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马丁·伊登(MARTIN EDEN)第十六章

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The alarm-clock went off, jerking Martin out of sleep with a suddenness that would have given headache to one with less splendid constitution. Though he slept soundly, he awoke instantly, like a cat, and he awoke eagerly, glad that the five hours of unconsciousness were gone. He hated the oblivion of sleep. There was too much to do, too much of life to live. He grudged every moment of life sleep robbed him of, and before the clock had ceased its clattering he was head and ears in the washbasin and thrilling to the cold bite of the water.

But he did not follow his regular programme. There was no unfinished story waiting his hand, no new story demanding articulation. He had studied late, and it was nearly time for breakfast. He tried to read a chapter in Fiske, but his brain was restless and he closed the book. To-day witnessed the beginning of the new battle, wherein for some time there would be no writing. He was aware of a sadness akin to that with which one leaves home and family. He looked at the manuscripts in the corner. That was it. He was going away from them, his pitiful, dishonored children that were welcome nowhere. He went over and began to rummage among them, reading snatches here and there, his favorite portions. "The Pot" he honored with reading aloud, as he did "Adventure." "Joy," his latest-born, completed the day before and tossed into the corner for lack of stamps, won his keenest approbation.

"I can't understand," he murmured. "Or maybe it's the editors who can't understand. There's nothing wrong with that. They publish worse every month. Everything they publish is worse - nearly everything, anyway."

After breakfast he put the type-writer in its case and carried it down into Oakland.

"I owe a month on it," he told the clerk in the store. "But you tell the manager I'm going to work and that I'll be in in a month or so and straighten up."

He crossed on the ferry to San Francisco and made his way to an employment office. "Any kind of work, no trade," he told the agent; and was interrupted by a new-comer, dressed rather foppishly, as some workingmen dress who have instincts for finer things. The agent shook his head despondently.

"Nothin' doin' eh?" said the other. "Well, I got to get somebody to-day."

He turned and stared at Martin, and Martin, staring back, noted the puffed and discolored face, handsome and weak, and knew that he had been making a night of it.

"Lookin' for a job?" the other queried. "What can you do?"

"Hard labor, sailorizing, run a type-writer, no shorthand, can sit on a horse, willing to do anything and tackle anything," was the answer.

The other nodded.

"Sounds good to me. My name's Dawson, Joe Dawson, an' I'm tryin' to scare up a laundryman."

"Too much for me." Martin caught an amusing glimpse of himself ironing fluffy white things that women wear. But he had taken a liking to the other, and he added: "I might do the plain washing. I learned that much at sea." Joe Dawson thought visibly for a moment.

"Look here, let's get together an' frame it up. Willin' to listen?"

Martin nodded.

"This is a small laundry, up country, belongs to Shelly Hot Springs, - hotel, you know. Two men do the work, boss and assistant. I'm the boss. You don't work for me, but you work under me. Think you'd be willin' to learn?"

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 let's get to it." Joe held his hand to his head for a moment. "Gee, but it's a stem-winder. Can hardly see. I went down the line last night - everything - everything. Here's the frame-up. The wages for two is a hundred and board. I've ben drawin' down sixty, the second man forty. But he knew the biz. You're green. If I break you in, I'll be doing plenty of your work at first. Suppose you begin at thirty, an' work up to the forty. I'll play fair. Just as soon as you can do your share you get the forty."

"I'll 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 Joe's sad answer, with another reach at his aching head. "All I got is a return ticket."

"And I'm broke - when I pay my board."

"Jump it," Joe advised.

"Can't. Owe it to my sister."

Joe whistled a long, perplexed whistle, and racked his brains to little purpose.

"I've got the price of the drinks," he said desperately. "Come on, an' mebbe we'll cook up something."

Martin declined.

"Water-wagon?"

This time Martin nodded, and Joe lamented, "Wish I was."

"But I somehow just can't," he said in extenuation. "After I've ben workin' like hell all week I just got to booze up. If I didn't, I'd cut my throat or burn up the premises. But I'm glad you're 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 other's aching head. He would send his trunk up to Shelly Hot Springs on Joe's 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 week's washin' mounted up, me bein' away to get you," he explained. "Your box arrived all right. It's in your room. But it's a hell of a thing to call a trunk. An' what's in it? Gold bricks?"

Joe sat on the bed while Martin unpacked. The box was a packing- case for breakfast food, and Mr. Higginbotham had charged him half a dollar for it. Two rope handles, nailed on by Martin, had technically transformed it into a trunk eligible for the baggage- car. Joe watched, with bulging eyes, a few shirts and several changes of underclothes come out of the box, followed by books, and more books.

"Books clean to the bottom?" he asked.

Martin nodded, and went on arranging the books on a kitchen table which served in the room in place of a wash-stand.

"Gee!" Joe exploded, then waited in silence for the deduction to arise in his brain. At last it came.

"Say, you don't care for the girls - much?" he queried.

"No," was the answer. "I used to chase a lot before I tackled the books. But since then there's no time."

"And there won't be any time here. All you can do is work an' sleep."

Martin thought of his five hours' sleep a night, and smiled. The room was situated over the laundry and was in the same building with the engine that pumped water, made electricity, and ran the laundry machinery. The engineer, who occupied the adjoining room, dropped in to meet the new hand and helped Martin rig up an electric bulb, on an extension wire, so that it travelled along a stretched cord from over the table to the bed.

The next morning, at quarter-past six, Martin was routed out for a quarter-to-seven breakfast. There happened to be a bath-tub for the servants in the laundry building, and he electrified Joe by taking a cold bath.

"Gee, but you're a hummer!" Joe announced, as they sat down to breakfast in a corner of the hotel kitchen.

With them was the engineer, the gardener, and the assistant gardener, and two or three men from the stable. They ate hurriedly and gloomily, with but little conversation, and as Martin ate and listened he realized how far he had travelled from their status. Their small mental caliber was depressing to him, and he was anxious to get away from them. So he bolted his breakfast, a sickly, sloppy affair, as rapidly as they, and heaved a sigh of relief when he passed out through the kitchen door.

It was a perfectly appointed, small steam laundry, wherein the most modern machinery did everything that was possible for machinery to do. Martin, after a few instructions, sorted the great heaps of soiled clothes, while Joe started the masher and made up fresh supplies of soft-soap, compounded of biting chemicals that compelled him to swathe his mouth and nostrils and eyes in bath- towels till he resembled a mummy. Finished the sorting, Martin lent a hand in wringing the clothes. This was done by dumping them into a spinning receptacle that went at a rate of a few thousand revolutions a minute, tearing the matter from the clothes by centrifugal force. Then Martin began to alternate between the dryer and the wringer, between times "shaking out" socks and stockings. By the afternoon, one feeding and one, stacking up, they were running socks and stockings through the mangle while the irons were heating. Then it was hot irons and underclothes till six o'clock, at which time Joe shook his head dubiously.

"Way behind," he said. "Got to work after supper." And after supper they worked until ten o'clock, under the blazing electric lights, until the last piece of under-clothing was ironed and folded away in the distributing room. It was a hot California night, and though the windows were thrown wide, the room, with its red-hot ironing-stove, was a furnace. Martin and Joe, down to undershirts, bare armed, sweated and panted for air.

"Like trimming cargo in the tropics," Martin said, when they went upstairs.

"You'll do," Joe answered. "You take hold like a good fellow. If you keep up the pace, you'll be on thirty dollars only one month. The second month you'll be gettin' your forty. But don't tell me you never ironed before. I know better."

"Never ironed a rag in my life, honestly, until to-day," Martin protested.

He was surprised at his weariness when he act into his room, forgetful of the fact that he had been on his feet and working without let up for fourteen hours. He set the alarm clock at six, and measured back five hours to one o'clock. He could read until then. Slipping off his shoes, to ease his swollen feet, he sat down at the table with his books. He opened Fiske, where he had left off to read. But he found trouble began to read it through a second time. Then he awoke, in pain from his stiffened muscles and chilled by the mountain wind that had begun to blow in through the window. He looked at the clock. It marked two. He had been asleep four hours. He pulled off his clothes and crawled into bed, where he was asleep the moment after his head touched the pillow.

Tuesday was a day of similar unremitting toil. The speed with which Joe worked won Martin's admiration. Joe was a dozen of demons for work. He was keyed up to concert pitch, and there was never a moment in the long day when he was not fighting for moments. He concentrated himself upon his work and upon how to save time, pointing out to Martin where he did in five motions what could be done in three, or in three motions what could be done in two. "Elimination of waste motion," Martin phrased it as he watched and patterned after. He was a good workman himself, quick and deft, and it had always been a point of pride with him that no man should do any of his work for him or outwork him. As a result, he concentrated with a similar singleness of purpose, greedily snapping up the hints and suggestions thrown out by his working mate. He "rubbed out' collars and cuffs, rubbing the starch out from between the double thicknesses of linen so that there would be no blisters when it came to the ironing, and doing it at a pace that elicited Joe's praise.

There was never an interval when something was not at hand to be done. Joe waited for nothing, waited on nothing, and went on the jump from task to task. They starched two hundred white shirts, with a single gathering movement seizing a shirt so that the wristbands, neckband, yoke, and bosom protruded beyond the circling right hand. At the same moment the left hand held up the body of the shirt so that it would not enter the starch, and at the moment the right hand dipped into the starch - starch so hot that, in order to wring it out, their hands had to thrust, and thrust continually, into a bucket of cold water. And that night they worked till half-past ten, dipping "fancy starch" - all the frilled and airy, delicate wear of ladies.

"Me for the tropics and no clothes," Martin laughed.

"And me out of a job," Joe answered seriously. "I don't know nothin' but laundrying."

"And you know it well."

"I ought to. Began in the Contra Costa in Oakland when I was eleven, shakin' out for the mangle. That was eighteen years ago, an' I've never done a tap of anything else. But this job is the fiercest I ever had. Ought to be one more man on it at least. We work to-morrow night. Always run the mangle Wednesday nights - collars an' cuffs."

Martin set his alarm, drew up to the table, and opened Fiske. He did not finish the first paragraph. The lines blurred and ran together and his head nodded. He walked up and down, batting his head savagely with his fists, but he could not conquer the numbness of sleep. He propped the book before him, and propped his eyelids with his fingers, and fell asleep with his eyes wide open. Then he surrendered, and, scarcely conscious of what he did, got off his clothes and into bed. He slept seven hours of heavy, animal-like sleep, and awoke by the alarm, feeling that he had not had enough.

"Doin' much readin'?" Joe asked.

Martin shook his head.

"Never mind. We got to run the mangle to-night, but Thursday we'll knock off at six. That'll give you a chance."

Martin washed woollens that day, by hand, in a large barrel, with strong soft-soap, by means of a hub from a wagon wheel, mounted on a plunger-pole that was attached to a spring-pole overhead.

"My invention," Joe said proudly. "Beats a washboard an' your knuckles, and, besides, it saves at least fifteen minutes in the week, an' fifteen minutes ain't to be sneezed at in this shebang."

Running the collars and cuffs through the mangle was also Joe's idea. That night, while they toiled on under the electric lights, he explained it.

"Something no laundry ever does, except this one. An' I got to do it if I'm goin' to get done Saturday afternoon at three o'clock. But I know how, an' that's the difference. Got to have right heat, right pressure, and run 'em through three times. Look at that!" He held a cuff aloft. "Couldn't do it better by hand or on a tiler."

Thursday, Joe was in a rage. A bundle of extra "fancy starch" had come in.

"I'm goin' to quit," he announced. "I won't stand for it. I'm goin' to quit it cold. What's the good of me workin' like a slave all week, a-savin' minutes, an' them a-comin' an' ringin' in fancy- starch extras on me? This is a free country, an' I'm to tell that fat Dutchman what I think of him. An' I won't tell 'm in French. Plain United States is good enough for me. Him a-ringin' in fancy starch extras!"

"We got to work to-night," he said the next moment, reversing his judgment and surrendering to fate.

And Martin did no reading that night. He had seen no daily paper all week, and, strangely to him, felt no desire to see one. He was not interested in the news. He was too tired and jaded to be interested in anything, though he planned to leave Saturday afternoon, if they finished at three, and ride on his wheel to Oakland. It was seventy miles, and the same distance back on Sunday afternoon would leave him anything but rested for the second week's work. It would have been easier to go on the train, but the round trip was two dollars and a half, and he was intent on saving money.

闹钟响了,马丁惊醒过来。闹声很突然,若换个体质不如他的人怕是连头都会闹痛的。但他虽然睡得很熟,却像猪一样立即警觉起来,脑子也立即清醒了。他很高兴五小时的睡眠已经结束。他仇恨睡眠,一睡着就什么都忘了。而他有太多的事要做,太丰富的生活要过,一分钟也不舍得让睡眠夺去。铃声还没与完,他已连头带耳朵钻进了洗脸盒,叫冷水冲得直激灵;

但他并没有按正规的日程办事。他已再没有没完成的小说要写。再没有新的小说要构思了。昨晚他熬了夜,现在已是早餐时分。他竭力想读一章费斯克。脑子里却乱糟糟的,只好合上了书。今天他要开始新的奋斗了,在一段时间之内他都不会再写作了。他感一种离乡背井告别亲人的忧伤,他望了望屋角的稿件。都是为了它们。他要跟槁件告别了——他那些到处不受欢迎的、受到侮辱的可怜的孩子们。他走了这么,检视起来。他东一段西一段地读起他的得意之作,他把明丽的荣誉给以《罐子》,然后给了《冒险》。前一天才完成的最新作品《欢乐》,因为没有邮资被扔到了角落里,此刻得到了他最由衷的赞美。

“我不懂得,”他喃喃地悦,“要不然就是编辑们不懂得,他们每个月都要发表许多更糟糕的作品。他们发表的东西全都很糟糕——至少是几乎全部都很糟糕,可他们却司空见惯,不觉得有什么错。”

早餐后他把打字机装进盒里,送下了奥克兰。

“我欠了一个月租金、”他告诉店里的店员,“请你告诉经理我要干活去,个把月就回来跟他结账。”

他坐轮渡到了旧金山,去到一家职业介绍所。“什么活都行,我没有技术,”他告诉那代理人,一个新来的人打岔了他。那人服装有些花哨,某些生性爱漂亮的工人就喜欢那种打扮。代理人无可奈何地摇摇头。

“没办法,是么?”那人说,“可我今儿非要找到一个人不可。”

他转身望着马丁,马丁回望了他一眼,注意到他那浮肿苍白的脸,漂亮,却没精打采。他知道他喝了一个通宵。

“找工作?”那人问,“能干什么?”

“辛苦活儿。当水手,打字(不会速记),干牧场活儿,什么活儿都能干,什么苦都能吃。”马丁回答。

那人点点头。

“我看不错。我叫道森,乔·道森,想找个洗衣工。”

“我干不了,”马丁仿佛看见自己在烫女人穿的毛茸茸的白色衣物,觉得滑稽。但看那人却顺眼,便补上一句:“洗衣服我倒会。出海的时候学过。”

乔·道森显然在思考,过了一会儿。

“听我说,咱俩合计合计,愿听不?”

马丁点点头。

“是个小洗衣店,在北边儿,属雪莉温泉——旅馆,你知道。两人干。一个头儿,一个帮手。我是头儿。你不是给我干活,只是做我的下手,愿意学吗?”

马丁想了一会儿。前景诱人。干几个月又会有时间学习了。他还可以一边努力干活,一边努力学习。

“饮食不错,你可以自己有间屋,”乔说。

那就解决了问题。自己有间屋就可以开夜车没人打扰了。

“可活儿重得要命,”那人又说。

马丁抚摸着他鼓突的肩部肌肉示意,“这可是干苦活儿熬出来的。”

“那咱们就谈谈,”乔用手捂了一会儿脑袋,“天啦!喝得倒痛快,可眼睛都花了。昨天晚上喝了个够——看不见了.看不见了。那边的条件是:两个人一百元,伙食在外。我一直是拿的六十,那个人拿四十。但他是熟手,你是生手,我得要教你,刚开头时还得干许多该你干的活儿,只给你三十,以后涨到四十。我不会亏待你的,到你能干完你那份活儿的时候就给你四十。”

“我就依你,”马丁宣布,伸出手来,对方握了握。“可以预支一点吗?——买火车票,还有别的。”

“我的钱花光了,”乔回答,有些伤心。又伸手捂住脑袋。“只剩下一张来回票了。”

“可我交了膳宿费就破产了。”

“那就溜呗。”乔出主意。

“不行,是欠我姐姐的。”

乔很尴尬,长长地吹了一声口哨,想了一会,没想出办法。

“我还有几个酒钱,”他豁出去了,说,“来吧,也许能想出个办法。”

马丁谢绝了。

“戒酒了?”

这回马丁点了点头,乔抱怨起来:“但愿我也能戒掉。”

“可我不知道为什么就是戒不掉,”他辩解道,“累死累活干了一星期总想喝个痛快。不喝就恨不得割破自己的喉咙,恨不得烧房子。不过我倒高兴你戒掉了。戒掉就别再喝了。”

马丁知道他跟自己之间有一道很大的鸿沟——那是读书造成的。他要是愿意跨回去倒也容易。他一辈子都在工人阶级环境里生活,对劳动者的同志情谊已是他的第二天性。对方头疼解决不了的交通问题他解决了。他可以利用乔的火车票把箱子带到雪莉温泉,自己骑自行车去。一共是七十英里,他可以在星期天一天骑到,星期一就上班。那之前他可以回去收拾。他用不着跟谁告别,露丝和她全家都到内华达山的太和湖度慢长的夏天去了。

星期天晚上他筋疲力尽满身脏污地到达了雪莉温泉。乔兴致勃勃地接待了他。乔用一条湿毛巾捆在疼痛的前额上,已经工作了一整天。

“我去找你的时候上周的衣服又堆了起来,”他解释,“你的箱子已经送到了。放到你屋里去了。你那鬼东西哪能叫箱子,装的是什么?金砖么?”

乔坐在床上,马丁打开箱子。箱子原是早餐食品包装箱,希金波坦先生收了他半元钱才给他的。他给它钉上两段绳作把手,从技术上把它改造成了可以在行李车厢上上下下的箱子。乔睁大了眼睛望着他取出几件衬衫和内衣内裤,然后便是书,再取出来还是书。

“一直到底都是书么?”他问。

马丁点点头,把书在一张厨房用的桌子上摆好。那桌子原是摆在屋里当盥洗架用的。

“天呐!”乔冲口而出,便再没作声,他在动脑筋想推断出个解释来。他终于明白了。

“看来,你对姑娘——不大感兴趣?”他试探着问。

“不感兴趣,”他回答,“在我迷上书之前也喜欢追女孩子。在那以后就没有时间了。”

“可在这儿是没有时间的。你只有干活和睡觉的分儿。”

马丁想到自己一夜只需要五小时睡眠便微微一笑。他那屋子在洗衣间楼上,跟发动机在同一幢楼。发动机又抽水,又发电,又带动洗衣机。住在隔壁房的技师过来跟新手马丁见了面,并帮他安了一盏电灯。安在接出来的电线上,又牵了一根绳,使灯泡可以在桌子和床的上方来回移动。

第二天早上六点一刻马丁便被叫醒,准备六点三刻吃早饭。洗衣楼有个浴盆,原是给侍役用的,他在里面洗了个冷水浴,叫乔大吃了一惊。

“天呐,你真棒!”他们在旅馆厨房的一个角落里坐下吃饭时,乔说。

跟他们一起吃饭的还有技师、花匠、花匠的下手和两三个马夫。吃饭时大家都匆忙,板着脸,很少谈话。马丁从他们的谈话更意识到自己跟他们现状的距离之远。他们的头脑贫弱得令他丧气,他恨不得赶快离开。因此使他跟他们一样把早餐匆匆塞进肚子,从厨房门走了出去,然后长长地舒了一口气。早餐很难吃,软唧唧的。

那是一个设备齐全的小型蒸汽洗衣房,凡机器可以做的工作都由最新式的机器做。马丁听了一遍解说便去分拣大堆大堆的肮脏衣物,给它们归类。这时乔便开动粉碎机,调制新的液体肥皂。那东西由带腐蚀性的化学药品合成,逼得他用浴巾把嘴、鼻子和眼睛都包了起来,包得像个木乃伊。衣服分拣完马丁便帮助他脱水:把衣物倒进一个旋转的容器,以每分钟几千转的速度旋转,利用离心力把水甩掉。然后他又开始在烘干机和脱水机之间忙来忙去,抽空把短袜长袜“抖抖”。下午他们加热了机器,一人送进一人折叠,把长袜短袜用热轧滚筒熨牛。然后便是用熨斗烫内衣内裤,直干到六点。这时乔仍然摇头。没把握能够干完。

“差远了,”他说,“晚饭后还得干。”

晚饭后他们在白亮的电灯光下一直干到十点,才把最后一件内衣熨完、折好、放进分发室。那是个炎热的加利福尼亚之夜,有个烧得红红的熨个炉灶在屋里,虽然大开着窗户,屋子仍然是个锅炉。马丁和乔两人脱得只剩下了内衣,光着膀子仍然大汗淋漓,喘不过气来。

“跟在赤道地区堆码货载一样。”两人上楼时马丁说。

“你能成,”乔回答,“你很肯干,真像把好手。就这么干下去,只需一个月拿三十块,下个月就可以拿四十块了。可你别说你以前没熨过衣服,我看得出来。”

“说实话,在今天以前连块破布也没有熨过。”马丁表示反对。

进了屋子他为自己的疲劳感到意外,忘了他已经连续站着干了十四个小时。他把闹钟定在六点,再倒回来算到一点。他可以一直读书到一点。他蹬掉鞋,让肿胀的脚舒服一点,拿起书在桌边坐下。他打开了费斯克,接着两天前中断的地方读下去。第一段就读得很吃力,回过头来又读。然后他醒了过来,感到僵直的肌肉生疼,从窗口吹进的山风刮得好冷。一看钟,指着两点。他已经睡了四个小时。他脱掉衣服钻进被窝,脑袋一挨枕头便昏睡过去。

星期二是同样的连续不断的苦工。乔干活的速度赢得了马丁的赞赏。他一个人抵得上十二个魔鬼。他干劲十足,标准很高。在漫长的一天里他每分钟都在为节约时间而奋斗。他集中注意力干活,集中注意力节省时间。他向马丁指出马丁用五个动作才完成的活儿可以三个动作完成,或是三个动作才完成的活儿可以两个动作完成。“消灭多余动作,”喝了望着他并照着他做时给他这一套取了个名字。马丁目已是个好工人,又灵巧又麻利,自负的是从不让别人做他那份工作,也从不让别人超过他。结果是他也同样专心致志集中力量干起活来。他那伙伴一给他传授窍门和点子他就急忙学。他“压平”领子和袖口,从夹层之间挤出粉浆,以免在熨烫时产生气泡。他做得很快,受到乔的赞美。

两人手边总有活干,从不空闲。乔一不等待二不纠缠,一件接一件流水般地干着。他们用一个收拢动作挽起衬衫,让袖口、领子、肩头和胸脯伸出在握成圆形的右手之外,这时左手捞起衬衫下半截,以免沾上粉浆,右手硬往粉浆里一浸——粉浆很烫,绞出粉浆时双手必须不断地往一桶冷水里浸。一共浆了两百件。那大晚11他们又一直干到十点半。为太太小姐们那些带褶皱的、摆阔气的、精美的衣物作“花式浆洗”

“我宁可在热带干活,也不愿洗衣服。”马丁笑着说。

“不洗衣服我就没活干了,”乔郑重其事地说,“我除了洗衣服啥都不会。”

“可你衣服洗得挺好”

“应该洗得好的。我是在奥克兰的康特拉科斯塔开始干活的,那时才十一岁,把东西抖散,为进热轧滚筒作准备。已干了十八年。别的活儿全没干过。但现在这活儿是我于过的活中最要命的。至少应该多加一个人。我们明天晚上还干活儿。用热轧滚筒总在星期王晚上——熨领子和袖口。”

马丁上好闹钟,坐到桌边,打开了费斯克。第一段没读完,一行行的事已模糊成了一片,他打起了盹。他走来走去,用拳头野蛮地捶脑袋,仍证服不了沉重的睡意。他把书支在面前,用手指搓着眼皮,可睁着眼睛明旧睡着了、他只好认输,晕晕忽忽脱掉衣服钻进了波窝。他睡了七个小时,睡得很沉,像畜生一样。被闹钟惊醒后还觉得睡意未消。

“读了很多书么?”乔问他。

马丁摇头。

“没关系。今天晚上咱们只开热轧滚筒。星期四六点就下班。你就可以看书了。”

那天马丁在一个大桶里用手洗毛料衣物,加的是强效肥皂液,用一个连在舂杵上的马车轮毂洗。舂杵固定在头顶的一根弹簧杆上。

“我的发明,”乔骄傲地说,“比搓衣板和你的手指头强多了,一周至少能省十五分钟,干这种活能省计五分钟就不可小看了。”

同热轧滚筒熨领子和袖口也是乔的主意。那天晚上他俩在电灯光下下活,他解释道:

“哪家洗衣房都没这么干过,除了我这儿。要想在星期六下午三点之前干完活儿,我必须用这个办法。但只有找才知道怎么做,差别就在这只。温度要合适,压力要合适,还要压三遍。你看!”他抓起一只袖口举了起来。“用手或压力熨都做不丁这么好。”

星期四乔气坏了。一大包额外的“花式浆洗”送了过来。

“我不干了,”他宣布,“受不了这种窝囊气。我要给他扔下走掉。我整周整周像个奴隶一样干活儿,争分夺秒,他们却给我送额外的‘花式浆洗’来。我忙来忙去有什么好处?我们这是个自由的国家,我要当而告诉那荷兰胖子我对他的意见。我不会骂他粗话,合众国式的直来直去我看就够好的了。他居然叫我给他加班干‘花式浆洗’。”

“我们今天晚上还是干吧,”过了一会儿他说,推翻了刚才的意见,向命运投降了。

那天晚上马丁没有读书。他已经一周没看报,令他奇怪的是,也并不想看。他对新闻已不感兴趣。他太疲劳,太厌倦,对什么都失去了兴趣,尽管他计划着若是星期六下午三点能收工,就骑车到奥克兰去。那是七十英里,星期天下午若是再骑车回来,就根本谈不上休息,然后只得去上下一周的班。坐火车虽轻松些,来回的票钱得要两块五角,而他却一心想攒钱。
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