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Martin Eden 181







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Books:

Martin Eden

The Pickwick Papers

The Sea Wolf




rested upon his neck. But his flesh was not fire beneath those hands, and he felt awkward and uncomfortable. "What makes you tremble so?" he asked. "Is it a chill? Shall I light the grate?" He made a movement to disengage himself, but she clung more closely to him, shivering violently. "It is merely nervousness," she said with chattering teeth. "Ill control myself in a minute. There, I am better already." Slowly her shivering died away. He continued to hold her, but he was no longer puzzled. He knew now for what she had come. "My mother wanted me to marry Charley Hapgood," she announced. "Charley Hapgood, that fellow who speaks always in platitudes?" Martin groaned. Then he added, "And now, I suppose, your mother wants you to marry me." He did not put it in the form of a question. He stated it as a certitude, and before his eyes began to dance the rows of figures of his royalties. "She will not object, I know that much," Ruth said. "She considers me quite eligible?" Ruth nodded. "And yet I am not a bit more eligible now than I was when she broke our engagement," he meditated. "I havent changed any. Im the same Martin Eden, though for that matter Im a bit worse--I smoke now. Dont you smell my breath?" In reply she pressed her open fingers against his lips, placed them graciously and playfully, and in expectancy of the kiss that of old had always been a consequence. But there was no caressing answer of Martins lips. He waited until the fingers were removed and then went on. "I am not changed. I havent got a job. Im not looking for a job. Furthermore, I am not going to look for a job. And I still believe that Herbert Spencer is a great and noble man and that Judge Blount is an unmitigated ass. I had dinner with him the other night, so I ought to know." "But you didnt accept fathers invitation," she chided. "So you know about that? Who sent him? Your mother?" She remained silent. "Then she did send him. I thought so. And now I suppose she has sent you." "No one knows that I am here," she protested. "Do you think my mother would permit this?" "Shed permit you to marry me, thats certain." She gave a sharp cry. "Oh, Martin, dont be cruel. You have not kissed me once. You are as unresponsive as a stone. And think what I have dared to do." She looked about her with a shiver, though half the look was curiosity. "Just think of where I am." "_I could die for you! I could die for you_!"--Lizzies words were ringing in his ears. "Why didnt you dare it before?" he asked harshly. "When I hadnt a job? When I was starving? When I was just as I am now, as a man, as an artist, the same Martin Eden? Thats the question Ive been propounding to myself for many a day--not concerning you merely, but concerning everybody. You see I have not changed, though my sudden apparent appreciation in value compels me constantly to reassure myself on that point. Ive got the same flesh on my bones, the same ten fingers and toes. I am the same. I have not developed any new strength nor virtue. My brain is the same old brain. I havent made even one new generalization on literature or philosophy. I am personally of the same value that I was when nobody wanted me. And what is puzzling me is why they want me now. Surely they dont want me for myself, for myself is the same old self they did not want. Then they must want me for something else, for something that is outside of me, for something that is not I! Shall I tell you what that something is? It is for the recognition I have received. That recognition is not I. It resides in the minds of others. Then again for the money I have earned and am earning. But that money is not I. It resides in banks and in the pockets of Tom, Dick, and Harry. And is it for that, for the recognition and the money, that you now want

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