Martin Eden HTML version

Chapter 33
Martin was steadily losing his battle. Economize as he would, the earnings from
hack-work did not balance expenses. Thanksgiving found him with his black suit
in pawn and unable to accept the Morses' invitation to dinner. Ruth was not made
happy by his reason for not coming, and the corresponding effect on him was
one of desperation. He told her that he would come, after all; that he would go
over to San Francisco, to the TRANSCONTINENTAL office, collect the five
dollars due him, and with it redeem his suit of clothes.
In the morning he borrowed ten cents from Maria. He would have borrowed it, by
preference, from Brissenden, but that erratic individual had disappeared. Two
weeks had passed since Martin had seen him, and he vainly cudgelled his brains
for some cause of offence. The ten cents carried Martin across the ferry to San
Francisco, and as he walked up Market Street he speculated upon his
predicament in case he failed to collect the money. There would then be no way
for him to return to Oakland, and he knew no one in San Francisco from whom to
borrow another ten cents.
The door to the TRANSCONTINENTAL office was ajar, and Martin, in the act of
opening it, was brought to a sudden pause by a loud voice from within, which
exclaimed:- "But that is not the question, Mr. Ford." (Ford, Martin knew, from his
correspondence, to be the editor's name.) "The question is, are you prepared to
pay? - cash, and cash down, I mean? I am not interested in the prospects of the
TRANSCONTINENTAL and what you expect to make it next year. What I want is
to be paid for what I do. And I tell you, right now, the Christmas
TRANSCONTINENTAL don't go to press till I have the money in my hand. Good
day. When you get the money, come and see me."
The door jerked open, and the man flung past Martin, with an angry countenance
and went down the corridor, muttering curses and clenching his fists. Martin
decided not to enter immediately, and lingered in the hallways for a quarter of an
hour. Then he shoved the door open and walked in. It was a new experience, the
first time he had been inside an editorial office. Cards evidently were not
necessary in that office, for the boy carried word to an inner room that there was
a man who wanted to see Mr. Ford. Returning, the boy beckoned him from
halfway across the room and led him to the private office, the editorial sanctum.
Martin's first impression was of the disorder and cluttered confusion of the room.
Next he noticed a bewhiskered, youthful-looking man, sitting at a roll-top desk,
who regarded him curiously. Martin marvelled at the calm repose of his face. It
was evident that the squabble with the printer had not affected his equanimity.
"I - I am Martin Eden," Martin began the conversation. ("And I want my five
dollars," was what he would have liked to say.)