Martin Eden HTML version

Chapter 36
"Come on, - I'll show you the real dirt," Brissenden said to him, one evening in
They had dined together in San Francisco, and were at the Ferry Building,
returning to Oakland, when the whim came to him to show Martin the "real dirt."
He turned and fled across the water-front, a meagre shadow in a flapping
overcoat, with Martin straining to keep up with him. At a wholesale liquor store he
bought two gallon-demijohns of old port, and with one in each hand boarded a
Mission Street car, Martin at his heels burdened with several quart-bottles of
If Ruth could see me now, was his thought, while he wondered as to what
constituted the real dirt.
"Maybe nobody will be there," Brissenden said, when they dismounted and
plunged off to the right into the heart of the working-class ghetto, south of Market
Street. "In which case you'll miss what you've been looking for so long."
"And what the deuce is that?" Martin asked.
"Men, intelligent men, and not the gibbering nonentities I found you consorting
with in that trader's den. You read the books and you found yourself all alone.
Well, I'm going to show you to-night some other men who've read the books, so
that you won't be lonely any more."
"Not that I bother my head about their everlasting discussions," he said at the
end of a block. "I'm not interested in book philosophy. But you'll find these fellows
intelligences and not bourgeois swine. But watch out, they'll talk an arm off of you
on any subject under the sun."
"Hope Norton's there," he panted a little later, resisting Martin's effort to relieve
him of the two demijohns. "Norton's an idealist - a Harvard man. Prodigious
memory. Idealism led him to philosophic anarchy, and his family threw him off.
Father's a railroad president and many times millionnaire, but the son's starving
in 'Frisco, editing an anarchist sheet for twenty-five a month."
Martin was little acquainted in San Francisco, and not at all south of Market; so
he had no idea of where he was being led.
"Go ahead," he said; "tell me about them beforehand. What do they do for a
living? How do they happen to be here?"