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Martin Eden 169







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Martin Eden

The Pickwick Papers

The Sea Wolf




honored high, could not understand him nor the honor he paid her. His sadness was not untouched with bitterness as he thought it over. "Make it up with him," he advised Lizzie, at parting, as they stood in front of the workingmans shack in which she lived, near Sixth and Market. He referred to the young fellow whose place he had usurped that day. "I cant--now," she said. "Oh, go on," he said jovially. "All you have to do is whistle and hell come running." "I didnt mean that," she said simply. And he knew what she had meant. She leaned toward him as he was about to say good night. But she leaned not imperatively, not seductively, but wistfully and humbly. He was touched to the heart. His large tolerance rose up in him. He put his arms around her, and kissed her, and knew that upon his own lips rested as true a kiss as man ever received. "My God!" she sobbed. "I could die for you. I could die for you." She tore herself from him suddenly and ran up the steps. He felt a quick moisture in his eyes. "Martin Eden," he communed. "Youre not a brute, and youre a damn poor Nietzscheman. Youd marry her if you could and fill her quivering heart full with happiness. But you cant, you cant. And its a damn shame." "A poor old tramp explains his poor old ulcers," he muttered, remembering his Henly. "Life is, I think, a blunder and a shame. It is--a blunder and a shame."

CHAPTER XLIII

"The Shame of the Sun" was published in October. As Martin cut the cords of the express package and the half-dozen complimentary copies from the publishers spilled out on the table, a heavy sadness fell upon him. He thought of the wild delight that would have been his had this happened a few short months before, and he contrasted that delight that should have been with his present uncaring coldness. His book, his first book, and his pulse had not gone up a fraction of a beat, and he was only sad. It meant little to him now. The most it meant was that it might bring some money, and little enough did he care for money. He carried a copy out into the kitchen and presented it to Maria. "I did it," he explained, in order to clear up her bewilderment. "I wrote it in the room there, and I guess some few quarts of your vegetable soup went into the making of it. Keep it. Its yours. Just to remember me by, you know." He was not bragging, not showing off. His sole motive was to make her happy, to make her proud of him, to justify her long faith in him. She put the book in the front room on top of the family Bible. A sacred thing was this book her lodger had made, a fetich of friendship. It softened the blow of his having been a laundryman, and though she could not understand a line of it, she knew that every line of it was great. She was a simple, practical, hard-working woman, but she possessed faith in large endowment. Just as emotionlessly as he had received "The Shame of the Sun" did he read the reviews of it that came in weekly from the clipping bureau. The book was making a hit, that was evident. It meant more gold in the money sack. He could fix up Lizzie, redeem all his promises, and still have enough left to build his grass-walled castle. Singletree, Darnley & Co. had cautiously brought out an edition of fifteen hundred copies, but the first reviews had started a second edition of twice the size through the presses; and ere this was delivered a third edition of five thousand had been ordered. A London firm made arrangements by cable for an English edition, and hot-footed upon this came the news of French, German, and Scandinavian translations in progress. The attack upon the Maeterlinck school could not have been made at a more opportune moment. A fierce controversy was precipitated. Saleeby and Haeckel indorsed and defended "The Shame of the Sun," for once finding themselves on the same side of a question. Crookes and Wallace ranged up on the opposing side, while Sir

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