Martin Eden HTML version

Chapter 31
Martin had encountered his sister Gertrude by chance on Broadway - as it
proved, a most propitious yet disconcerting chance. Waiting on the corner for a
car, she had seen him first, and noted the eager, hungry lines of his face and the
desperate, worried look of his eyes. In truth, he was desperate and worried. He
had just come from a fruitless interview with the pawnbroker, from whom he had
tried to wring an additional loan on his wheel. The muddy fall weather having
come on, Martin had pledged his wheel some time since and retained his black
"There's the black suit," the pawnbroker, who knew his every asset, had
answered. "You needn't tell me you've gone and pledged it with that Jew, Lipka.
Because if you have - "
The man had looked the threat, and Martin hastened to cry:-
"No, no; I've got it. But I want to wear it on a matter of business."
"All right," the mollified usurer had replied. "And I want it on a matter of business
before I can let you have any more money. You don't think I'm in it for my
"But it's a forty-dollar wheel, in good condition," Martin had argued. "And you've
only let me have seven dollars on it. No, not even seven. Six and a quarter; you
took the interest in advance."
"If you want some more, bring the suit," had been the reply that sent Martin out of
the stuffy little den, so desperate at heart as to reflect it in his face and touch his
sister to pity.
Scarcely had they met when the Telegraph Avenue car came along and stopped
to take on a crowd of afternoon shoppers. Mrs. Higginbotham divined from the
grip on her arm as he helped her on, that he was not going to follow her. She
turned on the step and looked down upon him. His haggard face smote her to the
heart again.
"Ain't you comin'?" she asked
The next moment she had descended to his side.
"I'm walking - exercise, you know," he explained.