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Martin Eden 136







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Martin Eden

The Pickwick Papers

The Sea Wolf




Martin, all talking admiringly and at once, until it seemed to him that they were talking against time for a wager. "We often wondered why you didnt call," Mr. White was saying. "I didnt have the carfare, and I live across the Bay," Martin answered bluntly, with the idea of showing them his imperative need for the money. Surely, he thought to himself, my glad rags in themselves are eloquent advertisement of my need. Time and again, whenever opportunity offered, he hinted about the purpose of his business. But his admirers ears were deaf. They sang his praises, told him what they had thought of his story at first sight, what they subsequently thought, what their wives and families thought; but not one hint did they breathe of intention to pay him for it. "Did I tell you how I first read your story?" Mr. Ford said. "Of course I didnt. I was coming west from New York, and when the train stopped at Ogden, the train-boy on the new run brought aboard the current number of the Transcontinental." My God! Martin thought; you can travel in a Pullman while I starve for the paltry five dollars you owe me. A wave of anger rushed over him. The wrong done him by the Transcontinental loomed colossal, for strong upon him were all the dreary months of vain yearning, of hunger and privation, and his present hunger awoke and gnawed at him, reminding him that he had eaten nothing since the day before, and little enough then. For the moment he saw red. These creatures were not even robbers. They were sneak-thieves. By lies and broken promises they had tricked him out of his story. Well, he would show them. And a great resolve surged into his will to the effect that he would not leave the office until he got his money. He remembered, if he did not get it, that there was no way for him to go back to Oakland. He controlled himself with an effort, but not before the wolfish expression of his face had awed and perturbed them. They became more voluble than ever. Mr. Ford started anew to tell how he had first read "The Ring of Bells," and Mr. Ends at the same time was striving to repeat his nieces appreciation of "The Ring of Bells," said niece being a school-teacher in Alameda. "Ill tell you what I came for," Martin said finally. "To be paid for that story all of you like so well. Five dollars, I believe, is what you promised me would be paid on publication." Mr. Ford, with an expression on his mobile features of mediate and happy acquiescence, started to reach for his pocket, then turned suddenly to Mr. Ends, and said that he had left his money home. That Mr. Ends resented this, was patent; and Martin saw the twitch of his arm as if to protect his trousers pocket. Martin knew that the money was there. "I am sorry," said Mr. Ends, "but I paid the printer not an hour ago, and he took my ready change. It was careless of me to be so short; but the bill was not yet due, and the printers request, as a favor, to make an immediate advance, was quite unexpected." Both men looked expectantly at Mr. White, but that gentleman laughed and shrugged his shoulders. His conscience was clean at any rate. He had come into the Transcontinental to learn magazine-literature, instead of which he had principally learned finance. The Transcontinental owed him four months salary, and he knew that the printer must be appeased before the associate editor. "Its rather absurd, Mr. Eden, to have caught us in this shape," Mr. Ford preambled airily. "All carelessness, I assure you. But Ill tell you what well do. Well mail you a check the first thing in the morning. You have Mr. Edens address, havent you, Mr. Ends?" Yes, Mr. Ends had the address, and the check would be mailed the first thing in the morning. Martins knowledge of banks and checks was hazy, but he could see no reason why they should not give him the check on this day just as well as on the next. "Then it is understood, Mr. Eden, that well mail you the check to-morrow?" Mr. Ford said. "I need the money to-day," Martin answered stolidly. "The unfortunate circumstances--if

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