You havent a penny, Mart, and thats why youre walkin. Exercise! She tried to sniff contemptuously, but succeeded in producing only a sniffle. Here, lemme see.
And, fumbling in her satchel, she pressed a five-dollar piece into his hand. I guess I forgot your last birthday, Mart, she mumbled lamely.
Martins hand instinctively closed on the piece of gold. In the same instant he knew he ought not to accept, and found himself struggling in the throes of indecision. That bit of gold meant food, life, and light in his body and brain, power to go on writing, and who was to say? maybe to write something that would bring in many pieces of gold. Clear on his vision burned the manuscripts of two essays he had just completed. He saw them under the table on top of the heap of returned manuscripts for which he had no stamps, and he saw their titles, just as he had typed them The High Priests of Mystery, and The Cradle of Beauty. He had never submitted them anywhere. They were as good as anything he had done in that line. If only he had stamps for them! Then the certitude of his ultimate success rose up in him, an able ally of hunger, and with a quick movement he slipped the coin into his pocket.
Ill pay you back, Gertrude, a hundred times over, he gulped out, his throat painfully contracted and in his eyes a swift hint of moisture.
Mark my words! he cried with abrupt positiveness. Before the year is out Ill put an even hundred of those little yellow-boys into your hand. I dont ask you to believe me. All you have to do is wait and see.
Nor did she believe. Her incredulity made her uncomfortable, and failing of other expedient, she said:-
I know youre hungry, Mart. Its sticking out all over you. Come in to meals any time. Ill send one of the children to tell you when Mr. Higginbotham aint to be there. An Mart
He waited, though he knew in his secret heart what she was about to say, so visible was her thought process to him.
Dont you think its about time you got a job?
You dont think Ill win out? he asked.
She shook her head.
Nobody has faith in me, Gertrude, except myself. His voice was passionately rebellious. Ive done good work already, plenty of it, and sooner or later it will sell.
How do you know it is good?
Because He faltered as the whole vast field of literature and the history of literature stirred in his brain and pointed the futility of his attempting to convey to her the reasons for his faith. Well, because its better than ninety-nine per cent of what is published in the magazines.
I wisht youd listen to reason, she answered feebly, but with unwavering belief in the correctness of her diagnosis of what was ailing him. I wisht youd listen to reason, she repeated, an come to dinner to- morrow.
After Martin had helped her on the car, he hurried to the post-office and invested three of the five dollars in stamps; and when, later in the day, on the way to the Morse home, he stopped in at the post-office to weigh a large number of long, bulky envelopes, he affixed to them all the stamps save three of the two- cent denomination.
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