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Martin Eden 85

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Martin Eden

The Pickwick Papers

The Sea Wolf

you, Martin, not until just now. How did you make me love you?" "I dont know," he laughed, "unless just by loving you, for I loved you hard enough to melt the heart of a stone, much less the heart of the living, breathing woman you are." "This is so different from what I thought love would be," she announced irrelevantly. "What did you think it would be like?" "I didnt think it would be like this." She was looking into his eyes at the moment, but her own dropped as she continued, "You see, I didnt know what this was like." He offered to draw her toward him again, but it was no more than a tentative muscular movement of the girdling arm, for he feared that he might be greedy. Then he felt her body yielding, and once again she was close in his arms and lips were pressed on lips. "What will my people say?" she queried, with sudden apprehension, in one of the pauses. "I dont know. We can find out very easily any time we are so minded." "But if mamma objects? I am sure I am afraid to tell her." "Let me tell her," he volunteered valiantly. "I think your mother does not like me, but I can win her around. A fellow who can win you can win anything. And if we dont--" "Yes?" "Why, well have each other. But theres no danger not winning your mother to our marriage. She loves you too well." "I should not like to break her heart," Ruth said pensively. He felt like assuring her that mothers hearts were not so easily broken, but instead he said, "And love is the greatest thing in the world." "Do you know, Martin, you sometimes frighten me. I am frightened now, when I think of you and of what you have been. You must be very, very good to me. Remember, after all, that I am only a child. I never loved before." "Nor I. We are both children together. And we are fortunate above most, for we have found our first love in each other." "But that is impossible!" she cried, withdrawing herself from his arms with a swift, passionate movement. "Impossible for you. You have been a sailor, and sailors, I have heard, are--are--" Her voice faltered and died away. "Are addicted to having a wife in every port?" he suggested. "Is that what you mean?" "Yes," she answered in a low voice. "But that is not love." He spoke authoritatively. "I have been in many ports, but I never knew a passing touch of love until I saw you that first night. Do you know, when I said good night and went away, I was almost arrested." "Arrested?" "Yes. The policeman thought I was drunk; and I was, too--with love for you." "But you said we were children, and I said it was impossible, for you, and we have strayed away from the point." "I said that I never loved anybody but you," he replied. "You are my first, my very first." "And yet you have been a sailor," she objected. "But that doesnt prevent me from loving you the first." "And there have been women--other women--oh!" And to Martin Edens supreme surprise, she burst into a storm of tears that took more kisses than one and many caresses to drive away. And all the while there was running through his head Kiplings line: "_And the Colonels lady and Judy OGrady are sisters under their skins_." It was true, he decided; though the novels he had read had led him to believe otherwise. His idea, for which the novels were responsible, had been that only formal proposals obtained in the upper classes. It was all right enough, down whence he had come, for youths and maidens to win each other by contact; but for the exalted personages up above on the heights to make love in similar fashion had seemed unthinkable. Yet the novels were wrong. Here was a proof of it. The same pressures and caresses, unaccompanied by speech, that were efficacious with the girls of the working-class, were equally efficacious with the girls above the working- class. They were all of the same flesh, after all, sisters under their skins; and he might have known as much himself had he remembered his Spencer. As he held Ruth in his arms and soothed

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