Martin Eden HTML version

Chapter 26
Martin Eden did not go out to hunt for a job in the morning. It was late afternoon
before he came out of his delirium and gazed with aching eyes about the room.
Mary, one of the tribe of Silva, eight years old, keeping watch, raised a screech
at sight of his returning consciousness. Maria hurried into the room from the
kitchen. She put her work-calloused hand upon his hot forehead and felt his
"You lika da eat?" she asked.
He shook his head. Eating was farthest from his desire, and he wondered that he
should ever have been hungry in his life.
"I'm sick, Maria," he said weakly. "What is it? Do you know?"
"Grip," she answered. "Two or three days you alla da right. Better you no eat
now. Bimeby plenty can eat, to-morrow can eat maybe."
Martin was not used to sickness, and when Maria and her little girl left him, he
essayed to get up and dress. By a supreme exertion of will, with rearing brain
and eyes that ached so that he could not keep them open, he managed to get
out of bed, only to be left stranded by his senses upon the table. Half an hour
later he managed to regain the bed, where he was content to lie with closed eyes
and analyze his various pains and weaknesses. Maria came in several times to
change the cold cloths on his forehead. Otherwise she left him in peace, too wise
to vex him with chatter. This moved him to gratitude, and he murmured to
himself, "Maria, you getta da milka ranch, all righta, all right."
Then he remembered his long-buried past of yesterday.
It seemed a life-time since he had received that letter from the
TRANSCONTINENTAL, a life-time since it was all over and done with and a new
page turned. He had shot his bolt, and shot it hard, and now he was down on his
back. If he hadn't starved himself, he wouldn't have been caught by La Grippe.
He had been run down, and he had not had the strength to throw off the germ of
disease which had invaded his system. This was what resulted.
"What does it profit a man to write a whole library and lose his own life?" he
demanded aloud. "This is no place for me. No more literature in mine. Me for the
counting-house and ledger, the monthly salary, and the little home with Ruth."