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Martin Eden 106







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Books:

Martin Eden

The Pickwick Papers

The Sea Wolf




do anything you ask, dear love, anything; you know that." A great temptation assailed her. In an insistent way she had caught glimpses of the large, easy-going side of his nature, and she felt sure, if she asked him to cease attempting to write, that he would grant her wish. In the swift instant that elapsed, the words trembled on her lips. But she did not utter them. She was not quite brave enough; she did not quite dare. Instead, she leaned toward him to meet him, and in his arms murmured:- "You know, it is really not for my sake, Martin, but for your own. I am sure smoking hurts you; and besides, it is not good to be a slave to anything, to a drug least of all." "I shall always be your slave," he smiled. "In which case, I shall begin issuing my commands." She looked at him mischievously, though deep down she was already regretting that she had not preferred her largest request. "I live but to obey, your majesty." "Well, then, my first commandment is, Thou shalt not omit to shave every day. Look how you have scratched my cheek." And so it ended in caresses and love-laughter. But she had made one point, and she could not expect to make more than one at a time. She felt a womans pride in that she had made him stop smoking. Another time she would persuade him to take a position, for had he not said he would do anything she asked? She left his side to explore the room, examining the clothes-lines of notes overhead, learning the mystery of the tackle used for suspending his wheel under the ceiling, and being saddened by the heap of manuscripts under the table which represented to her just so much wasted time. The oil-stove won her admiration, but on investigating the food shelves she found them empty. "Why, you havent anything to eat, you poor dear," she said with tender compassion. "You must be starving." "I store my food in Marias safe and in her pantry," he lied. "It keeps better there. No danger of my starving. Look at that." She had come back to his side, and she saw him double his arm at the elbow, the biceps crawling under his shirt-sleeve and swelling into a knot of muscle, heavy and hard. The sight repelled her. Sentimentally, she disliked it. But her pulse, her blood, every fibre of her, loved it and yearned for it, and, in the old, inexplicable way, she leaned toward him, not away from him. And in the moment that followed, when he crushed her in his arms, the brain of her, concerned with the superficial aspects of life, was in revolt; while the heart of her, the woman of her, concerned with life itself, exulted triumphantly. It was in moments like this that she felt to the uttermost the greatness of her love for Martin, for it was almost a swoon of delight to her to feel his strong arms about her, holding her tightly, hurting her with the grip of their fervor. At such moments she found justification for her treason to her standards, for her violation of her own high ideals, and, most of all, for her tacit disobedience to her mother and father. They did not want her to marry this man. It shocked them that she should love him. It shocked her, too, sometimes, when she was apart from him, a cool and reasoning creature. With him, she loved him--in truth, at times a vexed and worried love; but love it was, a love that was stronger than she. "This La Grippe is nothing," he was saying. "It hurts a bit, and gives one a nasty headache, but it doesnt compare with break-bone fever." "Have you had that, too?" she queried absently, intent on the heaven-sent justification she was finding in his arms. And so, with absent queries, she led him on, till suddenly his words startled her. He had had the fever in a secret colony of thirty lepers on one of the Hawaiian Islands. "But why did you go there?" she demanded. Such royal carelessness of body seemed criminal. "Because I didnt know," he answered. "I never dreamed of lepers. When I deserted the schooner and landed on the beach, I headed inland for some place of hiding. For three days I lived

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