and
rendered abortive. I will not say by whom, Mary, for that would
give pain to us both. But so it is. Have you heard him speak of
late of any relative of mine or his, called Pecksniff? Only tell me
what I ask you, no more.'
'I have heard, to my surprise, that he is a better man than was
'I thought so,' interrupted Martin.
'And that it is likely we may come to know him, if not to visit and
reside with him and--I think--his daughters. He HAS daughters, has
'A pair of them,' Martin answered. 'A precious pair! Gems of the
'Ah! You are jesting!'
'There is a sort of jesting which is very much in earnest, and
includes some pretty serious disgust,' said Martin. 'I jest in
reference to Mr Pecksniff (at whose house I have been living as his
assistant, and at whose hands I have received insult and injury), in
that vein. Whatever betides, or however closely you may be brought
into communication with this family, never forget that, Mary; and
never for an instant, whatever appearances may seem to contradict
me, lose sight of this assurance--Pecksniff is a scoundrel.'
'In thought, and in deed, and in everything else. A scoundrel from
the topmost hair of his head, to the nethermost atom of his heel.
Of his daughters I will only say that, to the best of my knowledge
and belief, they are dutiful young ladies, and take after their
father closely. This is a digression from the main point, and yet
it brings me to what I was going to say.'
He stopped to look into her eyes again, and seeing, in a hasty
glance over his shoulder, that there was no one near, and that Mark
was still intent upon the fog, not only looked at her lips, too, but
kissed them into the bargain.
'Now I am going to America, with great prospects of doing well, and
of returning home myself very soon; it may be to take you there for
a few years, but, at all events, to claim you for my wife; which,
after such trials, I should do with no fear of your still thinking
it a duty to cleave to him who will not suffer me to live (for this
is true), if he can help it, in my own land. How long I may be
absent is, of course, uncertain; but it shall not be very long.
Trust me for that.'
'In the meantime, dear Martin--'
'That's the very thing I am coming to. In the meantime you shall
hear, constantly, of all my goings-on. Thus.'
He paused to take from his pocket the letter he had written
overnight, and then resumed:
'In this fellow's employment, and living in this fellow's house (by
fellow, I mean Mr Pecksniff, of course), there is a certain person
of the name of Pinch. Don't forget; a poor, strange, simple oddity,
Mary; but thoroughly honest and sincere; full of zeal; and with a
cordial regard for me. Which I mean to return one of these days, by
setting him up in life in some way or other.'
'Your old kind nature, Martin!'
'Oh!' said Martin, 'that's not worth speaking of, my love. He's
very grateful and desirous to serve me; and I am more than repaid.
Now one night I told this Pinch my history, and all about myself and
you; in which he was not a little interested, I can tell you, for he
knows you! Aye, you may look surprised--and the longer the better for
it becomes you--but you have heard him play the organ in the church
of that village before now; and he has seen you listening to his
music; and has caught his inspiration from you, too!'
'Was HE the organist?' cried Mary. 'I thank him from my heart!'
'Yes, he was,' said Martin, 'and is, and gets nothing for it either.
There never was such a simple fellow! Quite an infant! But a very
good sort of creature, I assure you.'
'I am sure of that,' she said with great earnestness. 'He must be!'
'Oh, yes, no doubt at all about it,' rejoined Martin, in his usual
careless way. 'He is. Well! It has occurred to me--but stay. If I
read you what I have written and intend sending to him by post to-
night it will explain itself. "My dear Tom Pinch." That's rather
familiar perhaps,' said Martin, suddenly remembering that he was
proud when they had last met, 'but I call him my dear Tom Pinch
because he likes it, and it pleases him.'
'Very right, and very kind,' said Mary.
'Exactly so!' cried Martin. 'It's as well to be kind whenever one
can; and, as I said before, he really is an excellent fellow. "My
dear Tom Pinch--I address this under cover to Mrs Lupin, at the
Blue Dragon, and have begged her in a short note to deliver it to
you without saying anything about it elsewhere; and to do the same
with all future letters she may receive from me. My reason for so
doing will be at once apparent to you"--I don't know that it will
be, by the bye,' said Martin, breaking off, 'for he's slow of
comprehension, poor fellow; but he'll find it out in time. My
reason simply is, that I don't want my letters to be read by other
people; and particularly by the scoundrel whom he thinks an angel.'
'Mr Pecksniff again?' asked Mary.
'The same,' said Martin '--will be at once apparent to you. I have
completed my arrangements for going to America; and you will be
surprised to hear that I am to be accompanied by Mark Tapley, upon
whom I have stumbled strangely in London, and who insists on putting
himself under my protection'--meaning, my love,' said Martin,
breaking off again, 'our friend in the rear, of course.'
She was delighted to hear this, and bestowed a kind glance upon
Mark, which he brought his eyes down from the fog to encounter and
received with immense satisfaction. She said in his hearing, too,
that he was a good soul and a merry creature, and would be faithful,
she was certain; commendations which Mr Tapley inwardly resolved to
deserve, from such lips, if he died for it.
'"Now, my dear Pinch,"' resumed Martin, proceeding with his letter;
'"I am going to repose great trust in you, knowing that I may do so
with perfect reliance on your honour and secrecy, and having nobody
else just now to trust in."'
'I don't think I would say that, Martin.'
'Wouldn't you? Well! I'll take that out. It's perfectly true,
'But it might seem ungracious, perhaps.'
'Oh, I don't mind Pinch,' said Martin. 'There's no occasion to
stand on any ceremony with HIM. However, I'll take it out, as you
wish it, and make the full stop at "secrecy." Very well! "I shall
not only"--this is the letter again, you know.'
'"I shall not only enclose my letters to the young lady of whom I
have told you, to your charge, to be forwarded as she may request;
but I most earnestly commit her, the young lady herself, to your
care and regard, in the event of your meeting in my absence. I have
reason to think that the probabilities of your encountering each
other--perhaps very frequently--are now neither remote nor few; and
although in our position you can do very little to lessen the
uneasiness of hers, I trust to you implicitly to do that much, and
so deserve the confidence I have reposed in you." You see, my dear
Mary,' said Martin, 'it will be a great consolation to you to have
anybody, no matter how simple, with whom you can speak about ME; and
the very first time you talk to Pinch, you'll feel at once that
there is no more occasion for any embarrassment or hesitation in
talking to him, than if he were an old woman.'
'However that may be,' she returned, smiling, 'he is your friend,
and that is enough.'
'Oh, yes, he's my friend,' said Martin, 'certainly. In fact, I have
told him in so many words that we'll always take notice of him, and
protect him; and it's a good trait in his character that he's
grateful--very grateful indeed. You'll like him of all things, my
love, I know. You'll observe very much that's comical and old-
fashioned about Pinch, but you needn't mind laughing at him; for
he'll not care about it. He'll rather like it indeed!'
'I don't think I shall put that to the test, Martin.'
'You won't if you can help it, of course,' he said, 'but I think
you'll find him a little too much for your gravity. However, that's
neither here nor there, and it certainly is not the letter; which
ends thus: "Knowing that I need not impress the nature and extent of
that confidence upon you at any greater length, as it is already
sufficiently established in your mind, I will only say, in bidding
you farewell and looking forward to our next meeting, that I shall
charge myself from this time, through all changes for the better,
with your advancement and happiness, as if they were my own. You
may rely upon that. And always believe me, my dear Tom Pinch,
faithfully your friend, Martin Chuzzlewit. P.S.--I enclose the
amount which you so kindly"--Oh,' said Martin, checking himself, and
folding up the letter, 'that's nothing!'
At this crisis Mark Tapley interposed, with an apology for remarking
that the clock at the Horse Guards was striking.
'Which I shouldn't have said nothing about, sir,' added Mark, 'if
the young lady hadn't begged me to be particular in mentioning it.'
'I did,' said Mary. 'Thank you. You are quite right. In another
minute I shall be ready to return. We have time for a very few
words more, dear Martin, and although I had much to say, it must
remain unsaid until the happy time of our next meeting. Heaven send
it may come speedily and prosperously! But I have no fear of that.'
'Fear!' cried Martin. 'Why, who has? What are a few months? What
is a whole year? When I come gayly back, with a road through life
hewn out before me, then indeed, looking back upon this parting, it
may seem a dismal one. But now! I swear I wouldn't have it happen
under more favourable auspices, if I could; for then I should be
less inclined to go, and less impressed with the necessity.'
'Yes, yes. I feel that too. When do you go?'
'To-night. We leave for Liverpool to-night. A vessel sails from
that port, as I hear, in three days. In a month, or less, we shall
be there. Why, what's a month! How many months have flown by, since
our last parting!'
'Long to look back upon,' said Mary, echoing his cheerful tone, 'but
nothing in their course!'
'Nothing at all!' cried Martin. 'I shall have change of scene and
change of place; change of people, change of manners, change of
cares and hopes! Time will wear wings indeed! I can bear anything,
so that I have swift action, Mary.'
Was he thinking solely of her care for him, when he took so little
heed of her share in the separation; of her quiet monotonous
endurance, and her slow anxiety from day to day? Was there nothing
jarring and discordant even in his tone of courage, with this one
note 'self' for ever audible, however high the strain? Not in her
ears. It had been better otherwise, perhaps, but so it was. She
heard the same bold spirit which had flung away as dross all gain
and profit for her sake, making light of peril and privation that
she might be calm and happy; and she heard no more. That heart
where self has found no place and raised no throne, is slow to
recognize its ugly presence when it looks upon it. As one possessed
of an evil spirit was held in old time to be alone conscious of the
lurking demon in the breasts of other men, so kindred vices know
each other in their hiding-places every day, when Virtue is
incredulous and blind.
'The quarter's gone!' cried Mr Tapley, in a voice of admonition.
'I shall be ready to return immediately,' she said. 'One thing,
dear Martin, I am bound to tell you. You entreated me a few minutes
since only to answer what you asked me in reference to one theme,
but you should and must know (otherwise I could not be at ease) that
since that separation of which I was the unhappy occasion, he has
never once uttered your name; has never coupled it, or any faint
allusion to it, with passion or reproach; and has never abated in
his kindness to me.'
'I thank him for that last act,' said Martin, 'and for nothing else.
Though on consideration I may thank him for his other forbearance
also, inasmuch as I neither expect nor desire that he will mention
my name again. He may once, perhaps--to couple it with reproach--in
his will. Let him, if he please! By the time it reaches me, he will
be in his grave; a satire on his own anger, God help him!'
'Martin! If you would but sometimes, in some quiet hour; beside the
winter fire; in the summer air; when you hear gentle music, or think
of Death, or Home, or Childhood; if you would at such a season
resolve to think, but once a month, or even once a year, of him, or
any one who ever wronged you, you would forgive him in your heart, I
'If I believed that to be true, Mary,' he replied, 'I would resolve
at no such time to bear him in my mind; wishing to spare myself the
shame of such a weakness. I was not born to be the toy and puppet
of any man, far less his; to whose pleasure and caprice, in return
for any good he did me, my whole youth was sacrificed. It became
between us two a fair exchange--a barter--and no more; and there is
no such balance against me that I need throw in a mawkish
forgiveness to poise the scale. He has forbidden all mention of me
to you, I know,' he added hastily. 'Come! Has he not?'
'That was long ago,' she returned; 'immediately after your parting;
before you had left the house. He has never done so since.'
'He has never done so since because he has seen no occasion,' said
Martin; 'but that is of little consequence, one way or other. Let
all allusion to him between you and me be interdicted from this time
forth. And therefore, love'--he drew her quickly to him, for the
time of parting had now come--'in the first letter that you write to
me through the Post Office, addressed to New York; and in all the
others that you send through Pinch; remember he has no existence,
but has become to us as one who is dead. Now, God bless you! This
is a strange place for such a meeting and such a parting; but our
next meeting shall be in a better, and our next and last parting in
'One other question, Martin, I must ask. Have you provided money
for this journey?'
'Have I?' cried Martin; it might have been in his pride; it might
have been in his desire to set her mind at ease: 'Have I provided
money? Why, there's a question for an emigrant's wife! How could I
move on land or sea without it, love?'
'I mean, enough.'
'Enough! More than enough. Twenty times more than enough. A
pocket-full. Mark and I, for all essential ends, are quite as rich
as if we had the purse of Fortunatus in our baggage.'
'The half-hour's a-going!' cried Mr Tapley.
'Good-bye a hundred times!' cried Mary, in a trembling voice.
But how cold the comfort in Good-bye! Mark Tapley knew it perfectly.
Perhaps he knew it from his reading, perhaps from his experience,
perhaps from intuition. It is impossible to say; but however he
knew it, his knowledge instinctively suggested to him the wisest
course of proceeding that any man could have adopted under the
circumstances. He was taken with a violent fit of sneezing, and was
obliged to turn his head another way. In doing which, he, in a
manner fenced and screened the lovers into a corner by themselves.
There was a short pause, but Mark had an undefined sensation that it
was a satisfactory one in its way. Then Mary, with her veil
lowered, passed him with a quick step, and beckoned him to follow.
She stopped once more before they lost that corner; looked back; and
waved her hand to Martin. He made a start towards them at the
moment as if he had some other farewell words to say; but she only
hurried off the faster, and Mr Tapley followed as in duty bound.
When he rejoined Martin again in his own chamber, he found that
gentleman seated moodily before the dusty grate, with his two feet
on the fender, his two elbows on his knees, and his chin supported,
in a not very ornamental manner, on the palms of his hands.
'Well, sir,' said Mark, taking a long breath, 'I see the young lady
safe home, and I feel pretty comfortable after it. She sent a lot
of kind words, sir, and this,' handing him a ring, 'for a parting
'Diamonds!' said Martin, kissing it--let us do him justice, it was
for her sake; not for theirs--and putting it on his little finger.
'Splendid diamonds! My grandfather is a singular character, Mark.
He must have given her this now.'
Mark Tapley knew as well that she had bought it, to the end that
that unconscious speaker might carry some article of sterling value
with him in his necessity; as he knew that it was day, and not
night. Though he had no more acquaintance of his own knowledge with
the history of the glittering trinket on Martin's outspread finger,
than Martin himself had, he was as certain that in its purchase she
had expended her whole stock of hoarded money, as if he had seen it
paid down coin by coin. Her lover's strange obtuseness in relation
to this little incident, promptly suggested to Mark's mind its real
cause and root; and from that moment he had a clear and perfect
insight into the one absorbing principle of Martin's character.
'She is worthy of the sacrifices I have made,' said Martin, folding
his arms, and looking at the ashes in the stove, as if in resumption
of some former thoughts. 'Well worthy of them. No riches'--here he
stroked his chin and mused--'could have compensated for the loss of
such a nature. Not to mention that in gaining her affection I have
followed the bent of my own wishes, and baulked the selfish schemes
of others who had no right to form them. She is quite worthy--more
than worthy--of the sacrifices I have made. Yes, she is. No doubt
These ruminations might or might not have reached Mark Tapley; for
though they were by no means addressed to him, yet they were softly
uttered. In any case, he stood there, watching Martin with an
indescribable and most involved expression on his visage, until that
young man roused himself and looked towards him; when he turned
away, as being suddenly intent upon certain preparations for the
journey, and, without giving vent to any articulate sound, smiled
with surpassing ghastliness, and seemed by a twist of his features
and a motion of his lips, to release himself of this word:
THE BURDEN WHEREOF, IS HAIL COLUMBIA!
A dark and dreary night; people nestling in their beds or circling
late about the fire; Want, colder than Charity, shivering at the
street corners; church-towers humming with the faint vibration of
their own tongues, but newly resting from the ghostly preachment
'One!' The earth covered with a sable pall as for the burial of
yesterday; the clumps of dark trees, its giant plumes of funeral
feathers, waving sadly to and fro: all hushed, all noiseless, and in
deep repose, save the swift clouds that skim across the moon, and
the cautious wind, as, creeping after them upon the ground, it stops
to listen, and goes rustling on, and stops again, and follows, like
a savage on the trail.
Whither go the clouds and wind so eagerly? If, like guilty spirits,
they repair to some dread conference with powers like themselves, in
what wild regions do the elements hold council, or where unbend in
Here! Free from that cramped prison called the earth, and out upon
the waste of waters. Here, roaring, raging, shrieking, howling, all
night long. Hither come the sounding voices from the caverns on the
coast of that small island, sleeping, a thousand miles away, so
quietly in the midst of angry waves; and hither, to meet them, rush
the blasts from unknown desert places of the world. Here, in the
fury of their unchecked liberty, they storm and buffet with each
other, until the sea, lashed into passion like their own, leaps up,
in ravings mightier than theirs, and the whole scene is madness.
On, on, on, over the countless miles of angry space roll the long
heaving billows. Mountains and caves are here, and yet are not; for
what is now the one, is now the other; then all is but a boiling
heap of rushing water. Pursuit, and flight, and mad return of wave
on wave, and savage struggle, ending in a spouting-up of foam that
whitens the black night; incessant change of place, and form, and
hue; constancy in nothing, but eternal strife; on, on, on, they
roll, and darker grows the night, and louder howls the wind, and
more clamorous and fierce become the million voices in the sea, when
the wild cry goes forth upon the storm 'A ship!'
Onward she comes, in gallant combat with the elements, her tall
masts trembling, and her timbers starting on the strain; onward she
comes, now high upon the curling billows, now low down in the
hollows of the sea, as hiding for the moment from its fury; and
every storm-voice in the air and water cries more loudly yet, 'A
Still she comes striving on; and at her boldness and the spreading
cry, the angry waves rise up above each other's hoary heads to look;
and round about the vessel, far as the mariners on the decks can
pierce into the gloom, they press upon her, forcing each other down
and starting up, and rushing forward from afar, in dreadful
curiosity. High over her they break; and round her surge and roar;
and giving place to others, moaningly depart, and dash themselves to
fragments in their baffled anger. Still she comes onward bravely.
And though the eager multitude crowd thick and fast upon her all the
night, and dawn of day discovers the untiring train yet bearing down
upon the ship in an eternity of troubled water, onward she comes,
with dim lights burning in her hull, and people there, asleep; as if
no deadly element were peering in at every seam and chink, and no
drowned seaman's grave, with but a plank to cover it, were yawning
in the unfathomable depths below.
Among these sleeping voyagers were Martin and Mark Tapley, who,
rocked into a heavy drowsiness by the unaccustomed motion, were
as insensible to the foul air in which they lay, as to the uproar
without. It was broad day when the latter awoke with a dim idea
that he was dreaming of having gone to sleep in a four-post bedstead
which had turned bottom upwards in the course of the night. There
was more reason in this too, than in the roasting of eggs; for the
first objects Mr Tapley recognized when he opened his eyes were his
own heels--looking down to him, as he afterwards observed, from
a nearly perpendicular elevation.
'Well!' said Mark, getting himself into a sitting posture, after
various ineffectual struggles with the rolling of the ship. 'This
is the first time as ever I stood on my head all night.'
'You shouldn't go to sleep upon the ground with your head to leeward
then,' growled a man in one of the berths.
'With my head to WHERE?' asked Mark.
The man repeated his previous sentiment.
'No, I won't another time,' said Mark, 'when I know whereabouts on
the map that country is. In the meanwhile I can give you a better
piece of advice. Don't you nor any other friend of mine never go to
sleep with his head in a ship any more.'
The man gave a grunt of discontented acquiescence, turned over in
his berth, and drew his blanket over his head.
'--For,' said Mr Tapley, pursuing the theme by way of soliloquy in
a low tone of voice; 'the sea is as nonsensical a thing as any
going. It never knows what to do with itself. It hasn't got no
employment for its mind, and is always in a state of vacancy. Like
them Polar bears in the wild-beast shows as is constantly a-nodding
their heads from side to side, it never CAN be quiet. Which is
entirely owing to its uncommon stupidity.'
'Is that you, Mark?' asked a faint voice from another berth.
'It's as much of me as is left, sir, after a fortnight of this
work,' Mr Tapley replied, 'What with leading the life of a fly, ever
since I've been aboard--for I've been perpetually holding-on to
something or other in a upside-down position--what with that, sir,
and putting a very little into myself, and taking a good deal out of
myself, there an't too much of me to swear by. How do you find
yourself this morning, sir?'
'Very miserable,' said Martin, with a peevish groan. 'Ugh. This is
'Creditable,' muttered Mark, pressing one hand upon his aching head
and looking round him with a rueful grin. 'That's the great
comfort. It IS creditable to keep up one's spirits here. Virtue's
its own reward. So's jollity.'
Mark was so far right that unquestionably any man who retained his
cheerfulness among the steerage accommodations of that noble and
fast-sailing line-of-packet ship, 'THE SCREW,' was solely indebted
to his own resources, and shipped his good humour, like his
provisions, without any contribution or assistance from the owners.
A dark, low, stifling cabin, surrounded by berths all filled to
overflowing with men, women, and children, in various stages of
sickness and misery, is not the liveliest place of assembly at any
time; but when it is so crowded (as the steerage cabin of the
Screw was, every passage out), that mattresses and beds are heaped
upon the floor, to the extinction of everything like comfort,
cleanliness, and decency, it is liable to operate not only as a
pretty strong banner against amiability of temper, but as a positive
encourager of selfish and rough humours. Mark felt this, as he sat
looking about him; and his spirits rose proportionately.
There were English people, Irish people, Welsh people, and Scotch
people there; all with their little store of coarse food and shabby
clothes; and nearly all with their families of children. There were
children of all ages; from the baby at the breast, to the slattern-
girl who was as much a grown woman as her mother. Every kind of
domestic suffering that is bred in poverty, illness, banishment,
sorrow, and long travel in bad weather, was crammed into the little
space; and yet was there infinitely less of complaint and
querulousness, and infinitely more of mutual assistance and general
kindness to be found in that unwholesome ark, than in many brilliant
Mark looked about him wistfully, and his face brightened as he
looked. Here an old grandmother was crooning over a sick child, and
rocking it to and fro, in arms hardly more wasted than its own young
limbs; here a poor woman with an infant in her lap, mended another
little creature's clothes, and quieted another who was creeping up
about her from their scanty bed upon the floor. Here were old men
awkwardly engaged in little household offices, wherein they would
have been ridiculous but for their good-will and kind purpose; and
here were swarthy fellows--giants in their way--doing such little
acts of tenderness for those about them, as might have belonged to
gentlest-hearted dwarfs. The very idiot in the corner who sat
mowing there, all day, had his faculty of imitation roused by what
he saw about him; and snapped his fingers to amuse a crying child.
'Now, then,' said Mark, nodding to a woman who was dressing her
three children at no great distance from him--and the grin upon his
face had by this time spread from ear to ear--'Hand over one of them
young 'uns according to custom.'
'I wish you'd get breakfast, Mark, instead of worrying with people
who don't belong to you,' observed Martin, petulantly.
'All right,' said Mark. 'SHE'll do that. It's a fair division of
labour, sir. I wash her boys, and she makes our tea. I never COULD
make tea, but any one can wash a boy.'
The woman, who was delicate and ill, felt and understood his
kindness, as well she might, for she had been covered every night
with his greatcoat, while he had for his own bed the bare boards
and a rug. But Martin, who seldom got up or looked about him, was
quite incensed by the folly of this speech, and expressed his
dissatisfaction by an impatient groan.
'So it is, certainly,' said Mark, brushing the child's hair as
coolly as if he had been born and bred a barber.
'What are you talking about, now?' asked Martin.
'What you said,' replied Mark; 'or what you meant, when you gave
that there dismal vent to your feelings. I quite go along with it,
sir. It IS very hard upon her.'
'Making the voyage by herself along with these young impediments
here, and going such a way at such a time of the year to join her
husband. If you don't want to be driven mad with yellow soap in
your eye, young man,' said Mr Tapley to the second urchin, who was
by this time under his hands at the basin, 'you'd better shut it.'
'Where does she join her husband?' asked Martin, yawning.
'Why, I'm very much afraid,' said Mr Tapley, in a low voice, 'that
she don't know. I hope she mayn't miss him. But she sent her last
letter by hand, and it don't seem to have been very clearly
understood between 'em without it, and if she don't see him a-waving
his pocket-handkerchief on the shore, like a pictur out of a song-
book, my opinion is, she'll break her heart.'
'Why, how, in Folly's name, does the woman come to be on board ship
on such a wild-goose venture!' cried Martin.
Mr Tapley glanced at him for a moment as he lay prostrate in his
berth, and then said, very quietly:
'Ah! How indeed! I can't think! He's been away from her for two
year; she's been very poor and lonely in her own country; and has
always been a-looking forward to meeting him. It's very strange she
should be here. Quite amazing! A little mad perhaps! There can't
be no other way of accounting for it.'
Martin was too far gone in the lassitude of sea-sickness to make any
reply to these words, or even to attend to them as they were spoken.
And the subject of their discourse returning at this crisis with
some hot tea, effectually put a stop to any resumption of the theme
by Mr Tapley; who, when the meal was over and he had adjusted
Martin's bed, went up on deck to wash the breakfast service, which
consisted of two half-pint tin mugs, and a shaving-pot of the same
It is due to Mark Tapley to state that he suffered at least as much
from sea-sickness as any man, woman, or child, on board; and that he
had a peculiar faculty of knocking himself about on the smallest
provocation, and losing his legs at every lurch of the ship. But
resolved, in his usual phrase, to 'come out strong' under
disadvantageous circumstances, he was the life and soul of the
steerage, and made no more of stopping in the middle of a facetious
conversation to go away and be excessively ill by himself, and
afterwards come back in the very best and gayest of tempers to
resume it, than if such a course of proceeding had been the
commonest in the world.
It cannot be said that as his illness wore off, his cheerfulness and
good nature increased, because they would hardly admit of
augmentation; but his usefulness among the weaker members of the
party was much enlarged; and at all times and seasons there he was
exerting it. If a gleam of sun shone out of the dark sky, down Mark
tumbled into the cabin, and presently up he came again with a woman
in his arms, or half-a-dozen children, or a man, or a bed, or a
saucepan, or a basket, or something animate or inanimate, that he
thought would be the better for the air. If an hour or two of fine
weather in the middle of the day tempted those who seldom or never
came on deck at other times to crawl into the long-boat, or lie down
upon the spare spars, and try to eat, there, in the centre of the
group, was Mr Tapley, handing about salt beef and biscuit, or
dispensing tastes of grog, or cutting up the children's provisions
with his pocketknife, for their greater ease and comfort, or reading
aloud from a venerable newspaper, or singing some roaring old song
to a select party, or writing the beginnings of letters to their
friends at home for people who couldn't write, or cracking jokes
with the crew, or nearly getting blown over the side, or emerging,
half-drowned, from a shower of spray, or lending a hand somewhere or
other; but always doing something for the general entertainment. At
night, when the cooking-fire was lighted on the deck, and the
driving sparks that flew among the rigging, and the clouds of sails,
seemed to menace the ship with certain annihilation by fire, in case
the elements of air and water failed to compass her destruction;
there, again, was Mr Tapley, with his coat off and his shirt-sleeves
turned up to his elbows, doing all kinds of culinary offices;
compounding the strangest dishes; recognized by every one as an
established authority; and helping all parties to achieve something
which, left to themselves, they never could have done, and never
would have dreamed of. In short, there never was a more popular
character than Mark Tapley became, on board that noble and fast-
sailing line-of-packet ship, the Screw; and he attained at last to
such a pitch of universal admiration, that he began to have grave
doubts within himself whether a man might reasonably claim any
credit for being jolly under such exciting circumstances.
'If this was going to last,' said Tapley, 'there'd be no great
difference as I can perceive, between the Screw and the Dragon. I
never am to get credit, I think. I begin to be afraid that the
Fates is determined to make the world easy to me.'
'Well, Mark,' said Martin, near whose berth he had ruminated to this
effect. 'When will this be over?'
'Another week, they say, sir,' returned Mark, 'will most likely
bring us into port. The ship's a-going along at present, as
sensible as a ship can, sir; though I don't mean to say as that's
any very high praise.'
'I don't think it is, indeed,' groaned Martin.
'You'd feel all the better for it, sir, if you was to turn out,'
'And be seen by the ladies and gentlemen on the after-deck,'
returned Martin, with a scronful emphasis upon the words, 'mingling
with the beggarly crowd that are stowed away in this vile hole. I
should be greatly the better for that, no doubt.'
'I'm thankful that I can't say from my own experience what the
feelings of a gentleman may be,' said Mark, 'but I should have
thought, sir, as a gentleman would feel a deal more uncomfortable
down here than up in the fresh air, especially when the ladies and
gentlemen in the after-cabin know just as much about him as he does
about them, and are likely to trouble their heads about him in the
same proportion. I should have thought that, certainly.'
'I tell you, then,' rejoined Martin, 'you would have thought wrong,
and do think wrong.'
'Very likely, sir,' said Mark, with imperturbable good temper. 'I
'As to lying here,' cried Martin, raising himself on his elbow, and
looking angrily at his follower. 'Do you suppose it's a pleasure to
'All the madhouses in the world,' said Mr Tapley, 'couldn't produce
such a maniac as the man must be who could think that.'
'Then why are you forever goading and urging me to get up?' asked
Martin, 'I lie here because I don't wish to be recognized, in the
better days to which I aspire, by any purse-proud citizen, as the
man who came over with him among the steerage passengers. I lie
here because I wish to conceal my circumstances and myself, and not
to arrive in a new world badged and ticketed as an utterly poverty-
stricken man. If I could have afforded a passage in the after-cabin
I should have held up my head with the rest. As I couldn't I hide
it. Do you understand that?'
'I am very sorry, sir,' said Mark. 'I didn't know you took it so
much to heart as this comes to.'
'Of course you didn't know,' returned his master. 'How should you
know, unless I told you? It's no trial to you, Mark, to make
yourself comfortable and to bustle about. It's as natural for you
to do so under the circumstances as it is for me not to do so. Why,
you don't suppose there is a living creature in this ship who can by
possibility have half so much to undergo on board of her as I have?
Do you?' he asked, sitting upright in his berth and looking at Mark,
with an expression of great earnestness not unmixed with wonder.
Mark twisted his face into a tight knot, and with his head very much
on one side, pondered upon this question as if he felt it an
extremely difficult one to answer. He was relieved from his
embarrassment by Martin himself, who said, as he stretched himself
upon his back again and resumed the book he had been reading:
'But what is the use of my putting such a case to you, when the very
essence of what I have been saying is, that you cannot by
possibility understand it! Make me a little brandy-and-water--cold
and very weak--and give me a biscuit, and tell your friend, who is a
nearer neighbour of ours than I could wish, to try and keep her
children a little quieter to-night than she did last night; that's a
Mr Tapley set himself to obey these orders with great alacrity, and
pending their execution, it may be presumed his flagging spirits
revived; inasmuch as he several times observed, below his breath,
that in respect of its power of imparting a credit to jollity, the
Screw unquestionably had some decided advantages over the Dragon.
He also remarked that it was a high gratification to him to reflect
that he would carry its main excellence ashore with him, and have it
constantly beside him wherever he went; but what he meant by these
consolatory thoughts he did not explain.
And now a general excitement began to prevail on board; and various
predictions relative to the precise day, and even the precise hour
at which they would reach New York, were freely broached. There was
infinitely more crowding on deck and looking over the ship's side
than there had been before; and an epidemic broke out for packing up
things every morning, which required unpacking again every night.
Those who had any letters to deliver, or any friends to meet, or any
settled plans of going anywhere or doing anything, discussed their
prospects a hundred times a day; and as this class of passengers was
very small, and the number of those who had no prospects whatever
was very large, there were plenty of listeners and few talkers.
Those who had been ill all along, got well now, and those who had
been well, got better. An American gentleman in the after-cabin,
who had been wrapped up in fur and oilskin the whole passage,
unexpectedly appeared in a very shiny, tall, black hat, and
constantly overhauled a very little valise of pale leather, which
contained his clothes, linen, brushes, shaving apparatus, books,
trinkets, and other baggage. He likewise stuck his hands deep into
his pockets, and walked the deck with his nostrils dilated, as
already inhaling the air of Freedom which carries death to all
tyrants, and can never (under any circumstances worth mentioning) be
breathed by slaves. An English gentleman who was strongly suspected
of having run away from a bank, with something in his possession
belonging to its strong box besides the key, grew eloquent upon the
subject of the rights of man, and hummed the Marseillaise Hymn
constantly. In a word, one great sensation pervaded the whole ship,
and the soil of America lay close before them; so close at last,
that, upon a certain starlight night they took a pilot on board, and
within a few hours afterwards lay to until the morning, awaiting the
arrival of a steamboat in which the passengers were to be conveyed
Off she came, soon after it was light next morning, and lying
alongside an hour or more--during which period her very firemen were
objects of hardly less interest and curiosity than if they had been
so many angels, good or bad--took all her living freight aboard.
Among them Mark, who still had his friend and her three children
under his close protection; and Martin, who had once more dressed
himself in his usual attire, but wore a soiled, old cloak above his
ordinary clothes, until such time as he should separate for ever
from his late companions.
The steamer--which, with its machinery on deck, looked, as it worked
its long slim legs, like some enormously magnified insect or
antediluvian monster--dashed at great speed up a beautiful bay; and
presently they saw some heights, and islands, and a long, flat,
'And this,' said Mr Tapley, looking far ahead, 'is the Land of
Liberty, is it? Very well. I'm agreeable. Any land will do for
me, after so much water!'
MARTIN DISEMBARKS FROM THAT NOBLE AND FAST-SAILING LINE-OF-PACKET
SHIP, 'THE SCREW', AT THE PORT OF NEW YORK, IN THE UNITED STATES OF
AMERICA. HE MAKES SOME ACQUAINTANCES, AND DINES AT A BOARDING-
HOUSE. THE PARTICULARS OF THOSE TRANSACTIONS
Some trifling excitement prevailed upon the very brink and margin of
the land of liberty; for an alderman had been elected the day
before; and Party Feeling naturally running rather high on such an
exciting occasion, the friends of the disappointed candidate had
found it necessary to assert the great principles of Purity of
Election and Freedom of opinion by breaking a few legs and arms, and
furthermore pursuing one obnoxious gentleman through the streets
with the design of hitting his nose. These good-humoured little
outbursts of the popular fancy were not in themselves sufficiently
remarkable to create any great stir, after the lapse of a whole
night; but they found fresh life and notoriety in the breath of the
newsboys, who not only proclaimed them with shrill yells in all the
highways and byways of the town, upon the wharves and among the
shipping, but on the deck and down in the cabins of the steamboat;
which, before she touched the shore, was boarded and overrun by a
legion of those young citizens.
'Here's this morning's New York Sewer!' cried one. 'Here's this
morning's New York Stabber! Here's the New York Family Spy! Here's
the New York Private Listener! Here's the New York Peeper! Here's
the New York Plunderer! Here's the New York Keyhole Reporter! Here's
the New York Rowdy Journal! Here's all the New York papers! Here's
full particulars of the patriotic locofoco movement yesterday, in
which the whigs was so chawed up; and the last Alabama gouging case;
and the interesting Arkansas dooel with Bowie knives; and all the
Political, Commercial, and Fashionable News. Here they are! Here
they are! Here's the papers, here's the papers!'
'Here's the Sewer!' cried another. 'Here's the New York Sewer!
Here's some of the twelfth thousand of to-day's Sewer, with the best
accounts of the markets, and all the shipping news, and four whole
columns of country correspondence, and a full account of the Ball at
Mrs White's last night, where all the beauty and fashion of New York
was assembled; with the Sewer's own particulars of the private lives
of all the ladies that was there! Here's the Sewer! Here's some of
the twelfth thousand of the New York Sewer! Here's the Sewer's
exposure of the Wall Street Gang, and the Sewer's exposure of the
Washington Gang, and the Sewer's exclusive account of a flagrant act
of dishonesty committed by the Secretary of State when he was eight
years old; now communicated, at a great expense, by his own nurse.
Here's the Sewer! Here's the New York Sewer, in its twelfth
thousand, with a whole column of New Yorkers to be shown up, and all
their names printed! Here's the Sewer's article upon the Judge that
tried him, day afore yesterday, for libel, and the Sewer's tribute
to the independent Jury that didn't convict him, and the Sewer's
account of what they might have expected if they had! Here's the
Sewer, here's the Sewer! Here's the wide-awake Sewer; always on the
lookout; the leading Journal of the United States, now in its
twelfth thousand, and still a-printing off:--Here's the New York
'It is in such enlightened means,' said a voice almost in Martin's
ear, 'that the bubbling passions of my country find a vent.'
Martin turned involuntarily, and saw, standing close at his side, a
sallow gentleman, with sunken cheeks, black hair, small twinkling
eyes, and a singular expression hovering about that region of his
face, which was not a frown, nor a leer, and yet might have been
mistaken at the first glance for either. Indeed it would have been
difficult, on a much closer acquaintance, to describe it in any more
satisfactory terms than as a mixed expression of vulgar cunning and
conceit. This gentleman wore a rather broad-brimmed hat for the
greater wisdom of his appearance; and had his arms folded for the
greater impressiveness of his attitude. He was somewhat shabbily
dressed in a blue surtout reaching nearly to his ankles, short loose
trousers of the same colour, and a faded buff waistcoat, through
which a discoloured shirt-frill struggled to force itself into
notice, as asserting an equality of civil rights with the other
portions of his dress, and maintaining a declaration of Independence
on its own account. His feet, which were of unusually large
proportions, were leisurely crossed before him as he half leaned
against, half sat upon, the steamboat's bulwark; and his thick cane,
shod with a mighty ferule at one end and armed with a great metal
knob at the other, depended from a line-and-tassel on his wrist.
Thus attired, and thus composed into an aspect of great profundity,
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