Martin Chuzzlewit HTML version

Chapter 35
It was mid-day, and high water in the English port for which the Screw was
bound, when, borne in gallantly upon the fullness of the tide, she let go her
anchor in the river.
Bright as the scene was; fresh, and full of motion; airy, free, and sparkling; it was
nothing to the life and exultation in the breasts of the two travellers, at sight of the
old churches, roofs, and darkened chimney stacks of Home. The distant roar that
swelled up hoarsely from the busy streets, was music in their ears; the lines of
people gazing from the wharves, were friends held dear; the canopy of smoke
that overhung the town was brighter and more beautiful to them than if the richest
silks of Persia had been waving in the air. And though the water going on its
glistening track, turned, ever and again, aside to dance and sparkle round great
ships, and heave them up; and leaped from off the blades of oars, a shower of
diving diamonds; and wantoned with the idle boats, and swiftly passed, in many a
sportive chase, through obdurate old iron rings, set deep into the stone-work of
the quays; not even it was half so buoyant, and so restless, as their fluttering
hearts, when yearning to set foot, once more, on native ground.
A year had passed since those same spires and roofs had faded from their eyes.
It seemed to them, a dozen years. Some trifling changes, here and there, they
called to mind; and wondered that they were so few and slight. In health and
fortune, prospect and resource, they came back poorer men than they had gone
away. But it was home. And though home is a name, a word, it is a strong one;
stronger than magician ever spoke, or spirit answered to, in strongest
Being set ashore, with very little money in their pockets, and no definite plan of
operation in their heads, they sought out a cheap tavern, where they regaled
upon a smoking steak, and certain flowing mugs of beer, as only men just landed
from the sea can revel in the generous dainties of the earth. When they had
feasted, as two grateful-tempered giants might have done, they stirred the fire,
drew back the glowing curtain from the window, and making each a sofa for
himself, by union of the great unwieldy chairs, gazed blissfully into the street.
Even the street was made a fairy street, by being half hidden in an atmosphere of
steak, and strong, stout, stand-up English beer. For on the window-glass hung
such a mist, that Mr Tapley was obliged to rise and wipe it with his handkerchief,
before the passengers appeared like common mortals. And even then, a spiral
little cloud went curling up from their two glasses of hot grog, which nearly hid
them from each other.
It was one of those unaccountable little rooms which are never seen anywhere
but in a tavern, and are supposed to have got into taverns by reason of the
facilities afforded to the architect for getting drunk while engaged in their
construction. It had more corners in it than the brain of an obstinate man; was full