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Martin Eden 79







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Martin Eden

The Pickwick Papers

The Sea Wolf




He has not attempted to; but if he did, I would not let him, because, you see, I do not love him." "I am glad of that. I should not care to see my daughter, my one daughter, who is so clean and pure, love a man like him. There are noble men in the world who are clean and true and manly. Wait for them. You will find one some day, and you will love him and be loved by him, and you will be happy with him as your father and I have been happy with each other. And there is one thing you must always carry in mind--" "Yes, mother." Mrs. Morses voice was low and sweet as she said, "And that is the children." "I--have thought about them," Ruth confessed, remembering the wanton thoughts that had vexed her in the past, her face again red with maiden shame that she should be telling such things. "And it is that, the children, that makes Mr. Eden impossible," Mrs. Morse went on incisively. "Their heritage must be clean, and he is, I am afraid, not clean. Your father has told me of sailors lives, and--and you understand." Ruth pressed her mothers hand in assent, feeling that she really did understand, though her conception was of something vague, remote, and terrible that was beyond the scope of imagination. "You know I do nothing without telling you," she began. "--Only, sometimes you must ask me, like this time. I wanted to tell you, but I did not know how. It is false modesty, I know it is that, but you can make it easy for me. Sometimes, like this time, you must ask me, you must give me a chance." "Why, mother, you are a woman, too!" she cried exultantly, as they stood up, catching her mothers hands and standing erect, facing her in the twilight, conscious of a strangely sweet equality between them. "I should never have thought of you in that way if we had not had this talk. I had to learn that I was a woman to know that you were one, too." "We are women together," her mother said, drawing her to her and kissing her. "We are women together," she repeated, as they went out of the room, their arms around each others waists, their hearts swelling with a new sense of companionship. "Our little girl has become a woman," Mrs. Morse said proudly to her husband an hour later. "That means," he said, after a long look at his wife, "that means she is in love." "No, but that she is loved," was the smiling rejoinder. "The experiment has succeeded. She is awakened at last." "Then well have to get rid of him." Mr. Morse spoke briskly, in matter- of-fact, businesslike tones. But his wife shook her head. "It will not be necessary. Ruth says he is going to sea in a few days. When he comes back, she will not be here. We will send her to Aunt Claras. And, besides, a year in the East, with the change in climate, people, ideas, and everything, is just the thing she needs."

CHAPTER XX

The desire to write was stirring in Martin once more. Stories and poems were springing into spontaneous creation in his brain, and he made notes of them against the future time when he would give them expression. But he did not write. This was his little vacation; he had resolved to devote it to rest and love, and in both matters he prospered. He was soon spilling over with vitality, and each day he saw Ruth, at the moment of meeting, she experienced the old shock of his strength and health. "Be careful," her mother warned her once again. "I am afraid you are seeing too much of Martin Eden." But Ruth laughed from security. She was sure of herself, and in a few days he would be off to sea. Then, by the time he returned, she would be away on her visit East. There was a magic, however, in the strength and health of Martin. He, too, had been told of her contemplated Eastern trip, and he felt the need for haste. Yet he did not know how to make love to a girl like Ruth. Then, too, he was handicapped by the possession

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