Martin paused to think. The prospect was alluring. A few months of it, and he would have time to himself for study. He could work hard and study hard.
Good grub an a room to yourself, Joe said.
That settled it. A room to himself where he could burn the midnight oil unmolested.
But work like hell, the other added.
Martin caressed his swelling shoulder-muscles significantly. That came from hard work.
Then lets get to it. Joe held his hand to his head for a moment. Gee, but its a stem-winder. Can hardly see. I went down the line last night everything everything. Heres the frame-up. The wages for two is a hundred and board. Ive ben drawin down sixty, the second man forty. But he knew the biz. Youre green. If I break you in, Ill be doing plenty of your work at first. Suppose you begin at thirty, an work up to the forty. Ill play fair. Just as soon as you can do your share you get the forty.
Ill go you, Martin announced, stretching out his hand, which the other shook. Any advance? for rail-road ticket and extras?
I blew it in, was Joes sad answer, with another reach at his aching head. All I got is a return ticket.
And Im broke when I pay my board.
Jump it, Joe advised.
Cant. Owe it to my sister.
Joe whistled a long, perplexed whistle, and racked his brains to little purpose.
Ive got the price of the drinks, he said desperately. Come on, an mebbe well cook up something.
This time Martin nodded, and Joe lamented, Wish I was.
But I somehow just cant, he said in extenuation. After Ive ben workin like hell all week I just got to booze up. If I didnt, Id cut my throat or burn up the premises. But Im glad youre on the wagon. Stay with it.
Martin knew of the enormous gulf between him and this man the gulf the books had made; but he found no difficulty in crossing back over that gulf. He had lived all his life in the working-class world, and the camaraderie of labor was second nature with him. He solved the difficulty of transportation that was too much for the others aching head. He would send his trunk up to Shelly Hot Springs on Joes ticket. As for himself, there was his wheel. It was seventy miles, and he could ride it on Sunday and be ready for work Monday morning. In the meantime he would go home and pack up. There was no one to say good-by to. Ruth and her whole family were spending the long summer in the Sierras, at Lake Tahoe.
He arrived at Shelly Hot Springs, tired and dusty, on Sunday night. Joe greeted him exuberantly. With a wet towel bound about his aching brow, he had been at work all day.
Part of last weeks washin mounted up, me bein away to get you, he explained. Your box arrived all right. Its in your room. But its a hell of a thing to call a trunk. An whats in it? Gold bricks?
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