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Martin Eden 159







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Books:

Martin Eden

The Pickwick Papers

The Sea Wolf




to Brissendens room, and hurried down again. The room was empty. All luggage was gone. "Did Mr. Brissenden leave any address?" he asked the clerk, who looked at him curiously for a moment. "Havent you heard?" he asked. Martin shook his head. "Why, the papers were full of it. He was found dead in bed. Suicide. Shot himself through the head." "Is he buried yet?" Martin seemed to hear his voice, like some one elses voice, from a long way off, asking the question. "No. The body was shipped East after the inquest. Lawyers engaged by his people saw to the arrangements." "They were quick about it, I must say," Martin commented. "Oh, I dont know. It happened five days ago." "Five days ago?" "Yes, five days ago." "Oh," Martin said as he turned and went out. At the corner he stepped into the Western Union and sent a telegram to The Parthenon, advising them to proceed with the publication of the poem. He had in his pocket but five cents with which to pay his carfare home, so he sent the message collect. Once in his room, he resumed his writing. The days and nights came and went, and he sat at his table and wrote on. He went nowhere, save to the pawnbroker, took no exercise, and ate methodically when he was hungry and had something to cook, and just as methodically went without when he had nothing to cook. Composed as the story was, in advance, chapter by chapter, he nevertheless saw and developed an opening that increased the power of it, though it necessitated twenty thousand additional words. It was not that there was any vital need that the thing should be well done, but that his artistic canons compelled him to do it well. He worked on in the daze, strangely detached from the world around him, feeling like a familiar ghost among these literary trappings of his former life. He remembered that some one had said that a ghost was the spirit of a man who was dead and who did not have sense enough to know it; and he paused for the moment to wonder if he were really dead did unaware of it. Came the day when "Overdue" was finished. The agent of the type-writer firm had come for the machine, and he sat on the bed while Martin, on the one chair, typed the last pages of the final chapter. "Finis," he wrote, in capitals, at the end, and to him it was indeed finis. He watched the type-writer carried out the door with a feeling of relief, then went over and lay down on the bed. He was faint from hunger. Food had not passed his lips in thirty-six hours, but he did not think about it. He lay on his back, with closed eyes, and did not think at all, while the daze or stupor slowly welled up, saturating his consciousness. Half in delirium, he began muttering aloud the lines of an anonymous poem Brissenden had been fond of quoting to him. Maria, listening anxiously outside his door, was perturbed by his monotonous utterance. The words in themselves were not significant to her, but the fact that he was saying them was. "I have done," was the burden of the poem. "I have done-- Put by the lute. Song and singing soon are over As the airy shades that hover In among the purple clover. I have done-- Put by the lute. Once I sang as early thrushes Sing among the dewy bushes; Now Im mute. I am like a weary linnet, For my throat has no song in it; I have had my singing minute. I have done. Put by the lute." Maria could stand it no longer, and hurried away to the stove, where she filled a quart-bowl with soup, putting into it the lions share of chopped meat and vegetables which her ladle scraped from the bottom of the pot. Martin roused himself and sat up and began to eat, between spoonfuls reassuring Maria that he had not been talking in his sleep and that he did not have any fever. After she left him he sat drearily,

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