Exactly one year after Martín started his Mysteries of Barcelona, he arrives at the office to find that everyone has gone to a Christmas dinner and no one has told him. How childish are these colleagues? I could understand them being ticked off with Martín if he bragged about his success all the time and put on airs, but it doesn’t sound like he did that. On the other hand, Martín is telling the story, so he could have conveniently left out that detail.
But things are getting worse for him, as Don Basilio tells him that he is fired. I am not entirely sure why though. Don Basilio tries to explain,
‘Martín, you know what people are like. There have been complaints. I’ve tried to put a stop to this, but the editor is a weak man and doesn’t like unnecessary conflicts.’
Complaints about what? About Martín being successful? Or does he have some attitude problem which is conveniently not mentioned? Martín is understandably upset, but he doesn’t ask for more clarification from Don Basilio. He packs up his desk and leaves the office dejected. He walks past the restaurant where his colleagues are having their Christmas dinner without him.
I hoped my absence made them happy or at least made them forget that they weren’t happy and never would be.
He then goes into a bit of depression, not knowing what to do with himself. Can he not apply for another job? It might not be that easy, but he doesn’t seem to try either. Instead, he seeks out Vidal.
…I decided to make the inevitable pilgrimage to my maker’s house.
Very interesting that he calls Vidal his maker. Sure, Vidal mentored him and allegedly had a hand in Martín getting his first shot at writing for the newspaper, but to call him his maker seems taking it a bit far.
At Vidal’s, he runs into Manuel who mentions off the cuff that his daughter likes reading The Mysteries of Barcelona, which greatly pleases Martín. He then goes into the house to see Vidal, who had heard about his misfortune. He asks Martín what his plans are and Martín answers,
‘I could always accept your charity.’
I find it interesting that Martín is so passive about his situation, not looking for a job, but going to Vidal in the hopes of a hand out. Sure, he probably sees Vidal as a father figure (he did call him his maker), but you would expect a young man to want to make it in the world on his own, rather than being so dependent on a mentor. It doesn’t really make me admire or respect him at all.
Vidal reveals that he is the one who suggested that Martín gets fired and before Martín can get all upset about it, Vidal tells him he has a better job for him. I am not sure why Vidal is so invested in Martín’s life or why he wants to control everything. Also, if he had something better for Martín, why not tell him that and have Martín resign rather than get him fired? Unless Martín signed some sort of contract which made him unable to resign.
The job Vidal has secured for Martín is a series in instalments.
That was how, only a few months after my twentieth birthday, I received and accepted an offer to write penny dreadfuls under the name of Ignatius B. Samson.
Can I just pause here and say that I think the timing is wrong? Martín wrote his first story for the newspaper when he was seventeen. He then tells us that right after this, Don Basilio let him write more stories and soon after that, the management tells him to write The Mysteries of Barcelona. In the last chapter we saw that Martín gets fired exactly a year after the first instalment of The Mysteries of Barcelona and a week after that he has a new job. According to my math, Martín should still be nineteen. This does not detract from the story, but to me it is a jarring inconsistency.
Martín’s new publishers are a pair of untrustworthy characters who are notorious of mistreating their authors, but that does not bother Martín. He is only interested in being paid for writing. Seems a bit short-sighted to me, but he is an eager twenty-year old, so I can overlook that.
The property manager tries to discourage him from renting the place.
Clavé lowered his voice. Whispering as if he feared the walls might hear us, he delivered his verdict in a funereal tone. ‘That house is jinxed. I visited the place when I went along with the notary to seal it up and I can assure you that the oldest part of Montjuïc Cemetery is more cheerful. It’s been empty since then. That place has bad memories. Nobody wants it.’
Of course Martín decides he does want to inspect the house, even though it is probably in rough condition since nobody has lived in it in twenty years.