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The Pickwick Papers 71







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Martin Eden

The Pickwick Papers

The Sea Wolf




locked and barred. They know what a clever madman I have been, and they are proud to have me here, to show. Let me see: yes, I had been out. It was late at night when I reached home, and found the proudest of the three proud brothers waiting to see me--urgent business he said: I recollect it well. I hated that man with all a madmans hate. Many and many a time had my fingers longed to tear him. They told me he was there. I ran swiftly upstairs. He had a word to say to me. I dismissed the servants. It was late, and we were alone together-- for the first time. I kept my eyes carefully from him at first, for I knew what he little thought--and I gloried in the knowledge--that the light of madness gleamed from them like fire. We sat in silence for a few minutes. He spoke at last. My recent dissipation, and strange remarks, made so soon after his sisters death, were an insult to her memory. Coupling together many circumstances which had at first escaped his observation, he thought I had not treated her well. He wished to know whether he was right in inferring that I meant to cast a reproach upon her memory, and a disrespect upon her family. It was due to the uniform he wore, to demand this explanation. This man had a commission in the army--a commission, purchased with my money, and his sisters misery! This was the man who had been foremost in the plot to ensnare me, and grasp my wealth. This was the man who had been the main instrument in forcing his sister to wed me; well knowing that her heart was given to that puling boy. Due to his uniform! The livery of his degradation! I turned my eyes upon him--I could not help it-- but I spoke not a word. I saw the sudden change that came upon him beneath my gaze. He was a bold man, but the colour faded from his face, and he drew back his chair. I dragged mine nearer to him; and I laughed--I was very merry then--I saw him shudder. I felt the madness rising within me. He was afraid of me. "You were very fond of your sister when she was alive," I said.--"Very." He looked uneasily round him, and I saw his hand grasp the back of his chair; but he said nothing. "You villain," said I, "I found you out: I discovered your hellish plots against me; I know her heart was fixed on some one else before you compelled her to marry me. I know it--I know it." He jumped suddenly from his chair, brandished it aloft, and bid me stand back--for I took care to be getting closer to him all the time I spoke. I screamed rather than talked, for I felt tumultuous passions eddying through my veins, and the old spirits whispering and taunting me to tear his heart out. "Damn you," said I, starting up, and rushing upon him; "I killed her. I am a madman. Down with you. Blood, blood! I will have it!" I turned aside with one blow the chair he hurled at me in his terror, and closed with him; and with a heavy crash we rolled upon the floor together. It was a fine struggle that; for he was a tall, strong man, fighting for his life; and I, a powerful madman, thirsting to destroy him. I knew no strength could equal mine, and I was right. Right again, though a madman! His struggles grew fainter. I knelt upon his chest, and clasped his brawny throat firmly with both hands. His face grew purple; his eyes were starting from his head, and with protruded tongue, he seemed to mock me. I squeezed the tighter. The door was suddenly burst open with a loud noise, and a crowd of people rushed forward, crying aloud to each other to secure the madman. My secret was out; and my only struggle now was for liberty and freedom. I gained my feet before a hand was on me, threw myself among my assailants, and cleared my way with my strong arm, as if I bore a hatchet in my hand, and hewed them down before me. I gained the door, dropped over the banisters, and in an

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