So Martin did not scorch that, and eased down on his muscular tension, though nervous tension rose higher than ever, and he listened sympathetically to the others blasphemies as he toiled and suffered over the beautiful things that women wear when they do not have to do their own laundrying. Fancy starch was Martins nightmare, and it was Joes, too. It was fancy starch that robbed them of their hard-won minutes. They toiled at it all day. At seven in the evening they broke off to run the hotel linen through the mangle. At ten oclock, while the hotel guests slept, the two laundrymen sweated on at fancy starch till midnight, till one, till two. At half-past two they knocked off.
Saturday morning it was fancy starch, and odds and ends, and at three in the afternoon the weeks work was done.
You aint a-goin to ride them seventy miles into Oakland on top of this? Joe demanded, as they sat on the stairs and took a triumphant smoke.
Got to, was the answer.
What are you goin for? a girl?
No; to save two and a half on the railroad ticket. I want to renew some books at the library.
Why dont you send em down an up by express? Thatll cost only a quarter each way.
Martin considered it.
An take a rest to-morrow, the other urged. You need it. I know I do. Im plumb tuckered out.
He looked it. Indomitable, never resting, fighting for seconds and minutes all week, circumventing delays and crushing down obstacles, a fount of resistless energy, a high-driven human motor, a demon for work, now that he had accomplished the weeks task he was in a state of collapse. He was worn and haggard, and his handsome face drooped in lean exhaustion. He pulled his cigarette spiritlessly, and his voice was peculiarly dead and monotonous. All the snap and fire had gone out of him. His triumph seemed a sorry one.
An next week we got to do it all over again, he said sadly. An whats the good of it all, hey? Sometimes I wish I was a hobo. They dont work, an they get their livin. Gee! I wish I had a glass of beer; but I cant get up the gumption to go down to the village an get it. Youll stay over, an send your books dawn by express, or else youre a damn fool.
But what can I do here all day Sunday? Martin asked.
Rest. You dont know how tired you are. Why, Im that tired Sunday I cant even read the papers. I was sick once typhoid. In the hospital two months an a half. Didnt do a tap of work all that time. It was beautiful.
It was beautiful, he repeated dreamily, a minute later.
Martin took a bath, after which he found that the head laundryman had disappeared. Most likely he had gone for a glass of beer Martin decided, but the half-mile walk down to the village to find out seemed a long journey to him. He lay on his bed with his shoes off, trying to make up his mind. He did not reach out for a book. He was too tired to feel sleepy, and he lay, scarcely thinking, in a semi-stupor of weariness, until it was time for supper. Joe did not appear for that function, and when Martin heard the gardener remark that most likely he was ripping the slats off the bar, Martin understood. He went to bed immediately afterward, and in the morning decided that he was greatly rested. Joe being still absent, Martin procured a Sunday paper and lay down in a shady nook under the trees. The morning passed, he knew not how. He did not sleep, nobody disturbed him, and he did not finish the paper. He came back to it in the afternoon, after dinner, and fell asleep over it.
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