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Martin Eden 157

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Martin Eden

The Pickwick Papers

The Sea Wolf

you go away, Martin?" Gertrude had begged. "Go away and get a job somewhere and steady down. Afterwards, when this all blows over, you can come back." Martin shook his head, but gave no explanations. How could he explain? He was appalled at the awful intellectual chasm that yawned between him and his people. He could never cross it and explain to them his position,--the Nietzschean position, in regard to socialism. There were not words enough in the English language, nor in any language, to make his attitude and conduct intelligible to them. Their highest concept of right conduct, in his case, was to get a job. That was their first word and their last. It constituted their whole lexicon of ideas. Get a job! Go to work! Poor, stupid slaves, he thought, while his sister talked. Small wonder the world belonged to the strong. The slaves were obsessed by their own slavery. A job was to them a golden fetich before which they fell down and worshipped. He shook his head again, when Gertrude offered him money, though he knew that within the day he would have to make a trip to the pawnbroker. "Dont come near Bernard now," she admonished him. "After a few months, when he is cooled down, if you want to, you can get the job of drivin delivery-wagon for him. Any time you want me, just send for me an Ill come. Dont forget." She went away weeping audibly, and he felt a pang of sorrow shoot through him at sight of her heavy body and uncouth gait. As he watched her go, the Nietzschean edifice seemed to shake and totter. The slave-class in the abstract was all very well, but it was not wholly satisfactory when it was brought home to his own family. And yet, if there was ever a slave trampled by the strong, that slave was his sister Gertrude. He grinned savagely at the paradox. A fine Nietzsche-man he was, to allow his intellectual concepts to be shaken by the first sentiment or emotion that strayed along--ay, to be shaken by the slave-morality itself, for that was what his pity for his sister really was. The true noble men were above pity and compassion. Pity and compassion had been generated in the subterranean barracoons of the slaves and were no more than the agony and sweat of the crowded miserables and weaklings.


"Overdue" still continued to lie forgotten on the table. Every manuscript that he had had out now lay under the table. Only one manuscript he kept going, and that was Brissendens "Ephemera." His bicycle and black suit were again in pawn, and the type-writer people were once more worrying about the rent. But such things no longer bothered him. He was seeking a new orientation, and until that was found his life must stand still. After several weeks, what he had been waiting for happened. He met Ruth on the street. It was true, she was accompanied by her brother, Norman, and it was true that they tried to ignore him and that Norman attempted to wave him aside. "If you interfere with my sister, Ill call an officer," Norman threatened. "She does not wish to speak with you, and your insistence is insult." "If you persist, youll have to call that officer, and then youll get your name in the papers," Martin answered grimly. "And now, get out of my way and get the officer if you want to. Im going to talk with Ruth." "I want to have it from your own lips," he said to her. She was pale and trembling, but she held up and looked inquiringly. "The question I asked in my letter," he prompted. Norman made an impatient movement, but Martin checked him with a swift look. She shook her head. "Is all this of your own free will?" he demanded. "It is." She spoke in a low, firm voice and with deliberation. "It is of my own free will. You have disgraced me so that I am ashamed to meet my friends. They are all talking about me, I know. That is all I can tell you. You have made me very unhappy, and I never wish to see you again." "Friends! Gossip! Newspaper misreports! Surely such things

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