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Martin Eden 164

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Martin Eden

The Pickwick Papers

The Sea Wolf

I dont need a job, and theres the proof of it." He emptied the hundred gold pieces into her lap in a glinting, tinkling stream. "You remember that fiver you gave me the time I didnt have carfare? Well, there it is, with ninety-nine brothers of different ages but all of the same size." If Gertrude had been frightened when she arrived, she was now in a panic of fear. Her fear was such that it was certitude. She was not suspicious. She was convinced. She looked at Martin in horror, and her heavy limbs shrank under the golden stream as though it were burning her. "Its yours," he laughed. She burst into tears, and began to moan, "My poor boy, my poor boy!" He was puzzled for a moment. Then he divined the cause of her agitation and handed her the Meredith-Lowell letter which had accompanied the check. She stumbled through it, pausing now and again to wipe her eyes, and when she had finished, said:- "An does it mean that you come by the money honestly?" "More honestly than if Id won it in a lottery. I earned it." Slowly faith came back to her, and she reread the letter carefully. It took him long to explain to her the nature of the transaction which had put the money into his possession, and longer still to get her to understand that the money was really hers and that he did not need it. "Ill put it in the bank for you," she said finally. "Youll do nothing of the sort. Its yours, to do with as you please, and if you wont take it, Ill give it to Maria. Shell know what to do with it. Id suggest, though, that you hire a servant and take a good long rest." "Im goin to tell Bernard all about it," she announced, when she was leaving. Martin winced, then grinned. "Yes, do," he said. "And then, maybe, hell invite me to dinner again." "Yes, he will--Im sure he will!" she exclaimed fervently, as she drew him to her and kissed and hugged him.


One day Martin became aware that he was lonely. He was healthy and strong, and had nothing to do. The cessation from writing and studying, the death of Brissenden, and the estrangement from Ruth had made a big hole in his life; and his life refused to be pinned down to good living in cafes and the smoking of Egyptian cigarettes. It was true the South Seas were calling to him, but he had a feeling that the game was not yet played out in the United States. Two books were soon to be published, and he had more books that might find publication. Money could be made out of them, and he would wait and take a sackful of it into the South Seas. He knew a valley and a bay in the Marquesas that he could buy for a thousand Chili dollars. The valley ran from the horseshoe, land-locked bay to the tops of the dizzy, cloud-capped peaks and contained perhaps ten thousand acres. It was filled with tropical fruits, wild chickens, and wild pigs, with an occasional herd of wild cattle, while high up among the peaks were herds of wild goats harried by packs of wild dogs. The whole place was wild. Not a human lived in it. And he could buy it and the bay for a thousand Chili dollars. The bay, as he remembered it, was magnificent, with water deep enough to accommodate the largest vessel afloat, and so safe that the South Pacific Directory recommended it to the best careening place for ships for hundreds of miles around. He would buy a schooner--one of those yacht- like, coppered crafts that sailed like witches--and go trading copra and pearling among the islands. He would make the valley and the bay his headquarters. He would build a patriarchal grass house like Tatis, and have it and the valley and the schooner filled with dark-skinned servitors. He would entertain there the factor of Taiohae, captains of wandering traders, and all the best of the South Pacific riffraff. He would keep open house and entertain like a prince. And he would forget the books he had opened and the world that had proved an illusion. To do all this he must wait in California

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