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Martin Eden 5







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Books:

Martin Eden

The Pickwick Papers

The Sea Wolf




heroic deeds for womans sake--for a pale woman, a flower of gold. And through the swaying, palpitant vision, as through a fairy mirage, he stared at the real woman, sitting there and talking of literature and art. He listened as well, but he stared, unconscious of the fixity of his gaze or of the fact that all that was essentially masculine in his nature was shining in his eyes. But she, who knew little of the world of men, being a woman, was keenly aware of his burning eyes. She had never had men look at her in such fashion, and it embarrassed her. She stumbled and halted in her utterance. The thread of argument slipped from her. He frightened her, and at the same time it was strangely pleasant to be so looked upon. Her training warned her of peril and of wrong, subtle, mysterious, luring; while her instincts rang clarion-voiced through her being, impelling her to hurdle caste and place and gain to this traveller from another world, to this uncouth young fellow with lacerated hands and a line of raw red caused by the unaccustomed linen at his throat, who, all too evidently, was soiled and tainted by ungracious existence. She was clean, and her cleanness revolted; but she was woman, and she was just beginning to learn the paradox of woman. "As I was saying--what was I saying?" She broke off abruptly and laughed merrily at her predicament. "You was saying that this man Swinburne failed bein a great poet because--an that was as far as you got, miss," he prompted, while to himself he seemed suddenly hungry, and delicious little thrills crawled up and down his spine at the sound of her laughter. Like silver, he thought to himself, like tinkling silver bells; and on the instant, and for an instant, he was transported to a far land, where under pink cherry blossoms, he smoked a cigarette and listened to the bells of the peaked pagoda calling straw-sandalled devotees to worship. "Yes, thank you," she said. "Swinburne fails, when all is said, because he is, well, indelicate. There are many of his poems that should never be read. Every line of the really great poets is filled with beautiful truth, and calls to all that is high and noble in the human. Not a line of the great poets can be spared without impoverishing the world by that much." "I thought it was great," he said hesitatingly, "the little I read. I had no idea he was such a--a scoundrel. I guess that crops out in his other books." "There are many lines that could be spared from the book you were reading," she said, her voice primly firm and dogmatic. "I must a missed em," he announced. "What I read was the real goods. It was all lighted up an shining, an it shun right into me an lighted me up inside, like the sun or a searchlight. Thats the way it landed on me, but I guess I aint up much on poetry, miss." He broke off lamely. He was confused, painfully conscious of his inarticulateness. He had felt the bigness and glow of life in what he had read, but his speech was inadequate. He could not express what he felt, and to himself he likened himself to a sailor, in a strange ship, on a dark night, groping about in the unfamiliar running rigging. Well, he decided, it was up to him to get acquainted in this new world. He had never seen anything that he couldnt get the hang of when he wanted to and it was about time for him to want to learn to talk the things that were inside of him so that she could understand. _She_ was bulking large on his horizon. "Now Longfellow--" she was saying. "Yes, Ive read m," he broke in impulsively, spurred on to exhibit and make the most of his little store of book knowledge, desirous of showing her that he was not wholly a stupid clod. "The Psalm of Life, Excelsior, an . . . I guess thats all." She nodded her head and smiled, and he felt, somehow, that her smile was tolerant, pitifully tolerant. He was a fool to attempt to make a pretence that way. That Longfellow chap most likely had written countless books of poetry. "Excuse me, miss, for buttin in

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