Martin Eden HTML version

Chapter 32
Promptly, the next afternoon, Maria was excited by Martin's second visitor. But
she did not lose her head this time, for she seated Brissenden in her parlor's
grandeur of respectability.
"Hope you don't mind my coming?" Brissenden began.
"No, no, not at all," Martin answered, shaking hands and waving him to the
solitary chair, himself taking to the bed. "But how did you know where I lived?"
"Called up the Morses. Miss Morse answered the 'phone. And here I am." He
tugged at his coat pocket and flung a thin volume on the table. "There's a book,
by a poet. Read it and keep it." And then, in reply to Martin's protest: "What have
I to do with books? I had another hemorrhage this morning. Got any whiskey?
No, of course not. Wait a minute."
He was off and away. Martin watched his long figure go down the outside steps,
and, on turning to close the gate, noted with a pang the shoulders, which had
once been broad, drawn in now over, the collapsed ruin of the chest. Martin got
two tumblers, and fell to reading the book of verse, Henry Vaughn Marlow's latest
"No Scotch," Brissenden announced on his return. "The beggar sells nothing but
American whiskey. But here's a quart of it."
"I'll send one of the youngsters for lemons, and we'll make a toddy," Martin
"I wonder what a book like that will earn Marlow?" he went on, holding up the
volume in question.
"Possibly fifty dollars," came the answer. "Though he's lucky if he pulls even on it,
or if he can inveigle a publisher to risk bringing it out."
"Then one can't make a living out of poetry?"
Martin's tone and face alike showed his dejection.
"Certainly not. What fool expects to? Out of rhyming, yes. There's Bruce, and
Virginia Spring, and Sedgwick. They do very nicely. But poetry - do you know
how Vaughn Marlow makes his living? - teaching in a boys' cramming-joint down
in Pennsylvania, and of all private little hells such a billet is the limit. I wouldn't
trade places with him if he had fifty years of life before him. And yet his work