“There’s just one thing that prevents me from taking you.” Brissenden waited a moment. “The thing is big — the biggest I’ve ever done. I know that. It’s my swan song. I am almighty proud of it. I worship it. It’s better than whiskey. It is what I dreamed of — the great and perfect thing — when I was a simple young man, with sweet illusions and clean ideals. And I’ve got it, now, in my last grasp, and I’ll not have it pawed over and soiled by a lot of swine. No, I won’t take the bet. It’s mine. I made it, and I’ve shared it with you.”

“But think of the rest of the world,” Martin protested. “The function of beauty is joy-making.”

“It’s my beauty.”

“Don’t be selfish.”

“I’m not selfish.” Brissenden grinned soberly in the way he had when pleased by the thing his thin lips were about to shape. “I’m as unselfish as a famished hog.”

In vain Martin strove to shake him from his decision. Martin told him that his hatred of the magazines was rabid, fanatical, and that his conduct was a thousand times more despicable than that of the youth who burned the temple of Diana at Ephesus. Under the storm of denunciation Brissenden complacently sipped his toddy and affirmed that everything the other said was quite true, with the exception of the magazine editors. His hatred of them knew no bounds, and he excelled Martin in denunciation when he turned upon them.

“I wish you’d type it for me,” he said. “You know how a thousand times better than any stenographer. And now I want to give you some advice.” He drew a bulky manuscript from his outside coat pocket. “Here’s your ‘Shame of the Sun.’ I’ve read it not once, but twice and three times — the highest compliment I can pay you. After what you’ve said about ‘Ephemera’ I must be silent. But this I will say: when ’The Shame of the Sun’ is published, it will make a hit. It will start a controversy that will be worth thousands to you just in advertising.”

Martin laughed. “I suppose your next advice will be to submit it to the magazines.”

“By all means no — that is, if you want to see it in print. Offer it to the first-class houses. Some publisher’s reader may be mad enough or drunk enough to report favorably on it. You’ve read the books. The meat of them has been transmuted in the alembic of Martin Eden’s mind and poured into ‘The Shame of the Sun,’ and one day Martin Eden will be famous, and not the least of his fame will rest upon that work. So you must get a publisher for it — the sooner the better.”

Brissenden went home late that night; and just as he mounted the first step of the car, he swung suddenly back on Martin and thrust into his hand a small, tightly crumpled wad of paper.

“Here, take this,” he said. “I was out to the races to-day, and I had the right dope.”

The bell clanged and the car pulled out, leaving Martin wondering as to the nature of the crinkly, greasy wad he clutched in his hand. Back in his room he unrolled it and found a hundred-dollar bill.

He did not scruple to use it. He knew his friend had always plenty of money, and he knew also, with profound certitude, that his success would enable him to repay it. In the morning he paid every bill, gave Maria three months’ advance on the room, and redeemed every pledge at the pawnshop. Next he bought Marian’s wedding present, and simpler presents, suitable to Christmas, for Ruth and Gertrude. And finally, on the balance remaining to him, he herded the whole Silva tribe down into Oakland. He was a winter late in redeeming his promise, but redeemed it was, for the last, least Silva got a pair of shoes, as well as Maria herself. Also, there were horns, and dolls, and toys of various sorts, and parcels and bundles of candies and nuts that filled the arms of all the Silvas to overflowing.

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