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Martin Eden 30

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Martin Eden

The Pickwick Papers

The Sea Wolf

and quick was her own mind that she did not have a just appreciation of simplicity. And yet she had caught an impression of power in the very groping of this mind. It had seemed to her like a giant writhing and straining at the bonds that held him down. Her face was all sympathy when she did speak. "What you need, you realize yourself, and it is education. You should go back and finish grammar school, and then go through to high school and university." "But that takes money," he interrupted. "Oh!" she cried. "I had not thought of that. But then you have relatives, somebody who could assist you?" He shook his head. "My father and mother are dead. Ive two sisters, one married, an the otherll get married soon, I suppose. Then Ive a string of brothers,--Im the youngest,--but they never helped nobody. Theyve just knocked around over the world, lookin out for number one. The oldest died in India. Two are in South Africa now, an anothers on a whaling voyage, an ones travellin with a circus--he does trapeze work. An I guess Im just like them. Ive taken care of myself since I was eleven--thats when my mother died. Ive got to study by myself, I guess, an what I want to know is where to begin." "I should say the first thing of all would be to get a grammar. Your grammar is--" She had intended saying "awful," but she amended it to "is not particularly good." He flushed and sweated. "I know I must talk a lot of slang an words you dont understand. But then theyre the only words I know--how to speak. Ive got other words in my mind, picked em up from books, but I cant pronounce em, so I dont use em." "It isnt what you say, so much as how you say it. You dont mind my being frank, do you? I dont want to hurt you." "No, no," he cried, while he secretly blessed her for her kindness. "Fire away. Ive got to know, an Id sooner know from you than anybody else." "Well, then, you say, You was; it should be, You were. You say I seen for I saw. You use the double negative--" "Whats the double negative?" he demanded; then added humbly, "You see, I dont even understand your explanations." "Im afraid I didnt explain that," she smiled. "A double negative is--let me see--well, you say, never helped nobody. Never is a negative. Nobody is another negative. It is a rule that two negatives make a positive. Never helped nobody means that, not helping nobody, they must have helped somebody." "Thats pretty clear," he said. "I never thought of it before. But it dont mean they _must_ have helped somebody, does it? Seems to me that never helped nobody just naturally fails to say whether or not they helped somebody. I never thought of it before, and Ill never say it again." She was pleased and surprised with the quickness and surety of his mind. As soon as he had got the clew he not only understood but corrected her error. "Youll find it all in the grammar," she went on. "Theres something else I noticed in your speech. You say dont when you shouldnt. Dont is a contraction and stands for two words. Do you know them?" He thought a moment, then answered, "Do not." She nodded her head, and said, "And you use dont when you mean does not." He was puzzled over this, and did not get it so quickly. "Give me an illustration," he asked. "Well--" She puckered her brows and pursed up her mouth as she thought, while he looked on and decided that her expression was most adorable. "It dont do to be hasty. Change dont to do not, and it reads, It do not do to be hasty, which is perfectly absurd." He turned it over in his mind and considered. "Doesnt it jar on your ear?" she suggested. "Cant say that it does," he replied judicially. "Why didnt you say, Cant say that it do?" she queried. "That sounds wrong," he said slowly. "As for the other I cant make up my mind. I guess my ear aint had the trainin yours has." "There is no such word as aint," she said, prettily emphatic. Martin

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