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Martin Eden 182

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Martin Eden

The Pickwick Papers

The Sea Wolf

me?" "You are breaking my heart," she sobbed. "You know I love you, that I am here because I love you." "I am afraid you dont see my point," he said gently. "What I mean is: if you love me, how does it happen that you love me now so much more than you did when your love was weak enough to deny me?" "Forget and forgive," she cried passionately. "I loved you all the time, remember that, and I am here, now, in your arms." "Im afraid I am a shrewd merchant, peering into the scales, trying to weigh your love and find out what manner of thing it is." She withdrew herself from his arms, sat upright, and looked at him long and searchingly. She was about to speak, then faltered and changed her mind. "You see, it appears this way to me," he went on. "When I was all that I am now, nobody out of my own class seemed to care for me. When my books were all written, no one who had read the manuscripts seemed to care for them. In point of fact, because of the stuff I had written they seemed to care even less for me. In writing the stuff it seemed that I had committed acts that were, to say the least, derogatory. Get a job, everybody said." She made a movement of dissent. "Yes, yes," he said; "except in your case you told me to get a position. The homely word _job_, like much that I have written, offends you. It is brutal. But I assure you it was no less brutal to me when everybody I knew recommended it to me as they would recommend right conduct to an immoral creature. But to return. The publication of what I had written, and the public notice I received, wrought a change in the fibre of your love. Martin Eden, with his work all performed, you would not marry. Your love for him was not strong enough to enable you to marry him. But your love is now strong enough, and I cannot avoid the conclusion that its strength arises from the publication and the public notice. In your case I do not mention royalties, though I am certain that they apply to the change wrought in your mother and father. Of course, all this is not flattering to me. But worst of all, it makes me question love, sacred love. Is love so gross a thing that it must feed upon publication and public notice? It would seem so. I have sat and thought upon it till my head went around." "Poor, dear head." She reached up a hand and passed the fingers soothingly through his hair. "Let it go around no more. Let us begin anew, now. I loved you all the time. I know that I was weak in yielding to my mothers will. I should not have done so. Yet I have heard you speak so often with broad charity of the fallibility and frailty of humankind. Extend that charity to me. I acted mistakenly. Forgive me." "Oh, I do forgive," he said impatiently. "It is easy to forgive where there is really nothing to forgive. Nothing that you have done requires forgiveness. One acts according to ones lights, and more than that one cannot do. As well might I ask you to forgive me for my not getting a job." "I meant well," she protested. "You know that I could not have loved you and not meant well." "True; but you would have destroyed me out of your well-meaning." "Yes, yes," he shut off her attempted objection. "You would have destroyed my writing and my career. Realism is imperative to my nature, and the bourgeois spirit hates realism. The bourgeoisie is cowardly. It is afraid of life. And all your effort was to make me afraid of life. You would have formalized me. You would have compressed me into a two-by- four pigeonhole of life, where all lifes values are unreal, and false, and vulgar." He felt her stir protestingly. "Vulgarity--a hearty vulgarity, Ill admit--is the basis of bourgeois refinement and culture. As I say, you wanted to formalize me, to make me over into one of your own class, with your

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