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Martin Eden 55

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Martin Eden

The Pickwick Papers

The Sea Wolf

he listened. Reason had nothing to do with love. It mattered not whether the woman he loved reasoned correctly or incorrectly. Love was above reason. If it just happened that she did not fully appreciate his necessity for a career, that did not make her a bit less lovable. She was all lovable, and what she thought had nothing to do with her lovableness. "Whats that?" he replied to a question from Olney that broke in upon his train of thought. "I was saying that I hoped you wouldnt be fool enough to tackle Latin." "But Latin is more than culture," Ruth broke in. "It is equipment." "Well, are you going to tackle it?" Olney persisted. Martin was sore beset. He could see that Ruth was hanging eagerly upon his answer. "I am afraid I wont have time," he said finally. "Id like to, but I wont have time." "You see, Martins not seeking culture," Olney exulted. "Hes trying to get somewhere, to do something." "Oh, but its mental training. Its mind discipline. Its what makes disciplined minds." Ruth looked expectantly at Martin, as if waiting for him to change his judgment. "You know, the foot-ball players have to train before the big game. And that is what Latin does for the thinker. It trains." "Rot and bosh! Thats what they told us when we were kids. But there is one thing they didnt tell us then. They let us find it out for ourselves afterwards." Olney paused for effect, then added, "And what they didnt tell us was that every gentleman should have studied Latin, but that no gentleman should know Latin." "Now thats unfair," Ruth cried. "I knew you were turning the conversation just in order to get off something." "Its clever all right," was the retort, "but its fair, too. The only men who know their Latin are the apothecaries, the lawyers, and the Latin professors. And if Martin wants to be one of them, I miss my guess. But whats all that got to do with Herbert Spencer anyway? Martins just discovered Spencer, and hes wild over him. Why? Because Spencer is taking him somewhere. Spencer couldnt take me anywhere, nor you. We havent got anywhere to go. Youll get married some day, and Ill have nothing to do but keep track of the lawyers and business agents who will take care of the money my fathers going to leave me." Onley got up to go, but turned at the door and delivered a parting shot. "You leave Martin alone, Ruth. He knows whats best for himself. Look at what hes done already. He makes me sick sometimes, sick and ashamed of myself. He knows more now about the world, and life, and mans place, and all the rest, than Arthur, or Norman, or I, or you, too, for that matter, and in spite of all our Latin, and French, and Saxon, and culture." "But Ruth is my teacher," Martin answered chivalrously. "She is responsible for what little I have learned." "Rats!" Olney looked at Ruth, and his expression was malicious. "I suppose youll be telling me next that you read Spencer on her recommendation--only you didnt. And she doesnt know anything more about Darwin and evolution than I do about King Solomons mines. Whats that jawbreaker definition about something or other, of Spencers, that you sprang on us the other day--that indefinite, incoherent homogeneity thing? Spring it on her, and see if she understands a word of it. That isnt culture, you see. Well, tra la, and if you tackle Latin, Martin, I wont have any respect for you." And all the while, interested in the discussion, Martin had been aware of an irk in it as well. It was about studies and lessons, dealing with the rudiments of knowledge, and the schoolboyish tone of it conflicted with the big things that were stirring in him--with the grip upon life that was even then crooking his fingers like eagles talons, with the cosmic thrills that made him ache, and with the inchoate consciousness of mastery of it all. He likened himself to a poet, wrecked on the shores of a strange land, filled with power of beauty, stumbling and stammering and vainly trying to sing in the rough, barbaric tongue of his brethren in the new land.

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