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Martin Eden 176

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Martin Eden

The Pickwick Papers

The Sea Wolf

the neighborhood. He hadnt said how much it would cost. But he knew. He had figured it out a score of times. "At the way lumber is now," he said, "four thousand could do it." "Including the sign?" "I didnt count on that. Itd just have to come, onct the buildin was there." "And the ground?" "Three thousand more." He leaned forward, licking his lips, nervously spreading and closing his fingers, while he watched Martin write a check. When it was passed over to him, he glanced at the amount-seven thousand dollars. "I--I cant afford to pay more than six per cent," he said huskily. Martin wanted to laugh, but, instead, demanded:- "How much would that be?" "Lemme see. Six per cent--six times seven--four hundred an twenty." "That would be thirty-five dollars a month, wouldnt it?" Higginbotham nodded. "Then, if youve no objection, well arrange it this way." Martin glanced at Gertrude. "You can have the principal to keep for yourself, if youll use the thirty-five dollars a month for cooking and washing and scrubbing. The seven thousand is yours if youll guarantee that Gertrude does no more drudgery. Is it a go?" Mr. Higginbotham swallowed hard. That his wife should do no more housework was an affront to his thrifty soul. The magnificent present was the coating of a pill, a bitter pill. That his wife should not work! It gagged him. "All right, then," Martin said. "Ill pay the thirty-five a month, and--" He reached across the table for the check. But Bernard Higginbotham got his hand on it first, crying: "I accept! I accept!" When Martin got on the electric car, he was very sick and tired. He looked up at the assertive sign. "The swine," he groaned. "The swine, the swine." When Mackintoshs Magazine published "The Palmist," featuring it with decorations by Berthier and with two pictures by Wenn, Hermann von Schmidt forgot that he had called the verses obscene. He announced that his wife had inspired the poem, saw to it that the news reached the ears of a reporter, and submitted to an interview by a staff writer who was accompanied by a staff photographer and a staff artist. The result was a full page in a Sunday supplement, filled with photographs and idealized drawings of Marian, with many intimate details of Martin Eden and his family, and with the full text of "The Palmist" in large type, and republished by special permission of Mackintoshs Magazine. It caused quite a stir in the neighborhood, and good housewives were proud to have the acquaintances of the great writers sister, while those who had not made haste to cultivate it. Hermann von Schmidt chuckled in his little repair shop and decided to order a new lathe. "Better than advertising," he told Marian, "and it costs nothing." "Wed better have him to dinner," she suggested. And to dinner Martin came, making himself agreeable with the fat wholesale butcher and his fatter wife--important folk, they, likely to be of use to a rising young man like Hermann Von Schmidt. No less a bait, however, had been required to draw them to his house than his great brother-in-law. Another man at table who had swallowed the same bait was the superintendent of the Pacific Coast agencies for the Asa Bicycle Company. Him Von Schmidt desired to please and propitiate because from him could be obtained the Oakland agency for the bicycle. So Hermann von Schmidt found it a goodly asset to have Martin for a brother-in-law, but in his heart of hearts he couldnt understand where it all came in. In the silent watches of the night, while his wife slept, he had floundered through Martins books and poems, and decided that the world was a fool to buy them. And in his heart of hearts Martin understood the situation only too well, as he leaned back and gloated at Von Schmidts head, in fancy punching it well-nigh off of him, sending blow after blow home just right--the chuckle-headed Dutchman! One thing he did like about him, however. Poor as he was, and determined to rise as he was, he nevertheless hired one servant to take the heavy work off of Marians hands. Martin talked with the superintendent of the Asa agencies, and after dinner he drew him aside with Hermann, whom he backed financially for the best bicycle store with fittings in Oakland. He went further,

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