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Martin Eden 6

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Martin Eden

The Pickwick Papers

The Sea Wolf

that way. I guess the real facts is that I dont know nothin much about such things. It aint in my class. But Im goin to make it in my class." It sounded like a threat. His voice was determined, his eyes were flashing, the lines of his face had grown harsh. And to her it seemed that the angle of his jaw had changed; its pitch had become unpleasantly aggressive. At the same time a wave of intense virility seemed to surge out from him and impinge upon her. "I think you could make it in--in your class," she finished with a laugh. "You are very strong." Her gaze rested for a moment on the muscular neck, heavy corded, almost bull-like, bronzed by the sun, spilling over with rugged health and strength. And though he sat there, blushing and humble, again she felt drawn to him. She was surprised by a wanton thought that rushed into her mind. It seemed to her that if she could lay her two hands upon that neck that all its strength and vigor would flow out to her. She was shocked by this thought. It seemed to reveal to her an undreamed depravity in her nature. Besides, strength to her was a gross and brutish thing. Her ideal of masculine beauty had always been slender gracefulness. Yet the thought still persisted. It bewildered her that she should desire to place her hands on that sunburned neck. In truth, she was far from robust, and the need of her body and mind was for strength. But she did not know it. She knew only that no man had ever affected her before as this one had, who shocked her from moment to moment with his awful grammar. "Yes, I aint no invalid," he said. "When it comes down to hard-pan, I can digest scrap-iron. But just now Ive got dyspepsia. Most of what you was sayin I cant digest. Never trained that way, you see. I like books and poetry, and what time Ive had Ive read em, but Ive never thought about em the way you have. Thats why I cant talk about em. Im like a navigator adrift on a strange sea without chart or compass. Now I want to get my bearins. Mebbe you can put me right. How did you learn all this youve ben talkin?" "By going to school, I fancy, and by studying," she answered. "I went to school when I was a kid," he began to object. "Yes; but I mean high school, and lectures, and the university." "Youve gone to the university?" he demanded in frank amazement. He felt that she had become remoter from him by at least a million miles. "Im going there now. Im taking special courses in English." He did not know what "English" meant, but he made a mental note of that item of ignorance and passed on. "How long would I have to study before I could go to the university?" he asked. She beamed encouragement upon his desire for knowledge, and said: "That depends upon how much studying you have already done. You have never attended high school? Of course not. But did you finish grammar school?" "I had two years to run, when I left," he answered. "But I was always honorably promoted at school." The next moment, angry with himself for the boast, he had gripped the arms of the chair so savagely that every finger-end was stinging. At the same moment he became aware that a woman was entering the room. He saw the girl leave her chair and trip swiftly across the floor to the newcomer. They kissed each other, and, with arms around each others waists, they advanced toward him. That must be her mother, he thought. She was a tall, blond woman, slender, and stately, and beautiful. Her gown was what he might expect in such a house. His eyes delighted in the graceful lines of it. She and her dress together reminded him of women on the stage. Then he remembered seeing similar grand ladies and gowns entering the London theatres while he stood and watched and the policemen shoved him back into the drizzle beyond the awning. Next his mind leaped to the Grand Hotel at Yokohama, where, too, from the sidewalk,

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