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Martin Eden 42







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Books:

Martin Eden

The Pickwick Papers

The Sea Wolf




it, abominable. I should advise you--" Professor Hilton paused and glared at him, unsympathetic and unimaginative as one of his own test-tubes. He was professor of physics in the high school, possessor of a large family, a meagre salary, and a select fund of parrot-learned knowledge. "Yes, sir," Martin said humbly, wishing somehow that the man at the desk in the library was in Professor Hiltons place just then. "And I should advise you to go back to the grammar school for at least two years. Good day." Martin was not deeply affected by his failure, though he was surprised at Ruths shocked expression when he told her Professor Hiltons advice. Her disappointment was so evident that he was sorry he had failed, but chiefly so for her sake. "You see I was right," she said. "You know far more than any of the students entering high school, and yet you cant pass the examinations. It is because what education you have is fragmentary, sketchy. You need the discipline of study, such as only skilled teachers can give you. You must be thoroughly grounded. Professor Hilton is right, and if I were you, Id go to night school. A year and a half of it might enable you to catch up that additional six months. Besides, that would leave you your days in which to write, or, if you could not make your living by your pen, you would have your days in which to work in some position." But if my days are taken up with work and my nights with school, when am I going to see you?--was Martins first thought, though he refrained from uttering it. Instead, he said:- "It seems so babyish for me to be going to night school. But I wouldnt mind that if I thought it would pay. But I dont think it will pay. I can do the work quicker than they can teach me. It would be a loss of time--" he thought of her and his desire to have her--"and I cant afford the time. I havent the time to spare, in fact." "There is so much that is necessary." She looked at him gently, and he was a brute to oppose her. "Physics and chemistry--you cant do them without laboratory study; and youll find algebra and geometry almost hopeless with instruction. You need the skilled teachers, the specialists in the art of imparting knowledge." He was silent for a minute, casting about for the least vainglorious way in which to express himself. "Please dont think Im bragging," he began. "I dont intend it that way at all. But I have a feeling that I am what I may call a natural student. I can study by myself. I take to it kindly, like a duck to water. You see yourself what I did with grammar. And Ive learned much of other things--you would never dream how much. And Im only getting started. Wait till I get--" He hesitated and assured himself of the pronunciation before he said "momentum. Im getting my first real feel of things now. Im beginning to size up the situation--" "Please dont say size up," she interrupted. "To get a line on things," he hastily amended. "That doesnt mean anything in correct English," she objected. He floundered for a fresh start. "What Im driving at is that Im beginning to get the lay of the land." Out of pity she forebore, and he went on. "Knowledge seems to me like a chart-room. Whenever I go into the library, I am impressed that way. The part played by teachers is to teach the student the contents of the chart-room in a systematic way. The teachers are guides to the chart-room, thats all. Its not something that they have in their own heads. They dont make it up, dont create it. Its all in the chart-room and they know their way about in it, and its their business to show the place to strangers who might else get lost. Now I dont get lost easily. I have the bump of location. I usually know where Im at--Whats wrong now?" "Dont say where Im at." "Thats right," he said gratefully, "where I am. But where am I at--I mean, where am I? Oh, yes, in the chart-room. Well,

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