'Dead!' replied the other, with a contemptuous emphasis. 'Not he. You won't catch Ned a-dying easy. No, no. He knows better than that.'
'You spoke of him in the past tense,' observed Martin, 'so I supposed he was no more.
'He's no more in England,' said Bill, 'if that's what you mean. He went to the U-nited States.'
'Did he?' asked Martin, with sudden interest. 'When?'
'Five year ago, or then about,' said Bill. 'He had set up in the public line here, and couldn't meet his engagements, so he cut off to Liverpool one day, without saying anything about it, and went and shipped himself for the U-nited States.'
'Well?' said Martin.
'Well! as he landed there without a penny to bless himself with, of course they wos very glad to see him in the U-nited States.'
'What do you mean?' asked Martin, with some scorn.
'What do I mean?' said Bill. 'Why, THAT. All men are alike in the U-nited States, an't they? It makes no odds whether a man has a thousand pound, or nothing, there. Particular in New York, I'm told, where Ned landed.'
'New York, was it?' asked Martin, thoughtfully.
'Yes,' said Bill. 'New York. I know that, because he sent word home that it brought Old York to his mind, quite vivid, in consequence of being so exactly unlike it in every respect. I don't understand what particular business Ned turned his mind to, when he got there; but he wrote home that him and his friends was always a- singing, Ale Columbia, and blowing up the President, so I suppose it was something in the public line; or free-and-easy way again. Anyhow, he made his fortune.'
'No!' cried Martin.
'Yes, he did,' said Bill. 'I know that, because he lost it all the day after, in six-and-twenty banks as broke. He settled a lot of the notes on his father, when it was ascertained that they was really stopped and sent 'em over with a dutiful letter. I know that, because they was shown down our yard for the old gentleman's benefit, that he might treat himself with tobacco in the workus.'
'He was a foolish fellow not to take care of his money when he had it,' said Martin, indignantly.
'There you're right,' said Bill, 'especially as it was all in paper, and he might have took care of it so very easy, by folding it up in a small parcel.'
Martin said nothing in reply, but soon afterwards fell asleep, and remained so for an hour or more. When he awoke, finding it had ceased to rain, he took his seat beside the driver, and asked him several questions; as how long had the fortunate guard of the Light Salisbury been in crossing the Atlantic; at what time of the year had he sailed; what was the name of the ship in which he made the voyage; how much had he paid for passage-money; did he suffer greatly from sea-sickness? and so forth. But on these points of detail his friend was possessed of little or no information; either answering obviously at random or acknowledging that he had never heard, or had forgotten; nor, although he returned to the charge very often, could he obtain any useful intelligence on these essential particulars.
They jogged on all day, and stopped so often--now to refresh, now to change their team of horses, now to exchange or bring away a set of harness, now on one point of business, and now upon another, connected with the coaching on that line of road--that it was midnight when they reached Hounslow. A little short of the stables for which the van was bound, Martin got down, paid his crown, and forced his silk handkerchief upon his honest friend, notwithstanding the many protestations that he didn't wish to deprive him of it, with which he tried to give the lie to his longing looks. That done, they parted company; and when the van had driven into its own yard and the gates were closed, Martin stood in the dark street, with a pretty strong sense of being shut out, alone, upon the dreary world, without the key of it.
But in this moment of despondency, and often afterwards, the recollection of Mr Pecksniff operated as a cordial to him; awakening in his breast an indignation that was very wholesome in nerving him to obstinate endurance.