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Martin Eden

The Pickwick Papers

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you had chanced here any other day," Mr. Ford began suavely, only to be interrupted by Mr. Ends, whose cranky eyes justified themselves in his shortness of temper. "Mr. Ford has already explained the situation," he said with asperity. "And so have I. The check will be mailed--" "I also have explained," Martin broke in, "and I have explained that I want the money to-day." He had felt his pulse quicken a trifle at the business managers brusqueness, and upon him he kept an alert eye, for it was in that gentlemans trousers pocket that he divined the Transcontinentals ready cash was reposing. "It is too bad--" Mr. Ford began. But at that moment, with an impatient movement, Mr. Ends turned as if about to leave the room. At the same instant Martin sprang for him, clutching him by the throat with one hand in such fashion that Mr. Ends snow-white beard, still maintaining its immaculate trimness, pointed ceilingward at an angle of forty-five degrees. To the horror of Mr. White and Mr. Ford, they saw their business manager shaken like an Astrakhan rug. "Dig up, you venerable discourager of rising young talent!" Martin exhorted. "Dig up, or Ill shake it out of you, even if its all in nickels." Then, to the two affrighted onlookers: "Keep away! If you interfere, somebodys liable to get hurt." Mr. Ends was choking, and it was not until the grip on his throat was eased that he was able to signify his acquiescence in the digging-up programme. All together, after repeated digs, its trousers pocket yielded four dollars and fifteen cents. "Inside out with it," Martin commanded. An additional ten cents fell out. Martin counted the result of his raid a second time to make sure. "You next!" he shouted at Mr. Ford. "I want seventy-five cents more." Mr. Ford did not wait, but ransacked his pockets, with the result of sixty cents. "Sure that is all?" Martin demanded menacingly, possessing himself of it. "What have you got in your vest pockets?" In token of his good faith, Mr. Ford turned two of his pockets inside out. A strip of cardboard fell to the floor from one of them. He recovered it and was in the act of returning it, when Martin cried:- "Whats that?--A ferry ticket? Here, give it to me. Its worth ten cents. Ill credit you with it. Ive now got four dollars and ninety- five cents, including the ticket. Five cents is still due me." He looked fiercely at Mr. White, and found that fragile creature in the act of handing him a nickel. "Thank you," Martin said, addressing them collectively. "I wish you a good day." "Robber!" Mr. Ends snarled after him. "Sneak-thief!" Martin retorted, slamming the door as he passed out. Martin was elated--so elated that when he recollected that The Hornet owed him fifteen dollars for "The Peri and the Pearl," he decided forthwith to go and collect it. But The Hornet was run by a set of clean- shaven, strapping young men, frank buccaneers who robbed everything and everybody, not excepting one another. After some breakage of the office furniture, the editor (an ex-college athlete), ably assisted by the business manager, an advertising agent, and the porter, succeeded in removing Martin from the office and in accelerating, by initial impulse, his descent of the first flight of stairs. "Come again, Mr. Eden; glad to see you any time," they laughed down at him from the landing above. Martin grinned as he picked himself up. "Phew!" he murmured back. "The Transcontinental crowd were nanny-goats, but you fellows are a lot of prize-fighters." More laughter greeted this. "I must say, Mr. Eden," the editor of The Hornet called down, "that for a poet you can go some yourself. Where did you learn that right cross--if I may ask?" "Where you learned that half-Nelson," Martin answered. "Anyway, youre going to have a black eye." "I hope your neck doesnt stiffen up," the editor wished solicitously: "What do you say we all go out and have a drink on it--not the neck, of course, but the little rough-house?" "Ill go you if I lose," Martin accepted. And robbers and robbed drank together, amicably agreeing that the battle was to the strong, and that the fifteen dollars for "The Peri and the Pearl" belonged by right to The Hornets editorial staff.

CHAPTER XXXIV

Arthur remained at the gate while Ruth climbed Marias front steps. She heard the rapid click

Martin Eden page 136        Martin Eden page 138