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Martin Eden 67







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Books:

Martin Eden

The Pickwick Papers

The Sea Wolf




worse--nearly everything, anyway." After breakfast he put the type-writer in its case and carried it down into Oakland. "I owe a month on it," he told the clerk in the store. "But you tell the manager Im going to work and that Ill be in in a month or so and straighten up." He crossed on the ferry to San Francisco and made his way to an employment office. "Any kind of work, no trade," he told the agent; and was interrupted by a new-comer, dressed rather foppishly, as some workingmen dress who have instincts for finer things. The agent shook his head despondently. "Nothin doin eh?" said the other. "Well, I got to get somebody to-day." He turned and stared at Martin, and Martin, staring back, noted the puffed and discolored face, handsome and weak, and knew that he had been making a night of it. "Lookin for a job?" the other queried. "What can you do?" "Hard labor, sailorizing, run a type-writer, no shorthand, can sit on a horse, willing to do anything and tackle anything," was the answer. The other nodded. "Sounds good to me. My names Dawson, Joe Dawson, an Im tryin to scare up a laundryman." "Too much for me." Martin caught an amusing glimpse of himself ironing fluffy white things that women wear. But he had taken a liking to the other, and he added: "I might do the plain washing. I learned that much at sea." Joe Dawson thought visibly for a moment. "Look here, lets get together an frame it up. Willin to listen?" Martin nodded. "This is a small laundry, up country, belongs to Shelly Hot Springs,--hotel, you know. Two men do the work, boss and assistant. Im the boss. You dont work for me, but you work under me. Think youd be willin to learn?" Martin paused to think. The prospect was alluring. A few months of it, and he would have time to himself for study. He could work hard and study hard. "Good grub an a room to yourself," Joe said. That settled it. A room to himself where he could burn the midnight oil unmolested. "But work like hell," the other added. Martin caressed his swelling shoulder-muscles significantly. "That came from hard work." "Then lets get to it." Joe held his hand to his head for a moment. "Gee, but its a stem-winder. Can hardly see. I went down the line last night--everything--everything. Heres the frame-up. The wages for two is a hundred and board. Ive ben drawin down sixty, the second man forty. But he knew the biz. Youre green. If I break you in, Ill be doing plenty of your work at first. Suppose you begin at thirty, an work up to the forty. Ill play fair. Just as soon as you can do your share you get the forty." "Ill go you," Martin announced, stretching out his hand, which the other shook. "Any advance?--for rail-road ticket and extras?" "I blew it in," was Joes sad answer, with another reach at his aching head. "All I got is a return ticket." "And Im broke--when I pay my board." "Jump it," Joe advised. "Cant. Owe it to my sister." Joe whistled a long, perplexed whistle, and racked his brains to little purpose. "Ive got the price of the drinks," he said desperately. "Come on, an mebbe well cook up something." Martin declined. "Water-wagon?" This time Martin nodded, and Joe lamented, "Wish I was." "But I somehow just cant," he said in extenuation. "After Ive ben workin like hell all week I just got to booze up. If I didnt, Id cut my throat or burn up the premises. But Im glad youre on the wagon. Stay with it." Martin knew of the enormous gulf between him and this man--the gulf the books had made; but he found no difficulty in crossing back over that gulf. He had lived all his life in the working-class world, and the camaraderie of labor was second nature with him. He solved the difficulty of transportation that was too much for the others aching head. He would send his trunk up to Shelly Hot Springs on Joes ticket. As for himself, there was his wheel. It was seventy miles, and he could ride it on Sunday and be ready for work Monday morning. In the meantime he would go home and pack

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