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Martin Eden 77







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Books:

Martin Eden

The Pickwick Papers

The Sea Wolf




she dream that behind it and underlying it were the jealousy and desire of love. They rode on their wheels much in the delightful fall weather, and out in the hills they read poetry aloud, now one and now the other, noble, uplifting poetry that turned ones thoughts to higher things. Renunciation, sacrifice, patience, industry, and high endeavor were the principles she thus indirectly preached--such abstractions being objectified in her mind by her father, and Mr. Butler, and by Andrew Carnegie, who, from a poor immigrant boy had arisen to be the book-giver of the world. All of which was appreciated and enjoyed by Martin. He followed her mental processes more clearly now, and her soul was no longer the sealed wonder it had been. He was on terms of intellectual equality with her. But the points of disagreement did not affect his love. His love was more ardent than ever, for he loved her for what she was, and even her physical frailty was an added charm in his eyes. He read of sickly Elizabeth Barrett, who for years had not placed her feet upon the ground, until that day of flame when she eloped with Browning and stood upright, upon the earth, under the open sky; and what Browning had done for her, Martin decided he could do for Ruth. But first, she must love him. The rest would be easy. He would give her strength and health. And he caught glimpses of their life, in the years to come, wherein, against a background of work and comfort and general well-being, he saw himself and Ruth reading and discussing poetry, she propped amid a multitude of cushions on the ground while she read aloud to him. This was the key to the life they would live. And always he saw that particular picture. Sometimes it was she who leaned against him while he read, one arm about her, her head upon his shoulder. Sometimes they pored together over the printed pages of beauty. Then, too, she loved nature, and with generous imagination he changed the scene of their reading--sometimes they read in closed-in valleys with precipitous walls, or in high mountain meadows, and, again, down by the gray sand-dunes with a wreath of billows at their feet, or afar on some volcanic tropic isle where waterfalls descended and became mist, reaching the sea in vapor veils that swayed and shivered to every vagrant wisp of wind. But always, in the foreground, lords of beauty and eternally reading and sharing, lay he and Ruth, and always in the background that was beyond the background of nature, dim and hazy, were work and success and money earned that made them free of the world and all its treasures. "I should recommend my little girl to be careful," her mother warned her one day. "I know what you mean. But it is impossible. He if; not--" Ruth was blushing, but it was the blush of maidenhood called upon for the first time to discuss the sacred things of life with a mother held equally sacred. "Your kind." Her mother finished the sentence for her. Ruth nodded. "I did not want to say it, but he is not. He is rough, brutal, strong--too strong. He has not--" She hesitated and could not go on. It was a new experience, talking over such matters with her mother. And again her mother completed her thought for her. "He has not lived a clean life, is what you wanted to say." Again Ruth nodded, and again a blush mantled her face. "It is just that," she said. "It has not been his fault, but he has played much with--" "With pitch?" "Yes, with pitch. And he frightens me. Sometimes I am positively in terror of him, when he talks in that free and easy way of the things he has done--as if they did not matter. They do matter, dont they?" They sat with their arms twined around each other, and in the pause her mother patted her hand and waited for her to go on. "But I am interested in him dreadfully," she continued. "In a way he is my protege. Then, too, he is my first boy friend--but not exactly friend; rather protege and friend combined. Sometimes, too, when he frightens me, it seems that he is a bulldog I have taken for a plaything, like some of

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