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Martin Eden 126







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Books:

Martin Eden

The Pickwick Papers

The Sea Wolf




imagine its the philosophic slang that bothers you," was all he could say. He was flaming from the fresh reading of the ripest thought he had expressed, and her verdict stunned him. "No matter how poorly it is done," he persisted, "dont you see anything in it?--in the thought of it, I mean?" She shook her head. "No, it is so different from anything I have read. I read Maeterlinck and understand him--" "His mysticism, you understand that?" Martin flashed out. "Yes, but this of yours, which is supposed to be an attack upon him, I dont understand. Of course, if originality counts--" He stopped her with an impatient gesture that was not followed by speech. He became suddenly aware that she was speaking and that she had been speaking for some time. "After all, your writing has been a toy to you," she was saying. "Surely you have played with it long enough. It is time to take up life seriously--_our_ life, Martin. Hitherto you have lived solely your own." "You want me to go to work?" he asked. "Yes. Father has offered--" "I understand all that," he broke in; "but what I want to know is whether or not you have lost faith in me?" She pressed his hand mutely, her eyes dim. "In your writing, dear," she admitted in a half-whisper. "Youve read lots of my stuff," he went on brutally. "What do you think of it? Is it utterly hopeless? How does it compare with other mens work?" "But they sell theirs, and you--dont." "That doesnt answer my question. Do you think that literature is not at all my vocation?" "Then I will answer." She steeled herself to do it. "I dont think you were made to write. Forgive me, dear. You compel me to say it; and you know I know more about literature than you do." "Yes, you are a Bachelor of Arts," he said meditatively; "and you ought to know." "But there is more to be said," he continued, after a pause painful to both. "I know what I have in me. No one knows that so well as I. I know I shall succeed. I will not be kept down. I am afire with what I have to say in verse, and fiction, and essay. I do not ask you to have faith in that, though. I do not ask you to have faith in me, nor in my writing. What I do ask of you is to love me and have faith in love." "A year ago I believed for two years. One of those years is yet to run. And I do believe, upon my honor and my soul, that before that year is run I shall have succeeded. You remember what you told me long ago, that I must serve my apprenticeship to writing. Well, I have served it. I have crammed it and telescoped it. With you at the end awaiting me, I have never shirked. Do you know, I have forgotten what it is to fall peacefully asleep. A few million years ago I knew what it was to sleep my fill and to awake naturally from very glut of sleep. I am awakened always now by an alarm clock. If I fall asleep early or late, I set the alarm accordingly; and this, and the putting out of the lamp, are my last conscious actions." "When I begin to feel drowsy, I change the heavy book I am reading for a lighter one. And when I doze over that, I beat my head with my knuckles in order to drive sleep away. Somewhere I read of a man who was afraid to sleep. Kipling wrote the story. This man arranged a spur so that when unconsciousness came, his naked body pressed against the iron teeth. Well, Ive done the same. I look at the time, and I resolve that not until midnight, or not until one oclock, or two oclock, or three oclock, shall the spur be removed. And so it rowels me awake until the appointed time. That spur has been my bed-mate for months. I have grown so desperate that five and a half hours of sleep is an extravagance. I sleep four hours now. I am starved for sleep. There are times when

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