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Martin Eden 166

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Martin Eden

The Pickwick Papers

The Sea Wolf

his breath. And he knew she was his, that all he had to do was to say "Come," and she would go with him over the world wherever he led. Even as the thought flashed through his brain he received a heavy blow on the side of his head that nearly knocked him down. It was a mans fist, directed by a man so angry and in such haste that the fist had missed the jaw for which it was aimed. Martin turned as he staggered, and saw the fist coming at him in a wild swing. Quite as a matter of course he ducked, and the fist flew harmlessly past, pivoting the man who had driven it. Martin hooked with his left, landing on the pivoting man with the weight of his body behind the blow. The man went to the ground sidewise, leaped to his feet, and made a mad rush. Martin saw his passion-distorted face and wondered what could be the cause of the fellows anger. But while he wondered, he shot in a straight left, the weight of his body behind the blow. The man went over backward and fell in a crumpled heap. Jimmy and others of the gang were running toward them. Martin was thrilling all over. This was the old days with a vengeance, with their dancing, and their fighting, and their fun. While he kept a wary eye on his antagonist, he glanced at Lizzie. Usually the girls screamed when the fellows got to scrapping, but she had not screamed. She was looking on with bated breath, leaning slightly forward, so keen was her interest, one hand pressed to her breast, her cheek flushed, and in her eyes a great and amazed admiration. The man had gained his feet and was struggling to escape the restraining arms that were laid on him. "She was waitin for me to come back!" he was proclaiming to all and sundry. "She was waitin for me to come back, an then that fresh guy comes buttin in. Let go o me, I tell yeh. Im goin to fix m." "Whats eatin yer?" Jimmy was demanding, as he helped hold the young fellow back. "That guys Mart Eden. Hes nifty with his mits, lemme tell you that, an hell eat you alive if you monkey with m." "He cant steal her on me that way," the other interjected. "He licked the Flyin Dutchman, an you know _him_," Jimmy went on expostulating. "An he did it in five rounds. You couldnt last a minute against him. See?" This information seemed to have a mollifying effect, and the irate young man favored Martin with a measuring stare. "He dont look it," he sneered; but the sneer was without passion. "Thats what the Flyin Dutchman thought," Jimmy assured him. "Come on, now, lets get outa this. Theres lots of other girls. Come on." The young fellow allowed himself to be led away toward the pavilion, and the gang followed after him. "Who is he?" Martin asked Lizzie. "And whats it all about, anyway?" Already the zest of combat, which of old had been so keen and lasting, had died down, and he discovered that he was self-analytical, too much so to live, single heart and single hand, so primitive an existence. Lizzie tossed her head. "Oh, hes nobody," she said. "Hes just ben keepin company with me." "I had to, you see," she explained after a pause. "I was gettin pretty lonesome. But I never forgot." Her voice sank lower, and she looked straight before her. "Id throw m down for you any time." Martin looking at her averted face, knowing that all he had to do was to reach out his hand and pluck her, fell to pondering whether, after all, there was any real worth in refined, grammatical English, and, so, forgot to reply to her. "You put it all over him," she said tentatively, with a laugh. "Hes a husky young fellow, though," he admitted generously. "If they hadnt taken him away, he might have given me my hands full." "Who was that lady friend I seen you with that night?" she asked abruptly. "Oh, just a lady friend," was his answer. "It was a long time ago," she murmured contemplatively. "It seems like a thousand years." But Martin went no further into the matter. He led

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