The alarm-clock went off, jerking Martin out of sleep with a suddenness that would have given headache to one with less splendid constitution. Though he slept soundly, he awoke instantly, like a cat, and he awoke eagerly, glad that the five hours of unconsciousness were gone. He hated the oblivion of sleep. There was too much to do, too much of life to live. He grudged every moment of life sleep robbed him of, and before the clock had ceased its clattering he was head and ears in the washbasin and thrilling to the cold bite of the water.
But he did not follow his regular programme. There was no unfinished story waiting his hand, no new story demanding articulation. He had studied late, and it was nearly time for breakfast. He tried to read a chapter in Fiske, but his brain was restless and he closed the book. To-day witnessed the beginning of the new battle, wherein for some time there would be no writing. He was aware of a sadness akin to that with which one leaves home and family. He looked at the manuscripts in the corner. That was it. He was going away from them, his pitiful, dishonored children that were welcome nowhere. He went over and began to rummage among them, reading snatches here and there, his favorite portions. The Pot he honored with reading aloud, as he did Adventure. Joy, his latest-born, completed the day before and tossed into the corner for lack of stamps, won his keenest approbation.
I cant understand, he murmured. Or maybe its the editors who cant understand. Theres nothing wrong with that. They publish worse every month. Everything they publish is worse nearly everything, anyway.
After breakfast he put the type-writer in its case and carried it down into Oakland.
I owe a month on it, he told the clerk in the store. But you tell the manager Im going to work and that Ill be in in a month or so and straighten up.
He crossed on the ferry to San Francisco and made his way to an employment office. Any kind of work, no trade, he told the agent; and was interrupted by a new-comer, dressed rather foppishly, as some workingmen dress who have instincts for finer things. The agent shook his head despondently.
Nothin doin eh? said the other. Well, I got to get somebody to-day.
He turned and stared at Martin, and Martin, staring back, noted the puffed and discolored face, handsome and weak, and knew that he had been making a night of it.
Lookin for a job? the other queried. What can you do?
Hard labor, sailorizing, run a type-writer, no shorthand, can sit on a horse, willing to do anything and tackle anything, was the answer.
The other nodded.
Sounds good to me. My names Dawson, Joe Dawson, an Im tryin to scare up a laundryman.
Too much for me. Martin caught an amusing glimpse of himself ironing fluffy white things that women wear. But he had taken a liking to the other, and he added: I might do the plain washing. I learned that much at sea. Joe Dawson thought visibly for a moment.
Look here, lets get together an frame it up. Willin to listen?
This is a small laundry, up country, belongs to Shelly Hot Springs, hotel, you know. Two men do the work, boss and assistant. Im the boss. You dont work for me, but you work under me. Think youd be willin to learn?
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