ћартин »ден / Martin Eden
скачать книгу бесплатно
He opened the door with a key and went in, followed by a young fellow who awkwardly removed his cap. He wore rough clothes of a sailor. He did not know what to do with his cap.
The wide rooms seemed too narrow for him. His heavy arms hung at his sides. He did not know what to do with those arms and hands. He watched the easy walk of the other in front of him, and for the first time realized that his walk was different from that of other men. The sweat burst through the skin of his forehead in tiny beads, and he paused and mopped his bronzed face with his handkerchief.
УHold on, Arthur,1
УThatТs all right,Ф was the reassuring answer. УYou mustnТt be frightened at us.2
He stepped back to the table, opened the envelope, and began to read, giving the stranger an opportunity to recover himself. And the stranger understood and appreciated.
An oil painting drew his attention. There was beauty, and it drew him irresistibly. He forgot his awkward walk and came closer to the painting, very close. He did not know painting. He had seen oil paintings, it was true, in the show windows of shops, but the glass of the windows did not allow him to come closer.
Then he saw the books on the table. He glanced at the titles and the authorsТ names, read fragments of text, caressing the volumes with his eyes and hands, and, once, recognized a book he had read. He took a volume of Swinburne3
And then he turned and saw the girl. She was a pale, ethereal creature, with wide, spiritual blue eyes and a wealth of golden hair. He did not know how she was dressed, except that the dress was as wonderful as she. She was like a pale gold flower upon a slender stem. No, she was a spirit, a divinity, a goddess. She looked him straight in the eyes as she shook hands, frankly, like a man. The women he had known did not shake hands that way.7
He waved his hand and muttered that he had done nothing at all. He sat down on the edge of the chair, greatly worried by his hands.
УYou have such a scar on your neck, Mr. Eden,Ф the girl was saying. УHow did it happen?Ф
УA Mexican with a knife, miss,Ф he answered. УIt was just a fight.Ф
УOh,Ф the girl said, in a faint, far voice, and he noticed the shock in her sensitive face.
He felt a shock himself. There was a brief pause in the conversation.
УSwineburne,Ф he repeated, with the same mispronunciation. УThe poet.Ф
УSwinburne,Ф she corrected.
УYes, thatТs the chap,Ф he stammered, his cheeks hot again. УHow long since he died?Ф
УWhy, I havenТt heard that he was dead.Ф She looked at him curiously. УWhere did you meet him?Ф
УI never saw him,Ф was the reply. УBut I read some of his poetry out of that book there on the table just before you come in. How do you like his poetry?Ф
And she began to talk quickly and easily upon the subject that he had suggested. Here was intellectual life, he thought, and here was beauty. He forgot himself and stared at her with hungry eyes. The books were true. There were such women in the world. She was one of them.
УYes, IТve read it,Ф he was glad to say so. УСThe Psalm of Life,Т СExcelsior,11
She nodded her head and smiled, and he felt, somehow, that her smile was tolerant, pitifully tolerant.
УExcuse me, miss. I guess that I donТt know much about such things. But I will know itЕФ
It sounded like a threat. His voice was determined, his eyes were flashing.
УI think you will know it,Ф she finished with a laugh. УYou are very strong.Ф
УYes, IТm not an invalid,Ф he said. УBut most of what you were saying I canТt digest, you see. I like books and poetry, but IТve never thought about them. ThatТs why I canТt talk about them. How did you learn all this?Ф
УBy going to school, and by studying,Ф she answered.
УI went to school when I was a kid,Ф he began to object.
УYes; but I mean high school, and lectures, and the university.Ф
УYouТve gone to the university?Ф he demanded in frank amazement.
УIТm going there now.Ф
At the same moment a woman was entering the room. The girl left her chair and came to the woman. They kissed each other. That must be her mother, he thought. She was a tall, blond woman, slender, and stately, and beautiful.
Their journey to the dining room was a nightmare to him. But at last he had made it. The array of knives and forks frightened him. Well, he must be careful here.
He glanced around the table. Opposite him was Arthur, and ArthurТs brother, Norman.12
He was unaware of what he ate. It was merely food.14
УIt was brave of you to help Arthur Ц and you a stranger,Ф she said tactfully.
He paused. Arthur continued the story, for the twentieth time, of his adventure with the drunken hooligans on the ferry-boat and of how Martin Eden had rescued him.
Martin Eden nodded. He began to tell the company about his sea life, what he saw and what he knew.
For the first time he became himself. And while he talked, the girl looked at him with startled eyes. His fire warmed her. She wanted to lean toward this burning, blazing man that was like a volcano full of strength, and health. Ruth saw horror in her motherТs eyes Ц fascinated horror, it was true, but none the less16
Later, at the piano, she played for him. And she, glancing at him across her shoulder, saw something in his face.
УThe greatest time of my life, you seeЕ ItТs all new to me, and I like it.Ф
УI hope youТll visit us again,Ф she said, as he was saying good night to her brothers.
He pulled on his cap, and was gone.
УWell, what do you think of him?Ф Arthur demanded.
УHe is interesting,Ф she answered. УHow old is he?Ф
УTwenty Ц almost twenty-one. I asked him this afternoon. I didnТt think he was that young.Ф
And I am three years older, was the thought in her mind as she kissed her brothers goodnight.
Martin Eden took out a brown rice paper and a pinch of Mexican tobacco. УBy God!17
He had met the Woman. He had sat next to her at table. He had felt her hand in his, he had looked into her eyes. This feeling of the divine startled him. He had never believed in the divine. He had always been irreligious. There was no life beyond; it was here and now, then darkness everlasting. But what he had seen in her eyes was soul Ц immortal soul that never dies. Nobody had given him the message of immortality. But she had. She had whispered it to him the first moment she looked at him. He did not deserve such fortune. He was like a drunken man, murmuring aloud: УBy God! By God!Ф
He caught a car18
The car came to the two-story building with the proud sign, HIGGINBOTHAMТS CASH STORE.20
He entered a room, where sat his sister and Bernard Higginbotham. Martin Eden never looked at him without repulsion. What his sister had found in that man was a mystery.
Martin controlled himself and closed the door softly behind him.
Mr. Higginbotham looked at his wife exultantly.
УHe is drunk,Ф he proclaimed in a hoarse whisper. УI told you. A fine example to the children! If he does it again, heТs got to get out.24
His wife sighed, and shook her head sorrowfully. Mr. Higginbotham asked:
УHas he paid last weekТs board?Ф
She nodded, then added, УHe still has some money.Ф
УWhen is he going to sea again?Ф
УHe was over to San Francisco yesterday looking for a ship,Ф she answered. УBut heТs got money at the moment.Ф
УI can give him a job: to drive the wagon,Ф her husband said. УTom went away.Ф
УI told you youТd lose him,Ф she cried out. УYou paid him very little.Ф
УNow look here, old woman, for the thousandth time IТve told you to keep your nose out of the business. I wonТt tell you again.Ф
УI donТt care,Ф she said. УTom was a good boy.Ф Her husband glared at her.
УYour brother Ц Ф he began.
УHe pays his board,Ф was the retort. УAnd heТs my brother, what do you want?Ф
УI will charge him for gas: he is reading in bed,Ф her husband answered.
Mrs. Higginbotham made no reply. Her husband was triumphant.
Martin Eden entered his room, a tiny hole with space for a bed, a wash-stand,25
УRuth.Ф He had not thought a simple sound could be so beautiful. This name delighted his ear.26
He got up abruptly and tried to see himself in the dirty looking-glass28
He sat back on the bed with a bitter laugh, and took off his shoes. He took the Browning29
УMartin Eden, tomorrow you go to the library and read up on etiquette.Ф
He awoke next morning in a steamy atmosphere. As he came out of his room he heard the slosh of water, a sharp exclamation. The squall of the child went through him like a knife. How different, he thought, from the atmosphere of beauty and repose of the house wherein Ruth dwelt. There it was all spiritual. Here it was all material.
УCome here, Alfred,30
His sister looked at him. The tears welled into her eyes.
УYouТll find breakfast in the oven,Ф she said hurriedly.
Martin went into the kitchen. Then he went downstairs and out into the street. He had debated between the Berkeley Library and the Oakland Library, and chose the latter because Ruth lived in Oakland. He wandered through endless rows of books, and did not know what to ask the man at the desk.
УDid you find what you wanted?Ф the man at the desk asked him as he was leaving.
УYes, sir,Ф he answered. УYou have a fine library here.Ф
The man nodded. УWe should be glad to see you here often. Are you a sailor?Ф
УYes, sir,Ф he answered. УAnd IТll come again.Ф
Now, how did he know that? he asked himself as he went down the stairs.
Martin Eden was afraid that he might visit Ruth too soon. He spent long hours in the Oakland and Berkeley libraries. He burned the gas late in the servantТs room, and was charged fifty cents a week for it by Mr. Higginbotham.
He read many books; every page of every book was a hole into the realm of knowledge. His hunger increased. He read more of Swinburne than was contained in the volume Ruth had given him. Then he studied KiplingТs poems. Psychology was a new word in MartinТs vocabulary.
He dared not go near RuthТs house in the daytime, but at night he was lurking like a thief around the Morse home.
He had undergone a moral revolution. Her cleanness and purity made him clean, too. He began to brush his teeth, and used a nail-brush. He found a book in the library on the care of the body, and promptly decided to have a cold-water bath every morning.
The reform went deeper. He still smoked, but he drank no more. He was drunken in new and more profound ways Ц with Ruth, who had fired him with love and with a glimpse of higher and eternal life; with books, and with the sense of personal cleanliness.
One night he went to the theatre, and from the second balcony he did see her. He saw her with Arthur and a strange young man with eyeglasses.
He left his seat before the curtain went down on the last act. He wanted to see her again. Suddenly two girls appeared. One of them was a slender, dark girl, with black, defiant eyes. They smiled at him, and he smiled back.
УHello,Ф he said.
It was automatic. The black-eyed girl smiled, and showed signs of stopping. At the corner where the main stream of people flowed onward, he started to follow the cross street. But the girl with the black eyes caught his arm, and cried:
УBill! Where are you going?Ф
He halted with a laugh, and turned back.
УWhatТs her name?Ф he asked the giggling girl, nodding at the dark-eyed one.
УYou ask her,Ф was the response.
УWell, what is it?Ф he demanded, turning on the girl in question.
УYou didnТt tell me yours, yet,Ф she retorted.
УYou never asked it,Ф he smiled. УBut, true, itТs Bill, all right, all right.Ф
УOh,Ф she looked him in the eyes. УWhat is it, honest?Ф
Oh, he knew those girls, and knew them well, from A to Z. They work hard, they are nervously desirous for some happiness in the desert of existence.
УBill,Ф he answered, nodding his head. УSure, Bill and no other.Ф
УHe isnТt Bill at all,Ф her friend noticed.
УHow do you know?Ф he demanded. УYou never saw me before.Ф
УNo need to, to know youТre lying,Ф was the retort.
Those girls from the factoryЕ The cheap cloth, the cheap ribbons, and the cheap rings on the fingers. He felt a tug at his arm, and heard a voice saying:
УWake up, Bill! WhatТs the matter with you?Ф
УWhat were you saying?Ф he asked. УThereТs only one thing wrong with the programme,Ф he said aloud. УIТve got a date already.Ф
The girlТs eyes blazed her disappointment.
УTo visit a sick friend, I suppose?Ф she sneered.
УNo, a real, honest date with Ц Ф he faltered, Уwith a girl. But why canТt we meet some other time? You didnТt tell me your name. And where do you live?Ф
He talked on a few minutes before saying good night. He did not go home immediately; and under the tree he looked up at a window and murmured: УThat date was with you, Ruth.Ф
A week of heavy reading had passed since the evening he first met Ruth Morse, and still he dared not call. He did not know the proper time to call, and he was afraid of a blunder. He left his old companions, and has no new companions. Nothing remained for him but to read, and long hours he devoted to it. But his eyes were strong, and they were placed on a strong body.
It seemed to him, by the end of the week, that he had lived centuries, so far behind33
Poetry, however, was his solace, and he read much of it, finding his greatest joy in the simpler poets, whom he could understand. He loved beauty, and there he found beauty. Poetry, like music, touched him profoundly. The pages of his mind were blank, so he was soon able to extract great joy from chanting aloud. He enjoyed music and the beauty of the printed words he had read.
The man at the desk in the library had seen Martin there so often that he had become quite cordial, always greeting him with a smile and a nod when he entered. One day Martin asked him:
УWell, thereТs something IТd like to ask you.Ф
The man smiled and paid attention.
УWhen you meet a young lady and she asks you to come, how soon can you come?Ф
УWhy, any time,Ф the man answered.
УYes, but this is different,Ф Martin objected. УShe Ц I Ц well, you see, itТs this way: maybe she wonТt be there. She goes to the university.Ф
УThen come again.Ф
УIf I couldЕ,Ф he said.
УI beg pardon?Ф
УWhat is the best time to come? The afternoon? Or the evening? Or Sunday?Ф
УIТll do it,Ф he said, picking up his books and starting away.
He turned back and asked:
УWhen youТre speaking to a young lady Ц say, for instance, Miss Lizzie Smith36
УSay СMiss Smith,ТФ the librarian stated authoritatively. УSay СMiss SmithТ always Ц until you come to know her better.37
So it was that Martin Eden solved the problem.
УPlease, come any time; IТll be at home all afternoon,Ф was RuthТs reply over the telephone to his request as to when he could return the borrowed books.
She met him at the door herself, and her womanТs eyes noticed the certain slight but indefinable change in him for the better.38
Once they were seated in the living-room, they talked first of the borrowed books, of Swinburne, and of Browning. Ruth wanted to help him. His neck was near, and there was sweetness in the thought of laying her hands upon it. She did not dream that the feeling he excited in her was love. She thought she was merely interested in him as an unusual type.
She did not know she desired him; but with him it was different. He knew that he loved her, and he desired her as he had never before desired anything in his life. He had loved poetry for its beauty; but since he met her the gates to the vast field of love-poetry had been opened wide.
His gaze wandered often toward her lips, and he yearned for them hungrily. But there was nothing gross or earthly in it. They were lips of pure spirit, and his desire for them seemed absolutely different from the desire that had led him to other womenТs lips. He did not dream how ardent and masculine his gaze was, her spirit was affecting him. Her virginity exalted and disguised his own emotions, elevating his thoughts to a chastity.
УI wonder if I can get some advice from you,Ф he began. УYou remember I said I couldnТt talk about books and other things because I didnТt know how? Well, IТve done a lot of things ever since. I never had any advantages. IТve worked hard ever since I was a kid. I was never inside a house like this. When I come a week ago, and saw all this, and you, and your mother, and brothers, and everything Ц well, I liked it. IТd heard about such things and read about such things in some of the books, and when I looked around at your house, why, the books come true.39
скачать книгу бесплатно