Chapter 4

           MartinEden,withbloodstillcrawlingfromcontactwithhisbrother-in-law,felthiswayalongtheunlightedbackhallandenteredhisroom,atinycubbyholewithspaceforabed,awash-stand,andonechair. Mr.Higginbothamwastoothriftytokeepaservantwhenhiswifecoulddothework. Besides,theservant’sroomenabledthemtotakeintwoboardersinsteadofone. MartinplacedtheSwinburneandBrowningonthechair,tookoffhiscoat,andsatdownonthebed. Ascreechingofasthmaticspringsgreetedtheweightofhisbody,buthedidnotnoticethem. Hestartedtotakeoffhisshoes,butfelltostaringatthewhiteplasterwalloppositehim,brokenbylongstreaksofdirtybrownwhererainhadleakedthroughtheroof. Onthisbefouledbackgroundvisionsbegantoflowandburn. Heforgothisshoesandstaredlong,tillhislipsbegantomoveandhemurmured,"Ruth." 

           "Ruth." Hehadnotthoughtasimplesoundcouldbesobeautiful. Itdelightedhisear,andhegrewintoxicatedwiththerepetitionofit. "Ruth." Itwasatalisman,amagicwordtoconjurewith. Eachtimehemurmuredit,herfaceshimmeredbeforehim,suffusingthefoulwallwithagoldenradiance. Thisradiancedidnotstopatthewall. Itextendedonintoinfinity,andthroughitsgoldendepthshissoulwentquestingafterhers. Thebestthatwasinhimwasoutinsplendidflood. Theverythoughtofherennobledandpurifiedhim,madehimbetter,andmadehimwanttobebetter. Thiswasnewtohim. Hehadneverknownwomenwhohadmadehimbetter. Theyhadalwayshadthecountereffectofmakinghimbeastly. Hedidnotknowthatmanyofthemhaddonetheirbest,badasitwas. Neverhavingbeenconsciousofhimself,hedidnotknowthathehadthatinhisbeingthatdrewlovefromwomenandwhichhadbeenthecauseoftheirreachingoutforhisyouth. 

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