upon Gayleys Classic Myths and Bulfinchs Age of Fable, side by side on a library shelf. It was illumination, a great light in the darkness of his ignorance, and he read poetry more avidly than ever.
The man at the desk in the library had seen Martin there so often that he had become quite cordial, always greeting him with a smile and a nod when he entered. It was because of this that Martin did a daring thing. Drawing out some books at the desk, and while the man was stamping the cards, Martin blurted out:-
Say, theres something Id like to ask you.
The man smiled and paid attention.
When you meet a young lady an she asks you to call, how soon can you call?
Martin felt his shirt press and cling to his shoulders, what of the sweat of the effort.
Why Id say any time, the man answered.
Yes, but this is different, Martin objected. She I well, you see, its this way: maybe she wont be there. She goes to the university.
Then call again.
What I said aint what I meant, Martin confessed falteringly, while he made up his mind to throw himself wholly upon the others mercy. Im just a rough sort of a fellow, an I aint never seen anything of society. This girl is all that I aint, an I aint anything that she is. You dont think Im playin the fool, do you? he demanded abruptly.
No, no; not at all, I assure you, the other protested. Your request is not exactly in the scope of the reference department, but I shall be only too pleased to assist you.
Martin looked at him admiringly.
If I could tear it off that way, Id be all right, he said.
I beg pardon?
I mean if I could talk easy that way, an polite, an all the rest.
Oh, said the other, with comprehension.
What is the best time to call? The afternoon? not too close to meal-time? Or the evening? Or Sunday?
Ill tell you, the librarian said with a brightening face. You call her up on the telephone and find out.
Ill do it, he said, picking up his books and starting away.
He turned back and asked:-
When youre speakin to a young lady say, for instance, Miss Lizzie Smith do you say Miss Lizzie? or Miss Smith?
Say Miss Smith, the librarian stated authoritatively. Say Miss Smith always until you come to know her better.
So it was that Martin Eden solved the problem.
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