Martin Chuzzlewit HTML version

Chapter 34
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,
'Your Elijahpogram!' said Martin, thinking it was all one word, and a building of
some sort.
'Yes sir.'
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.