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Martin Eden 122







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Books:

Martin Eden

The Pickwick Papers

The Sea Wolf




enjoyment in his sisters face. Instead, her eyes were fixed anxiously upon her betrothed, and Martin, following her gaze, saw spread on that worthys asymmetrical features nothing but black and sullen disapproval. The incident passed over, they made an early departure, and Martin forgot all about it, though for the moment he had been puzzled that any woman, even of the working class, should not have been flattered and delighted by having poetry written about her. Several evenings later Marian again visited him, this time alone. Nor did she waste time in coming to the point, upbraiding him sorrowfully for what he had done. "Why, Marian," he chided, "you talk as though you were ashamed of your relatives, or of your brother at any rate." "And I am, too," she blurted out. Martin was bewildered by the tears of mortification he saw in her eyes. The mood, whatever it was, was genuine. "But, Marian, why should your Hermann be jealous of my writing poetry about my own sister?" "He aint jealous," she sobbed. "He says it was indecent, ob--obscene." Martin emitted a long, low whistle of incredulity, then proceeded to resurrect and read a carbon copy of "The Palmist." "I cant see it," he said finally, proffering the manuscript to her. "Read it yourself and show me whatever strikes you as obscene--that was the word, wasnt it?" "He says so, and he ought to know," was the answer, with a wave aside of the manuscript, accompanied by a look of loathing. "And he says youve got to tear it up. He says he wont have no wife of his with such things written about her which anybody can read. He says its a disgrace, an he wont stand for it." "Now, look here, Marian, this is nothing but nonsense," Martin began; then abruptly changed his mind. He saw before him an unhappy girl, knew the futility of attempting to convince her husband or her, and, though the whole situation was absurd and preposterous, he resolved to surrender. "All right," he announced, tearing the manuscript into half a dozen pieces and throwing it into the waste-basket. He contented himself with the knowledge that even then the original type- written manuscript was reposing in the office of a New York magazine. Marian and her husband would never know, and neither himself nor they nor the world would lose if the pretty, harmless poem ever were published. Marian, starting to reach into the waste-basket, refrained. "Can I?" she pleaded. He nodded his head, regarding her thoughtfully as she gathered the torn pieces of manuscript and tucked them into the pocket of her jacket--ocular evidence of the success of her mission. She reminded him of Lizzie Connolly, though there was less of fire and gorgeous flaunting life in her than in that other girl of the working class whom he had seen twice. But they were on a par, the pair of them, in dress and carriage, and he smiled with inward amusement at the caprice of his fancy which suggested the appearance of either of them in Mrs. Morses drawing-room. The amusement faded, and he was aware of a great loneliness. This sister of his and the Morse drawing-room were milestones of the road he had travelled. And he had left them behind. He glanced affectionately about him at his few books. They were all the comrades left to him. "Hello, whats that?" he demanded in startled surprise. Marian repeated her question. "Why dont I go to work?" He broke into a laugh that was only half-hearted. "That Hermann of yours has been talking to you." She shook her head. "Dont lie," he commanded, and the nod of her head affirmed his charge. "Well, you tell that Hermann of yours to mind his own business; that when I write poetry about the girl hes keeping company with its his business, but that outside of that hes got no say so. Understand? "So you dont think Ill succeed as a writer, eh?" he went on. "You think Im no good?--that Ive fallen down and am a disgrace to the family?" "I think it would be much better if you got a job," she said firmly, and he saw she was sincere. "Hermann says--" "Damn Hermann!" he broke out good-naturedly. "What I want to know is when youre going to get married. Also, you find out from your Hermann if he will deign to permit you to accept a wedding present from me." He mused over the

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