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Martin Eden 184

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Martin Eden

The Pickwick Papers

The Sea Wolf

magnificent, desperate. And yet, what was the matter with him? He was not thrilled nor stirred by what she had done. It was splendid and magnificent only intellectually. In what should have been a moment of fire, he coldly appraised her. His heart was untouched. He was unaware of any desire for her. Again he remembered Lizzies words. "I am sick, very sick," he said with a despairing gesture. "How sick I did not know till now. Something has gone out of me. I have always been unafraid of life, but I never dreamed of being sated with life. Life has so filled me that I am empty of any desire for anything. If there were room, I should want you, now. You see how sick I am." He leaned his head back and closed his eyes; and like a child, crying, that forgets its grief in watching the sunlight percolate through the tear-dimmed films over the pupils, so Martin forgot his sickness, the presence of Ruth, everything, in watching the masses of vegetation, shot through hotly with sunshine that took form and blazed against this background of his eyelids. It was not restful, that green foliage. The sunlight was too raw and glaring. It hurt him to look at it, and yet he looked, he knew not why. He was brought back to himself by the rattle of the door-knob. Ruth was at the door. "How shall I get out?" she questioned tearfully. "I am afraid." "Oh, forgive me," he cried, springing to his feet. "Im not myself, you know. I forgot you were here." He put his hand to his head. "You see, Im not just right. Ill take you home. We can go out by the servants entrance. No one will see us. Pull down that veil and everything will be all right." She clung to his arm through the dim-lighted passages and down the narrow stairs. "I am safe now," she said, when they emerged on the sidewalk, at the same time starting to take her hand from his arm. "No, no, Ill see you home," he answered. "No, please dont," she objected. "It is unnecessary." Again she started to remove her hand. He felt a momentary curiosity. Now that she was out of danger she was afraid. She was in almost a panic to be quit of him. He could see no reason for it and attributed it to her nervousness. So he restrained her withdrawing hand and started to walk on with her. Halfway down the block, he saw a man in a long overcoat shrink back into a doorway. He shot a glance in as he passed by, and, despite the high turned-up collar, he was certain that he recognized Ruths brother, Norman. During the walk Ruth and Martin held little conversation. She was stunned. He was apathetic. Once, he mentioned that he was going away, back to the South Seas, and, once, she asked him to forgive her having come to him. And that was all. The parting at her door was conventional. They shook hands, said good night, and he lifted his hat. The door swung shut, and he lighted a cigarette and turned back for his hotel. When he came to the doorway into which he had seen Norman shrink, he stopped and looked in in a speculative humor. "She lied," he said aloud. "She made believe to me that she had dared greatly, and all the while she knew the brother that brought her was waiting to take her back." He burst into laughter. "Oh, these bourgeois! When I was broke, I was not fit to be seen with his sister. When I have a bank account, he brings her to me." As he swung on his heel to go on, a tramp, going in the same direction, begged him over his shoulder. "Say, mister, can you give me a quarter to get a bed?" were the words. But it was the voice that made Martin turn around. The next instant he had Joe by the hand. "Dye remember that time we parted at the Hot Springs?" the other was saying. "I said then wed meet again. I felt it in my bones. An here we are." "Youre looking good," Martin said

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