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Martin Eden 135







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Books:

Martin Eden

The Pickwick Papers

The Sea Wolf




one of desperation. He told her that he would come, after all; that he would go over to San Francisco, to the Transcontinental office, collect the five dollars due him, and with it redeem his suit of clothes. In the morning he borrowed ten cents from Maria. He would have borrowed it, by preference, from Brissenden, but that erratic individual had disappeared. Two weeks had passed since Martin had seen him, and he vainly cudgelled his brains for some cause of offence. The ten cents carried Martin across the ferry to San Francisco, and as he walked up Market Street he speculated upon his predicament in case he failed to collect the money. There would then be no way for him to return to Oakland, and he knew no one in San Francisco from whom to borrow another ten cents. The door to the Transcontinental office was ajar, and Martin, in the act of opening it, was brought to a sudden pause by a loud voice from within, which exclaimed:- "But that is not the question, Mr. Ford." (Ford, Martin knew, from his correspondence, to be the editors name.) "The question is, are you prepared to pay?--cash, and cash down, I mean? I am not interested in the prospects of the Transcontinental and what you expect to make it next year. What I want is to be paid for what I do. And I tell you, right now, the Christmas Transcontinental dont go to press till I have the money in my hand. Good day. When you get the money, come and see me." The door jerked open, and the man flung past Martin, with an angry countenance and went down the corridor, muttering curses and clenching his fists. Martin decided not to enter immediately, and lingered in the hallways for a quarter of an hour. Then he shoved the door open and walked in. It was a new experience, the first time he had been inside an editorial office. Cards evidently were not necessary in that office, for the boy carried word to an inner room that there was a man who wanted to see Mr. Ford. Returning, the boy beckoned him from halfway across the room and led him to the private office, the editorial sanctum. Martins first impression was of the disorder and cluttered confusion of the room. Next he noticed a bewhiskered, youthful-looking man, sitting at a roll- top desk, who regarded him curiously. Martin marvelled at the calm repose of his face. It was evident that the squabble with the printer had not affected his equanimity. "I--I am Martin Eden," Martin began the conversation. ("And I want my five dollars," was what he would have liked to say.) But this was his first editor, and under the circumstances he did not desire to scare him too abruptly. To his surprise, Mr. Ford leaped into the air with a "You dont say so!" and the next moment, with both hands, was shaking Martins hand effusively. "Cant say how glad I am to see you, Mr. Eden. Often wondered what you were like." Here he held Martin off at arms length and ran his beaming eyes over Martins second-best suit, which was also his worst suit, and which was ragged and past repair, though the trousers showed the careful crease he had put in with Marias flat-irons. "I confess, though, I conceived you to be a much older man than you are. Your story, you know, showed such breadth, and vigor, such maturity and depth of thought. A masterpiece, that story--I knew it when I had read the first half-dozen lines. Let me tell you how I first read it. But no; first let me introduce you to the staff." Still talking, Mr. Ford led him into the general office, where he introduced him to the associate editor, Mr. White, a slender, frail little man whose hand seemed strangely cold, as if he were suffering from a chill, and whose whiskers were sparse and silky. "And Mr. Ends, Mr. Eden. Mr. Ends is our business manager, you know." Martin found himself shaking hands with a cranky-eyed, bald-headed man, whose face looked youthful enough from what little could be seen of it, for most of it was covered by a snow-white beard, carefully trimmed--by his wife, who did it on Sundays, at which times she also shaved the back of his neck. The three men surrounded

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