Among the passengers on board the steamboat, there was a faint gentleman sitting on a low camp-stool, with his legs on a high barrel of flour, as if he were looking at the prospect with his ankles, who attracted their attention speedily.
He had straight black hair, parted up the middle of his head and hanging down upon his coat; a little fringe of hair upon his chin; wore no neckcloth; a white hat; a suit of black, long in the sleeves and short in the legs; soiled brown stockings and laced shoes. His complexion, naturally muddy, was rendered muddier by too strict an economy of soap and water; and the same observation will apply to the washable part of his attire, which he might have changed with comfort to himself and gratification to his friends. He was about five and thirty; was crushed and jammed up in a heap, under the shade of a large green cotton umbrella; and ruminated over his tobacco-plug like a cow.
He was not singular, to be sure, in these respects; for every gentleman on board appeared to have had a difference with his laundress and to have left off washing himself in early youth. Every gentleman, too, was perfectly stopped up with tight plugging, and was dislocated in the greater part of his joints. But about this gentleman there was a peculiar air of sagacity and wisdom, which convinced Martin that he was no common character; and this turned out to be the case.
‘How do you do sir?’ said a voice in Martin’s ear
‘How do you do sir?’ said Martin.
It was a tall thin gentleman who spoke to him, with a carpet-cap on, and a long loose coat of green baize, ornamented about the pockets with black velvet.
‘You air from Europe, sir?’
‘I am,’ said Martin.
‘You air fortunate, sir.’
Martin thought so too; but he soon discovered that the gentleman and he attached different meanings to this remark.
‘You air fortunate, sir, in having an opportunity of beholding our Elijah Pogram, sir.’
‘Your Elijahpogram!’ said Martin, thinking it was all one word, and a building of some sort.
Martin tried to look as if he understood him, but he couldn’t make it out.
‘Yes, sir,’ repeated the gentleman. ‘our Elijah Pogram, sir, is, at this minute, identically settin’ by the en-gine biler.’
The gentleman under the umbrella put his right forefinger to his eyebrow, as if he were revolving schemes of state.
‘That is Elijah Pogram, is it?’ said Martin.
‘Yes, sir,’ replied the other. ‘That is Elijah Pogram.’
‘Dear me!’ said Martin. ‘I am astonished.’ But he had not the least idea who this Elijah Pogram was; having never heard the name in all his life.
‘If the biler of this vessel was Toe bust, sir,’ said his new acquaintance, ‘and Toe bust now, this would be a festival day in the calendar of despotism; pretty nigh equallin’, sir, in its effects upon the human race, our Fourth of glorious July. Yes, sir, that is the Honourable Elijah Pogram, Member of Congress; one of the master-minds of our country, sir. There is a brow, sir, there!’
‘Quite remarkable,’ said Martin.
‘Yes, sir. Our own immortal Chiggle, sir, is said to have observed, when he made the celebrated Pogram statter in marble, which rose so much con-test and preju-dice in Europe, that the brow was more than mortal. This was before the Pogram Defiance, and was, therefore, a pre-diction, cruel smart.’
‘What is the Pogram Defiance?’ asked Martin, thinking, perhaps, it was the sign of a public-house.
‘An o-ration, sir,’ returned his friend.
‘Oh! to be sure,’ cried Martin. ‘What am I thinking of! It defied —’
‘It defied the world, sir,’ said the other, gravely. ‘Defied the world in general to com-pete with our country upon any hook; and devellop’d our internal resources for making war upon the universal airth. You would like to know Elijah Pogram, sir?’
‘If you please,’ said Martin.
‘Mr Pogram,’ said the stranger — Mr Pogram having overheard every word of the dialogue —‘this is a gentleman from Europe, sir; from England, sir. But gen’rous ene-mies may meet upon the neutral sile of private life, I think.’
The languid Mr Pogram shook hands with Martin, like a clock-work figure that was just running down. But he made amends by chewing like one that was just wound up.
‘Mr Pogram,’ said the introducer, ‘is a public servant, sir. When Congress is recessed, he makes himself acquainted with those free United States, of which he is the gifted son.’
It occurred to Martin that if the Honourable Elijah Pogram had stayed at home, and sent his shoes upon a tour, they would have answered the same purpose; for they were the only part of him in a situation to see anything.
In course of time, however, Mr Pogram rose; and having ejected certain plugging consequences which would have impeded his articulation, took up a position where there was something to lean against, and began to talk to Martin; shading himself with the green umbrella all the time.
As he began with the words, ‘How do you like —?’ Martin took him up and said:
‘The country, I presume?’
‘Yes, sir,’ said Elijah Pogram. A knot of passengers gathered round to hear what followed; and Martin heard his friend say, as he whispered to another friend, and rubbed his hands, ‘Pogram will smash him into sky-blue fits, I know!’
‘Why,’ said Martin, after a moment’s hesitation, ‘I have learned by experience, that you take an unfair advantage of a stranger, when you ask that question. You don’t mean it to be answered, except in one way. Now, I don’t choose to answer it in that way, for I cannot honestly answer it in that way. And therefore, I would rather not answer it at all.’
But Mr Pogram was going to make a great speech in the next session about foreign relations, and was going to write strong articles on the subject; and as he greatly favoured the free and independent custom (a very harmless and agreeable one) of procuring information of any sort in any kind of confidence, and afterwards perverting it publicly in any manner that happened to suit him, he had determined to get at Martin’s opinions somehow or other. For if he could have got nothing out of him, he would have had to invent it for him, and that would have been laborious. He made a mental note of his answer, and went in again.
‘You are from Eden, sir? How did you like Eden?’
Martin said what he thought of that part of the country, in pretty strong terms.
‘It is strange,’ said Pogram, looking round upon the group, ‘this hatred of our country, and her Institutions! This national antipathy is deeply rooted in the British mind!’
‘Good Heaven, sir,’ cried Martin. ‘Is the Eden Land Corporation, with Mr Scadder at its head, and all the misery it has worked, at its door, an Institution of America? A part of any form of government that ever was known or heard of?’
‘I con-sider the cause of this to be,’ said Pogram, looking round again and taking himself up where Martin had interrupted him, ‘partly jealousy and pre-judice, and partly the nat’ral unfitness of the British people to appreciate the ex-alted Institutions of our native land. I expect, sir,’ turning to Martin again, ‘that a gentleman named Chollop happened in upon you during your lo-cation in the town of Eden?’
‘Yes,’ answered Martin; ‘but my friend can answer this better than I can, for I was very ill at the time. Mark! The gentleman is speaking of Mr Chollop.’
‘Oh. Yes, sir. Yes. I see him,’ observed Mark.
‘A splendid example of our na-tive raw material, sir?’ said Pogram, interrogatively.
‘Indeed, sir!’ cried Mark.
The Honourable Elijah Pogram glanced at his friends as though he would have said, ‘Observe this! See what follows!’ and they rendered tribute to the Pogram genius by a gentle murmur.
‘Our fellow-countryman is a model of a man, quite fresh from Natur’s mould!’ said Pogram, with enthusiasm. ‘He is a true-born child of this free hemisphere! Verdant as the mountains of our country; bright and flowing as our mineral Licks; unspiled by withering conventionalities as air our broad and boundless Perearers! Rough he may be. So air our Barrs. Wild he may be. So air our Buffalers. But he is a child of Natur’, and a child of Freedom; and his boastful answer to the Despot and the Tyrant is, that his bright home is in the Settin Sun.’
Part of this referred to Chollop, and part to a Western postmaster, who, being a public defaulter not very long before (a character not at all uncommon in America), had been removed from office; and on whose behalf Mr Pogram (he voted for Pogram) had thundered the last sentence from his seat in Congress, at the head of an unpopular President. It told brilliantly; for the bystanders were delighted, and one of them said to Martin, ‘that he guessed he had now seen something of the eloquential aspect of our country, and was chawed up pritty small.’
Mr Pogram waited until his hearers were calm again, before he said to Mark:
‘You do not seem to coincide, sir?’
‘Why,’ said Mark, ‘I didn’t like him much; and that’s the truth, sir. I thought he was a bully; and I didn’t admire his carryin’ them murderous little persuaders, and being so ready to use ’em.’
‘It’s singler!’ said Pogram, lifting his umbrella high enough to look all round from under it. ‘It’s strange! You observe the settled opposition to our Institutions which pervades the British mind!’
‘What an extraordinary people you are!’ cried Martin. ‘Are Mr Chollop and the class he represents, an Institution here? Are pistols with revolving barrels, sword-sticks, bowie-knives, and such things, Institutions on which you pride yourselves? Are bloody duels, brutal combats, savage assaults, shooting down and stabbing in the streets, your Institutions! Why, I shall hear next that Dishonour and Fraud are among the Institutions of the great republic!’
The moment the words passed his lips, the Honourable Elijah Pogram looked round again.
‘This morbid hatred of our Institutions,’ he observed, ‘is quite a study for the psychological observer. He’s alludin’ to Repudiation now!’
‘Oh! you may make anything an Institution if you like,’ said Martin, laughing, ‘and I confess you had me there, for you certainly have made that one. But the greater part of these things are one Institution with us, and we call it by the generic name of Old Bailey!’
The bell being rung for dinner at this moment, everybody ran away into the cabin, whither the Honourable Elijah Pogram fled with such precipitation that he forgot his umbrella was up, and fixed it so tightly in the cabin door that it could neither be let down nor got out. For a minute or so this accident created a perfect rebellion among the hungry passengers behind, who, seeing the dishes, and hearing the knives and forks at work, well knew what would happen unless they got there instantly, and were nearly mad; while several virtuous citizens at the table were in deadly peril of choking themselves in their unnatural efforts to get rid of all the meat before these others came.
They carried the umbrella by storm, however, and rushed in at the breach. The Honourable Elijah Pogram and Martin found themselves, after a severe struggle, side by side, as they might have come together in the pit of a London theatre; and for four whole minutes afterwards, Pogram was snapping up great blocks of everything he could get hold of, like a raven. When he had taken this unusually protracted dinner, he began to talk to Martin; and begged him not to have the least delicacy in speaking with perfect freedom to him, for he was a calm philosopher. Which Martin was extremely glad to hear; for he had begun to speculate on Elijah being a disciple of that other school of republican philosophy, whose noble sentiments are carved with knives upon a pupil’s body, and written, not with pen and ink, but tar and feathers.
‘What do you think of my countrymen who are present, sir?’ inquired Elijah Pogram.
‘Oh! very pleasant,’ said Martin.
They were a very pleasant party. No man had spoken a word; every one had been intent, as usual, on his own private gorging; and the greater part of the company were decidedly dirty feeders.
The Honourable Elijah Pogram looked at Martin as if he thought ‘You don’t mean that, I know!’ and he was soon confirmed in this opinion.
Sitting opposite to them was a gentleman in a high state of tobacco, who wore quite a little beard, composed of the overflowing of that weed, as they had dried about his mouth and chin; so common an ornament that it would scarcely have attracted Martin’s observation, but that this good citizen, burning to assert his equality against all comers, sucked his knife for some moments, and made a cut with it at the butter, just as Martin was in the act of taking some. There was a juiciness about the deed that might have sickened a scavenger.
When Elijah Pogram (to whom this was an every-day incident) saw that Martin put the plate away, and took no butter, he was quite delighted, and said,
‘Well! The morbid hatred of you British to the Institutions of our country is as–TONishing!’
‘Upon my life!’ cried Martin, in his turn. ‘This is the most wonderful community that ever existed. A man deliberately makes a hog of himself, and THAT’S an Institution!’
‘We have no time to ac-quire forms, sir,’ said Elijah Pogram.
‘Acquire!’ cried Martin. ‘But it’s not a question of acquiring anything. It’s a question of losing the natural politeness of a savage, and that instinctive good breeding which admonishes one man not to offend and disgust another. Don’t you think that man over the way, for instance, naturally knows better, but considers it a very fine and independent thing to be a brute in small matters?’
‘He is a na-tive of our country, and is nat’rally bright and spry, of course,’ said Mr Pogram.
‘Now, observe what this comes to, Mr Pogram,’ pursued Martin. ‘The mass of your countrymen begin by stubbornly neglecting little social observances, which have nothing to do with gentility, custom, usage, government, or country, but are acts of common, decent, natural, human politeness. You abet them in this, by resenting all attacks upon their social offences as if they were a beautiful national feature. From disregarding small obligations they come in regular course to disregard great ones; and so refuse to pay their debts. What they may do, or what they may refuse to do next, I don’t know; but any man may see if he will, that it will be something following in natural succession, and a part of one great growth, which is rotten at the root.’
The mind of Mr Pogram was too philosophical to see this; so they went on deck again, where, resuming his former post, he chewed until he was in a lethargic state, amounting to insensibility.
After a weary voyage of several days, they came again to that same wharf where Mark had been so nearly left behind, on the night of starting for Eden. Captain Kedgick, the landlord, was standing there, and was greatly surprised to see them coming from the boat.
‘Why, what the ‘tarnal!’ cried the Captain. ‘Well! I do admire at this, I do!’
‘We can stay at your house until to-morrow, Captain, I suppose?’ said Martin.
‘I reckon you can stay there for a twelvemonth if you like,’ retorted Kedgick coolly. ‘But our people won’t best like your coming back.’
‘Won’t like it, Captain Kedgick!’ said Martin.
‘They did ex-pect you was a-going to settle,’ Kedgick answered, as he shook his head. ‘They’ve been took in, you can’t deny!’
‘What do you mean?’ cried Martin.
‘You didn’t ought to have received ’em,’ said the Captain. ‘No you didn’t!’
‘My good friend,’ returned Martin, ‘did I want to receive them? Was it any act of mine? Didn’t you tell me they would rile up, and that I should be flayed like a wild cat — and threaten all kinds of vengeance, if I didn’t receive them?’
‘I don’t know about that,’ returned the Captain. ‘But when our people’s frills is out, they’re starched up pretty stiff, I tell you!’
With that, he fell into the rear to walk with Mark, while Martin and Elijah Pogram went on to the National.
‘We’ve come back alive, you see!’ said Mark.
‘It ain’t the thing I did expect,’ the Captain grumbled. ‘A man ain’t got no right to be a public man, unless he meets the public views. Our fashionable people wouldn’t have attended his le-vee, if they had know’d it.’
Nothing mollified the Captain, who persisted in taking it very ill that they had not both died in Eden. The boarders at the National felt strongly on the subject too; but it happened by good fortune that they had not much time to think about this grievance, for it was suddenly determined to pounce upon the Honourable Elijah Pogram, and give HIM a le-vee forthwith.
As the general evening meal of the house was over before the arrival of the boat, Martin, Mark, and Pogram were taking tea and fixings at the public table by themselves, when the deputation entered to announce this honour; consisting of six gentlemen boarders and a very shrill boy.
‘Sir!’ said the spokesman.
‘Mr Pogram!’ cried the shrill boy.
The spokesman thus reminded of the shrill boy’s presence, introduced him. ‘Doctor Ginery Dunkle, sir. A gentleman of great poetical elements. He has recently jined us here, sir, and is an acquisition to us, sir, I do assure you. Yes, sir. Mr Jodd, sir. Mr Izzard, sir. Mr Julius Bib, sir.’
‘Julius Washington Merryweather Bib,’ said the gentleman himself TO himself.
‘I beg your pardon, sir. Excuse me. Mr Julius Washington Merryweather Bib, sir; a gentleman in the lumber line, sir, and much esteemed. Colonel Groper, sir. Pro-fessor Piper, sir. My own name, sir, is Oscar Buffum.’
Each man took one slide forward as he was named; butted at the Honourable Elijah Pogram with his head; shook hands, and slid back again. The introductions being completed, the spokesman resumed.
‘Mr Pogram!’ cried the shrill boy.
‘Perhaps,’ said the spokesman, with a hopeless look, ‘you will be so good, Dr. Ginery Dunkle, as to charge yourself with the execution of our little office, sir?’
As there was nothing the shrill boy desired more, he immediately stepped forward.
‘Mr Pogram! Sir! A handful of your fellow-citizens, sir, hearing of your arrival at the National Hotel, and feeling the patriotic character of your public services, wish, sir, to have the gratification of beholding you, and mixing with you, sir; and unbending with you, sir, in those moments which —’
‘Air,’ suggested Buffum.
‘Which air so peculiarly the lot, sir, of our great and happy country.’
‘Hear!’ cried Colonel Grouper, in a loud voice. ‘Good! Hear him! Good!’
‘And therefore, sir,’ pursued the Doctor, ‘they request; as A mark Of their respect; the honour of your company at a little le–Vee, sir, in the ladies’ ordinary, at eight o’clock.’
Mr Pogram bowed, and said:
‘Good!’ cried the Colonel. ‘Hear, him! Good!’
Mr Pogram bowed to the Colonel individually, and then resumed.
‘Your approbation of My labours in the common cause goes to My heart. At all times and in all places; in the ladies’ ordinary, My friends, and in the Battle Field —’
‘Good, very good! Hear him! Hear him!’ said the Colonel.
‘The name of Pogram will be proud to jine you. And may it, My friends, be written on My tomb, “He was a member of the Congress of our common country, and was ac–Tive in his trust.”’
‘The Com-mittee, sir,’ said the shrill boy, ‘will wait upon you at five minutes afore eight. I take My leave, sir!’
Mr Pogram shook hands with him, and everybody else, once more; and when they came back again at five minutes before eight, they said, one by one, in a melancholy voice, ‘How do you do, sir?’ and shook hands with Mr Pogram all over again, as if he had been abroad for a twelvemonth in the meantime, and they met, now, at a funeral.
But by this time Mr Pogram had freshened himself up, and had composed his hair and features after the Pogram statue, so that any one with half an eye might cry out, ‘There he is! as he delivered the Defiance!’ The Committee were embellished also; and when they entered the ladies’ ordinary in a body, there was much clapping of hands from ladies and gentlemen, accompanied by cries of ‘Pogram! Pogram!’ and some standing up on chairs to see him.
The object of the popular caress looked round the room as he walked up it, and smiled; at the same time observing to the shrill boy, that he knew something of the beauty of the daughters of their common country, but had never seen it in such lustre and perfection as at that moment. Which the shrill boy put in the paper next day; to Elijah Pogram’s great surprise.
‘We will re-quest you, sir, if you please,’ said Buffum, laying hands on Mr Pogram as if he were taking his measure for a coat, ‘to stand up with your back agin the wall right in the furthest corner, that there may be more room for our fellow cit-izens. If you could set your back right slap agin that curtain-peg, sir, keeping your left leg everlastingly behind the stove, we should be fixed quite slick.’
Mr Pogram did as he was told, and wedged himself into such a little corner that the Pogram statue wouldn’t have known him.
The entertainments of the evening then began. Gentlemen brought ladies up, and brought themselves up, and brought each other up; and asked Elijah Pogram what he thought of this political question, and what he thought of that; and looked at him, and looked at one another, and seemed very unhappy indeed. The ladies on the chairs looked at Elijah Pogram through their glasses, and said audibly, ‘I wish he’d speak. Why don’t he speak? Oh, do ask him to speak!’ And Elijah Pogram looked sometimes at the ladies and sometimes elsewhere, delivering senatorial opinions, as he was asked for them. But the great end and object of the meeting seemed to be, not to let Elijah Pogram out of the corner on any account; so there they kept him, hard and fast.
A great bustle at the door, in the course of the evening, announced the arrival of some remarkable person; and immediately afterwards an elderly gentleman, much excited, was seen to precipitate himself upon the crowd, and battle his way towards the Honourable Elijah Pogram. Martin, who had found a snug place of observation in a distant corner, where he stood with Mark beside him (for he did not so often forget him now as formerly, though he still did sometimes), thought he knew this gentleman, but had no doubt of it, when he cried as loud as he could, with his eyes starting out of his head:
‘Sir, Mrs Hominy!’
‘Lord bless that woman, Mark. She has turned up again!’
‘Here she comes, sir,’ answered Mr Tapley. ‘Pogram knows her. A public character! Always got her eye upon her country, sir! If that there lady’s husband is of my opinion, what a jolly old gentleman he must be!’
A lane was made; and Mrs Hominy, with the aristocratic stalk, the pocket handkerchief, the clasped hands, and the classical cap, came slowly up it, in a procession of one. Mr Pogram testified emotions of delight on seeing her, and a general hush prevailed. For it was known that when a woman like Mrs Hominy encountered a man like Pogram, something interesting must be said.
Their first salutations were exchanged in a voice too low to reach the impatient ears of the throng; but they soon became audible, for Mrs Hominy felt her position, and knew what was expected of her.
Mrs H. was hard upon him at first; and put him through a rigid catechism in reference to a certain vote he had given, which she had found it necessary, as the mother of the modern Gracchi, to deprecate in a line by itself, set up expressly for the purpose in German text. But Mr Pogram evading it by a well-timed allusion to the star-spangled banner, which, it appeared, had the remarkable peculiarity of flouting the breeze whenever it was hoisted where the wind blew, she forgave him. They now enlarged on certain questions of tariff, commercial treaty, boundary, importation and exportation with great effect. And Mrs Hominy not only talked, as the saying is, like a book, but actually did talk her own books, word for word.
‘My! what is this!’ cried Mrs Hominy, opening a little note which was handed her by her excited gentleman-usher. ‘Do tell! oh, well, now! on’y think!’
And then she read aloud, as follows:
‘Two literary ladies present their compliments to the mother of the modern Gracchi, and claim her kind introduction, as their talented countrywoman, to the honourable (and distinguished) Elijah Pogram, whom the two L. L.‘s have often contemplated in the speaking marble of the soul-subduing Chiggle. On a verbal intimation from the mother of the M. G., that she will comply with the request of the two L. L.‘s, they will have the immediate pleasure of joining the galaxy assembled to do honour to the patriotic conduct of a Pogram. It may be another bond of union between the two L. L.‘s and the mother of the M. G. to observe, that the two L. L.‘s are Transcendental.’
Mrs Hominy promptly rose, and proceeded to the door, whence she returned, after a minute’s interval, with the two L. L.‘s, whom she led, through the lane in the crowd, with all that stateliness of deportment which was so remarkably her own, up to the great Elijah Pogram. It was (as the shrill boy cried out in an ecstasy) quite the Last Scene from Coriolanus. One of the L. L.‘s wore a brown wig of uncommon size. Sticking on the forehead of the other, by invisible means, was a massive cameo, in size and shape like the raspberry tart which is ordinarily sold for a penny, representing on its front the Capitol at Washington.
‘Miss Toppit, and Miss Codger!’ said Mrs Hominy.
‘Codger’s the lady so often mentioned in the English newspapers I should think, sir,’ whispered Mark. ‘The oldest inhabitant as never remembers anything.’
‘To be presented to a Pogram,’ said Miss Codger, ‘by a Hominy, indeed, a thrilling moment is it in its impressiveness on what we call our feelings. But why we call them so, or why impressed they are, or if impressed they are at all, or if at all we are, or if there really is, oh gasping one! a Pogram or a Hominy, or any active principle to which we give those titles, is a topic, Spirit searching, light abandoned, much too vast to enter on, at this unlooked-for crisis.’
‘Mind and matter,’ said the lady in the wig, ‘glide swift into the vortex of immensity. Howls the sublime, and softly sleeps the calm Ideal, in the whispering chambers of Imagination. To hear it, sweet it is. But then, outlaughs the stern philosopher, and saith to the Grotesque, “What ho! arrest for me that Agency. Go, bring it here!” And so the vision fadeth.’
After this, they both took Mr Pogram by the hand, and pressed it to their lips, as a patriotic palm. That homage paid, the mother of the modern Gracchi called for chairs, and the three literary ladies went to work in earnest, to bring poor Pogram out, and make him show himself in all his brilliant colours.
How Pogram got out of his depth instantly, and how the three L. L.‘s were never in theirs, is a piece of history not worth recording. Suffice it, that being all four out of their depths, and all unable to swim, they splashed up words in all directions, and floundered about famously. On the whole, it was considered to have been the severest mental exercise ever heard in the National Hotel. Tears stood in the shrill boy’s eyes several times; and the whole company observed that their heads ached with the effort — as well they might.
When it at last became necessary to release Elijah Pogram from the corner, and the Committee saw him safely back again to the next room, they were fervent in their admiration.
‘Which,’ said Mr Buffum, ‘must have vent, or it will bust. Toe you, Mr Pogram, I am grateful. Toe-wards you, sir, I am inspired with lofty veneration, and with deep e-mo-tion. The sentiment Toe which I would propose to give ex-pression, sir, is this: “May you ever be as firm, sir, as your marble statter! May it ever be as great a terror Toe its ene-mies as you.”’
There is some reason to suppose that it was rather terrible to its friends; being a statue of the Elevated or Goblin School, in which the Honourable Elijah Pogram was represented as in a very high wind, with his hair all standing on end, and his nostrils blown wide open. But Mr Pogram thanked his friend and countryman for the aspiration to which he had given utterance, and the Committee, after another solemn shaking of hands, retired to bed, except the Doctor; who immediately repaired to the newspaper-office, and there wrote a short poem suggested by the events of the evening, beginning with fourteen stars, and headed, ‘A Fragment. Suggested by witnessing the Honourable Elijah Pogram engaged in a philosophical disputation with three of Columbia’s fairest daughters. By Doctor Ginery Dunkle. Of Troy.’
If Pogram was as glad to get to bed as Martin was, he must have been well rewarded for his labours. They started off again next day (Martin and Mark previously disposing of their goods to the storekeepers of whom they had purchased them, for anything they would bring), and were fellow travellers to within a short distance of New York. When Pogram was about to leave them he grew thoughtful, and after pondering for some time, took Martin aside.
‘We air going to part, sir,’ said Pogram.
‘Pray don’t distress yourself,’ said Martin; ‘we must bear it.’
‘It ain’t that, sir,’ returned Pogram, ‘not at all. But I should wish you to accept a copy of My oration.’
‘Thank you,’ said Martin, ‘you are very good. I shall be most happy.’
‘It ain’t quite that, sir, neither,’ resumed Pogram; ‘air you bold enough to introduce a copy into your country?’
‘Certainly,’ said Martin. ‘Why not?’
‘Its sentiments air strong, sir,’ hinted Pogram, darkly.
‘That makes no difference,’ said Martin. ‘I’ll take a dozen if you like.’
‘No, sir,’ retorted Pogram. ‘Not A dozen. That is more than I require. If you are content to run the hazard, sir, here is one for your Lord Chancellor,’ producing it, ‘and one for Your principal Secretary of State. I should wish them to see it, sir, as expressing what my opinions air. That they may not plead ignorance at a future time. But don’t get into danger, sir, on my account!’
‘There is not the least danger, I assure you,’ said Martin. So he put the pamphlets in his pocket, and they parted.
Mr Bevan had written in his letter that, at a certain time, which fell out happily just then, he would be at a certain hotel in the city, anxiously expecting to see them. To this place they repaired without a moment’s delay. They had the satisfaction of finding him within; and of being received by their good friend, with his own warmth and heartiness.
‘I am truly sorry and ashamed,’ said Martin, ‘to have begged of you. But look at us. See what we are, and judge to what we are reduced!’
‘So far from claiming to have done you any service,’ returned the other, ‘I reproach myself with having been, unwittingly, the original cause of your misfortunes. I no more supposed you would go to Eden on such representations as you received; or, indeed, that you would do anything but be dispossessed, by the readiest means, of your idea that fortunes were so easily made here; than I thought of going to Eden myself.’
‘The fact is, I closed with the thing in a mad and sanguine manner,’ said Martin, ‘and the less said about it the better for me. Mark, here, hadn’t a voice in the matter.’
‘Well! but he hadn’t a voice in any other matter, had he?’ returned Mr Bevan; laughing with an air that showed his understanding of Mark and Martin too.
‘Not a very powerful one, I am afraid,’ said Martin with a blush. ‘But live and learn, Mr Bevan! Nearly die and learn; we learn the quicker.’
‘Now,’ said their friend, ‘about your plans. You mean to return home at once?’
‘Oh, I think so,’ returned Martin hastily, for he turned pale at the thought of any other suggestion. ‘That is your opinion too, I hope?’
‘Unquestionably. For I don’t know why you ever came here; though it’s not such an unusual case, I am sorry to say, that we need go any farther into that. You don’t know that the ship in which you came over with our friend General Fladdock, is in port, of course?’
‘Indeed!’ said Martin.
‘Yes. And is advertised to sail to-morrow.’
This was tempting news, but tantalising too; for Martin knew that his getting any employment on board a ship of that class was hopeless. The money in his pocket would not pay one-fourth of the sum he had already borrowed, and if it had been enough for their passage-money, he could hardly have resolved to spend it. He explained this to Mr Bevan, and stated what their project was.
‘Why, that’s as wild as Eden every bit,’ returned his friend. ‘You must take your passage like a Christian; at least, as like a Christian as a fore-cabin passenger can; and owe me a few more dollars than you intend. If Mark will go down to the ship and see what passengers there are, and finds that you can go in her without being actually suffocated, my advice is, go! You and I will look about us in the meantime (we won’t call at the Norris’s unless you like), and we will all three dine together in the afternoon.’
Martin had nothing to express but gratitude, and so it was arranged. But he went out of the room after Mark, and advised him to take their passage in the Screw, though they lay upon the bare deck; which Mr Tapley, who needed no entreaty on the subject readily promised to do.
When he and Martin met again, and were alone, he was in high spirits, and evidently had something to communicate, in which he gloried very much.
‘I’ve done Mr Bevan, sir,’ said Mark.
‘Done Mr Bevan!’ repeated Martin.
‘The cook of the Screw went and got married yesterday, sir,’ said Mr Tapley.
Martin looked at him for farther explanation.
‘And when I got on board, and the word was passed that it was me,’ said Mark, ‘the mate he comes and asks me whether I’d engage to take this said cook’s place upon the passage home. “For you’re used to it,” he says; “you were always a-cooking for everybody on your passage out.” And so I was,’ said Mark, ‘although I never cooked before, I’ll take my oath.’
‘What did you say?’ demanded Martin.
‘Say!’ cried Mark. ‘That I’d take anything I could get. “If that’s so,” says the mate, “why, bring a glass of rum;” which they brought according. And my wages, sir,’ said Mark in high glee, ‘pays your passage; and I’ve put the rolling-pin in your berth to take it (it’s the easy one up in the corner); and there we are, Rule Britannia, and Britons strike home!’
‘There never was such a good fellow as you are!’ cried Martin seizing him by the hand. ‘But what do you mean by “doing” Mr Bevan, Mark?’
‘Why, don’t you see?’ said Mark. ‘We don’t tell him, you know. We take his money, but we don’t spend it, and we don’t keep it. What we do is, write him a little note, explaining this engagement, and roll it up, and leave it at the bar, to be given to him after we are gone. Don’t you see?’
Martin’s delight in this idea was not inferior to Mark’s. It was all done as he proposed. They passed a cheerful evening; slept at the hotel; left the letter as arranged; and went off to the ship betimes next morning, with such light hearts as the weight of their past miseries engendered.
‘Good-bye! a hundred thousand times good-bye!’ said Martin to their friend. ‘How shall I remember all your kindness! How shall I ever thank you!’
‘If you ever become a rich man, or a powerful one,’ returned his friend, ‘you shall try to make your Government more careful of its subjects when they roam abroad to live. Tell it what you know of emigration in your own case, and impress upon it how much suffering may be prevented with a little pains!’
Cheerily, lads, cheerily! Anchor weighed. Ship in full sail. Her sturdy bowsprit pointing true to England. America a cloud upon the sea behind them!
‘Why, Cook! what are you thinking of so steadily?’ said Martin.
‘Why, I was a-thinking, sir,’ returned Mark, ‘that if I was a painter and was called upon to paint the American Eagle, how should I do it?’
‘Paint it as like an Eagle as you could, I suppose.’
‘No,’ said Mark. ‘That wouldn’t do for me, sir. I should want to draw it like a Bat, for its short-sightedness; like a Bantam, for its bragging; like a Magpie, for its honesty; like a Peacock, for its vanity; like a ostrich, for its putting its head in the mud, and thinking nobody sees it —’
‘And like a Phoenix, for its power of springing from the ashes of its faults and vices, and soaring up anew into the sky!’ said Martin. ‘Well, Mark. Let us hope so.’
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:49