Martin eden by jack london

MARTIN EDEN by Jack London

CHAPTER I

The one opened the door with a latch-key and went in, followed by a young
Fellow who awkwardly removed his cap. He wore rough clothes that smacked
Of the sea, and he was manifestly out of place in the spacious hall in
Which he found himself. He did not know what to do with his cap, and was
Stuffing it into his coat pocket when the other took it from him. The
Act was done quietly and naturally, and the awkward young fellow
Appreciated it. “He understands,” was his thought. “He’ll see me
Through all right.”

He walked at the other’s heels with a swing to his shoulders, and his
Legs spread unwittingly, as if the level floors were tilting up and
Sinking down to the heave and lunge of the sea. The wide rooms seemed
Too narrow for his rolling gait, and to himself he was in terror lest his
Broad shoulders should collide with the doorways

or sweep the bric-a-brac
From the low mantel. He recoiled from side to side between the various
Objects and multiplied the hazards that in reality lodged only in his
Mind. Between a grand piano and a centre-table piled high with books was
Space for a half a dozen to walk abreast, yet he essayed it with
Trepidation. His heavy arms hung loosely at his sides. He did not know
What to do with those arms and hands, and when, to his excited vision,
One arm seemed liable to brush against the books on the table, he lurched
Away like a frightened horse, barely missing the piano stool. 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. He
Experienced a momentary pang of shame that he should walk so uncouthly.
The sweat burst through the skin of his forehead in tiny beads, and he
Paused and mopped his bronzed face with his handkerchief.

“Hold on, Arthur, my boy,” he said, attempting to mask his anxiety with
Facetious utterance. “This is too much all at once for yours truly. Give
Me a chance to get my nerve. You know I didn’t want to come, an’ I guess
Your fam’ly ain’t hankerin’ to see me neither.”

“That’s all right,” was the reassuring answer. “You mustn’t be
Frightened at us. We’re just homely people – Hello, there’s a letter for
Me.”

He stepped back to the table, tore open the envelope, and began to read,
Giving the stranger an opportunity to recover himself. And the stranger
Understood and appreciated. His was the gift of sympathy, understanding;
And beneath his alarmed exterior that sympathetic process went on. He
Mopped his forehead dry and glanced about him with a controlled face,
Though in the eyes there was an expression such as wild animals betray
When they fear the trap. He was surrounded by the unknown, apprehensive
Of what might happen, ignorant of what he should do, aware that he walked
And bore himself awkwardly, fearful that every attribute and power of him
Was similarly afflicted. He was keenly sensitive, hopelessly
Self-conscious, and the amused glance that the other stole privily at him
Over the top of the letter burned into him like a dagger-thrust. He saw
The glance, but he gave no sign, for among the things he had learned was
Discipline. Also, that dagger-thrust went to his pride. He cursed
Himself for having come, and at the same time resolved that, happen what
Would, having come, he would carry it through. The lines of his face
Hardened, and into his eyes came a fighting light. He looked about more
Unconcernedly, sharply observant, every detail of the pretty interior



Martin eden by jack london