`What do you think of our prospects?' inquired Martin, with an air that plainly said he had avoided the question for some time.

`Uncommon bright, sir,' returned Mark. `Impossible for a place to have a better name, sir, than the Walley of Eden. No man couldn't think of settling in a better place than the Walley of Eden. And I'm told,' added Mark, after a pause, `as there's lots of serpents there, so we shall come out quite complete and reg'lar.'

So far from dwelling upon this agreeable piece of information with the least dismay, Mark's face grew radiant as he called it to mind: so very radiant, that a stranger might have supposed he had all his life been yearning for the society of serpents, and now hailed with delight the approaching consummation of his fondest wishes.

`Who told you that?' asked Martin, sternly.

`A military officer,' said Mark.

`Confound you for a ridiculous fellow!' cried Martin, laughing heartily in spite of himself. `What military officer? You know they spring up in every field.'

`As thick as scarecrows in England, sir,' interposed Mark, `which is a sort of milita themselves, being entirely coat and wescoat, with a stick inside. Ha, ha! Don't mind me, sir; it's my way sometimes. I can't help being jolly. Why it was one of them inwading conquerors at Pawkins's, as told me. "Am I rightly informed," he says: not exactly through his nose, but as if he'd got a stoppage in it, very high up: "that you're a-going to the Walley of Eden?" "I heard some talk on it," I told him. "Oh!" says he, "if you should ever happen to go to bed there -- you may, you know," he says, "in course of time as civilisation progresses -- don't forget to take a axe with you." I looks at him tolerable hard. "Fleas?" says I. "And more," says he. "Wampires?" says I. "And more," says he. "Musquitoes, perhaps?" says I. "And more," says he. "What more?" says I. "Snakes more," says he; "rattle-snakes. You're right to a certain extent, stranger. There air some catawampous chawers in the small way too, as graze upon a human pretty strong. but don't mind them, they're company. It's snakes," he says, "as you''ll object to: and whenever you wake and see one in a upright poster on your bed," he says, "like a corkscrew with the handle off a-sittin' on its bottom ring, cut him down, for he means wenom."'

`Why didn't you tell me this before!' cried Martin, with an expression of face which set off the cheerfulness of Mark's visage to great advantage.

`I never thought on it, sir,' said Mark. `It come in at one ear, and went out at the other. But Lord love us, he was one of another Company I dare say, and only made up the story that we might go to his Eden, and not the opposition one'

`There's some probability in that,' observed Martin. `I can honestly say that I hope so, with all my heart.'

`I've not a doubt about it, sir,' returned Mark, who, full of the inspiriting influence of the anecodote upon himself, had for the moment forgotten its probable effect upon his master; `anyhow, we must live, you know, sir.'

`Live!' cried Martin. `Yes, it's easy to say live; but if we should happen not to wake when rattlesnakes are making corkscrews of themselves upon our beds, it may be not so easy to do it.'

`And that's a fact,' said a voice so close in his ear that it tickled him. `That's dreadful true.'

Martin looked round, and found that a gentleman, on the seat behind, had thrust his head between himself and Mark, and sat with his chin resting on the back rail of their little bench, entertaining himself with their conversation. He was as languid and listless in his looks as most of the gentlemen they had seen; his cheeks were so hollow that he seemed to be always sucking them in; and the sun had burnt him, not

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