Therefore, if I don't pay my own passage in the ship you go in, sir, I'll pay my own passage in another. And mark my words, if I go alone it shall be, to carry out the principle, in the rottenest, craziest, leakingest tub of a wessel that a place can be got in for love or money. So if I'm lost upon the way, sir, there'll be a drowned man at your door--and always a-knocking double knocks at it, too, or never trust me!'
'This is mere folly,' said Martin.
'Very good, sir,' returned Mark. 'I'm glad to hear it, because if you don't mean to let me go, you'll be more comfortable, perhaps, on account of thinking so. Therefore I contradict no gentleman. But all I say is, that if I don't emigrate to America in that case, in the beastliest old cockle-shell as goes out of port, I'm--'
'You don't mean what you say, I'm sure,' said Martin.
'Yes I do,' cried Mark.
'I tell you I know better,' rejoined Martin.
'Very good, sir,' said Mark, with the same air of perfect satisfaction. 'Let it stand that way at present, sir, and wait and see how it turns out. Why, love my heart alive! the only doubt I have is, whether there's any credit in going with a gentleman like you, that's as certain to make his way there as a gimlet is to go through soft deal.'
This was touching Martin on his weak point, and having him at a great advantage. He could not help thinking, either, what a brisk fellow this Mark was, and how great a change he had wrought in the atmosphere of the dismal little room already.
'Why, certainly, Mark,' he said, 'I have hopes of doing well there, or I shouldn't go. I may have the qualifications for doing well, perhaps.'
'Of course you have, sir,' returned Mark Tapley. 'Everybody knows that.'
'You see,' said Martin, leaning his chin upon his hand, and looking at the fire, 'ornamental architecture applied to domestic purposes, can hardly fail to be in great request in that country; for men are constantly changing their residences there, and moving further off; and it's clear they must have houses to live in.'
'I should say, sir,' observed Mark, 'that that's a state of things as opens one of the jolliest look-outs for domestic architecture that ever I heerd tell on.'
Martin glanced at him hastily, not feeling quite free from a suspicion that this remark implied a doubt of the successful issue of his plans. But Mr Tapley was eating the boiled beef and bread with such entire good faith and singleness of purpose expressed in his visage that he could not but be satisfied. Another doubt arose in his mind however, as this one disappeared. He produced the blank cover in which the note had been enclosed, and fixing his eyes on Mark as he put it in his hands, said:
'Now tell me the truth. Do you know anything about that?'
Mark turned it over and over; held it near his eyes; held it away from him at arm's length; held it with the superscription upwards and with the superscription downwards; and shook his head with such a genuine expression of astonishment at being asked the question, that Martin said, as he took it from him again:
'No, I see you don't. How should you! Though, indeed, your knowing about it would not be more extraordinary than its being here. Come, Tapley,' he added, after a moment's thought, 'I'll trust you with my history, such as it is, and then you'll see more clearly what sort of fortunes you would link yourself to, if you followed me.'
'I beg your pardon, sir,' said Mark; 'but afore you enter upon it will you take me if I choose to go? Will you turn off me--Mark Tapley--formerly of the Blue Dragon, as can be well recommended by Mr Pinch, and as wants a gentleman of your strength of mind to look up to; or will you, in climbing the ladder as you're certain to get to the top of, take me along with you at a respectful dutance? Now, sir,' said Mark, 'it's of very little importance to you, I know. there's the difficulty; but it's of very great importance to me, and will you be so good as to consider of it?'
If this were meant as a second appeal to Martin's weak side, founded on his observation of the effect of the first, Mr Tapley was a skillful and shrewd observer.