Chapter 34

Arthur remained at the gate while Ruth climbed Maria’s front steps. She heard the rapid click of the type-writer, and when Martin let her in, found him on the last page of a manuscript. She had come to make certain whether or not he would be at their table for Thanksgiving dinner; but before she could broach the subject Martin plunged into the one with which he was full.

“Here, let me read you this,” he cried, separating the carbon copies and running the pages of manuscript into shape. “It’s my latest, and different from anything I’ve done. It is so altogether different that I am almost afraid of it, and yet I’ve a sneaking idea it is good. You be judge. It’s an Hawaiian story. I’ve called it ‘Wiki-wiki.’”

His face was bright with the creative glow, though she shivered in the cold room and had been struck by the coldness of his hands at greeting. She listened closely while he read, and though he from time to time had seen only disapprobation in her face, at the close he asked:-

“Frankly, what do you think of it?”

“I — I don’t know,” she, answered. “Will it — do you think it will sell?”

“I’m afraid not,” was the confession. “It’s too strong for the magazines. But it’s true, on my word it’s true.”

“But why do you persist in writing such things when you know they won’t sell?” she went on inexorably. “The reason for your writing is to make a living, isn’t it?”

“Yes, that’s right; but the miserable story got away with me. I couldn’t help writing it. It demanded to be written.”

“But that character, that Wiki-Wiki, why do you make him talk so roughly? Surely it will offend your readers, and surely that is why the editors are justified in refusing your work.”

“Because the real Wiki-Wiki would have talked that way.”

“But it is not good taste.”

“It is life,” he replied bluntly. “It is real. It is true. And I must write life as I see it.”

She made no answer, and for an awkward moment they sat silent. It was because he loved her that he did not quite understand her, and she could not understand him because he was so large that he bulked beyond her horizon

“Well, I’ve collected from the Transcontinental,” he said in an effort to shift the conversation to a more comfortable subject. The picture of the bewhiskered trio, as he had last seen them, mulcted of four dollars and ninety cents and a ferry ticket, made him chuckle.

“Then you’ll come!” she cried joyously. “That was what I came to find out.”

“Come?” he muttered absently. “Where?”

“Why, to dinner to-morrow. You know you said you’d recover your suit if you got that money.”

“I forgot all about it,” he said humbly. “You see, this morning the poundman got Maria’s two cows and the baby calf, and — well, it happened that Maria didn’t have any money, and so I had to recover her cows for her. That’s where the Transcontinental fiver went — ‘The Ring of Bells’ went into the poundman’s pocket.”

“Then you won’t come?”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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