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Martin Eden 78







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Martin Eden

The Pickwick Papers

The Sea Wolf




the frat girls, and he is tugging hard, and showing his teeth, and threatening to break loose." Again her mother waited. "He interests me, I suppose, like the bulldog. And there is much good in him, too; but there is much in him that I would not like in--in the other way. You see, I have been thinking. He swears, he smokes, he drinks, he has fought with his fists (he has told me so, and he likes it; he says so). He is all that a man should not be--a man I would want for my--" her voice sank very low--"husband. Then he is too strong. My prince must be tall, and slender, and dark--a graceful, bewitching prince. No, there is no danger of my failing in love with Martin Eden. It would be the worst fate that could befall me." "But it is not that that I spoke about," her mother equivocated. "Have you thought about him? He is so ineligible in every way, you know, and suppose he should come to love you?" "But he does--already," she cried. "It was to be expected," Mrs. Morse said gently. "How could it be otherwise with any one who knew you?" "Olney hates me!" she exclaimed passionately. "And I hate Olney. I feel always like a cat when he is around. I feel that I must be nasty to him, and even when I dont happen to feel that way, why, hes nasty to me, anyway. But I am happy with Martin Eden. No one ever loved me before--no man, I mean, in that way. And it is sweet to be loved--that way. You know what I mean, mother dear. It is sweet to feel that you are really and truly a woman." She buried her face in her mothers lap, sobbing. "You think I am dreadful, I know, but I am honest, and I tell you just how I feel." Mrs. Morse was strangely sad and happy. Her child-daughter, who was a bachelor of arts, was gone; but in her place was a woman-daughter. The experiment had succeeded. The strange void in Ruths nature had been filled, and filled without danger or penalty. This rough sailor-fellow had been the instrument, and, though Ruth did not love him, he had made her conscious of her womanhood. "His hand trembles," Ruth was confessing, her face, for shames sake, still buried. "It is most amusing and ridiculous, but I feel sorry for him, too. And when his hands are too trembly, and his eyes too shiny, why, I lecture him about his life and the wrong way he is going about it to mend it. But he worships me, I know. His eyes and his hands do not lie. And it makes me feel grown-up, the thought of it, the very thought of it; and I feel that I am possessed of something that is by rights my own--that makes me like the other girls--and--and young women. And, then, too, I knew that I was not like them before, and I knew that it worried you. You thought you did not let me know that dear worry of yours, but I did, and I wanted to--to make good, as Martin Eden says." It was a holy hour for mother and daughter, and their eyes were wet as they talked on in the twilight, Ruth all white innocence and frankness, her mother sympathetic, receptive, yet calmly explaining and guiding. "He is four years younger than you," she said. "He has no place in the world. He has neither position nor salary. He is impractical. Loving you, he should, in the name of common sense, be doing something that would give him the right to marry, instead of paltering around with those stories of his and with childish dreams. Martin Eden, I am afraid, will never grow up. He does not take to responsibility and a mans work in the world like your father did, or like all our friends, Mr. Butler for one. Martin Eden, I am afraid, will never be a money-earner. And this world is so ordered that money is necessary to happiness--oh, no, not these swollen fortunes, but enough of money to permit of common comfort and decency. He--he has never spoken?" "He has not breathed a word.

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