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Summary Chapter 17


Martin remembers that Mark Tapely is waiting at the office of the New York Rowdy Journal, as Martin had instructed him, and asks his friend if they can walk there. Martin asks the man if he is there on business. The man claims he is just visiting.

The man is from a quiet town in Massachusetts. He doesn’t like the big cities. He has been abroad, but he is attached to his country. However, he doesn’t consider America to be an example to the rest of the world. It has two advantages over other countries—it was founded late and avoided the years of bloodshed other countries endured, and at the moment it was a country with large amounts of land and few people.

The man observes that Martin is here to make his fortune. Martin tells the man his professional aspirations. The man is skeptical that he will find opportunity in this city and says Martin may have to look elsewhere.

They find Mark Tapely whistling Britain’s anthem for a black man. Martin asks about what happened to the woman Mark Tapely had taken under his protection on the voyage. Mark says the woman did find her husband, though he looks very sickly—and Mark expects he’ll be in the grave soon. Husband did buy land, though it lacks a clean water supply.

Martin then asks about the black man. Mark says the man is a former slave that bears scars from mistreatment. He went through two masters before he got a good one. He was able to buy his freedom when he went down in price after he was weak and ill. He came to New York. He is now saving up to purchase the liberty of his daughter. Mark says he has employed the man to help with the luggage. Martin directs them to take the luggage to Mrs. Pawkins boarding house.

Bevan advises Martin that Mark should come with them, for he speaks too freely—and is likely to encounter trouble in the city. Martin is tired, but he agrees to go with Bevan to a friend’s house. However, Martin enjoys the cheerful company after his experiences with the boarding house. The family is also from England. Martin isn’t so happy that they knows all the English aristocracy and asks about them. He is charmed by the young ladies.

General Fladdock joins the family. Upon hearing that he also traveled on The Screw, Martin is forced to admit that he came over by steerage accommodations. When this is followed by an awkward silence, due to the horror of the family in a commoner being in their midst, Martin takes his leave. He tells them that Bevan did not know of his circumstances.

Mr. Bevan follows Martin and apologizes. He didn’t realize the family would react that way. They are generally good people. Bevan had realized that Martin was from steerage, as he had checked the passenger list.

They return to the boarding house. The ladies are having tea and greet Mr. Bevan frostily. Bevan asks about the lectures they attend. Martin remarks they must be busy splitting their time between lectures and domestic duties. The women give him a disdainful look and leave. Mr. Bevan tells him that they think domestic duties are beneath them, and not one of them could do the simplest task.

Bevan reiterates that Mark will have to travel further to accomplish his goals. Martin is dejected. Mark introduces Martin to a new drink—the sherry cobbler. Martin really likes the drink. He misses Pinch. Mark tells him that a person should look towards the future. Those who look backwards in stories always turn to stone.

Charles Dickens