Martin Eden HTML version

Chapter 40
"Overdue" still continued to lie forgotten on the table. Every manuscript that he
had had out now lay under the table. Only one manuscript he kept going, and
that was Brissenden's "Ephemera." His bicycle and black suit were again in
pawn, and the type-writer people were once more worrying about the rent. But
such things no longer bothered him. He was seeking a new orientation, and until
that was found his life must stand still.
After several weeks, what he had been waiting for happened. He met Ruth on
the street. It was true, she was accompanied by her brother, Norman, and it was
true that they tried to ignore him and that Norman attempted to wave him aside.
"If you interfere with my sister, I'll call an officer," Norman threatened. "She does
not wish to speak with you, and your insistence is insult."
"If you persist, you'll have to call that officer, and then you'll get your name in the
papers," Martin answered grimly. "And now, get out of my way and get the officer
if you want to. I'm going to talk with Ruth."
"I want to have it from your own lips," he said to her.
She was pale and trembling, but she held up and looked inquiringly.
"The question I asked in my letter," he prompted.
Norman made an impatient movement, but Martin checked him with a swift look.
She shook her head.
"Is all this of your own free will?" he demanded.
"It is." She spoke in a low, firm voice and with deliberation. "It is of my own free
will. You have disgraced me so that I am ashamed to meet my friends. They are
all talking about me, I know. That is all I can tell you. You have made me very
unhappy, and I never wish to see you again."
"Friends! Gossip! Newspaper misreports! Surely such things are not stronger
than love! I can only believe that you never loved me."
A blush drove the pallor from her face.
"After what has passed?" she said faintly. "Martin, you do not know what you are
saying. I am not common."