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Martin Eden 143







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Martin Eden

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Morse was shocked. Even Ruth was hurt, for she had some regard for appearances, and her lover, cheek by jowl with Maria, at the head of that army of Portuguese ragamuffins, was not a pretty sight. But it was not that which hurt so much as what she took to be his lack of pride and self-respect. Further, and keenest of all, she read into the incident the impossibility of his living down his working-class origin. There was stigma enough in the fact of it, but shamelessly to flaunt it in the face of the world--her world--was going too far. Though her engagement to Martin had been kept secret, their long intimacy had not been unproductive of gossip; and in the shop, glancing covertly at her lover and his following, had been several of her acquaintances. She lacked the easy largeness of Martin and could not rise superior to her environment. She had been hurt to the quick, and her sensitive nature was quivering with the shame of it. So it was, when Martin arrived later in the day, that he kept her present in his breast-pocket, deferring the giving of it to a more propitious occasion. Ruth in tears--passionate, angry tears--was a revelation to him. The spectacle of her suffering convinced him that he had been a brute, yet in the soul of him he could not see how nor why. It never entered his head to be ashamed of those he knew, and to take the Silvas out to a Christmas treat could in no way, so it seemed to him, show lack of consideration for Ruth. On the other hand, he did see Ruths point of view, after she had explained it; and he looked upon it as a feminine weakness, such as afflicted all women and the best of women.

CHAPTER XXXVI

"Come on,--Ill show you the real dirt," Brissenden said to him, one evening in January. They had dined together in San Francisco, and were at the Ferry Building, returning to Oakland, when the whim came to him to show Martin the "real dirt." He turned and fled across the water-front, a meagre shadow in a flapping overcoat, with Martin straining to keep up with him. At a wholesale liquor store he bought two gallon-demijohns of old port, and with one in each hand boarded a Mission Street car, Martin at his heels burdened with several quart-bottles of whiskey. If Ruth could see me now, was his thought, while he wondered as to what constituted the real dirt. "Maybe nobody will be there," Brissenden said, when they dismounted and plunged off to the right into the heart of the working-class ghetto, south of Market Street. "In which case youll miss what youve been looking for so long." "And what the deuce is that?" Martin asked. "Men, intelligent men, and not the gibbering nonentities I found you consorting with in that traders den. You read the books and you found yourself all alone. Well, Im going to show you to-night some other men whove read the books, so that you wont be lonely any more." "Not that I bother my head about their everlasting discussions," he said at the end of a block. "Im not interested in book philosophy. But youll find these fellows intelligences and not bourgeois swine. But watch out, theyll talk an arm off of you on any subject under the sun." "Hope Nortons there," he panted a little later, resisting Martins effort to relieve him of the two demijohns. "Nortons an idealist--a Harvard man. Prodigious memory. Idealism led him to philosophic anarchy, and his family threw him off. Fathers a railroad president and many times millionnaire, but the sons starving in Frisco, editing an anarchist sheet for twenty-five a month." Martin was little acquainted in San Francisco, and not at all south of Market; so he had no idea of where he was being led. "Go ahead," he said; "tell me about them beforehand. What do they do for a living? How do they happen to be here?" "Hope Hamiltons there." Brissenden paused and rested his hands. "Strawn- Hamiltons his name--hyphenated, you know--comes of old Southern stock. Hes a tramp--laziest man I ever knew, though hes clerking, or trying to, in a socialist cooperative store for six dollars a week. But hes a confirmed hobo. Tramped into town. Ive seen

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