Life And Adventures Of Martin Chuzzlewit
Part 9 out of 20
the least dismay, Mark's face grew radiant as he called it to mind;
so very radiant, that a stranger might have supposed he had all his
life been yearning for the society of serpents, and now hailed with
delight the approaching consummation of his fondest wishes.
'Who told you that?' asked Martin, sternly.
'A military officer,' said Mark.
'Confound you for a ridiculous fellow!' cried Martin, laughing
heartily in spite of himself. 'What military officer? You know
they spring up in every field.'
'As thick as scarecrows in England, sir,' interposed Mark, 'which is
a sort of milita themselves, being entirely coat and wescoat, with a
stick inside. Ha, ha!--Don't mind me, sir; it's my way sometimes. I
can't help being jolly. Why it was one of them inwading conquerors
at Pawkins's, as told me. "Am I rightly informed," he says--not
exactly through his nose, but as if he'd got a stoppage in it, very
high up--"that you're a-going to the Walley of Eden?" "I heard some
talk on it," I told him. "Oh!" says he, "if you should ever happen
to go to bed there--you MAY, you know," he says, "in course of time
as civilisation progresses--don't forget to take a axe with you." I
looks at him tolerable hard. "Fleas?" says I. "And more," says he.
"Wampires?" says I. "And more," says he. "Musquitoes, perhaps?"
says I. "And more," says he. "What more?" says I. "Snakes more,"
says he; "rattle-snakes. You're right to a certain extent,
stranger. There air some catawampous chawers in the small way too,
as graze upon a human pretty strong; but don't mind THEM--they're
company. It's snakes," he says, "as you'll object to; and whenever
you wake and see one in a upright poster on your bed," he says,
"like a corkscrew with the handle off a-sittin' on its bottom ring,
cut him down, for he means wenom."'
'Why didn't you tell me this before!' cried Martin, with an
expression of face which set off the cheerfulness of Mark's visage
to great advantage.
'I never thought on it, sir,' said Mark. 'It come in at one ear,
and went out at the other. But Lord love us, he was one of another
Company, I dare say, and only made up the story that we might go to
his Eden, and not the opposition one'
'There's some probability in that,' observed Martin. 'I can
honestly say that I hope so, with all my heart.'
'I've not a doubt about it, sir,' returned Mark, who, full of the
inspiriting influence of the anecodote upon himself, had for the
moment forgotten its probable effect upon his master; 'anyhow, we
must live, you know, sir.'
'Live!' cried Martin. 'Yes, it's easy to say live; but if we should
happen not to wake when rattlesnakes are making corkscrews of
themselves upon our beds, it may be not so easy to do it.'
'And that's a fact,' said a voice so close in his ear that it
tickled him. 'That's dreadful true.'
Martin looked round, and found that a gentleman, on the seat behind,
had thrust his head between himself and Mark, and sat with his chin
resting on the back rail of their little bench, entertaining himself
with their conversation. He was as languid and listless in his
looks as most of the gentlemen they had seen; his cheeks were so
hollow that he seemed to be always sucking them in; and the sun had
burnt him, not a wholesome red or brown, but dirty yellow. He had
bright dark eyes, which he kept half closed; only peeping out of the
corners, and even then with a glance that seemed to say, 'Now you
won't overreach me; you want to, but you won't.' His arms rested
carelessly on his knees as he leant forward; in the palm of his left
hand, as English rustics have their slice of cheese, he had a cake
of tobacco; in his right a penknife. He struck into the dialogue
with as little reserve as if he had been specially called in, days
before, to hear the arguments on both sides, and favour them with
his opinion; and he no more contemplated or cared for the
possibility of their not desiring the honour of his acquaintance or
interference in their private affairs than if he had been a bear or
'That,' he repeated, nodding condescendingly to Martin, as to an
outer barbarian and foreigner, 'is dreadful true. Darn all manner
Martin could not help frowning for a moment, as if he were disposed
to insinuate that the gentleman had unconsciously 'darned' himself.
But remembering the wisdom of doing at Rome as Romans do, he smiled
with the pleasantest expression he could assume upon so short a
Their new friend said no more just then, being busily employed in
cutting a quid or plug from his cake of tobacco, and whistling
softly to himself the while. When he had shaped it to his liking,
he took out his old plug, and deposited the same on the back of the
seat between Mark and Martin, while he thrust the new one into the
hollow of his cheek, where it looked like a large walnut, or
tolerable pippin. Finding it quite satisfactory, he stuck the point
of his knife into the old plug, and holding it out for their
inspection, remarked with the air of a man who had not lived in
vain, that it was 'used up considerable.' Then he tossed it away;
put his knife into one pocket and his tobacco into another; rested
his chin upon the rail as before; and approving of the pattern on
Martin's waistcoat, reached out his hand to feel the texture of that
'What do you call this now?' he asked.
'Upon my word' said Martin, 'I don't know what it's called.'
'It'll cost a dollar or more a yard, I reckon?'
'I really don't know.'
'In my country,' said the gentleman, 'we know the cost of our own
Martin not discussing the question, there was a pause.
'Well!' resumed their new friend, after staring at them intently
during the whole interval of silence; 'how's the unnat'ral old
parent by this time?'
Mr Tapley regarding this inquiry as only another version of the
impertinent English question, 'How's your mother?' would have
resented it instantly, but for Martin's prompt interposition.
'You mean the old country?' he said.
'Ah!' was the reply. 'How's she? Progressing back'ards, I expect,
as usual? Well! How's Queen Victoria?'
'In good health, I believe,' said Martin.
'Queen Victoria won't shake in her royal shoes at all, when she
hears to-morrow named,' observed the stranger, 'No.'
'Not that I am aware of. Why should she?'
'She won't be taken with a cold chill, when she realises what is
being done in these diggings,' said the stranger. 'No.'
'No,' said Martin. 'I think I could take my oath of that.'
The strange gentleman looked at him as if in pity for his ignorance
or prejudice, and said:
'Well, sir, I tell you this--there ain't a engine with its biler
bust, in God A'mighty's free U-nited States, so fixed, and nipped,
and frizzled to a most e-tarnal smash, as that young critter, in her
luxurious location in the Tower of London will be, when she reads
the next double-extra Watertoast Gazette.'
Several other gentlemen had left their seats and gathered round
during the foregoing dialogue. They were highly delighted with this
speech. One very lank gentleman, in a loose limp white cravat, long
white waistcoat, and a black great-coat, who seemed to be in
authority among them, felt called upon to acknowledge it.
'Hem! Mr La Fayette Kettle,' he said, taking off his hat.
There was a grave murmur of 'Hush!'
'Mr La Fayette Kettle! Sir!'
Mr Kettle bowed.
'In the name of this company, sir, and in the name of our common
country, and in the name of that righteous cause of holy sympathy in
which we are engaged, I thank you. I thank you, sir, in the name of
the Watertoast Sympathisers; and I thank you, sir, in the name of
the Watertoast Gazette; and I thank you, sir, in the name of the
star-spangled banner of the Great United States, for your eloquent
and categorical exposition. And if, sir,' said the speaker, poking
Martin with the handle of his umbrella to bespeak his attention, for
he was listening to a whisper from Mark; 'if, sir, in such a place,
and at such a time, I might venture to con-clude with a sentiment,
glancing--however slantin'dicularly--at the subject in hand, I
would say, sir, may the British Lion have his talons eradicated by
the noble bill of the American Eagle, and be taught to play upon the
Irish Harp and the Scotch Fiddle that music which is breathed in
every empty shell that lies upon the shores of green Co-lumbia!'
Here the lank gentleman sat down again, amidst a great sensation;
and every one looked very grave.
'General Choke,' said Mr La Fayette Kettle, 'you warm my heart; sir,
you warm my heart. But the British Lion is not unrepresented here,
sir; and I should be glad to hear his answer to those remarks.'
'Upon my word,' cried Martin, laughing, 'since you do me the honour
to consider me his representative, I have only to say that I never
heard of Queen Victoria reading the What's-his-name Gazette and that
I should scarcely think it probable.'
General Choke smiled upon the rest, and said, in patient and
'It is sent to her, sir. It is sent to her. Her mail.'
'But if it is addressed to the Tower of London, it would hardly come
to hand, I fear,' returned Martin; 'for she don't live there.'
'The Queen of England, gentlemen,' observed Mr Tapley, affecting the
greatest politeness, and regarding them with an immovable face,
'usually lives in the Mint to take care of the money. She HAS
lodgings, in virtue of her office, with the Lord Mayor at the
Mansion House; but don't often occupy them, in consequence of the
parlour chimney smoking.'
'Mark,' said Martin, 'I shall be very much obliged to you if you'll
have the goodness not to interfere with preposterous statements,
however jocose they may appear to you. I was merely remarking
gentlemen--though it's a point of very little import--that the
Queen of England does not happen to live in the Tower of London.'
'General!' cried Mr La Fayette Kettle. 'You hear?'
'General!' echoed several others. 'General!'
'Hush! Pray, silence!' said General Choke, holding up his hand, and
speaking with a patient and complacent benevolence that was quite
touching. 'I have always remarked it as a very extraordinary
circumstance, which I impute to the natur' of British Institutions
and their tendency to suppress that popular inquiry and information
which air so widely diffused even in the trackless forests of this
vast Continent of the Western Ocean; that the knowledge of
Britishers themselves on such points is not to be compared with that
possessed by our intelligent and locomotive citizens. This is
interesting, and confirms my observation. When you say, sir,' he
continued, addressing Martin, 'that your Queen does not reside in
the Tower of London, you fall into an error, not uncommon to your
countrymen, even when their abilities and moral elements air such as
to command respect. But, sir, you air wrong. She DOES live there--'
'When she is at the Court of Saint James's,' interposed Kettle.
'When she is at the Court of Saint James's, of course,' returned the
General, in the same benignant way; 'for if her location was in
Windsor Pavilion it couldn't be in London at the same time. Your
Tower of London, sir,' pursued the General, smiling with a mild
consciousness of his knowledge, 'is nat'rally your royal residence.
Being located in the immediate neighbourhood of your Parks, your
Drives, your Triumphant Arches, your Opera, and your Royal Almacks,
it nat'rally suggests itself as the place for holding a luxurious
and thoughtless court. And, consequently,' said the General,
'consequently, the court is held there.'
'Have you been in England?' asked Martin.
'In print I have, sir,' said the General, 'not otherwise. We air a
reading people here, sir. You will meet with much information among
us that will surprise you, sir.'
'I have not the least doubt of it,' returned Martin. But here he
was interrupted by Mr La Fayette Kettle, who whispered in his ear:
'You know General Choke?'
'No,' returned Martin, in the same tone.
'You know what he is considered?'
'One of the most remarkable men in the country?' said Martin, at a
'That's a fact,' rejoined Kettle. 'I was sure you must have heard
'I think,' said Martin, addressing himself to the General again,
'that I have the pleasure of being the bearer of a letter of
introduction to you, sir. From Mr Bevan, of Massachusetts,' he
added, giving it to him.
The General took it and read it attentively; now and then stopping
to glance at the two strangers. When he had finished the note, he
came over to Martin, sat down by him, and shook hands.
'Well!' he said, 'and you think of settling in Eden?'
'Subject to your opinion, and the agent's advice,' replied Martin.
'I am told there is nothing to be done in the old towns.'
'I can introduce you to the agent, sir,' said the General. 'I know
him. In fact, I am a member of the Eden Land Corporation myself.'
This was serious news to Martin, for his friend had laid great
stress upon the General's having no connection, as he thought, with
any land company, and therefore being likely to give him
disinterested advice. The General explained that he had joined the
Corporation only a few weeks ago, and that no communication had
passed between himself and Mr Bevan since.
'We have very little to venture,' said Martin anxiously--'only a few
pounds--but it is our all. Now, do you think that for one of my
profession, this would be a speculation with any hope or chance in
'Well,' observed the General, gravely, 'if there wasn't any hope or
chance in the speculation, it wouldn't have engaged my dollars, I
'I don't mean for the sellers,' said Martin. 'For the buyers--for
'For the buyers, sir?' observed the General, in a most impressive
manner. 'Well! you come from an old country; from a country, sir,
that has piled up golden calves as high as Babel, and worshipped 'em
for ages. We are a new country, sir; man is in a more primeval
state here, sir; we have not the excuse of having lapsed in the
slow course of time into degenerate practices; we have no false
gods; man, sir, here, is man in all his dignity. We fought for that
or nothing. Here am I, sir,' said the General, setting up his
umbrella to represent himself, and a villanous-looking umbrella it
was; a very bad counter to stand for the sterling coin of his
benevolence, 'here am I with grey hairs sir, and a moral sense.
Would I, with my principles, invest capital in this speculation if I
didn't think it full of hopes and chances for my brother man?'
Martin tried to look convinced, but he thought of New York, and
found it difficult.
'What are the Great United States for, sir,' pursued the General 'if
not for the regeneration of man? But it is nat'ral in you to make
such an enquerry, for you come from England, and you do not know my
'Then you think,' said Martin, 'that allowing for the hardships we
are prepared to undergo, there is a reasonable--Heaven knows we
don't expect much--a reasonable opening in this place?'
'A reasonable opening in Eden, sir! But see the agent, see the
agent; see the maps and plans, sir; and conclude to go or stay,
according to the natur' of the settlement. Eden hadn't need to go
a-begging yet, sir,' remarked the General.
'It is an awful lovely place, sure-ly. And frightful wholesome,
likewise!' said Mr Kettle, who had made himself a party to this
conversation as a matter of course.
Martin felt that to dispute such testimony, for no better reason
than because he had his secret misgivings on the subject, would be
ungentlemanly and indecent. So he thanked the General for his
promise to put him in personal communication with the agent; and
'concluded' to see that officer next morning. He then begged the
General to inform him who the Watertoast Sympathisers were, of whom
he had spoken in addressing Mr La Fayette Kettle, and on what
grievances they bestowed their Sympathy. To which the General,
looking very serious, made answer, that he might fully enlighten
himself on those points to-morrow by attending a Great Meeting of
the Body, which would then be held at the town to which they were
travelling; 'over which, sir,' said the General, 'my fellow-citizens
have called on me to preside.'
They came to their journey's end late in the evening. Close to the
railway was an immense white edifice, like an ugly hospital, on
which was painted 'NATIONAL HOTEL.' There was a wooden gallery or
verandah in front, in which it was rather startling, when the train
stopped, to behold a great many pairs of boots and shoes, and the
smoke of a great many cigars, but no other evidences of human
habitation. By slow degrees, however, some heads and shoulders
appeared, and connecting themselves with the boots and shoes, led to
the discovery that certain gentlemen boarders, who had a fancy for
putting their heels where the gentlemen boarders in other countries
usually put their heads, were enjoying themselves after their own
manner in the cool of the evening.
There was a great bar-room in this hotel, and a great public room in
which the general table was being set out for supper. There were
interminable whitewashed staircases, long whitewashed galleries
upstairs and downstairs, scores of little whitewashed bedrooms, and
a four-sided verandah to every story in the house, which formed a
large brick square with an uncomfortable courtyard in the centre,
where some clothes were drying. Here and there, some yawning
gentlemen lounged up and down with their hands in their pockets; but
within the house and without, wherever half a dozen people were
collected together, there, in their looks, dress, morals, manners,
habits, intellect, and conversation, were Mr Jefferson Brick,
Colonel Diver, Major Pawkins, General Choke, and Mr La Fayette
Kettle, over, and over, and over again. They did the same things;
said the same things; judged all subjects by, and reduced all
subjects to, the same standard. Observing how they lived, and how
they were always in the enchanting company of each other, Martin
even began to comprehend their being the social, cheerful, winning,
airy men they were.
At the sounding of a dismal gong, this pleasant company went
trooping down from all parts of the house to the public room; while
from the neighbouring stores other guests came flocking in, in
shoals; for half the town, married folks as well as single, resided
at the National Hotel. Tea, coffee, dried meats, tongue, ham,
pickles, cake, toast, preserves, and bread and butter, were
swallowed with the usual ravaging speed; and then, as before, the
company dropped off by degrees, and lounged away to the desk, the
counter, or the bar-room. The ladies had a smaller ordinary of
their own, to which their husbands and brothers were admitted if
they chose; and in all other respects they enjoyed themselves as at
'Now, Mark, my good fellow, said Martin, closing the door of his
little chamber, 'we must hold a solemn council, for our fate is
decided to-morrow morning. You are determined to invest these
savings of yours in the common stock, are you?'
'If I hadn't been determined to make that wentur, sir,' answered Mr
Tapley, 'I shouldn't have come.'
'How much is there here, did you say' asked Martin, holding up a
'Thirty-seven pound ten and sixpence. The Savings' Bank said so at
least. I never counted it. But THEY know, bless you!' said Mark,
with a shake of the head expressive of his unbounded confidence in
the wisdom and arithmetic of those Institutions.
'The money we brought with us,' said Martin, 'is reduced to a few
shillings less than eight pounds.'
Mr Tapley smiled, and looked all manner of ways, that he might not
be supposed to attach any importance to this fact.
'Upon the ring--HER ring, Mark,' said Martin, looking ruefully at
his empty finger--
'Ah!' sighed Mr Tapley. 'Beg your pardon, sir.'
'--We raised, in English money, fourteen pounds. So, even with
that, your share of the stock is still very much the larger of the
two you see. Now, Mark,' said Martin, in his old way, just as he
might have spoken to Tom Pinch, 'I have thought of a means of making
this up to you--more than making it up to you, I hope--and very
materially elevating your prospects in life.'
'Oh! don't talk of that, you know, sir,' returned Mark. 'I don't
want no elevating, sir. I'm all right enough, sir, I am.'
'No, but hear me,' said Martin, 'because this is very important to
you, and a great satisfaction to me. Mark, you shall be a partner
in the business; an equal partner with myself. I will put in, as my
additional capital, my professional knowledge and ability; and half
the annual profits, as long as it is carried on, shall be yours.'
Poor Martin! For ever building castles in the air. For ever, in his
very selfishness, forgetful of all but his own teeming hopes and
sanguine plans. Swelling, at that instant, with the consciousness
of patronizing and most munificently rewarding Mark!
'I don't know, sir,' Mark rejoined, much more sadly than his custom
was, though from a very different cause than Martin supposed, 'what
I can say to this, in the way of thanking you. I'll stand by you,
sir, to the best of my ability, and to the last. That's all.'
'We quite understand each other, my good fellow,' said Martin rising
in self-approval and condescension. 'We are no longer master and
servant, but friends and partners; and are mutually gratified. If
we determine on Eden, the business shall be commenced as soon as we
get there. Under the name,' said Martin, who never hammered upon an
idea that wasn't red hot, 'under the name of Chuzzlewit and Tapley.'
'Lord love you, sir,' cried Mark, 'don't have my name in it. I
ain't acquainted with the business, sir. I must be Co., I must.
I've often thought,' he added, in a low voice, 'as I should like to
know a Co.; but I little thought as ever I should live to be one.'
'You shall have your own way, Mark.'
'Thank'ee, sir. If any country gentleman thereabouts, in the public
way, or otherwise, wanted such a thing as a skittle-ground made, I
could take that part of the bis'ness, sir.'
'Against any architect in the States,' said Martin. 'Get a couple
of sherry-cobblers, Mark, and we'll drink success to the firm.'
Either he forgot already (and often afterwards), that they were no
longer master and servant, or considered this kind of duty to be
among the legitimate functions of the Co. But Mark obeyed with his
usual alacrity; and before they parted for the night, it was agreed
between them that they should go together to the agent's in the
morning, but that Martin should decide the Eden question, on his own
sound judgment. And Mark made no merit, even to himself in his
jollity, of this concession; perfectly well knowing that the matter
would come to that in the end, any way.
The General was one of the party at the public table next day, and
after breakfast suggested that they should wait upon the agent
without loss of time. They, desiring nothing more, agreed; so off
they all four started for the office of the Eden Settlement, which
was almost within rifle-shot of the National Hotel.
It was a small place--something like a turnpike. But a great deal
of land may be got into a dice-box, and why may not a whole
territory be bargained for in a shed? It was but a temporary office
too; for the Edeners were 'going' to build a superb establishment
for the transaction of their business, and had already got so far as
to mark out the site. Which is a great way in America. The office-
door was wide open, and in the doorway was the agent; no doubt a
tremendous fellow to get through his work, for he seemed to have no
arrears, but was swinging backwards and forwards in a rocking-chair,
with one of his legs planted high up against the door-post, and the
other doubled up under him, as if he were hatching his foot.
He was a gaunt man in a huge straw hat, and a coat of green stuff.
The weather being hot, he had no cravat, and wore his shirt collar
wide open; so that every time he spoke something was seen to twitch
and jerk up in his throat, like the little hammers in a harpsichord
when the notes are struck. Perhaps it was the Truth feebly
endeavouring to leap to his lips. If so, it never reached them.
Two grey eyes lurked deep within this agent's head, but one of them
had no sight in it, and stood stock still. With that side of his
face he seemed to listen to what the other side was doing. Thus
each profile had a distinct expression; and when the movable side
was most in action, the rigid one was in its coldest state of
watchfulness. It was like turning the man inside out, to pass to
that view of his features in his liveliest mood, and see how
calculating and intent they were.
Each long black hair upon his head hung down as straight as any
plummet line; but rumpled tufts were on the arches of his eyes, as
if the crow whose foot was deeply printed in the corners had pecked
and torn them in a savage recognition of his kindred nature as a
bird of prey.
Such was the man whom they now approached, and whom the General
saluted by the name of Scadder.
'Well, Gen'ral,' he returned, 'and how are you?'
'Ac-tive and spry, sir, in my country's service and the sympathetic
cause. Two gentlemen on business, Mr Scadder.'
He shook hands with each of them--nothing is done in America without
shaking hands--then went on rocking.
'I think I know what bis'ness you have brought these strangers here
upon, then, Gen'ral?'
'Well, sir. I expect you may.'
'You air a tongue-y person, Gen'ral. For you talk too much, and
that's fact,' said Scadder. 'You speak a-larming well in public,
but you didn't ought to go ahead so fast in private. Now!'
'If I can realise your meaning, ride me on a rail!' returned the
General, after pausing for consideration.
'You know we didn't wish to sell the lots off right away to any
loafer as might bid,' said Scadder; 'but had con-cluded to reserve
'em for Aristocrats of Natur'. Yes!'
'And they are here, sir!' cried the General with warmth. 'They
are here, sir!'
'If they air here,' returned the agent, in reproachful accents,
'that's enough. But you didn't ought to have your dander ris with
The General whispered Martin that Scadder was the honestest fellow
in the world, and that he wouldn't have given him offence
designedly, for ten thousand dollars.
'I do my duty; and I raise the dander of my feller critters, as I
wish to serve,' said Scadder in a low voice, looking down the road
and rocking still. 'They rile up rough, along of my objecting to
their selling Eden off too cheap. That's human natur'! Well!'
'Mr Scadder,' said the General, assuming his oratorical deportment.
'Sir! Here is my hand, and here my heart. I esteem you, sir, and
ask your pardon. These gentlemen air friends of mine, or I would
not have brought 'em here, sir, being well aware, sir, that the lots
at present go entirely too cheap. But these air friends, sir; these
air partick'ler friends.'
Mr Scadder was so satisfied by this explanation, that he shook the
General warmly by the hand, and got out of the rocking-chair to do
it. He then invited the General's particular friends to accompany
him into the office. As to the General, he observed, with his usual
benevolence, that being one of the company, he wouldn't interfere in
the transaction on any account; so he appropriated the rocking-chair
to himself, and looked at the prospect, like a good Samaritan
waiting for a traveller.
'Heyday!' cried Martin, as his eye rested on a great plan which
occupied one whole side of the office. Indeed, the office had
little else in it, but some geological and botanical specimens, one
or two rusty ledgers, a homely desk, and a stool. 'Heyday! what's
'That's Eden,' said Scadder, picking his teeth with a sort of young
bayonet that flew out of his knife when he touched a spring.
'Why, I had no idea it was a city.'
'Hadn't you? Oh, it's a city.'
A flourishing city, too! An architectural city! There were banks,
churches, cathedrals, market-places, factories, hotels, stores,
mansions, wharves; an exchange, a theatre; public buildings of all
kinds, down to the office of the Eden Stinger, a daily journal; all
faithfully depicted in the view before them.
'Dear me! It's really a most important place!' cried Martin turning
'Oh! it's very important,' observed the agent.
'But, I am afraid,' said Martin, glancing again at the Public
Buildings, 'that there's nothing left for me to do.'
'Well! it ain't all built,' replied the agent. 'Not quite.'
This was a great relief.
'The market-place, now,' said Martin. 'Is that built?'
'That?' said the agent, sticking his toothpick into the weathercock
on the top. 'Let me see. No; that ain't built.'
'Rather a good job to begin with--eh, Mark?' whispered Martin
nudging him with his elbow.
Mark, who, with a very stolid countenance had been eyeing the plan
and the agent by turns, merely rejoined 'Uncommon!'
A dead silence ensued, Mr Scadder in some short recesses or
vacations of his toothpick, whistled a few bars of Yankee Doodle,
and blew the dust off the roof of the Theatre.
'I suppose,' said Martin, feigning to look more narrowly at the
plan, but showing by his tremulous voice how much depended, in his
mind, upon the answer; 'I suppose there are--several architects
'There ain't a single one,' said Scadder.
'Mark,' whispered Martin, pulling him by the sleeve, 'do you hear
that? But whose work is all this before us, then?' he asked aloud.
'The soil being very fruitful, public buildings grows spontaneous,
perhaps,' said Mark.
He was on the agent's dark side as he said it; but Scadder instantly
changed his place, and brought his active eye to bear upon him.
'Feel of my hands, young man,' he said.
'What for?' asked Mark, declining.
'Air they dirty, or air they clean, sir?' said Scadder, holding them
In a physical point of view they were decidedly dirty. But it being
obvious that Mr Scadder offered them for examination in a figurative
sense, as emblems of his moral character, Martin hastened to
pronounce them pure as the driven snow.
'I entreat, Mark,' he said, with some irritation, 'that you will not
obtrude remarks of that nature, which, however harmless and
well-intentioned, are quite out of place, and cannot be expected to
be very agreeable to strangers. I am quite surprised.'
'The Co.'s a-putting his foot in it already,' thought Mark. 'He
must be a sleeping partner--fast asleep and snoring--Co. must; I
Mr Scadder said nothing, but he set his back against the plan, and
thrust his toothpick into the desk some twenty times; looking at
Mark all the while as if he were stabbing him in effigy.
'You haven't said whose work it is,' Martin ventured to observe at
length, in a tone of mild propitiation.
'Well, never mind whose work it is, or isn't,' said the agent
sulkily. 'No matter how it did eventuate. P'raps he cleared off,
handsome, with a heap of dollars; p'raps he wasn't worth a cent.
P'raps he was a loafin' rowdy; p'raps a ring-tailed roarer. Now!'
'All your doing, Mark!' said Martin.
'P'raps,' pursued the agent, 'them ain't plants of Eden's raising.
No! P'raps that desk and stool ain't made from Eden lumber. No!
P'raps no end of squatters ain't gone out there. No! P'raps there
ain't no such location in the territoary of the Great U-nited
States. Oh, no!'
'I hope you're satisfied with the success of your joke, Mark,' said
But here, at a most opportune and happy time, the General
interposed, and called out to Scadder from the doorway to give his
friends the particulars of that little lot of fifty acres with the
house upon it; which, having belonged to the company formerly, had
lately lapsed again into their hands.
'You air a deal too open-handed, Gen'ral,' was the answer. 'It is a
lot as should be rose in price. It is.'
He grumblingly opened his books notwithstanding, and always keeping
his bright side towards Mark, no matter at what amount of
inconvenience to himself, displayed a certain leaf for their
perusal. Martin read it greedily, and then inquired:
'Now where upon the plan may this place be?'
'Upon the plan?' said Scadder.
He turned towards it, and reflected for a short time, as if, having
been put upon his mettle, he was resolved to be particular to the
very minutest hair's breadth of a shade. At length, after wheeling
his toothpick slowly round and round in the air, as if it were a
carrier pigeon just thrown up, he suddenly made a dart at the
drawing, and pierced the very centre of the main wharf, through and
'There!' he said, leaving his knife quivering in the wall; 'that's
where it is!'
Martin glanced with sparkling eyes upon his Co., and his Co. saw
that the thing was done.
The bargain was not concluded as easily as might have been expected
though, for Scadder was caustic and ill-humoured, and cast much
unnecessary opposition in the way; at one time requesting them to
think of it, and call again in a week or a fortnight; at another,
predicting that they wouldn't like it; at another, offering to
retract and let them off, and muttering strong imprecations upon the
folly of the General. But the whole of the astoundingly small sum
total of purchase-money--it was only one hundred and fifty dollars,
or something more than thirty pounds of the capital brought by Co.
into the architectural concern--was ultimately paid down; and
Martin's head was two inches nearer the roof of the little wooden
office, with the consciousness of being a landed proprietor in the
thriving city of Eden.
'If it shouldn't happen to fit,' said Scadder, as he gave Martin the
necessary credentials on recepit of his money, 'don't blame me.'
'No, no,' he replied merrily. 'We'll not blame you. General, are
'I am at your service, sir; and I wish you,' said the General,
giving him his hand with grave cordiality, 'joy of your po-ssession.
You air now, sir, a denizen of the most powerful and highly-
civilised dominion that has ever graced the world; a do-minion, sir,
where man is bound to man in one vast bond of equal love and truth.
May you, sir, be worthy of your a-dopted country!'
Martin thanked him, and took leave of Mr Scadder; who had resumed
his post in the rocking-chair, immediately on the General's rising
from it, and was once more swinging away as if he had never been
disturbed. Mark looked back several times as they went down the
road towards the National Hotel, but now his blighted profile was
towards them, and nothing but attentive thoughtfulness was written
on it. Strangely different to the other side! He was not a man much
given to laughing, and never laughed outright; but every line in the
print of the crow's foot, and every little wiry vein in that
division of his head, was wrinkled up into a grin! The compound
figure of Death and the Lady at the top of the old ballad was not
divided with a greater nicety, and hadn't halves more monstrously
unlike each other, than the two profiles of Zephaniah Scadder.
The General posted along at a great rate, for the clock was on the
stroke of twelve; and at that hour precisely, the Great Meeting of
the Watertoast Sympathisers was to be holden in the public room of
the National Hotel. Being very curious to witness the
demonstration, and know what it was all about, Martin kept close to
the General; and, keeping closer than ever when they entered the
Hall, got by that means upon a little platform of tables at the
upper end; where an armchair was set for the General, and Mr La
Fayette Kettle, as secretary, was making a great display of some
foolscap documents. Screamers, no doubt.
'Well, sir!' he said, as he shook hands with Martin, 'here is a
spectacle calc'lated to make the British Lion put his tail between
his legs, and howl with anguish, I expect!'
Martin certainly thought it possible that the British Lion might
have been rather out of his element in that Ark; but he kept the
idea to himself. The General was then voted to the chair, on the
motion of a pallid lad of the Jefferson Brick school; who forthwith
set in for a high-spiced speech, with a good deal about hearths and
homes in it, and unriveting the chains of Tyranny.
Oh but it was a clincher for the British Lion, it was! The
indignation of the glowing young Columbian knew no bounds. If he
could only have been one of his own forefathers, he said, wouldn't
he have peppered that same Lion, and been to him as another Brute
Tamer with a wire whip, teaching him lessons not easily forgotten.
'Lion! (cried that young Columbian) where is he? Who is he? What
is he? Show him to me. Let me have him here. Here!' said the
young Columbian, in a wrestling attitude, 'upon this sacred altar.
Here!' cried the young Columbian, idealising the dining-table, 'upon
ancestral ashes, cemented with the glorious blood poured out like
water on our native plains of Chickabiddy Lick! Bring forth that
Lion!' said the young Columbian. 'Alone, I dare him! I taunt that
Lion. I tell that Lion, that Freedom's hand once twisted in his
mane, he rolls a corse before me, and the Eagles of the Great
Republic laugh ha, ha!'
When it was found that the Lion didn't come, but kept out of the
way; that the young Columbian stood there, with folded arms, alone
in his glory; and consequently that the Eagles were no doubt
laughing wildly on the mountain tops; such cheers arose as might
have shaken the hands upon the Horse-Guards' clock, and changed the
very mean time of the day in England's capital.
'Who is this?' Martin telegraphed to La Fayette.
The Secretary wrote something, very gravely, on a piece of paper,
twisted it up, and had it passed to him from hand to hand. It was
an improvement on the old sentiment: 'Perhaps as remarkable a man as
any in our country.'
This young Columbian was succeeded by another, to the full as
eloquent as he, who drew down storms of cheers. But both remarkable
youths, in their great excitement (for your true poetry can never
stoop to details), forgot to say with whom or what the Watertoasters
sympathized, and likewise why or wherefore they were sympathetic.
Thus Martin remained for a long time as completely in the dark as
ever; until at length a ray of light broke in upon him through the
medium of the Secretary, who, by reading the minutes of their past
proceedings, made the matter somewhat clearer. He then learned that
the Watertoast Association sympathized with a certain Public Man in
Ireland, who held a contest upon certain points with England; and
that they did so, because they didn't love England at all--not by
any means because they loved Ireland much; being indeed horribly
jealous and distrustful of its people always, and only tolerating
them because of their working hard, which made them very useful;
labour being held in greater indignity in the simple republic than
in any other country upon earth. This rendered Martin curious to
see what grounds of sympathy the Watertoast Association put forth;
nor was he long in suspense, for the General rose to read a letter
to the Public Man, which with his own hands he had written.
'Thus,' said the General, 'thus, my friends and fellow-citizens, it
'"SIR--I address you on behalf of the Watertoast Association of
United Sympathisers. It is founded, sir, in the great republic
of America! and now holds its breath, and swells the blue veins
in its forehead nigh to bursting, as it watches, sir, with feverish
intensity and sympathetic ardour, your noble efforts in the cause
At the name of Freedom, and at every repetition of that name, all
the Sympathisers roared aloud; cheering with nine times nine, and
nine times over.
'"In Freedom's name, sir--holy Freedom--I address you. In
Freedom's name, I send herewith a contribution to the funds of your
society. In Freedom's name, sir, I advert with indignation and
disgust to that accursed animal, with gore-stained whiskers, whose
rampant cruelty and fiery lust have ever been a scourge, a torment
to the world. The naked visitors to Crusoe's Island, sir; the
flying wives of Peter Wilkins; the fruit-smeared children of the
tangled bush; nay, even the men of large stature, anciently bred in
the mining districts of Cornwall; alike bear witness to its savage
nature. Where, sir, are the Cormorans, the Blunderbores, the Great
Feefofums, named in History? All, all, exterminated by its
'"I allude, sir, to the British Lion.
'"Devoted, mind and body, heart and soul, to Freedom, sir--to
Freedom, blessed solace to the snail upon the cellar-door, the
oyster in his pearly bed, the still mite in his home of cheese, the
very winkle of your country in his shelly lair--in her unsullied
name, we offer you our sympathy. Oh, sir, in this our cherished and
our happy land, her fires burn bright and clear and smokeless; once
lighted up in yours, the lion shall be roasted whole.
'"I am, sir, in Freedom's name,
'"Your affectionate friend and faithful Sympathiser,
It happened that just as the General began to read this letter, the
railroad train arrived, bringing a new mail from England; and a
packet had been handed in to the Secretary, which during its perusal
and the frequent cheerings in homage to freedom, he had opened.
Now, its contents disturbed him very much, and the moment the
General sat down, he hurried to his side, and placed in his hand a
letter and several printed extracts from English newspapers; to
which, in a state of infinite excitement, he called his immediate
The General, being greatly heated by his own composition, was in a
fit state to receive any inflammable influence; but he had no sooner
possessed himself of the contents of these documents, than a change
came over his face, involving such a huge amount of choler and
passion, that the noisy concourse were silent in a moment, in very
wonder at the sight of him.
'My friends!' cried the General, rising; 'my friends and fellow
citizens, we have been mistaken in this man.'
'In what man?' was the cry.
'In this,' panted the General, holding up the letter he had read
aloud a few minutes before. 'I find that he has been, and is, the
advocate--consistent in it always too--of Nigger emancipation!'
If anything beneath the sky be real, those Sons of Freedom would
have pistolled, stabbed--in some way slain--that man by coward hands
and murderous violence, if he had stood among them at that time.
The most confiding of their own countrymen would not have wagered
then--no, nor would they ever peril--one dunghill straw, upon the
life of any man in such a strait. They tore the letter, cast the
fragments in the air, trod down the pieces as they fell; and yelled,
and groaned, and hissed, till they could cry no longer.
'I shall move,' said the General, when he could make himself heard,
'that the Watertoast Association of United Sympathisers be
Down with it! Away with it! Don't hear of it! Burn its records!
Pull the room down! Blot it out of human memory!
'But, my fellow-countrymen!' said the General, 'the contributions.
We have funds. What is to be done with the funds?'
It was hastily resolved that a piece of plate should be presented to
a certain constitutional Judge, who had laid down from the Bench the
noble principle that it was lawful for any white mob to murder any
black man; and that another piece of plate, of similar value should
be presented to a certain Patriot, who had declared from his high
place in the Legislature, that he and his friends would hang without
trial, any Abolitionist who might pay them a visit. For the
surplus, it was agreed that it should be devoted to aiding the
enforcement of those free and equal laws, which render it
incalculably more criminal and dangerous to teach a negro to read
and write than to roast him alive in a public city. These points
adjusted, the meeting broke up in great disorder, and there was an
end of the Watertoast Sympathy.
As Martin ascended to his bedroom, his eye was attracted by the
Republican banner, which had been hoisted from the house-top in
honour of the occasion, and was fluttering before a window which he
'Tut!' said Martin. 'You're a gay flag in the distance. But let a
man be near enough to get the light upon the other side and see
through you; and you are but sorry fustian!'
FROM WHICH IT WILL BE SEEN THAT MARTIN BECAME A LION OF HIS OWN
ACCOUNT. TOGETHER WITH THE REASON WHY
As soon as it was generally known in the National Hotel, that the
young Englishman, Mr Chuzzlewit, had purchased a 'lo-cation' in the
Valley of Eden, and intended to betake himself to that earthly
Paradise by the next steamboat, he became a popular character. Why
this should be, or how it had come to pass, Martin no more knew than
Mrs Gamp, of Kingsgate Street, High Holborn, did; but that he was
for the time being the lion, by popular election, of the Watertoast
community, and that his society was in rather inconvenient request
there could be no kind of doubt.
The first notification he received of this change in his position,
was the following epistle, written in a thin running hand--with
here and there a fat letter or two, to make the general effect more
striking--on a sheet of paper, ruled with blue lines.
'Dear Sir--'When I had the privillidge of being your fellow-traveller
in the cars, the day before yesterday, you offered some remarks
upon the subject of the tower of London, which (in common with my
fellow-citizens generally) I could wish to hear repeated to a public
'As secretary to the Young Men's Watertoast Association of this
town, I am requested to inform you that the Society will be proud to
hear you deliver a lecture upon the Tower of London, at their Hall
to-morrow evening, at seven o'clock; and as a large issue of
quarter-dollar tickets may be expected, your answer and consent by
bearer will be considered obliging.
'LA FAYETTE KETTLE.
'The Honourable M. Chuzzlewit.
'P.S.--The Society would not be particular in limiting you to the
Tower of London. Permit me to suggest that any remarks upon the
Elements of Geology, or (if more convenient) upon the Writings of
your talented and witty countryman, the honourable Mr Miller, would
be well received.'
Very much aghast at this invitation, Martin wrote back, civilly
declining it; and had scarcely done so, when he received another
'No. 47, Bunker Hill Street,
'Sir--I was raised in those interminable solitudes where our mighty
Mississippi (or Father of Waters) rolls his turbid flood.
'I am young, and ardent. For there is a poetry in wildness, and
every alligator basking in the slime is in himself an Epic, self-
contained. I aspirate for fame. It is my yearning and my thirst.
'Are you, sir, aware of any member of Congress in England, who would
undertake to pay my expenses to that country, and for six months
after my arrival?
'There is something within me which gives me the assurance that this
enlightened patronage would not be thrown away. In literature or
art; the bar, the pulpit, or the stage; in one or other, if not all,
I feel that I am certain to succeed.
'If too much engaged to write to any such yourself, please let me
have a list of three or four of those most likely to respond, and I
will address them through the Post Office. May I also ask you to
favour me with any critical observations that have ever presented
themselves to your reflective faculties, on "Cain, a Mystery," by
the Right Honourable Lord Byron?
'I am, Sir,
'Yours (forgive me if I add, soaringly),
'P.S.--Address your answer to America Junior, Messrs. Hancock &
Floby, Dry Goods Store, as above.'
Both of which letters, together with Martin's reply to each, were,
according to a laudable custom, much tending to the promotion of
gentlemanly feeling and social confidence, published in the next
number of the Watertoast Gazette.
He had scarcely got through this correspondence when Captain
Kedgick, the landlord, kindly came upstairs to see how he was
getting on. The Captain sat down upon the bed before he spoke; and
finding it rather hard, moved to the pillow.
'Well, sir!' said the Captain, putting his hat a little more on one
side, for it was rather tight in the crown: 'You're quite a public
man I calc'late.'
'So it seems,' retorted Martin, who was very tired.
'Our citizens, sir,' pursued the Captain, 'intend to pay their
respects to you. You will have to hold a sort of le-vee, sir, while
'Powers above!' cried Martin, 'I couldn't do that, my good fellow!'
'I reckon you MUST then,' said the Captain.
'Must is not a pleasant word, Captain,' urged Martin.
'Well! I didn't fix the mother language, and I can't unfix it,' said
the Captain coolly; 'else I'd make it pleasant. You must re-ceive.
'But why should I receive people who care as much for me as I care
for them?' asked Martin.
'Well! because I have had a muniment put up in the bar,' returned
'A what?' cried Martin.
'A muniment,' rejoined the Captain.
Martin looked despairingly at Mark, who informed him that the
Captain meant a written notice that Mr Chuzzlewit would receive the
Watertoasters that day, at and after two o'clock which was in effect
then hanging in the bar, as Mark, from ocular inspection of the
same, could testify.
'You wouldn't be unpop'lar, I know,' said the Captain, paring his
nails. 'Our citizens an't long of riling up, I tell you; and our
Gazette could flay you like a wild cat.'
Martin was going to be very wroth, but he thought better of it, and
'In Heaven's name let them come, then.'
'Oh, THEY'll come,' returned the Captain. 'I have seen the big room
fixed a'purpose, with my eyes.'
'But will you,' said Martin, seeing that the Captain was about to
go; 'will you at least tell me this? What do they want to see me
for? what have I done? and how do they happen to have such a sudden
interest in me?'
Captain Kedgick put a thumb and three fingers to each side of the
brim of his hat; lifted it a little way off his head; put it on
again carefully; passed one hand all down his face, beginning at the
forehead and ending at the chin; looked at Martin; then at Mark;
then at Martin again; winked, and walked out.
'Upon my life, now!' said Martin, bringing his hand heavily upon the
table; 'such a perfectly unaccountable fellow as that, I never saw.
Mark, what do you say to this?'
'Why, sir,' returned his partner, 'my opinion is that we must have
got to the MOST remarkable man in the country at last. So I hope
there's an end to the breed, sir.'
Although this made Martin laugh, it couldn't keep off two o'clock.
Punctually, as the hour struck, Captain Kedgick returned to hand him
to the room of state; and he had no sooner got him safe there, than
he bawled down the staircase to his fellow-citizens below, that Mr
Chuzzlewit was 'receiving.'
Up they came with a rush. Up they came until the room was full,
and, through the open door, a dismal perspective of more to come,
was shown upon the stairs. One after another, one after another,
dozen after dozen, score after score, more, more, more, up they
came; all shaking hands with Martin. Such varieties of hands, the
thick, the thin, the short, the long, the fat, the lean, the coarse,
the fine; such differences of temperature, the hot, the cold, the
dry, the moist, the flabby; such diversities of grasp, the tight,
the loose, the short-lived, and the lingering! Still up, up, up,
more, more, more; and ever and anon the Captain's voice was heard
above the crowd--'There's more below! there's more below. Now,
gentlemen you that have been introduced to Mr Chuzzlewit, will you
clear gentlemen? Will you clear? Will you be so good as clear,
gentlemen, and make a little room for more?'
Regardless of the Captain's cries, they didn't clear at all, but
stood there, bolt upright and staring. Two gentlemen connected with
the Watertoast Gazette had come express to get the matter for an
article on Martin. They had agreed to divide the labour. One of
them took him below the waistcoat. One above. Each stood directly
in front of his subject with his head a little on one side, intent
on his department. If Martin put one boot before the other, the
lower gentleman was down upon him; he rubbed a pimple on his nose,
and the upper gentleman booked it. He opened his mouth to speak,
and the same gentleman was on one knee before him, looking in at his
teeth, with the nice scrutiny of a dentist. Amateurs in the
physiognomical and phrenological sciences roved about him with
watchful eyes and itching fingers, and sometimes one, more daring
than the rest, made a mad grasp at the back of his head, and
vanished in the crowd. They had him in all points of view: in
front, in profile, three-quarter face, and behind. Those who were
not professional or scientific, audibly exchanged opinions on his
looks. New lights shone in upon him, in respect of his nose.
Contradictory rumours were abroad on the subject of his hair. And
still the Captain's voice was heard--so stifled by the concourse,
that he seemed to speak from underneath a feather-bed--exclaiming--
'Gentlemen, you that have been introduced to Mr Chuzzlewit, WILL you
Even when they began to clear it was no better; for then a stream of
gentlemen, every one with a lady on each arm (exactly like the
chorus to the National Anthem when Royalty goes in state to the
play), came gliding in--every new group fresher than the last, and
bent on staying to the latest moment. If they spoke to him, which
was not often, they invariably asked the same questions, in the same
tone; with no more remorse, or delicacy, or consideration, than if
he had been a figure of stone, purchased, and paid for, and set up
there for their delight. Even when, in the slow course of time,
these died off, it was as bad as ever, if not worse; for then the
boys grew bold, and came in as a class of themselves, and did
everything that the grown-up people had done. Uncouth stragglers,
too, appeared; men of a ghostly kind, who being in, didn't know how
to get out again; insomuch that one silent gentleman with glazed and
fishy eyes and only one button on his waistcoat (which was a very
large metal one, and shone prodigiously), got behind the door, and
stood there, like a clock, long after everybody else was gone.
Martin felt, from pure fatigue, and heat, and worry, as if he could
have fallen on the ground and willingly remained there, if they
would but have had the mercy to leave him alone. But as letters and
messages, threatening his public denouncement if he didn't see the
senders, poured in like hail; and as more visitors came while he
took his coffee by himself; and as Mark, with all his vigilance, was
unable to keep them from the door; he resolved to go to bed--not
that he felt at all sure of bed being any protection, but that he
might not leave a forlorn hope untried.
He had communicated this design to Mark, and was on the eve of
escaping, when the door was thrown open in a great hurry, and an
elderly gentleman entered; bringing with him a lady who certainly
could not be considered young--that was matter of fact; and probably
could not be considered handsome--but that was matter of opinion.
She was very straight, very tall, and not at all flexible in face or
figure. On her head she wore a great straw bonnet, with trimmings
of the same, in which she looked as if she had been thatched by an
unskillful labourer; and in her hand she held a most enormous fan.
'Mr Chuzzlewit, I believe?' said the gentleman.
'That is my name.'
'Sir,' said the gentleman, 'I am pressed for time.'
'Thank God!' thought Martin.
'I go back Toe my home, sir,' pursued the gentleman, 'by the return
train, which starts immediate. Start is not a word you use in your
'Oh yes, it is,' said Martin.
'You air mistaken, sir,' returned the gentleman, with great
decision: 'but we will not pursue the subject, lest it should awake
your preju--dice. Sir, Mrs Hominy.'
'Mrs Hominy, sir, is the lady of Major Hominy, one of our chicest
spirits; and belongs Toe one of our most aristocratic families. You
air, p'raps, acquainted, sir, with Mrs Hominy's writings.'
Martin couldn't say he was.
'You have much Toe learn, and Toe enjoy, sir,' said the gentleman.
'Mrs Hominy is going Toe stay until the end of the Fall, sir, with
her married daughter at the settlement of New Thermopylae, three
days this side of Eden. Any attention, sir, that you can show Toe
Mrs Hominy upon the journey, will be very grateful Toe the Major and
our fellow-citizens. Mrs Hominy, I wish you good night, ma'am, and
a pleasant pro-gress on your route!'
Martin could scarcely believe it; but he had gone, and Mrs Hominy
was drinking the milk.
'A'most used-up I am, I do declare!' she observed. 'The jolting in
the cars is pretty nigh as bad as if the rail was full of snags and
'Snags and sawyers, ma'am?' said Martin.
'Well, then, I do suppose you'll hardly realise my meaning, sir,'
said Mrs Hominy. 'My! Only think! DO tell!'
It did not appear that these expressions, although they seemed to
conclude with an urgent entreaty, stood in need of any answer; for
Mrs Hominy, untying her bonnet-strings, observed that she would
withdraw to lay that article of dress aside, and would return
'Mark!' said Martin. 'Touch me, will you. Am I awake?'
'Hominy is, sir,' returned his partner--'Broad awake! Just the sort
of woman, sir, as would be discovered with her eyes wide open, and
her mind a-working for her country's good, at any hour of the day or
They had no opportunity of saying more, for Mrs Hominy stalked in
again--very erect, in proof of her aristocratic blood; and holding
in her clasped hands a red cotton pocket-handkerchief, perhaps a
parting gift from that choice spirit, the Major. She had laid aside
her bonnet, and now appeared in a highly aristocratic and classical
cap, meeting beneath her chin: a style of headdress so admirably
adapted to her countenance, that if the late Mr Grimaldi had
appeared in the lappets of Mrs Siddons, a more complete effect could
not have been produced.
Martin handed her to a chair. Her first words arrested him before
he could get back to his own seat.
'Pray, sir!' said Mrs Hominy, 'where do you hail from?'
'I am afraid I am dull of comprehension,' answered Martin, 'being
extremely tired; but upon my word I don't understand you.'
Mrs Hominy shook her head with a melancholy smile that said, not
inexpressively, 'They corrupt even the language in that old
country!' and added then, as coming down a step or two to meet his
low capacity, 'Where was you rose?'
'Oh!' said Martin 'I was born in Kent.'
'And how do you like our country, sir?' asked Mrs Hominy.
'Very much indeed,' said Martin, half asleep. 'At least--that is--
pretty well, ma'am.'
'Most strangers--and partick'larly Britishers--are much surprised by
what they see in the U-nited States,' remarked Mrs Hominy.
'They have excellent reason to be so, ma'am,' said Martin. 'I never
was so much surprised in all my life.'
'Our institutions make our people smart much, sir,' Mrs Hominy
'The most short-sighted man could see that at a glance, with his
naked eye,' said Martin.
Mrs Hominy was a philosopher and an authoress, and consequently had
a pretty strong digestion; but this coarse, this indecorous phrase,
was almost too much for her. For a gentleman sitting alone with a
lady--although the door WAS open--to talk about a naked eye!
A long interval elapsed before even she--woman of masculine and
towering intellect though she was--could call up fortitude enough to
resume the conversation. But Mrs Hominy was a traveller. Mrs
Hominy was a writer of reviews and analytical disquisitions. Mrs
Hominy had had her letters from abroad, beginning 'My ever dearest
blank,' and signed 'The Mother of the Modern Gracchi' (meaning the
married Miss Hominy), regularly printed in a public journal, with
all the indignation in capitals, and all the sarcasm in italics.
Mrs Hominy had looked on foreign countries with the eye of a perfect
republican hot from the model oven; and Mrs Hominy could talk (or
write) about them by the hour together. So Mrs Hominy at last came
down on Martin heavily, and as he was fast asleep, she had it all
her own way, and bruised him to her heart's content.
It is no great matter what Mrs Hominy said, save that she had learnt
it from the cant of a class, and a large class, of her fellow
countrymen, who in their every word, avow themselves to be as
senseless to the high principles on which America sprang, a nation,
into life, as any Orson in her legislative halls. Who are no more
capable of feeling, or of caring if they did feel, that by reducing
their own country to the ebb of honest men's contempt, they put in
hazard the rights of nations yet unborn, and very progress of the
human race, than are the swine who wallow in their streets. Who
think that crying out to other nations, old in their iniquity, 'We
are no worse than you!' (No worse!) is high defence and 'vantage-
ground enough for that Republic, but yesterday let loose upon her
noble course, and but to-day so maimed and lame, so full of sores
and ulcers, foul to the eye and almost hopeless to the sense, that
her best friends turn from the loathsome creature with disgust.
Who, having by their ancestors declared and won their Independence,
because they would not bend the knee to certain Public vices and
corruptions, and would not abrogate the truth, run riot in the Bad,
and turn their backs upon the Good; and lying down contented with
the wretched boast that other Temples also are of glass, and stones
which batter theirs may be flung back; show themselves, in that
alone, as immeasurably behind the import of the trust they hold, and
as unworthy to possess it as if the sordid hucksterings of all their
little governments--each one a kingdom in its small depravity--were
brought into a heap for evidence against them.
Martin by degrees became so far awake, that he had a sense of a
terrible oppression on his mind; an imperfect dream that he had
murdered a particular friend, and couldn't get rid of the body.
When his eyes opened it was staring him full in the face. There was
the horrible Hominy talking deep truths in a melodious snuffle, and
pouring forth her mental endowments to such an extent that the
Major's bitterest enemy, hearing her, would have forgiven him from
the bottom of his heart. Martin might have done something desperate
if the gong had not sounded for supper; but sound it did most
opportunely; and having stationed Mrs Hominy at the upper end of the
table he took refuge at the lower end himself; whence, after a hasty
meal he stole away, while the lady was yet busied with dried beef
and a saucer-full of pickled fixings.
It would be difficult to give an adequate idea of Mrs Hominy's
freshness next day, or of the avidity with which she went headlong
into moral philosophy at breakfast. Some little additional degree
of asperity, perhaps, was visible in her features, but not more than
the pickles would have naturally produced. All that day she clung
to Martin. She sat beside him while he received his friends (for
there was another Reception, yet more numerous than the former),
propounded theories, and answered imaginary objections, so that
Martin really began to think he must be dreaming, and speaking for
two; she quoted interminable passages from certain essays on
government, written by herself; used the Major's pocket-handkerchief
as if the snuffle were a temporary malady, of which she was
determined to rid herself by some means or other; and, in short, was
such a remarkable companion, that Martin quite settled it between
himself and his conscience, that in any new settlement it would be
absolutely necessary to have such a person knocked on the head for
the general peace of society.
In the meantime Mark was busy, from early in the morning until late
at night, in getting on board the steamboat such provisions, tools
and other necessaries, as they had been forewarned it would be wise
to take. The purchase of these things, and the settlement of their
bill at the National, reduced their finances to so low an ebb, that
if the captain had delayed his departure any longer, they would have
been in almost as bad a plight as the unfortunate poorer emigrants,
who (seduced on board by solemn advertisement) had been living on
the lower deck a whole week, and exhausting their miserable stock of
provisions before the voyage commenced. There they were, all
huddled together with the engine and the fires. Farmers who had
never seen a plough; woodmen who had never used an axe; builders who
couldn't make a box; cast out of their own land, with not a hand to
aid them: newly come into an unknown world, children in
helplessness, but men in wants--with younger children at their
backs, to live or die as it might happen!
The morning came, and they would start at noon. Noon came, and they
would start at night. But nothing is eternal in this world; not
even the procrastination of an American skipper; and at night all
Dispirited and weary to the last degree, but a greater lion than
ever (he had done nothing all the afternoon but answer letters from
strangers; half of them about nothing; half about borrowing money,
and all requiring an instantaneous reply), Martin walked down to the
wharf, through a concourse of people, with Mrs Hominy upon his arm;
and went on board. But Mark was bent on solving the riddle of this
lionship, if he could; and so, not without the risk of being left
behind, ran back to the hotel.
Captain Kedgick was sitting in the colonnade, with a julep on his
knee, and a cigar in his mouth. He caught Mark's eye, and said:
'Why, what the 'Tarnal brings you here?'
'I'll tell you plainly what it is, Captain,' said Mark. 'I want to
ask you a question.'
'A man may ASK a question, so he may,' returned Kedgick; strongly
implying that another man might not answer a question, so he
'What have they been making so much of him for, now?' said Mark,
'Our people like ex-citement,' answered Kedgick, sucking his cigar.
'But how has he excited 'em?' asked Mark.
The Captain looked at him as if he were half inclined to unburden
his mind of a capital joke.
'You air a-going?' he said.
'Going!' cried Mark. 'Ain't every moment precious?'
'Our people like ex-citement,' said the Captain, whispering. 'He
ain't like emigrants in gin'ral; and he excited 'em along of this;'
he winked and burst into a smothered laugh; 'along of this. Scadder
is a smart man, and--and--nobody as goes to Eden ever comes back
The wharf was close at hand, and at that instant Mark could hear
them shouting out his name; could even hear Martin calling to him to
make haste, or they would be separated. It was too late to mend the
matter, or put any face upon it but the best. He gave the Captain a
parting benediction, and ran off like a race-horse.
'Mark! Mark!' cried Martin.
'Here am I, sir!' shouted Mark, suddenly replying from the edge of
the quay, and leaping at a bound on board. 'Never was half so
jolly, sir. All right. Haul in! Go ahead!'
The sparks from the wood fire streamed upward from the two chimneys,
as if the vessel were a great firework just lighted; and they roared
away upon the dark water.
MARTIN AND HIS PARTNER TAKE POSSESSION OF THEIR ESTATE. THE JOYFUL
OCCASION INVOLVES SOME FURTHER ACCOUNT OF EDEN
There happened to be on board the steamboat several gentlemen
passengers, of the same stamp as Martin's New York friend Mr Bevan;
and in their society he was cheerful and happy. They released him
as well as they could from the intellectual entanglements of Mrs
Hominy; and exhibited, in all they said and did, so much good sense
and high feeling, that he could not like them too well. 'If this
were a republic of Intellect and Worth,' he said, 'instead of
vapouring and jobbing, they would not want the levers to keep it in
'Having good tools, and using bad ones,' returned Mr Tapley, 'would
look as if they was rather a poor sort of carpenters, sir, wouldn't
Martin nodded. 'As if their work were infinitely above their powers
and purpose, Mark; and they botched it in consequence.'
'The best on it is,' said Mark, 'that when they do happen to make a
decent stroke; such as better workmen, with no such opportunities,
make every day of their lives and think nothing of--they begin to
sing out so surprising loud. Take notice of my words, sir. If ever
the defaulting part of this here country pays its debts--along of
finding that not paying 'em won't do in a commercial point of view,
you see, and is inconvenient in its consequences--they'll take such a
shine out of it, and make such bragging speeches, that a man might
suppose no borrowed money had ever been paid afore, since the world
was first begun. That's the way they gammon each other, sir. Bless
you, I know 'em. Take notice of my words, now!'
'You seem to be growing profoundly sagacious!' cried Martin,
'Whether that is,' thought Mark, 'because I'm a day's journey nearer
Eden, and am brightening up afore I die, I can't say. P'rhaps by
the time I get there I shall have growed into a prophet.'
He gave no utterance to these sentiments; but the excessive
joviality they inspired within him, and the merriment they brought
upon his shining face, were quite enough for Martin. Although he
might sometimes profess to make light of his partner's inexhaustible
cheerfulness, and might sometimes, as in the case of Zephaniah
Scadder, find him too jocose a commentator, he was always sensible
of the effect of his example in rousing him to hopefulness and
courage. Whether he were in the humour to profit by it, mattered
not a jot. It was contagious, and he could not choose but be
At first they parted with some of their passengers once or twice a
day, and took in others to replace them. But by degrees, the towns
upon their route became more thinly scattered; and for many hours
together they would see no other habitations than the huts of the
wood-cutters, where the vessel stopped for fuel. Sky, wood, and
water all the livelong day; and heat that blistered everything it
On they toiled through great solitudes, where the trees upon the
banks grew thick and close; and floatad in the stream; and held up
shrivelled arms from out the river's depths; and slid down from the
margin of the land, half growing, half decaying, in the miry water.
On through the weary day and melancholy night; beneath the burning
sun, and in the mist and vapour of the evening; on, until return
appeared impossible, and restoration to their home a miserable
They had now but few people on board, and these few were as flat, as
dull, and stagnant, as the vegetation that oppressed their eyes. No
sound of cheerfulness or hope was heard; no pleasant talk beguiled
the tardy time; no little group made common cause against the full
depression of the scene. But that, at certain periods, they
swallowed food together from a common trough, it might have been old
Charon's boat, conveying melancholy shades to judgment.
At length they drew near New Thermopylae; where, that same evening,
Mrs Hominy would disembark. A gleam of comfort sunk into Martin's
bosom when she told him this. Mark needed none; but he was not
It was almost night when they came alongside the landing-place. A
steep bank with an hotel like a barn on the top of it; a wooden
store or two; and a few scattered sheds.
'You sleep here to-night, and go on in the morning, I suppose,
ma'am?' said Martin.
'Where should I go on to?' cried the mother of the modern Gracchi.
'To New Thermopylae.'
'My! ain't I there?' said Mrs Hominy.
Martin looked for it all round the darkening panorama; but he
couldn't see it, and was obliged to say so.
'Why that's it!' cried Mrs Hominy, pointing to the sheds just
'THAT!' exclaimed Martin.
'Ah! that; and work it which way you will, it whips Eden,' said Mrs
Hominy, nodding her head with great expression.
The married Miss Hominy, who had come on board with her husband,
gave to this statement her most unqualified support, as did that
gentleman also. Martin gratefully declined their invitation to
regale himself at their house during the half hour of the vessel's
stay; and having escorted Mrs Hominy and the red pocket-handkerchief
(which was still on active service) safely across the gangway,
returned in a thoughtful mood to watch the emigrants as they removed
their goods ashore.
Mark, as he stood beside him, glanced in his face from time to time;
anxious to discover what effect this dialogue had had upon him, and
not unwilling that his hopes should be dashed before they reached
their destination, so that the blow he feared might be broken in its
fall. But saving that he sometimes looked up quickly at the poor
erections on the hill, he gave him no clue to what was passing in
his mind, until they were again upon their way.
'Mark,' he said then, 'are there really none but ourselves on board
this boat who are bound for Eden?'
'None at all, sir. Most of 'em, as you know, have stopped short;
and the few that are left are going further on. What matters that!
More room there for us, sir.'
'Oh, to be sure!' said Martin. 'But I was thinking--' and there he
'Yes, sir?' observed Mark.
'How odd it was that the people should have arranged to try their
fortune at a wretched hole like that, for instance, when there is
such a much better, and such a very different kind of place, near at
hand, as one may say.'
He spoke in a tone so very different from his usual confidence, and
with such an obvious dread of Mark's reply, that the good-natured
fellow was full of pity.
'Why, you know, sir,' said Mark, as gently as he could by any means
insinuate the observation, 'we must guard against being too
sanguine. There's no occasion for it, either, because we're
determined to make the best of everything, after we know the worst
of it. Ain't we, sir?'
Martin looked at him, but answered not a word.
'Even Eden, you know, ain't all built,' said Mark.
'In the name of Heaven, man,' cried Martin angrily, 'don't talk of
Eden in the same breath with that place. Are you mad? There--God
forgive me!--don't think harshly of me for my temper!'
After that, he turned away, and walked to and fro upon the deck full
two hours. Nor did he speak again, except to say 'Good night,'
until next day; nor even then upon this subject, but on other topics
quite foreign to the purpose.
As they proceeded further on their track, and came more and more
towards their journey's end, the monotonous desolation of the scene
increased to that degree, that for any redeeming feature it
presented to their eyes, they might have entered, in the body, on
the grim domains of Giant Despair. A flat morass, bestrewn with
fallen timber; a marsh on which the good growth of the earth seemed
to have been wrecked and cast away, that from its decomposing ashes
vile and ugly things might rise; where the very trees took the
aspect of huge weeds, begotten of the slime from which they sprung,
by the hot sun that burnt them up; where fatal maladies, seeking
whom they might infect, came forth at night in misty shapes, and
creeping out upon the water, hunted them like spectres until day;
where even the blessed sun, shining down on festering elements of
corruption and disease, became a horror; this was the realm of Hope
through which they moved.
At last they stopped. At Eden too. The waters of the Deluge might
have left it but a week before; so choked with slime and matted
growth was the hideous swamp which bore that name.
There being no depth of water close in shore, they landed from the
vessel's boat, with all their goods beside them. There were a few
log-houses visible among the dark trees; the best, a cow-shed or a
rude stable; but for the wharves, the market-place, the public
'Here comes an Edener,' said Mark. 'He'll get us help to carry
these things up. Keep a good heart, sir. Hallo there!'
The man advanced toward them through the thickening gloom, very
slowly; leaning on a stick. As he drew nearer, they observed that
he was pale and worn, and that his anxious eyes were deeply sunken
in his head. His dress of homespun blue hung about him in rags; his
feet and head were bare. He sat down on a stump half-way, and
beckoned them to come to him. When they complied, he put his hand
upon his side as if in pain, and while he fetched his breath stared
at them, wondering.
'Strangers!' he exclaimed, as soon as he could speak.
'The very same,' said Mark. 'How are you, sir?'
'I've had the fever very bad,' he answered faintly. 'I haven't
stood upright these many weeks. Those are your notions I see,'
pointing to their property.
'Yes, sir,' said Mark, 'they are. You couldn't recommend us some
one as would lend a hand to help carry 'em up to the--to the town,
could you, sir?'
'My eldest son would do it if he could,' replied the man; 'but today
he has his chill upon him, and is lying wrapped up in the blankets.
My youngest died last week.'
'I'm sorry for it, governor, with all my heart,' said Mark, shaking
him by the hand. 'Don't mind us. Come along with me, and I'll give
you an arm back. The goods is safe enough, sir'--to Martin--'there
ain't many people about, to make away with 'em. What a comfort that
'No,' cried the man. 'You must look for such folk here,' knocking
his stick upon the ground, 'or yonder in the bush, towards the
north. We've buried most of 'em. The rest have gone away. Them
that we have here, don't come out at night.'
'The night air ain't quite wholesome, I suppose?' said Mark.
'It's deadly poison,' was the settler's answer.
Mark showed no more uneasiness than if it had been commended to him
as ambrosia; but he gave the man his arm, and as they went along
explained to him the nature of their purchase, and inquired where it
lay. Close to his own log-house, he said; so close that he had used
their dwelling as a store-house for some corn; they must excuse it
that night, but he would endeavour to get it taken out upon the
morrow. He then gave them to understand, as an additional scrap of
local chit-chat, that he had buried the last proprietor with his own
hands; a piece of information which Mark also received without the
least abatement of his equanimity.
In a word, he conducted them to a miserable cabin, rudely
constructed of the trunks of trees; the door of which had either
fallen down or been carried away long ago; and which was
consequently open to the wild landscape and the dark night. Saving
for the little store he had mentioned, it was perfectly bare of all
furniture; but they had left a chest upon the landing-place, and he
gave them a rude torch in lieu of candle. This latter acquisition
Mark planted in the earth, and then declaring that the mansion
'looked quite comfortable,' hurried Martin off again to help bring
up the chest. And all the way to the landing-place and back, Mark
talked incessantly; as if he would infuse into his partner's breast
some faint belief that they had arrived under the most auspicious
and cheerful of all imaginable circumstances.
But many a man who would have stood within a home dismantled, strong
in his passion and design of vengeance, has had the firmness of his
nature conquered by the razing of an air-built castle. When the
log-hut received them for the second time, Martin laid down upon the
ground, and wept aloud.
'Lord love you, sir!' cried Mr Tapley, in great terror; 'Don't do
that! Don't do that, sir! Anything but that! It never helped man,
woman, or child, over the lowest fence yet, sir, and it never will.
Besides its being of no use to you, it's worse than of no use to me,
for the least sound of it will knock me flat down. I can't stand up
agin it, sir. Anything but that!'
There is no doubt he spoke the truth, for the extraordinary alarm
with which he looked at Martin as he paused upon his knees before
the chest, in the act of unlocking it, to say these words,
sufficiently confirmed him.
'I ask your forgiveness a thousand times, my dear fellow,' said
Martin. 'I couldn't have helped it, if death had been the penalty.'
'Ask my forgiveness!' said Mark, with his accustomed cheerfulness,
as he proceeded to unpack the chest. 'The head partner a-asking
forgiveness of Co., eh? There must be something wrong in the firm
when that happens. I must have the books inspected and the accounts
gone over immediate. Here we are. Everything in its proper place.
Here's the salt pork. Here's the biscuit. Here's the whiskey.
Uncommon good it smells too. Here's the tin pot. This tin pot's a
small fortun' in itself! Here's the blankets. Here's the axe. Who
says we ain't got a first-rate fit out? I feel as if I was a cadet
gone out to Indy, and my noble father was chairman of the Board of
Directors. Now, when I've got some water from the stream afore the
door and mixed the grog,' cried Mark, running out to suit the action
to the word, 'there's a supper ready, comprising every delicacy of
the season. Here we are, sir, all complete. For what we are going
to receive, et cetrer. Lord bless you, sir, it's very like a gipsy
It was impossible not to take heart, in the company of such a man as
this. Martin sat upon the ground beside the box; took out his
knife; and ate and drank sturdily.
'Now you see,' said Mark, when they had made a hearty meal; 'with
your knife and mine, I sticks this blanket right afore the door. Or
where, in a state of high civilization, the door would be. And very
neat it looks. Then I stops the aperture below, by putting the
chest agin it. And very neat THAT looks. Then there's your
blanket, sir. Then here's mine. And what's to hinder our passing a
For all his light-hearted speaking, it was long before he slept
himself. He wrapped his blanket round him, put the axe ready to his
hand, and lay across the threshold of the door; too anxious and too
watchful to close his eyes. The novelty of their dreary situation,
the dread of some rapacious animal or human enemy, the terrible
uncertainty of their means of subsistence, the apprehension of
death, the immense distance and the hosts of obstacles between
themselves and England, were fruitful sources of disquiet in the
deep silence of the night. Though Martin would have had him think
otherwise, Mark felt that he was waking also, and a prey to the same
reflections. This was almost worse than all, for if he began to
brood over their miseries instead of trying to make head against
them there could be little doubt that such a state of mind would
powerfully assist the influence of the pestilent climate. Never had
the light of day been half so welcome to his eyes, as when awaking
from a fitful doze, Mark saw it shining through the blanket in the
He stole out gently, for his companion was sleeping now; and having
refreshed himself by washing in the river, where it snowed before
the door, took a rough survey of the settlement. There were not
above a score of cabins in the whole; half of these appeared
untenanted; all were rotten and decayed. The most tottering,
abject, and forlorn among them was called, with great propriety, the
Bank, and National Credit Office. It had some feeble props about
it, but was settling deep down in the mud, past all recovery.
Here and there an effort had been made to clear the land, and
something like a field had been marked out, where, among the stumps
and ashes of burnt trees, a scanty crop of Indian corn was growing.
In some quarters, a snake or zigzag fence had been begun, but in no
instance had it been completed; and the felled logs, half hidden in
the soil, lay mouldering away. Three or four meagre dogs, wasted
and vexed with hunger; some long-legged pigs, wandering away into
the woods in search of food; some children, nearly naked, gazing at
him from the huts; were all the living things he saw. A fetid
vapour, hot and sickening as the breath of an oven, rose up from the
earth, and hung on everything around; and as his foot-prints sunk
into the marshy ground, a black ooze started forth to blot them out.
Their own land was mere forest. The trees had grown so think and
close that they shouldered one another out of their places, and the
weakest, forced into shapes of strange distortion, languished like
cripples. The best were stunted, from the pressure and the want of
room; and high about the stems of all grew long rank grass, dank
weeds, and frowsy underwood; not divisible into their separate
kinds, but tangled all together in a heap; a jungle deep and dark,
with neither earth nor water at its roots, but putrid matter, formed
of the pulpy offal of the two, and of their own corruption.
He went down to the landing-place where they had left their goods
last night; and there he found some half-dozen men--wan and forlorn
to look at, but ready enough to assist--who helped him to carry them
to the log-house. They shook their heads in speaking of the
settlement, and had no comfort to give him. Those who had the means
of going away had all deserted it. They who were left had lost
their wives, their children, friends, or brothers there, and
suffered much themselves. Most of them were ill then; none were the
men they had been once. They frankly offered their assistance and
advice, and, leaving him for that time, went sadly off upon their
Martin was by this time stirring; but he had greatly changed, even
in one night. He was very pale and languid; he spoke of pains and
weakness in his limbs, and complained that his sight was dim, and
his voice feeble. Increasing in his own briskness as the prospect
grew more and more dismal, Mark brought away a door from one of the
deserted houses, and fitted it to their own habitation; then went
back again for a rude bench he had observed, with which he presently
returned in triumph; and having put this piece of furniture outside
the house, arranged the notable tin pot and other such movables upon
it, that it might represent a dresser or a sideboard. Greatly
satisfied with this arrangement, he next rolled their cask of flour
into the house and set it up on end in one corner, where it served
for a side-table. No better dining-table could be required than the
chest, which he solemnly devoted to that useful service thenceforth.
Their blankets, clothes, and the like, he hung on pegs and nails.
And lastly, he brought forth a great placard (which Martin in the
exultation of his heart had prepared with his own hands at the
National Hotel) bearing the inscription, CHUZZLEWIT & CO.,
ARCHITECTS AND SURVEYORS, which he displayed upon the most
conspicuous part of the premises, with as much gravity as if the
thriving city of Eden had a real existence, and they expected to be
overwhelmed with business.
'These here tools,' said Mark, bringing forward Martin's case of
instruments and sticking the compasses upright in a stump before the
door, 'shall be set out in the open air to show that we come
provided. And now, if any gentleman wants a house built, he'd
better give his orders, afore we're other ways bespoke.'
Considering the intense heat of the weather, this was not a bad
morning's work; but without pausing for a moment, though he was
streaming at every pore, Mark vanished into the house again, and
presently reappeared with a hatchet; intent on performing some
impossibilities with that implement.
'Here's ugly old tree in the way, sir,' he observed, 'which'll be
all the better down. We can build the oven in the afternoon. There
never was such a handy spot for clay as Eden is. That's convenient,
But Martin gave him no answer. He had sat the whole time with his
head upon his hands, gazing at the current as it rolled swiftly by;
thinking, perhaps, how fast it moved towards the open sea, the high
road to the home he never would behold again.
Not even the vigorous strokes which Mark dealt at the tree awoke him
from his mournful meditation. Finding all his endeavours to rouse
him of no use, Mark stopped in his work and came towards him.
'Don't give in, sir,' said Mr Tapley.
'Oh, Mark,' returned his friend, 'what have I done in all my life
that has deserved this heavy fate?'
'Why, sir,' returned Mark, 'for the matter of that, everybody as is
here might say the same thing; many of 'em with better reason p'raps
than you or me. Hold up, sir. Do something. Couldn't you ease
your mind, now, don't you think, by making some personal
obserwations in a letter to Scadder?'
'No,' said Martin, shaking his head sorrowfully: 'I am past that.'
'But if you're past that already,' returned Mark, 'you must be ill,
and ought to be attended to.'
'Don't mind me,' said Martin. 'Do the best you can for yourself.
You'll soon have only yourself to consider. And then God speed you
home, and forgive me for bringing you here! I am destined to die in
this place. I felt it the instant I set foot upon the shore.
Sleeping or waking, Mark, I dreamed it all last night.'
'I said you must be ill,' returned Mark, tenderly, 'and now I'm sure
of it. A touch of fever and ague caught on these rivers, I dare
say; but bless you, THAT'S nothing. It's only a seasoning, and we
must all be seasoned, one way or another. That's religion that is,
you know,' said Mark.
He only sighed and shook his head.
'Wait half a minute,' said Mark cheerily, 'till I run up to one of
our neighbours and ask what's best to be took, and borrow a little
of it to give you; and to-morrow you'll find yourself as strong as
ever again. I won't be gone a minute. Don't give in while I'm
away, whatever you do!'
Throwing down his hatchet, he sped away immediately, but stopped
when he had got a little distance, and looked back; then hurried on
'Now, Mr Tapley,' said Mark, giving himself a tremendous blow in the
chest by way of reviver, 'just you attend to what I've got to say.
Things is looking about as bad as they CAN look, young man. You'll
not have such another opportunity for showing your jolly
disposition, my fine fellow, as long as you live. And therefore,
Tapley, Now's your time to come out strong; or Never!'
REPORTS PROGRESS IN CERTAIN HOMELY MATTERS OF LOVE, HATRED,
JEALOUSY, AND REVENGE
'Hallo, Pecksniff!' cried Mr Jonas from the parlour. 'Isn't
somebody a-going to open that precious old door of yours?'
'Immediately, Mr Jonas. Immediately.'
'Ecod,' muttered the orphan, 'not before it's time neither. Whoever
it is, has knocked three times, and each one loud enough to wake
the--' he had such a repugnance to the idea of waking the Dead, that
he stopped even then with the words upon his tongue, and said,
instead, 'the Seven Sleepers.'
'Immediately, Mr Jonas; immediately,' repeated Pecksniff. 'Thomas
Pinch'--he couldn't make up his mind, in his great agitation,
whether to call Tom his dear friend or a villain, so he shook his
fist at him PRO TEM--'go up to my daughters' room, and tell them
who is here. Say, Silence. Silence! Do you hear me, sir?
'Directly, sir!" cried Tom, departing, in a state of much amazement,
on his errand.
'You'll--ha, ha, ha!--you'll excuse me, Mr Jonas, if I close this
door a moment, will you?' said Pecksniff. 'This may be a
professional call. Indeed I am pretty sure it is. Thank you.' Then
Mr Pecksniff, gently warbling a rustic stave, put on his garden hat,
seized a spade, and opened the street door; calmly appearing on the
threshold, as if he thought he had, from his vineyard, heard a
modest rap, but was not quite certain.
Seeing a gentleman and lady before him, he started back in as much
confusion as a good man with a crystal conscience might betray in
mere surprise. Recognition came upon him the next moment, and he
'Mr Chuzzlewit! Can I believe my eyes! My dear sir; my good sir! A
joyful hour, a happy hour indeed. Pray, my dear sir, walk in. You
find me in my garden-dress. You will excuse it, I know. It is an
ancient pursuit, gardening. Primitive, my dear sir. Or, if I am
not mistaken, Adam was the first of our calling. MY Eve, I grieve
to say is no more, sir; but'--here he pointed to his spade, and
shook his head as if he were not cheerful without an effort--'but I
do a little bit of Adam still.'
He had by this time got them into the best parlour, where the
portrait by Spiller, and the bust by Spoker, were.
'My daughters,' said Mr Pecksniff, 'will be overjoyed. If I could
feel weary upon such a theme, I should have been worn out long ago,
my dear sir, by their constant anticipation of this happiness and
their repeated allusions to our meeting at Mrs Todgers's. Their
fair young friend, too,' said Mr Pecksniff, 'whom they so desire to
know and love--indeed to know her, is to love--I hope I see her
well. I hope in saying, "Welcome to my humble roof!" I find some
echo in her own sentiments. If features are an index to the heart,
I have no fears of that. An extremely engaging expression of
countenance, Mr Chuzzlewit, my dear sir--very much so!'
'Mary,' said the old man, 'Mr Pecksniff flatters you. But flattery
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