Martin Eden HTML version

Chapter 10
He stopped to dinner that evening, and, much to Ruth's satisfaction, made a
favorable impression on her father. They talked about the sea as a career, a
subject which Martin had at his finger-ends, and Mr. Morse remarked afterward
that he seemed a very clear-headed young man. In his avoidance of slang and
his search after right words, Martin was compelled to talk slowly, which enabled
him to find the best thoughts that were in him. He was more at ease than that first
night at dinner, nearly a year before, and his shyness and modesty even
commended him to Mrs. Morse, who was pleased at his manifest improvement.
"He is the first man that ever drew passing notice from Ruth," she told her
husband. "She has been so singularly backward where men are concerned that I
have been worried greatly."
Mr. Morse looked at his wife curiously.
"You mean to use this young sailor to wake her up?" he questioned.
"I mean that she is not to die an old maid if I can help it," was the answer. "If this
young Eden can arouse her interest in mankind in general, it will be a good
"A very good thing," he commented. "But suppose, - and we must suppose,
sometimes, my dear, - suppose he arouses her interest too particularly in him?"
"Impossible," Mrs. Morse laughed. "She is three years older than he, and,
besides, it is impossible. Nothing will ever come of it. Trust that to me."
And so Martin's role was arranged for him, while he, led on by Arthur and
Norman, was meditating an extravagance. They were going out for a ride into the
hills Sunday morning on their wheels, which did not interest Martin until he
learned that Ruth, too, rode a wheel and was going along. He did not ride, nor
own a wheel, but if Ruth rode, it was up to him to begin, was his decision; and
when he said good night, he stopped in at a cyclery on his way home and spent
forty dollars for a wheel. It was more than a month's hard- earned wages, and it
reduced his stock of money amazingly; but when he added the hundred dollars
he was to receive from the EXAMINER to the four hundred and twenty dollars
that was the least THE YOUTH'S COMPANION could pay him, he felt that he
had reduced the perplexity the unwonted amount of money had caused him. Nor
did he mind, in the course of learning to ride the wheel home, the fact that he
ruined his suit of clothes. He caught the tailor by telephone that night from Mr.
Higginbotham's store and ordered another suit. Then he carried the wheel up the
narrow stairway that clung like a fire- escape to the rear wall of the building, and