'What have they been making so much of him for, now?' said Mark, slyly. 'Come!'
'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 alive!'
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 motion.'
'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 it?'
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, laughing.
'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 affected.
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.