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´╗┐Title: Complete March Family Trilogy
Author: Howells, William Dean, 1837-1920
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Complete March Family Trilogy" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



THE ENTIRE MARCH FAMILY TRILOGY

By William Dean Howells



Contents:

Their Wedding Journey
     The Outset
     A Midsummer-day's Dream
     The Night Boat
     A Day's Railroading
     The Enchanted City, and Beyond
     Niagara
     Down the St. Lawrence
     The Sentiment of Montreal
     Homeward and Home
     Niagara Revisited Twelve Years after Their Wedding

A Hazard of New Fortunes
     Part 1
     Part 2
     Part 3
     Part 4
     Part 5

Their Silver Wedding Journey
     Volume 1
     Volume 2
     Volume 3



THEIR WEDDING JOURNEY

By William Dean Howells

1871



I. THE OUTSET

They first met in Boston, but the match was made in Europe, where they
afterwards saw each other; whither, indeed, he followed her; and there
the match was also broken off. Why it was broken off, and why it was
renewed after a lapse of years, is part of quite a long love-story, which
I do not think myself qualified to rehearse, distrusting my fitness for a
sustained or involved narration; though I am persuaded that a skillful
romancer could turn the courtship of Basil and Isabel March to excellent
account. Fortunately for me, however, in attempting to tell the reader of
the wedding-journey of a newly married couple, no longer very young, to
be sure, but still fresh in the light of their love, I shall have nothing
to do but to talk of some ordinary traits of American life as these
appeared to them, to speak a little of well-known and easily accessible
places, to present now a bit of landscape and now a sketch of character.

They had agreed to make their wedding-journey in the simplest and
quietest way, and as it did not take place at once after their marriage,
but some weeks later, it had all the desired charm of privacy from the
outset.

"How much better," said Isabel, "to go now, when nobody cares whether you
go or stay, than to have started off upon a wretched wedding-breakfast,
all tears and trousseau, and had people wanting to see you aboard the
cars. Now there will not be a suspicion of honey-moonshine about us; we
shall go just like anybody else,--with a difference, dear, with a
difference!" and she took Basil's cheeks between her hands. In order to
do this, she had to ran round the table; for they were at dinner, and
Isabel's aunt, with whom they had begun married life, sat substantial
between them. It was rather a girlish thing for Isabel, and she added,
with a conscious blush, "We are past our first youth, you know; and we
shall not strike the public as bridal, shall we? My one horror in life is
an evident bride."

Basil looked at her fondly, as if he did not think her at all too old to
be taken for a bride; and for my part I do not object to a woman's being
of Isabel's age, if she is of a good heart and temper. Life must have
been very unkind to her if at that age she have not won more than she has
lost. It seemed to Basil that his wife was quite as fair as when they met
first, eight years before; but he could not help recurring with an
inextinguishable regret to the long interval of their broken engagement,
which but for that fatality they might have spent together, he imagined,
in just such rapture as this. The regret always haunted him, more or
less; it was part of his love; the loss accounted irreparable really
enriched the final gain.

"I don't know," he said presently, with as much gravity as a man can
whose cheeks are clasped between a lady's hands, "you don't begin very
well for a bride who wishes to keep her secret. If you behave in this
way, they will put us into the 'bridal chambers' at all the hotels. And
the cars--they're beginning to have them on the palace-cars."

Just then a shadow fell into the room.

"Wasn't that thunder, Isabel?" asked her aunt, who had been contentedly
surveying the tender spectacle before her. "O dear! you'll never be able
to go by the boat to-night, if it storms. It 's actually raining now!"

In fact, it was the beginning of that terrible storm of June, 1870. All
in a moment, out of the hot sunshine of the day it burst upon us before
we quite knew that it threatened, even before we had fairly noticed the
clouds, and it went on from passion to passion with an inexhaustible
violence. In the square upon which our friends looked out of their
dining-room windows the trees whitened in the gusts, and darkened in the
driving floods of the rainfall, and in some paroxysms of the tempest bent
themselves in desperate submission, and then with a great shudder rent
away whole branches and flung them far off upon the ground. Hail mingled
with the rain, and now the few umbrellas that had braved the storm
vanished, and the hurtling ice crackled upon the pavement, where the
lightning played like flames burning from the earth, while the thunder
roared overhead without ceasing. There was something splendidly
theatrical about it all; and when a street-car, laden to the last inch of
its capacity, came by, with horses that pranced and leaped under the
stinging blows of the hailstones, our friends felt as if it were an
effective and very naturalistic bit of pantomime contrived for their
admiration. Yet as to themselves they were very sensible of a potent
reality in the affair, and at intervals during the storm they debated
about going at all that day, and decided to go and not to go, according
to the changing complexion of the elements. Basil had said that as this
was their first journey together in America, he wished to give it at the
beginning as pungent a national character as possible, and that as he
could imagine nothing more peculiarly American than a voyage to New York
by a Fall River boat, they ought to take that route thither. So much
upholstery, so much music, such variety cf company, he understood, could
not be got in any other way, and it might be that they would even catch a
glimpse of the inventor of the combination, who represented the very
excess and extremity of a certain kind of Americanism. Isabel had eagerly
consented; but these aesthetic motives were paralyzed for her by the
thought of passing Point Judith in a storm, and she descended from her
high intents first to the Inside Boats, without the magnificence and the
orchestra, and then to the idea of going by land in a sleeping-car.
Having comfortably accomplished this feat, she treated Basil's consent as
a matter of course, not because she did not regard him, but because as a
woman she could not conceive of the steps to her conclusion as unknown to
him, and always treated her own decisions as the product of their common
reasoning. But her husband held out for the boat, and insisted that if
the storm fell before seven o'clock, they could reach it at Newport by
the last express; and it was this obstinacy that, in proof of Isabel's
wisdom, obliged them to wait two hours in the station before going by the
land route. The storm abated at five o'clock, and though the rain
continued, it seemed well by a quarter of seven to set out for the Old
Colony Depot, in sight of which a sudden and vivid flash of lightning
caused Isabel to seize her husband's arm, and to implore him, "O don't go
by the boat!" On this, Basil had the incredible weakness to yield; and
bade the driver take them to the Worcester Depot. It was the first
swerving from the ideal in their wedding journey, but it was by no means
the last; though it must be confessed that it was early to begin.

They both felt more tranquil when they were irretrievably committed by
the purchase of their tickets, and when they sat down in the waiting.
room of the station, with all the time between seven and nine o'clock
before them. Basil would have eked out the business of checking the
trunks into an affair of some length, but the baggage-master did his duty
with pitiless celerity; and so Basil, in the mere excess of his
disoccupation, bought an accident-insurance ticket. This employed him
half a minute, and then he gave up the unequal contest, and went and took
his place beside Isabel, who sat prettily wrapped in her shawl, perfectly
content.

"Isn't it charming," she said gayly, "having to wait so long? It puts me
in mind of some of those other journeys we took together. But I can't
think of those times with any patience, when we might really have had
each other, and didn't! Do you remember how long we had to wait at
Chambery? and the numbers of military gentlemen that waited too, with
their little waists, and their kisses when they met? and that poor
married military gentleman, with the plain wife and the two children, and
a tarnished uniform? He seemed to be somehow in misfortune, and his
mustache hung down in such a spiritless way, while all the other military
mustaches about curled and bristled with so much boldness. I think
'salles d'attente' everywhere are delightful, and there is such a
community of interest in them all, that when I come here only to go out
to Brookline, I feel myself a traveller once more,--a blessed stranger in
a strange land. O dear, Basil, those were happy times after all, when we
might have had each other and didn't! And now we're the more precious for
having been so long lost."

She drew closer and closer to him, and looked at him in a way that
threatened betrayal of her bridal character.

"Isabel, you will be having your head on my shoulder, next," said he.

"Never!" she answered fiercely, recovering her distance with a start.
"But, dearest, if you do see me going to--act absurdly, you know, do stop
me."

"I'm very sorry, but I've got myself to stop. Besides, I didn't undertake
to preserve the incognito of this bridal party."

If any accident of the sort dreaded had really happened, it would not
have mattered so much, for as yet they were the sole occupants of the
waiting room. To be sure, the ticket-seller was there, and the lady who
checked packages left in her charge, but these must have seen so many
endearments pass between passengers,--that a fleeting caress or so would
scarcely have drawn their notice to our pair. Yet Isabel did not so much
even as put her hand into her husband's; and as Basil afterwards said, it
was very good practice.

Our temporary state, whatever it is, is often mirrored in all that come
near us, and our friends were fated to meet frequent parodies of their
happiness from first to last on this journey. The travesty began with the
very first people who entered the waiting-room after themselves, and who
were a very young couple starting like themselves upon a pleasure tour,
which also was evidently one of the first tours of any kind that they had
made. It was of modest extent, and comprised going to New York and back;
but they talked of it with a fluttered and joyful expectation as if it
were a voyage to Europe. Presently there appeared a burlesque of their
happiness (but with a touch of tragedy) in that kind of young man who is
called by the females of his class a fellow, and two young women of that
kind known to him as girls. He took a place between these, and presently
began a robust flirtation with one of them. He possessed himself, after a
brief struggle, of her parasol, and twirled it about, as he uttered, with
a sort of tender rudeness inconceivable vapidities, such as you would
expect from none but a man of the highest fashion. The girl thus courted
became selfishly unconscious of everything but her own joy, and made no
attempt to bring the other girl within its warmth, but left her to
languish forgotten on the other side. The latter sometimes leaned
forward, and tried to divert a little of the flirtation to herself, but
the flirters snubbed her with short answers, and presently she gave up
and sat still in the sad patience of uncourted women. In this attitude
she became a burden to Isabel, who was glad when the three took
themselves away, and were succeeded by a very stylish couple--from New
York, she knew as well as if they had given her their address on West
999th Street. The lady was not pretty, and she was not, Isabel thought,
dressed in the perfect taste of Boston; but she owned frankly to herself
that the New-Yorkeress was stylish, undeniably effective. The gentleman
bought a ticket for New York, and remained at the window of the office
talking quite easily with the seller.

"You couldn't do that, my poor Basil," said Isabel, "you'd be afraid."

"O dear, yes; I'm only too glad to get off without browbeating; though I
must say that this officer looks affable enough. Really," he added, as an
acquaintance of the ticket-seller came in and nodded to him and said
"Hot, to-day!" "this is very strange. I always felt as if these men had
no private life, no friendships like the rest of us. On duty they seem so
like sovereigns, set apart from mankind, and above us all, that it's
quite incredible they should have the common personal relations."

At intervals of their talk and silence there came vivid flashes of
lightning and quite heavy shocks of thunder, very consoling to our
friends, who took them as so many compliments to their prudence in not
going by the boat, and who had secret doubts of their wisdom whenever
these acknowledgments were withheld. Isabel went so far as to say that
she hoped nothing would happen to the boat, but I think she would
cheerfully have learnt that the vessel had been obliged to put back to
Newport, on account of the storm, or even that it had been driven ashore
at a perfectly safe place.

People constantly came and went in the waiting-room, which was sometimes
quite full, and again empty of all but themselves. In the course of their
observations they formed many cordial friendships and bitter enmities
upon the ground of personal appearance, or particulars of dress, with
people whom they saw for half a minute upon an average; and they took
such a keen interest in every one, that it would be hard to say whether
they were more concerned in an old gentleman with vigorously upright
iron-gray hair, who sat fronting them, and reading all the evening
papers, or a young man who hurled himself through the door, bought a
ticket with terrific precipitation, burst out again, and then ran down a
departing train before it got out of the station: they loved the old
gentleman for a certain stubborn benevolence of expression, and if they
had been friends of the young man and his family for generations and felt
bound if any harm befell him to go and break the news gently to his
parents, their nerves could not have been more intimately wrought upon by
his hazardous behavior. Still, as they had their tickets for New York,
and he was going out on a merely local train,--to Brookline, I believe,
they could not, even in their anxiety, repress a feeling of contempt for
his unambitious destination.

They were already as completely cut off from local associations and
sympathies as if they were a thousand miles and many months away from
Boston. They enjoyed the lonely flaring of the gas-jets as a gust of wind
drew through the station; they shared the gloom and isolation of a man
who took a seat in the darkest corner of the room, and sat there with
folded arms, the genius of absence. In the patronizing spirit of
travellers in a foreign country they noted and approved the vases of
cut-flowers in the booth of the lady who checked packages, and the pots
of ivy in her windows. "These poor Bostonians," they said; "have some
love of the beautiful in their rugged natures."

But after all was said and thought, it was only eight o'clock, and they
still had an hour to wait.

Basil grew restless, and Isabel said, with a subtile interpretation of
his uneasiness, "I don't want anything to eat, Basil, but I think I know
the weaknesses of men; and you had better go and pass the next half-hour
over a plate of something indigestible."

This was said 'con stizza', the least little suggestion of it; but Basil
rose with shameful alacrity. "Darling, if it's your wish--"

"It's my fate, Basil," said Isabel.

"I'll go," he exclaimed, "because it isn't bridal, and will help us to
pass for old married people."

"No, no, Basil, be honest; fibbing isn't your forte: I wonder you went
into the insurance business; you ought to have been a lawyer. Go because
you like eating, and are hungry, perhaps, or think you may be so before
we get to New York.

"I shall amuse myself well enough here!"

I suppose it is always a little shocking and grievous to a wife when she
recognizes a rival in butchers'-meat and the vegetables of the season.
With her slender relishes for pastry and confectionery and her dainty
habits of lunching, she cannot reconcile with the idea (of) her husband's
capacity for breakfasting, dining, supping, and hot meals at all hours of
the day and night--as they write it on the sign-boards of barbaric
eating-houses. But isabel would have only herself to blame if she had not
perceived this trait of Basil's before marriage. She recurred now, as his
figure disappeared down the station, to memorable instances of his
appetite in their European travels during their first engagement. "Yes,
he ate terribly at Susa, when I was too full of the notion of getting
into Italy to care for bouillon and cold roast chicken. At Rome I thought
I must break with him on account of the wild-boar; and at Heidelberg, the
sausage and the ham!--how could he, in my presence? But I took him with
all his faults,--and was glad to get him," she added, ending her
meditation with a little burst of candor; and she did not even think of
Basil's appetite when he reappeared.

With the thronging of many sorts of people, in parties and singly, into
the waiting room, they became once again mere observers of their kind,
more or less critical in temper, until the crowd grew so that individual
traits were merged in the character of multitude. Even then, they could
catch glimpses of faces so sweet or fine that they made themselves felt
like moments of repose in the tumult, and here and there was something so
grotesque in dress of manner that it showed distinct from the rest. The
ticket-seller's stamp clicked incessantly as he sold tickets to all
points South and West: to New York, Philadelphia, Charleston; to New
Orleans, Chicago, Omaha; to St. Paul, Duluth, St. Louis; and it would not
have been hard to find in that anxious bustle, that unsmiling eagerness,
an image of the whole busy affair of life. It was not a particularly sane
spectacle, that impatience to be off to some place that lay not only in
the distance, but also in the future--to which no line of road carries
you with absolute certainty across an interval of time full of every
imaginable chance and influence. It is easy enough to buy a ticket to
Cincinnati, but it is somewhat harder to arrive there. Say that all goes
well, is it exactly you who arrive?

In the midst of the disquiet there entered at last an old woman, so very
infirm that she had to be upheld on either hand by her husband and the
hackman who had brought them, while a young girl went before with shawls
and pillows which she arranged upon the seat. There the invalid lay down,
and turned towards the crowd a white, suffering face, which was yet so
heavenly meek and peaceful that it comforted whoever looked at it.

In spirit our happy friends bowed themselves before it and owned that
there was something better than happiness in it.

"What is it like, Isabel?"

"O, I don't know, darling," she said; but she thought, "Perhaps it is
like some blessed sorrow that takes us out of this prison of a world, and
sets us free of our every-day hates and desires, our aims, our fears.
ourselves. Maybe a long and mortal sickness might come to wear such a
face in one of us two, and the other could see it, and not regret the
poor mask of youth and pretty looks that had fallen away."

She rose and went over to the sick woman, on whose face beamed a tender
smile, as Isabel spoke to her. A chord thrilled in two lives hitherto
unknown to each other; but what was said Basil would not ask when the
invalid had taken Isabel's hand between her own, as for adieu, and she
came back to his side with swimming eyes. Perhaps his wife could have
given no good reason for her emotion, if he had asked it. But it made her
very sweet and dear to him; and I suppose that when a tolerably unselfish
man is once secure of a woman's love, he is ordinarily more affected by
her compassion and tenderness for other objects than by her feelings
towards himself. He likes well enough to think, "She loves me," but still
better, "How kind and good she is!"

They lost sight of the invalid in the hurry of getting places on the
cars, and they never saw her again. The man at the wicket-gate leading to
the train had thrown it up, and the people were pressing furiously
through as if their lives hung upon the chance of instant passage. Basil
had secured his ticket for the sleeping-car, and so he and Isabel stood
aside and watched the tumult. When the rash was over they passed through,
and as they walked up and down the platform beside the train, "I was
thinking," said Isabel, "after I spoke to that poor old lady, of what
Clara Williams says: that she wonders the happiest women in the world can
look each other in the face without bursting into tears, their happiness
is so unreasonable, and so built upon and hedged about with misery. She
declares that there's nothing so sad to her as a bride, unless it's a
young mother, or a little girl growing up in the innocent gayety of her
heart. She wonders they can live through it."

"Clara is very much of a reformer, and would make an end of all of us
men, I suppose,--except her father, who supports her in the leisure that
enables her to do her deep thinking. She little knows what we poor
fellows have to suffer, and how often we break down in business hours,
and sob upon one another's necks. Did that old lady talk to you in the
same strain?"

"O no! she spoke very calmly of her sickness, and said she had lived a
blessed life. Perhaps it was that made me shed those few small tears. She
seemed a very religious person."

"Yes," said Basil, "it is almost a pity that religion is going out. But
then you are to have the franchise."

"All aboard!"

This warning cry saved him from whatever heresy he might have been about
to utter; and presently the train carried them out into the gas-sprinkled
darkness, with an ever-growing speed that soon left the city lamps far
behind. It is a phenomenon whose commonness alone prevents it from being
most impressive, that departure of the night-express. The two hundred
miles it is to travel stretch before it, traced by those slender clews,
to lose which is ruin, and about which hang so many dangers. The draw
bridges that gape upon the way, the trains that stand smoking and
steaming on the track, the rail that has borne the wear so long that it
must soon snap under it, the deep cut where the overhanging mass of rock
trembles to its fall, the obstruction that a pitiless malice may have
placed in your path,--you think of these after the journey is done, but
they seldom haunt your fancy while it lasts. The knowledge of your
helplessness in any circumstances is so perfect that it begets a sense of
irresponsibility, almost of security; and as you drowse upon the pallet
of the sleeping car, and feel yourself hurled forward through the
obscurity, you are almost thankful that you can do nothing, for it is
upon this condition only that you can endure it; and some such condition
as this, I suppose, accounts for many heroic facts in the world. To the
fantastic mood which possesses you equally, sleeping or waking, the
stoppages of the train have a weird character; and Worcester,
Springfield, New Haven, and Stamford are rather points in dream-land than
well-known towns of New England. As the train stops you drowse if you
have been waking, and wake if you have been in a doze; but in any case
you are aware of the locomotive hissing and coughing beyond the station,
of flaring gas-jets, of clattering feet of passengers getting on and off;
then of some one, conductor or station-master, walking the whole length
of the train; and then you are aware of an insane satisfaction in renewed
flight through the darkness. You think hazily of the folk in their beds
in the town left behind, who stir uneasily at the sound of your train's
departing whistle; and so all is a blank vigil or a blank slumber.

By daylight Basil and Isabel found themselves at opposite ends of the
car, struggling severally with the problem of the morning's toilet. When
the combat was ended, they were surprised at the decency of their
appearance, and Isabel said, "I think I'm presentable to an early
Broadway public, and I've a fancy for not going to a hotel. Lucy will be
expecting us out there before noon; and we can pass the time pleasantly
enough for a few hours just wandering about."

She was a woman who loved any cheap defiance of custom, and she had an
agreeable sense of adventure in what she proposed. Besides, she felt that
nothing could be more in the unconventional spirit in which they meant to
make their whole journey than a stroll about New York at half-past six in
the morning.

"Delightful!" answered Basil, who was always charmed with these small
originalities. "You look well enough for an evening party; and besides,
you won't meet one of your own critical class on Broadway at this hour.
We will breakfast at one of those gilded metropolitan restaurants, and
then go round to Leonard's, who will be able to give us just three
unhurried seconds. After that we'll push on out to his place."

At that early hour there were not many people astir on the wide avenue
down which our friends strolled when they left the station; but in the
aspect of those they saw there was something that told of a greater heat
than they had yet known in Boston, and they were sensible of having
reached a more southern latitude. The air, though freshened by the
over-night's storm, still wanted the briskness and sparkle and pungency
of the Boston air, which is as delicious in summer as it is terrible in
winter; and the faces that showed themselves were sodden from the
yesterday's heat and perspiration. A corner-grocer, seated in a sort of
fierce despondency upon a keg near his shop door, had lightly equipped
himself for the struggle of the day in the battered armor of the day
before, and in a pair of roomy pantaloons, and a baggy shirt of neutral
tint--perhaps he had made a vow not to change it whilst the siege of the
hot weather lasted,--now confronted the advancing sunlight, before which
the long shadows of the buildings were slowly retiring. A marketing
mother of a family paused at a provision-store, and looking weakly in at
the white-aproned butcher among his meats and flies, passes without an
effort to purchase. Hurried and wearied shop-girls tripped by in the
draperies that betrayed their sad necessity to be both fine and shabby;
from a boarding-house door issued briskly one of those cool young New
Yorkers whom no circumstances can oppress: breezy-coated, white-livened,
clean, with a good cigar in the mouth, a light cane caught upon the elbow
of one of the arms holding up the paper from which the morning's news is
snatched, whilst the person sways lightly with the walk; in the
street-cars that slowly tinkled up and down were rows of people with
baskets between their legs and papers before their faces; and all showed
by some peculiarity of air or dress the excess of heat which they had
already borne, and to which they seemed to look forward, and gave by the
scantiness of their number a vivid impression of the uncounted thousands
within doors prolonging, before the day's terror began, the oblivion of
sleep.

As they turned into one of the numerical streets to cross to Broadway,
and found themselves in a yet deeper seclusion, Basil-began to utter in a
musing tone:

        "A city against the world's gray Prime,
        Lost in some desert, far from Time,
        Where noiseless Ages gliding through,
        Have only sifted sands and dew,
        Yet still a marble head of man
        Lying on all the haunted plan;
        The passions of the human heart
        Beating the marble breast of Art,
        Were not more lone to one who first
        Upon its giant silence burst,
        Than this strange quiet, where the tide
        Of life, upheaved on either aide,
        Hangs trembling, ready soon to beat
        With human waves the Morning Street."

"How lovely!" said Isabel, swiftly catching at her skirt, and deftly
escaping contact with one of a long row of ash-barrels posted
sentinel-like on the edge of the pavement. "Whose is it, Basil?"

"Ah! a poet's," answered her husband, "a man of whom we shall one day any
of us be glad to say that we liked him before he was famous. What a
nebulous sweetness the first lines have, and what a clear, cool light of
day-break in the last!"

"You could have been as good a poet as that, Basil," said the
ever-personal and concretely-speaking Isabel, who could not look at a
mountain without thinking what Basil might have done in that way, if he
had tried.

"O no, I couldn't, dear. It's very difficult being any poet at all,
though it's easy to be like one. But I've done with it; I broke with the
Muse the day you accepted me. She came into my office, looking so
shabby,--not unlike one of those poor shop-girls; and as I was very well
dressed from having just been to see you, why, you know, I felt the
difference. 'Well, my dear?' said I, not quite liking the look of
reproach she was giving me. 'You are groins to leave me,' she answered
sadly. 'Well, yes; I suppose I must. You see the insurance business is
very absorbing; and besides, it has a bad appearance, your coming about
so in office hours, and in those clothes.' 'O,' she moaned out, 'you used
to welcome me at all times, out in the country, and thought me prettily
dressed.' 'Yes, yes; but this is Boston; and Boston makes a great
difference in one's ideas; and I'm going to be married, too. Come, I
don't want to seem ungrateful; we have had many pleasant times together,
I own it; and I've no objections to your being present at Christmas and
Thanksgiving and birthdays, but really I must draw the line there.' She
gave me a look that made my heart ache, and went straight to my desk and
took out of a pigeon hole a lot of papers,--odes upon your cruelty,
Isabel; songs to you; sonnets,--the sonnet, a mighty poor one, I'd made
the day before,--and threw them all into the grate. Then she turned to me
again, signed adieu with mute lips, and passed out. I could hear the
bottom wire of the poor thing's hoop-skirt clicking against each step of
the stairway, as she went slowly and heavily down to the street." "O
don't--don't, Basil," said his wife, "it seems like something wrong. I
think you ought to have been ashamed."

"Ashamed! I was heart broken. But it had to come to that. As I got
hopeful about you, the Muse became a sad bore; and more than once I found
myself smiling at her when her back was turned. The Muse doesn't like
being laughed at any more than another woman would, and she would have
left me shortly. No, I couldn't be a poet like our Morning-Street friend.
But see! the human wave is beginning to sprinkle the pavement with cooks
and second-girls."

They were frowzy serving-maids and silent; each swept down her own door
steps and the pavement in front of her own house, and then knocked her
broom on the curbstone and vanished into the house, on which the hand of
change had already fallen. It was no longer a street solely devoted to
the domestic gods, but had been invaded at more than one point by the
bustling deities of business in such streets the irregular, inspired
doctors and doctresses come first with inordinate door-plates, then a
milliner filling the parlor window with new bonnets; here even a
publisher had hung his sign beside a door, through which the feet of
young ladies used to trip, and the feet of little children to patter.
Here and there stood groups of dwellings unmolested as yet outwardly; but
even these had a certain careworn and guilty air, as if they knew
themselves to be cheapish boarding-houses or furnished lodgings for
gentlemen, and were trying to hide it. To these belonged the frowzy
serving-women; to these the rows of ash-barrels, in which the decrepit
children and mothers of the streets were clawing for bits of coal.

By the time Basil and Isabel reached Broadway there were already some
omnibuses beginning their long day's travel up and down the handsome,
tiresome length of that avenue; but for the most part it was empty. There
was, of course, a hurry of foot-passengers upon the sidewalks, but these
were sparse and uncharacteristic, for New York proper was still fast
asleep. The waiter at the restaurant into which our friends stepped was
so well aware of this, and so perfectly assured they were not of the
city, that he could not forbear a little patronage of them, which they
did not resent. He brought Basil what he had ordered in barbaric
abundance, and charged for it with barbaric splendor. It is all but
impossible not to wish to stand well with your waiter: I have myself been
often treated with conspicuous rudeness by the tribe, yet I have never
been able to withhold the 'douceur' that marked me for a gentleman in
their eyes, and entitled me to their dishonorable esteem. Basil was not
superior to this folly, and left the waster with the conviction that, if
he was not a New Yorker, he was a high-bred man of the world at any rate.

Vexed by a sense of his own pitifulness, this man of the world continued
his pilgrimage down Broadway, which even in that desert state was full of
a certain interest. Troops of laborers straggled along the pavements,
each with his dinner-pail in hand; and in many places the eternal
building up and pulling down was already going on; carts were struggling
up the slopes of vast cellars, with loads of distracting rubbish; here
stood the half-demolished walls of a house, with a sad variety of
wall-paper showing in the different rooms; there clinked the trowel upon
the brick, yonder the hammer on the stone; overhead swung and threatened
the marble block that the derrick was lifting to its place. As yet these
forces of demolition and construction had the business of the street
almost to themselves.

"Why, how shabby the street is!" said Isabel, at last.  "When I landed,
after being abroad, I remember that Broadway impressed me with its
splendor."

"Ah I but you were merely coming from Europe then; and now you arrive
from Burton, and are contrasting this poor Broadway with Washington
Street. Don't be hard upon it, Isabel; every street can't be a Boston
street, you know," said Basil. Isabel, herself a Bostonian of great
intensity both by birth and conviction, believed her husband the only man
able to have thoroughly baffled the malignity of the stars in causing him
to be born out of Boston; yet he sometimes trifled with his hardly
achieved triumph, and even showed an indifference to it, with an
insincerity of which there can be no doubt whatever.

"O stuff!" she retorted, "as if I had any of that silly local pride!
Though you know well enough that Boston is the best place in the world.
But Basil! I suppose Broadway strikes us as so fine, on coming ashore
from Europe, because we hardly expect anything of America then."

"Well, I don't know. Perhaps the street has some positive grandeur of its
own, though it needs a multitude of people in it to bring out its best
effects. I'll allow its disheartening shabbiness and meanness in many
ways; but to stand in front of Grace Church, on a clear day,--a day of
late September, say,--and look down the swarming length of Broadway, on
the movement and the numbers, while the Niagara roar swelled and swelled
from those human rapids, was always like strong new wine to me. I don't
think the world affords such another sight; and for one moment, at such
times, I'd have been willing to be an Irish councilman, that I might have
some right to the pride I felt in the capital of the Irish Republic. What
a fine thing it must be for each victim of six centuries of oppression to
reflect that he owns at least a dozen Americans, and that, with his
fellows, he rules a hundred helpless millionaires!"

Like all daughters of a free country, Isabel knew nothing about politics,
and she felt that she was getting into deep water; she answered
buoyantly, but she was glad to make her weariness the occasion of hailing
a stage, and changing the conversation. The farther down town they went
the busier the street grew; and about the Astor House, where they
alighted, there was already a bustle that nothing but a fire could have
created at the same hour in Boston. A little farther on the steeple of
Trinity rose high into the scorching sunlight, while below, in the shadow
that was darker than it was cool, slumbered the old graves among their
flowers.

"How still they lie!" mused the happy wife, peering through the iron
fence in passing.

"Yes, their wedding-journeys are ended, poor things!" said Basil; and
through both their minds flashed the wonder if they should ever come to
something like that; but it appeared so impossible that they both smiled
at the absurdity.

"It's too early yet for Leonard," continued Basil; "what a pity the
church-yard is locked up. We could spend the time so delightfully in it.
But, never mind; let us go down to the Battery,--it 's not a very
pleasant place, but it's near, and it's historical, and it's open,--where
these drowsy friends of ours used to take the air when they were in the
fashion, and had some occasion for the element in its freshness. You can
imagine--it's cheap--how they used to see Mr. Burr and Mr. Hamilton down
there."

All places that fashion has once loved and abandoned are very melancholy;
but of all such places, I think the Battery is the most forlorn. Are
there some sickly locust-trees there that cast a tremulous and decrepit
shade upon the mangy grass-plots? I believe so, but I do not make sure; I
am certain only of the mangy grass-plots, or rather the spaces between
the paths, thinly overgrown with some kind of refuse and opprobrious
weed, a stunted and pauper vegetation proper solely to the New York
Battery. At that hour of the summer morning when our friends, with the
aimlessness of strangers who are waiting to do something else, saw the
ancient promenade, a few scant and hungry-eyed little boys and girls were
wandering over this weedy growth, not playing, but moving listlessly to
and fro, fantastic in the wild inaptness of their costumes. One of these
little creatures wore, with an odd involuntary jauntiness, the cast-off
best drew of some happier child, a gay little garment cut low in the neck
and short in the sleeves, which gave her the grotesque effect of having
been at a party the night before. Presently came two jaded women, a
mother and a grandmother, that appeared, when they had crawled out of
their beds, to have put on only so much clothing as the law compelled.
They abandoned themselves upon the green stuff, whatever it was, and,
with their lean hands clasped outside their knees, sat and stared, silent
and hopeless, at the eastern sky, at the heart of the terrible furnace,
into which in those days the world seemed cast to be burnt up, while the
child which the younger woman had brought with her feebly wailed unheeded
at her side. On one side of these women were the shameless houses out of
which they might have crept, and which somehow suggested riotous maritime
dissipation; on the other side were those houses in which had once dwelt
rich and famous folk, but which were now dropping down the boarding-house
scale through various un-homelike occupations to final dishonor and
despair. Down nearer the water, and not far from the castle that was once
a playhouse and is now the depot of emigration, stood certain
express-wagons, and about these lounged a few hard-looking men. Beyond
laughed and danced the fresh blue water of the bay, dotted with sails and
smokestacks.

"Well," said Basil, "I think if I could choose, I should like to be a
friendless German boy, setting foot for the first time on this happy
continent. Fancy his rapture on beholding this lovely spot, and these
charming American faces! What a smiling aspect life in the New World must
wear to his young eyes, and how his heart must leap within him!"

"Yes, Basil; it's all very pleasing, and thank you for bringing me. But
if you don't think of any other New York delights to show me, do let us
go and sit in Leonard's office till he comes, and then get out into the
country as soon as possible."

Basil defended himself against the imputation that he had been trying to
show New York to his wife, or that he had any thought but of whiling away
the long morning hours, until it should be time to go to Leonard. He
protested that a knowledge of Europe made New York the most uninteresting
town in America, and that it was the last place in the world where he
should think of amusing himself or any one else; and then they both
upbraided the city's bigness and dullness with an enjoyment that none but
Bostonians can know. They particularly derided the notion of New York's
being loved by any one. It was immense, it was grand in some ways, parts
of it were exceedingly handsome; but it was too vast, too coarse, too
restless. They could imagine its being liked by a successful young man of
business, or by a rich young girl, ignorant of life and with not too nice
a taste in her pleasures; but that it should be dear to any poet or
scholar, or any woman of wisdom and refinement, that they could not
imagine. They could not think of any one's loving New York as Dante loved
Florence, or as Madame de Stael loved Paris, or as Johnson loved black,
homely, home-like London. And as they twittered their little dispraises,
the giant Mother of Commerce was growing more and more conscious of
herself, waking from her night's sleep and becoming aware of her fleets
and trains, and the myriad hands and wheels that throughout the whole sea
and land move for her, and do her will even while she sleeps. All about
the wedding-journeyers swelled the deep tide of life back from its
night-long ebb. Broadway had filled her length with people; not yet the
most characteristic New York crowd, but the not less interesting
multitude of strangers arrived by the early boats and trams, and that
easily distinguishable class of lately New-Yorkized people from other
places, about whom in the metropolis still hung the provincial traditions
of early rising; and over all, from moment to moment, the eager,
audacious, well-dressed, proper life of the mighty city was beginning to
prevail,--though this was not so notable where Basil and Isabel had
paused at a certain window. It was the office of one of the English
steamers, and he was saying, "It was by this line I sailed, you
know,"--and she was interrupting him with, "When who could have dreamed
that you would ever be telling me of it here?" So the old marvel was
wondered over anew, till it filled the world in which there was room for
nothing but the strangeness that they should have loved each other so
long and not made it known, that they should ever have uttered it, and
that, being uttered, it should be so much more and better than ever could
have been dreamed. The broken engagement was a fable of disaster that
only made their present fortune more prosperous. The city ceased about
them, and they walked on up the street, the first man and first woman in
the garden of the new-made earth. As they were both very conscious
people, they recognized in themselves some sense of this, and presently
drolled it away, in the opulence of a time when every moment brought some
beautiful dream, and the soul could be prodigal of its bliss.

"I think if I had the naming of the animals over again, this morning, I
shouldn't call snakes 'snakes'; should you, Eve?" laughed Basil in
intricate acknowledgment of his happiness.

"O no, Adam; we'd look out all the most graceful euphemisms in the
newspapers, and we wouldn't hurt the feelings of a spider."



II. MIDSUMMER-DAY'S DREAM.

They had waited to see Leonard, in order that they might learn better how
to find his house in the country; and now, when they came in upon him at
nine o'clock, he welcomed them with all his friendly heart. He rose from
the pile of morning's letters to which he had but just sat down; he
placed them the easiest chairs; he made a feint of its not being a busy
hour with him, and would have had them look upon his office, which was
still damp and odorous from the porter's broom, as a kind of down-town
parlor; but after they had briefly accounted to his amazement for their
appearance then and there, and Isabel had boasted of the original fashion
in which they had that morning seen New York, they took pity on him, and
bade him adieu till evening.

They crossed from Broadway to the noisome street by the ferry, and in a
little while had taken their places in the train on the other side of the
water.

"Don't tell me, Basil," said Isabel, "that Leonard travels fifty miles
every day by rail going to and from his work!"

"I must, dearest, if I would be truthful."

"Then, darling, there are worse things in this world than living up at
the South End, aren't there?" And in agreement upon Boston as a place of
the greatest natural advantages, as well as all acquirable merits, with
after talk that need not be recorded, they arrived in the best humor at
the little country station near which the Leonards dwelt.

I must inevitably follow Mrs. Isabel thither, though I do it at the cost
of the reader, who suspects the excitements which a long description of
the movement would delay. The ladies were very old friends, and they had
not met since Isabel's return from Europe and renewal of her engagement.
Upon the news of this, Mrs. Leonard had swallowed with surprising ease
all that she had said in blame of Basil's conduct during the rupture, and
exacted a promise from her friend that she should pay her the first visit
after their marriage. And now that they had come together, their only
talk; was of husbands, whom they viewed in every light to which husbands
could be turned, and still found an inexhaustible novelty in the theme.
Mrs. Leonard beheld in her friend's joy the sweet reflection of her own
honeymoon, and Isabel was pleased to look upon the prosperous marriage of
the former as the image of her future. Thus, with immense profit and
comfort, they reassured one another by every question and answer, and in
their weak content lapsed far behind the representative women of our age,
when husbands are at best a necessary evil, and the relation of wives to
them is known to be one of pitiable subjection. When these two pretty,
fogies put their heads of false hair together, they were as silly and
benighted as their great-grandmothers could have been in the same
circumstances, and, as I say, shamefully encouraged each other, in their
absurdity. The absurdity appeared too good and blessed to be true. "Do
you really suppose, Basil," Isabel would say to her oppressor, after
having given him some elegant extract from the last conversation upon
husbands, "that we shall get on as smoothly as the Leonards when we have
been married ten years? Lucy says that things go more hitchily the first
year than ever they do afterwards, and that people love each other better
and better just because they've got used to it. Well, our bliss does seem
a little crude and garish compared with their happiness; and yet"--she
put up both her palms against his, and gave a vehement little
push--"there is something agreeable about it, even at this stage of the
proceedings."

"Isabel," said her husband, with severity, "this is bridal!"

"No matter! I only want to seem an old married woman to the general
public. But the application of it is that you must be careful not to
contradict me, or cross me in anything, so that we can be like the
Leonards very much sooner than they became so. The great object is not to
have any hitchiness; and you know you ARE provoking--at times."

They both educated themselves for continued and tranquil happiness by the
example and precept of their friends; and the time passed swiftly in the
pleasant learning, and in the novelty of the life led by the Leonards.
This indeed merits a closer study than can be given here, for it is the
life led by vast numbers of prosperous New Yorkers who love both the
excitement of the city and the repose of the country, and who aspire to
unite the enjoyment of both in their daily existence. The suburbs of the
metropolis stretch landward fifty miles in every direction; and
everywhere are handsome villas like Leonard's, inhabited by men like
himself, whom strict study of the time-table enables to spend all their
working hours in the city and all their smoking and sleeping hours in the
country.

The home and the neighborhood of the Leonards put on their best looks for
our bridal pair, and they were charmed. They all enjoyed the visit, said
guests and hosts, they were all sorry to have it come to an end; yet they
all resigned themselves to this conclusion. Practically, it had no other
result than to detain the travellers into the very heart of the hot
weather. In that weather it was easy to do anything that did not require
an active effort, and resignation was so natural with the mercury at
ninety, that I aan not sure but there was something sinful in it.

They had given up their cherished purpose of going to Albany by the day
boat, which was represented to them in every impossible phase. It would
be dreadfully crowded, and whenever it stopped the heat would be
insupportable. Besides it would bring them to Albany at an hour when they
must either spend the night there, or push on to Niagara by the night
train. "You had better go by the evening boat. It will be light almost
till you reach West Point, and you'll see all the best scenery. Then you
can get a good night's rest, and start fresh in the morning." So they
were counseled, and they assented, as they would have done if they had
been advised: "You had better go by the morning boat. It's deliciously
cool, travelling; you see the whole of the river, you reach Albany for
supper, and you push through to Niagara that night and are done with it."

They took leave of Leonard at breakfast and of his wife at noon, and
fifteen minutes later they were rushing from the heat of the country into
the heat of the city, where some affairs and pleasures were to employ
them till the evening boat should start.

Their spirits were low, for the terrible spell of the great heat brooded
upon them. All abroad burned the fierce white light of the sun, in which
not only the earth seemed to parch and thirst, but the very air withered,
and was faint and thin to the troubled respiration. Their train was full
of people who had come long journeys from broiling cities of the West,
and who were dusty and ashen and reeking in the slumbers at which some of
them still vainly caught. On every one lay an awful languor. Here and
there stirred a fan, like the broken wing of a dying bird; now and then a
sweltering young mother shifted her hot baby from one arm to another;
after every station the desperate conductor swung through the long aisle
and punched the ticket, which each passenger seemed to yield him with a
tacit malediction; a suffering child hung about the empty tank, which
could only gasp out a cindery drop or two of ice-water. The wind buffeted
faintly at the windows; when the door was opened, the clatter of the
rails struck through and through the car like a demoniac yell.

Yet when they arrived at the station by the ferry-side, they seemed to
have entered its stifling darkness from fresh and vigorous atmosphere, so
close and dead and mined with the carbonic breath of the locomotives was
the air of the place. The thin old wooden walls that shut out the glare
of the sun transmitted an intensified warmth; the roof seemed to hover
lower and lower, and in its coal-smoked, raftery hollow to generate a
heat deadlier than that poured upon it from the skies.

In a convenient place in the station hung a thermometer, before which
every passenger, on going aboard the ferry-boat, paused as at a shrine,
and mutely paid his devotions. At the altar of this fetich our friends
also paused, and saw that the mercury was above ninety, and exulting with
the pride that savages take in the cruel might of their idols, bowed
their souls to the great god Heat.

On the boat they found a place where the breath of the sea struck cool
across their faces, and made them forget the thermometer for the brief
time of the transit. But presently they drew near that strange, irregular
row of wooden buildings and jutting piers which skirts the river on the
New York aide, and before the boat's motion ceased the air grew thick and
warm again, and tainted with the foulness of the street on which the
buildings front. Upon this the boat's passengers issued, passing up
through a gangway, on one side of which a throng of return-passengers was
pent by a gate of iron barn, like a herd of wild animals. They were
streaming with perspiration, and, according to their different
temperaments, had faces of deep crimson or deadly pallor.

"Now the question is, my dear," said Basil when, free of the press, they
lingered for a moment in the shade outside, "whether we had better walk
up to Broadway, at an immediate sacrifice of fibre, and get a stage
there, or take one of these cars here, and be landed a little nearer,
with half the exertion. By this route we shall have sights end smells
which the other can't offer us, but whichever we take we shall be sorry."

"Then I say take this," decided Isabel. "I want to be sorry upon the
easiest possible terms, this weather."

They hailed the first car that passed, and got into it. Well for them
both if she could have exercised this philosophy with regard to the whole
day's business, or if she could have given up her plans for it, with the
same resignation she had practiced in regard to the day boat! It seems to
me a proof of the small advance our race has made in true wisdom, that we
find it so hard to give up doing anything we have meant to do. It matters
very little whether the affair is one of enjoyment or of business, we
feel the same bitter need of pursuing it to the end. The mere fact of
intention gives it a flavor of duty, and dutiolatry, as one may call the
devotion, has passed so deeply into our life that we have scarcely a
sense any more of the sweetness of even a neglected pleasure. We will not
taste the fine, guilty rapture of a deliberate dereliction; the gentle
sin of omission is all but blotted from the calendar of our crimes. If I
had been Columbus, I should have thought twice before setting sail, when
I was quite ready to do so; and as for Plymouth Rock, I should have
sternly resisted the blandishments of those twin sirens, Starvation and
Cold, who beckoned the Puritans shoreward, and as soon as ever I came in
sight of their granite perch should have turned back to England. But it
is now too late to repair these errors, and so, on one of the hottest
days of last year, behold my obdurate bridal pair, in a Tenth or
Twentieth Avenue horse-car, setting forth upon the fulfillment of a
series of intentions, any of which had wiselier been left unaccomplished.
Isabel had said they would call upon certain people in Fiftieth Street,
and then shop slowly down, ice-creaming and staging and variously cooling
and calming by the way, until they reached the ticket-office on Broadway,
whence they could indefinitely betake themselves to the steamboat an hour
or two before her departure. She felt that they had yielded sufficiently
to circumstances and conditions already on this journey, and she was
resolved that the present half-day in New York should be the half-day of
her original design.

It was not the most advisable thing, as I have allowed, but it was
inevitable, and it afforded them a spectacle which is by no means wanting
in sublimity, and which is certainly unique,--the spectacle of that great
city on a hot day, defiant of the elements, and prospering on with every
form of labor, and at a terrible cost of life. The man carrying the hod
to the top of the walls that rankly grow and grow as from his life's
blood, will only lay down his load when he feels the mortal glare of the
sun blaze in upon heart and brain; the plethoric millionaire for whom he
toils will plot and plan in his office till he swoons at the desk; the
trembling beast must stagger forward while the flame-faced tormentor on
the box has strength to lash him on; in all those vast palaces of
commerce there are ceaseless sale and purchase, packing and unpacking,
lifting up and laying down, arriving and departing loads; in thousands of
shops is the unspared and unsparing weariness of selling; in the street,
filled by the hurry and suffering of tens of thousands, is the weariness
of buying.

Their afternoon's experience was something that Basil and Isabel could,
when it was past, look upon only as a kind of vision, magnificent at
times, and at other times full of indignity and pain. They seemed to have
dreamed of a long horse-car pilgrimage through that squalid street by the
river-side, where presently they came to a market, opening upon the view
hideous vistas of carnage, and then into a wide avenue, with processions
of cars like their own coming and going up and down the centre of a
foolish and useless breadth, which made even the tall buildings (rising
gauntly up among the older houses of one or two stories) on either hand
look low, and let in the sun to bake the dust that the hot breaths of
wind caught up and gent swirling into the shabby shops. Here they dreamed
of the eternal demolition and construction of the city, and farther on of
vacant lots full of granite boulders, clambered over by goats. In their
dream they had fellow-passengers, whose sufferings made them odious and
whom they were glad to leave behind when they alighted from the car, and
running out of the blaze of the avenue, quenched themselves in the shade
of the cross-street. A little strip of shadow lay along the row of
brown-stone fronts, but there were intervals where the vacant lots cast
no shadow. With great bestowal of thought they studied hopelessly how to
avoid these spaces as if they had been difficult torrents or vast
expanses of desert sand; they crept slowly along till they came to such a
place, and dashed swiftly across it, and then, fainter than before, moved
on. They seemed now and then to stand at doors, and to be told that
people were out and again that they were in; and they had a sense of cool
dark parlors, and the airy rustling of light-muslined ladies, of chat and
of fans and ice-water, and then they came forth again; and evermore

     "The day increased from heat to heat."

At last they were aware of an end of their visits, and of a purpose to go
down town again, and of seeking the nearest car by endless blocks of
brown-stone fronts, which with their eternal brownstone flights of steps,
and their handsome, intolerable uniformity, oppressed them like a
procession of houses trying to pass a given point and never getting by.
Upon these streets there was, seldom a soul to be seen, so that when
their ringing at a door had evoked answer, it had startled them with a
vague, sad surprise. In the distance on either hand they could see cars
and carts and wagons toiling up and down the avenues, and on the next
intersecting pavement sometimes a laborer with his jacket slung across
his shoulder, or a dog that had plainly made up his mind to go mad. Up to
the time of their getting into one of those phantasmal cars for the
return down-townwards they had kept up a show of talk in their wretched
dream; they had spoken of other hot days that they had known elsewhere;
and they had wondered that the tragical character of heat had been so
little recognized. They said that the daily New York murder might even at
that moment be somewhere taking place; and that no murder of the whole
homicidal year could have such proper circumstance; they morbidly
wondered what that day's murder would be, and in what swarming
tenement-house, or den of the assassin streets by the river-sides,--if
indeed it did not befall in some such high, close-shuttered, handsome
dwelling as those they passed, in whose twilight it would be so easy to
strike down the master and leave him undiscovered and unmourned by the
family ignorantly absent at the mountains or the seaside. They
conjectured of the horror of midsummer battles, and pictured the anguish
of shipwrecked men upon a tropical coast, and the grimy misery of
stevedores unloading shiny cargoes of anthracite coal at city docks. But
now at last, as they took seats opposite one another in the crowded car,
they seemed to have drifted infinite distances and long epochs asunder.
They looked hopelessly across the intervening gulf, and mutely
questioned when it was and from what far city they or some remote
ancestors of theirs had set forth upon a wedding journey. They bade each
other a tacit farewell, and with patient, pathetic faces awaited the end
of the world.

When they alighted, they took their way up through one of the streets of
the great wholesale businesses, to Broadway. On this street was a throng
of trucks and wagons lading and unlading; bales and boxes rose and sank
by pulleys overhead; the footway was a labyrinth of packages of every
shape and size: there was no flagging of the pitiless energy that moved
all forward, no sign of how heavy a weight lay on it, save in the reeking
faces of its helpless instruments. But when the wedding-journeyers
emerged upon Broadway, the other passages and incidents of their dream
faded before the superior fantasticality of the spectacle. It was four
o'clock, the deadliest hour of the deadly summer day. The spiritless air
seemed to have a quality of blackness in it, as if filled with the gloom
of low-hovering wings. One half the street lay in shadow, and one half in
sun; but the sunshine itself was dim, as if a heat greater than its own
had smitten it with languor. Little gusts of sick, warm wind blew across
the great avenue at the corners of the intersecting streets. In the
upward distance, at which the journeyers looked, the loftier roofs and
steeples lifted themselves dim out of the livid atmosphere, and far up
and down the length of the street swept a stream of tormented life. All
sorts of wheeled things thronged it, conspicuous among which rolled and
jarred the gaudily painted Stages, with quivering horses driven each by a
man who sat in the shade of a branching white umbrella, and suffered with
a moody truculence of aspect, and as if he harbored the bitterness of
death in his heart for the crowding passengers within, when one of them
pulled the strap about his legs, and summoned him to halt. Most of the
foot-passengers kept to the shady side, and to the unaccustomed eyes of
the strangers they were not less in number than at any other time, though
there were fewer women among them. Indomitably resolute of soul, they
held their course with the swift pace of custom, and only here and there
they showed the effect of the heat. One man, collarless, with waistcoat
unbuttoned, and hat set far back from his forehead, waved a fan before
his death-white flabby face, and set down one foot after the other with
the heaviness of a somnambulist. Another, as they passed him, was saying
huskily to the friend at his side, "I can't stand this much longer. My
hands tingle as if they had gone to sleep; my heart--" But still the
multitude hurried on, passing, repassing, encountering, evading,
vanishing into shop-doors and emerging from them, dispersing down the
side streets, and swarming out of them. It was a scene that possessed the
beholder with singular fascination, and in its effect of universal
lunacy, it might well have seemed the last phase of a world presently to
be destroyed. They who were in it but not of it, as they fancied, though
there was no reason for this,--looked on it amazed, and at last their own
errands being accomplished, and themselves so far cured of the madness of
purpose, they cried with one voice, that it was a hideous sight, and
strove to take refuge from it in the nearest place where the
soda-fountain sparkled.

It was a vain desire. At the front door of the apothecary's hung a
thermometer, and as they entered they heard the next comer cry out with a
maniacal pride in the affliction laid upon mankind, "Ninety-seven
degrees!" Behind them at the door there poured in a ceaseless stream of
people, each pausing at the shrine of heat; before he tossed off the
hissing draught that two pale, close-clipped boys served them from either
side of the fountain. Then in the order of their coming they issued
through another door upon the side street, each, as he disappeared,
turning his face half round, and casting a casual glance upon a little
group near another counter. The group was of a very patient,
half-frightened, half-puzzled looking gentleman who sat perfectly still
on a stool, and of a lady who stood beside him, rubbing all over his head
a handkerchief full of pounded ice, and easing one hand with the other
when the first became tired. Basil drank his soda and paused to look upon
this group, which he felt would commend itself to realistic sculpture as
eminently characteristic of the local life, and as "The Sunstroke" would
sell enormously in the hot season. "Better take a little more of that,"
the apothecary said, looking up from his prescription, and, as the
organized sympathy of the seemingly indifferent crowd, smiling very
kindly at his patient, who thereupon tasted something in the glass he
held. "Do you still feel like fainting?" asked the humane authority.
"Slightly, now and then," answered the other, "but I'm hanging on hard to
the bottom curve of that icicled S on your soda-fountain, and I feel that
I'm all right as long as I can see that. The people get rather hazy,
occasionally, and have no features to speak of. But I don't know that I
look very impressive myself," he added in the jesting mood which seems
the natural condition of Americans in the face of all embarrassments.

"O, you'll do!" the apothecary answered, with a laugh; but he said, in
answer to an anxious question from the lady, "He mustn't be moved for an
hour yet," and gayly pestled away at a prescription, while she resumed
her office of grinding the pounded ice round and round upon her husband's
skull. Isabel offered her the commiseration of friendly words, and of
looks kinder yet, and then seeing that they could do nothing, she and
Basil fell into the endless procession, and passed out of the side door.
"What a shocking thing!" she whispered. "Did you see how all the people
looked, one after another, so indifferently at that couple, and evidently
forgot them the next instant? It was dreadful. I shouldn't like to have
you sun-struck in New York."

"That's very considerate of you; but place for place, if any accident
must happen to me among strangers, I think I should prefer to have it in
New York. The biggest place is always the kindest as well as the cruelest
place. Amongst the thousands of spectators the good Samaritan as well as
the Levite would be sure to be. As for a sun-stroke, it requires peculiar
gifts. But if you compel me to a choice in the matter, then I say, give
me the busiest part of Broadway for a sun-stroke. There is such
experience of calamity there that you could hardly fall the first victim
to any misfortune. Probably the gentleman at the apothecary's was merely
exhausted by the heat, and ran in there for revival. The apothecary has a
case of the kind on his hands every blazing afternoon, and knows just
what to do. The crowd may be a little 'ennuye' of sun-strokes, and to
that degree indifferent, but they most likely know that they can only do
harm by an expression of sympathy, and so they delegate their pity as
they have delegated their helpfulness to the proper authority, and go
about their business. If a man was overcome in the middle of a village
street, the blundering country druggist wouldn't know what to do, and the
tender-hearted people would crowd about so that no breath of air could
reach the victim."

"May be so, dear," said the wife, pensively; "but if anything did happen
to you in New York, I should like to have the spectators look as if they
saw a human being in trouble. Perhaps I'm a little exacting."

"I think you are. Nothing is so hard as to understand that there are
human beings in this world besides one's self and one's set. But let us
be selfishly thankful that it isn't you and I there in the apothecary's
shop, as it might very well be; and let us get to the boat as soon as we
can, and end this horrible midsummer-day's dream. We must have a
carriage," he added with tardy wisdom, hailing an empty hack, "as we
ought to have had all day; though I'm not sorry, now the worst's over, to
have seen the worst."



III. THE NIGHT BOAT.

There is little proportion about either pain or pleasure: a headache
darkens the universe while it lasts, a cup of tea really lightens the
spirit bereft of all reasonable consolations. Therefore I do not think it
trivial or untrue to say that there is for the moment nothing more
satisfactory in life than to have bought your ticket on the night boat up
the Hudson and secured your state-room key an hour or two before
departure, and some time even before the pressure at the clerk's office
has begun. In the transaction with this castellated baron, you have of
course been treated with haughtiness, but not with ferocity, and your
self-respect swells with a sense of having escaped positive insult; your
key clicks cheerfully in your pocket against its gutta-percha number, and
you walk up and down the gorgeously carpeted, single-columned, two-story
cabin, amid a multitude of plush sofas and chairs, a glitter of glass,
and a tinkle of prismatic chandeliers overhead, unawed even by the
aristocratic gloom of the yellow waiters. Your own stateroom as you enter
it from time to time is an ever-new surprise of splendors, a magnificent
effect of amplitude, of mahogany bedstead, of lace curtains, and of
marble topped wash-stand. In the mere wantonness of an unalloyed
prosperity you say to the saffron nobleman nearest your door, "Bring me a
pitcher of ice-water, quick, please!" and you do not find the half-hour
that he is gone very long.

If the ordinary wayfarer experiences so much pleasure from these things,
then imagine the infinite comfort of our wedding-journeyers, transported
from Broadway on that pitiless afternoon to the shelter and the quiet of
that absurdly palatial steamboat. It was not yet crowded, and by the
river-side there was almost a freshness in the air. They disposed of
their troubling bags and packages; they complimented the ridiculous
princeliness of their stateroom, and then they betook themselves to the
sheltered space aft of the saloon, where they sat down for the
tranquiller observance of the wharf and whatever should come to be seen
by them. Like all people who have just escaped with their lives from some
menacing calamity, they were very philosophical in spirit; and having got
aboard of their own motion, and being neither of them apparently the
worse for the ordeal they had passed through, were of a light,
conversational temper.

"What an amusingly superb affair!" Basil cried as they glanced through an
open window down the long vista of the saloon. "Good heavens! Isabel,
does it take all this to get us plain republicans to Albany in comfort
and safety, or are we really a nation of princes in disguise? Well, I
shall never be satisfied with less hereafter," he added. "I am spoilt for
ordinary paint and upholstery from this hour; I am a ruinous spendthrift,
and a humble three-story swell-front up at the South End is no longer the
place for me. Dearest,

     'Let us swear an oath, and keep it with an equal mind,'

never to leave this Aladdin's-palace-like steamboat, but spend our lives
in perpetual trips up and down the Hudson."

To which not very costly banter Isabel responded in kind, and rapidly
sketched the life they could lead aboard. Since they could not help it,
they mocked the public provision which, leaving no interval between
disgraceful squalor and ludicrous splendor, accommodates our democratic
'menage' to the taste of the richest and most extravagant plebeian
amongst us. He, unhappily, minds danger and oppression as little as he
minds money, so long as he has a spectacle and a sensation, and it is
this ruthless imbecile who will have lace curtains to the steamboat berth
into which he gets with his pantaloons on, and out of which he may be
blown by an exploding boiler at any moment; it is he who will have for
supper that overgrown and shapeless dinner in the lower saloon, and will
not let any one else buy tea or toast for a less sum than he pays for his
surfeit; it is he who perpetuates the insolence of the clerk and the
reluctance of the waiters; it is he, in fact, who now comes out of the
saloon, with his womenkind, and takes chairs under the awning where Basil
and Isabel sit. Personally, he is not so bad; he is good-looking, like
all of us; he is better dressed than most of us; he behaves himself
quietly, if not easily; and no lord so loathes a scene. Next year he is
going to Europe, where he will not show to so much advantage as here; but
for the present it would be hard to say in what way he is vulgar, and
perhaps vulgarity is not so common a thing after all.

It was something besides the river that made the air so much more
sufferable than it had been. Over the city, since our friends had come
aboard the boat, a black cloud had gathered and now hung low upon it,
while the wind from the face of the water took the dust in the
neighboring streets, and frolicked it about the house-tops, and in the
faces of the arriving passengers, who, as the moment of departure drew
near, appeared in constantly increasing numbers and in greater variety,
with not only the trepidation of going upon them, but also with the
electrical excitement people feel before a tempest.

The breast of the black cloud was now zigzagged from moment to moment by
lightning, and claps of deafening thunder broke from it. At last the long
endurance of the day was spent, and out of its convulsion burst floods of
rain, again and again sweeping the promenade-deck where the people sat,
and driving them disconsolate into the saloon. The air was darkened as by
night, and with many regrets for the vanishing prospect, mingled with a
sense of relief from the heat, our friends felt the boat tremble away
from her moorings and set forth upon her trip.

"Ah! if we had only taken the day boat!" moaned Isabel. "Now, we shall
see nothing of the river landscape, and we shall never be able to put
ourselves down when we long for Europe, by declaring that the scenery of
the Hudson is much finer than that of the Rhine."

Yet they resolved, this indomitably good-natured couple, that they would
be just even to the elements, which had by no means been generous to
them; and they owned that if so noble a storm had celebrated their
departure upon some storied river from some more romantic port than New
York, they would have thought it an admirable thing. Even whilst they
contented themselves, the storm passed, and left a veiled and humid sky
overhead, that gave a charming softness to the scene on which their eyes
fell when they came out of the saloon again, and took their places with a
largely increased companionship on the deck.

They had already reached that part of the river where the uplands begin,
and their course was between stately walls of rocky steepness, or wooded
slopes, or grassy hollows, the scene forever losing and taking grand and
lovely shape. Wreaths of mist hung about the tops of the loftier
headlands, and long shadows draped their sides. As the night grew, lights
twinkled from a lonely house here and there in the valleys; a swarm of
lamps showed a town where it lay upon the lap or at the foot of the
hills. Behind them stretched the great gray river, haunted with many
sails; now a group of canal-boats grappled together, and having an air of
coziness in their adventure upon this strange current out of their own
sluggish waters, drifted out of sight; and now a smaller and slower
steamer, making a laborious show of keeping up was passed, and
reluctantly fell behind; along the water's edge rattled and hooted the
frequent trains. They could not tell at any time what part of the river
they were on, and they could not, if they would, have made its beauty a
matter of conscientious observation; but all the more, therefore, they
deeply enjoyed it without reference to time or place. They felt some
natural pain when they thought that they might unwittingly pass the
scenes that Irving has made part of the common dream-land, and they would
fair have seen the lighted windows of the house out of which a cheerful
ray has penetrated to so many hearts; but being sure of nothing, as they
were, they had the comfort of finding the Tappan Zee in every expanse of
the river, and of discovering Sunny-Side on every pleasant slope. By
virtue of this helplessness, the Hudson, without ceasing to be the
Hudson, became from moment to moment all fair and stately streams upon
which they had voyaged or read of voyaging, from the Nile to the
Mississippi. There is no other travel like river travel; it is the
perfection of movement, and one might well desire never to arrive at
one's destination. The abundance of room, the free, pure air, the
constant delight of the eyes in the changing landscape, the soft tremor
of the boat, so steady upon her keel, the variety of the little world on
board,--all form a charm which no good heart in a sound body can resist.
So, whilst the twilight held, well content, in contiguous chairs, they
purred in flattery of their kindly fate, imagining different pleasures,
certainly, but none greater, and tasting to its subtlest flavor the
happiness conscious of itself.

Their own satisfaction, indeed, was so interesting to them in this
objective light, that they had little desire to turn from its
contemplation to the people around them; and when at last they did so, it
was still with lingering glances of self-recognition and enjoyment. They
divined rightly that one of the main conditions of their present felicity
was the fact that they had seen so much of time and of the world, that
they had no longer any desire to take beholding eyes, or to make any sort
of impressive figure, and they understood that their prosperous love
accounted as much as years and travel for this result. If they had had a
loftier opinion of themselves, their indifference to others might have
made them offensive; but with their modest estimate of their own value in
the world, they could have all the comfort of self-sufficiency, without
its vulgarity.

"O yes!" said Basil, in answer to some apostrophe to their bliss from
Isabel, "it's the greatest imaginable satisfaction to have lived past
certain things. I always knew that I was not a very handsome or otherwise
captivating person, but I can remember years--now blessedly remote--when
I never could see a young girl without hoping she would mistake me for
something of that sort. I couldn't help desiring that some fascination of
mine, which had escaped my own analysis, would have an effect upon her. I
dare say all young men are so. I used to live for the possible interest I
might inspire in your sex, Isabel. They controlled my movements, my
attitudes; they forbade me repose; and yet I believe I was no ass, but a
tolerably sensible fellow. Blessed be marriage, I am free at last! All
the loveliness that exists outside of you, dearest,--and it 's mighty
little,--is mere pageant to me; and I thank Heaven that I can meet the
most stylish girl now upon the broad level of our common humanity.
Besides, it seems to me that our experience of life has quieted us in
many other ways. What a luxury it is to sit here, and reflect that we do
not want any of these people to suppose us rich, or distinguished, or
beautiful, or well dressed, and do not care to show off in any sort of
way before them!"

This content was heightened, no doubt, by a just sense of their contrast
to the group of people nearest there,--a young man of the second or third
quality--and two young girls. The eldest of these was carrying on a
vivacious flirtation with the young man, who was apparently an
acquaintance of brief standing; the other was scarcely more than a child,
and sat somewhat abashed at the sparkle of the colloquy. They were
conjecturally sisters going home from some visit, and not skilled in the
world, but of a certain repute in their country neighborhood for beauty
and wit. The young man presently gave himself out as one who, in pursuit
of trade for the dry-goods house he represented, had travelled many
thousands of miles in all parts of the country. The encounter was visibly
that kind of adventure which both would treasure up for future
celebration to their different friends; and it had a brilliancy and
interest which they could not even now consent to keep to themselves.
They talked to each other and at all the company within hearing, and
exchanged curt speeches which had for them all the sensation of repartee.

Young Man. They say that beauty unadorned is adorned the most.

Young Woman (bridling, and twitching her head from side to side, in the
high excitement of the dialogue). Flattery is out of place.

Young Man. Well, never mind. If you don't believe me, you ask your mother
when you get home.

(Titter from the younger sister.)

Young Woman (scornfully). Umph! my mother has no control over me!

Young Man. Nobody else has, either, I should gay. (Admiringly.)

Young Woman. Yes, you've told the truth for once, for a wonder. I'm able
to take care of myself,--perfectly. (Almost hoarse with a sense of
sarcastic performance.)

Young Man. "Whole team and big dog under the wagon," as they say out
West.

Young Woman. Better a big dog than a puppy, any day.

Giggles and horror from the younger sister, sensation in the young man,
and so much rapture in the young woman that she drops the key of her
state-room from her hand. They both stoop, and a jocose scuffle for it
ensues, after which the talk takes an autobiographical turn on the part
of the young man, and drops into an unintelligible murmur. "Ah! poor Real
Life, which I love, can I make others share the delight I find in thy
foolish and insipid face?"

Not far from this group sat two Hebrews, one young and the other old,
talking of some business out of which the latter had retired. The younger
had been asked his opinion upon some point, and he was expanding with a
flattered consciousness of the elder's perception of his importance, and
toadying to him with the pleasure which all young men feel in winning the
favor of seniors in their vocation. "Well, as I was a-say'n', Isaac don't
seem to haf no natcheral pent for the glothing business. Man gomes in and
wands a goat,"--he seemed to be speaking of a garment and not a domestic
animal,--"Isaac'll zell him the goat he wands him to puy, and he'll make
him believe it 'a the goat he was a lookin' for. Well, now, that's well
enough as far as it goes; but you know and I know, Mr. Rosenthal, that
that 's no way to do business. A man gan't zugzeed that goes upon that
brincible. Id's wrong. Id's easy enough to make a man puy the goat you
want him to, if he wands a goat, but the thing is to make him puy the
goat that you wand to zell when he don't wand no goat at all. You've
asked me what I thought and I've dold you. Isaac'll never zugzeed in the
redail glothing-business in the world!"

"Well," sighed the elder, who filled his armchair quite full, and
quivered with a comfortable jelly-like tremor in it, at every pulsation
of the engine, "I was afraid of something of the kind. As you say,
Benjamin, he don't seem to have no pent for it. And yet I proughd him up
to the business; I drained him to it, myself."

Besides these talkers, there were scattered singly, or grouped about in
twos and threes and fours, the various people one encounters on a Hudson
River boat, who are on the whole different from the passengers on other
rivers, though they all have features in common. There was that man of
the sudden gains, who has already been typified; and there was also the
smoother rich man of inherited wealth, from whom you can somehow know the
former so readily. They were each attended by their several retinues of
womankind, the daughters all much alike, but the mothers somewhat
different. They were going to Saratoga, where perhaps the exigencies of
fashion would bring them acquainted, and where the blue blood of a
quarter of a century would be kind to the yesterday's fluid of warmer
hue. There was something pleasanter in the face of the hereditary
aristocrat, but not so strong, nor, altogether, so admirable;
particularly if you reflected that he really represented nothing in the
world, no great culture, no political influence, no civic aspiration, not
even a pecuniary force, nothing but a social set, an alien club-life, a
tradition of dining. We live in a true fairy land after all, where the
hoarded treasure turns to a heap of dry leaves. The almighty dollar
defeats itself, and finally buys nothing that a man cares to have. The
very highest pleasure that such an American's money can purchase is
exile, and to this rich man doubtless Europe is a twice-told tale. Let us
clap our empty pockets, dearest reader, and be glad.

We can be as glad, apparently, and with the same reason as the poorly
dressed young man standing near beside the guard, whose face Basil and
Isabel chose to fancy that of a poet, and concerning whom, they romanced
that he was going home, wherever his home was, with the manuscript of a
rejected book in his pocket. They imagined him no great things of a poet,
to be sure, but his pensive face claimed delicate feeling for him, and a
graceful, sombre fancy, and they conjectured unconsciously caught flavors
of Tennyson and Browning in his verse, with a moderner tint from Morris:
for was it not a story out of mythology, with gods and heroes of the
nineteenth century, that he was now carrying back from New York with him?
Basil sketched from the colors of his own long-accepted disappointments a
moving little picture of this poor imagined poet's adventures; with what
kindness and unkindness he had been put to shame by publishers, and how,
descending from his high, hopes of a book, he had tried to sell to the
magazines some of the shorter pieces out of the "And other Poems" which
were to have filled up the volume. "He's going back rather stunned and
bewildered; but it's something to have tasted the city, and its bitter
may turn to sweet on his palate, at last, till he finds himself longing
for the tumult that he abhors now. Poor fellow! one compassionate
cut-throat of a publisher even asked him to lunch, being struck, as we
are, with something fine in his face. I hope he's got somebody who
believes in him, at home. Otherwise he'd be more comfortable, for the
present, if he went over the railing there."

So the play of which they were both actors and spectators went on about
them. Like all passages of life, it seemed now a grotesque mystery, with
a bluntly enforced moral, now a farce of the broadest, now a latent
tragedy folded in the disguises of comedy. All the elements, indeed, of
either were at work there, and this was but one brief scene of the
immense complex drama which was to proceed so variously in such different
times and places, and to have its denouement only in eternity. The
contrasts were sharp: each group had its travesty in some other; the talk
of one seemed the rude burlesque, the bitter satire of the next; but of
all these parodies none was so terribly effective as the two women, who
sat in the midst of the company, yet were somehow distinct from the rest.
One wore the deepest black of widowhood, the other was dressed in bridal
white, and they were both alike awful in their mockery of guiltless
sorrow and guiltless joy. They were not old, but the soul of youth was
dead in their pretty, lamentable faces, and ruin ancient as sin looked
from their eyes; their talk and laughter seemed the echo of an
innumerable multitude of the lost haunting the world in every land and
time, each solitary forever, yet all bound together in the unity of an
imperishable slavery and shame.

What a stale effect! What hackneyed characters! Let us be glad the night
drops her curtain upon the cheap spectacle, and shuts these with the
other actors from our view.

Within the cabin, through which Basil and Isabel now slowly moved, there
were numbers of people lounging about on the sofas, in various attitudes
of talk or vacancy; and at the tables there were others reading
"Lothair," a new book in the remote epoch of which I write, and a very
fashionable book indeed. There was in the air that odor of paint and
carpet which prevails on steamboats; the glass drops of the chandeliers
ticked softly against each other, as the vessel shook with her
respiration, like a comfortable sleeper, and imparted a delicious feeling
of coziness and security to our travellers.

A few hours later they struggled awake at the sharp sound of the pilot's
bell signaling the engineer to slow the boat. There was a moment of
perfect silence; then all the drops of the chandeliers in the saloon
clashed musically together; then fell another silence; and at last came
wild cries for help, strongly qualified with blasphemies and curses.
"Send out a boat!" "There was a woman aboard that steamboat!" "Lower your
boats!" "Run a craft right down, with your big boat!" "Send out a boat
and pick up the crew!" The cries rose and sank, and finally ceased;
through the lattice of the state-room window some lights shone faintly on
the water at a distance.

"Wait here, Isabel!" said her husband. "We've run down a boat. We don't
seem hurt; but I'll go see. I'll be back in a minute."

Isabel had emerged into a world of dishabille, a world wildly unbuttoned
and unlaced, where it was the fashion for ladies to wear their hair down
their backs, and to walk about in their stockings, and to speak to each
other without introduction. The place with which she had felt so familiar
a little while before was now utterly estranged. There was no motion of
the boat, and in the momentary suspense a quiet prevailed, in which those
grotesque shapes of disarray crept noiselessly round whispering
panic-stricken conjectures. There was no rushing to and fro, nor tumult
of any kind, and there was not a man to be seen, for apparently they had
all gone like Basil to learn the extent of the calamity. A mist of sleep
involved the whole, and it was such a topsy-turvy world that it would
have seemed only another dream-land, but that it was marked for reality
by one signal fact. With the rest appeared the woman in bridal white and
the woman in widow's black, and there, amidst the fright that made all
others friends, and for aught that most knew, in the presence of death
itself, these two moved together shunned and friendless.

Somehow, even before Basil returned, it had become known to Isabel and
the rest that their own steamer had suffered no harm, but that she had
struck and sunk another convoying a flotilla of canal boats, from which
those alarming cries and curses had come. The steamer was now lying by
for the small boats she had sent out to pick up the crew of the sunken
vessel.

"Why, I only heard a little tinkling of the chandeliers," said one of the
ladies. "Is it such a very alight matter to run down another boat and
sink it?"

She appealed indirectly to Basil, who answered lightly, "I don't think
you ladies ought to have been disturbed at all. In running over a common
tow-boat on a perfectly clear night like this there should have been no
noise and no perceptible jar. They manage better on the Mississippi, and
both boats often go down without waking the lightest sleeper on board."

The ladies, perhaps from a deficient sense of humor, listened with
undisguised displeasure to this speech. It dispersed them, in fact; some
turned away to bivouac for the rest of the night upon the arm-chairs and
sofas, while others returned to their rooms. With the latter went Isabel.
"Lock me in, Basil," she said, with a bold meekness, "and if anything
more happens don't wake me till the last moment." It was hard to part
from him, but she felt that his vigil would somehow be useful to the
boat, and she confidingly fell into a sleep that lasted till daylight.

Meantime, her husband, on whom she had tacitly devolved so great a
responsibility, went forward to the promenade in front of the saloon, in
hopes of learning something more of the catastrophe from the people whom
he had already found gathered there.

A large part of the passengers were still there, seated or standing about
in earnest colloquy. They were in that mood which follows great
excitement, and in which the feeblest-minded are sure to lead the talk.
At such times one feels that a sensible frame of mind is unsympathetic,
and if expressed, unpopular, or perhaps not quite safe; and Basil, warned
by his fate with the ladies, listened gravely to the voice of the common
imbecility and incoherence.

The principal speaker was a tall person, wearing a silk travelling-cap.
He had a face of stupid benignity and a self-satisfied smirk; and he was
formally trying to put at his ease, and hopelessly confusing the loutish
youth before him. "You say you saw the whole accident, and you're
probably the only passenger that did see it. You'll be the most important
witness at the trial," he added, as if there would ever be any trial
about it. "Now, how did the tow-boat hit us?"

"Well, she came bows on."

"Ah! bows on," repeated the other, with great satisfaction; and a little
murmur of "Bows on!" ran round the listening circle.

"That is," added the witness, "it seemed as if we struck her amidships,
and cut her in two, and sunk her."

"Just so," continued the examiner, accepting the explanation, "bows on.
Now I want to ask if you saw our captain or any of the crew about?"

"Not a soul," said the witness, with the solemnity of a man already on
oath.

"That'll do," exclaimed the other. "This gentleman's experience coincides
exactly with my own. I didn't see the collision, but I did see the cloud
of steam from the sinking boat, and I saw her go down. There wasn't an
officer to be found anywhere on board our boat. I looked about for the
captain and the mate myself, and couldn't find either of them high or
low."

"The officers ought all to have been sitting here on the promenade deck,"
suggested one ironical spirit in the crowd, but no one noticed him.

The gentleman in the silk travelling-cap now took a chair, and a number
of sympathetic listeners drew their chairs about him, and then began an
interchange of experience, in which each related to the last particular
all that he felt, thought, and said, and, if married, what his wife felt,
thought, and said, at the moment of the calamity. They turned the
disaster over and over in their talk, and rolled it under their tongues.
Then they reverted to former accidents in which they had been concerned;
and the silk-capped gentleman told, to the common admiration, of a
fearful escape of his, on the Erie Road, from being thrown down a steep
embankment fifty feet high by a piece of rock that had fallen on the
track. "Now just see, gentlemen, what a little thing, humanly speaking,
life depends upon. If that old woman had been able to sleep, and hadn't
sent that boy down to warn the train, we should have run into the rock
and been dashed to pieces. The passengers made up a purse for the boy,
and I wrote a full account of it to the papers."

"Well," said one of the group, a man in a hard hat, "I never lie down on
a steamboat or a railroad train. I want to be ready for whatever
happens."

The others looked at this speaker with interest, as one who had invented
a safe method of travel.

"I happened to be up to-night, but I almost always undress and go to bed,
just as if I were in my own house," said the gentleman of the silk cap.

"I don't say your way isn't the best, but that's my way."

The champions of the rival systems debated their merits with suavity and
mutual respect, but they met with scornful silence a compromising spirit
who held that it was better to throw off your coat and boots, but keep
your pantaloons on. Meanwhile, the steamer was hanging idle upon the
current, against which it now and then stirred a careless wheel, still
waiting for the return of the small boats. Thin gray clouds, through
rifts of which a star sparkled keenly here and there, veiled the heavens;
shadowy bluffs loomed up on either hand; in a hollow on the left twinkled
a drowsy little town; a beautiful stillness lay on all.

After an hour's interval a shout was heard from far down the river; then
later the plash of oars; then a cry hailing the approaching boats, and
the answer, "All safe!" Presently the boats had come alongside, and the
passengers crowded down to the guard to learn the details of the search.
Basil heard a hollow, moaning, gurgling sound, regular as that of the
machinery, for some note of which he mistook it. "Clear the gangway
there!" shouted a gruff voice; "man scalded here!" And a burden was
carried by from which fluttered, with its terrible regularity, that
utterance of mortal anguish.

Basil went again to the forward promenade, and sat down to see the
morning come.

The boat swiftly ascended the current, and presently the steeper shores
were left behind and the banks fell away in long upward sloping fields,
with farm-houses and with stacks of harvest dimly visible in the generous
expanses. By and by they passed a fisherman drawing his nets, and bending
from his boat, there near Albany, N. Y., in the picturesque immortal
attitudes of Raphael's Galilean fisherman; and now a flush mounted the
pale face of the east, and through the dewy coolness of the dawn there
came, more to the sight than any other sense, a vague menace of heat. But
as yet the air was deliciously fresh and sweet, and Basil bathed his
weariness in it, thinking with a certain luxurious compassion of the
scalded man, and how he was to fare that day. This poor wretch seemed of
another order of beings, as the calamitous always seem to the happy, and
Basil's pity was quite an abstraction; which, again, amused and shocked
him, and he asked his heart of bliss to consider of sorrow a little more
earnestly as the lot of all men, and not merely of an alien creature here
and there. He dutifully tried to imagine another issue to the disaster of
the night, and to realize himself suddenly bereft of her who so filled
his life. He bade his soul remember that, in the security of sleep, Death
had passed them both so close that his presence might well have chilled
their dreams, as the iceberg that grazes the ship in the night freezes
all the air about it. But it was quite idle: where love was, life only
was; and sense and spirit alike put aside the burden that he would have
laid upon them; his revery reflected with delicious caprice the looks,
the tones, the movements that he loved, and bore him far away from the
sad images that he had invited to mirror themselves in it.



IV. A DAY'S RAILROADING

Happiness has commonly a good appetite; and the thought of the
fortunately ended adventures of the night, the fresh morning air, and the
content of their own hearts, gifted our friends, by the time the boat
reached Albany, with a wholesome hunger, so that they debated with spirit
the question of breakfast and the best place of breakfasting in a city
which neither of them knew, save in the most fugitive and sketchy way.

They decided at last, in view of the early departure of the train, and
the probability that they would be more hurried at a hotel, to breakfast
at the station, and thither they went and took places at one of the many
tables within, where they seemed to have been expected only by the flies.
The waitress plainly had not looked for them, and for a time found their
presence so incredible that she would not acknowledge the rattling that
Basil was obliged to make on his glass. Then it appeared that the cook
would not believe in them, and he did not send them, till they were quite
faint, the peppery and muddy draught which impudently affected to be
coffee, the oily slices of fugacious potatoes slipping about in their
shallow dish and skillfully evading pursuit, the pieces of beef that
simulated steak, the hot, greasy biscuit, steaming evilly up into the
face when opened, and then soddening into masses of condensed dyspepsia.

The wedding-journeyers looked at each other with eyes of sad amaze. They
bowed themselves for a moment to the viands, and then by an equal impulse
refrained. They were sufficiently young, they were happy, they were
hungry; nature is great and strong, but art is greater, and before these
triumphs of the cook at the Albany depot appetite succumbed. By a
terrible tour de force they swallowed the fierce and turbid liquor in
their cups, and then speculated fantastically upon the character and
history of the materials of that breakfast.

Presently Isabel paused, played a little with her knife, and, after a
moment looked up at her husband with an arch regard and said: "I was
just thinking of a small station somewhere in the South of France where
our train once stopped for breakfast. I remember the freshness and
brightness of everything on the little tables,--the plates, the napkins,
the gleaming half-bottles of wine. They seemed to have been preparing
that breakfast for us from the beginning of time, and we were hardly
seated before they served us with great cups of 'cafe-au-lait', and the
sweetest rolls and butter; then a delicate cutlet, with an unspeakable
gravy, and potatoes,--such potatoes! Dear me, how little I ate of it! I
wish, for once, I'd had your appetite, Basil; I do indeed."

She ended with a heartless laugh, in which, despite the tragical contrast
her words had suggested, Basil finally joined. So much amazement had
probably never been got before out of the misery inflicted in that place;
but their lightness did not at all commend them. The waitress had not
liked it from the first, and had served them with reluctance; and the
proprietor did not like it, and kept his eye upon them as if he believed
them about to escape without payment. Here, then, they had enforced a
great fact of travelling,--that people who serve the public are kindly
and pleasant in proportion as they serve it well. The unjust and the
inefficient have always that consciousness of evil which will not let a
man forgive his victim, or like him to be cheerful.

Our friends, however, did not heat themselves over the fact. There was
already such heat from without, even at eight o'clock in the morning,
that they chose to be as cool as possible in mind, and they placidly took
their places in the train, which had been made up for departure. They had
deliberately rejected the notion of a drawing-room car as affording a
less varied prospect of humanity, and as being less in the spirit of
ordinary American travel. Now, in reward, they found themselves quite
comfortable in the common passenger-car, and disposed to view the
scenery, into which they struck an hour after leaving the city, with much
complacency. There was sufficient draught through the open window to make
the heat tolerable, and the great brooding warmth gave to the landscape
the charm which it alone can impart. It is a landscape that I greatly
love for its mild beauty and tranquil picturesqueness, and it is in honor
of our friends that I say they enjoyed it. There are nowhere any
considerable hills, but everywhere generous slopes and pleasant hollows
and the wide meadows of a grazing country, with the pretty brown Mohawk
River rippling down through all, and at frequent intervals the life of
the canal, now near, now far away, with the lazy boats that seem not to
stir, and the horses that the train passes with a whirl, and, leaves
slowly stepping forward and swiftly slipping backward. There are farms
that had once, or still have, the romance to them of being Dutch
farms,--if there is any romance in that,--and one conjectures a Dutch
thrift in their waving grass and grain. Spaces of woodland here and there
dapple the slopes, and the cozy red farm-houses repose by the side of
their capacious red barns. Truly, there is no ground on which to defend
the idleness, and yet as the train strives furiously onward amid these
scenes of fertility and abundance, I like in fancy to loiter behind it,
and to saunter at will up and down the landscape. I stop at the farm-yard
gates, and sit upon the porches or thresholds, and am served with cups of
buttermilk by old Dutch ladies who have done their morning's work and
have leisure to be knitting or sewing; or if there are no old ladies,
with decent caps upon their gray hair, then I do not complain if the
drink is brought me by some red-cheeked, comely young girl, out of
Washington Irving's pages, with no cap on her golden braids, who mirrors
my diffidence, and takes an attitude of pretty awkwardness while she
waits till I have done drinking. In the same easily contented spirit as I
lounge through the barn-yard, if I find the old hens gone about their
family affairs, I do not mind a meadow-lark's singing in the top of the
elm-tree beside the pump. In these excursions the watch-dogs know me for
a harmless person, and will not open their eyes as they lie coiled up in
the sun before the gate. At all the places, I have the people keep bees,
and, in the garden full of worthy pot-herbs, such idlers in the vegetable
world as hollyhocks and larkspurs and four-o'clocks, near a great bed in
which the asparagus has gone to sleep for the season with a dream of
delicate spray hanging over it. I walk unmolested through the farmer's
tall grass, and ride with him upon the perilous seat of his voluble
mowing-machine, and learn to my heart's content that his name begins with
Van, and that his family has owned that farm ever since the days of the
Patroon; which I dare say is not true. Then I fall asleep in a corner of
the hayfield, and wake up on the tow-path of the canal beside that
wonderfully lean horse, whose bones you cannot count only, because they
are so many. He never wakes up, but, with a faltering under-lip and
half-shut eyes, hobbles stiffly on, unconscious of his anatomical
interest. The captain hospitably asks me on board, with a twist of the
rudder swinging the stern of the boat up to the path, so that I can step
on. She is laden with flour from the valley of the Genesee, and may have
started on her voyage shortly after the canal was made. She is succinctly
manned by the captain, the driver, and the cook, a fiery-haired lady of
imperfect temper; and the cabin, which I explore, is plainly furnished
with a cook-stove and a flask of whiskey. Nothing but profane language is
allowed on board; and so, in a life of wicked jollity and ease, we glide
imperceptibly down the canal, unvexed by the far-off future of arrival.

Such, I say, are my own unambitious mental pastimes, but I am aware that
less superficial spirits could not be satisfied with them, and I can not
pretend that my wedding-journeyers were so.

They cast an absurd poetry over the landscape; they invited themselves to
be reminded of passages of European travel by it; and they placed villas
and castles and palaces upon all the eligible building-sites. Ashamed of
these devices, presently, Basil patriotically tried to reconstruct the
Dutch and Indian past of the Mohawk Valley, but here he was foiled by the
immense ignorance of his wife, who, as a true American woman, knew
nothing of the history of her own country, and less than nothing of the
barbarous regions beyond the borders of her native province. She proved a
bewildering labyrinth of error concerning the events which Basil
mentioned; and she had never even heard of the massacres by the French
and Indians at Schenectady, which he in his boyhood had known so vividly
that he was scalped every night in his dreams, and woke up in the morning
expecting to see marks of the tomahawk on the head-board. So, failing at
last to extract any sentiment from the scenes without, they turned their
faces from the window, and looked about them for amusement within the
car.

It was in all respects an ordinary carful of human beings, and it was
perhaps the more worthy to be studied on that account. As in literature
the true artist will shun the use even of real events if they are of an
improbable character, so the sincere observer of man will not desire to
look upon the heroic or occasional phases, but will seek him in his
habitual moods of vacancy and tiresomeness. To me, at any rate, he is at
such times very precious; and I never perceive him to be so much a man
and a brother as when I feel the pressure of his vast, natural,
unaffected dullness. Then I am able to enter confidently into his life
and inhabit there, to think his shallow and feeble thoughts, to be moved
by his dumb, stupid desires, to be dimly illumined by his stinted
inspirations, to share his foolish prejudices, to practice his obtuse
selfishness. Yes, it is a very amusing world, if you do not refuse to be
amused; and our friends were very willing to be entertained. They
delighted in the precise, thick-fingered old ladies who bought sweet
apples of the boys come aboard with baskets, and who were so long in
finding the right change, that our travellers, leaping in thought with
the boys from the moving train, felt that they did so at the peril of
their lives. Then they were interested in people who went out and found
their friends waiting for them, or else did not find them, and wandered
disconsolately up and down before the country stations, carpet-bag in
hand; in women who came aboard, and were awkwardly shaken hands with or
sheepishly kissed by those who hastily got seats for them, and placed
their bags or their babies in their laps, and turned for a nod at the
door; in young ladies who were seen to places by young men the latter
seemed not to care if the train did go off with them, and then threw up
their windows and talked with girl-friends, on the platform without, till
the train began to move, and at last turned with gleaming eyes and moist
red lips, and panted hard in the excitement of thinking about it, and
could not calm themselves to the dull level of the travel around them; in
the conductor, coldly and inaccessibly vigilant, as he went his rounds,
reaching blindly for the tickets with one hand while he bent his head
from time, to time, and listened with a faint, sarcastic smile to the
questions of passengers who supposed they were going to get some
information out of him; in the trainboy, who passed through on his many
errands with prize candies, gum-drops, pop-corn, papers and magazines,
and distributed books and the police journals with a blind impartiality,
or a prodigious ignorance, or a supernatural perception of character in
those who received them.

A through train from East to West presents some peculiar features as well
as the traits common to all railway travel; and our friends decided that
this was not a very well-dressed company, and would contrast with the
people on an express-train between Boston and New York to no better
advantage than these would show beside the average passengers between
London and Paris. And it seems true that on a westering' line, the
blacking fades gradually from the boots, the hat softens and sinks, the
coat loses its rigor of cut, and the whole person lounges into increasing
informality of costume. I speak of the undressful sex alone: woman,
wherever she is, appears in the last attainable effects of fashion, which
are now all but telegraphic and universal. But most of the passengers
here were men, and they mere plainly of the free-and easy West rather
than the dapper East. They wore faces thoughtful with the problem of
buying cheap and selling dear, and they could be known by their silence
from the loquacious, acquaintance-making way-travellers. In these, the
mere coming aboard seemed to beget an aggressively confidential mood.
Perhaps they clutched recklessly at any means of relieving their ennui;
or they felt that they might here indulge safely in the pleasures of
autobiography, so dear to all of us; or else, in view of the many
possible catastrophes, they desired to leave some little memory of
themselves behind. At any rate, whenever the train stopped, the
wedding-journeyers caught fragments of the personal histories of their
fellow-passengers which had been rehearsing to those that sat next the
narrators. It was no more than fair that these should somewhat magnify
themselves, and put the best complexion on their actions and the worst
upon their sufferings; that they should all appear the luckiest or the
unluckiest, the healthiest or the sickest, people that ever were, and
should all have made or lost the most money. There was a prevailing
desire among them to make out that they came from or were going to same
very large place; and our friends fancied an actual mortification in the
face of a modest gentleman who got out at Penelope (or some other
insignificant classical station, in the ancient Greek and Roman part of
New York State), after having listened to the life of a somewhat
rustic-looking person who had described himself as belonging near New
York City.

Basil also found diversion in the tender couples, who publicly comported
themselves as if in a sylvan solitude, and, as it had been on the bank of
some umbrageous stream, far from the ken of envious or unsympathetic
eyes, reclined upon each other's shoulders and slept; but Isabel declared
that this behavior was perfectly indecent. She granted, of course, that
they were foolish, innocent people, who meant no offense, and did not
feel guilty of an impropriety, but she said that this sort of thing was a
national reproach. If it were merely rustic lovers, she should not care
so much; but you saw people who ought to know better, well-dressed,
stylish people, flaunting their devotion in the face of the world, and
going to sleep on each other's shoulders on every railroad train. It was
outrageous, it was scandalous, it was really infamous. Before she would
allow herself to do such a thing she would--well, she hardly knew what
she would not do; she would have a divorce, at any rate. She wondered
that Basil could laugh at it; and he would make her hate him if he kept
on.

From the seat behind their own they were now made listeners to the
history of a ten weeks' typhoid fever, from the moment when the narrator
noticed that he had not felt very well for a day or two back, and all at
once a kind of shiver took him, till he lay fourteen days perfectly
insensible, and could eat nothing but a little pounded ice--and his
wife--a small woman, too--used to lift him back and forth between the bed
and sofa like a feather, and the neighbors did not know half the time
whether he was dead or alive. This history, from which not the smallest
particular or the least significant symptom of the case was omitted,
occupied an hour in recital, and was told, as it seemed, for the
entertainment of one who had been five minutes before it began a stranger
to the historian.

At last the train came to a stand, and Isabel wailed forth in accents of
desperation the words, "O, disgusting!" The monotony of the narrative in
the seat behind, fatally combining with the heat of the day, had lulled
her into slumbers from which she awoke at the stopping of the train, to
find her head resting tenderly upon her husband's shoulder.

She confronted his merriment with eyes of mournful rebuke; but as she
could not find him, or the harshest construction, in the least to blame,
she was silent.

"Never mind, dear, never mind," he coaxed, "you were really not
responsible. It was fatigue, destiny, the spite of fortune,--whatever you
like. In the case of the others, whom you despise so justly, I dare say
it is sheer, disgraceful affection. But see that ravishing placard,
swinging from the roof: 'This train stops twenty minutes for dinner at
Utica.' In a few minutes more we shall be at Utica. If they have anything
edible there, it shall never contract my powers. I could dine at the
Albany station, even."

In a little while they found themselves in an airy, comfortable
dining-room, eating a dinner, which it seemed to them France in the flush
of her prosperity need not have blushed to serve; for if it wanted a
little in the last graces of art, it redeemed itself in abundance,
variety, and wholesomeness. At the elbow of every famishing passenger
stood a beneficent coal-black glossy fairy, in a white linen apron and
jacket, serving him with that alacrity and kindliness and grace which
make the negro waiter the master, not the slave of his calling, which
disenthrall it of servility, and constitute him your eager host, not your
menial, for the moment. From table to table passed a calming influence in
the person of the proprietor, who, as he took his richly earned money,
checked the rising fears of the guests by repeated proclamations that
there was plenty of time, and that he would give them due warning before
the train started. Those who had flocked out of the cars, to prey with
beak and claw, as the vulture-like fashion is, upon everything in reach,
remained to eat like Christians; and even a poor, scantily-Englished
Frenchman, who wasted half his time in trying to ask how long the cars
stopped and in looking at his watch, made a good dinner in spite of
himself.

"O Basil, Basil!" cried Isabel, when the train was again in motion, "have
we really dined once more? It seems too good to be true. Cleanliness,
plenty, wholesomeness, civility! Yes, as you say, they cannot be civil
where they are not just; honesty and courtesy go together; and wherever
they give you outrageous things to eat, they add indigestible insults.
Basil, dear, don't be jealous; I shall never meet him again; but I'm in
love with that black waiter at our table. I never saw such perfect
manners, such a winning and affectionate politeness. He made me feel that
every mouthful I ate was a personal favor to him. What a complete
gentleman. There ought never to be a white waiter. None but negroes are
able to render their service a pleasure and distinction to you."

So they prattled on, doing, in their eagerness to be satisfied, a homage
perhaps beyond its desert to the good dinner and the decent service of
it. But here they erred in the right direction, and I find nothing more
admirable in their behavior throughout a wedding journey which certainly
had its trials, than their willingness to make the very heat of whatever
would suffer itself to be made anything at all of. They celebrated its
pleasures with magnanimous excess, they passed over its griefs with a
wise forbearance. That which they found the most difficult of management
was the want of incident for the most part of the time; and I who write
their history might also sink under it, but that I am supported by the
fact that it is so typical, in this respect. I even imagine that ideal
reader for whom one writes as yawning over these barren details with the
life-like weariness of an actual travelling companion of theirs. Their
own silence often sufficed my wedded lovers, or then, when there was
absolutely nothing to engage them, they fell back upon the story of their
love, which they were never tired of hearing as they severally knew it.
Let it not be a reproach to human nature or to me if I say that there was
something in the comfort of having well dined which now touched the
springs of sentiment with magical effect, and that they had never so
rejoiced in these tender reminiscences.

They had planned to stop over at Rochester till the morrow, that they
might arrive at Niagara by daylight, and at Utica they had suddenly
resolved to make the rest of the day's journey in a drawing-room car. The
change gave them an added reason for content; and they realized how much
they had previously sacrificed to the idea of travelling in the most
American manner, without achieving it after all, for this seemed a touch
of Americanism beyond the old-fashioned car. They reclined in luxury upon
the easy-cushioned, revolving chairs; they surveyed with infinite
satisfaction the elegance of the flying-parlor in which they sat, or
turned their contented regard through the broad plate-glass windows upon
the landscape without. They said that none but Americans or enchanted
princes in the "Arabian Nights" ever travelled in such state; and when
the stewards of the car came round successively with tropical fruits,
ice-creams, and claret-punches, they felt a heightened assurance that
they were either enchanted princes--or Americans. There were more ladies
and more fashion than in the other cars; and prettily dressed children
played about on the carpet; but the general appearance of the passengers
hardly suggested greater wealth than elsewhere; and they were plainly in
that car because they were of the American race, which finds nothing too
good for it that its money can buy.



V. THE ENCHANTED CITY, AND BEYOND.

They knew none of the hotels in Rochester, and they had chosen a certain
one in reliance upon their handbook. When they named it, there stepped
forth a porter of an incredibly cordial and pleasant countenance, who
took their travelling-bags, and led them to the omnibus. As they were his
only passengers, the porter got inside with them, and seeing their
interest in the streets through which they rode, he descanted in a strain
of cheerful pride upon the city's prosperity and character, and gave the
names of the people who lived in the finer houses, just as if it had been
an Old-World town, and he some eager historian expecting reward for his
comment upon it. He cast quite a glamour over Rochester, so that in
passing a body of water, bordered by houses, and overlooked by odd
balconies and galleries, and crossed in the distance by a bridge upon
which other houses were built, they boldly declared, being at their wit's
end for a comparison, and taken with the unhoped-for picturesqueness,
that it put them in mind of Verona. Thus they reached their hotel in
almost a spirit of foreign travel, and very willing to verify the
pleasant porter's assurance that they would like it, for everybody liked
it; and it was with a sudden sinking of the heart that Basil beheld
presiding over the register the conventional American hotel clerk. He was
young, he had a neat mustache and well-brushed hair; jeweled studs
sparkled in his shirt-front, and rings on his white hands; a gentle
disdain of the travelling public breathed from his person in the mystical
odors of Ihlang ihlang. He did not lift his haughty head to look at the
wayfarer who meekly wrote his name in the register; he did not answer him
when he begged for a cool room; he turned to the board on which the keys
hung, and, plucking one from it, slid it towards Basil on the marble
counter, touched a bell for a call-boy, whistled a bar of Offenbach, and
as he wrote the number of the room against Basil's name, said to a friend
lounging near him, as if resuming a conversation, "Well, she's a mighty
pooty gul, any way, Chawley!"

When I reflect that this was a type of the hotel clerk throughout the
United States, that behind unnumbered registers at this moment he is
snubbing travellers into the dust, and that they are suffering and
perpetuating him, I am lost in wonder at the national meekness. Not that
I am one to refuse the humble pie his jeweled fingers offer me. Abjectly
I take my key, and creep off up stairs after the call-boy, and try to
give myself the genteel air of one who has not been stepped upon. But I
think homicidal things all the same, and I rejoice that in the safety of
print I can cry out against the despot, whom I have not the presence to
defy. "You vulgar and cruel little soul," I say, and I imagine myself
breathing the words to his teeth, "why do you treat a weary stranger with
this ignominy? I am to pay well for what I get, and I shall not complain
of that. But look at me, and own my humanity; confess by some civil
action, by some decent phrase, that I have rights and that they shall be
respected. Answer my proper questions; respond to my fair demands. Do not
slide my key at me; do not deny me the poor politeness of a nod as you
give it in my hand. I am not your equal; few men are; but I shall not
presume upon your clemency. Come, I also am human!"

Basil found that, for his sin in asking for a cool room, the clerk had
given them a chamber into which the sun had been shining the whole
afternoon; but when his luggage had been put in it seemed useless to
protest, and like a true American, like you, like me, he shrank from
asserting himself. When the sun went down it would be cool enough; and
they turned their thoughts to supper, not venturing to hope that, as it
proved, the handsome clerk was the sole blemish of the house.

Isabel viewed with innocent surprise the evidences of luxury afforded by
all the appointments of a hotel so far west of Boston, and they both
began to feel that natural ease and superiority which an inn always
inspires in its guests, and which our great hotels, far from impairing,
enhance in flattering degree; in fact, the clerk once forgotten, I
protest, for my own part, I am never more conscious of my merits and
riches in any other place. One has there the romance of being a stranger
and a mystery to every one else, and lives in the alluring possibility of
not being found out a most ordinary person.

They were so late in coming to the supper-room, that they found
themselves alone in it. At the door they had a bow from the head-waiter,
who ran before them and drew out chairs for them at a table, and signaled
waiters to serve them, first laying before them with a gracious flourish
the bill of fare.

A force of servants flocked about them, as if to contest the honor of
ordering their supper; one set upon the table a heaping vase of
strawberries, another flanked it with flagons of cream, a third
accompanied it with Gates of varied flavor and device; a fourth
obsequiously smoothed the table-cloth; a fifth, the youngest of the five,
with folded arms stood by and admired the satisfaction the rest were
giving. When these had been dispatched for steak, for broiled white-fish
of the lakes,--noblest and delicatest of the fish that swim,--for broiled
chicken, for fried potatoes, for mums, for whatever the lawless fancy,
and ravening appetites of the wayfarers could suggest, this fifth waiter
remained to tempt them to further excess, and vainly proposed some kind
of eggs,--fried eggs, poached eggs, scrambled eggs, boiled eggs, or
omelette.

"O, you're sure, dearest, that this isn't a vision of fairy-land, which
will vanish presently, and leave us empty and forlorn?" plaintively
murmured Isabel, as the menial train reappeared, bearing the supper they
had ordered and set it smoking down.

Suddenly a look of apprehension dawned upon her face, and she let fall
her knife and fork. "You don't think, Basil," she faltered, "that they
could have found out we're a bridal party, and that they're serving us so
magnificently because--because--O, I shall be miserable every moment
we're here!" she concluded desperately.

She looked, indeed, extremely wretched for a woman with so much broiled
white-fish on her plate, and such a banquet array about her; and her
husband made haste to reassure her. "You're still demoralized, Isabel, by
our sufferings at the Albany depot, and you exaggerate the blessings we
enjoy, though I should be sorry to undervalue them. I suspect it's the
custom to use people well at this hotel; or if we are singled out for
uncommon favor, I think: I can explain the cause. It has been discovered
by the register that we are from Boston, and we are merely meeting the
reverence, affection, and homage which the name everywhere commands!

"It 's our fortune to represent for the time being the intellectual and
moral virtue of Boston. This supper is not a tribute to you as a bride,
but as a Bostonian."

It was a cheap kind of raillery, to be sure, but it served. It kindled
the local pride of Isabel to self-defense, and in the distraction of the
effort she forgot her fears; she returned with renewed appetite to the
supper, and in its excellence they both let fall their dispute,--which
ended, of course, in Basil's abject confession that Boston was the best
place in the world, and nothing but banishment could make him live
elsewhere,--and gave themselves up, as usual, to the delight of being
just what and where they were. At last, the natural course brought them
to the strawberries, and when the fifth waiter approached from the corner
of the table at which he stood, to place the vase near them, he did not
retire at once, but presently asked if they were from the West.

Isabel smiled, and Basil answered that they were from the East.

He faltered at this, as if doubtful of the result if he went further, but
took heart, then, and asked, "Don't you think this is a pretty nice
hotel"--hastily adding as a concession of the probable existence of much
finer things at the East--"for a small hotel?"

They imagined this waiter as new to his station in life, as perhaps just
risen to it from some country tavern, and unable to repress his
exultation in what seemed their sympathetic presence. They were charmed
to have invited his guileless confidence, to have evoked possibly all the
simple poetry of his soul; it was what might have happened in Italy, only
there so much naivete would have meant money; they looked at each other
with rapture and Basil answered warmly while the waiter flushed as at a
personal compliment: "Yes, it 's a nice hotel; one of the best I ever
saw, East or West, in Europe or America."

They rose and left the room, and were bowed out by the head-waiter.

"How perfectly idyllic!" cried Isabel. "Is this Rochester, New York, or
is it some vale of Arcady? Let's go out and see."

They walked out into the moonlit city, up and down streets that seemed
very stately and fine, amidst a glitter of shop-window lights; and then,
Less of their own motion than of mere error, they quitted the business
quarter, and found themselves in a quiet avenue of handsome
residences,--the Beacon Street of Rochester, whatever it was called. They
said it was a night and a place for lovers, for none but lovers, for
lovers newly plighted, and they made believe to bemoan themselves that,
hold each other dear as they would, the exaltation, the thrill, the glory
of their younger love was gone. Some of the houses had gardened spaces
about them, from which stole, like breaths of sweetest and saddest
regret, the perfume of midsummer flowers,--the despair of the rose for
the bud. As they passed a certain house, a song fluttered out of the open
window and ceased, the piano warbled at the final rush of fingers over
its chords, and they saw her with her fingers resting lightly on the
keys, and her graceful head lifted to look into his; they saw him with
his arm yet stretched across to the leaves of music he had been turning,
and his face lowered to meet her gaze.

"Ah, Basil, I wish it was we, there!"

"And if they knew that we, on our wedding journey, stood outside, would
not they wish it was they, here?"

"I suppose so, dearest, and yet, once-upon-a-time was sweet. Pass on; and
let us see what charm we shall find next in this enchanted city."

"Yes, it is an enchanted city to us," mused Basil, aloud, as they
wandered on, "and all strange cities are enchanted. What is Rochester to
the Rochesterese? A place of a hundred thousand people, as we read in our
guide, an immense flour interest, a great railroad entrepot, an unrivaled
nursery trade, a university, two commercial colleges, three collegiate
institutes, eight or ten newspapers, and a free library. I dare say any
respectable resident would laugh at us sentimentalizing over his city.
But Rochester is for us, who don't know it at all, a city of any time or
country, moonlit, filled with lovers hovering over piano-fortes, of a
palatial hotel with pastoral waiters and porter,--a city of handsome
streets wrapt in beautiful quiet and dreaming of the golden age. The only
definite association with it in our minds is the tragically romantic
thought that here Sam Patch met his fate."

"And who in the world was Sam Patch?

"Isabel, your ignorance of all that an American woman should be proud of
distresses me. Have you really, then, never heard of the man who invented
the saying, 'Some things can be done as well as others,' and proved it by
jumping over Niagara Falls twice? Spurred on by this belief, he attempted
the leap of the Genesee Falls. The leap was easy enough, but the coming
up again was another matter. He failed in that. It was the one thing that
could not be done as well as others."

"Dreadful!" said Isabel, with the cheerfullest satisfaction. "But what
has all that to do with Rochester?"

"Now, my dear, You don't mean to say you didn't know that the Genesee
Falls were at Rochester? Upon my word, I'm ashamed. Why, we're within ten
minutes' walk of them now."

"Then walk to them at once!" cried Isabel, wholly unabashed, and in fact
unable to see what he had to be ashamed of. "Actually, I believe you
would have allowed me to leave Rochester without telling me the falls
were here, if you hadn't happened to think of Sam Patch."

Saying this, she persuaded herself that a chief object of their journey
had been to visit the scene of Sam Patch's fatal exploit, and she drew
Basil with a nervous swiftness in the direction of the railroad station,
beyond which he said were the falls. Presently, after threading their way
among a multitude of locomotives, with and without trains attached, that
backed and advanced, or stood still, hissing impatiently on every side,
they passed through the station to a broad planking above the river on
the other side, and thence, after encounter of more locomotives, they
found, by dint of much asking, a street winding up the hill-side to the
left, and leading to the German Bierhaus that gives access to the best
view of the cataract.

The Americans have characteristically bordered the river with
manufactures, making every drop work its passage to the brink; while the
Germans have as characteristically made use of the beauty left over, and
have built a Bierhaus where they may regale both soul and sense in the
presence of the cataract. Our travellers might, in another mood and
place, have thought it droll to arrive at that sublime spectacle through
a Bierhaus, but in this enchanted city it seemed to have a peculiar
fitness.

A narrow corridor gave into a wide festival space occupied by many
tables, each of which was surrounded by a group of clamorous Germans of
either sex and every age, with tall beakers of beaded lager before them,
and slim flasks of Rhenish; overhead flamed the gas in globes of
varicolored glass; the walls were painted like those of such haunts in
the fatherland; and the wedding-journeyers were fair to linger on their
way, to dwell upon that scene of honest enjoyment, to inhale the mingling
odors of beer and of pipes, and of the pungent cheeses in which the
children of the fatherland delight. Amidst the inspiriting clash of
plates and glasses, the rattle of knives and forks, and the hoarse rush
of gutturals, they could catch the words Franzosen, Kaiser, Konig, and
Schlacht, and they knew that festive company to be exulting in the first
German triumphs of the war, which were then the day's news; they saw
fists shaken at noses in fierce exchange of joy, arms tossed abroad in
wild congratulation, and health-pouring goblets of beer lifted in air.
Then they stepped into the moonlight again, and heard only the solemn
organ stops of the cataract. Through garden-ground they were led by the
little maid, their guide, to a small pavilion that stood on the edge of
the precipitous shore, and commanded a perfect view of the falls. As they
entered this pavilion, a youth and maiden, clearly lovers, passed out,
and they were left alone with that sublime presence. Something of
definiteness was to be desired in the spectacle, but there was ample
compensation in the mystery with which the broad effulgence and the dense
unluminous shadows of the moonshine invested it. The light touched all
the tops of the rapids, that seemed to writhe sway from the brink of the
cataract, and then desperately breaking and perishing to fall, the white
disembodied ghosts of rapids, down to the bottom of the vast and deep
ravine through which the river rushed away. Now the waters seemed to mass
themselves a hundred feet high in a wall of snowy compactness, now to
disperse into their multitudinous particles and hang like some vaporous
cloud from the cliff. Every moment renewed the vision of beauty in some
rare and fantastic shape; and its loveliness isolated it, in spite of the
great town on the other shore, the station with its bridge and its
trains, the mills that supplied their feeble little needs from the
cataract's strength.

At last Basil pointed out the table-rock in the middle of the fall, from
which Sam Patch had made his fatal leap; but Isabel refused to admit that
tragical figure to the honors of her emotions. "I don't care for him!"
she said fiercely. "Patch! What a name to be linked in our thoughts with
this superb cataract."

"Well, Isabel, I think you are very unjust. It's as good a name as
Leander, to my thinking, and it was immortalized in support of a great
idea, the feasibility of all things; while Leander's has come down to us
as that of the weak victim of a passion. We shall never have a poetry of
our own till we get over this absurd reluctance from facts, till we make
the ideal embrace and include the real, till we consent to face the music
in our simple common names, and put Smith into a lyric and Jones into a
tragedy. The Germans are braver than we, and in them you find facts and
dreams continually blended and confronted. Here is a fortunate
illustration. The people we met coming out of this pavilion were lovers,
and they had been here sentimentalizing on this superb cataract, as you
call it, with which my heroic Patch is not worthy to be named. No doubt
they had been quoting Uhland or some other of their romantic poets,
perhaps singing some of their tender German love-songs,--the tenderest,
unearthliest love-songs in the world. At the same time they did not
disdain the matter-of-fact corporeity in which their sentiment was
enshrined; they fed it heartily and abundantly with the banquet whose
relics we see here."

On a table before them stood a pair of beer-glasses, in the bottoms of
which lurked scarce the foam of the generous liquor lately brimming them;
some shreds of sausage, some rinds of Swiss cheese, bits of cold ham,
crusts of bread, and the ashes of a pipe.

Isabel shuddered at the spectacle, but made no comment, and Basil went
on: "Do you suppose they scorned the idea of Sam Patch as they gazed upon
the falls? On the contrary, I've no doubt that he recalled to her the
ballad which a poet of their language made about him. It used to go the
rounds of the German newspapers, and I translated it, a long while ago,
when I thought that I too was in 'Arkadien geboren'.

       'In the Bierhauagarten I linger
        By the Falls of the Geneses:
        From the Table-Rock in the middle
        Leaps a figure bold and free.

        Aloof in the air it rises
        O'er the rush, the plunge, the death;
        On the thronging banks of the river
        There is neither pulse nor breath.

        Forever it hovers and poises
        Aloof in the moonlit air;
        As light as mist from the rapids,
        As heavy as nightmare.

        In anguish I cry to the people,
        The long-since vanished hosts;
        I see them stretch forth in answer,
        The helpless hands of ghosts.'"

"I once met the poet who wrote this. He drank too much beer."

"I don't see that he got in the name of Sam Patch, after all," said
Isabel.

"O yes; he did; but I had to yield to our taste, and where he said, I
'Springt der Sam Patsch kuhn and frei',' I made it 'Leaps a figure bold
and free.'"

As they passed through the house on their way out, they saw the youth and
maiden they had met at the pavilion door. They were seated at a table;
two glasses of beer towered before them; on their plates were odorous
crumbs of Limburger cheese. They both wore a pensive air.

The next morning the illusion that had wrapt the whole earth was gone
with the moonlight. By nine o'clock, when the wedding-journeyers resumed
their way toward Niagara, the heat had already set in with the effect of
ordinary midsummer's heat at high noon. The car into which they got had
come the past night from Albany, and had an air of almost conscious
shabbiness, griminess, and over-use. The seats were covered with cinders,
which also crackled under foot. Dust was on everything, especially the
persons of the crumpled and weary passengers of overnight. Those who came
aboard at Rochester failed to lighten the spiritual gloom, and presently
they sank into the common bodily wretchedness. The train was somewhat
belated, and as it drew nearer Buffalo they knew the conductor to have
abandoned himself to that blackest of the arts, making time. The long
irregular jolt of the ordinary progress was reduced to an incessant
shudder and a quick lateral motion. The air within the cars was deadly;
if a window was raised, a storm of dust and cinders blew in and quick
gusts caught away the breath. So they sat with closed windows, sweltering
and stifling, and all the faces on which a lively horror was not painted
were dull and damp with apathetic misery.

The incidents were in harmony with the abject physical tone of the
company. There was a quarrel between a thin, shrill-voiced, highly
dressed, much-bedizened Jewess, on the one side, and a fat, greedy old
woman, half asleep, and a boy with large pink transparent ears that stood
out from his head like the handles of a jar, on the other side, about a
seat which the Hebrew wanted, and which the others had kept filled with
packages on the pretense that it was engaged. It was a loud and fierce
quarrel enough, but it won no sort of favor; and when the Jewess had
given a final opinion that the greedy old woman was no lady, and the boy,
who disputed in an ironical temper, replied, "Highly complimentary, I
must say," there was no sign of relief or other acknowledgment in any of
the spectators, that there had been a quarrel.

There was a little more interest taken in the misfortune of an old
purblind German and his son, who were found by the conductor to be a few
hundred miles out of the direct course to their destination, and were
with some trouble and the aid of an Americanized fellow-countryman made
aware of the fact. The old man then fell back in the prevailing apathy,
and the child naturally cared nothing. By and by came the unsparing
train-boy on his rounds, bestrewing the passengers successively with
papers, magazines, fine-cut tobacco, and packages of candy. He gave the
old man a package of candy, and passed on. The German took it as the
bounty of the American people, oddly manifested in a situation where he
could otherwise have had little proof of their care. He opened it and was
sharing it with his son when the train-boy came back, and metallically,
like a part of the machinery, demanded, "Ten cents!" The German stared
helplessly, and the boy repeated, "Ten cents! ten cents!" with tiresome
patience, while the other passengers smiled. When it had passed through
the alien's head that he was to pay for this national gift and he took
with his tremulous fingers from the recesses of his pocket-book a
ten-cent note and handed it to his tormentor, some of the people laughed.
Among the rest, Basil and Isabel laughed, and then looked at each other
with eyes of mutual reproach.

"Well, upon my word, my dear," he said, "I think we've fallen pretty low.
I've never felt such a poor, shabby ruffian before. Good heavens! To
think of our immortal souls being moved to mirth by such a thing as
this,--so stupid, so barren of all reason of laughter. And then the
cruelty of it! What ferocious imbeciles we are! Whom have I married? A
woman with neither heart nor brain!"

"O Basil, dear, pay him back the money-do."

"I can't. That's the worst of it. He 's money enough, and might justly
take offense. What breaks my heart is that we could have the depravity to
smile at the mistake of a friendless stranger, who supposed he had at
last met with an act of pure kindness. It's a thing to weep over. Look at
these grinning wretches! What a fiendish effect their smiles have,
through their cinders and sweat! O, it's the terrible weather; the
despotism of the dust and heat; the wickedness of the infernal air. What
a squalid and loathsome company!"

At Buffalo, where they arrived late, they found themselves with several
hours' time on their hands before the train started for Niagara, and in
the first moments of tedium, Isabel forgot herself into saying, "Don't
you think we'd have done better to go directly from Rochester to the
Falls, instead of coming this way?"

"Why certainly. I didn't propose coming this way."

"I know it, dear. I was only asking," said Isabel, meekly. "But I should
think you'd have generosity enough to take a little of the blame, when I
wanted to come out of a romantic feeling for you."

This romantic feeling referred to the fact that, many years before, when
Basil made his first visit to Niagara, he had approached from the west by
way of Buffalo; and Isabel, who tenderly begrudged his having existed
before she knew him, and longed to ally herself retrospectively with his
past, was resolved to draw near the great cataract by no other route.

She fetched a little sigh which might mean the weather or his
hard-heartedness. The sigh touched him, and he suggested a carriage-ride
through the city; she assented with eagerness, for it was what she had
been thinking of. She had never seen a lakeside city before, and she was
taken by surprise. "If ever we leave Boston," she said, "we will not live
at Rochester, as I thought last night; we'll come to Buffalo." She found
that the place had all the picturesqueness of a sea-port, without the
ugliness that attends the rising and falling tides. A delicious freshness
breathed from the lake, which lying so smooth, faded into the sky at
last, with no line between sharper than that which divides drowsing from
dreaming. But the color was the most charming thing, that delicate blue
of the lake, without the depth of the sea-blue, but infinitely softer and
lovelier. The nearer expanses rippled with dainty waves, silver and
lucent; the further levels made, with the sun-dimmed summer sky, a vague
horizon of turquoise and amethyst, lit by the white sails of ships, and
stained by the smoke of steamers.

"Take me away now," said Isabel, when her eyes had feasted upon all this,
"and don't let me see another thing till I get to Niagara. Nothing less
sublime is worthy the eyes that have beheld such beauty."

However, on the way to Niagara she consented to glimpses of the river
which carries the waters of the lake for their mighty plunge, and which
shows itself very nobly from time to time as you draw toward the
cataract, with wooded or cultivated islands, and rich farms along its low
shores, and at last flashes upon the eye the shining white of the
rapids,--a hint, no more, of the splendor and awfulness to be revealed.



VI. NIAGARA.

As the train stopped, Isabel's heart beat with a child-like exultation,
as I believe every one's heart must who is worthy to arrive at Niagara.
She had been trying to fancy, from time to time, that she heard the roar
of the cataract, and now, when she alighted from the car, she was sure
she should have heard it but for the vulgar little noises that attend the
arrival of trains at Niagara as well as everywhere else. "Never mind,
dearest; you shall be stunned with it before you leave," promised her
husband; and, not wholly disconsolate, she rode through the quaint
streets of the village, where it remains a question whether the lowliness
of the shops and private houses makes the hotels look so vast, or the
bigness of the hotels dwarfs all the other buildings. The immense
caravansaries swelling up from among the little bazaars (where they sell
feather fans, and miniature bark canoes, and jars and vases and bracelets
and brooches carved out of the local rocks), made our friends with their
trunks very conscious of their disproportion to the accommodations of the
smallest. They were the sole occupants of the omnibus, and they were
embarrassed to be received at their hotel with a burst of minstrelsy from
a whole band of music. Isabel felt that a single stringed instrument of
some timid note would have been enough; and Basil was going to express
his own modest preference for a jew's-harp, when the music ceased with a
sudden clash of the cymbals. But the next moment it burst out with fresh
sweetness, and in alighting they perceived that another omnibus had
turned the corner and was drawing up to the pillared portico of the
hotel. A small family dismounted, and the feet of the last had hardly
touched the pavement when the music again ended as abruptly as those
flourishes of trumpets that usher player-kings upon the stage. Isabel
could not help laughing at this melodious parsimony. "I hope they don't
let on the cataract and shut it off in this frugal style; do they,
Basil?" she asked, and passed jesting through a pomp of unoccupied
porters and tallboys. Apparently there were not many people stopping at
this hotel, or else they were all out looking at the Falls or confined to
their rooms. However, our travellers took in the almost weird emptiness
of the place with their usual gratitude to fortune for all queerness in
life, and followed to the pleasant quarters assigned them. There was time
before supper for a glance at the cataract, and after a brief toilet they
sallied out again upon the holiday street, with its parade of gay little
shops, and thence passed into the grove beside the Falls, enjoying at
every instant their feeling of arrival at a sublime destination.

In this sense Niagara deserves almost to rank with Rome, the metropolis
of history and religion; with Venice, the chief city of sentiment and
fantasy. In either you are at once made at home by a perception of its
greatness, in which there is no quality of aggression, as there always
seems to be in minor places as well as in minor men, and you gratefully
accept its sublimity as a fact in no way contrasting with your own
insignificance.

Our friends were beset of course by many carriage-drivers, whom they
repelled with the kindly firmness of experienced travel. Isabel even felt
a compassion for these poor fellows who had seen Niagara so much as to
have forgotten that the first time one must see it alone or only with the
next of friendship. She was voluble in her pity of Basil that it was not
as new to him as to her, till between the trees they saw a white cloud of
spray, shot through and through with sunset, rising, rising, and she felt
her voice softly and steadily beaten down by the diapason of the
cataract.

I am not sure but the first emotion on viewing Niagara is that of
familiarity. Ever after, its strangeness increases; but in that earliest
moment when you stand by the side of the American fall, and take in so
much of the whole as your giants can compass, an impression of having
seen it often before is certainly very vivid. This may be an effect of
that grandeur which puts you at your ease in its presence; but it also
undoubtedly results in part from lifelong acquaintance with every variety
of futile picture of the scene. You have its outward form clearly in your
memory; the shores, the rapids, the islands, the curve of the Falls, and
the stout rainbow with one end resting on their top and the other lost in
the mists that rise from the gulf beneath. On the whole I do not account
this sort of familiarity a misfortune. The surprise is none the less a
surprise because it is kept till the last, and the marvel, making itself
finally felt in every nerve, and not at once through a single sense, all
the more fully possesses you. It is as if Niagara reserved her
magnificence, and preferred to win your heart with her beauty; and so
Isabel, who was instinctively prepared for the reverse, suffered a vague
disappointment, for a little instant, as she looked along the verge from
the water that caressed the shore at her feet before it flung itself
down, to the wooded point that divides the American from the Canadian
Fall, beyond which showed dimly through its veil of golden and silver
mists the emerald wall of the great Horse-Shoe. "How still it is!" she
said, amidst the roar that shook the ground under their feet and made the
leaves tremble overhead, and "How lonesome!" amidst the people lounging
and sauntering about in every direction among the trees. In fact that
prodigious presence does make a solitude and silence round every spirit
worthy to perceive it, and it gives a kind of dignity to all its
belongings, so that the rocks and pebbles in the water's edge, and the
weeds and grasses that nod above it, have a value far beyond that of such
common things elsewhere. In all the aspects of Niagara there seems a
grave simplicity, which is perhaps a reflection of the spectator's soul
for once utterly dismantled of affectation and convention. In the vulgar
reaction from this, you are of course as trivial, if you like, at
Niagara, as anywhere.

Slowly Isabel became aware that the sacred grove beside the fall was
profaned by some very common presences indeed, that tossed bits of stone
and sticks into the consecrated waters, and struggled for handkerchiefs
and fans, and here and there put their arms about each other's waists,
and made a show of laughing and joking. They were a picnic party of rude,
silly folks of the neighborhood, and she stood pondering them in sad
wonder if anything could be worse, when she heard a voice saying to
Basil, "Take you next, Sir? Plenty of light yet, and the wind's down the
river, so the spray won't interfere. Make a capital picture of you; falls
in the background." It was the local photographer urging them to succeed
the young couple he had just posed at the brink: the gentleman was
sitting down, with his legs crossed and his hands elegantly disposed; the
lady was standing at his side, with one arm thrown lightly across his
shoulder, while with the other hand she thrust his cane into the ground;
you could see it was going to be a splendid photograph.

Basil thanked the artist, and Isabel said, trusting as usual to his
sympathy for perception of her train of thought, "Well, I'll never try to
be high-strung again. But shouldn't you have thought, dearest, that I
might expect to be high-strung with success at Niagara if anywhere?" She
passively followed him into the long, queer, downward-sloping edifice on
the border of the grove, unflinchingly mounted the car that stood ready,
and descended the incline. Emerging into the light again, she found
herself at the foot of the fall by whose top she had just stood. At first
she was glad there were other people down there, as if she and Basil were
not enough to bear it alone, and she could almost have spoken to the two
hopelessly pretty brides, with parasols and impertinent little boots,
whom their attendant husbands were helping over the sharp and slippery
rocks, so bare beyond the spray, so green and mossy within the fall of
mist. But in another breath she forgot them; as she looked on that
dizzied sea, hurling itself from the high summit in huge white knots, and
breaks and masses, and plunging into the gulf beside her, while it sent
continually up a strong voice of lamentation, and crawled away in vast
eddies, with somehow a look of human terror, bewilderment, and pain. It
was bathed in snowy vapor to its crest, but now and then heavy currents
of air drew this aside, and they saw the outline of the Falls almost as
far as the Canada side. They remembered afterwards how they were able to
make use of but one sense at a time, and how when they strove to take in
the forms of the descending flood, they ceased to hear it; but as soon as
they released their eyes from this service, every fibre in them vibrated
to the sound, and the spectacle dissolved away in it. They were aware,
too, of a strange capriciousness in their senses, and of a tendency of
each to palter with the things perceived. The eye could no longer take
truthful note of quality, and now beheld the tumbling deluge as a Gothic
wall of careen marble, white, motionless, and now as a fall of lightest
snow, with movement in all its atoms, and scarce so much cohesion as
would hold them together; and again they could not discern if this course
were from above or from beneath, whether the water rose from the abyss or
dropped from the height. The ear could give the brain no assurance of the
sound that felled it, and whether it were great or little; the prevailing
softness of the cataract's tone seemed so much opposed to ideas of
prodigious force or of prodigious volume. It was only when the sight, so
idle in its own behalf, came to the aid of the other sense, and showed
them the mute movement of each other's lips, that they dimly appreciated
the depth of sound that involved them.

"I think you might have been high-strung there, for a second or two,"
said Basil, when, ascending the incline; he could make himself heard. "We
will try the bridge next."

Over the river, so still with its oily eddies and delicate wreaths of
foam, just below the Falls they have in late years woven a web of wire
high in air, and hung a bridge from precipice to precipice. Of all the
bridges made with hands it seems the lightest, most ethereal; it is
ideally graceful, and droops from its slight towers like a garland. It is
worthy to command, as it does, the whole grandeur of Niagara, and to show
the traveller the vast spectacle, from the beginning of the American Fall
to the farthest limit of the Horse-Shoe, with all the awful pomp of the
rapids, the solemn darkness of the wooded islands, the mystery of the
vaporous gulf, the indomitable wildness of the shores, as far as the eye
can reach up or down the fatal stream.

To this bridge our friends now repaired, by a path that led through
another of those groves which keep the village back from the shores of
the river on the American side, and greatly help the sight-seer's
pleasure in the place. The exquisite structure, which sways so
tremulously from its towers, and seems to lay so slight a hold on earth
where its cables sink into the ground, is to other bridges what the blood
horse is to the common breed of roadsters; ant now they felt its
sensitive nerves quiver under them and sympathetically through them as
they advanced farther and farther toward the centre. Perhaps their
sympathy with the bridge's trepidation was too great for unalloyed
delight, and yet the thrill was a glorious one, to be known only there;
and afterwards, at least, they would not have had their airy path seem
more secure.

The last hues of sunset lingered in the mists that sprung from the base
of the Falls with a mournful, tremulous grace, and a movement weird as
the play of the northern lights. They were touched with the most delicate
purples and crimsons, that darkened to deep red, and then faded from them
at a second look, and they flew upward, swiftly upward, like troops of
pale, transparent ghosts; while a perfectly clear radiance, better than
any other for local color, dwelt upon the scene. Far under the bridge the
river smoothly swam, the undercurrents forever unfolding themselves upon
the surface with a vast rose-like evolution, edged all round with faint
lines of white, where the air that filled the water freed itself in foam.
What had been clear green on the face of the cataract was here more like
rich verd-antique, and had a look of firmness almost like that of the
stone itself. So it showed beneath the bridge, and down the river till
the curving shores hid it. These, springing abruptly prom the water's
brink, and shagged with pine and cedar, displayed the tender verdure of
grass and bushes intermingled with the dark evergreens that comb from
ledge to ledge, till they point their speary tops above the crest of
bluffs. In front, where tumbled rocks and expanses of caked clay varied
the gloomier and gayer green, sprung those spectral mists; and through
them loomed out, in its manifold majesty, Niagara, with the seemingly
immovable white Gothic screen of the American Fall, and the green massive
curve of the Horseshoe, solid and simple and calm as an Egyptian wall;
while behind this, with their white and black expanses broken by dark
foliaged little isles, the steep Canadian rapids billowed down between
their heavily wooded shores.

The wedding-journeyers hung, they knew not how long, in rapture on the
sight; and then, looking back from the shore to the spot where they had
stood, they felt relieved that unreality should possess itself of all,
and that the bridge should swing there in mid-air like a filmy web,
scarce more passable than the rainbow that flings its arch above the
mists.

On the portico of the hotel they found half a score of gentlemen smoking,
and creating together that collective silence which passes for sociality
on our continent. Some carriages stood before the door, and within,
around the base of a pillar, sat a circle of idle call-boys. There were a
few trunks heaped together in one place, with a porter standing guard
over them; a solitary guest was buying a cigar at the newspaper stand in
one corner; another friendless creature was writing a letter in the
reading-room; the clerk, in a seersucker coat and a lavish shirt-bosom,
tried to give the whole an effect of watering-place gayety and bustle, as
he provided a newly arrived guest with a room.

Our pair took in these traits of solitude and repose with indifference.
If the hotel had been thronged with brilliant company, they would have
been no more and no less pleased; and when, after supper, they came into
the grand parlor, and found nothing there but a marble-topped centre.
table, with a silver-plated ice-pitcher and a small company of goblets,
they sat down perfectly content in a secluded window-seat. They were not
seen by the three people who entered soon after, and halted in the centre
of the room.

"Why, Kitty!" said one of the two ladies who must; be in any
travelling-party of three, "this is more inappropriate to your gorgeous
array than the supper-room, even."

She who was called Kitty was armed, as for social conquest, in some kind
of airy evening-dress, and was looking round with bewilderment upon that
forlorn waste of carpeting and upholstery. She owned, with a smile, that
she had not seen so much of the world yet as she had been promised; but
she liked Niagara very much, and perhaps they should find the world at
breakfast.

"No," said the other lady, who was as unquiet as Kitty was calm, and who
seemed resolved to make the most of the worst, "it isn't probable that
the hotel will fill up overnight; and I feel personally responsible for
this state of things. Who would ever have supposed that Niagara would be
so empty? I thought the place was thronged the whole summer long. How do
you account for it, Richard?"

The gentleman looked fatigued, as from a long-continued discussion
elsewhere of the matter in hand, and he said that he had not been trying
to account for it.

"Then you don't care for Kitty's pleasure at all, and you don't want her
to enjoy herself. Why don't you take some interest in the matter?"

"Why, if I accounted for the emptiness of Niagara in the most
satisfactory way, it wouldn't add a soul to the floating population.
Under the circumstances I prefer to leave it unexplained."

"Do you think it's because it's such a hot summer? Do you suppose it's
not exactly the season? Didn't you expect there'd be more people? Perhaps
Niagara isn't as fashionable as it used to be."

"It looks something like that."

"Well, what under the sun do you think is the reason?"

"I don't know."

"Perhaps," interposed Kitty, placidly, "most of the visitors go to the
other hotel, now."

"It 's altogether likely," said the other lady, eagerly. "There are just
such caprices."

"Well," said Richard, "I wanted you to go there."

"But you said that you always heard this was the a most fashionable."

"I know it. I didn't want to come here for that reason. But fortune
favors the brave."

"Well, it's too bad! Here we've asked Kitty to come to Niagara with us,
just to give her a little peep into the world, and you've brought us to a
hotel where we're--"

"Monarchs of all we survey," suggested Kitty.

"Yes, and start at the sound of our own," added the other lady,
helplessly.

"Come now, Fanny," said the gentleman, who was but too clearly the
husband of the last speaker. "You know you insisted, against all I could
say or do, upon coming to this house; I implored you to go to the other,
and now you blame me for bringing you here."

"So I do. If you'd let me have my own way without opposition about coming
here, I dare my I should have gone to the other place. But never mind.
Kitty knows whom to blame, I hope. She 's your cousin."

Kitty was sitting with her hands quiescently folded in her lap. She now
rose and said that she did not know anything about the other hotel, and
perhaps it was just as empty as this.

"It can't be. There can't be two hotels so empty," said Fanny. "It don't
stand to reason."

"If you wish Kitty to see the world so much," said the gentleman, "why
don't you take her on to Quebec, with us?"

Kitty had left her seat beside Fanny, and was moving with a listless
content about the parlor.

"I wonder you ask, Richard, when you know she's only come for the night,
and has nothing with her but a few cuffs and collars! I certainly never
heard of anything so absurd before!"

The absurdity of the idea then seemed to cast its charm upon her, for,
after a silence, "I could lend her some things," she said musingly. "But
don't speak of it to-night, please. It's too ridiculous. Kitty!" she
called out, and, as the young lady drew near, she continued, "How would
you like to go to Quebec, with us?"

"O Fanny!" cried Kitty, with rapture; and then, with dismay, "How can I?"

"Why, very well, I think. You've got this dress, and your
travelling-suit; and I can lend you whatever you want. Come!" she added
joyously, "let's go up to your room, and talk it over!"

The two ladies vanished upon this impulse, and the gentleman followed. To
their own relief the guiltless eaves-droppers, who found no moment
favorable for revealing themselves after the comedy began, issued from
their retiracy.

"What a remarkable little lady!" said Basil, eagerly turning to Isabel
for sympathy in his enjoyment of her inconsequence.

"Yes, poor thing!" returned his wife; "it's no light matter to invite a
young lady to take a journey with you, and promise her all sorts of
gayety, and perhaps beaux and flirtations, and then find her on your
hands in a desolation like this. It's dreadful, I think."

Basil stared. "O, certainly," he said. "But what an amusingly illogical
little body!"

"I don't understand what you mean, Basil. It was the only thing that she
could do, to invite the young lady to go on with them. I wonder her
husband had the sense to think of it first. Of course she'll have to lend
her things."

"And you didn't observe anything peculiar in her way of reaching her
conclusions?"

"Peculiar? What do you mean?"

"Why, her blaming her husband for letting her have her own way about the
hotel; and her telling him not to mention his proposal to Kitty, and then
doing it herself, just--after she'd pronounced it absurd and impossible."
He spoke with heat at being forced to make what he thought a needless
explanation.

"O!" said Isabel, after a moment's reflection. "That! Did you think it so
very odd?"

Her husband looked at her with the gravity a man must feel when he begins
to perceive that he has married the whole mystifying world of womankind
in the woman of his choice, and made no answer. But to his own soul he
said: "I supposed I had the pleasure of my wife's acquaintance. It seems
I have been flattering myself."

The next morning they went out as they had planned, for an exploration of
Goat Island, after an early breakfast. As they sauntered through the
village's contrasts of pigmy and colossal in architecture, they
praisefully took in the unalloyed holiday character of the place,
enjoying equally the lounging tourists at the hotel doors, the drivers
and their carriages to let, and the little shops, with nothing but
mementos of Niagara, and Indian beadwork, and other trumpery, to sell.
Shops so useless, they agreed, could not be found outside the Palms
Royale, or the Square of St. Mark, or anywhere else in the world but
here. They felt themselves once more a part of the tide of mere
sight-seeing pleasure-travel, on which they had drifted in other days,
and in an eddy of which their love itself had opened its white blossom,
and lily-like dreamed upon the wave.

They were now also part of the great circle of newly wedded bliss, which,
involving the whole land during the season of bridal-tours, may be said
to show richest and fairest at Niagara, like the costly jewel of a
precious ring. The place is, in fact, almost abandoned to bridal couples,
and any one out of his honey-moon is in some degree an alien there, and
must discern a certain immodesty in him intrusion. Is it for his profane
eyes to look upon all that blushing and trembling joy? A man of any
sensibility must desire to veil his face, and, bowing his excuses to the
collective rapture, take the first train for the wicked outside world to
which he belongs. Everywhere, he sees brides and brides. Three or four
with the benediction still on them, come down in the same car with him;
he hands her travelling-shawl after one as she springs from the omnibus
into her husband's arms; there are two or three walking back and forth
with their new lords upon the porch of the hotel; at supper they are on
every side of him, and he feels himself suffused, as it were, by a
roseate atmosphere of youth and love and hope. At breakfast it is the
same, and then, in his wanderings about the place he constantly meets
them. They are of all manners of beauty, fair and dark, slender and
plump, tall and short; but they are all beautiful with the radiance of
loving and being loved. Now, if ever in their lives, they are charmingly
dressed, and ravishing toilets take the willing eye from the objects of
interest. How high the heels of the pretty boots, how small the tender.
tinted gloves, how electrical the flutter of the snowy skirts! What is
Niagara to these things?

Isabel was not willing to own her bridal sisterhood to these blessed
souls; but she secretly rejoiced in it, even while she joined Basil in
noting their number and smiling at their innocent abandon. She dropped
his arm at encounter of the first couple, and walked carelessly at his
side; she made a solemn vow never to take hold of his watch-chain in
speaking to him; she trusted that she might be preserved from putting her
face very close to his at dinner in studying the bill of fare; getting
out of carriages, she forbade him ever to take her by the waist. All
ascetic resolutions are modified by experiment; but if Isabel did not
rigorously keep these, she is not the less to be praised for having
formed them.

Just before they reached the bridge to Goat Island, they passed a little
group of the Indians still lingering about Niagara, who make the barbaric
wares in which the shops abound, and, like the woods and the wild faces
of the cliffs and precipices, help to keep the cataract remote, and to
invest it with the charm of primeval loneliness. This group were women,
and they sat motionless on the ground, smiling sphinx-like over their
laps full of bead-work, and turning their dark liquid eyes of invitation
upon the passers. They wore bright kirtles, and red shawls fell from
their heads over their plump brown cheeks and down their comfortable
persons. A little girl with them was attired in like gayety of color.
"What is her name?" asked Isabel, paying for a bead pincushion. "Daisy
Smith," said her mother, in distressingly good English. "But her Indian
name?" "She has none," answered the woman, who told Basil that her
village numbered five hundred people, and that they were Protestants.
While they talked they were joined by an Indian, whom the women saluted
musically in their native tongue. This was somewhat consoling; but he
wore trousers and a waistcoat, and it could have been wished that he had
not a silk hat on.

"Still," said Isabel, as they turned away, "I'm glad he hasn't
Lisle-thread gloves, like that chieftain we saw putting his forest queen
on board the train at Oneida. But how shocking that they should be
Christians, and Protestants! It would have been bad enough to have them
Catholics. And that woman said that they were increasing. They ought to
be fading away."

On the bridge, they paused and looked up and down the rapids rushing down
the slope in all their wild variety, with the white crests of breaking
surf, the dark massiveness of heavy-climbing waves, the fleet, smooth
sweep of currents over broad shelves of sunken rock, the dizzy swirl and
suck of whirlpools.

Spell-bound, the journeyers pored upon the deathful course beneath their
feet, gave a shudder to the horror of being cast upon it, and then
hurried over the bridge to the island, in the shadow of whose wildness
they sought refuge from the sight and sound.

There had been rain in the night; the air war full of forest fragrance,
and the low, sweet voice of twittering birds. Presently they came to a
bench set in a corner of the path, and commanding a pleasant vista of
sunlit foliage, with a mere gleam of the foaming river beyond. As they
sat down here loverwise, Basil, as in the early days of their courtship,
began to recite a poem. It was one which had been haunting him since his
first sight of the rapids, one of many that he used to learn by heart in
his youth--the rhyme of some poor newspaper poet, whom the third or
fourth editor copying his verses consigned to oblivion by carelessly
clipping his name from the bottom. It had always lingered in Basil's
memory, rather from the interest of the awful fact it recorded, than from
any merit of its own; and now he recalled it with a distinctness that
surprised him.

                 AVERY.

                  I.
All night long they heard in the houses beside the shore,
Heard, or seemed to hear, through the multitudinous roar,
Out of the hell of the rapids as 'twere a lost soul's cries
Heard and could not believe; and the morning mocked their eyes,
Showing where wildest and fiercest the waters leaped up and ran
Raving round him and past, the visage of a man
Clinging, or seeming to cling, to the trunk of a tree that, caught
Fast in the rocks below, scarce out of the surges raught.
Was it a life, could it be, to yon slender hope that clung
Shrill, above all the tumult the answering terror rang.

                  II.
Under the weltering rapids a boat from the bridge is drowned,
Over the rocks the lines of another are tangled and wound,
And the long, fateful hours of the morning have wasted soon,
As it had been in some blessed trance, and now it is noon.
Hurry, now with the raft! But O, build it strong and stanch,
And to the lines and the treacherous rocks look well as you launch
Over the foamy tops of the waves, and their foam-sprent sides,
Over the hidden reefs, and through the embattled tides,
Onward rushes the raft, with many a lurch and leap,--
Lord! if it strike him loose from the hold he scarce can keep!
No! through all peril unharmed, it reaches him harmless at least,
And to its proven strength he lashes his weakness fast.
Now, for the shore! But steady, steady, my men, and slow;
Taut, now, the quivering lines; now slack; and so, let her go!
Thronging the shores around stands the pitying multitude;
Wan as his own are their looks, and a nightmare seems to brood
Heavy upon them, and heavy the silence hangs on all,
Save for the rapids' plunge, and the thunder of the fall.
But on a sudden thrills from the people still and pale,
Chorussing his unheard despair, a desperate wail
Caught on a lurking point of rock it sways and swings,
Sport of the pitiless waters, the raft to which he clings.

                  III.
All the long afternoon it idly swings and sways;
And on the shore the crowd lifts up its hands and prays:
Lifts to heaven and wrings the hands so helpless to save,
Prays for the mercy of God on him whom the rock and the ways
Battle for, fettered betwixt them, and who amidst their strife
Straggles to help his helpers, and fights so hard for his life,
Tugging at rope and at reef, while men weep and women swoon.
Priceless second by second, so wastes the afternoon.
And it is sunset now; and another boat and the last
Down to him from the bridge through the rapids has safely passed.

                  IV.
Wild through the crowd comes flying a man that nothing can stay
Maddening against the gate that is locked athwart his way.
"No! we keep the bridge for them that can help him. You,
Tell us, who are you?" "His brother!" "God help you both! Pass through."
Wild, with wide arms of imploring he calls aloud to him,
Unto the face of his brother, scarce seen in the distance dim;
But in the roar of the rapids his fluttering words are lost
As in a wind of autumn the leaves of autumn are tossed.
And from the bridge he sees his brother sever the rope
Holding him to the raft, and rise secure in his hope;
Sees all as in a dream the terrible pageantry,
Populous shores, the woods, the sky, the birds flying free;
Sees, then, the form--that, spent with effort and fasting and fear,
Flings itself feebly and fails of the boat that is lying so near,
Caught in the long-baffled clutch of the rapids, and rolled and hurled
Headlong on to the cataract's brink, and out of the world.


"O Basil!" said Isabel, with a long sigh breaking the hush that best
praised the unknown poet's skill, "it isn't true, is it?"

"Every word, almost, even to the brother's coming at the last moment.
It's a very well-known incident," he added, and I am sure the reader
whose memory runs back twenty years cannot have forgotten it.

Niagara, indeed, is an awful homicide; nearly every point of interest
about the place has killed its man, and there might well be a deeper
stain of crimson than it ever wears in that pretty bow overarching the
falls. Its beauty is relieved against an historical background as gloomy
as the lightest-hearted tourist could desire. The abominable savages,
revering the cataract as a kind of august devil, and leading a life of
demoniacal misery and wickedness, whom the first Jesuits found here two
hundred years ago; the ferocious Iroquois bloodily driving out these
squalid devil-worshippers; the French planting the fort that yet guards
the mouth of the river, and therewith the seeds of war that fruited
afterwards in murderous strifes throughout the whole Niagara country; the
struggle for the military posts on the river, during the wars of France
and England; the awful scene in the conspiracy of Pontiac, where a
detachment of English troops was driven by the Indians over the precipice
near the great Whirlpool; the sorrow and havoc visited upon the American
settlements in the Revolution by the savages who prepared their attacks
in the shadow of Fort Niagara; the battles of Chippewa and of Lundy's
Lane, that mixed the roar of their cannon with that of the fall; the
savage forays with tomahawk and scalping-knife, and the blazing villages
on either shore in the War of 1812,--these are the memories of the place,
the links in a chain of tragical interest scarcely broken before our time
since the white man first beheld the mist-veiled face of Niagara. The
facts lost nothing of their due effect as Basil, in the ramble across
Goat Island, touched them with the reflected light of Mr. Parkman's
histories,--those precious books that make our meagre past wear something
of the rich romance of old European days, and illumine its savage
solitudes with the splendor of mediaeval chivalry, and the glory of
mediaeval martyrdom,--and then, lacking this light, turned upon them the
feeble glimmer of the guide-books. He and Isabel enjoyed the lurid
picture with all the zest of sentimentalists dwelling upon the troubles
of other times from the shelter of the safe and peaceful present. They
were both poets in their quality of bridal couple, and so long as their
own nerves were unshaken they could transmute all facts to entertaining
fables. They pleasantly exercised their sympathies upon those who every
year perish at Niagara in the tradition of its awful power; only they
refused their cheap and selfish compassion to the Hermit of Goat Island,
who dwelt so many years in its conspicuous seclusion, and was finally
carried over the cataract. This public character they suspected of design
in his death as in his life, and they would not be moved by his memory;
though they gave a sigh to that dream, half pathetic, half ludicrous, yet
not ignoble, of Mordecai Noah, who thought to assemble all the Jews of
the world, and all the Indians, as remnants of the lost tribes, upon
Grand Island, there to rebuild Jerusalem, and who actually laid the
corner-stone of the new temple there.

Goat Island is marvelously wild for a place visited by so many thousands
every year. The shrubbery and undergrowth remain unravaged, and form a
deceitful privacy, in which, even at that early hour of the day, they met
many other pairs. It seemed incredible that the village and the hotels
should be so full, and that the wilderness should also abound in them;
yet on every embowered seat, and going to and from all points of interest
and danger, were these new-wedded lovers with their interlacing arms and
their fond attitudes, in which each seemed to support and lean upon the
other. Such a pair stood prominent before them when Basil and Isabel
emerged at last from the cover of the woods at the head of the island,
and glanced up the broad swift stream to the point where it ran smooth
before breaking into the rapids; and as a soft pastoral feature in the
foreground of that magnificent landscape, they found them far from
unpleasing. Some such pair is in the foreground of every famous American
landscape; and when I think of the amount of public love-making in the
season of pleasure-travel, from Mount Desert to the Yosemite, and from
the parks of Colorado to the Keys of Florida, I feel that our continent
is but a larger Arcady, that the middle of the nineteenth century is the
golden age, and that we want very little of being a nation of shepherds
and shepherdesses.

Our friends returned by the shore of the Canadian rapids, having
traversed the island by a path through the heart of the woods, and now
drew slowly near the Falls again. All parts of the prodigious pageant
have an eternal novelty, and they beheld the ever-varying effect of that
constant sublimity with the sense of discoverers, or rather of people
whose great fortune it is to see the marvel in its beginning, and new
from the creating hand. The morning hour lent its sunny charm to this
illusion, while in the cavernous precipices of the shores, dark with
evergreens, a mystery as of primeval night seemed to linger. There was a
wild fluttering of their nerves, a rapture with an under-consciousness of
pain, the exaltation of peril and escape, when they came to the three
little isles that extend from Goat Island, one beyond another far out
into the furious channel. Three pretty suspension-bridges connect them
now with the larger island, and under each of these flounders a huge
rapid, and hurls itself away to mingle with the ruin of the fall. The
Three Sisters are mere fragments of wilderness, clumps of vine-tangled
woods, planted upon masses of rock; but they are part of the fascination
of Niagara which no one resists; nor could Isabel have been persuaded
from exploring them. It wants no courage to do this, but merely
submission to the local sorcery, and the adventurer has no other reward
than the consciousness of having been where but a few years before no
human being had perhaps set foot. She grossed from bridge to bridge with
a quaking heart, and at last stood upon the outermost isle, whence,
through the screen of vines and boughs, she gave fearful glances at the
heaving and tossing flood beyond, from every wave of which at every
instant she rescued herself with a desperate struggle. The exertion told
heavily upon her strength unawares, and she suddenly made Basil another
revelation of character. Without the slightest warning she sank down at
the root of a tree, and said, with serious composure, that she could
never go back on those bridges; they were not safe. He stared at her
cowering form in blank amaze, and put his hands in his pockets. Then it
occurred to his dull masculine sense that it must be a joke; and he said,
"Well, I'll have you taken off in a boat."

"O do, Basil, do, have me taken off in a boat!" implored Isabel. "You see
yourself the Midges are not safe. Do get a boat."

"Or a balloon," he suggested, humoring the pleasantry.

Isabel burst into tears; and now he went on his knees at her side, and
took her hands in his. "Isabel! Isabel! Are you crazy?" he cried, as if
he meant to go mad himself. She moaned and shuddered in reply; he said,
to mend matters, that it was a jest, about the boat; and he was driven to
despair when Isabel repeated, "I never can go back by the bridges,
never."

"But what do you propose to do?"

"I don't know, I don't know!"

He would try sarcasm. "Do you intend to set up a hermitage here, and have
your meals sent out from the hotel? It's a charming spot, and visited
pretty constantly; but it's small, even for a hermitage."

Isabel moaned again with her hands still on her eyes, and wondered that
he was not ashamed to make fun of her.

He would try kindness. "Perhaps, darling, you'll let me carry you
ashore."

"No, that will bring double the weight on the bridge at once."

"Couldn't you shut your eyes, and let me lead you?"

"Why, it isn't the sight of the rapids," she said, looking up fiercely.
"The bridges are not safe. I'm not a child, Basil. O, what shall we do?"

"I don't know," said Basil, gloomily. "It's an exigency for which I
wasn't prepared." Then he silently gave himself to the Evil One, for
having probably overwrought Isabel's nerves by repeating that poem about
Avery, and by the ensuing talk about Niagara, which she had seemed to
enjoy so much. He asked her if that was it; and she answered, "O no, it's
nothing but the bridges." He proved to her that the bridges, upon all
known principles, were perfectly safe, and that they could not give way.
She shook her head, but made no answer, and he lost his patience.

"Isabel," he cried, "I'm ashamed of you!"

"Don't say anything you'll be sorry for afterwards, Basil," she replied,
with the forbearance of those who have reason and justice on their side.

The rapids beat and shouted round their little prison-isle, each billow
leaping as if possessed by a separate demon. The absurd horror of the
situation overwhelmed him. He dared not attempt to carry her ashore, for
she might spring from his grasp into the flood. He could not leave her to
call for help; and what if nobody came till she lost her mind from
terror? Or, what if somebody should come and find them in that ridiculous
affliction?

Somebody was coming!

"Isabel!" he shouted in her ear, "here come those people we saw in the
parlor last night."

Isabel dashed her veil over her face, clutched Basil's with her icy hand,
rose, drew her arm convulsively through his, and walked ashore without a
word.

In a sheltered nook they sat down, and she quickly "repaired her drooping
head and tricked her beams" again. He could see her tearfully smiling
through her veil. "My dear," he said, "I don't ask an explanation of your
fright, for I don't suppose you could give it. But should you mind
telling me why those people were so sovereign against it?"

"Why, dearest! Don't you understand? That Mrs. Richard--whoever she
is--is so much like me."

She looked at him as if she had made the most satisfying statement, and
he thought he had better not ask further then, but wait in hope that the
meaning would come to him. They walked on in silence till they came to
the Biddle Stairs, at the head of which is a notice that persons have
been killed by pieces of rock from the precipice overhanging the shore
below, and warning people that they descend at their peril. Isabel
declined to visit the Cave of the Winds, to which these stairs lead, but
was willing to risk the ascent of Terrapin Tower. "Thanks; no," said her
husband. "You might find it unsafe to come back the way you went up. We
can't count certainly upon the appearance of the lady who is so much like
you; and I've no fancy for spending my life on Terrapin Tower." So he
found her a seat, and went alone to the top of the audacious little
structure standing on the verge of the cataract, between the smooth curve
of the Horse-Shoe and the sculptured front of the Central Fall, with the
stormy sea of the Rapids behind, and the river, dim seen through the
mists, crawling away between its lofty bluffs before. He knew again the
awful delight with which so long ago he had watched the changes in the
beauty of the Canadian Fall as it hung a mass of translucent green from
the brink, and a pearly white seemed to crawl up from the abyss, and
penetrate all its substance to the very crest, and then suddenly vanished
from it, and perpetually renewed the same effect. The mystery of the
rising vapors veiled the gulf into which the cataract swooped; the sun
shone, and a rainbow dreamed upon them.

Near the foot of the tower, some loose rocks extend quite to the verge,
and here Basil saw an elderly gentleman skipping from one slippery stone
to another, and looking down from time to time into the abyss, who, when
he had amused himself long enough in this way, clambered up on the plank
bridge. Basil, who had descended by this time, made bold to say that he
thought the diversion an odd one and rather dangerous. The gentleman took
this in good part, and owned it might seem so, but added that a
distinguished phrenologist had examined his head, and told him he had
equilibrium so large that he could go anywhere.

"On your bridal tour, I presume," he continued, as they approached the
bench where Basil had left Isabel. She had now the company of a plain,
middle-aged woman, whose attire hesitatingly expressed some inward
festivity, and had a certain reluctant fashionableness. "Well, this is my
third bridal tour to Niagara, and my wife 's been here once before on the
same business. We see a good many changes. I used to stand on Table Rock
with the others. Now that's all gone. Well, old lady, shall we move on?"
he asked; and this bridal pair passed up the path, attended, haply, by
the guardian spirits of those who gave the place so many sad yet pleasing
associations.

At dinner, Mr. Richard's party sat at the table next Basil's, and they
were all now talking cheerfully over the emptiness of the spacious
dining-hall.

"Well, Kitty," the married lady was saying, "you can tell the girls what
you please about the gayeties of Niagara, when you get home. They'll
believe anything sooner than the truth."

"O yes, indeed," said Kitty, "I've got a good deal of it made up already.
I'll describe a grand hop at the hotel, with fashionable people from all
parts of the country, and the gentlemen I danced with the most. I'm going
to have had quite a flirtation with the gentleman of the long blond
mustache, whom we met on the bridge this morning and he's got to do duty
in accounting for my missing glove. It'll never do to tell the girls I
dropped it from the top of Terrapin Tower. Then you know, Fanny, I really
can say something about dining with aristocratic Southerners, waited upon
by their black servants."

This referred to the sad-faced patrician whom Basil and Isabel had noted
in the cars from Buffalo as a Southerner probably coming North for the
first time since the war. He had an air at once fierce and sad, and a
half-barbaric, homicidal gentility of manner fascinating enough in its
way. He sat with his wife at a table farther down the room, and their
child was served in part by a little tan-colored nurse-maid. The fact did
not quite answer to the young lady's description of it, and get it
certainly afforded her a ground-work. Basil fancied a sort of
bewilderment in the Southerner, and explained it upon the theory that he
used to come every year to Niagara before the war, and was now puzzled to
find it so changed.

"Yes," he said, "I can't account for him except as the ghost of Southern
travel, and I can't help feeling a little sorry for him. I suppose that
almost any evil commends itself by its ruin; the wrecks of slavery are
fast growing a fungus crop of sentiment, and they may yet outflourish the
remains of the feudal system in the kind of poetry they produce. The
impoverished slave-holder is a pathetic figure, in spite of all justice
and reason, the beaten rebel does move us to compassion, and it is of no
use to think of Andersonville in his presence. This gentleman, and others
like him, used to be the lords of our summer resorts. They spent the
money they did not earn like princes; they held their heads high; they
trampled upon the Abolitionist in his lair; they received the homage of
the doughface in his home. They came up here from their rice-swamps and
cotton-fields, and bullied the whole busy civilization of the North.
Everybody who had merchandise or principles to sell truckled to them, and
travel amongst us was a triumphal progress. Now they're moneyless and
subjugated (as they call it), there's none so poor to do them reverence,
and it's left for me, an Abolitionist from the cradle, to sigh over their
fate. After all, they had noble traits, and it was no great wonder they
got, to despise us, seeing what most of us were. It seems to me I should
like to know our friend. I can't help feeling towards him as towards a
fallen prince, heaven help my craven spirit! I wonder how our colored
waiter feels towards him. I dare say he admires him immensely."

There were not above a dozen other people in the room, and Basil
contrasted the scene with that which the same place formerly presented.
"In the old time," he said, "every table was full, and we dined to the
music of a brass band. I can't say I liked the band, but I miss it. I
wonder if our Southern friend misses it? They gave us a very small
allowance of brass band when we arrived, Isabel. Upon my word, I wonder
what's come over the place," he said, as the Southern party, rising from
the table, walked out of the dining-room, attended by many treacherous
echoes in spite of an ostentatious clatter of dishes that the waiters
made.

After dinner they drove on the Canada shore up past the Clifton House,
towards the Burning Spring, which is not the least wonder of Niagara. As
each bubble breaks upon the troubled surface, and yields its flash of
infernal flame and its whiff of sulphurous stench, it seems hardly
strange that the Neutral Nation should have revered the cataract as a
demon; and another subtle spell (not to be broken even by the
business-like composure of the man who shows off the hell-broth) is added
to those successive sorceries by which Niagara gradually changes from a
thing of beauty to a thing of terror. By all odds, too, the most
tremendous view of the Falls is afforded by the point on the drive whence
you look down upon the Horse-Shoe, and behold its three massive walls of
sea rounding and sweeping into the gulf together, the color gone, and the
smooth brink showing black and ridgy.

Would they not go to the battle-field of Lundy's Lane? asked the driver
at a certain point on their return; but Isabel did not care for
battle-fields, and Basil preferred to keep intact the reminiscence of his
former visit. "They have a sort of tower of observation built on the
battle-ground," he said, as they drove on down by the river, "and it was
in charge of an old Canadian militia-man, who had helped his countrymen
to be beaten in the fight. This hero gave me a simple and unintelligible
account of the battle, asking me first if I had ever heard of General
Scott, and adding without flinching that here he got his earliest
laurels. He seemed to go just so long to every listener, and nothing
could stop him short, so I fell into a revery until he came to an end. It
was hard to remember, that sweet summer morning, when the sun shone, and
the birds sang, and the music of a piano and a girl's voice rose from a
bowery cottage near, that all the pure air had once been tainted with
battle-smoke, that the peaceful fields had been planted with cannon,
instead of potatoes and corn, and that where the cows came down the
farmer's lane, with tinkling bells, the shock of armed men had befallen.
The blue and tranquil Ontario gleamed far away, and far away rolled the
beautiful land, with farm-houses, fields, and woods, and at the foot of
the tower lay the pretty village. The battle of the past seemed only a
vagary of mine; yet how could I doubt the warrior at my elbow?--grieved
though I was to find that a habit of strong drink had the better of his
utterance that morning. My driver explained afterwards, that persons
visiting the field were commonly so much pleased with the captain's
eloquence, that they kept the noble old soldier in a brandy and-water
rapture throughout the season, thereby greatly refreshing his memory, and
making the battle bloodier and bloodier as the season advanced and the
number of visitors increased. There my dear," he suddenly broke off, as
they came in sight of a slender stream of water that escaped from the
brow of a cliff on the American side below the Falls, and spun itself
into a gauze of silvery mist, "that's the Bridal Veil; and I suppose you
think the stream, which is making such a fine display, yonder, is some
idle brooklet, ending a long course of error and worthlessness by that
spectacular plunge. It's nothing of the kind; it's an honest hydraulio
canal, of the most straightforward character, a poor but respectable
mill-race which has devoted itself strictly to business, and has turned
mill-wheels instead of fooling round water-lilies. It can afford that
ultimate finery. What you behold in the Bridal Veil, my love, is the
apotheosis of industry."

"What I can't help thinking of," said Isabel, who had not paid the
smallest attention to the Bridal Veil, or anything about it, "is the
awfulness of stepping off these places in the night-time." She referred
to the road which, next the precipice, is unguarded by any sort of
parapet. In Europe a strong wall would secure it, but we manage things
differently on our continent, and carriages go running over the brink
from time to time.

"If your thoughts have that direction," answered her husband, "we had
better go back to the hotel, and leave the Whirlpool for to-morrow
morning. It's late for it to-day, at any rate." He had treated Isabel
since the adventure on the Three Sisters with a superiority which he felt
himself to be very odious, but which he could not disuse.

"I'm not afraid," she sighed, "but in the words of the retreating
soldier, I--I'm awfully demoralized;" and added, "You know we must
reserve some of the vital forces for shopping this evening."



Part of their business also was to buy the tickets for their return to

Boston by way of Montreal and Quebec, and it was part of their pleasure
to get these of the heartiest imaginable ticket-agent. He was a colonel
or at least a major, and he made a polite feint of calling Basil by some
military title. He commended the trip they were about to make as the most
magnificent and beautiful on the whole continent, and he commended them
for intending to make it. He said that was Mrs. General Bowdur of
Philadelphia who just went out; did they know her? Somehow, the titles
affected Basil as of older date than the late war, and as belonging to
the militia period; and he imagined for the agent the romance of a life
spent at a watering-place, in contact with rich money-spending,
pleasure-taking people, who formed his whole jovial world. The Colonel,
who included them in this world, and thereby brevetted them rich and
fashionable, could not secure a state-room for them on the boat,--a
perfectly splendid Lake steamer, which would take them down the rapids of
the St. Lawrence, and on to Montreal without change,--but he would give
them a letter to the captain, who was a very particular friend of his,
and would be happy to show them as his friends every attention; and so he
wrote a note ascribing peculiar merits to Basil, and in spite of all
reason making him feel for the moment that he was privileged by a
document which was no doubt part of every such transaction. He spoke in a
loud cheerful voice; he laughed jollily at no apparent joke; he bowed
very low and said, "GOOD-evening!" at parting, and they went away as if
he had blessed them.

The rest of the evening they spent in wandering through the village,
charmed with its bizarre mixture of quaintness and commonplaceness; in
hanging about the shop-Windows with their monotonous variety of feather
fans,--each with a violently red or yellow bird painfully sacrificed in
its centre,--moccasons, bead-wrought work-bags, tobacco-pouches, bows and
arrows, and whatever else the savage art of the neighboring squaws can
invent; in sauntering through these gay booths, pricing many things, and
in hanging long and undecidedly over cases full of feldspar crosses,
quartz bracelets and necklaces, and every manner of vase, inoperative
pitcher, and other vessel that can be fashioned out of the geological
formations at Niagara, tormented meantime by the heat of the gas-lights
and the persistence of the mosquitoes. There were very few people besides
themselves in the shops, and Isabel's purchases were not lavish. Her
husband had made up his mind to get her some little keepsake; and when he
had taken her to the hotel he ran back to one of the shops, and hastily
bought her a feather fan,--a magnificent thing of deep magenta dye
shading into blue, with a whole yellow-bird transfixed in the centre.
When he triumphantly displayed it in their room, "Who's that for, Basil?"
demanded his wife; "the cook?" But seeing his ghastly look at this, she
fell upon his neck, crying, "O you poor old tasteless darling! You've got
it for me!" and seemed about to die of laughter.

"Didn't you start and throw up your hands," he stammered, "when you came
to that case of fans?"

"Yes,--in horror! Did you think I liked the cruel things, with their dead
birds and their hideous colors? O Basil, dearest! You are incorrigible.
Can't you learn that magenta is the vilest of all the hues that the
perverseness of man has invented in defiance of nature? Now, my love,
just promise me one thing," she said pathetically. "We're going to do a
little shopping in Montreal, you know; and perhaps you'll be wanting to
surprise me with something there. Don't do it. Or if you must, do tell me
all about it beforehand, and what the color of it's to be; and I can say
whether to get it or not, and then there'll be some taste about it, and I
shall be truly surprised and pleased."

She turned to put the fan into her trunk, and he murmured something about
exchanging it. "No," she said, "we'll keep it as a--a--monument." And she
deposed him, with another peal of laughter, from the proud height to
which he had climbed in pity of her nervous fears of the day. So
completely were their places changed, that he doubted if it were not he
who had made that scene on the Third Sister; and when Isabel said, "O,
why won't men use their reasoning faculties?" he could not for himself
have claimed any, and he could not urge the truth: that he had bought the
fan more for its barbaric brightness than for its beauty. She would not
let him get angry, and he could say nothing against the half-ironical
petting with which she soothed his mortification.

But all troubles passed with the night, and the next morning they spent a
charming hour about Prospect Point, and in sauntering over Goat Island,
somewhat daintily tasting the flavors of the place on whose wonders they
had so hungrily and indiscriminately feasted at first. They had already
the feeling of veteran visitors, and they loftily marveled at the greed
with which newer-comers plunged at the sensations. They could not
conceive why people should want to descend the inclined railway to the
foot of the American Fall; they smiled at the idea of going up Terrapin
Tower; they derided the vulgar daring of those who went out upon the
Three Weird Sisters; for some whom they saw about to go down the Biddle
Stairs to the Cave of the Winds, they had no words to express their
contempt.

Then they made their excursion to the Whirlpool, mistakenly going down on
the American side, for it is much better seen from the other, though seen
from any point it is the most impressive feature of the whole prodigious
spectacle of Niagara.

Here within the compass of a mile, those inland seas of the North,
Superior, Huron, Michigan, Erie, and the multitude of smaller lakes, all
pour their floods, where they swirl in dreadful vortices, with resistless
under-currents boiling beneath the surface of that mighty eddy. Abruptly
from this scene of secret power, so different from the thunderous
splendors of the cataract itself, rise lofty cliffs on every side, to a
height of two hundred feet, clothed from the water's edge almost to their
create with dark cedars. Noiselessly, so far as your senses perceive, the
lakes steal out of the whirlpool, then, drunk and wild, with brawling
rapids roar away to Ontario through the narrow channel of the river.
Awful as the scene is, you stand so far above it that you do not know the
half of its terribleness; for those waters that look so smooth are great
ridges and rings, forced, by the impulse of the currents, twelve feet
higher in the centre than at the margin. Nothing can live there, and with
what is caught in its hold, the maelstrom plays for days, and whirls and
tosses round and round in its toils, with a sad, maniacal patience. The
guides tell ghastly stories, which even their telling does not wholly rob
of ghastliness, about the bodies of drowned men carried into the
whirlpool and made to enact upon its dizzy surges a travesty of life,
apparently floating there at their pleasure, diving and frolicking amid
the waves, or frantically struggling to escape from the death that has
long since befallen them.

On the American side, not far below the railway suspension bridge, is an
elevator more than a hundred and eighty feet high, which is meant to let
people down to the shore below, and to give a view of the rapids on their
own level. From the cliff opposite, it looks a terribly frail structure
of pine sticks, but is doubtless stronger than it looks; and at any rate,
as it has never yet fallen to pieces, it may be pronounced perfectly
safe.

In the waiting-room at the top, Basil and Isabel found Mr. Richard and
his ladies again, who got into the movable chamber with them, and they
all silently descended together. It was not a time for talk of any kind,
either when they were slowly and not quite smoothly dropping through the
lugubrious upper part of the structure, where it was darkened by a rough
weatherboarding, or lower down, where the unobstructed light showed the
grim tearful face of the cliff, bedrabbled with oozy springs, and the
audacious slightness of the elevator.

An abiding distrust of the machinery overhead mingled in Isabel's heart
with a doubt of the value of the scene below, and she could not look
forward to escape from her present perils by the conveyance which had
brought her into them, with any satisfaction. She wanly smiled, and
shrank closer to Basil; while the other matron made nothing of seizing
her husband violently by the arm and imploring him to stop it whenever
they experienced a rougher jolt than usual.

At the bottom of the cliff they were helped out of their prison by a
humid young Englishman, with much clay on him, whose face was red and
bathed in perspiration, for it was very hot down there in his little
inclosure of baking pine boards, and it was not much cooler out on the
rocks upon which the party issued, descending and descending by repeated
and desultory flights of steps, till at last they stood upon a huge
fragment of stone right abreast of the rapids. Yet it was a magnificent
sight, and for a moment none of them were sorry to have come. The surges
did not look like the gigantic ripples on a river's course as they were,
but like a procession of ocean billows; they arose far aloft in vast
bulks of clear green, and broke heavily into foam at the crest. Great
blocks and shapeless fragments of rock strewed the margin of the awful
torrent; gloomy walls of dark stone rose naked from these, bearded here
and there with cedar, and everywhere frowning with shaggy brows of
evergreen. The place is inexpressibly lonely and dreadful, and one feels
like an alien presence there, or as if he had intruded upon some mood or
haunt of Nature in which she had a right to be forever alone. The slight,
impudent structure of the elevator rises through the solitude, like a
thing that merits ruin, yet it is better than something more elaborate,
for it looks temporary, and since there must be an elevator, it is well
to have it of the most transitory aspect. Some such quality of rude
impermanence consoles you for the presence of most improvements by which
you enjoy Niagara; the suspension bridges for their part being saved from
offensiveness by their beauty and unreality.

Ascending, none of the party spoke; Isabel and the other matron blanched
in each other's faces; their husbands maintained a stolid resignation.
When they stepped out of their trap into the waiting room at the top,
"What I like about these little adventures," said Mr. Richard to Basil,
abruptly, "is getting safely out of them. Good-morning, sir." He bowed
slightly to Isabel, who returned his politeness, and exchanged faint
nods, or glances, with the ladies. They got into their separate
carriages, and at that safe distance made each other more decided
obeisances.

"Well," observed Basil, "I suppose we're introduced now. We shall be
meeting them from time to time throughout our journey. You know how the
same faces and the same trunks used to keep turning up in our travels on
the other side. Once meet people in travelling, and you can't get rid of
them."

"Yes," said Isabel, as if continuing his train of thought, "I'm glad
we're going to-day."

"O dearest!"

"Truly. When we first arrived I felt only the loveliness of the place. It
seemed more familiar, too, then; but ever since, it's been growing
stranger and dreadfuller. Somehow it's begun to pervade me and possess me
in a very uncomfortable way; I'm tossed upon rapids, and flung from
cataract brinks, and dizzied in whirlpools; I'm no longer yours, Basil;
I'm most unhappily married to Niagara. Fly with me, save me from my awful
lord!"

She lightly burlesqued the woes of a prima donna, with clasped hands and
uplifted eyes.

"That'll do very well," Basil commented, "and it implies a reality that
can't be quite definitely spoken. We come to Niagara in the patronizing
spirit in which we approach everything nowadays, and for a few hours we
have it our own way, and pay our little tributes of admiration with as
much complacency as we feel in acknowledging the existence of the Supreme
Being. But after a while we are aware of some potent influence
undermining our self-satisfaction; we begin to conjecture that the great
cataract does not exist by virtue of our approval, and to feel that it
will not cease when we go away. The second day makes us its abject
slaves, and on the third we want to fly from it in terror. I believe some
people stay for weeks, however, and hordes of them have written odes to
Niagara."

"I can't understand it, at all," said Isabel. "I don't wonder now that
the town should be so empty this season, but that it should ever be full.
I wish we'd gone after our first look at the Falls from the suspension
bridge. How beautiful that was! I rejoice in everything that I haven't
done. I'm so glad I haven't been in the Cave of the Winds; I'm so happy
that Table Rock fell twenty years ago! Basil, I couldn't stand another
rainbow today. I'm sorry we went out on the Three Weird Sisters. O, I
shall dream about it! and the rush, and the whirl, and the dampness in
one's face, and the everlasting chirr-r-r-r of everything!"

She dipped suddenly upon his shoulder for a moment's oblivion, and then
rose radiant with a question: "Why in the world, if Niagara is really
what it seems to us now, do so many bridal parties come here?"

"Perhaps they're the only people who've the strength to bear up against
it, and are not easily dispersed and subjected by it."

"But we're dispersed and subjected."

"Ah, my dear, we married a little late. Who knows how it would be if you
were nineteen instead of twenty-seven, and I twenty-five and not turned
of thirty?"

"Basil, you're very cruel."

"No, no. But don't you see how it is? We've known too much of life to
desire any gloomy background for our happiness. We're quite contented to
have things gay and bright about us. Once we couldn't have made the
circle dark enough. Well, my dear, that's the effect of age. We're
superannuated."

"I used to think I was before we were married," answered Isabel simply;
"but now," she added triumphantly, "I'm rescued from all that. I shall
never be old again, dearest; never, as long as you love me!"

They were about to enter the village, and he could not make any open
acknowledgment of her tenderness; but her silken mantle (or whatever)
slipped from her shoulder, and he embracingly replaced it, flattering
himself that he had delicately seized this chance of an unavowed caress
and not allowing (O such is the blindness of our sex!) that the
opportunity had been yet more subtly afforded him, with the art which
women never disuse in this world, and which I hope they will not forget
in the next.

They had an early dinner, and looked their last upon the nuptial gayety
of the otherwise forlorn hotel. Three brides sat down with them in
travelling-dress; two occupied the parlor as they passed out; half a
dozen happy pairs arrived (to the music of the band) in the omnibus that
was to carry our friends back to the station; they caught sight of
several about the shop windows, as that drove through the streets. Thus
the place perpetually renews itself in the glow of love as long as the
summer lasts. The moon which is elsewhere so often of wormwood, or of the
ordinary green cheese at the best, is of lucent honey there from the
first of June to the last of October; and this is a great charm in
Niagara. I think with tenderness of all the lives that have opened so
fairly there; the hopes that have reigned in the glad young hearts; the
measureless tide of joy that ebbs and flows with the arriving and
departing trains. Elsewhere there are carking cares of business and of
fashion, there are age, and sorrow, and heartbreak: but here only youth,
faith, rapture. I kiss my hand to Niagara for that reason, and would I
were a poet for a quarter of an hour.

Isabel departed in almost a forgiving mood towards the weak sisterhood of
evident brides, and both our friends felt a lurking fondness for Niagara
at the last moment. I do not know how much of their content was due to
the fact that they had suffered no sort of wrong there, from those who
are apt to prey upon travellers. In the hotel a placard warned them to
have nothing to do with the miscreant hackmen on the streets, but always
to order their carriage at the office; on the street the hackmen
whispered to them not to trust the exorbitant drivers in league with the
landlords; yet their actual experience was great reasonableness and
facile contentment with the sum agreed upon.

This may have been because the hackmen so far outnumbered the visitors,
that the latter could dictate terms; but they chose to believe it a
triumph of civilization; and I will never be the cynic to sneer at their
faith. Only at the station was the virtue of the Niagarans put in doubt,
by the hotel porter who professed to find Basil's trunk enfeebled by
travel, and advised a strap for it, which a friend of his would sell for
a dollar and a half. Yet even he may have been a benevolent nature
unjustly suspected.



DOWN THE ST. LAWRENCE.

They were to take the Canadian steamer at Charlotte, the port of
Rochester, and they rattled uneventfully down from Niagara by rail. At
the broad, low-banked river-mouth the steamer lay beside the railroad
station; and while Isabel disposed of herself on board, Basil looked to
the transfer of the baggage, novelly comforted in the business by the
respectfulness of the young Canadian who took charge of the trunks for
the boat. He was slow, and his system was not good,--he did not give
checks for the pieces, but marked them with the name of their
destination; and there was that indefinable something in his manner which
hinted his hope that you would remember the porter; but he was so civil
that he did not snub the meekest and most vexatious of the passengers,
and Basil mutely blessed his servile soul. Few white Americans, he said
to himself, would behave so decently in his place; and he could not
conceive of the American steamboat clerk who would use the politeness
towards a waiting crowd that the Canadian purser showed when they all
wedged themselves in about his window to receive their stateroom keys. He
was somewhat awkward, like the porter, but he was patient, and he did not
lose his temper even when some of the crowd, finding he would not bully
them, made bold to bully him. He was three times as long in serving them
as an American would have been, but their time was of no value there, and
he served them well. Basil made a point of speaking him fair, when his
turn came, and the purser did not trample on him for a base truckler, as
an American jack-in-office would have done.

Our tourists felt at home directly on this steamer, which was very
comfortable, and in every way sufficient for its purpose, with a visible
captain, who answered two or three questions very pleasantly, and bore
himself towards his passengers in some sort like a host.

In the saloon Isabel had found among the passengers her
semi-acquaintances of the hotel parlor and the Rapids-elevator, and had
glanced tentatively towards them. Whereupon the matron of the party had
made advances that ended in their all sitting down together and wondering
when the boat would start, and what time they would get to Montreal next
evening, with other matters that strangers going upon the same journey
may properly marvel over in company. The introduction having thus
accomplished itself, they exchanged addresses, and it appeared that
Richard was Colonel Ellison, of Milwaukee, and that Fanny was his wife.
Miss Kitty Ellison was of Western New York, not far from Erie. There was
a diversion presently towards the different state-rooms; but the new
acquaintances sat vis-a-vis at the table, and after supper the ladies
drew their chairs together on the promenade deck, and enjoyed the fresh
evening breeze. The sun set magnificent upon the low western shore which
they had now left an hour away, and a broad stripe of color stretched
behind the steamer. A few thin, luminous clouds darkened momently along
the horizon, and then mixed with the land. The stars came out in a clear
sky, and a light wind softly buffeted the cheeks, and breathed life into
nerves that the day's heat had wasted. It scarcely wrinkled the tranquil
expanse of the lake, on which loomed, far or near, a full-sailed
schooner, and presently melted into the twilight, and left the steamer
solitary upon the waters. The company was small, and not remarkable
enough in any way to take the thoughts of any one off his own comfort. A
deep sense of the coziness of the situation possessed them all which was
if possible intensified by the spectacle of the captain, seated on the
upper deck, and smoking a cigar that flashed and fainted like a
stationary fire-fly in the gathering dusk. How very distant, in this
mood, were the most recent events! Niagara seemed a fable of antiquity;
the ride from Rochester a myth of the Middle Ages. In this pool, happy
world of quiet lake, of starry skies, of air that the soul itself seemed
to breathe, there was such consciousness of repose as if one were steeped
in rest and soaked through and through with calm.

The points of likeness between Isabel and Mrs. Ellison shortly made them
mutually uninteresting, and, leaving her husband to the others, Isabel
frankly sought the companionship of Miss Kitty, in whom she found a charm
of manner which puzzled at first, but which she presently fancied must be
perfect trust of others mingling with a peculiar self-reliance.

"Can't you see, Basil, what a very flattering way it is?" she asked of
her husband, when, after parting with their friends for the night, she
tried to explain the character to him. "Of course no art could equal such
a natural gift; for that kind of belief in your good-nature and sympathy
makes you feel worthy of it, don't you know; and so you can't help being
good-natured and sympathetic. This Miss Ellison, why, I can tell you, I
shouldn't be ashamed of her anywhere." By anywhere Isabel meant Boston,
and she went on to praise the young lady's intelligence and refinement,
with those expressions of surprise at the existence of civilization in a
westerner which westerners find it so hard to receive graciously.
Happily, Miss Ellison had not to hear them. "The reason she happened to
come with only two dresses is, she lives so near Niagara that she could
come for one day, and go back the next. The colonel's her cousin, and he
and his wife go East every year, and they asked her this time to see
Niagara with them. She told me all over again what we eavesdropped so
shamefully in the hotel parlor;--and I don't know whether she was better
pleased with the prospect of what's before her, or with the notion of
making the journey in this original way. She didn't force her confidence
upon me, any more than she tried to withhold it. We got to talking in the
most natural manner; and she seemed to tell these things about herself
because they amused her and she liked me. I had been saying how my trunk
got left behind once on the French side of Mont Cenis, and I had to wear
aunt's things at Turin till it could be sent for."

"Well, I don't see but Miss Ellison could describe you to her friends
very much as you've described her to me," said Basil. "How did these
mutual confidences begin? Whose trustfulness first flattered the other's?
What else did you tell about yourself?"

"I said we were on our wedding journey," guiltily admitted Isabel.

"O, you did!"

"Why, dearest! I wanted to know, for once, you see, whether we seemed
honeymoon-struck."

"And do we?"

"No," came the answer, somewhat ruefully. "Perhaps, Basil," she added,
"we've been a little too successful in disguising our bridal character.
Do you know," she continued, looking him anxiously in the face, "this
Miss Ellison took me at first for--your sister!"

Basil broke forth in outrageous laughter. "One more such victory," he
said, "and we are undone;" and he laughed again, immoderately. "How sad
is the fruition of human wishes! There 's nothing, after all, like a good
thorough failure for making people happy."

Isabel did not listen to him. Safe in a dim corner of the deserted
saloon, she seized him in a vindictive embrace; then, as if it had been
he who suggested the idea of such a loathsome relation, hissed out the
hated words, "Your sister!" and released him with a disdainful repulse.

A little after daybreak the steamer stopped at the Canadian city of
Kingston, a handsome place, substantial to the water's edge, and giving a
sense of English solidity by the stone of which it is largely built.
There was an accession of many passengers here, and they and the people
on the wharf were as little like Americans as possible. They were English
or Irish or Scotch, with the healthful bloom of the Old World still upon
their faces, or if Canadians they looked not less hearty; so that one
must wonder if the line between the Dominion and the United States did
not also sharply separate good digestion and dyspepsia. These provincials
had not our regularity of features, nor the best of them our careworn
sensibility of expression; but neither had they our complexions of adobe;
and even Isabel was forced to allow that the men were, on the whole,
better dressed than the same number of average Americans would have been
in a city of that size and remoteness. The stevedores who were putting
the freight aboard were men of leisure; they joked in a kindly way with
the orange-women and the old women picking up chips on the pier; and our
land of hurry seemed beyond the ocean rather than beyond the lake.

Kingston has romantic memories of being Fort Frontenac two hundred years
ago; of Count Frontenac's splendid advent among the Indians; of the brave
La Salle, who turned its wooden walls to stone; of wars with the savages
and then with the New York colonists, whom the French and their allies
harried from this point; of the destruction of La Salle's fort in the Old
French War; and of final surrender a few years later to the English. It
is as picturesque as it is historical. All about the city, the shores are
beautifully wooded, and there are many lovely islands,--the first indeed
of those Thousand Islands with which the head of the St. Lawrence is
filled, and among which the steamer was presently threading her way. They
are still as charming and still almost as wild as when, in 1673,
Frontenac's flotilla of canoes passed through their labyrinth and issued
upon the lake. Save for a light-house upon one of them, there is almost
nothing to show that the foot of man has ever pressed the thin grass
clinging to their rocky surfaces, and keeping its green in the eternal
shadow of their pines and cedars. In the warm morning light they gathered
or dispersed before the advancing vessel, which some of them almost
touched with the plumage of their evergreens; and where none of them were
large, some were so small that it would not have been too bold to figure
them as a vaster race of water-birds assembling and separating in her
course. It is curiously affecting to find them so unclaimed yet from the
solitude of the vanished wilderness, and scarcely touched even by
tradition. But for the interest left them by the French, these tiny
islands have scarcely any associations, and must be enjoyed for their
beauty alone. There is indeed about them a faint light of legend
concerning the Canadian rebellion of 1837, for several patriots are said
to have taken refuge amidst their lovely multitude; but this episode of
modern history is difficult for the imagination to manage, and somehow
one does not take sentimentally even to that daughter of a lurking
patriot, who long baffled her father's pursuers by rowing him from one
island to another, and supplying him with food by night.

Either the reluctance is from the natural desire that so recent a heroine
should be founded on fact, or it is mere perverseness. Perhaps I ought to
say; in justice to her, that it was one of her own sex who refused to be
interested in her, and forbade Basil to care for her. When he had read of
her exploit from the guide-book, Isabel asked him if he had noticed that
handsome girl in the blue and white striped Garibaldi and Swiss hat, who
had come aboard at Kingston. She pointed her out, and courageously made
him admire her beauty, which was of the most bewitching Canadian type.
The young girl was redeemed by her New World birth from the English
heaviness; a more delicate bloom lighted her cheeks; a softer grace dwelt
in her movement; yet she was round and full, and she was in the perfect
flower of youth. She was not so ethereal in her loveliness as an American
girl, but she was not so nervous and had none of the painful fragility of
the latter. Her expression was just a little vacant, it must be owned;
but so far as she went she was faultless. She looked like the most
tractable of daughters, and as if she would be the most obedient of
wives. She had a blameless taste in dress, Isabel declared; her costume
of blue and white striped Garibaldi and Swiss hat (set upon heavy masses
of dark brown hair) being completed by a black silk skirt. "And you can
see," she added, "that it's an old skirt made over, and that she's
dressed as cheaply as she is prettily." This surprised Basil, who had
imputed the young lady's personal sumptuousness to her dress, and had
thought it enormously rich. When she got off with her chaperone at one of
the poorest-looking country landings, she left them in hopeless
conjecture about her. Was she visiting there, or was the interior of
Canada full of such stylish and exquisite creatures? Where did she get
her taste, her fashions, her manners? As she passed from sight towards
the shadow of the woods, they felt the poorer for her going; yet they
were glad to have seen her, and on second thoughts they felt that they
could not justly ask more of her than to have merely existed for a few
hours in their presence. They perceived that beauty was not only its own
excuse for being, but that it flattered and favored and profited the
world by consenting to be.

At Prescott, the boat on which they had come from Charlotte, and on which
they had been promised a passage without change to Montreal, stopped, and
they were transferred to a smaller steamer with the uncomfortable name of
Banshee. She was very old, and very infirm and dirty, and in every way
bore out the character of a squalid Irish goblin. Besides, she was
already heavily laden with passengers, and, with the addition of the
other steamer's people had now double her complement; and our friends
doubted if they were not to pass the Rapids in as much danger as
discomfort. Their fellow-passengers were in great variety, however, and
thus partly atoned for their numbers. Among them of course there was a
full force of brides from Niagara and elsewhere, and some curious forms
of the prevailing infatuation appeared. It is well enough, if she likes,
and it may even be very noble for a passably good-looking young lady to
marry a gentleman of venerable age; but to intensify the idea of
self-devotion by furtively caressing his wrinkled front seems too
reproachful of the general public; while, on the other hand, if the bride
is very young and pretty, it enlists in behalf of the white-haired
husband the unwilling sympathies of the spectator to see her the centre
of a group of young people, and him only acknowledged from time to time
by a Parthian snub. Nothing, however, could have been more satisfactory
than the sisterly surrounding of this latter bride. They were of a better
class of Irish people; and if it had been any sacrifice for her to marry
so old a man, they were doing their best to give the affair at least the
liveliness of a wake. There were five or six of those great handsome
girls, with their generous curves and wholesome colors, and they were
every one attended by a good-looking colonial lover, with whom they joked
in slightly brogued voices, and laughed with careless Celtic laughter.
One of the young fellows presently lost his hat overboard, and had to
wear the handkerchief of his lady about his head; and this appeared to be
really one of the best things in the world, and led to endless banter.
They were well dressed, and it could be imagined that the ancient
bridegroom had come in for the support of the whole good-looking,
healthy, light-hearted family. In some degree he looked it, and wore but
a rueful countenance for a bridegroom; so that a very young newly married
couple, who sat next the jolly sister-and-loverhood could not keep their
pitying eyes off his downcast face. "What if he, too, were young at
heart!" the kind little wife's regard seemed to say.

For the sake of the slight air that was stirring, and to have the best
view of the Rapids, the Banshee's whole company was gathered upon the
forward promenade, and the throng was almost as dense as in a six-o'clock
horse-car out from Boston. The standing and sitting groups were closely
packed together, and the expanded parasols and umbrellas formed a nearly
unbroken roof. Under this Isabel chatted at intervals with the Ellisons,
who sat near; but it was not an atmosphere that provoked social feeling,
and she was secretly glad when after a while they shifted their position.

It was deadly hot, and most of the people saddened and silenced in the
heat. From time to time the clouds idling about overhead met and
sprinkled down a cruel little shower of rain that seemed to make the air
less breathable than before. The lonely shores were yellow with drought;
the islands grew wilder and barrener; the course of the river was for
miles at a stretch through country which gave no signs of human life. The
St. Lawrence has none of the bold picturesqueness of the Hudson, and is
far more like its far-off cousin the Mississippi. Its banks are low like
the Mississippi's, its current, swift, its way through solitary lands.
The same sentiment of early adventure hangs about each: both are haunted
by visions of the Jesuit in his priestly robe, and the soldier in his
mediaeval steel; the same gay, devout, and dauntless race has touched
them both with immortal romance. If the water were of a dusky golden
color, instead of translucent green, and the shores and islands were
covered with cottonwoods and willows instead of dark cedars, one could
with no great effort believe one's self on the Mississippi between Cairo
and St. Louis, so much do the great rivers strike one as kindred in the
chief features of their landscape. Only, in tracing this resemblance you
do not know just what to do with the purple mountains of Vermont, seen
vague against the horizon from the St. Lawrence, or with the quaint
little French villages that begin to show themselves as you penetrate
farther down into Lower Canada. These look so peaceful, with their
dormer-windowed cottages clustering about their church-spires, that it
seems impossible they could once have been the homes of the savages and
the cruel peasants who, with fire-brand and scalping-knife and tomahawk,
harassed the borders of New England for a hundred years. But just after
you descend the Long Sault you pass the hamlet of St. Regis, in which was
kindled the torch that wrapt Deerfield in flames, waking her people from
their sleep to meet instant death or taste the bitterness of a captivity.
The bell which was sent out from France for the Indian converts of the
Jesuits, and was captured by an English ship and carried into Salem, and
thence sold to Deerfield, where it called the Puritans to prayer, till at
last it also summoned the priest-led Indians and 'habitans' across
hundreds of miles of winter and of wilderness to reclaim it from that
desecration,--this fateful bell still hangs in the church-tower of St.
Regis, and has invited to matins and vespers for nearly two centuries the
children of those who fought so pitilessly and dared and endured so much
for it. Our friends would fair have heard it as they passed, hoping for
some mournful note of history in its sound; but it hung silent over the
silent hamlet, which, as it lay in the hot afternoon sun by the river's
side, seemed as lifeless as the Deerfield burnt long ago.

They turned from it to look at a gentleman who had just appeared in a
mustard-colored linen duster, and Basil asked, "Shouldn't you like to
know the origin, personal history, and secret feelings of a gentleman who
goes about in a duster of that particular tint? Or, that gentleman yonder
with his eye tied up in a wet handkerchief, do you suppose he's
travelling for pleasure? Look at those young people from Omaha: they
haven't ceased flirting or cackling since we left Kingston. Do you think
everybody has such spirits out at Omaha? But behold a yet more surprising
figure than any we have yet seen among this boat-load of nondescripts."

This was a tall, handsome young man, with a face of somewhat foreign
cast, and well dressed, with a certain impressive difference from the
rest in the cut of his clothes. But what most drew the eye to him was a
large cross, set with brilliants, and surmounted by a heavy double-headed
eagle in gold. This ornament dazzled from a conspicuous place on the left
lappet of his coat; on his hand shone a magnificent diamond ring, and he
bore a stately opera-glass, with which, from time to time, he
imperiously, as one may say, surveyed the landscape. As the imposing
apparition grew upon Isa-bel, "O here," she thought, "is something truly
distinguished. Of course, dear," she added aloud to Basil, "he's some
foreign nobleman travelling here"; and she ran over in her mind the
newspaper announcements of patrician visitors from abroad and tried to
identify him with some one of them. The cross must be the decoration of a
foreign order, and Basil suggested that he was perhaps a member of some
legation at Washington, who had ran up there for his summer vacation. The
cross puzzled him, but the double-headed eagle, he said, meant either
Austria or Russia; probably Austria, for the wearer looked a trifle too
civilized for a Russian.

"Yes, indeed! What an air he has. Never tell me. Basil, that there's
nothing in blood!" cried Isabel, who was a bitter aristocrat at heart,
like all her sex, though in principle she was democratic enough. As she
spoke, the object of her regard looked about him on the different groups,
not with pride, not with hauteur, but with a glance of unconscious,
unmistakable superiority. "O, that stare!" she added; "nothing but high
birth and long descent can give it! Dearest, he's becoming a great
affliction to me. I want to know who he is. Couldn't you invent some
pretext for speaking to him?"

"No, I couldn't do it decently; and no doubt he'd snub me as I deserved
if I intruded upon him. Let's wait for fortune to reveal him."

"Well, I suppose I must, but it's dreadful; it's really dreadful. You can
easily see that's distinction," she continued, as her hero moved about
the promenade and gently but loftily made a way for himself among the
other passengers and favored the scenery through his opera-glass from one
point and another. He spoke to no one, and she reasonably supposed that
he did not know English.

In the mean time it was drawing near the hour of dinner, but no dinner
appeared. Twelve, one, two came and went, and then at last came the
dinner, which had been delayed, it seemed, till the cook could recruit
his energies sufficiently to meet the wants of double the number he had
expected to provide for. It was observable of the officers and crew of
the Banshee, that while they did not hold themselves aloof from the
passengers in the disdainful American manner, they were of feeble mind,
and not only did everything very slowly (in the usual Canadian fashion),
but with an inefficiency that among us would have justified them in being
insolent. The people sat down at several successive tables to the worst
dinner that ever was cooked; the ladies first, and the gentlemen
afterwards, as they made conquest of places. At the second table, to
Basil's great satisfaction, he found a seat, and on his right hand the
distinguished foreigner.

"Naturally, I was somewhat abashed," he said in the account he was
presently called to give Isabel of the interview, "but I remembered that
I was an American citizen, and tried to maintain a decent composure. For
several minutes we sat silent behind a dish of flabby cucumbers,
expecting the dinner, and I was wondering whether I should address him in
French or German,--for I knew you'd never forgive me if I let slip such a
chance,--when he turned and spoke himself."

"O what did he say, dearest?"

He said, "Pretty tejious waitin,' ain't it? in she best New York State
accent."

"You don't mean it!" gasped Isabel.

"But I do. After that I took courage to ask what his cross and
double-headed eagle meant. He showed the condescension of a true
nobleman. 'O,' says he, 'I 'm glad you like it, and it 's not the least
offense to ask,' and he told me. Can you imagine what it is? It 's the
emblem of the fifty-fourth degree in the secret society he belongs to!"

"I don't believe it!"

"Well, ask him yourself, then," returned Basil; "he 's a very good
fellow. 'O, that stare! nothing but high birth and long descent could
give it!'" he repeated, abominably implying that he had himself had no
share in their common error.

What retort Isabel might have made cannot now be known, for she was
arrested at this moment by a rumor amongst the passengers that they were
coming to the Long Sault Rapids. Looking forward she saw the tossing and
flashing of surges that, to the eye, are certainly as threatening as the
rapids above Niagara. The steamer had already passed the Deplau and the
Galopes, and they had thus had a foretaste of whatever pleasure or terror
there is in the descent of these nine miles of stormy sea. It is purely a
matter of taste, about shooting the rapids of the St. Lawrence. The
passengers like it better than the captain and the pilot, to guesses by
their looks, and the women and children like it better than the men. It
is no doubt very thrilling and picturesque and wildly beautiful: the
children crow and laugh, the women shout forth their delight, as the boat
enters the seething current; great foaming waves strike her bows, and
brawl away to the stern, while she dips, and rolls, and shoots onward,
light as a bird blown by the wind; the wild shores and islands whirl out
of sight; you feel in every fibre the career of the vessel. But the
captain sits in front of the pilothouse smoking with a grave face, the
pilots tug hard at the wheel; the hoarse roar of the waters fills the
air; beneath the smoother sweeps of the current you can see the brown
rocks; as you sink from ledge to ledge in the writhing and twisting
steamer, you have a vague sense that all this is perhaps an achievement
rather than an enjoyment. When, descending the Long Sault, you look back
up hill, and behold those billows leaping down the steep slope after you,
"No doubt," you confide to your soul, "it is magnificent; but it is not
pleasure." You greet with silent satisfaction the level river, stretching
between the Long Sault and the Coteau, and you admire the delightful
tranquillity of that beautiful Lake St. Francis into which it expands.
Then the boat shudders into the Coteau Rapids, and down through the
Cedars and Cascades. On the rocks of the last lies the skeleton of a
steamer wrecked upon them, and gnawed at still by the white-tusked
wolfish rapids. No one, they say, was lost from her. "But how," Basil
thought, "would it fare with all these people packed here upon her bow,
if the Banshee should swing round upon a ledge?" As to Isabel, she looked
upon the wrecked steamer with indifference, as did all the women; but
then they could not swim, and would not have to save themselves. "The La
Chine's to come yet," they exulted, "and that 's the awfullest of all!"

They passed the Lake St. Louis; the La Chin; rapids flashed into sight.
The captain rose up from his seat, took his pipe from his mouth, and
waved a silence with it. "Ladies and gentlemen," said he, "it's very
important in passing these rapids to keep the boat perfectly trim. Please
to remain just as you are."

It was twilight, for the boat was late. From the Indian village on the
shore they signaled to know if he wanted the local pilot; the captain
refused; and then the steamer plunged into the leaping waves. From rock
to rock she swerved and sank; on the last ledge she scraped with a deadly
touch that went to the heart.

Then the danger was passed, and the noble city of Montreal was in full
sight, lying at the foot of her dark green mountain, and lifting her many
spires into the rosy twilight air: massive and grand showed the sister
towers of the French cathedral.

Basil had hoped to approach this famous city with just associations. He
had meant to conjure up for Isabel's sake some reflex, however faint, of
that beautiful picture Mr. Parkman has painted of Maisonneuve founding
and consecrating Montreal. He flushed with the recollection of the
historian's phrase; but in that moment there came forth from the cabin a
pretty young person who gave every token of being a pretty young actress,
even to the duenna-like, elderly female companion, to be detected in the
remote background of every young actress. She had flirted audaciously
during the day with some young Englishmen and Canadians of her
acquaintance, and after passing the La Chine Rapids she had taken the
hearts of all the men by springing suddenly to her feet, apostrophizing
the tumult with a charming attitude, and warbling a delicious bit of
song. Now as they drew near the city the Victoria Bridge stretched its
long tube athwart the river, and looked so low because of its great
length that it seemed to bar the steamer's passage.

"I wonder," said one of the actress's adorers, a Canadian, whose face was
exactly that of the beaver on the escutcheon of his native province, and
whose heavy gallantries she had constantly received with a gay,
impertinent nonchalance,--"I wonder if we can be going right under that
bridge?"

"No, sir!" answered the pretty young actress with shocking promptness,
"we're going right over it!"

         "'Three groans and a guggle,
          And an awful struggle,
          And over we go!'"

At this witless, sweet impudence the Canadian looked very sheepish--for a
beaver; and all the other people laughed; but the noble historical shades
of Basil's thought vanished in wounded dignity beyond recall, and left
him feeling rather ashamed,--for he had laughed too.



THE SENTIMENT OF MONTREAL.

The feeling of foreign travel for which our tourists had striven
throughout their journey, and which they had known in some degree at
Kingston and all the way down the river, was intensified from the first
moment in Montreal; and it was so welcome that they were almost glad to
lose money on their greenbacks, which the conductor of the omnibus would
take only at a discount of twenty cents. At breakfast next morning they
could hardly tell on what country they had fallen. The waiters had but a
thin varnish of English speech upon their native French, and they spoke
their own tongue with each other; but most of the meats were cooked to
the English taste, and the whole was a poor imitation of an American
hotel. During their stay the same commingling of usages and races
bewildered them; the shops were English and the clerks were commonly
French; the carriage-drivers were often Irish, and up and down the
streets with their pious old-fashioned names, tinkled American
horse-cars. Everywhere were churches and convents that recalled the
ecclesiastical and feudal origin of the city; the great tubular bridge,
the superb water-front with its long array of docks only surpassed by
those of Liverpool, the solid blocks of business houses, and the
substantial mansions on the quieter streets, proclaimed the succession of
Protestant thrift and energy.

Our friends cared far less for the modern splendor of Montreal than for
the remnants of its past, and for the features that identified it with
another faith and another people than their own. Isabel would almost have
confessed to any one of the black-robed priests upon the street; Basil
could easily have gone down upon his knees to the white-hooded,
pale-faced nuns gliding among the crowd. It was rapture to take a
carriage, and drive, not to the cemetery, not to the public library, not
to the rooms of the Young Men's Christian Association, or the grain
elevators, or the new park just tricked out with rockwork and sprigs of
evergreen,--not to any of the charming resorts of our own cities, but as
in Europe to the churches, the churches of a pitiless superstition, the
churches with their atrocious pictures and statues, their lingering smell
of the morning's incense, their confessionals, their fee-taking
sacristans, their worshippers dropped here and there upon their knees
about the aisles and saying their prayers with shut or wandering eyes
according as they were old women or young! I do not defend the feeble
sentimentality,--call it wickedness if you like,--but I understand it,
and I forgive it from my soul.

They went first, of course, to the French cathedral, pausing on their way
to alight and walk through the Bonsecours Market, where the habitans have
all come in their carts, with their various stores of poultry, fruit, and
vegetables, and where every cart is a study. Here is a simple-faced young
peasant-couple with butter and eggs and chickens ravishingly displayed;
here is a smooth-checked, blackeyed, black-haired young girl, looking as
if an infusion of Indian blood had darkened the red of her cheeks,
presiding over a stock of onions, potatoes, beets, and turnips; there an
old woman with a face carven like a walnut, behind a flattering array of
cherries and pears; yonder a whole family trafficking in loaves of
brown-bread and maple-sugar in many shapes of pious and grotesque device.
There are gay shows of bright scarfs and kerchiefs and vari-colored
yarns, and sad shows of old clothes and second-hand merchandise of other
sorts; but above all prevails the abundance of orchard and garden, while
within the fine edifice are the stalls of the butchers, and in the
basement below a world of household utensils, glass-ware, hard-ware, and
wooden-ware. As in other Latin countries, each peasant has given a
personal interest to his wares, but the bargains are not clamored over as
in Latin lands abroad. Whatever protest and concession and invocation of
the saints attend the transacting of business at Bonsecours Market are in
a subdued tone. The fat huckster-women drowsing beside their wares,
scarce send their voices beyond the borders of their broad-brimmed straw
hats, as they softly haggle with purchasers, or tranquilly gossip
together.

At the cathedral there are, perhaps, the worst paintings in the world,
and the massive pine-board pillars are unscrupulously smoked to look like
marble; but our tourists enjoyed it as if it had been St. Peter's; in
fact it has something of the barnlike immensity and impressiveness of St.
Peter's. They did not ask it to be beautiful or grand; they desired it
only to recall the beloved ugliness, the fondly cherished hideousness and
incongruity of the average Catholic churches of their remembrance, and it
did this and more: it added an effect of its own; it offered the
spectacle of a swarthy old Indian kneeling before the high altar, telling
his beads, and saying with many sighs and tears the prayers which it cost
so much martyrdom and heroism to teach his race. "O, it is only a savage
man," said the little French boy who was showing them the place,
impatient of their interest in a thing so unworthy as this groaning
barbarian. He ran swiftly about from object to object, rapidly lecturing
their inattention. "It is now time to go up into the tower," said he, and
they gladly made that toilsome ascent, though it is doubtful if the
ascent of towers is not too much like the ascent of mountains ever to be
compensatory. From the top of Notre Dame is certainly to be had a
prospect upon which, but for his fluttered nerves and trembling muscles
and troubled respiration, the traveller might well look with delight, and
as it is must behold with wonder. So far as the eye reaches it dwells
only upon what is magnificent. All the features of that landscape are
grand. Below you spreads the city, which has less that is merely mean in
it than any other city of our continent, and which is everywhere ennobled
by stately civic edifices, adorned by tasteful churches, and skirted by
full foliaged avenues of mansions and villas. Behind it rises the
beautiful mountain, green with woods and gardens to its crest, and
flanked on the east by an endless fertile plain, and on the west by
another expanse, through which the Ottawa rushes, turbid and dark, to its
confluence with the St. Lawrence. Then these two mighty streams
commingled flow past the city, lighting up the vast Champaign country to
the south, while upon the utmost southern verge, as on the northern, rise
the cloudy summits of far-off mountains.

As our travellers gazed upon all this grandeur, their hearts were humbled
to the tacit admission that the colonial metropolis was not only worthy
of its seat, but had traits of a solid prosperity not excelled by any of
the abounding and boastful cities of the Republic. Long before they
quitted Montreal they had rallied from this weakness, but they delighted
still to honor her superb beauty.

The tower is naturally bescribbled to its top with the names of those who
have climbed it, and most of these are Americans, who flock in great
numbers to Canada in summer. They modify its hotel life, and the objects
of interest thrive upon their bounty. Our friends met them at every turn,
and knew them at a glance from the native populations, who are also
easily distinguishable from each other. The French Canadians are nearly
always of a peasant-like commonness, or where they rise above this have a
bourgeois commonness of face and manner, and the English Canadians are to
be known from the many English sojourners by the effort to look much more
English than the latter. The social heart of the colony clings fast to
the mother-country, that is plain, whatever the political tendency may
be; and the public monuments and inscriptions celebrate this affectionate
union.

At the English cathedral the effect is deepened by the epitaphs of those
whose lives were passed in the joint service of England and her loyal
child; and our travellers, whatever their want of sympathy with the
sentiment, had to own to a certain beauty in that attitude of proud
reverence. Here, at least, was a people not cut off from its past, but
holding, unbroken in life and death, the ties which exist for us only in
history. It gave a glamour of olden time to the new land; it touched the
prosaic democratic present with the waning poetic light of the
aristocratic and monarchical tradition. There was here and there a title
on the tablets, and there was everywhere the formal language of loyalty
and of veneration for things we have tumbled into the dust. It is a
beautiful church, of admirable English Gothic; if you are so happy, you
are rather curtly told you may enter by a burly English figure in some
kind of sombre ecclesiastical drapery, and within its quiet precincts you
may feel yourself in England if you like,--which, for my part, I do not.
Neither did our friends enjoy it so much as the Church of the Jesuits,
with its more than tolerable painting, its coldly frescoed ceiling, its
architectural taste of subdued Renaissance, and its black-eyed
peasant-girl telling her beads before a side altar, just as in the
enviably deplorable countries we all love; nor so much even as the Irish
cathedral which they next visited. That is a very gorgeous cathedral
indeed, painted and gilded 'a merveille', and everywhere stuck about with
big and little saints and crucifixes, and pictures incredibly bad--but
for those in the French cathedral. There is, of course, a series
representing Christ's progress to Calvary; and there was a very tattered
old man,--an old man whose voice had been long ago drowned in whiskey,
and who now spoke in a ghostly whisper,--who, when he saw Basil's eye
fall upon the series, made him go the round of them, and tediously
explained them.

"Why did you let that old wretch bore you, and then pay him for it?"
Isabel asked.

"O, it reminded me so sweetly of the swindles of other lands and days,
that I couldn't help it," he answered; and straightway in the eyes of
both that poor, whiskeyfied, Irish tatterdemalion stood transfigured to
the glorious likeness of an Italian beggar.

They were always doing something of this kind, those absurdly sentimental
people, whom yet I cannot find it in my heart to blame for their folly,
though I could name ever so many reasons for rebuking it. Why, in fact,
should we wish to find America like Europe? Are the ruins and impostures
and miseries and superstitions which beset the traveller abroad so
precious, that he should desire to imagine them at every step in his own
hemisphere? Or have we then of our own no effective shapes of ignorance
and want and incredibility, that we must forever seek an alien contrast
to our native intelligence and comfort? Some such questions this guilty
couple put to each other, and then drove off to visit the convent of the
Gray Nuns with a joyful expectation which I suppose the prospect of the
finest public-school exhibition in Boston could never have inspired. But,
indeed, since there must be Gray Nuns, is it not well that there are
sentimentalists to take a mournful pleasure in their sad, pallid
existence?

The convent is at a good distance from the Irish cathedral, and in going
to it the tourists made their driver carry them through one of the few
old French streets which still remain in Montreal. Fires and improvements
had made havoc among the quaint horses since Basil's first visit; but at
last they came upon a narrow, ancient Rue Saint Antoine,--or whatever
other saint it was called after,--in which there was no English face or
house to be seen. The doors of the little one-story dwellings opened from
the pavement, and within you saw fat madame the mother moving about her
domestic affairs, and spare monsieur the elderly husband smoking beside
the open window; French babies crawled about the tidy floors; French
martyrs (let us believe Lalement or Brebeuf, who gave up their heroic
lives for the conversion of Canada) sifted their eyes in high-colored
lithographs on the wall; among the flower-pots in the dormer-window
looking from every tin roof sat and sewed a smooth haired young girl, I
hope,--the romance of each little mansion. The antique and foreign
character of the place was accented by the inscription upon a wall of
"Sirop adoucissant de Madame Winslow."

Ever since 1692 the Gray Nuns have made refuge within the ample borders
of their convent for infirm old people and for foundling children, and it
is now in the regular course of sight-seeing for the traveller to visit
their hospital at noonday, when he beholds the Sisters at their devotions
in the chapel. It is a bare, white-walled, cold-looking chapel, with the
usual paraphernalia of pictures and crucifixes. Seated upon low benches
on either side of the aisle were the curious or the devout; the former in
greater number and chiefly Americans, who were now and then whispered
silent by an old pauper zealous for the sanctity of the place. At the
stroke of twelve the Sisters entered two by two, followed by the
lady-superior with a prayerbook in her hand. She clapped the leaves of
this together in signal for them to kneel, to rise, to kneel again and
rise, while they repeated in rather harsh voices their prayers, and then
clattered out of the chapel as they had clattered in, with resounding
shoes. The two young girls at the head were very pretty, and all the pale
faces had a corpse-like peace. As Basil looked at their pensive sameness,
it seemed to him that those prettiest girls might very well be the twain
that he had seen here so many years ago, stricken forever young in their
joyless beauty. The ungraceful gowns of coarse gray, the blue checked
aprons, the black crape caps, were the same; they came and went with the
same quick tread, touching their brows with holy water and kneeling and
rising now as then with the same constrained and ordered movements. Would
it be too cruel if they were really the same persons? or would it be yet
more cruel if every year two girls so young and fair were self-doomed to
renew the likeness of that youthful death?

The visitors went about the hospital, and saw the old men and the little
children to whom these good pure lives were given, and they could only
blame the system, not the instruments or their work. Perhaps they did not
judge wisely of the amount of self-sacrifice involved, for they judged
from hearts to which love was the whole of earth and heaven; but
nevertheless they pitied the Gray Nuns amidst the unhomelike comfort of
their convent, the unnatural care of those alien little ones. Poor
'Soeurs Grises' in their narrow cells; at the bedside of sickness and age
and sorrow; kneeling with clasped hands and yearning eyes before the
bloody spectacle of the cross!--the power of your Church is shown far
more subtly and mightily in such as you, than in her grandest fanes or
the sight of her most august ceremonies, with praying priests, swinging
censers, tapers and pictures and images, under a gloomy heaven of
cathedral arches. There, indeed, the faithful have given their substance;
but here the nun has given up the most precious part of her woman's
nature, and all the tenderness that clings about the thought of wife and
mother.

"There are some things that always greatly afflict me in the idea of a
new country," said Basil, as they loitered slowly through the grounds of
the convent toward the gate. "Of course, it's absurd to think of men as
other than men, as having changed their natures with their skies; but a
new land always does seem at first thoughts like a new chance afforded
the race for goodness and happiness, for health and life. So I grieve for
the earliest dead at Plymouth more than for the multitude that the plague
swept away in London; I shudder over the crime of the first guilty man,
the sin of the first wicked woman in a new country; the trouble of the
first youth or maiden crossed in love there is intolerable. All should be
hope and freedom and prosperous life upon that virgin soil. It never was
so since Eden; but none the less I feel it ought to be; and I am
oppressed by the thought that among the earliest walls which rose upon
this broad meadow of Montreal were those built to immure the innocence of
such young girls as these and shut them from the life we find so fair.
Wouldn't you like to know who was the first that took the veil in this
wild new country? Who was she, poor soul, and what was her deep sorrow or
lofty rapture? You can fancy her some Indian maiden lured to the
renunciation by the splendor of symbols and promises seen vaguely through
the lingering mists of her native superstitions; or some weary soul, sick
from the vanities and vices, the bloodshed and the tears of the Old
World, and eager for a silence profounder than that of the wilderness
into which she had fled. Well, the Church knows and God. She was dust
long ago."

From time to time there had fallen little fitful showers during the
morning. Now as the wedding-journeyers passed out of the convent gate the
rain dropped soft and thin, and the gray clouds that floated through the
sky so swiftly were as far-seen Gray Sisters in flight for heaven.

"We shall have time for the drive round the mountain before dinner," said
Basil, as they got into their carriage again; and he was giving the order
to the driver, when Isabel asked how far it was.

"Nine miles."

"O, then we can't think of going with one horse. You know," she added,
"that we always intended to have two horses for going round the
mountain."

"No," said Basil, not yet used to having his decisions reached without
his knowledge. "And I don't see why we should. Everybody goes with one.
You don't suppose we're too heavy, do you?"

"I had a party from the States, ma'am, yesterday," interposed the driver;
"two ladies, real heavy apes, two gentlemen, weighin' two hundred apiece,
and a stout young man on the box with me. You'd 'a' thought the horse was
drawin' an empty carriage, the way she darted along."

"Then his horse must be perfectly worn out to-day," said Isabel, refusing
to admit the pool fellow directly even to the honors of a defeat. He had
proved too much, and was put out of court with no hope of repairing his
error.

"Why, it seems a pity," whispered Basil, dispassionately, "to turn this
man adrift, when he had a reasonable hope of being with us all day, and
has been so civil and obliging."

"O yes, Basil, sentimentalize him, do! Why don't you sentimentalize his
helpless, overworked horse?--all in a reek of perspiration."

"Perspiration! Why, my dear, it 's the rain!"

"Well, rain or shine, darling, I don't want to go round the mountain with
one horse; and it 's very unkind of you to insist now, when you've
tacitly promised me all along to take two."

"Now, this is a little too much, Isabel. You know we never mentioned the
matter till this moment."

"It 's the same as a promise, your not saying you wouldn't. But I don't
ask you to keep your word. I don't want to go round the mountain. I'd
much rather go to the hotel. I'm tired."

"Very well, then, Isabel, I'll leave you at the hotel."

In a moment it had come, the first serious dispute of their wedded life.
It had come as all such calamities come, from nothing, and it was on them
in full disaster ere they knew. Such a very little while ago, there in
the convent garden, their lives had been drawn closer in sympathy than
ever before; and now that blessed time seemed ages since, and they were
further asunder than those who have never been friends. "I thought,"
bitterly mused Isabel, "that he would have done anything for me." "Who
could have dreamed that a woman of her sense would be so unreasonable,"
he wondered. Both had tempers, as I know my dearest reader has (if a
lady), and neither would yield; and so, presently, they could hardly tell
how, for they were aghast at it all, Isabel was alone in her room amidst
the ruins of her life, and Basil alone in the one-horse carriage, trying
to drive away from the wreck of his happiness. All was over; the dream
was past; the charm was broken. The sweetness of their love was turned to
gall; whatever had pleased them in their loving moods was loathsome now,
and the things they had praised a moment before were hateful. In that
baleful light, which seemed to dwell upon all they ever said or did in
mutual enjoyment, how poor and stupid and empty looked their
wedding-journey! Basil spent five minutes in arraigning his wife and
convicting her of every folly and fault. His soul was in a whirl,

     "For to be wroth with one we love
     Doth work like madness in the brain."

In the midst of his bitter and furious upbraidings he found himself
suddenly become her ardent advocate, and ready to denounce her judge as a
heartless monster. "On our wedding journey, too! Good heavens, what an
incredible brute I am!" Then he said, "What an ass I am!" And the pathos
of the case having yielded to its absurdity, he was helpless. In five
minutes more he was at Isabel's side, the one-horse carriage driver
dismissed with a handsome pour-boire, and a pair of lusty bays with a
glittering barouche waiting at the door below. He swiftly accounted for
his presence, which she seemed to find the most natural thing that could
be, and she met his surrender with the openness of a heart that forgives
but does not forget, if indeed the most gracious art is the only one
unknown to the sex.

She rose with a smile from the ruins of her life, amidst which she had
heart-brokenly sat down with all her things on. "I knew you'd come back,"
she said.

"So did I," he answered. "I am much too good and noble to sacrifice my
preference to my duty."

"I didn't care particularly for the two horses, Basil," she said, as they
descended to the barouche. "It was your refusing them that hurt me."

"And I didn't want the one-horse carriage. It was your insisting so that
provoked me."

"Do you think people ever quarreled before on a wedding journey?" asked
Isabel as they drove gayly out of the city.

"Never! I can't conceive of it. I suppose if this were written down,
nobody would believe it."

"No, nobody could," said Isabel, musingly, and she added after a pause,
"I wish you would tell me just what you thought of me, dearest. Did you
feel as you did when our little affair was broken off, long ago? Did you
hate me?"

"I did, most cordially; but not half so much as I despised myself the
next moment. As to its being like a lover's quarrel, it wasn't. It was
more bitter, so much more love than lovers ever give had to be taken
back. Besides, it had no dignity, and a lover's quarrel always has. A
lover's quarrel always springs from a more serious cause, and has an air
of romantic tragedy. This had no grace of the kind. It was a poor shabby
little squabble."

"O, don't call it so, Basil! I should like you to respect even a quarrel
of ours more than that. It was tragical enough with me, for I didn't see
how it could ever be made up. I knew I couldn't make the advances. I
don't think it is quite feminine to be the first to forgive, is it?"

"I'm sure I can't say. Perhaps it would be rather unladylike."

"Well, you see, dearest, what I am trying to get at is this: whether we
shall love each other the more or the less for it. I think we shall get
on all the better for a while, on account of it. But I should have said
it was totally out of character it's something you might have expected of
a very young bridal couple; but after what we've been through, it seems
too improbable."

"Very well," said Basil, who, having made all the concessions, could not
enjoy the quarrel as she did, simply because it was theirs; "let 's
behave as if it had never been."

"O no, we can't. To me, it's as if we had just won each other."

In fact it gave a wonderful zest and freshness to that ride round the
mountain, and shed a beneficent glow upon the rest of their journey. The
sun came out through the thin clouds, and lighted up the vast plain that
swept away north and east, with the purple heights against the eastern
sky. The royal mountain lifted its graceful mass beside them, and hid the
city wholly from sight. Peasant-villages, in the shade of beautiful elms,
dotted the plain in every direction, and at intervals crept up to the
side of the road along which they drove. But these had been corrupted by
a more ambitious architecture since Basil saw them last, and were no
longer purely French in appearance. Then, nearly every house was a
tannery in a modest way, and poetically published the fact by the display
of a sheep's tail over the front door, like a bush at a wine-shop. Now,
if the tanneries still existed, the poetry of the cheeps' tails had
vanished from the portals. But our friends were consoled by meeting
numbers of the peasants jolting home from market in the painted carts,
which are doubtless of the pattern of the carts first built there two
hundred years ago. They were grateful for the immortal old wooden,
crooked and brown with the labor of the fields, who abounded in these
vehicles; when a huge girl jumped from the tail of her cart, and showed
the thick, clumsy ankles of a true peasant-maid, they could only sigh out
their unspeakable satisfaction.

Gardens embowered and perfumed the low cottages, through the open doors
of which they could see the exquisite neatness of the life within. One of
the doors opened into a school-house, where they beheld with rapture the
school-mistress, book in hand, and with a quaint cap on her gray head,
and encircled by her flock of little boys and girls.

By and by it began to rain again; and now while their driver stopped to
put up the top of the barouche, they entered a country church which had
taken their fancy, and walked up the aisle with the steps that blend with
silence rather than break it, while they heard only the soft whisper of
the shower without. There was no one there but themselves. The urn of
holy water seemed not to have been troubled that day, and no penitent
knelt at the shrine, before which twinkled so faintly one lighted lamp.
The white roof swelled into dim arches over their heads; the pale day
like a visible hush stole through the painted windows; they heard
themselves breathe as they crept from picture to picture.

A narrow door opened at the side of the high altar, and a slender young
priest appeared in a long black robe, and with shaven head. He, too as he
moved with noiseless feet, seemed a part of the silence; and when he
approached with dreamy black eyes fixed upon them, and bowed courteously,
it seemed impossible he should speak. But he spoke, the pale young
priest, the dark-robed tradition, the tonsured vision of an age and a
church that are passing.

"Do you understand French, monsieur?"

"A very little, monsieur."

"A very little is more than my English," he said, yet he politely went
the round of the pictures with them, and gave them the names of the
painters between his crossings at the different altars. At the high altar
there was a very fair Crucifixion; before this the priest bent one knee.
"Fine picture, fine altar, fine church," he said in English. At last they
stopped next the poor-box. As their coins clinked against those within,
he smiled serenely upon the good heretics. Then he bowed, and, as if he
had relapsed into the past, he vanished through the narrow door by which
he had entered.

Basil and Isabel stood speechless a moment on the church steps. Then she
cried,

"O, why didn't something happen?"

"Ah, my dear! what could have keen half so good as the nothing that did
happen? Suppose we knew him to have taken orders because of a
disappointment in love: how common it would have made him; everybody has
been crossed in love once or twice." He bade the driver take them back to
the hotel. "This is the very bouquet of adventure why should we care for
the grosser body? I dare say if we knew all about yonder pale young
priest, we should not think him half so interesting as we do now."

At dinner they spent the intervals of the courses in guessing the
nationality of the different persons, and in wondering if the Canadians
did not make it a matter of conscientious loyalty to out-English the
English even in the matter of pale-ale and sherry, and in rotundity of
person and freshness of face, just as they emulated them in the cut of
their clothes and whiskers. Must they found even their health upon the
health of the mother-country?

Our friends began to detect something servile in it all, and but that
they were such amiable persons, the loyally perfect digestion of Montreal
would have gone far to impair their own.

The loyalty, which had already appeared to them in the cathedral,
suggested itself in many ways upon the street, when they went out after
dinner to do that little shopping which Isabel had planned to do in
Montreal. The booksellers' windows were full of Canadian editions of our
authors, and English copies of English works, instead of our pirated
editions; the dry-goods stores were gay with fabrics in the London taste
and garments of the London shape; here was the sign of a photographer to
the Queen, there of a hatter to H. R. H. the Prince of Wales; a barber
was "under the patronage of H. R. H. the Prince of Wales, H. E. the Duke
of Cambridge, and the gentry of Montreal." 'Ich dien' was the motto of a
restaurateur; a hosier had gallantly labeled his stock in trade with
'Honi soit qui mal y pense'. Again they noted the English solidity of the
civic edifices, and already they had observed in the foreign population a
difference from that at home. They saw no German faces on the streets,
and the Irish faces had not that truculence which they wear sometimes
with us. They had not lost their native simpleness and kindliness; the
Irishmen who drove the public carriages were as civil as our own Boston
hackmen, and behaved as respectfully under the shadow of England here, as
they world have done under it in Ireland. The problem which vexes us
seems to have been solved pleasantly enough in Canada. Is it because the
Celt cannot brook equality; and where he has not an established and
recognized caste above him, longs to trample on those about him; and if
he cannot be lowest, will at least be highest?

However, our friends did not suffer this or any other advantage of the
colonial relation to divert them from the opinion to which their
observation was gradually bringing them,--that its overweening loyalty
placed a great country like Canada in s very silly attitude, the attitude
of an overgrown, unmanly boy, clinging to the maternal skirts, and though
spoilt and willful, without any character of his own. The constant
reference of local hopes to that remote centre beyond seas, the test of
success by the criterions of a necessarily different civilization, the
social and intellectual dependence implied by traits that meet the most
hurried glance in the Dominion, give an effect of meanness to the whole
fabric. Doubtless it is a life of comfort, of peace, of irresponsibility
they live there, but it lacks the grandeur which no sum of material
prosperity can give; it is ignoble, like all voluntarily subordinate
things. Somehow, one feels that it has no basis in the New World, and
that till it is shaken loose from England it cannot have.

It would be a pity, however, if it should be parted from the parent
country merely to be joined to an unsympathetic half-brother like
ourselves and nothing, fortunately, seems to be further from the Canadian
mind. There are some experiments no longer possible to us which could
still be tried there to the advantage of civilization, and we were better
two great nations side by side than a union of discordant traditions and
ideas. But none the less does the American traveller, swelling with
forgetfulness of the shabby despots who govern New York, and the
swindling railroad kings whose word is law to the whole land, feel like
saying to the hulling young giant beyond St. Lawrence and the Lakes,
"Sever the apron-strings of allegiance, and try to be yourself whatever
you are."

Something of this sort Basil said, though of course not in apostrophic
phrase, nor with Isabel's entire concurrence, when he explained to her
that it was to the colonial dependence of Canada she owed the ability to
buy things so cheaply there.

The fact is that the ladies' parlor at the hotel had been after dinner no
better than a den of smugglers, in which the fair contrabandists had
debated the best means of evading the laws of their country. At heart
every man is a smuggler, and how much more every woman! She would have no
scruple in ruining the silk and woolen interest throughout the United
States. She is a free-trader by intuitive perception of right, and is
limited in practice by nothing but fear of the statute. What could be
taken into the States without detection, was the subject before that
wicked conclave; and next, what it would pay to buy in Canada. It seemed
that silk umbrellas were most eligible wares; and in the display of such
purchases the parlor was given the appearance of a violent thunder-storm.
Gloves it was not advisable to get; they were better at home, as were
many kinds of fine woolen goods. But laces, which you could carry about
you, were excellent; and so was any kind of silk. Could it be carried if
simply cut, and not made up? There was a difference about this: the
friend of one lady had taken home half a trunkful of cut silks; the
friend of another had "run up the breadths" of one lone little silk
skirt, and then lost it by the rapacity of the customs officers. It was
pretty much luck, and whether the officers happened to be in good-humor
or not. You must not try to take in anything out of season, however. One
had heard of a Boston lady going home in July, who "had the furs taken
off her back," in that inclement month. Best get everything seasonable,
and put it on at once. "And then, you know, if they ask you, you can say
it's been worn." To this black wisdom came the combined knowledge of
those miscreants. Basil could not repress a shudder at the innate
depravity of the female heart. Here were virgins nurtured in the most
spotless purity of life, here were virtuous mothers of families, here
were venerable matrons, patterns in society and the church,--smugglers to
a woman, and eager for any guilty subterfuge! He glanced at Isabel to see
what effect the evil conversation had upon her. Her eyes sparkled; her
cheeks glowed; all the woman was on fire for smuggling. He sighed heavily
and went out with her to do the little shopping.

Shall I follow them upon their excursion? Shopping in Montreal is very
much what it is in Boston or New York, I imagine, except that the clerks
have a more honeyed sweetness of manners towards the ladies of our
nation, and are surprisingly generous constructionists of our revenue
laws. Isabel had profited by every word that she had heard in the ladies'
parlor, and she would not venture upon unsafe ground; but her tender eyes
looked her unutterable longing to believe in the charming possibilities
that the clerks suggested. She bemoaned herself before the corded silks,
which there was no time to have made up; the piece-velvets and the linens
smote her to the heart. But they also stimulated her invention, and she
bought and bought of the made-up wares in real or fancied needs, till
Basil represented that neither their purses nor their trunks could stand
any more. "O, don't be troubled about the trunks, dearest," she cried,
with that gayety which nothing but shopping can kindle in a woman's
heart; while he faltered on from counter to counter, wondering at which
he should finally swoon from fatigue. At last, after she had declared
repeatedly, "There, now, I am done," she briskly led the way back to the
hotel to pack up her purchases.

Basil parted with her at the door. He was a man of high principle
himself, and that scene in the smugglers' den, and his wife's preparation
for transgression, were revelations for which nothing could have consoled
him but a paragon umbrella for five dollars, and an excellent business
suit of Scotch goods for twenty.

When some hours later he sat with Isabel on the forward promenade of the
steamboat for Quebec, and summed up the profits of their shopping, they
were both in the kindliest mood towards the poor Canadians, who had built
the admirable city before them.

For miles the water front of Montreal is superbly faced with quays and
locks of solid stone masonry, and thus she is clean and beautiful to the
very feet. Stately piles of architecture, instead of the foul old
tumble-down warehouses that dishonor the waterside in most cities, rise
from the broad wharves; behind these spring the twin towers of Notre
Dame, and the steeples of the other churches above the city roofs.

"It's noble, yes, it's noble, after the best that Europe can show," said
Isabel, with enthusiasm; "and what a pleasant day we've had here! Doesn't
even our quarrel show 'couleur de rose' in this light?"

"One side of it," answered Basil, dreamily, "but all the rest is black."

"What do you mean, my dear?"

"Why, the Nelson Monument, with the sunset on it at the head of the
street there."

The affect was so fine that Isabel could not be angry with him for
failing to heed what she had said, and she mused a moment with him.

"It seems rather far-fetched," she said presently, "to erect a monument
to Nelson in Montreal, doesn't it? But then, it's a very absurd monument
when you're near it," she added, thoughtfully.

Basil did not answer at once, for gazing on this Nelson column in Jacques
Cartier Square, his thoughts wandered away, not to the hero of the Nile,
but to the doughty old Breton navigator, the first white man who ever set
foot upon that shore, and who more than three hundred years ago explored
the St. Lawrence as far as Montreal, and in the splendid autumn weather
climbed to the top of her green height and named it. The scene that
Jacques Cartier then beheld, like a mirage of the fast projected upon the
present, floated before him, and he saw at the mountain's foot the Indian
city of Hochelaga, with its vast and populous lodges of bark, its
encircling palisades, and its wide outlying fields of yellow maize. He
heard with Jacques Cartier's sense the blare of his followers' trumpets
down in the open square of the barbarous city, where the soldiers of many
an Old-World fight, "with mustached lip and bearded chin, with arquebuse
and glittering halberd, helmet, and cuirass," moved among the plumed and
painted savages; then he lifted Jacques Cartier's eyes, and looked out
upon the magnificent landscape. "East, wept, and north, the mantling
forest was over all, and the broad blue ribbon of the great river
glistened amid a realm of verdure. Beyond, to the bounds of Mexico,
stretched a leafy desert, and the vast hive of industry, the mighty
battle-ground of late; centuries, lay sunk in savage torpor, wrapped in
illimitable woods."

A vaguer picture of Champlain, who, seeking a westward route to China and
the East, some three quarters of a century later, had fixed the first
trading-post at Montreal, and camped upon the spot where the convent of
the Gray Nuns now stands, appeared before him, and vanished with all its
fleets of fur-traders' boats and hunters' birch canoes, and the
watch-fires of both; and then in the sweet light of the spring morning,
he saw Maisonneuve leaping ashore upon the green meadows, that spread all
gay with early flowers where Hochelaga once stood, and with the
black-robed Jesuits, the high-born, delicately nurtured, and devoted
nuns, and the steel-clad soldiers of his train, kneeling about the altar
raised there in the wilderness, and silent amidst the silence of nature
at the lifted Host.

He painted a semblance of all this for Isabel, using the colors of the
historian who has made these scenes the beautiful inheritance of all
dream era, and sketched the battles, the miracles, the sufferings, and
the penances through which the pious colony was preserved and prospered,
till they both grew impatient of modern Montreal, and would fain have had
the ancient Villemarie back in its place.

"Think of Maisonneuve, dearest, climbing in midwinter to the top of the
mountain there, under a heavy cross set with the bones of saints, and
planting it on the summit, in fulfillment of a vow to do so if Villemarie
were saved from the freshet; and then of Madame de la Peltrie
romantically receiving the sacrament there, while all Villemarie fell
down adoring! Ah, that was a picturesque people! When did ever a Boston
governor climb to the top of Beacon hill in fulfillment of a vow? To be
sure, we may yet see a New York governor doing something of the kind--if
he can find a hill. But this ridiculous column to Nelson, who never had
anything to do with Montreal," he continued; "it really seems to me the
perfect expression of snobbish colonial dependence and sentimentality,
seeking always to identify itself with the mother-country, and ignoring
the local past and its heroic figures. A column to Nelson in Jacques
Cartier Square, on the ground that was trodden by Champlain, and won for
its present masters by the death of Wolfe."

The boat departed on her trip to Quebec. During supper they were served
by French waiters, who, without apparent English of their own,
miraculously understood that of the passengers, except in the case of the
furious gentleman who wanted English breakfast tea; to so much English as
that their inspiration did not reach, and they forced him to compromise
on coffee. It was a French boat, owned by a French company, and seemed to
be officered by Frenchmen throughout; certainly, as our tourists in the
joy of their good appetites affirmed, the cook was of that culinarily
delightful nation.

The boat was almost as large as those of the Hudson, but it was not so
lavishly splendid, though it had everything that could minister to the
comfort and self-respect of the passengers. These were of all nations,
but chiefly Americans, with some French Canadians. The former gathered on
the forward promenade, enjoying what little of the landscape the growing
night left visible, and the latter made society after their manner in the
saloon. They were plain-looking men and women, mostly, and provincial, it
was evident, to their inmost hearts; provincial in origin, provincial by
inheritance, by all their circumstances, social and political. Their
relation with France was not a proud one, but it was not like submersion
by the slip-slop of English colonial loyalty; yet they seem to be
troubled by no memories of their hundred years' dominion of the land that
they rescued from, the wilderness, and that was wrested from them by war.
It is a strange fate for any people thus to have been cut off from the
parent-country, and abandoned to whatever destiny their conquerors chose
to reserve for them; and if each of the race wore the sadness and
strangeness of that fate in his countenance it would not be wonderful.
Perhaps it is wonderful that none of them shows anything of the kind. In
their desertion they have multiplied and prospered; they may have a
national grief, but they hide it well; and probably they have none.

Later, one of them appeared to Isabel in the person of the pale, slender
young ecclesiastic who had shown her and Basil the pictures in the
country church. She was confessing to the priest, and she was not at all
surprised to find that he was Basil in a suit of medieval armor. He had
an immense cross on his shoulder.

"To get this cross to the top of the mountain," thought Isabel, "we must
have two horses. Basil," she added, aloud, "we must have two horses!"

"Ten, if you like, my dear," answered his voice, cheerfully, "though I
think we'd better ride up in the omnibus."

She opened her eyes, and saw him smiling.

"We're in sight of Quebec," he said. "Come out as soon as you can,--come
out into the seventeenth century."



IX. QUEBEC.

Isabel hurried out upon the forward promenade, where all the other
passengers seemed to be assembled, and beheld a vast bulk of gray and
purple rock, swelling two hundred feet up from the mists of the river,
and taking the early morning light warm upon its face and crown.
Black-hulked, red-illumined Liverpool steamers, gay river-craft and ships
of every sail and flag, filled the stream athwart which the ferries sped
their swift traffic-laden shuttles; a lower town hung to the foot of the
rock, and crept, populous and picturesque, up its sides; from the massive
citadel on its crest flew the red banner of Saint George, and along its
brow swept the gray wall of the famous, heroic, beautiful city,
overtopped by many a gleaming spire and antique roof.

Slowly out of our work-day, business-suited, modern world the vessel
steamed up to this city of an olden time and another ideal,--to her who
was a lady from the first, devout and proud and strong, and who still,
after two hundred and fifty years, keeps perfect the image and memory of
the feudal past from which she sprung. Upon her height she sits unique;
and when you say Quebec, having once beheld her, you invoke a sense of
medieval strangeness and of beauty which the name of no other city could
intensify.

As they drew near the steamboat wharf they saw, swarming over a broad
square, a market beside which the Bonsecours Market would have shown as
common as the Quincy, and up the odd wooden-sidewalked street stretched
an aisle of carriages and those high swung calashes, which are to Quebec
what the gondolas are to Venice. But the hand of destiny was upon our
tourists, and they rode up town in an omnibus. They were going to the
dear old Hotel Musty in Street, wanting which Quebec is not to be thought
of without a pang. It is now closed, and Prescott Gate, through which
they drove into the Upper Town, has been demolished since the summer of
last year. Swiftly whirled along the steep winding road, by those Quebec
horses which expect to gallop up hill whatever they do going down, they
turned a corner of the towering weed-grown rock, and shot in under the
low arch of the gate, pierced with smaller doorways for the
foot-passengers. The gloomy masonry dripped with damp, the doors were
thickly studded with heavy iron spikes; old cannon, thrust endwise into
the ground at the sides of the gate, protected it against passing wheels.
Why did not some semi-forbidding commissary of police, struggling hard to
overcome his native politeness, appear and demand their passports? The
illusion was otherwise perfect, and it needed but this touch. How often
in the adored Old World, which we so love and disapprove, had they driven
in through such gates at that morning hour! On what perverse pretext,
then, was it not some ancient town of Normandy?

"Put a few enterprising Americans in here, and they'd soon rattle this
old wall down and let in a little fresh air!" said a patriotic voice at
Isabel's elbow, and continued to find fault with the narrow irregular
streets, the huddling gables, the quaint roofs, through which and under
which they drove on to the hotel.

As they dashed into a broad open square, "Here is the French Cathedral;
there is the Upper Town Market; yonder are the Jesuit Barracks!" cried
Basil; and they had a passing glimpse of gray stone towers at one side of
the square, and a low, massive yellow building at the other, and, between
the two, long ranks of carts, and fruit and vegetable stands, protected
by canvas awnings and broad umbrellas. Then they dashed round the corner
of a street, and drew up before the hotel door. The low ceilings, the
thick walls, the clumsy wood-work, the wandering corridors, gave the
hotel all the desired character of age, and its slovenly state bestowed
an additional charm. In another place they might have demanded neatness,
but in Quebec they would almost have resented it. By a chance they had
the best room in the house, but they held it only till certain people who
had engaged it by telegraph should arrive in the hourly expected steamer
from Liverpool; and, moreover, the best room at Hotel Musty was
consolingly bad. The house was very full, and the Ellisons (who had come
on with them from Montreal) were bestowed in less state only on like
conditions.

The travellers all met at breakfast, which was admirably cooked, and well
served, with the attendance of those swarms of flies which infest Quebec.
and especially infested the old Musty House, in summer. It had, of
course, the attraction of broiled salmon, upon which the traveller
breakfasts every day as long as he remains in Lower Canada; and it
represented the abundance of wild berries in the Quebec market; and it
was otherwise a breakfast worthy of the appetites that honored it.

There were not many other Americans besides themselves at this hotel,
which seemed, indeed, to be kept open to oblige such travellers as had
been there before, and could not persuade themselves to try the new Hotel
St. Louis, whither the vastly greater number resorted. Most of the faces
our tourists saw were English or English-Canadian, and the young people
from Omaha; who had got here by some chance, were scarcely in harmony
with the place. They appeared to be a bridal party, but which of the two
sisters, in buff linen 'clad from head to foot' was the bride, never
became known. Both were equally free with the husband, and he was
impartially fond of both: it was quite a family affair.

For a moment Isabel harbored the desire to see the city in company with
Miss Ellison; but it was only a passing weakness. She remembered directly
the coolness between friends which she had seen caused by objects of
interest in Europe, and she wisely deferred a more intimate acquaintance
till it could have a purely social basis. After all, nothing is so
tiresome as continual exchange of sympathy or so apt to end in mutual
dislike,--except gratitude. So the ladies parted friends till dinner, and
drove off in separate carriages.

As in other show cities, there is a routine at Quebec for travellers who
come on Saturday and go on Monday, and few depart from it. Our friends
necessarily, therefore, drove first to the citadel. It was raining one of
those cold rains by which the scarce-banished winter reminds the Canadian
fields of his nearness even in midsummer, though between the bitter
showers the air was sultry and close; and it was just the light in which
to see the grim strength of the fortress next strongest to Gibraltar in
the world. They passed a heavy iron gateway, and up through a winding
lane of masonry to the gate of the citadel, where they were delivered
into the care of Private Joseph Drakes, who was to show them such parts
of the place as are open to curiosity. But, a citadel which has never
stood a siege, or been threatened by any danger more serious than
Fenianism, soon becomes, however strong, but a dull piece of masonry to
the civilian; and our tourists more rejoiced in the crumbling fragment of
the old French wall which the English destroyed than in all they had
built; and they valued the latter work chiefly for the glorious prospects
of the St. Lawrence and its mighty valleys which it commanded. Advanced
into the centre of an amphitheatre inconceivably vast, that enormous beak
of rock overlooks the narrow angle of the river, and then, in every
direction, immeasurable stretches of gardened vale, and wooded upland,
till all melts into the purple of the encircling mountains. Far and near
are lovely white villages nestling under elms, in the heart of fields and
meadows; and everywhere the long, narrow, accurately divided farms
stretch downward to the river-shores. The best roads on the continent
make this beauty and richness accessible; each little village boasts some
natural wonder in stream, or lake, or cataract: and this landscape,
magnificent beyond any in eastern America, is historical and interesting
beyond all others. Hither came Jacques Cartier three hundred and fifty
years ago, and wintered on the low point there by the St. Charles; here,
nearly a century after, but still fourteen years before the landing at
Plymouth, Champlain founded the missionary city of Quebec; round this
rocky beak came sailing the half-piratical armament of the Calvinist
Kirks in 1629, and seized Quebec in the interest of the English, holding
it three years; in the Lower Town, yonder, first landed the coldly
welcomed Jesuits, who came with the returning French and made Quebec
forever eloquent of their zeal, their guile, their heroism; at the foot
of this rock lay the fleet of Sir William Phipps, governor of
Massachusetts, and vainly assailed it in 1698; in 1759 came Wolfe and
embattled all the region, on river and land, till at last the bravely
defended city fell into his dying hand on the Plains of Abraham; here
Montgomery laid down his life at the head of the boldest and most
hopeless effort of our War of Independence.

Private Joseph Drakes, with the generosity of an enemy expecting
drink-money, pointed out the sign, board on the face of the crag
commemorating 'Montgomery's death'; and then showed them the officers'
quarters and those of the common soldiers, not far from which was a line
of hang-dog fellows drawn up to receive sentence for divers small
misdemeanors, from an officer whose blond whiskers drooped Dundrearily
from his fresh English cheeks. There was that immense difference between
him and the men in physical grandeur and beauty, which is so notable in
the aristocratically ordered military services of Europe, and which makes
the rank seem of another race from the file. Private Drakes saluted his
superior, and visibly deteriorated in his presence, though his breast was
covered with medals, and he had fought England's battles in every part of
the world. It was a gross injustice, the triumph of a thousand years of
wrong; and it was touching to have Private Drakes say that he expected in
three months to begin life for himself, after twenty years' service of
the Queen; and did they think he could get anything to do in the States?
He scarcely knew what he was fit for, but he thought--to so little in him
came the victories he had helped to win in the Crimea, in China, and in
India--that he coald take care of a gentleman's horse and work about his
place. He looked inquiringly at Basil, as if he might be a gentleman with
a horse to be taken care of and a place to be worked about, and made him
regret that he was not a man of substance enough to provide for Private
Drakes and Mrs. Drakes and the brood of Ducklings, who had been shown to
him stowed away in one of those cavernous rooms in the earthworks where
the married soldiers have their quarters. His regret enriched the reward
of Private Drakes' service,--which perhaps answered one of Private
Drakes' purposes, if not his chief aim. He promised to come to the States
upon the pressing advice of Isabel, who, speaking from her own large
experience, declared that everybody got on there,--and he bade our
friends an affectionate farewell as they drove away to the Plains of
Abraham.

The fashionable suburban cottages and places of Quebec are on the St.
Louis Road leading northward to the old battle-ground and beyond it; but,
these face chiefly towards the rivers St. Lawrence and St. Charles, and
lofty hedges and shrubbery hide them in an English seclusion from the
highway; so that the visitor may uninterruptedly meditate whatever
emotion he will for the scene of Wolfe's death as he rides along. His
loftiest emotion will want the noble height of that heroic soul, who must
always stand forth in history a figure of beautiful and singular
distinction, admirable alike for the sensibility and daring, the poetic
pensiveness, and the martial ardor that mingled in him and taxed his
feeble frame with tasks greater than it could bear. The whole story of
the capture of Quebec is full of romantic splendor and pathos. Her fall
was a triumph for all the English-speaking race, and to us Americans,
long scourged by the cruel Indian wars plotted within her walls or
sustained by her strength, such a blessing as was hailed with ringing
bells and blazing bonfires throughout the Colonies; yet now we cannot
think without pity of the hopes extinguished and the labors brought to
naught in her overthrow. That strange colony of priests and soldiers, of
martyrs and heroes, of which she was the capital, willing to perish for
an allegiance to which the mother-country was indifferent, and fighting
against the armies with which England was prepared to outnumber the whole
Canadian population, is a magnificent spectacle; and Montcalm laying down
his life to lose Quebec is not less affecting than Wolfe dying to win
her. The heart opens towards the soldier who recited, on the eve of his
costly victory, the "Elegy in a Country Churchyard," which he would
"rather have written than beat the French to-morrow;" but it aches for
the defeated general, who, hurt to death, answered, when told how brief
his time was, "So much the better; then I shall not live to see the
surrender of Quebec."

In the city for which they perished their fame has never been divided.
The English have shown themselves very generous victors; perhaps nothing
could be alleged against them, but that they were victors. A shaft common
to Wolfe and Montcalm celebrates them both in the Governor's Garden; and
in the Chapel of the Ursuline Convent a tablet is placed, where Montcalm
died, by the same conquerors who raised to Wolfe's memory the column on
the battle-field.

A dismal prison covers the ground where the hero fell, and the monument
stands on the spot where Wolfe breathed his last, on ground lower than
the rest of the field; the friendly hollow that sheltered him from the
fire of the French dwarfs his monument; yet it is sufficient, and the
simple inscription, "Here died Wolfe victorious," gives it a dignity
which many cubits of added stature could not bestow. Another of those
bitter showers, which had interspersed the morning's sunshine, drove
suddenly across the open plain, and our tourists comfortably
sentimentalized the scene behind the close-drawn curtains of their
carriage. Here a whole empire had been lost and won, Basil reminded
Isabel; and she said, "Only think of it!" and looked to a wandering fold
of her skirt, upon which the rain beat through a rent of the curtain.

Do I pitch the pipe too low? We poor honest men are at a sad
disadvantage; and now and then I am minded to give a loose to fancy, and
attribute something really grand and fine to my people, in order to make
them worthier the reader's respected acquaintance. But again, I forbid
myself in a higher interest; and I am afraid that even if I were less
virtuous, I could not exalt their mood upon a battle-field; for of all
things of the past a battle is the least conceivable. I have heard men
who fought in many battles say that the recollection was like a dream to
them; and what can the merely civilian imagination do on the Plains of
Abraham, with the fact that there, more than a century ago, certain
thousands of Frenchmen marched out, on a bright September morning, to
kill and maim as many Englishmen? This ground, so green and oft with
grass beneath the feet, was it once torn with shot and soaked with the
blood of men? Did they lie here in ranks and heaps, the miserable slain,
for whom tender hearts away yonder over the sea were to ache and break?
Did the wretches that fell wounded stretch themselves here, and writhe
beneath the feet of friend and foe, or crawl array for shelter into
little hollows, and behind gushes and fallen trees! Did he, whose soul
was so full of noble and sublime impulses, die here, shot through like
some ravening beast? The loathsome carnage, the shrieks, the hellish din
of arms, the cries of victory,--I vainly strive to conjure up some image
of it all now; and God be thanked, horrible spectre! that, fill the world
with sorrow as thou wilt, thou still remainest incredible in its moments
of sanity and peace. Least credible art thou on the old battle-fields,
where the mother of the race denies thee with breeze and sun and leaf and
bird, and every blade of grass! The red stain in Basil's thought yielded
to the rain sweeping across the pasture-land from which it had long since
faded, and the words on the monument, "Here died Wolfe victorious," did
not proclaim his bloody triumph over the French, but his self-conquest,
his victory over fear and pain and love of life. Alas! when shall the
poor, blind, stupid world honor those who renounce self in the joy of
their kind, equally with those who devote themselves through the anguish
and loss of thousands? So old a world and groping still!

The tourists were better fitted for the next occasion of sentiment, which
was at the Hotel Dieu whither they went after returning from the
battlefield. It took all the mal-address of which travellers are masters
to secure admittance, and it was not till they had rung various wrong
bells, and misunderstood many soft nun-voices speaking French through
grated doors, and set divers sympathetic spectators doing ineffectual
services, that they at last found the proper entrance, and were answered
in English that the porter would ask if they might see the chapel. They
hoped to find there the skull of Brebeuf, one of those Jesuit martyrs who
perished long ago for the conversion of a race that has perished, and
whose relics they had come, fresh from their reading of Parkman, with
some vague and patronizing intention to revere. An elderly sister with a
pale, kind face led them through a ward of the hospital into the chapel,
which they found in the expected taste, and exquisitely neat and cool,
but lacking the martyr's skull. They asked if it were not to be seen.
"Ah, yes, poor Pere Brebeuf!" sighed the gentle sister, with the tone and
manner of having lost him yesterday; "we had it down only last week,
showing it to some Jesuit fathers; but it's in the convent now, and isn't
to be seen." And there mingled apparently in her regret for Pere Brebeuf
a confusing sense of his actual state as a portable piece of furniture.
She would not let them praise the chapel. It was very clean, yes, but
there was nothing to see in it. She deprecated their compliments with
many shrugs, but she was pleased; for when we renounce the pomps and
vanities of this world, we are pretty sure to find them in some
other,--if we are women. She, good and pure soul, whose whole life was
given to self-denying toil, had yet something angelically coquettish in
her manner, a spiritual-worldliness which was the clarified likeness of
this-worldliness. O, had they seen the Hotel Dieu at Montreal? Then (with
a vivacious wave of the hands) they would not care to look at this, which
by comparison was nothing. Yet she invited them to go through the wards
if they would, and was clearly proud to have them see the wonderful
cleanness and comfort of the place. There were not many patients, but
here and there a wan or fevered face looked at them from its pillow, or a
weak form drooped beside a bed, or a group of convalescents softly talked
together. They came presently to the last hall, at the end of which sat
another nun, beside a window that gave a view of the busy port, and
beyond it the landscape of village-lit plain and forest-darkened height.
On a table at her elbow stood a rose-tree, on which hung two only pale
tea-roses, so fair, so perfect, that Isabel cried out in wonder and
praise. Ere she could prevent it, the nun, to whom there had been some
sort of presentation, gathered one of the roses, and with a shy grace
offered it to Isabel, who shrank back a little as from too costly a gift.
"Take it," said the first nun, with her pretty French accent; while the
other, who spoke no English at all, beamed a placid smile; and Isabel
took it. The flower, lying light in her palm, exhaled a delicate odor,
and a thrill of exquisite compassion for it trembled through her heart,
as if it had been the white, cloistered life of the silent nun: with its
pallid loveliness, it was as a flower that had taken the veil. It could
never have uttered the burning passion of a lover for his mistress; the
nightingale could have found no thorn on it to press his aching poet's
heart against; but sick and weary eyes had dwelt gratefully upon it; at
most it might have expressed, like a prayer, the nun's stainless love of
some favorite saint in paradise. Cold, and pale, and sweet,--was it
indeed only a flower, this cloistered rose of the Hotel Dieu?

"Breathe it," said the gentle Gray Sister; "sometimes the air of the
hospital offends. Not us, no; we are used; but you come from the
outside." And she gave her rose for this humble use as lovingly as she
devoted herself to her lowly taxes.

"It is very little to see," she said at the end; "but if you are pleased,
I am very glad. Goodby, good-by!" She stood with her arms folded, and
watched them out of sight with her kind, coquettish little smile, and
then the mute, blank life of the nun resumed her.

From Hotel Dieu to Hotel Musty it was but a step; both were in the same
street; but our friends fancied themselves to have come an immense
distance when they sat down at an early dinner, amidst the clash of
crockery and cutlery, and looked round upon all the profane travelling
world assembled. Their regard presently fixed upon one company which
monopolized a whole table, and were defined from the other diners by
peculiarities as marked as those of the Soeurs Grises themselves. There
were only two men among some eight or ten women; one of the former had a
bad amiable face, with eyes full of a merry deviltry; the other, clean.
shaven, and dark, was demure and silent as a priest. The ladies were of
various types, but of one effect, with large rolling eyes, and faces that
somehow regarded the beholder as from a distance, and with an impartial
feeling for him as for an element of publicity. One of them, who caressed
a lapdog with one hand while she served herself with the other, was, as
she seemed to believe, a blonde; she had pale blue eyes, and her hair was
cut in front so as to cover her forehead with a straggling sandy-colored
fringe. She had an English look, and three or four others, with dark
complexion and black, unsteady eyes, and various abandon of back-hair,
looked like Cockney houris of Jewish blood; while two of the lovely
company were clearly of our own nation, as was the young man with the
reckless laughing face. The ladies were dressed and jeweled with a kind
of broad effectiveness, which was to the ordinary style of society what
scene-painting is to painting, and might have borne close inspection no
better. They seemed the best-humored people in the world, and on the
kindliest terms with each other. The waiters shared their pleasant mood,
and served them affectionately, and were now and then invited to join in
the gay talk which babbled on over dislocated aspirates, and filled the
air with a sentiment of vagabond enjoyment, of the romantic freedom of
violated convention, of something Gil Blas-like, almost picaresque.

If they had needed explanation it would have been given by the
announcement in the office of the hotel that a troupe of British blondes
was then appearing in Quebec for one week only.

After dinner they took possession of the parlor, and while one strummed
fitfully upon the ailing hotel piano, the rest talked, and talked shop,
of course, as all of us do when several of a trade are got together.

"W'at," said the eldest of the dark-faced, black haired British blondes
of Jewish race,--"w'at are we going to give at Montrehal?"

"We're going to give 'Pygmalion,' at Montrehal," answered the British
blonde of American birth, good-humoredly burlesquing the erring h of her
sister.

"But we cahn't, you know," said the lady with the fringed forehead;
"Hagnes is gone on to New York, and there's nobody to do Wenus."

"Yes, you know," demanded the first speaker, "oo's to do Wenus?

"Bella's to do Wenus," said a third.

There was an outcry at this, and "'Ow ever would she get herself up for
'Venus?" and "W'at a guy she'll look!" and "Nonsense! Bella's too 'eavy
for Venus!" came from different lively critics; and the debate threatened
to become too intimate for the public ear, when one of their gentlemen
came in and said, "Charley don't seem so well this afternoon." On this
the chorus changed its note, and at the proposal, "Poor Charley, let 's
go and cheer 'im hop a bit," the whole good-tempered company trooped out
of the parlor together.

Our tourists meant to give the rest of the afternoon to that sort of
aimless wandering to and fro about the streets which seizes a foreign
city unawares, and best develops its charm of strangeness. So they went
out and took their fill of Quebec with appetites keen through long
fasting from the quaint and old, and only sharpened by Montreal, and
impartially rejoiced in the crooked up-and-down hill streets; the
thoroughly French domestic architecture of a place that thus denied
having been English for a hundred years; the porte-cocheres beside every
house; the French names upon the doors, and the oddity of the bellpulls;
the rough-paved, rattling streets; the shining roofs of tin, and the
universal dormer-windows; the littleness of the private houses, and the
greatness of the high-walled and garden-girdled convents; the breadths of
weather-stained city wall, and the shaggy cliff beneath; the batteries,
with their guns peacefully staring through loop-holes of masonry, and the
red-coated sergeants flirting with nursery-maids upon the carriages,
while the children tumbled about over the pyramids of shot and shell; the
sloping market-place before the cathedral, where yet some remnant of the
morning's traffic lingered under canvas canopies, and where Isabel bought
a bouquet of marigolds and asters of an old woman peasant enough to have
sold it in any market-place of Europe; the small, dark shops beyond the
quarter invaded by English retail trade; the movement of all the strange
figures of cleric and lay and military life; the sound of a foreign
speech prevailing over the English; the encounter of other tourists, the
passage back and forth through the different city gates; the public
wooden stairways, dropping flight after flight from the Upper to the
Lower Town; the bustle of the port, with its commerce and shipping and
seafaring life huddled close in under the hill; the many desolate streets
of the Lower Town, as black and ruinous as the last great fire left them;
and the marshy meadows beyond, memorable of Recollets and Jesuits, of
Cartier and Montcalm.

They went to the chapel of the Seminary at Laval University, and admired
the Le Brun, and the other paintings of less merit, but equal interest
through their suggestion of a whole dim religious world of paintings; and
then they spent half an hour in the cathedral, not so much in looking at
the Crucifixion by Vandyck which is there, as in reveling amid the
familiar rococo splendors of the temple. Every swaggering statue of a
saint, every rope-dancing angel, every cherub of those that on the carven
and gilded clouds above the high altar float--

     "Like little wanton boys that swim on bladders,"--

was precious to them; the sacristan dusting the sacred properties with a
feather brush, and giving each shrine a business-like nod as he passed,
was as a long-lost brother; they had hearts of aggressive tenderness for
the young girls and old women who stepped in for a half-hour's devotion,
and for the men with bourgeois or peasant faces, who stole a moment from
affairs and crops, and gave it to the saints. There was nothing in the
place that need remind them of America, and its taste was exactly that of
a thousand other churches of the eighteenth century. They could easily
have believed themselves in the farthest Catholic South, but for the two
great porcelain stoves that stood on either side of the nave near the
entrance, and that too vividly reminded them of the possibility of cold.

In fact, Quebec is a little painful in this and other confusions of the
South and North, and one never quite reconciles himself to them. The
Frenchmen, who expected to find there the climate of their native land,
and ripen her wines in as kindly a sun, have perpetuated the image of
home in so many things, that it goes to the heart with a painful emotion
to find the sad, oblique light of the North upon them. As you ponder some
characteristic aspect of Quebec,--a bit of street with heavy stone houses
opening upon a stretch of the city wall, with a Lombardy poplar rising
slim against it,--you say, to your satisfied soul, "Yes, it is the real
thing!" and then all at once a sense of that Northern sky strikes in upon
you, and makes the reality a mere picture. The sky is blue, the sun is
often fiercely hot; you could not perhaps prove that the pathetic
radiance is not an efflux of your own consciousness that summer is but
hanging over the land, briefly poising on wings which flit at the first
dash of rain, and will soon vanish in long retreat before the snow. But
somehow, from without or from within, that light of the North is there.

It lay saddest, our travellers thought, upon the little circular garden
near Durham Terrace, where every brightness of fall flowers
abounded,--marigold, coxcomb, snap-dragon, dahlia, hollyhock, and
sunflower. It was a substantial and hardy efflorescence, and they fancied
that fainter-hearted plants would have pined away in that garden, where
the little fountain, leaping up into the joyless light, fell back again
with a musical shiver. The consciousness of this latent cold, of winter
only held in abeyance by the bright sun, was not deeper even in the once
magnificent, now neglected Governor's Garden, where there was actually a
rawness in the late afternoon air, and whither they were strolling for
the view from its height, and to pay their duty to the obelisk raised
there to the common fame of Wolfe and Montcalm. The sounding Latin
inscription celebrates the royal governor-general who erected it almost
as much as the heroes to whom it was raised; but these spectators did not
begrudge the space given to his praise, for so fine a thought merited
praise. It enforced again the idea of a kind posthumous friendship
between Wolfe and Montcalm, which gives their memory its rare
distinction, and unites them, who fell in fight against each other, as
closely as if they had both died for the same cause.

Some lasting dignity seems to linger about the city that has once been a
capital; and this odor of fallen nobility belongs to Quebec, which was a
capital in the European sense, with all the advantages of a small
vice-regal court, and its social and political intrigues, in the French
times. Under the English, for a hundred years it was the centre of
Colonial civilization and refinement, with a governor-general's residence
and a brilliant, easy, and delightful society, to which the large
garrison of former days gave gayety and romance. The honors of a capital,
first shared with Montreal and Toronto, now rest with half-savage Ottawa;
and the garrison has dwindled to a regiment of rifles, whose presence
would hardly be known, but for the natty sergeants lounging, stick in
hand, about the streets and courting the nurse-maids. But in the days of
old there were scenes of carnival pleasure in the Governor's Garden, and
there the garrison band still plays once a week, when it is filled by the
fashion and beauty of Quebec, and some semblance of the past is recalled.
It is otherwise a lonesome, indifferently tended place, and on this
afternoon there was no one there but a few loafing young fellows of low
degree, French and English, and children that played screaming from seat
to seat and path to path and over the too-heavily shaded grass. In spite
of a conspicuous warning that any dog entering the garden would be
destroyed, the place was thronged with dogs unmolested and apparently in
no danger of the threatened doom. The seal of a disagreeable desolation
was given in the legend rudely carved upon one of the benches, "Success
to the Irish Republic!"

The morning of the next day our tourists gave to hearing mass at the
French cathedral, which was not different, to their heretical senses,
from any other mass, except that the ceremony was performed with a very
full clerical force, and was attended by an uncommonly devout
congregation. With Europe constantly in their minds, they were bewildered
to find the worshippers not chiefly old and young women, but men also of
all ages and of every degree, from the neat peasant in his Sabbath-day
best to the modish young Quebecker, who spread his handkerchief on the
floor to save his pantaloons during supplication. There was fashion and
education in large degree among the men, and there was in all a pious
attention to the function in poetical keeping with the origin and history
of a city which the zeal of the Church had founded.

A magnificent beadle, clothed in a gold-laced coat aid bearing a silver
staff, bowed to them when they entered, and, leading them to a pew,
punched up a kneeling peasant, who mutely resumed his prayers in the
aisle outside, while they took his place. It appeared to Isabel very
unjust that their curiosity should displace his religion; but she
consoled herself by making Basil give a shilling to the man who, preceded
by the shining beadle, came round to take up a collection. The peasant
could have given nothing but copper, and she felt that this restored the
lost balance of righteousness in their favor. There was a sermon, very
sweetly and gracefully delivered by a young priest of singular beauty,
even among clergy whose good looks are so notable as those of Quebec; and
then they followed the orderly crowd of worshippers out, and left the
cathedral to the sacristan and the odor of incense.

They thought the type of French-Canadian better here than at Montreal,
and they particularly noticed the greater number of pretty young girls.
All classes were well dressed; for though the best dressed could not be
called stylish according to the American standard, as Isabel decided, and
had only a provincial gentility, the poorest wore garments that were
clean and whole. Everybody, too, was going to have a hot Sunday dinner,
if there was any truth in the odors that steamed out of every door and
window; and this dinner was to be abundantly garnished with onions, for
the dullest nose could not err concerning that savor.

Numbers of tourists, of a nationality that showed itself superior to
every distinction of race, were strolling vaguely and not always quite
happily about; but they made no impression on the proper local character,
and the air throughout the morning was full of the sentiment of Sunday in
a Catholic city. There was the apparently meaningless jangling of bells,
with profound hushes between, and then more jubilant jangling, and then
deeper silence; there was the devout trooping of the crowds to the
churches; and there was the beginning of the long afternoon's lounging
and amusement with which the people of that faith reward their morning's
devotion. Little stands for the sale of knotty apples and choke-cherries
and cakes and cider sprang magically into existence after service, and
people were already eating and drinking at them. The carriage-drivers
resumed their chase of the tourists, and the unvoiceful stir of the new
week had begun again. Quebec, in fact, is but a pantomimic reproduction
of France; it is as if two centuries in a new land, amidst the primeval
silences of nature and the long hush of the Northern winters, had stilled
the tongues of the lively folk and made them taciturn as we of a graver
race. They have kept the ancestral vivacity of manner; the elegance of
the shrug is intact; the talking hands take part in dialogue; the
agitated person will have its share of expression. But the loud and eager
tone is wanting, and their dumb show mystifies the beholder almost as
much as the Southern architecture under the slanting Northern sun. It is
not America; if it is not France, what is it?

Of the many beautiful things to see in the neighborhood of Quebec, our
wedding-journeyers were in doubt on which to bestow their one precious
afternoon. Should it be Lorette, with its cataract and its remnant of
bleached and fading Hurons, or the Isle of Orleans with its fertile farms
and its primitive peasant life, or Montmorenci, with the unrivaled fall
and the long drive through the beautiful village of Beauport? Isabel
chose the last, because Basil had been there before, and it had to it the
poetry of the wasted years in which she did not know him. She had
possessed herself of the journal of his early travels, among the other
portions and parcels recoverable from the dreadful past, and from time to
time on this journey she had read him passages out of it, with mingled
sentiment and irony, and, whether she was mocking or admiring, equally to
his confusion. Now, as they smoothly bowled away from the city, she made
him listen to what he had written of the same excursion long ago.

It was, to be sure, a sad farrago of sentiment about the village and the
rural sights, and especially a girl tossing hay in the field. Yet it had
touches of nature and reality, and Basil could not utterly despise
himself for having written it. "Yes," he said, "life was then a thing to
be put into pretty periods; now it's something that has risks and
averages, and may be insured."

There was regret, fancied or expressed, in his tone, that made her sigh,
"Ah! if I'd only had a little more money, you might have devoted yourself
to literature;" for she was a true Bostonian in her honor of our poor
craft.

"O, you're not greatly to blame," answered her husband, "and I forgive
you the little wrong you've done me. I was quits with the Muse, at any
rate, you know, before we were married; and I'm very well satisfied to be
going back to my applications and policies to-morrow."

To-morrow? The word struck cold upon her. Then their wedding journey
would begin to end tomorrow! So it would, she owned with another sigh;
and yet it seemed impossible.

"There, ma'am," said the driver, rising from his seat and facing round,
while he pointed with his whip towards Quebec, "that's what we call the
Silver City."

They looked back with him at the city, whose thousands of tinned roofs,
rising one above the other from the water's edge to the citadel, were all
a splendor of argent light in the afternoon sun. It was indeed as if some
magic had clothed that huge rock, base and steepy flank and crest, with a
silver city. They gazed upon the marvel with cries of joy that satisfied
the driver's utmost pride in it, and Isabel said, "To live there, there
in that Silver City, in perpetual sojourn! To be always going to go on a
morrow that never came! To be forever within one day of the end of a
wedding journey that never ended!"

From far down the river by which they rode came the sound of a cannon,
breaking the Sabbath repose of the air. "That's the gun of the Liverpool
steamer, just coming in," said the driver.

"O," cried Isabel, "I'm thankful we're only to stay one night more, for
now we shall be turned out of our nice room by those people who
telegraphed for it!"

There is a continuous village along the St. Lawrence from Quebec, almost
to Montmorenci; and they met crowds of villagers coming from the church
as they passed through Beauport. But Basil was dismayed at the change
that had befallen them. They had their Sunday's best on, and the women,
instead of wearing the peasant costume in which he had first seen them,
were now dressed as if out of "Harper's Bazar" of the year before. He
anxiously asked the driver if the broad straw hats and the bright sacks
and kirtles were no more. "O, you'd see them on weekdays, sir," was the
answer, "but they're not so plenty any time as they used to be." He
opened his store of facts about the habitans, whom he praised for every
virtue,--for thrift, for sobriety, for neatness, for amiability; and his
words ought to have had the greater weight, because he was of the Irish
race, between which and the Canadians there is no kindness lost. But the
looks of the passers-by corroborated him, and as for the little houses,
open-doored beside the way, with the pleasant faces at window and portal,
they were miracles of picturesqueness and cleanliness. From each the
owner's slim domain, narrowing at every successive division among the
abundant generations, runs back to hill or river in well-defined lines,
and beside the cottage is a garden of pot-herbs, bordered with a flame of
bright autumn flowers; somewhere in decent seclusion grunts the fattening
pig, which is to enrich all those peas and onions for the winter's broth;
there is a cheerfulness of poultry about the barns; I dare be sworn there
is always a small girl driving a flock of decorous ducks down the middle
of the street; and of the priest with a book under his arm, passing a
way-side shrine, what possible doubt? The houses, which are of one model,
are built by the peasants themselves with the stone which their land
yields more abundantly than any other crop, and are furnished with
galleries and balconies to catch every ray of the fleeting summer, and
perhaps to remember the long-lost ancestral summers of Normandy. At every
moment, in passing through this ideally neat and pretty village, our
tourists must think of the lovely poem of which all French Canada seems
but a reminiscence and illustration. It was Grand Pre, not Beauport; and
they paid an eager homage to the beautiful genius which has touched those
simple village aspects with an undying charm, and which, whatever the
land's political allegiance, is there perpetual Seigneur.

The village, stretching along the broad interval of the St. Lawrence,
grows sparser as you draw near the Falls of Montmorenci, and presently
you drive past the grove shutting from the road the country-house in
which the Duke of Kent spent some merry days of his jovial youth, and
come in sight of two lofty towers of stone,--monuments and witnesses of
the tragedy of Montmorenci.

Once a suspension-bridge, built sorely against the will of the
neighboring habitans, hung from these towers high over the long plunge of
the cataract. But one morning of the fatal spring after the first
winter's frost had tried the hold of the cable on the rocks, an old
peasant and his wife with their little grandson set out in their cart to
pass the bridge. As they drew near the middle the anchoring wires
suddenly lost their grip upon the shore, and whirled into the air; the
bridge crashed under the hapless passengers and they were launched from
its height, upon the verge of the fall and thence plunged, two hundred
and fifty feet, into the ruin of the abyss.

The habitans rebuilt their bridge of wood upon low stone piers, so far up
the river from the cataract that whoever fell from it would yet have many
a chance for life; and it would have been perilous to offer to replace
the fallen structure, which, in the belief of faithful Christians,
clearly belonged to the numerous bridges built by the Devil, in times
when the Devil did not call himself a civil engineer.

The driver, with just unction, recounted the sad tale as he halted his
horses on the bridge; and as his passengers looked down the rock-fretted
brown torrent towards the fall, Isabel seized the occasion to shudder
that ever she had set foot on that suspension-bridge below Niagara, and
to prove to Basil's confusion that her doubt of the bridges between the
Three Sisters was not a case of nerves but an instinctive wisdom
concerning the unsafety of all bridges of that design.

From the gate opening into the grounds about the fall two or three little
French boys, whom they had not the heart to forbid, ran noisily before
them with cries in their sole English, "This way, sir" and led toward a
weather-beaten summer-house that tottered upon a projecting rock above
the verge of the cataract. But our tourists shook their heads, and turned
away for a more distant and less dizzy enjoyment of the spectacle, though
any commanding point was sufficiently chasmal and precipitous. The lofty
bluff was scooped inward from the St. Lawrence in a vast irregular
semicircle, with cavernous hollows, one within another, sinking far into
its sides, and naked from foot to crest, or meagrely wooded here and
there with evergreen. From the central brink of these gloomy purple
chasms the foamy cataract launched itself, and like a cloud,

     "Along the cliff to fall and pause and fall did seem."

I say a cloud, because I find it already said to my hand, as it were, in
a pretty verse, and because I must needs liken Montmorenci to something
that is soft and light. Yet a cloud does not represent the glinting of
the water in its downward swoop; it is like some broad slope of
sun-smitten snow; but snow is coldly white and opaque, and this has a
creamy warmth in its luminous mass; and so, there hangs the cataract
unsaid as before. It is a mystery that anything so grand should be so
lovely, that anything so tenderly fair in whatever aspect should yet be
so large that one glance fails to comprehend it all. The rugged wildness
of the cliffs and hollows about it is softened by its gracious beauty,
which half redeems the vulgarity of the timber-merchant's uses in setting
the river at work in his saw-mills and choking its outlet into the St.
Lawrence with rafts of lumber and rubbish of slabs and shingles. Nay,
rather, it is alone amidst these things, and the eye takes note of them
by a separate effort.

Our tourists sank down upon the turf that crept with its white clover to
the edge of the precipice, and gazed dreamily upon the fall, filling
their vision with its exquisite color and form. Being wiser than I, they
did not try to utter its loveliness; they were content to feel it, and
the perfection of the afternoon, whose low sun slanting over the
landscape gave, under that pale, greenish-blue sky, a pensive sentiment
of autumn to the world. The crickets cried amongst the grass; the
hesitating chirp of birds came from the tree overhead; a shaggy colt left
off grazing in the field and stalked up to stare at them; their little
guides, having found that these people had no pleasure in the sight of
small boys scuffling on the verge of a precipice, threw themselves also
down upon the grass and crooned a long, long ballad in a mournful minor
key about some maiden whose name was La Belle Adeline. It was a moment of
unmixed enjoyment for every sense, and through all their being they were
glad; which considering, they ceased to be so, with a deep sigh, as one
reasoning that he dreams must presently awake. They never could have an
emotion without desiring to analyze it; but perhaps their rapture would
have ceased as swiftly, even if they had not tried to make it a fact of
consciousness.

"If there were not dinner after such experiences as these," said Isabel,
as they sat at table that evening, "I don't know what would become of
one. But dinner unites the idea of pleasure and duty, and brings you
gently back to earth. You must eat, don't you see, and there's nothing
disgraceful about what you're obliged to do; and so--it's all right."

"Isabel, Isabel," cried her husband, "you have a wonderful mind, and its
workings always amaze me. But be careful, my dear; be careful. Don't work
it too hard. The human brain, you know: delicate organ."

"Well, you understand what I mean; and I think it's one of the great
charms of a husband, that you're not forced to express yourself to him. A
husband," continued Isabel, sententiously, poising a bit of meringue
between her thumb and finger,--for they had reached that point in the
repast, "a husband is almost as good as another woman!"

In the parlor they found the Ellisons, and exchanged the history of the
day with them.

"Certainly," said Mrs. Ellison, at the end, "it's been a pleasant day
enough, but what of the night? You've been turned out, too, by those
people who came on the steamer, and who might as well have stayed on
board to-night; have you got another room?"

"Not precisely," said Isabel; "we have a coop in the fifth story, right
under the roof."

Mrs. Ellison turned energetically upon her husband and cried in tones of
reproach, "Richard, Mrs. March has a room!"

"A coop, she said," retorted that amiable Colonel, "and we're too good
for that. The clerk is keeping us in suspense about a room, because he
means to surprise us with something palatial at the end. It 's his joking
way."

"Nonsense!" said Mrs. Ellison. "Have you seen him since dinner?"

"I have made life a burden to him for the last half-hour," returned the
Colonel, with the kindliest smile.

"O Richard," cried his wife, in despair of his amendment, "you wouldn't
make life a burden to a mouse!" And having nothing else for it, she
laughed, half in sorrow, half in fondness.

"Well, Fanny," the Colonel irrelevantly answered, "put on your hat and
things, and let's all go up to Durham Terrace for a promenade. I know our
friends want to go. It's something worth seeing; and by the time we get
back, the clerk will have us a perfectly sumptuous apartment."

Nothing, I think, more enforces the illusion of Southern Europe in Quebec
than the Sunday-night promenading on Durham Terrace. This is the ample
space on the brow of the cliff to the left of the citadel, the noblest
and most commanding position in the whole city, which was formerly
occupied by the old castle of Saint Louis, where dwelt the brave Count
Frontenac and his splendid successors of the French regime. The castle
went the way of Quebec by fire some forty years ago, and Lord Durham
leveled the site and made it a public promenade. A stately arcade of
solid masonry supports it on the brink of the rock, and an iron parapet
incloses it; there are a few seats to lounge upon, and some idle old guns
for the children to clamber over and play with. A soft twilight had
followed the day, and there was just enough obscurity to hide from a
willing eye the Northern and New World facts of the scene, and to bring
into more romantic relief the citadel dark against the mellow evening,
and the people gossiping from window to window across the narrow streets
of the Lower Town. The Terrace itself was densely thronged, and there was
a constant coming and going of the promenaders, who each formally paced
back and forth upon the planking for a certain time, and then went
quietly home, giving place to the new arrivals. They were nearly all
French, and they were not generally, it seemed, of the first fashion, but
rather of middling condition in life; the English being represented only
by a few young fellows and now and then a redfaced old gentleman with an
Indian scarf trailing from his hat. There were some fair American
costumes and faces in the crowd, but it was essentially Quebecian. The
young girls walking in pairs, or with their lovers, had the true touch of
provincial unstylishness, the young men the ineffectual excess of the
second-rate Latin dandy, their elders the rich inelegance of a
bourgeoisie in their best. A few, better-figured avocats or notaires
(their profession was as unmistakable as if they had carried their
well-polished brass doorplates upon their breasts) walked and gravely
talked with each other. The non-American character of the scene was not
less vividly marked in the fact that each person dressed according to his
own taste and frankly indulged private preferences in shapes and colors.
One of the promenaders was in white, even to his canvas shoes; another,
with yet bolder individuality, appeared in perfect purple. It had a
strange, almost portentous effect when these two startling figures met as
friends and joined each other in the promenade with linked arms; but the
evening was already beginning to darken round them, and presently the
purple comrade was merely a sombre shadow beside the glimmering white.

The valleys and the heights now vanished; but the river defined itself by
the varicolored lights of the ships and steamers that lay, dark,
motionless bulks, upon its broad breast; the lights of Point Lewis
swarmed upon the other shore; the Lower Town, two hundred feet below
them, stretched an alluring mystery of clustering roofs and lamplit
windows and dark and shining streets around the mighty rock,
mural-crowned. Suddenly a spectacle peculiarly Northern and
characteristic of Quebec revealed itself; a long arch brightened over the
northern horizon; the tremulous flames of the aurora, pallid violet or
faintly tinged with crimson, shot upward from it, and played with a weird
apparition and evanescence to the zenith. While the strangers looked, a
gun boomed from the citadel, and the wild sweet notes of the bugle sprang
out upon the silence.

Then they all said, "How perfectly in keeping everything has been!" and
sauntered back to the hotel.

The Colonel went into the office to give the clerk another turn on the
rack, and make him confess to a hidden apartment somewhere, while Isabel
left her husband to Mrs. Ellison in the parlor, and invited Miss Kitty to
look at her coop in the fifth story. As they approached, light and music
and laughter stole out of an open door next hers, and Isabel,
distinguishing the voices of the theatrical party, divined that this was
the sick-chamber, and that they were again cheering up the afflicted
member of the troupe. Some one was heard to say, "Well, 'ow do you feel
now, Charley?" and a sound of subdued swearing responded, followed by
more laughter, and the twanging of a guitar, and a snatch of song, and a
stir of feet and dresses as for departure.

The two listeners shrank together; as women they could not enjoy these
proofs of the jolly camaraderie existing among the people of the troupe.
They trembled as before the merriment of as many light-hearted, careless,
good-natured young men: it was no harm, but it was dismaying; and,
"Dear!" cried Isabel, "what shall we do?"

"Go back," said Miss Ellison, boldly, and back they ran to the parlor,
where they found Basil and the Colonel and his wife in earnest conclave.
The Colonel, like a shrewd strategist, was making show of a desperation
more violent than his wife's, who was thus naturally forced into the
attitude of moderating his fury.

"Well, Fanny, that's all he can do for us; and I do think it 's the most
outrageous thing in the world! It 's real mean!"

Fanny perceived a bold parody of her own denunciatory manner, but just
then she was obliged to answer Isabel's eager inquiry whether they had
got a room yet. "Yes, a room," she said, "with two beds. But what are we
to do with one room? That clerk--I don't know what to call him"--("Call
him a hotel-clerk, my dear; you can't say anything worse," interrupted
her husband)--"seems to think the matter perfectly settled."

"You see, Mrs. March," added the Colonel, "he's able to bully us in this
way because he has the architecture on his side. There isn't another room
in the house."

"Let me think a moment," said Isabel not thinking an instant. She had
taken a fancy to at least two of these people from the first, and in the
last hour they had all become very well acquainted now she said, "I'll
tell you: there are two beds in our room also; we ladies will take one
room, and you gentlemen the other!"

"Mrs. March, I bow to the superiority of the Boston mind," said the
Colonel, while his females civilly protested and consented; "and I might
almost hail you as our preserver. If ever you come to Milwaukee,--which
is the centre of the world, as Boston is,--we--I--shall be happy to have
you call at my place of business.--I didn't commit myself, did I,
Fanny?--I am sometimes hospitable to excess, Mrs. March," he said, to
explain his aside. "And now, let us reconnoitre. Lead on, madam, and the
gratitude of the houseless stranger will follow you."

The whole party explored both rooms, and the ladies decided to keep
Isabel's. The Colonel was dispatched to see that the wraps and traps of
his party were sent to this number, and Basil went with him. The things
came long before the gentlemen returned, but the ladies happily employed
the interval in talking over the excitements of the day, and in saying
from time to time, "So very kind of you, Mrs. March," and "I don't know
what we should have done," and "Don't speak of it, please," and "I'm sure
it 's a great pleasure to me."

In the room adjoining theirs, where the invalid actor lay, and where
lately there had been minstrelsy and apparently dancing for his solace,
there was now comparative silence. Two women's voices talked together,
and now and then a guitar was touched by a wandering hand. Isabel had
just put up her handkerchief to conceal her first yawn, when the
gentlemen, odorous of cigars, returned to say good-night.

"It's the second door from this, isn't it, Isabel?" asked her husband.

"Yes, the second door. Good-night. Good-night."

The two men walked off together; but in a minute afterwards they had
returned and were knocking tremulously at the closed door.

"O, what has happened?" chorused the ladies in woeful tune, seeing a
certain wildness in the face that confronted them.

"We don't know!" answered the others in as fearful a key, and related how
they had found the door of their room ajar, and a bright light streaming
into the corridor. They did not stop to ponder this fact, but, with the
heedlessness of their sex, pushed the door wide open, when they saw
seated before the mirror a bewildering figure, with disheveled locks
wandering down the back, and in dishabille expressive of being quite at
home there, which turned upon them a pair of pale blue eyes, under a
forehead remarkable for the straggling fringe of hair that covered it.
They professed to have remained transfixed at the sight, and to have
noted a like dismay on the visage before the glass, ere they summoned
strength to fly. These facts Colonel Ellison gave at the command of his
wife, with many protests and insincere delays amidst which the curiosity
of his hearers alone prevented them from rending him in pieces.

"And what do you suppose it was?" demanded his wife, with forced
calmness, when he had at last made an end of the story and his abominable
hypoocisies.

"Well, I think it was a mermaid."

"A mermaid!" said his wife, scornfully. "How do you know?"

"It had a comb in its hand, for one thing; and besides, my dear, I hope I
know a mermaid when I see it."

"Well," said Mrs. Ellison, "it was no mermaid, it was a mistake; and I'm
going to see about it. Will you go with me, Richard?"

"No money could induce me! If it's a mistake, it isn't proper for me to
go; if it's a mermaid, it's dangerous."

"O you coward!" said the intrepid little woman to a hero of all the
fights on Sherman's march to the sea; and presently they heard her attack
the mysterious enemy with a lady-like courage, claiming the invaded
chamber. The foe replied with like civility, saying the clerk had given
her that room with the understanding that another lady was to be put
there with her, and she had left the door unlocked to admit her. The
watchers with the sick man next door appeared and confirmed this speech,
a feeble voice from the bedclothes swore to it.

"Of course," added the invader, "if I'd known 'ow it really was, I never
would lave listened to such a thing, never. And there isn't another 'ole
in the louse to lay me 'ead," she concluded.

"Then it's the clerk's fault," said Mrs. Ellison, glad to retreat
unharmed; and she made her husband ring for the guilty wretch, a pale,
quiet young Frenchman, whom the united party, sallying into the corridor,
began to upbraid in one breath, the lady in dishabille vanishing as often
as she remembered it, and reappearing whenever some strong point of
argument or denunciation occurred to her.

The clerk, who was the Benjamin of his wicked tribe, threw himself upon
their mercy and confessed everything: the house was so crowded, and he
had been so crazed by the demands upon him, that he had understood
Colonel Ellison's application to be for a bed for the young lady in his
party, and he had done the very best he could. If the lady there--she
vanished again--would give up the room to the two gentlemen, he would
find her a place with the housekeeper. To this the lady consented without
difficulty, and the rest dispersing, she kissed one of the sick man's
watchers with "Isn't it a shame, Bella?" and flitted down the darkness of
the corridor. The rooms upon it seemed all, save the two assigned our
travellers, to be occupied by ladies of the troupe; their doors
successively opened, and she was heard explaining to each as she passed.
The momentary displeasure which she had shown at her banishment was over.
She detailed the facts with perfect good-nature, and though the others
appeared no more than herself to find any humorous cast in the affair,
they received her narration with the same amiability. They uttered their
sympathy seriously, and each parted from her with some friendly word.
Then all was still.

"Richard," said Mrs. Ellison, when in Isabel's room the travellers had
briefly celebrated these events, "I should think you'd hate to leave us
alone up here."

"I do; but you can't think how I hate to go off alone. I wish you'd come
part of the way with us, Ladies; I do indeed. Leave your door unlocked,
at any rate."

This prayer, uttered at parting outside the room, was answered from
within by a sound of turning keys and sliding bolts, and a low thunder as
of bureaus and washstands rolled against the door. "The ladies are
fortifying their position," said the Colonel to Basil, and the two
returned to their own chamber. "I don't wish any intrusions," he said,
instantly shutting himself in; "my nerves are too much shaken now. What
an awfully mysterious old place this Quebec is, Mr. March! I'll tell you
what: it's my opinion that this is an enchanted castle, and if my ribs
are not walked over by a muleteer in the course of the night, it's all I
ask."

In this and other discourse recalling the famous adventure of Don
Quixote, the Colonel beguiled the labor of disrobing, and had got as far
as his boots, when there came a startling knock at the door. With one
boot in his hand and the other on his foot, the Colonel limped forward.
"I suppose it's that clerk has sent to say he's made some other mistake,"
and he flung wide the door, and then stood motionless before it, dumbly
staring at a figure on the threshold,--a figure with the fringed forehead
and pale blue eyes of her whom they had so lately turned out of that
room.

Shrinking behind the side of the doorway, "Excuse me, gentlemen," she
said, with a dignity that recalled their scattered senses, "but will you
'ave the goodness to look if my beads are on your table--O thanks,
thanks, thanks!" she continued, showing her face and one hand, as Basil
blushingly advanced with a string of heavy black beads, piously adorned
with a large cross. "I'm sure, I'm greatly obliged to you, gentlemen, and
I hask a thousand pardons for troublin' you," she concluded in a somewhat
severe tone, that left them abashed and culpable; and vanished as
mysteriously as she had appeared.

"Now, see here," said the Colonel, with a huge sigh as he closed the door
again, and this time locked it, "I should like to know how long this sort
of thing is to be kept up? Because, if it's to be regularly repeated
during the night, I'm going to dress again." Nevertheless, he finished
undressing and got into bed, where he remained for some time silent.
Basil put out the light. "O, I'm sorry you did that, my dear fellow,"
said the Colonel; "but never mind, it was an idle curiosity, no doubt.
It's my belief that in the landlord's extremity of bedlinen, I've been
put to sleep between a pair of tablecloths; and I thought I'd like to
look. It seems to me that I make out a checkered pattern on top and a
flowered or arabesque pattern underneath. I wish they had given me mates.
It 's pretty hard having to sleep between odd tablecloths. I shall
complain to the landlord of this in the morning. I've never had to sleep
between odd table-cloths at any hotel before."

The Colonel's voice seemed scarcely to have died away upon Basil's drowsy
ear, when suddenly the sounds of music and laughter from the invalid's
room startled him wide awake. The sick man's watchers were coquetting
with some one who stood in the little court-yard five stories below. A
certain breadth of repartee was naturally allowable at that distance; the
lover avowed his passion in ardent terms, and the ladies mocked him with
the same freedom, now and then totally neglecting him while they sang a
snatch of song to the twanging of the guitar, or talked professional
gossip, and then returning to him with some tormenting expression of
tenderness.

All this, abstractly speaking, was nothing to Basil; yet he could
recollect few things intended for his pleasure that had given him more
satisfaction. He thought, as he glanced out into the moonlight on the
high-gabled silvery roofs around and on the gardens of the convents and
the towers of the quaint city, that the scene wanted nothing of the
proper charm of Spanish humor and romance, and he was as grateful to
those poor souls as if they had meant him a favor. To us of the hither
side of the foot-lights, there is always something fascinating in the
life of the strange beings who dwell beyond them, and who are never so
unreal as in their own characters. In their shabby bestowal in those mean
upper rooms, their tawdry poverty, their merry submission to the errors
and caprices of destiny, their mutual kindliness and careless friendship,
these unprofitable devotees of the twinkling-footed burlesque seemed to
be playing rather than living the life of strolling players; and their
love-making was the last touch of a comedy that Basil could hardly accept
as reality, it was so much more like something seen upon the stage. He
would not have detracted anything from the commonness and cheapness of
the 'mise en scene', for that, he reflected drowsily and confusedly,
helped to give it an air of fact and make it like an episode of fiction.
But above all, he was pleased with the natural eventlessness of the whole
adventure, which was in perfect agreement with his taste; and just as his
reveries began to lose shape in dreams, he was aware of an absurd pride
in the fact that all this could have happened to him in our commonplace
time and hemisphere. "Why," he thought, "if I were a student in Alcala,
what better could I have asked?" And as at last his soul swung out from
its moorings and lapsed down the broad slowly circling tides out in the
sea of sleep, he was conscious of one subtle touch of compassion for
those poor strollers,--a pity so delicate and fine and tender that it
hardly seemed his own but rather a sense of the compassion that pities
the whole world.



X. HOMEWARD AND HOME.

The travellers all met at breakfast and duly discussed the adventures of
the night; and for the rest, the forenoon passed rapidly and slowly with
Basil and Isabel, as regret to leave Quebec, or the natural impatience of
travellers to be off, overcame them. Isabel spent part of it in shopping,
for she had found some small sums of money and certain odd corners in her
trunks still unappropriated, and the handsome stores on the Rue Fabrique
were very tempting. She said she would just go in and look; and the wise
reader imagines the result. As she knelt over her boxes, trying so to
distribute her purchases as to make them look as if they were old,--old
things of hers, which she had brought all the way round from Boston with
her,--a fleeting touch of conscience stayed her hand.

"Basil," she said, "perhaps we'd better declare some of these things.
What's the duty on those?" she asked, pointing to certain articles.

"I don't know. About a hundred per cent. ad valorem."

"C'est a dire--?"

"As much as they cost."

"O then, dearest," responded Isabel indignantly, "it can't be wrong to
smuggle! I won't declare a thread!"

"That's very well for you, whom they won't ask. But what if they ask me
whether there's anything to declare?"

Isabel looked at her husband and hesitated. Then she replied in terms
that I am proud to record in honor of American womanhood: "You mustn't
fib about--it, Basil" (heroically); "I couldn't respect you if you did,"
(tenderly); "but" (with decision) "you must slip out of it some way!"

The ladies of the Ellison party, to whom she put the case in the parlor,
agreed with her perfectly. They also had done a little shopping in
Quebec, and they meant to do more at Montreal before they returned to the
States. Mrs. Ellison was disposed to look upon Isabel's compunctions as a
kind of treason to the sex, to be forgiven only because so quickly
repented.

The Ellisons were going up the Saguenay before coming on to Boston, and
urged our friends hard to go with them. "No, that must be for another
time," said Isabel. "Mr. March has to be home by a certain day; and we
shall just get back in season." Then she made them promise to spend a day
with her in Boston, and the Colonel coming to say that he had a carriage
at the door for their excursion to Lorette, the two parties bade good-by
with affection and many explicit hopes of meeting soon again.

"What do you think of them, dearest?" demanded Isabel, as she sallied out
with Basil for a final look at Quebec.

"The young lady is the nicest; and the other is well enough, too. She is
a good deal like you, but with the sense of humor left out. You've only
enough to save you."

"Well, her husband is jolly enough for both of them. He's funnier than
you, Basil, and he hasn't any of your little languid airs and
affectations. I don't know but I'm a bit disappointed in my choice,
darling; but I dare say I shall work out of it. In fact, I don't know but
the Colonel is a little too jolly. This drolling everything is rather
fatiguing." And having begun, they did not stop till they had taken their
friends to pieces. Dismayed, then, they hastily reconstructed them, and
said that they were among the pleasantest people they ever knew, and they
were really very sorry to part with them, and they should do everything
to make them have a good time in Boston.

They were sauntering towards Durham Terrace where they leaned long upon
the iron parapet and blest themselves with the beauty of the prospect. A
tender haze hung upon the landscape and subdued it till the scene was as
a dream before them. As in a dream the river lay, and dream-like the
shipping moved or rested on its deep, broad bosom. Far off stretched the
happy fields with their dim white villages; farther still the mellow
heights melted into the low hovering heaven. The tinned roofs of the
Lower Town twinkled in the morning sun; around them on every hand, on
that Monday forenoon when the States were stirring from ocean to ocean in
feverish industry, drowsed the gray city within her walls; from the
flag-staff of the citadel hung the red banner of Saint George in sleep.

Their hearts were strangely and deeply moved. It seemed to them that they
looked upon the last stronghold of the Past, and that afar off to the
southward they could hear the marching hosts of the invading Present; and
as no young and loving soul can relinquish old things without a pang,
they sighed a long mute farewell to Quebec.

Next summer they would come again, yes; but, ah me' every one knows what
next summer is!



Part of the burlesque troupe rode down in the omnibus to the Grand Trunk

Ferry with them, and were good-natured to the last, having shaken hands
all round with the waiters, chambermaids, and porters of the hotel. The
young fellow with the bad amiable face came in a calash, and refused to
overpay the driver with a gay decision that made him Basil's envy till he
saw his tribulation in getting the troupe's luggage checked. There were
forty pieces, and it always remained a mystery, considering the small
amount of clothing necessary to those people on the stage, what could
have filled their trunks. The young man and the two English blondes of
American birth found places in the same car with our tourists, and
enlivened the journey with their frolics. When the young man pretended to
fall asleep, they wrapped his golden curly head in a shawl, and vexed him
with many thumps and thrusts, till he bought a brief truce with a handful
of almonds; and the ladies having no other way to eat them, one of them
saucily snatched off her shoe, and cracked them hammerwise with the heel.
It was all so pleasant that it ought to have been all right; and in their
merry world of outlawry perhaps things are not so bad as we like to think
them.

The country into which the train plunges as soon as Quebec is out of
sight is very stupidly savage, and our friends had little else to do but
to watch the gambols of the players, till they came to the river St.
Francis, whose wandering loveliness the road follows through an infinite
series of soft and beautiful landscapes, and finds everywhere glassing in
its smooth current the elms and willows of its gentle shores. At one
place, where its calm broke into foamy rapids, there was a huge saw mill,
covering the stream with logs and refuse, and the banks with whole cities
of lumber; which also they accepted as no mean elements of the
picturesque. They clung the most tenderly to traces of the peasant life
they were leaving. When some French boys came aboard with wild
raspberries to sell in little birch-bark canoes, they thrilled with
pleasure, and bought them, but sighed then, and said, "What thing
characteristic of the local life will they sell us in Maine when we get
there? A section of pie poetically wrapt in a broad leaf of the
squash-vine, or pop-corn in its native tissue-paper, and advertising the
new Dollar Store in Portland?" They saw the quaintness vanish from the
farm-houses; first the dormer-windows, then the curve of the steep roof,
then the steep roof itself. By and by they came to a store with a Grecian
portico and four square pine pillars. They shuddered and looked no more.

The guiltily dreaded examination of baggage at Island Pond took place at
nine o'clock, without costing them a cent of duty or a pang of
conscience. At that charming station the trunks are piled
higgledy-piggledy into a room beside the track, where a few inspectors
with stifling lamps of smoky kerosene await the passengers. There are no
porters to arrange the baggage, and each lady and gentleman digs out his
box, and opens it before the lordly inspector, who stirs up its contents
with an unpleasant hand and passes it. He makes you feel that you are
once more in the land of official insolence, and that, whatever you are
collectively, you are nothing personally. Isabel, who had sent her
husband upon this business with quaking meekness of heart, experienced
the bold indignation of virtue at his account of the way people were made
their own baggage-smashers, and would not be amused when he painted the
vile terrors of each husband as he tremblingly unlocked his wife's store
of contraband.

The morning light showed them the broad elmy meadows of western-looking
Maine; and the Grand Trunk brought them, of course, an hour behind time
into Portland. All breakfastless they hurried aboard the Boston train on
the Eastern Road, and all along that line (which is built to show how
uninteresting the earth can be when she is 'ennuyee' of both sea and
land), Basil's life became a struggle to construct a meal from the
fragmentary opportunities of twenty different stations where they stopped
five minutes for refreshments. At one place he achieved two cups of
shameless chickory, at another three sardines, at a third a dessert of
elderly bananas.

     "Home again, home again, from a foreign shore!"

they softly sang as the successive courses of this feast were disposed
of.

The drouth and heat, which they had briefly escaped during their sojourn
in Canada, brooded sovereign upon the tiresome landscape. The red granite
rocks were as if red-hot; the banks of the deep cuts were like ash heaps;
over the fields danced the sultry atmosphere; they fancied that they
almost heard the grasshoppers sing above the rattle of the train. When
they reached Boston at last, they were dustier than most of us would like
to be a hundred years hence. The whole city was equally dusty; and they
found the trees in the square before their own door gray with dust. The
bit of Virginia-creeper planted under the window hung shriveled upon its
trellis.

But Isabel's aunt met them with a refreshing shower of tears and kisses
in the hall, throwing a solid arm about each of them. "O you dears!" the
good soul cried, "you don't know how anxious I've been about you; so many
accidents happening all the time. I've never read the 'Evening
Transcript' till the next morning, for fear I should find your names
among the killed and wounded."

"O aunty, you're too good, always!" whimpered Isabel; and neither of the
women took note of Basil, who said, "Yes, it 's probably the only thing
that preserved our lives."

The little tinge of discontent, which had colored their sentiment of
return faded now in the kindly light of home. Their holiday was over, to
be sure, but their bliss had but began; they had entered upon that long
life of holidays which is happy marriage. By the time dinner was ended
they were both enthusiastic at having got back, and taking their aunt
between them walked up and down the parlor with their arms round her
massive waist, and talked out the gladness of their souls.

Then Basil said he really must run down to the office that afternoon, and
he issued all aglow upon the street. He was so full of having been long
away and of having just returned, that he unconsciously tried to impart
his mood to Boston, and the dusty composure of the street and houses, as
he strode along, bewildered him. He longed for some familiar face to
welcome him, and in the horse-car into which he stepped he was charmed to
see an acquaintance. This was a man for whom ordinarily he cared nothing,
and whom he would perhaps rather have gone out upon the platform to avoid
than have spoken to; but now he plunged at him with effusion, and wrung
his hand, smiling from ear to ear.

The other remained coldly unaffected, after a first start of surprise at
his cordiality, and then reviled the dust and heat. "But I'm going to
take a little run down to Newport, to-morrow, for a week," he said. "By
the way, you look as if you needed a little change. Aren't you going
anywhere this summer?"

"So you see, my dear," observed Basil, when he had recounted the fact to
Isabel at tea, "our travels are incommunicably our own. We had best say
nothing about our little jaunt to other people, and they won't know we've
been gone. Even if we tried, we couldn't make our wedding-journey
theirs."

She gave him a great kiss of recompense and consolation. "Who wants it,"
she demanded, "to be Their Wedding Journey?"



NIAGARA REVISITED, TWELVE YEARS AFTER THEIR WEDDING JOURNEY.

Life had not used them ill in this time, and the fairish treatment they
had received was not wholly unmerited. The twelve years past had made
them older, as the years must in passing. Basil was now forty-two, and
his moustache was well sprinkled with gray. Isabel was thirty-nine, and
the parting of her hair had thinned and retreated; but she managed to
give it an effect of youthful abundance by combing it low down upon her
forehead, and roughing it there with a wet brush. By gaslight she was
still very pretty; she believed that she looked more interesting, and she
thought Basil's gray moustache distinguished. He had grown stouter; he
filled his double-breasted frock coat compactly, and from time to time he
had the buttons set forward; his hands were rounded up on the backs, and
he no longer wore his old number of gloves by two sizes; no amount of
powder or manipulation from the young lady in the shop would induce them
to go on. But this did not matter much now, for he seldom wore gloves at
all. He was glad that the fashion suffered him to spare in that
direction, for he was obliged to look somewhat carefully after the
out-goes. The insurance business was not what it had been, and though
Basil had comfortably established himself in it, he had not made money.
He sometimes thought that he might have done quite as well if he had gone
into literature; but it was now too late. They had not a very large
family: they had a boy of eleven, who took after his father, and a girl
of nine, who took after the boy; but with the American feeling that their
children must have the best of everything, they made it an expensive
family, and they spent nearly all Basil earned.

The narrowness of their means, as well as their household cares, had kept
them from taking many long journeys. They passed their winters in Boston,
and their summers on the South Shore, cheaper than the North Shore, and
near enough for Basil to go up and down every day for business; but they
promised themselves that some day they would revisit certain points on
their wedding journey, and perhaps somewhere find their lost second-youth
on the track. It was not that they cared to be young, but they wished the
children to see them as they used to be when they thought themselves very
old; and one lovely afternoon in June they started for Niagara.

It had been very hot for several days, but that morning the east wind
came in, and crisped the air till it seemed to rustle like tinsel, and
the sky was as sincerely and solidly blue as if it had been chromoed.
They felt that they were really looking up into the roof of the world,
when they glanced at it; but when an old gentleman hastily kissed a young
woman, and commended her to the conductor as being one who was going all
the way to San Francisco alone, and then risked his life by stepping off
the moving train, the vastness of the great American fact began to affect
Isabel disagreeably. "Is n't it too big, Basil?" she pleaded, peering
timidly out of the little municipal consciousness in which she had been
so long housed.--In that seclusion she had suffered certain original
tendencies to increase upon her; her nerves were more sensitive and
electrical; her apprehensions had multiplied quite beyond the ratio of
the dangers that beset her; and Basil had counted upon a tonic effect of
the change the journey would make in their daily lives. She looked
ruefully out of the window at the familiar suburbs whisking out of sight,
and the continental immensity that advanced devouringly upon her. But
they had the best section in the very centre of the sleeping-car,--she
drew what consolation she could from the fact,--and the children's
premature demand for lunch helped her to forget her anxieties; they began
to be hungry as soon as the train started. She found that she had not put
up sandwiches enough; and when she told Basil that he would have to get
out somewhere and buy some cold chicken, he asked her what in the world
had become of that whole ham she had had boiled. It seemed to him, he
said, that there was enough of it to subsist them to Niagara and back;
and he went on as some men do, while Somerville vanished, and even Tufts
College, which assails the Bostonian vision from every point of the
compass, was shut out by the curve at the foot of the Belmont hills.

They had chosen the Hoosac Tunnel route to Niagara, because, as Basil
said, their experience of travel had never yet included a very long
tunnel, and it would be a signal fact by which the children would always
remember the journey, if nothing else remarkable happened to impress it
upon them. Indeed, they were so much concerned in it that they began to
ask when they should come to this tunnel, even before they began to ask
for lunch; and the long time before they reached it was not perceptibly
shortened by Tom's quarter-hourly consultations of his father's watch.

It scarcely seemed to Basil and Isabel that their fellow-passengers were
so interesting as their fellow passengers used to be in their former days
of travel. They were soberly dressed, and were all of a middle-aged
sobriety of deportment, from which nothing salient offered itself for
conjecture or speculation; and there was little within the car to take
their minds from the brilliant young world that flashed and sang by them
outside. The belated spring had ripened, with its frequent rains, into
the perfection of early summer; the grass was thicker and the foliage
denser than they had ever seen it before; and when they had run out into
the hills beyond Fitchburg, they saw the laurel in bloom. It was
everywhere in the woods, lurking like drifts among the underbrush, and
overflowing the tops, and stealing down the hollows, of the railroad
embankments; a snow of blossom flushed with a mist of pink. Its shy, wild
beauty ceased whenever the train stopped, but the orioles made up for its
absence with their singing in the village trees about the stations; and
though Fitchburg and Ayer's Junction and Athol are not names that invoke
historical or romantic associations, the hearts of Basil and Isabel began
to stir with the joy of travel before they had passed these points. At
the first Basil got out to buy the cold chicken which had been commanded,
and he recognized in the keeper of the railroad restaurant their former
conductor, who had been warned by the spirits never to travel without a
flower of some sort carried between his lips, and who had preserved his
own life and the lives of his passengers for many years by this simple
device. His presence lent the sponge cake and rhubarb pie and baked beans
a supernatural interest, and reconciled Basil to the toughness of the
athletic bird which the mystical ex-partner of fate had sold him; he
justly reflected that if he had heard the story of the restaurateur's
superstition in a foreign land, or another time, he would have found in
it a certain poetry. It was this willingness to find poetry in things
around them that kept his life and Isabel's fresh, and they taught their
children the secret of their elixir. To be sure, it was only a genre
poetry, but it was such as has always inspired English art and song; and
now the whole family enjoyed, as if it had been a passage from Goldsmith
or Wordsworth, the flying sentiment of the railroad side. There was a
simple interior at one place,--a small shanty, showing through the open
door a cook stove surmounted by the evening coffee-pot, with a lazy cat
outstretched upon the floor in the middle distance, and an old woman
standing just outside the threshold to see the train go by,--which had an
unrivaled value till they came to a superannuated car on a siding in the
woods, in which the railroad workmen boarded--some were lounging on the
platform and at the open windows, while others were "washing up" for
supper, and the whole scene was full of holiday ease and sylvan comradery
that went to the hearts of the sympathetic spectators. Basil had lately
been reading aloud the delightful history of Rudder Grange, and the
children, who had made their secret vows never to live in anything but an
old canal-boat when they grew up, owned that there were fascinating
possibilities in a worn-out railroad car.

The lovely Deerfield Valley began to open on either hand, with smooth
stretches of the quiet river, and breadths of grassy intervale and
tableland; the elms grouped themselves like the trees of a park; here and
there the nearer hills broke away, and revealed long, deep, chasmed
hollows, full of golden light and delicious shadow. There were people
rowing on the water; and every pretty town had some touch of
picturesqueness or pastoral charm to offer: at Greenfield, there were
children playing in the new-mown hay along the railroad embankment; at
Shelburne Falls, there was a game of cricket going on (among the English
operatives of the cutlery works, as Basil boldly asserted). They looked
down from their car-window on a young lady swinging in a hammock, in her
door-yard, and on an old gentleman hoeing his potatoes; a group of girls
waved their handkerchiefs to the passing train, and a boy paused in
weeding a garden-bed,--and probably denied that he had paused, later. In
the mean time the golden haze along the mountain side changed to a clear,
pearly lustre, and the quiet evening possessed the quiet landscape. They
confessed to each other that it was all as sweet and beautiful as it used
to be; and in fact they had seen palaces, in other days, which did not
give them the pleasure they found in a woodcutter's shanty, losing itself
among the shadows in a solitude of the hills. The tunnel, after this, was
a gross and material sensation; but they joined the children in trying to
hold and keep it, and Basil let the boy time it by his watch. "Now," said
Tom, when five minutes were gone, "we are under the very centre of the
mountain." But the tunnel was like all accomplished facts, all hopes
fulfilled, valueless to the soul, and scarcely appreciable to the sense;
and the children emerged at North Adams with but a mean opinion of that
great feat of engineering. Basil drew a pretty moral from their
experience. "If you rode upon a comet you would be disappointed. Take my
advice, and never ride upon a comet. I shouldn't object to your riding on
a little meteor,--you would n't expect much of that; but I warn you
against comets; they are as bad as tunnels."

The children thought this moral was a joke at their expense, and as they
were a little sleepy they permitted themselves the luxury of feeling
trifled with. But they woke, refreshed and encouraged, from slumbers that
had evidently been unbroken, though they both protested that they had not
slept a wink the whole night, and gave themselves up to wonder at the
interminable levels of Western New York over which the train was running.
The longing to come to an edge, somewhere, that the New England traveler
experiences on this plain, was inarticulate with the children; but it
breathed in the sigh with which Isabel welcomed even the architectural
inequalities of a city into which they drew in the early morning. This
city showed to their weary eyes a noble stretch of river, from the waters
of which lofty piles of buildings rose abruptly; and Isabel, being left
to guess where they were, could think of no other place so picturesque as
Rochester.

"Yes," said her husband; "it is our own Enchanted City. I wonder if that
unstinted hospitality is still dispensed by the good head waiter at the
hotel where we stopped, to bridal parties who have passed the ordeal of
the haughty hotel clerk. I wonder what has become of that hotel clerk.
Has he fallen, through pride, to some lower level, or has he bowed his
arrogant spirit to the demands of advancing civilization, and realized
that he is the servant, and not the master, of the public? I think I've
noticed, since his time, a growing kindness in hotel clerks; or perhaps I
have become of a more impressive presence; they certainly unbend to me a
little more. I should like to go up to our hotel, and try myself on our
old enemy, if he is still there. I can fancy how his shirt front has
expanded in these twelve years past; he has grown a little bald, after
the fashion of middle-aged hotel clerks, but he parts his hair very much
on one side, and brushes it squarely across his forehead to hide his
loss; the forefinger that he touches that little snapbell with, when he
doesn't look at you, must be very pudgy now. Come, let us get out and
breakfast at, Rochester; they will give us broiled whitefish; and we can
show the children where Sam Patch jumped over Genesee Falls, and--"

"No, no, Basil," cried his wife. "It would be sacrilege! All that is
sacred to those dear young days of ours; and I wouldn't think of trying
to repeat it. Our own ghosts would rise up in that dining-room to
reproach us for our intrusion! Oh, perhaps we have done a wicked thing in
coming this journey! We ought to have left the past alone; we shall only
mar our memories of all these beautiful places. Do you suppose Buffalo
can be as poetical as it was then? Buffalo! The name does n't invite the
Muse very much. Perhaps it never was very poetical! Oh, Basil, dear, I'm
afraid we have only come to find out that we were mistaken about
everything! Let's leave Rochester alone, at any rate!"

I'm not troubled! We won't disturb our dream of Rochester; but I don't
despair of Buffalo. I'm sure that Buffalo will be all that our fancy ever
painted it. I believe in Buffalo."

"Well, well," murmured Isabel, "I hope you're right;" and she put some
things together for leaving their car at Buffalo, while they were still
two hours away.

When they reached a place where the land mated its level with the level
of the lake, they ran into a wilderness of railroad cars, in a world
where life seemed to be operated solely by locomotives and their helpless
minions. The bellowing and bleating trains were arriving in every
direction, not only along the ground floor of the plain, but stately
stretches of trestle-work, which curved and extended across the plain,
carried them to and fro overhead. The travelers owned that this railroad
suburb had its own impressiveness, and they said that the trestle-work
was as noble in effect as the lines of aqueduct that stalk across the
Roman Campagna. Perhaps this was because they had not seen the Campagna
or its aqueducts for a great while; but they were so glad to find
themselves in the spirit of their former journey again that they were
amiable to everything. When the children first caught sight of the lake's
delicious blue, and cried out that it was lovelier than the sea, they
felt quite a local pride in their preference. It was what Isabel had said
twelve years before, on first beholding the lake.

But they did not really see the lake till they had taken the train for
Niagara Falls, after breakfasting in the depot, where the children, used
to the severe native or the patronizing Irish ministrations of Boston
restaurants and hotels, reveled for the first time in the affectionate
devotion of a black waiter. There was already a ridiculous abundance and
variety on the table; but this waiter brought them strawberries and again
strawberries, and repeated plates of griddle cakes with maple syrup; and
he hung over the back of first one chair and then another with an
unselfish joy in the appetites of the breakfasters which gave Basil
renewed hopes of his race. "Such rapture in serving argues a largeness of
nature which will be recognized hereafter," he said, feeling about in his
waistcoat pocket for a quarter. It seemed a pity to render the waiter's
zeal retroactively interested, but in view of the fact that he possibly
expected the quarter, there was nothing else to do; and by a mysterious
stroke of gratitude the waiter delivered them into the hands of a friend,
who took another quarter from them for carrying their bags and wraps to
the train. This second retainer approved their admiration of the
aesthetic forms and colors of the depot colonnade; and being asked if
that were the depot whose roof had fallen in some years before, proudly
replied that it was.

"There were a great many killed, were n't there?" asked Basil, with
sympathetic satisfaction in the disaster. The porter seemed humiliated;
he confessed the mortifying truth that the loss of life was small, but he
recovered a just self-respect in adding, "If the roof had fallen in five
minutes sooner, it would have killed about three hundred people."

Basil had promised the children a sight of the Rapids before they reached
the Falls, and they held him rigidly accountable from the moment they
entered the train, and began to run out of the city between the river and
the canal. He attempted a diversion with the canal boats, and tried to
bring forward the subject of Rudder Grange in that connection. They said
that the canal boats were splendid, but they were looking for the Rapids
now; and they declined to be interested in a window in one of the boats,
which Basil said was just like the window that the Rudder Granger and the
boarder had popped Pomona out of when they took her for a burglar.

"You spoil those children, Basil," said his wife, as they clambered over
him, and clamored for the Rapids.

"At present I'm giving them an object-lesson in patience and self-denial;
they are experiencing the fact that they can't have the Rapids till they
get to them, and probably they'll be disappointed in them when they
arrive."

In fact, they valued the Rapids very little more than the Hoosac Tunnel,
when they came in sight of them, at last; and Basil had some question in
his own mind whether the Rapids had not dwindled since his former visit.
He did not breathe this doubt to Isabel, however, and she arrived at the
Falls with unabated expectations. They were going to spend only half a
day there; and they turned into the station, away from the phalanx of
omnibuses, when they dismounted from their train. They seemed, as before,
to be the only passengers who had arrived, and they found an abundant
choice of carriages waiting in the street, outside the station. The
Niagara hackman may once have been a predatory and very rampant animal,
but public opinion, long expressed through the public prints, has reduced
him to silence and meekness. Apparently, he may not so much as beckon
with his whip to the arriving wayfarer; it is certain that he cannot
cross the pavement to the station door; and Basil, inviting one of them
to negotiation, was himself required by the attendant policeman to step
out to the curbstone, and complete his transaction there. It was an
impressive illustration of the power of a free press, but upon the whole
Basil found the effect melancholy; it had the saddening quality which
inheres in every sort of perfection. The hackman, reduced to entire
order, appealed to his compassion, and he had not the heart to beat him
down from his moderate first demand, as perhaps he ought to have done.
They drove directly to the cataract, and found themselves in the pretty
grove beside the American Fall, and in the air whose dampness was as
familiar as if they had breathed it all their childhood. It was full now
of the fragrance of some sort of wild blossom; and again they had that
old, entrancing sense of the mingled awfulness and loveliness of the
great spectacle. This sylvan perfume, the gayety of the sunshine, the
mildness of the breeze that stirred the leaves overhead, and the
bird-singing that made itself heard amid the roar of the rapids and the
solemn incessant plunge of the cataract, moved their hearts, and made
them children with the boy and girl, who stood rapt for a moment and then
broke into joyful wonder. They could sympathize with the ardor with which
Tom longed to tempt fate at the brink of the river, and over the tops of
the parapets which have been built along the edge of the precipice, and
they equally entered into the terror with which Bella screamed at his
suicidal zeal. They joined her in restraining him; they reduced him to a
beggarly account of half a dozen stones, flung into the Rapids at not
less than ten paces from the brink; and they would not let him toss the
smallest pebble over the parapet, though he laughed to scorn the notion
that anybody should be hurt by them below.

It seemed to them that the triviality of man in the surroundings of the
Falls had increased with the lapse of time. There were more booths and
bazaars, and more colored feather fans with whole birds spitted in the
centres; and there was an offensive array of blue and green and yellow
glasses on the shore, through which you were expected to look at the
Falls gratis. They missed the simple dignity of the blanching Indian
maids, who used to squat about on the grass, with their laps full of
moccasins and pin-cushions. But, as of old, the photographer came out of
his saloon, and invited them to pose for a family group; representing
that the light and the spray were singularly propitious, and that
everything in nature invited them to be taken. Basil put him off gently,
for the sake of the time when he had refused to be photographed in a
bridal group, and took refuge from him in the long low building from
which you descend to the foot of the cataract.

The grove beside the American Fall has been inclosed, and named Prospect
Park, by a company which exacts half a dollar for admittance, and then
makes you free of all its wonders and conveniences, for which you once
had to pay severally. This is well enough; but formerly you could refuse
to go down the inclined tramway, and now you cannot, without feeling that
you have failed to get your money's worth. It was in this illogical
spirit of economy that Basil invited his family to the descent; but
Isabel shook her head. "No, you go with the children," she said, "and I
will stay, here, till you get back;" her agonized countenance added, "and
pray for you;" and Basil took his children on either side of him, and
rumbled down the terrible descent with much of the excitement that
attends travel in an open horse-car. When he stepped out of the car he
felt that increase of courage which comes to every man after safely
passing through danger. He resolved to brave the mists and
slippery-stones at the foot of the Fall; and he would have plunged at
once into this fresh peril, if he had not been prevented by the Prospect
Park Company. This ingenious association has built a large tunnel-like
shed quite to the water's edge, so that you cannot view the cataract as
you once could, at a reasonable remoteness, but must emerge from the
building into a storm of spray. The roof of the tunnel is painted with a
lively effect in party-colored stripes, and is lettered "The Shadow of
the Rock," so that you take it at first to be an appeal to your aesthetic
sense; but the real object of the company is not apparent till you put
your head out into the tempest, when you agree with the nearest
guide--and one is always very near--that you had better have an oil-skin
dress, as Basil did. He told the guide that he did not wish to go under
the Fall, and the guide confidentially admitted that there was no fun in
that, any way; and in the mean time he equipped him and his children for
their foray into the mist. When they issued forth, under their friend's
leadership, Basil felt that, with his children clinging to each hand, he
looked like some sort of animal with its young, and, though not unsocial
by nature, he was glad to be among strangers for the time. They climbed
hither and thither over the rocks, and lifted their streaming faces for
the views which the guide pointed out; and in a rift of the spray they
really caught one glorious glimpse of the whole sweep of the Fall. The
next instant the spray swirled back, and they were glad to turn for a
sight of the rainbow, lying in a circle on the rocks as quietly and
naturally as if that had been the habit of rainbows ever since the flood.
This was all there was to be done, and they streamed back into the
tunnel, where they disrobed in the face of a menacing placard, which
announced that the hire of a guide and a dress for going under the Fall
was one dollar.

"Will they make you pay a dollar for each of us, papa?" asked Tom,
fearfully.

"Oh, pooh, no!" returned Basil; "we have n't been under the Fall." But he
sought out the proprietor with a trembling heart. The proprietor was a
man of severely logical mind; he said that the charge would be three
dollars, for they had had the use of the dresses and the guide just the
same as if they had gone under the Fall; and he refused to recognize
anything misleading in the dressing-room placard: In fine, he left Basil
without a leg to stand upon. It was not so much the three dollars as the
sense of having been swindled that vexed him; and he instantly resolved
not to share his annoyance with Isabel. Why, indeed, should he put that
burden upon her? If she were none the wiser, she would be none the
poorer; and he ought to be willing to deny himself her sympathy for the
sake of sparing her needless pain.

He met her at the top of the inclined tramway with a face of exemplary
unconsciousness, and he listened with her to the tale their coachman
told, as they sat in a pretty arbor looking out on the Rapids, of a
Frenchman and his wife. This Frenchman had returned, one morning, from a
stroll on Goat Island, and reported with much apparent concern that his
wife had fallen into the water, and been carried over the Fall. It was so
natural for a man to grieve for the loss of his wife, under the peculiar
circumstances, that every one condoled with the widower; but when a few
days later, her body was found, and the distracted husband refused to
come back from New York to her funeral, there was a general regret that
he had not been arrested. A flash of conviction illumed the whole fact to
Basil's guilty consciousness: this unhappy Frenchman had paid a dollar
for the use of an oil-skin suit at the foot of the Fall, and had been
ashamed to confess the swindle to his wife, till, in a moment of remorse
and madness, he shouted the fact into her ear, and then Basil looked at
the mother of his children, and registered a vow that if he got away from
Niagara without being forced to a similar excess he would confess his
guilt to Isabel at the very first act of spendthrift profusion she
committed. The guide pointed out the rock in the Rapids to which Avery
had clung for twenty-four hours before he was carried over the Falls, and
to the morbid fancy of the deceitful husband Isabel's bonnet ribbons
seemed to flutter from the pointed reef. He could endure the pretty arbor
no longer. "Come, children!" he cried, with a wild, unnatural gayety;
"let us go to Goat Island, and see the Bridge to the Three Sisters, that
your mother was afraid to walk back on after she had crossed it."

"For shame, Basil!" retorted Isabel. "You know it was you who were afraid
of that bridge."

The children, who knew the story by heart, laughed with their father at
the monstrous pretension; and his simulated hilarity only increased upon
paying a toll of two dollars at the Goat Island bridge.

"What extortion!" cried Isabel, with an indignation that secretly
unnerved him. He trembled upon the verge of confession; but he had
finally the moral force to resist. He suffered her to compute the cost of
their stay at Niagara without allowing those three dollars to enter into
her calculation; he even began to think what justificative extravagance
he could tempt her to. He suggested the purchase of local bric-a-brac; he
asked her if she would not like to dine at the International, for old
times' sake. But she answered, with disheartening virtue, that they must
not think of such a thing, after what they had spent already. Nothing,
perhaps, marked the confirmed husband in Basil more than these hidden
fears and reluctances.

In the mean time Isabel ignorantly abandoned herself to the charm of the
place, which she found unimpaired, in spite of the reported ravages of
improvement about Niagara. Goat Island was still the sylvan solitude of
twelve years ago, haunted by even fewer nymphs and dryads than of old.
The air was full of the perfume that scented it at Prospect Park; the
leaves showered them with shade and sun, as they drove along. "If it were
not for the children here," she said, "I should think that our first
drive on Goat Island had never ended."

She sighed a little, and Basil leaned forward and took her hand in his.
"It never has ended; it's the same drive; only we are younger now, and
enjoy it more." It always touched him when Isabel was sentimental about
the past, for the years had tended to make her rather more seriously
maternal towards him than towards the other children; and he recognized
that these fond reminiscences were the expression of the girlhood still
lurking deep within her heart.

She shook her head. "No, but I'm willing the children should be young in
our place. It's only fair they should have their turn."

She remained in the carriage, while Basil visited the various points of
view on Luna Island with the boy and girl. A boy is probably of
considerable interest to himself, and a man looks back at his own boyhood
with some pathos. But in his actuality a boy has very little to commend
him to the toleration of other human beings. Tom was very well, as boys
go; but now his contribution to the common enjoyment was to venture as
near as possible to all perilous edges; to throw stones into the water,
and to make as if to throw them over precipices on the people below; to
pepper his father with questions, and to collect cumbrous mementos of the
vegetable and mineral kingdoms. He kept the carriage waiting a good five
minutes, while he could cut his initials on a band-rail. "You can come
back and see 'em on your bridal tower," said the driver. Isabel gave a
little start, as if she had almost thought of something she was trying to
think of.

They occasionally met ladies driving, and sometimes they encountered a
couple making a tour of the island on foot. But none of these people were
young, and Basil reported that the Three Sisters were inhabited only by
persons of like maturity; even a group of people who were eating lunch to
the music of the shouting Rapids, on the outer edge of the last Sister,
were no younger, apparently.

Isabel did not get out of the carriage to verify his report; she
preferred to refute his story of her former panic on those islands by
remaining serenely seated while he visited them. She thus lost a superb
novelty which nature has lately added to the wonders of this Fall, in
that place at the edge of the great Horse Shoe where the rock has fallen
and left a peculiarly shaped chasm: through this the spray leaps up from
below, and flashes a hundred feet into the air, in rocket-like jets and
points, and then breaks and dissolves away in the pyrotechnic curves of a
perpetual Fourth of July. Basil said something like this in celebrating
the display, with the purpose of rendering her loss more poignant; but
she replied, with tranquil piety, that she would rather keep her Niagara
unchanged; and she declared that, as she understood him, there must be
something rather cheap and conscious in the new feature. She approved,
however, of the change that had removed that foolish little Terrapin
Tower from the brink on which it stood, and she confessed that she could
have enjoyed a little variety in the stories the driver told them of the
Indian burial-ground on the island: they were exactly the stories she and
Basil had heard twelve years before, and the ill-starred goats, from
which the island took its name, perished once more in his narrative.

Under the influence of his romances our travelers began to find the whole
scene hackneyed; and they were glad to part from him a little sooner than
they had bargained to do. They strolled about the anomalous village on
foot, and once more marveled at the paucity of travel and the enormity of
the local preparation. Surely the hotels are nowhere else in the world so
large! Could there ever have been visitors enough at Niagara to fill
them? They were built so big for some good reason, no doubt; but it is no
more apparent than why all these magnificent equipages are waiting about
the empty streets for the people who never come to hire them.

"It seems to me that I don't see so many strangers here as I used," Basil
had suggested to their driver.

"Oh, they have n't commenced coming yet," he replied, with hardy
cheerfulness, and pretended that they were plenty enough in July and
August.

They went to dine at the modest restaurant of a colored man, who
advertised a table d'hote dinner on a board at his door; and they put
their misgivings to him, which seemed to grieve him, and he contended
that Niagara was as prosperous and as much resorted to as ever. In fact,
they observed that their regret for the supposed decline of the Falls as
a summer resort was nowhere popular in the village, and they desisted in
their offers of sympathy, after their rebuff from the restaurateur.

Basil got his family away to the station after dinner, and left them
there, while he walked down the village street, for a closer inspection
of the hotels. At the door of the largest a pair of children sported in
the solitude, as fearlessly as the birds on Selkirk's island; looking
into the hotel, he saw a few porters and call-boys seated in statuesque
repose against the wall, while the clerk pined in dreamless inactivity
behind the register; some deserted ladies flitted through the door of the
parlor at the side. He recalled the evening of his former visit, when he
and Isabel had met the Ellisons in that parlor, and it seemed, in the
retrospect, a scene of the wildest gayety. He turned for consolation into
the barber's shop, where he found himself the only customer, and no busy
sound of "Next" greeted his ear. But the barber, like all the rest, said
that Niagara was not unusually empty; and he came out feeling bewildered
and defrauded. Surely the agent of the boats which descend the Rapids of
the St. Lawrence must be frank, if Basil went to him and pretended that
he was going to buy a ticket. But a glance at the agent's sign showed
Basil that the agent, with his brave jollity of manner and his impressive
"Good-morning," had passed away from the deceits of travel, and that he
was now inherited by his widow, who in turn was absent, and temporarily
represented by their son. The boy, in supplying Basil with an
advertisement of the line, made a specious show of haste, as if there
were a long queue of tourists waiting behind him to be served with
tickets. Perhaps there was, indeed, a spectral line there, but Basil was
the only tourist present in the flesh, and he shivered in his isolation,
and fled with the advertisement in his hand. Isabel met him at the door
of the station with a frightened face.

"Basil," she cried, "I have found out what the trouble is! Where are the
brides?"

He took her outstretched hands in his, and passing one of them through
his arm walked with her apart from the children, who were examining at
the news-man's booth the moccasins and the birchbark bric-a-brac of the
Irish aborigines, and the cups and vases of Niagara spar imported from
Devonshire.

"My dear," he said, "there are no brides; everybody was married twelve
years ago, and the brides are middle-aged mothers of families now, and
don't come to Niagara if they are wise."

"Yes," she desolately asserted, "that is so! Something has been hanging
over me ever since we came, and suddenly I realized that it was the
absence of the brides. But--but--down at the hotels--Didn't you see
anything bridal there? When the omnibuses arrived, was there no burst of
minstrelsy? Was there--"

She could not go on, but sank nervelessly into the nearest seat.

"Perhaps," said Basil, dreamily regarding the contest of Tom and Bella
for a newly-purchased paper of sour cherries, and helplessly forecasting
in his remoter mind the probable consequences, "there were both brides
and minstrelsy at the hotel, if I had only had the eyes to see and the
ears to hear. In this world, my dear, we are always of our own time, and
we live amid contemporary things. I daresay there were middle-aged people
at Niagara when we were here before, but we did not meet them, nor they
us. I daresay that the place is now swarming with bridal couples, and it
is because they are invisible and inaudible to us that it seems such a
howling wilderness. But the hotel clerks and the restaurateurs and the
hackmen know them, and that is the reason why they receive with surprise
and even offense our sympathy for their loneliness. Do you suppose,
Isabel, that if you were to lay your head on my shoulder, in a bridal
manner, it would do anything to bring us en rapport with that lost bridal
world again?"

Isabel caught away her hand. "Basil," she cried, "it would be disgusting!
I wouldn't do it for the world--not even for that world. I saw one
middle-aged couple on Goat Island, while you were down at the Cave of the
Winds, or somewhere, with the children. They were sitting on some steps,
he a step below her, and he seemed to want to put his head on her knee;
but I gazed at him sternly, and he didn't dare. We should look like them,
if we yielded to any outburst of affection. Don't you think we should
look like them?"

"I don't know," said Basil. "You are certainly a little wrinkled, my
dear."

"And you are very fat, Basil."

They glanced at each other with a flash of resentment, and then they both
laughed. "We couldn't look young if we quarreled a week," he said. "We
had better content ourselves with feeling young, as I hope we shall do if
we live to be ninety. It will be the loss of others if they don't see our
bloom upon us. Shall I get you a paper of cherries, Isabel? The children
seem to be enjoying them."

Isabel sprang upon her offspring with a cry of despair. "Oh, what shall I
do? Now we shall not have a wink of sleep with them to-night. Where is
that nux?" She hunted for the medicine in her bag, and the children
submitted; for they had eaten all the cherries, and they took their
medicine without a murmur. "I wonder at your letting them eat the sour
things, Basil," said their mother, when the children bad run off to the
newsstand again.

"I wonder that you left me to see what they were doing," promptly
retorted their father.

"It was your nonsense about the brides," said Isabel; "and I think this
has been a lesson to us. Don't let them get anything else to eat,
dearest."

"They are safe; they have no more money. They are frugally confining
themselves to the admiration of the Japanese bows and arrows yonder. Why
have our Indians taken to making Japanese bows and arrows?"

Isabel despised the small pleasantry. "Then you saw nobody at the hotel?"
she asked.

"Not even the Ellisons," said Basil.

"Ah, yes," said Isabel; "that was where we met them. How long ago it
seems! And poor little Kitty! I wonder what has become of them? But I'm
glad they're not here. That's what makes you realize your age: meeting
the same people in the same place a great while after, and seeing how
old--they've grown. I don't think I could bear to see Kitty Ellison
again. I'm glad she did n't come to visit us in Boston, though, after
what happened, she could n't, poor thing! I wonder if she 's ever
regretted her breaking with him in the way she did. It's a very painful
thing to think of,--such an inconclusive conclusion; it always seemed as
if they ought to meet again, somewhere."

"I don't believe she ever wished it."

"A man can't tell what a woman wishes."

"Well, neither can a woman," returned Basil, lightly.

His wife remained serious. "It was a very fine point,--a very little
thing to reject a man for. I felt that when I first read her letter about
it."

Basil yawned. "I don't believe I ever knew just what the point was."

"Oh yes, you did; but you forget everything. You know that they met two
Boston ladies just after they were engaged, and she believed that he did
n't introduce her because he was ashamed of her countrified appearance
before them."

"It was a pretty fine point," said Basil, and he laughed provokingly.

"He might not have meant to ignore her," answered Isabel thoughtfully;
"he might have chosen not to introduce her because he felt too proud of
her to subject her to any possible misappreciation from them. You might
have looked at it in that way."

"Why didn't you look at it in that way? You advised her against giving
him another chance. Why did you?"

"Why?" repeated Isabel, absently. "Oh, a woman does n't judge a man by
what he does, but by what he is! I knew that if she dismissed him it was
because she never really had trusted or could trust his love; and I
thought she had better not make another trial."

"Well, very possibly you were right. At any rate, you have the
consolation of knowing that it's too late to help it now."

"Yes, it's too late," said Isabel; and her thoughts went back to her
meeting with the young girl whom she had liked so much, and whose after
history had interested her so painfully. It seemed to her a hard world
that could come to nothing better than that for the girl whom she had
seen in her first glimpse of it that night. Where was she now? What had
become of her? If she had married that man, would she have been any
happier? Marriage was not the poetic dream of perfect union that a girl
imagines it; she herself had found that out. It was a state of trial, of
probation; it was an ordeal, not an ecstasy. If she and Basil had broken
each other's hearts and parted, would not the fragments of their lives
have been on a much finer, much higher plane? Had not the commonplace,
every-day experiences of marriage vulgarized them both? To be sure, there
were the children; but if they had never had the children, she would
never have missed them; and if Basil had, for example, died just before
they were married--She started from this wicked reverie, and ran towards
her husband, whose broad, honest back, with no visible neck or
shirt-collar, was turned towards her, as he stood, with his head thrown
up, studying a time-table on the wall; she passed her arm convulsively
through his, and pulled him away.

"It's time to be getting our bags out to the train, Basil! Come, Bella!
Tom, we're going!"

The children reluctantly turned from the newsman's trumpery, and they all
went out to the track, and took seats on the benches under the colonnade.
While they waited; the train for Buffalo drew in, and they remained
watching it till it started. In the last car that passed them, when it
was fairly under way, a face looked full at Isabel from one of the
windows. In that moment of astonishment she forgot to observe whether it
was sad or glad; she only saw, or believed she saw, the light of
recognition dawn into its eyes, and then it was gone.

"Basil!" she cried, "stop the train! That was Kitty Ellison!"

"Oh no, it wasn't," said Basil, easily. "It looked like her; but it
looked at least ten years older."

"Why, of course it was! We're all ten years older," returned his wife in
such indignation at his stupidity that she neglected to insist upon his
stopping the train, which was rapidly diminishing in the perspective.

He declared it was only a fancied resemblance; she contended that this
was in the neighborhood of Eriecreek, and it must be Kitty; and thus one
of their most inveterate disagreements began.

Their own train drew into the depot, and they disputed upon the fact in
question till they entered on the passage of the Suspension Bridge. Then
Basil rose and called the children to his side. On the left hand, far up
the river, the great Fall shows, with its mists at its foot and its
rainbow on its brow, as silent and still as if it were vastly painted
there; and below the bridge on the right, leap the Rapids in the narrow
gorge, like seas on a rocky shore. "Look on both sides, now," he said to
the children. "Isabel you must see this!"

Isabel had been preparing for the passage of this bridge ever since she
left Boston. "Never!" she exclaimed. She instantly closed her eyes, and
hid her face in her handkerchief. Thanks to this precaution of hers, the
train crossed the bridge in perfect safety.



PG EDITORS BOOKMARKS:

    All luckiest or the unluckiest, the healthiest or the sickest
    All the loveliness that exists outside of you, dearest is little
    Amusing world, if you do not refuse to be amused
    At heart every man is a smuggler
    Beautiful with the radiance of loving and being loved
    Bewildering labyrinth of error
    Biggest place is always the kindest as well as the cruelest
    Brown-stone fronts
    Civilly protested and consented
    Coldly and inaccessibly vigilant
    Collective silence which passes for sociality
    Deadly summer day
    Dinner unites the idea of pleasure and duty
    Dog that had plainly made up his mind to go mad
    Evil which will not let a man forgive his victim
    Feeblest-minded are sure to lead the talk
    Feeling of contempt for his unambitious destination
    Feeling rather ashamed,--for he had laughed too
    Glad; which considering, they ceased to be
    Guilty rapture of a deliberate dereliction
    Happiness built upon and hedged about with misery
    Happiness is so unreasonable
    Headache darkens the universe while it lasts
    Heart that forgives but does not forget
    Helplessness accounts for many heroic facts in the world
    Helplessness begets a sense of irresponsibility
    I supposed I had the pleasure of my wife's acquaintance
    I want to be sorry upon the easiest possible terms
    I'm not afraid--I'm awfully demoralized
    Indulge safely in the pleasures of autobiography
    It 's the same as a promise, your not saying you wouldn't
    It had come as all such calamities come, from nothing
    Jesting mood in the face of all embarrassments
    Long life of holidays which is happy marriage
    Married the whole mystifying world of womankind
    Muddy draught which impudently affected to be coffee
    Never could have an emotion without desiring to analyze it
    Nothing so apt to end in mutual dislike,--except gratitude
    Nothing so sad to her as a bride, unless it's a young mother
    Oblivion of sleep
    Only so much clothing as the law compelled
    Parkman
    Patronizing spirit of travellers in a foreign country
    Rejoice in everything that I haven't done
    Seemed the last phase of a world presently to be destroyed
    Self-sufficiency, without its vulgarity
    So hard to give up doing anything we have meant to do
    So old a world and groping still
    The knowledge of your helplessness in any circumstances
    There is little proportion about either pain or pleasure
    They can only do harm by an expression of sympathy
    Tragical character of heat
    Used to having his decisions reached without his knowledge
    Vexed by a sense of his own pitifulness
    Voice of the common imbecility and incoherence
    Weariness of buying
    Willingness to find poetry in things around them



A HAZARD OF NEW FORTUNES

By William Dean Howells



BIBLIOGRAPHICAL

The following story was the first fruit of my New York life when I began
to live it after my quarter of a century in Cambridge and Boston, ending
in 1889; and I used my own transition to the commercial metropolis in
framing the experience which was wholly that of my supposititious
literary adventurer. He was a character whom, with his wife, I have
employed in some six or eight other stories, and whom I made as much the
hero and heroine of 'Their Wedding Journey' as the slight fable would
bear. In venturing out of my adoptive New England, where I had found
myself at home with many imaginary friends, I found it natural to ask the
company of these familiar acquaintances, but their company was not to be
had at once for the asking. When I began speaking of them as Basil and
Isabel, in the fashion of 'Their Wedding Journey,' they would not respond
with the effect of early middle age which I desired in them. They
remained wilfully, not to say woodenly, the young bridal pair of that
romance, without the promise of novel functioning. It was not till I
tried addressing them as March and Mrs. March that they stirred under my
hand with fresh impulse, and set about the work assigned them as people
in something more than their second youth.

The scene into which I had invited them to figure filled the largest
canvas I had yet allowed myself; and, though 'A Hazard of New Fortunes
was not the first story I had written with the printer at my heels, it
was the first which took its own time to prescribe its own dimensions. I
had the general design well in mind when I began to write it, but as it
advanced it compelled into its course incidents, interests,
individualities, which I had not known lay near, and it specialized and
amplified at points which I had not always meant to touch, though I
should not like to intimate anything mystical in the fact. It became, to
my thinking, the most vital of my fictions, through my quickened interest
in the life about me, at a moment of great psychological import. We had
passed through a period of strong emotioning in the direction of the
humaner economics, if I may phrase it so; the rich seemed not so much to
despise the poor, the poor did not so hopelessly repine. The solution of
the riddle of the painful earth through the dreams of Henry George,
through the dreams of Edward Bellamy, through the dreams of all the
generous visionaries of the past, seemed not impossibly far off. That
shedding of blood which is for the remission of sins had been symbolized
by the bombs and scaffolds of Chicago, and the hearts of those who felt
the wrongs bound up with our rights, the slavery implicated in our
liberty, were thrilling with griefs and hopes hitherto strange to the
average American breast. Opportunely for me there was a great street-car
strike in New York, and the story began to find its way to issues nobler
and larger than those of the love-affairs common to fiction. I was in my
fifty-second year when I took it up, and in the prime, such as it was, of
my powers. The scene which I had chosen appealed prodigiously to me, and
the action passed as nearly without my conscious agency as I ever allow
myself to think such things happen.

The opening chapters were written in a fine, old fashioned apartment
house which had once been a family house, and in an uppermost room of
which I could look from my work across the trees of the little park in
Stuyvesant Square to the towers of St. George's Church. Then later in the
spring of 1889 the unfinished novel was carried to a country house on the
Belmont border of Cambridge. There I must have written very rapidly to
have pressed it to conclusion before the summer ended. It came, indeed,
so easily from the pen that I had the misgiving which I always have of
things which do not cost me great trouble.

There is nothing in the book with which I amused myself more than the
house-hunting of the Marches when they were placing themselves in New
York; and if the contemporary reader should turn for instruction to the
pages in which their experience is detailed I assure him that he may
trust their fidelity and accuracy in the article of New York housing as
it was early in the last decade of the last century: I mean, the housing
of people of such moderate means as the Marches. In my zeal for truth I
did not distinguish between reality and actuality in this or other
matters--that is, one was as precious to me as the other. But the types
here portrayed are as true as ever they were, though the world in which
they were finding their habitat is wonderfully, almost incredibly
different. Yet it is not wholly different, for a young literary pair now
adventuring in New York might easily parallel the experience of the
Marches with their own, if not for so little money; many phases of New
York housing are better, but all are dearer. Other aspects of the
material city have undergone a transformation much more wonderful. I find
that in my book its population is once modestly spoken of as two
millions, but now in twenty years it is twice as great, and the grandeur
as well as grandiosity of its forms is doubly apparent. The transitional
public that then moped about in mildly tinkling horse-cars is now hurried
back and forth in clanging trolleys, in honking and whirring motors; the
Elevated road which was the last word of speed is undermined by the
Subway, shooting its swift shuttles through the subterranean woof of the
city's haste. From these feet let the witness infer our whole massive
Hercules, a bulk that sprawls and stretches beyond the rivers through the
tunnels piercing their beds and that towers into the skies with
innumerable tops--a Hercules blent of Briareus and Cerberus, but not so
bad a monster as it seemed then to threaten becoming.

Certain hopes of truer and better conditions on which my heart was fixed
twenty years ago are not less dear, and they are by no means touched with
despair, though they have not yet found the fulfilment which I would then
have prophesied for them. Events have not wholly played them false;
events have not halted, though they have marched with a slowness that
might affect a younger observer as marking time. They who were then
mindful of the poor have not forgotten them, and what is better the poor
have not often forgotten themselves in violences such as offered me the
material of tragedy and pathos in my story. In my quality of artist I
could not regret these, and I gratefully realize that they offered me the
opportunity of a more strenuous action, a more impressive catastrophe
than I could have achieved without them. They tended to give the whole
fable dignity and doubtless made for its success as a book. As a serial
it had crept a sluggish course before a public apparently so unmindful of
it that no rumor of its acceptance or rejection reached the writer during
the half year of its publication; but it rose in book form from that
failure and stood upon its feet and went its way to greater favor than
any book of his had yet enjoyed. I hope that my recognition of the fact
will not seem like boasting, but that the reader will regard it as a
special confidence from the author and will let it go no farther.

KITTERY POINT, MAINE, July, 1909.



PART FIRST

A HAZARD OF NEW FORTUNES
I.

"Now, you think this thing over, March, and let me know the last of next
week," said Fulkerson. He got up from the chair which he had been sitting
astride, with his face to its back, and tilting toward March on its
hind-legs, and came and rapped upon his table with his thin bamboo stick.
"What you want to do is to get out of the insurance business, anyway. You
acknowledge that yourself. You never liked it, and now it makes you sick;
in other words, it's killing you. You ain't an insurance man by nature.
You're a natural-born literary man, and you've been going against the
grain. Now, I offer you a chance to go with the grain. I don't say you're
going to make your everlasting fortune, but I'll give you a living
salary, and if the thing succeeds you'll share in its success. We'll all
share in its success. That's the beauty of it. I tell you, March, this is
the greatest idea that has been struck since"--Fulkerson stopped and
searched his mind for a fit image--"since the creation of man."

He put his leg up over the corner of March's table and gave himself a
sharp cut on the thigh, and leaned forward to get the full effect of his
words upon his listener.

March had his hands clasped together behind his head, and he took one of
them down long enough to put his inkstand and mucilage-bottle out of
Fulkerson's way. After many years' experiment of a mustache and whiskers,
he now wore his grizzled beard full, but cropped close; it gave him a
certain grimness, corrected by the gentleness of his eyes.

"Some people don't think much of the creation of man nowadays. Why stop
at that? Why not say since the morning stars sang together?"

"No, sir; no, sir! I don't want to claim too much, and I draw the line at
the creation of man. I'm satisfied with that. But if you want to ring the
morning stars into the prospectus all right; I won't go back on you."

"But I don't understand why you've set your mind on me," March said. "I
haven't had, any magazine experience, you know that; and I haven't
seriously attempted to do anything in literature since I was married. I
gave up smoking and the Muse together. I suppose I could still manage a
cigar, but I don't believe I could--"

"Muse worth a cent." Fulkerson took the thought out of his mouth and put
it into his own words. "I know. Well, I don't want you to. I don't care
if you never write a line for the thing, though you needn't reject
anything of yours, if it happens to be good, on that account. And I don't
want much experience in my editor; rather not have it. You told me,
didn't you, that you used to do some newspaper work before you settled
down?"

"Yes; I thought my lines were permanently cast in those places once. It
was more an accident than anything else that I got into the insurance
business. I suppose I secretly hoped that if I made my living by
something utterly different, I could come more freshly to literature
proper in my leisure."

"I see; and you found the insurance business too many, for you. Well,
anyway, you've always had a hankering for the inkpots; and the fact that
you first gave me the idea of this thing shows that you've done more or
less thinking about magazines."

"Yes--less."

"Well, all right. Now don't you be troubled. I know what I want,
generally, speaking, and in this particular instance I want you. I might
get a man of more experience, but I should probably get a man of more
prejudice and self-conceit along with him, and a man with a following of
the literary hangers-on that are sure to get round an editor sooner or
later. I want to start fair, and I've found out in the syndicate business
all the men that are worth having. But they know me, and they don't know
you, and that's where we shall have the pull on them. They won't be able
to work the thing. Don't you be anxious about the experience. I've got
experience enough of my own to run a dozen editors. What I want is an
editor who has taste, and you've got it; and conscience, and you've got
it; and horse sense, and you've got that. And I like you because you're a
Western man, and I'm another. I do cotton to a Western man when I find
him off East here, holding his own with the best of 'em, and showing 'em
that he's just as much civilized as they are. We both know what it is to
have our bright home in the setting sun; heigh?"

"I think we Western men who've come East are apt to take ourselves a
little too objectively and to feel ourselves rather more representative
than we need," March remarked.

Fulkerson was delighted. "You've hit it! We do! We are!"

"And as for holding my own, I'm not very proud of what I've done in that
way; it's been very little to hold. But I know what you mean, Fulkerson,
and I've felt the same thing myself; it warmed me toward you when we
first met. I can't help suffusing a little to any man when I hear that he
was born on the other side of the Alleghanies. It's perfectly stupid. I
despise the same thing when I see it in Boston people."

Fulkerson pulled first one of his blond whiskers and then the other, and
twisted the end of each into a point, which he left to untwine itself. He
fixed March with his little eyes, which had a curious innocence in their
cunning, and tapped the desk immediately in front of him. "What I like
about you is that you're broad in your sympathies. The first time I saw
you, that night on the Quebec boat, I said to myself: 'There's a man I
want to know. There's a human being.' I was a little afraid of Mrs. March
and the children, but I felt at home with you--thoroughly
domesticated--before I passed a word with you; and when you spoke first,
and opened up with a joke over that fellow's tableful of light literature
and Indian moccasins and birch-bark toy canoes and stereoscopic views, I
knew that we were brothers-spiritual twins. I recognized the Western
style of fun, and I thought, when you said you were from Boston, that it
was some of the same. But I see now that its being a cold fact, as far as
the last fifteen or twenty years count, is just so much gain. You know
both sections, and you can make this thing go, from ocean to ocean."

"We might ring that into the prospectus, too," March suggested, with a
smile. "You might call the thing 'From Sea to Sea.' By-the-way, what are
you going to call it?"

"I haven't decided yet; that's one of the things I wanted to talk with
you about. I had thought of 'The Syndicate'; but it sounds kind of dry,
and doesn't seem to cover the ground exactly. I should like something
that would express the co-operative character of the thing, but I don't
know as I can get it."

"Might call it 'The Mutual'."

"They'd think it was an insurance paper. No, that won't do. But Mutual
comes pretty near the idea. If we could get something like that, it would
pique curiosity; and then if we could get paragraphs afloat explaining
that the contributors were to be paid according to the sales, it would be
a first-rate ad."

He bent a wide, anxious, inquiring smile upon March, who suggested,
lazily: "You might call it 'The Round-Robin'. That would express the
central idea of irresponsibility. As I understand, everybody is to share
the profits and be exempt from the losses. Or, if I'm wrong, and the
reverse is true, you might call it 'The Army of Martyrs'. Come, that
sounds attractive, Fulkerson! Or what do you think of 'The Fifth Wheel'?
That would forestall the criticism that there are too many literary
periodicals already. Or, if you want to put forward the idea of complete
independence, you could call it 'The Free Lance'; or--"

"Or 'The Hog on Ice'--either stand up or fall down, you know," Fulkerson
broke in coarsely. "But we'll leave the name of the magazine till we get
the editor. I see the poison's beginning to work in you, March; and if I
had time I'd leave the result to time. But I haven't. I've got to know
inside of the next week. To come down to business with you, March, I
sha'n't start this thing unless I can get you to take hold of it."

He seemed to expect some acknowledgment, and March said, "Well, that's
very nice of you, Fulkerson."

"No, sir; no, sir! I've always liked you and wanted you ever since we met
that first night. I had this thing inchoately in my mind then, when I was
telling you about the newspaper syndicate business--beautiful vision of a
lot of literary fellows breaking loose from the bondage of publishers and
playing it alone--"

"You might call it 'The Lone Hand'; that would be attractive," March
interrupted. "The whole West would know what you meant."

Fulkerson was talking seriously, and March was listening seriously; but
they both broke off and laughed. Fulkerson got down off the table and
made some turns about the room. It was growing late; the October sun had
left the top of the tall windows; it was still clear day, but it would
soon be twilight; they had been talking a long time. Fulkerson came and
stood with his little feet wide apart, and bent his little lean, square
face on March. "See here! How much do you get out of this thing here,
anyway?"

"The insurance business?" March hesitated a moment and then said, with a
certain effort of reserve, "At present about three thousand." He looked
up at Fulkerson with a glance, as if he had a mind to enlarge upon the
fact, and then dropped his eyes without saying more.

Whether Fulkerson had not thought it so much or not, he said: "Well, I'll
give you thirty-five hundred. Come! And your chances in the success."

"We won't count the chances in the success. And I don't believe
thirty-five hundred would go any further in New York than three thousand
in Boston."

"But you don't live on three thousand here?"

"No; my wife has a little property."

"Well, she won't lose the income if you go to New York. I suppose you pay
ten or twelve hundred a year for your house here. You can get plenty of
flats in New York for the same money; and I understand you can get all
sorts of provisions for less than you pay now--three or four cents on the
pound. Come!"

This was by no means the first talk they had had about the matter; every
three or four months during the past two years the syndicate man had
dropped in upon March to air the scheme and to get his impressions of it.
This had happened so often that it had come to be a sort of joke between
them. But now Fulkerson clearly meant business, and March had a struggle
to maintain himself in a firm poise of refusal.

"I dare say it wouldn't--or it needn't-cost so very much more, but I
don't want to go to New York; or my wife doesn't. It's the same thing."

"A good deal samer," Fulkerson admitted.

March did not quite like his candor, and he went on with dignity. "It's
very natural she shouldn't. She has always lived in Boston; she's
attached to the place. Now, if you were going to start 'The Fifth Wheel'
in Boston--"

Fulkerson slowly and sadly shook his head, but decidedly. "Wouldn't do.
You might as well say St. Louis or Cincinnati. There's only one city that
belongs to the whole country, and that's New York."

"Yes, I know," sighed March; "and Boston belongs to the Bostonians, but
they like you to make yourself at home while you're visiting."

"If you'll agree to make phrases like that, right along, and get them
into 'The Round-Robin' somehow, I'll say four thousand," said Fulkerson.
"You think it over now, March. You talk it over with Mrs. March; I know
you will, anyway; and I might as well make a virtue of advising you to do
it. Tell her I advised you to do it, and you let me know before next
Saturday what you've decided."

March shut down the rolling top of his desk in the corner of the room,
and walked Fulkerson out before him. It was so late that the last of the
chore-women who washed down the marble halls and stairs of the great
building had wrung out her floor-cloth and departed, leaving spotless
stone and a clean, damp smell in the darkening corridors behind her.

"Couldn't offer you such swell quarters in New York, March," Fulkerson
said, as he went tack-tacking down the steps with his small boot-heels.
"But I've got my eye on a little house round in West Eleventh Street that
I'm going to fit up for my bachelor's hall in the third story, and adapt
for 'The Lone Hand' in the first and second, if this thing goes through;
and I guess we'll be pretty comfortable. It's right on the Sand Strip--no
malaria of any kind."

"I don't know that I'm going to share its salubrity with you yet," March
sighed, in an obvious travail which gave Fulkerson hopes.

"Oh yes, you are," he coaxed. "Now, you talk it over with your wife. You
give her a fair, unprejudiced chance at the thing on its merits, and I'm
very much mistaken in Mrs. March if she doesn't tell you to go in and
win. We're bound to win!"

They stood on the outside steps of the vast edifice beetling like a
granite crag above them, with the stone groups of an allegory of
life-insurance foreshortened in the bas-relief overhead. March absently
lifted his eyes to it. It was suddenly strange after so many years'
familiarity, and so was the well-known street in its Saturday-evening
solitude. He asked himself, with prophetic homesickness, if it were an
omen of what was to be. But he only said, musingly: "A fortnightly. You
know that didn't work in England. The fortnightly is published once a
month now."

"It works in France," Fulkerson retorted. "The 'Revue des Deux Mondes' is
still published twice a month. I guess we can make it work in
America--with illustrations."

"Going to have illustrations?"

"My dear boy! What are you giving me? Do I look like the sort of lunatic
who would start a thing in the twilight of the nineteenth century without
illustrations? Come off!"

"Ah, that complicates it! I don't know anything about art." March's look
of discouragement confessed the hold the scheme had taken upon him.

"I don't want you to!" Fulkerson retorted. "Don't you suppose I shall
have an art man?"

"And will they--the artists--work at a reduced rate, too, like the
writers, with the hopes of a share in the success?"

"Of course they will! And if I want any particular man, for a card, I'll
pay him big money besides. But I can get plenty of first-rate sketches on
my own terms. You'll see! They'll pour in!"

"Look here, Fulkerson," said March, "you'd better call this fortnightly
of yours 'The Madness o f the Half-Moon'; or 'Bedlam Broke Loose'
wouldn't be bad! Why do you throw away all your hard earnings on such a
crazy venture? Don't do it!" The kindness which March had always felt, in
spite of his wife's first misgivings and reservations, for the merry,
hopeful, slangy, energetic little creature trembled in his voice. They
had both formed a friendship for Fulkerson during the week they were
together in Quebec. When he was not working the newspapers there, he went
about with them over the familiar ground they were showing their
children, and was simply grateful for the chance, as well as very
entertaining about it all. The children liked him, too; when they got the
clew to his intention, and found that he was not quite serious in many of
the things he said, they thought he was great fun. They were always glad
when their father brought him home on the occasion of Fulkerson's visits
to Boston; and Mrs. March, though of a charier hospitality, welcomed
Fulkerson with a grateful sense of his admiration for her husband. He had
a way of treating March with deference, as an older and abler man, and of
qualifying the freedom he used toward every one with an implication that
March tolerated it voluntarily, which she thought very sweet and even
refined.

"Ah, now you're talking like a man and a brother," said Fulkerson. "Why,
March, old man, do you suppose I'd come on here and try to talk you into
this thing if I wasn't morally, if I wasn't perfectly, sure of success?
There isn't any if or and about it. I know my ground, every inch; and I
don't stand alone on it," he added, with a significance which did not
escape March. "When you've made up your mind I can give you the proof;
but I'm not at liberty now to say anything more. I tell you it's going to
be a triumphal march from the word go, with coffee and lemonade for the
procession along the whole line. All you've got to do is to fall in." He
stretched out his hand to March. "You let me know as soon as you can."

March deferred taking his hand till he could ask, "Where are you going?"

"Parker House. Take the eleven for New York to-night."

"I thought I might walk your way." March looked at his watch. "But I
shouldn't have time. Goodbye!"

He now let Fulkerson have his hand, and they exchanged a cordial
pressure. Fulkerson started away at a quick, light pace. Half a block off
he stopped, turned round, and, seeing March still standing where he had
left him, he called back, joyously, "I've got the name!"

"What?"

"Every Other Week."

"It isn't bad."

"Ta-ta!"



II.

All the way up to the South End March mentally prolonged his talk with
Fulkerson, and at his door in Nankeen Square he closed the parley with a
plump refusal to go to New York on any terms. His daughter Bella was
lying in wait for him in the hall, and she threw her arms round his neck
with the exuberance of her fourteen years and with something of the
histrionic intention of her sex. He pressed on, with her clinging about
him, to the library, and, in the glow of his decision against Fulkerson,
kissed his wife, where she sat by the study lamp reading the Transcript
through her first pair of eye-glasses: it was agreed in the family that
she looked distinguished in them, or, at any rate, cultivated. She took
them off to give him a glance of question, and their son Tom looked up
from his book for a moment; he was in his last year at the high school,
and was preparing for Harvard.

"I didn't get away from the office till half-past five," March explained
to his wife's glance, "and then I walked. I suppose dinner's waiting. I'm
sorry, but I won't do it any more."

At table he tried to be gay with Bella, who babbled at him with a voluble
pertness which her brother had often advised her parents to check in her,
unless they wanted her to be universally despised.

"Papa!" she shouted at last, "you're not listening!" As soon as possible
his wife told the children they might be excused. Then she asked, "What
is it, Basil?"

"What is what?" he retorted, with a specious brightness that did not
avail.

"What is on your mind?"

"How do you know there's anything?"

"Your kissing me so when you came in, for one thing."

"Don't I always kiss you when I come in?"

"Not now. I suppose it isn't necessary any more. 'Cela va sans baiser.'"

"Yes, I guess it's so; we get along without the symbolism now." He
stopped, but she knew that he had not finished.

"Is it about your business? Have they done anything more?"

"No; I'm still in the dark. I don't know whether they mean to supplant
me, or whether they ever did. But I wasn't thinking about that. Fulkerson
has been to see me again."

"Fulkerson?" She brightened at the name, and March smiled, too. "Why
didn't you bring him to dinner?"

"I wanted to talk with you. Then you do like him?"

"What has that got to do with it, Basil?"

"Nothing! nothing! That is, he was boring away about that scheme of his
again. He's got it into definite shape at last."

"What shape?"

March outlined it for her, and his wife seized its main features with the
intuitive sense of affairs which makes women such good business-men when
they will let it.

"It sounds perfectly crazy," she said, finally. "But it mayn't be. The
only thing I didn't like about Mr. Fulkerson was his always wanting to
chance things. But what have you got to do with it?"

"What have I got to do with it?" March toyed with the delay the question
gave him; then he said, with a sort of deprecatory laugh: "It seems that
Fulkerson has had his eye on me ever since we met that night on the
Quebec boat. I opened up pretty freely to him, as you do to a man you
never expect to see again, and when I found he was in that newspaper
syndicate business I told him about my early literary ambitions--"

"You can't say that I ever discouraged them, Basil," his wife put in. "I
should have been willing, any time, to give up everything for them."

"Well, he says that I first suggested this brilliant idea to him. Perhaps
I did; I don't remember. When he told me about his supplying literature
to newspapers for simultaneous publication, he says I asked: 'Why not
apply the principle of co-operation to a magazine, and run it in the
interest of the contributors?' and that set him to thinking, and he
thought out his plan of a periodical which should pay authors and artists
a low price outright for their work and give them a chance of the profits
in the way of a percentage. After all, it isn't so very different from
the chances an author takes when he publishes a book. And Fulkerson
thinks that the novelty of the thing would pique public curiosity, if it
didn't arouse public sympathy. And the long and short of it is, Isabel,
that he wants me to help edit it."

"To edit it?" His wife caught her breath, and she took a little time to
realize the fact, while she stared hard at her husband to make sure he
was not joking.

"Yes. He says he owes it all to me; that I invented the idea--the
germ--the microbe."

His wife had now realized the fact, at least in a degree that excluded
trifling with it. "That is very honorable of Mr. Fulkerson; and if he
owes it to you, it was the least he could do." Having recognized her
husband's claim to the honor done him, she began to kindle with a sense
of the honor itself and the value of the opportunity. "It's a very high
compliment to you, Basil--a very high compliment. And you could give up
this wretched insurance business that you've always hated so, and that's
making you so unhappy now that you think they're going to take it from
you. Give it up and take Mr. Fulkerson's offer! It's a perfect
interposition, coming just at this time! Why, do it! Mercy!" she suddenly
arrested herself, "he wouldn't expect you to get along on the possible
profits?" Her face expressed the awfulness of the notion.

March smiled reassuringly, and waited to give himself the pleasure of the
sensation he meant to give her. "If I'll make striking phrases for it and
edit it, too, he'll give me four thousand dollars."

He leaned back in his chair, and stuck his hands deep into his pockets,
and watched his wife's face, luminous with the emotions that flashed
through her mind-doubt, joy, anxiety.

"Basil! You don't mean it! Why, take it! Take it instantly! Oh, what a
thing to happen! Oh, what luck! But you deserve it, if you first
suggested it. What an escape, what a triumph over all those hateful
insurance people! Oh, Basil, I'm afraid he'll change his mind! You ought
to have accepted on the spot. You might have known I would approve, and
you could so easily have taken it back if I didn't. Telegraph him now!
Run right out with the despatch--Or we can send Tom!"

In these imperatives of Mrs. March's there was always much of the
conditional. She meant that he should do what she said, if it were
entirely right; and she never meant to be considered as having urged him.

"And suppose his enterprise went wrong?" her husband suggested.

"It won't go wrong. Hasn't he made a success of his syndicate?"

"He says so--yes."

"Very well, then, it stands to reason that he'll succeed in this, too. He
wouldn't undertake it if he didn't know it would succeed; he must have
capital."

"It will take a great deal to get such a thing going; and even if he's
got an Angel behind him--"

She caught at the word--"An Angel?"

"It's what the theatrical people call a financial backer. He dropped a
hint of something of that kind."

"Of course, he's got an Angel," said his wife, promptly adopting the
word. "And even if he hadn't, still, Basil, I should be willing to have
you risk it. The risk isn't so great, is it? We shouldn't be ruined if it
failed altogether. With our stocks we have two thousand a year, anyway,
and we could pinch through on that till you got into some other business
afterward, especially if we'd saved something out of your salary while it
lasted. Basil, I want you to try it! I know it will give you a new lease
of life to have a congenial occupation." March laughed, but his wife
persisted. "I'm all for your trying it, Basil; indeed I am. If it's an
experiment, you can give it up."

"It can give me up, too."

"Oh, nonsense! I guess there's not much fear of that. Now, I want you to
telegraph Mr. Fulkerson, so that he'll find the despatch waiting for him
when he gets to New York. I'll take the whole responsibility, Basil, and
I'll risk all the consequences."



III.

March's face had sobered more and more as she followed one hopeful burst
with another, and now it expressed a positive pain. But he forced a smile
and said: "There's a little condition attached. Where did you suppose it
was to be published?"

"Why, in Boston, of course. Where else should it be published?"

She looked at him for the intention of his question so searchingly that
he quite gave up the attempt to be gay about it. "No," he said, gravely,
"it's to be published in New York."

She fell back in her chair. "In New York?" She leaned forward over the
table toward him, as if to make sure that she heard aright, and said,
with all the keen reproach that he could have expected: "In New York,
Basil! Oh, how could you have let me go on?"

He had a sufficiently rueful face in owning: "I oughtn't to have done it,
but I got started wrong. I couldn't help putting the best foot, forward
at first--or as long as the whole thing was in the air. I didn't know
that you would take so much to the general enterprise, or else I should
have mentioned the New York condition at once; but, of course, that puts
an end to it."

"Oh, of course," she assented, sadly. "We COULDN'T go to New York."

"No, I know that," he said; and with this a perverse desire to tempt her
to the impossibility awoke in him, though he was really quite cold about
the affair himself now. "Fulkerson thought we could get a nice flat in
New York for about what the interest and taxes came to here, and
provisions are cheaper. But I should rather not experiment at my time of
life. If I could have been caught younger, I might have been inured to
New York, but I don't believe I could stand it now."

"How I hate to have you talk that way, Basil! You are young enough to try
anything--anywhere; but you know I don't like New York. I don't approve
of it. It's so big, and so hideous! Of course I shouldn't mind that; but
I've always lived in Boston, and the children were born and have all
their friendships and associations here." She added, with the
helplessness that discredited her good sense and did her injustice, "I
have just got them both into the Friday afternoon class at Papanti's, and
you know how difficult that is."

March could not fail to take advantage of an occasion like this. "Well,
that alone ought to settle it. Under the circumstances, it would be
flying in the face of Providence to leave Boston. The mere fact of a
brilliant opening like that offered me on 'The Microbe,' and the halcyon
future which Fulkerson promises if we'll come to New York, is as dust in
the balance against the advantages of the Friday afternoon class."

"Basil," she appealed, solemnly, "have I ever interfered with your
career?"

"I never had any for you to interfere with, my dear."

"Basil! Haven't I always had faith in you? And don't you suppose that if
I thought it would really be for your advancement I would go to New York
or anywhere with you?"

"No, my dear, I don't," he teased. "If it would be for my salvation, yes,
perhaps; but not short of that; and I should have to prove by a cloud of
witnesses that it would. I don't blame you. I wasn't born in Boston, but
I understand how you feel. And really, my dear," he added, without irony,
"I never seriously thought of asking you to go to New York. I was dazzled
by Fulkerson's offer, I'll own that; but his choice of me as editor
sapped my confidence in him."

"I don't like to hear you say that, Basil," she entreated.

"Well, of course there were mitigating circumstances. I could see that
Fulkerson meant to keep the whip-hand himself, and that was reassuring.
And, besides, if the Reciprocity Life should happen not to want my
services any longer, it wouldn't be quite like giving up a certainty;
though, as a matter of business, I let Fulkerson get that impression; I
felt rather sneaking to do it. But if the worst comes to the worst, I can
look about for something to do in Boston; and, anyhow, people don't
starve on two thousand a year, though it's convenient to have five. The
fact is, I'm too old to change so radically. If you don't like my saying
that, then you are, Isabel, and so are the children. I've no right to
take them from the home we've made, and to change the whole course of
their lives, unless I can assure them of something, and I can't assure
them of anything. Boston is big enough for us, and it's certainly
prettier than New York. I always feel a little proud of hailing from
Boston; my pleasure in the place mounts the farther I get away from it.
But I do appreciate it, my dear; I've no more desire to leave it than you
have. You may be sure that if you don't want to take the children out of
the Friday afternoon class, I don't want to leave my library here, and
all the ways I've got set in. We'll keep on. Very likely the company
won't supplant me, and if it does, and Watkins gets the place, he'll give
me a subordinate position of some sort. Cheer up, Isabel! I have put
Satan and his angel, Fulkerson, behind me, and it's all right. Let's go
in to the children."

He came round the table to Isabel, where she sat in a growing
distraction, and lifted her by the waist from her chair.

She sighed deeply. "Shall we tell the children about it?"

"No. What's the use, now?"

"There wouldn't be any," she assented. When they entered the family room,
where the boy and girl sat on either side of the lamp working out the
lessons for Monday which they had left over from the day before, she
asked, "Children, how would you like to live in New York?"

Bella made haste to get in her word first. "And give up the Friday
afternoon class?" she wailed.

Tom growled from his book, without lifting his eyes: "I shouldn't want to
go to Columbia. They haven't got any dormitories, and you have to board
round anywhere. Are you going to New York?" He now deigned to look up at
his father.

"No, Tom. You and Bella have decided me against it. Your perspective
shows the affair in its true proportions. I had an offer to go to New
York, but I've refused it."



IV

March's irony fell harmless from the children's preoccupation with their
own affairs, but he knew that his wife felt it, and this added to the
bitterness which prompted it. He blamed her for letting her provincial
narrowness prevent his accepting Fulkerson's offer quite as much as if he
had otherwise entirely wished to accept it. His world, like most worlds,
had been superficially a disappointment. He was no richer than at the
beginning, though in marrying he had given up some tastes, some
preferences, some aspirations, in the hope of indulging them later, with
larger means and larger leisure. His wife had not urged him to do it; in
fact, her pride, as she said, was in his fitness for the life he had
renounced; but she had acquiesced, and they had been very happy together.
That is to say, they made up their quarrels or ignored them.

They often accused each other of being selfish and indifferent, but she
knew that he would always sacrifice himself for her and the children; and
he, on his part, with many gibes and mockeries, wholly trusted in her.
They had grown practically tolerant of each other's disagreeable traits;
and the danger that really threatened them was that they should grow too
well satisfied with themselves, if not with each other. They were not
sentimental, they were rather matter-of-fact in their motives; but they
had both a sort of humorous fondness for sentimentality. They liked to
play with the romantic, from the safe vantage-ground of their real
practicality, and to divine the poetry of the commonplace. Their peculiar
point of view separated them from most other people, with whom their
means of self-comparison were not so good since their marriage as before.
Then they had travelled and seen much of the world, and they had formed
tastes which they had not always been able to indulge, but of which they
felt that the possession reflected distinction on them. It enabled them
to look down upon those who were without such tastes; but they were not
ill-natured, and so they did not look down so much with contempt as with
amusement. In their unfashionable neighborhood they had the fame of being
not exclusive precisely, but very much wrapped up in themselves and their
children.

Mrs. March was reputed to be very cultivated, and Mr. March even more so,
among the simpler folk around them. Their house had some good pictures,
which her aunt had brought home from Europe in more affluent days, and it
abounded in books on which he spent more than he ought. They had
beautified it in every way, and had unconsciously taken credit to them
selves for it. They felt, with a glow almost of virtue, how perfectly it
fitted their lives and their children's, and they believed that somehow
it expressed their characters--that it was like them. They went out very
little; she remained shut up in its refinement, working the good of her
own; and he went to his business, and hurried back to forget it, and
dream his dream of intellectual achievement in the flattering atmosphere
of her sympathy. He could not conceal from himself that his divided life
was somewhat like Charles Lamb's, and there were times when, as he had
expressed to Fulkerson, he believed that its division was favorable to
the freshness of his interest in literature. It certainly kept it a high
privilege, a sacred refuge. Now and then he wrote something, and got it
printed after long delays, and when they met on the St. Lawrence
Fulkerson had some of March's verses in his pocket-book, which he had cut
out of astray newspaper and carried about for years, because they pleased
his fancy so much; they formed an immediate bond of union between the men
when their authorship was traced and owned, and this gave a pretty color
of romance to their acquaintance. But, for the most part, March was
satisfied to read. He was proud of reading critically, and he kept in the
current of literary interests and controversies. It all seemed to him,
and to his wife at second-hand, very meritorious; he could not help
contrasting his life and its inner elegance with that of other men who
had no such resources. He thought that he was not arrogant about it,
because he did full justice to the good qualities of those other people;
he congratulated himself upon the democratic instincts which enabled him
to do this; and neither he nor his wife supposed that they were selfish
persons. On the contrary, they were very sympathetic; there was no good
cause that they did not wish well; they had a generous scorn of all kinds
of narrow-heartedness; if it had ever come into their way to sacrifice
themselves for others, they thought they would have done so, but they
never asked why it had not come in their way. They were very gentle and
kind, even when most elusive; and they taught their children to loathe
all manner of social cruelty. March was of so watchful a conscience in
some respects that he denied himself the pensive pleasure of lapsing into
the melancholy of unfulfilled aspirations; but he did not see that, if he
had abandoned them, it had been for what he held dearer; generally he
felt as if he had turned from them with a high, altruistic aim. The
practical expression of his life was that it was enough to provide well
for his family; to have cultivated tastes, and to gratify them to the
extent of his means; to be rather distinguished, even in the
simplification of his desires. He believed, and his wife believed, that
if the time ever came when he really wished to make a sacrifice to the
fulfilment of the aspirations so long postponed, she would be ready to
join with heart and hand.

When he went to her room from his library, where she left him the whole
evening with the children, he found her before the glass thoughtfully
removing the first dismantling pin from her back hair.

"I can't help feeling," she grieved into the mirror, "that it's I who
keep you from accepting that offer. I know it is! I could go West with
you, or into a new country--anywhere; but New York terrifies me. I don't
like New York, I never did; it disheartens and distracts me; I can't find
myself in it; I shouldn't know how to shop. I know I'm foolish and narrow
and provincial," she went on, "but I could never have any inner quiet in
New York; I couldn't live in the spirit there. I suppose people do. It
can't be that all these millions--'

"Oh, not so bad as that!" March interposed, laughing. "There aren't quite
two."

"I thought there were four or five. Well, no matter. You see what I am,
Basil. I'm terribly limited. I couldn't make my sympathies go round two
million people; I should be wretched. I suppose I'm standing in the way
of your highest interest, but I can't help it. We took each other for
better or worse, and you must try to bear with me--" She broke off and
began to cry.

"Stop it!" shouted March. "I tell you I never cared anything for
Fulkerson's scheme or entertained it seriously, and I shouldn't if he'd
proposed to carry it out in Boston." This was not quite true, but in the
retrospect it seemed sufficiently so for the purposes of argument. "Don't
say another word about it. The thing's over now, and I don't want to
think of it any more. We couldn't change its nature if we talked all
night. But I want you to understand that it isn't your limitations that
are in the way. It's mine. I shouldn't have the courage to take such a
place; I don't think I'm fit for it, and that's the long and short of
it."

"Oh, you don't know how it hurts me to have you say that, Basil."

The next morning, as they sat together at breakfast, without the
children, whom they let lie late on Sunday, Mrs. March said to her
husband, silent over his fish-balls and baked beans: "We will go to New
York. I've decided it."

"Well, it takes two to decide that," March retorted. "We are not going to
New York."

"Yes, we are. I've thought it out. Now, listen."

"Oh, I'm willing to listen," he consented, airily.

"You've always wanted to get out of the insurance business, and now with
that fear of being turned out which you have you mustn't neglect this
offer. I suppose it has its risks, but it's a risk keeping on as we are;
and perhaps you will make a great success of it. I do want you to try,
Basil. If I could once feel that you had fairly seen what you could do in
literature, I should die happy."

"Not immediately after, I hope," he suggested, taking the second cup of
coffee she had been pouring out for him. "And Boston?"

"We needn't make a complete break. We can keep this place for the
present, anyway; we could let it for the winter, and come back in the
summer next year. It would be change enough from New York."

"Fulkerson and I hadn't got as far as to talk of a vacation."

"No matter. The children and I could come. And if you didn't like New
York, or the enterprise failed, you could get into something in Boston
again; and we have enough to live on till you did. Yes, Basil, I'm
going."

"I can see by the way your chin trembles that nothing could stop you. You
may go to New York if you wish, Isabel, but I shall stay here."

"Be serious, Basil. I'm in earnest."

"Serious? If I were any more serious I should shed tears. Come, my dear,
I know what you mean, and if I had my heart set on this thing--Fulkerson
always calls it 'this thing' I would cheerfully accept any sacrifice you
could make to it. But I'd rather not offer you up on a shrine I don't
feel any particular faith in. I'm very comfortable where I am; that is, I
know just where the pinch comes, and if it comes harder, why, I've got
used to bearing that kind of pinch. I'm too old to change pinches."

"Now, that does decide me."

"It decides me, too."

"I will take all the responsibility, Basil," she pleaded.

"Oh yes; but you'll hand it back to me as soon as you've carried your
point with it. There's nothing mean about you, Isabel, where
responsibility is concerned. No; if I do this thing--Fulkerson again? I
can't get away from 'this thing'; it's ominous--I must do it because I
want to do it, and not because you wish that you wanted me to do it. I
understand your position, Isabel, and that you're really acting from a
generous impulse, but there's nothing so precarious at our time of life
as a generous impulse. When we were younger we could stand it; we could
give way to it and take the consequences. But now we can't bear it. We
must act from cold reason even in the ardor of self-sacrifice."

"Oh, as if you did that!" his wife retorted.

"Is that any cause why you shouldn't?" She could not say that it was, and
he went on triumphantly:

"No, I won't take you away from the only safe place on the planet and
plunge you into the most perilous, and then have you say in your
revulsion of feeling that you were all against it from the first, and you
gave way because you saw I had my heart set on it." He supposed he was
treating the matter humorously, but in this sort of banter between
husband and wife there is always much more than the joking. March had
seen some pretty feminine inconsistencies and trepidations which once
charmed him in his wife hardening into traits of middle-age which were
very like those of less interesting older women. The sight moved him with
a kind of pathos, but he felt the result hindering and vexatious.

She now retorted that if he did not choose to take her at her word be
need not, but that whatever he did she should have nothing to reproach
herself with; and, at least, he could not say that she had trapped him
into anything.

"What do you mean by trapping?" he demanded.

"I don't know what you call it," she answered; "but when you get me to
commit myself to a thing by leaving out the most essential point, I call
it trapping."

"I wonder you stop at trapping, if you think I got you to favor
Fulkerson's scheme and then sprung New York on you. I don't suppose you
do, though. But I guess we won't talk about it any more."

He went out for a long walk, and she went to her room. They lunched
silently together in the presence of their children, who knew that they
had been quarrelling, but were easily indifferent to the fact, as
children get to be in such cases; nature defends their youth, and the
unhappiness which they behold does not infect them. In the evening, after
the boy and girl had gone to bed, the father and mother resumed their
talk. He would have liked to take it up at the point from which it
wandered into hostilities, for he felt it lamentable that a matter which
so seriously concerned them should be confused in the fumes of senseless
anger; and he was willing to make a tacit acknowledgment of his own error
by recurring to the question, but she would not be content with this, and
he had to concede explicitly to her weakness that she really meant it
when she had asked him to accept Fulkerson's offer. He said he knew that;
and he began soberly to talk over their prospects in the event of their
going to New York.

"Oh, I see you are going!" she twitted.

"I'm going to stay," he answered, "and let them turn me out of my agency
here," and in this bitterness their talk ended.



V.

His wife made no attempt to renew their talk before March went to his
business in the morning, and they parted in dry offence. Their experience
was that these things always came right of themselves at last, and they
usually let them. He knew that she had really tried to consent to a thing
that was repugnant to her, and in his heart he gave her more credit for
the effort than he had allowed her openly. She knew that she had made it
with the reservation he accused her of, and that he had a right to feel
sore at what she could not help. But he left her to brood over his
ingratitude, and she suffered him to go heavy and unfriended to meet the
chances of the day. He said to himself that if she had assented cordially
to the conditions of Fulkerson's offer, he would have had the courage to
take all the other risks himself, and would have had the satisfaction of
resigning his place. As it was, he must wait till he was removed; and he
figured with bitter pleasure the pain she would feel when he came home
some day and told her he had been supplanted, after it was too late to
close with Fulkerson.

He found a letter on his desk from the secretary, "Dictated," in
typewriting, which briefly informed him that Mr. Hubbell, the Inspector
of Agencies, would be in Boston on Wednesday, and would call at his
office during the forenoon. The letter was not different in tone from
many that he had formerly received; but the visit announced was out of
the usual order, and March believed he read his fate in it. During the
eighteen years of his connection with it--first as a subordinate in the
Boston office, and finally as its general agent there--he had seen a good
many changes in the Reciprocity; presidents, vice-presidents, actuaries,
and general agents had come and gone, but there had always seemed to be a
recognition of his efficiency, or at least sufficiency, and there had
never been any manner of trouble, no question of accounts, no apparent
dissatisfaction with his management, until latterly, when there had begun
to come from headquarters some suggestions of enterprise in certain ways,
which gave him his first suspicions of his clerk Watkins's willingness to
succeed him; they embodied some of Watkins's ideas. The things proposed
seemed to March undignified, and even vulgar; he had never thought
himself wanting in energy, though probably he had left the business to
take its own course in the old lines more than he realized. Things had
always gone so smoothly that he had sometimes fancied a peculiar regard
for him in the management, which he had the weakness to attribute to an
appreciation of what he occasionally did in literature, though in saner
moments he felt how impossible this was. Beyond a reference from Mr.
Hubbell to some piece of March's which had happened to meet his eye, no
one in the management ever gave a sign of consciousness that their
service was adorned by an obscure literary man; and Mr. Hubbell himself
had the effect of regarding the excursions of March's pen as a sort of
joke, and of winking at them; as he might have winked if once in a way he
had found him a little the gayer for dining.

March wore through the day gloomily, but he had it on his conscience not
to show any resentment toward Watkins, whom he suspected of wishing to
supplant him, and even of working to do so. Through this self-denial he
reached a better mind concerning his wife. He determined not to make her
suffer needlessly, if the worst came to the worst; she would suffer
enough, at the best, and till the worst came he would spare her, and not
say anything about the letter he had got.

But when they met, her first glance divined that something had happened,
and her first question frustrated his generous intention. He had to tell
her about the letter. She would not allow that it had any significance,
but she wished him to make an end of his anxieties and forestall whatever
it might portend by resigning his place at once. She said she was quite
ready to go to New York; she had been thinking it all over, and now she
really wanted to go. He answered, soberly, that he had thought it over,
too; and he did not wish to leave Boston, where he had lived so long, or
try a new way of life if he could help it. He insisted that he was quite
selfish in this; in their concessions their quarrel vanished; they agreed
that whatever happened would be for the best; and the next day he went to
his office fortified for any event.

His destiny, if tragical, presented itself with an aspect which he might
have found comic if it had been another's destiny. Mr. Hubbell brought
March's removal, softened in the guise of a promotion. The management at
New York, it appeared, had acted upon a suggestion of Mr. Hubbell's, and
now authorized him to offer March the editorship of the monthly paper
published in the interest of the company; his office would include the
authorship of circulars and leaflets in behalf of life-insurance, and
would give play to the literary talent which Mr. Hubbell had brought to
the attention of the management; his salary would be nearly as much as at
present, but the work would not take his whole time, and in a place like
New York he could get a great deal of outside writing, which they would
not object to his doing.

Mr. Hubbell seemed so sure of his acceptance of a place in every way
congenial to a man of literary tastes that March was afterward sorry he
dismissed the proposition with obvious irony, and had needlessly hurt
Hubbell's feelings; but Mrs. March had no such regrets. She was only
afraid that he had not made his rejection contemptuous enough. "And now,"
she said, "telegraph Mr. Fulkerson, and we will go at once."

"I suppose I could still get Watkins's former place," March suggested.

"Never!" she retorted. "Telegraph instantly!"

They were only afraid now that Fulkerson might have changed his mind, and
they had a wretched day in which they heard nothing from him. It ended
with his answering March's telegram in person. They were so glad of his
coming, and so touched by his satisfaction with his bargain, that they
laid all the facts of the case before him. He entered fully into March's
sense of the joke latent in Mr. Hubbell's proposition, and he tried to
make Mrs. March believe that he shared her resentment of the indignity
offered her husband.

March made a show of willingness to release him in view of the changed
situation, saying that he held him to nothing. Fulkerson laughed, and
asked him how soon he thought he could come on to New York. He refused to
reopen the question of March's fitness with him; he said they, had gone
into that thoroughly, but he recurred to it with Mrs. March, and
confirmed her belief in his good sense on all points. She had been from
the first moment defiantly confident of her husband's ability, but till
she had talked the matter over with Fulkerson she was secretly not sure
of it; or, at least, she was not sure that March was not right in
distrusting himself. When she clearly understood, now, what Fulkerson
intended, she had no longer a doubt. He explained how the enterprise
differed from others, and how he needed for its direction a man who
combined general business experience and business ideas with a love for
the thing and a natural aptness for it. He did not want a young man, and
yet he wanted youth--its freshness, its zest--such as March would feel in
a thing he could put his whole heart into. He would not run in ruts, like
an old fellow who had got hackneyed; he would not have any hobbies; he
would not have any friends or any enemies. Besides, he would have to meet
people, and March was a man that people took to; she knew that herself;
he had a kind of charm. The editorial management was going to be kept in
the background, as far as the public was concerned; the public was to
suppose that the thing ran itself. Fulkerson did not care for a great
literary reputation in his editor--he implied that March had a very
pretty little one. At the same time the relations between the
contributors and the management were to be much more, intimate than
usual. Fulkerson felt his personal disqualification for working the thing
socially, and he counted upon Mr. March for that; that was to say, he
counted upon Mrs. March.

She protested he must not count upon her; but it by no means disabled
Fulkerson's judgment in her view that March really seemed more than
anything else a fancy of his. He had been a fancy of hers; and the sort
of affectionate respect with which Fulkerson spoke of him laid forever
some doubt she had of the fineness of Fulkerson's manners and reconciled
her to the graphic slanginess of his speech.

The affair was now irretrievable, but she gave her approval to it as
superbly as if it were submitted in its inception. Only, Mr. Fulkerson
must not suppose she should ever like New York. She would not deceive him
on that point. She never should like it. She did not conceal, either,
that she did not like taking the children out of the Friday afternoon
class; and she did not believe that Tom would ever be reconciled to going
to Columbia. She took courage from Fulkerson's suggestion that it was
possible for Tom to come to Harvard even from New York; and she heaped
him with questions concerning the domiciliation of the family in that
city. He tried to know something about the matter, and he succeeded in
seeming interested in points necessarily indifferent to him.



VI.

In the uprooting and transplanting of their home that followed, Mrs.
March often trembled before distant problems and possible contingencies,
but she was never troubled by present difficulties. She kept up with
tireless energy; and in the moments of dejection and misgiving which
harassed her husband she remained dauntless, and put heart into him when
he had lost it altogether.

She arranged to leave the children in the house with the servants, while
she went on with March to look up a dwelling of some sort in New York. It
made him sick to think of it; and, when it came to the point, he would
rather have given up the whole enterprise. She had to nerve him to it, to
represent more than once that now they had no choice but to make this
experiment. Every detail of parting was anguish to him. He got
consolation out of the notion of letting the house furnished for the
winter; that implied their return to it, but it cost him pangs of the
keenest misery to advertise it; and, when a tenant was actually found, it
was all he could do to give him the lease. He tried his wife's love and
patience as a man must to whom the future is easy in the mass but
terrible as it translates itself piecemeal into the present. He
experienced remorse in the presence of inanimate things he was going to
leave as if they had sensibly reproached him, and an anticipative
homesickness that seemed to stop his heart. Again and again his wife had
to make him reflect that his depression was not prophetic. She convinced
him of what he already knew, and persuaded him against his knowledge that
he could be keeping an eye out for something to take hold of in Boston if
they could not stand New York. She ended by telling him that it was too
bad to make her comfort him in a trial that was really so much more a
trial to her. She had to support him in a last access of despair on their
way to the Albany depot the morning they started to New York; but when
the final details had been dealt with, the tickets bought, the trunks
checked, and the handbags hung up in their car, and the future had massed
itself again at a safe distance and was seven hours and two hundred miles
away, his spirits began to rise and hers to sink. He would have been
willing to celebrate the taste, the domestic refinement, of the ladies'
waiting-room in the depot, where they had spent a quarter of an hour
before the train started. He said he did not believe there was another
station in the world where mahogany rocking-chairs were provided; that
the dull-red warmth of the walls was as cozy as an evening lamp, and that
he always hoped to see a fire kindled on that vast hearth and under that
aesthetic mantel, but he supposed now he never should. He said it was all
very different from that tunnel, the old Albany depot, where they had
waited the morning they went to New York when they were starting on their
wedding journey.

"The morning, Basil!" cried his wife. "We went at night; and we were
going to take the boat, but it stormed so!" She gave him a glance of such
reproach that he could not answer anything, and now she asked him whether
he supposed their cook and second girl would be contented with one of
those dark holes where they put girls to sleep in New York flats, and
what she should do if Margaret, especially, left her. He ventured to
suggest that Margaret would probably like the city; but, if she left,
there were plenty of other girls to be had in New York. She replied that
there were none she could trust, and that she knew Margaret would not
stay. He asked her why she took her, then--why she did not give her up at
once; and she answered that it would be inhuman to give her up just in
the edge of the winter. She had promised to keep her; and Margaret was
pleased with the notion of going to New York, where she had a cousin.

"Then perhaps she'll be pleased with the notion of staying," he said.

"Oh, much you know about it!" she retorted; and, in view of the
hypothetical difficulty and his want of sympathy, she fell into a gloom,
from which she roused herself at last by declaring that, if there was
nothing else in the flat they took, there should be a light kitchen and a
bright, sunny bedroom for Margaret. He expressed the belief that they
could easily find such a flat as that, and she denounced his fatal
optimism, which buoyed him up in the absence of an undertaking and let
him drop into the depths of despair in its presence.

He owned this defect of temperament, but he said that it compensated the
opposite in her character. "I suppose that's one of the chief uses of
marriage; people supplement one another, and form a pretty fair sort of
human being together. The only drawback to the theory is that unmarried
people seem each as complete and whole as a married pair."

She refused to be amused; she turned her face to the window and put her
handkerchief up under her veil.

It was not till the dining-car was attached to their train that they were
both able to escape for an hour into the care-free mood of their earlier
travels, when they were so easily taken out of themselves. The time had
been when they could have found enough in the conjectural fortunes and
characters of their fellow-passengers to occupy them. This phase of their
youth had lasted long, and the world was still full of novelty and
interest for them; but it required all the charm of the dining-car now to
lay the anxieties that beset them. It was so potent for the moment,
however, that they could take an objective view at their sitting cozily
down there together, as if they had only themselves in the world. They
wondered what the children were doing, the children who possessed them so
intensely when present, and now, by a fantastic operation of absence,
seemed almost non-existents. They tried to be homesick for them, but
failed; they recognized with comfortable self-abhorrence that this was
terrible, but owned a fascination in being alone; at the same time, they
could not imagine how people felt who never had any children. They
contrasted the luxury of dining that way, with every advantage except a
band of music, and the old way of rushing out to snatch a fearful joy at
the lunch-counters of the Worcesier and Springfield and New Haven
stations. They had not gone often to New York since their wedding
journey, but they had gone often enough to have noted the change from the
lunch-counter to the lunch-basket brought in the train, from which you
could subsist with more ease and dignity, but seemed destined to a
superabundance of pickles, whatever you ordered.

They thought well of themselves now that they could be both critical and
tolerant of flavors not very sharply distinguished from one another in
their dinner, and they lingered over their coffee and watched the autumn
landscape through the windows.

"Not quite so loud a pattern of calico this year," he said, with
patronizing forbearance toward the painted woodlands whirling by. "Do you
see how the foreground next the train rushes from us and the background
keeps ahead of us, while the middle distance seems stationary? I don't
think I ever noticed that effect before. There ought to be something
literary in it: retreating past and advancing future and deceitfully
permanent present--something like that?"

His wife brushed some crumbs from her lap before rising. "Yes. You
mustn't waste any of these ideas now."

"Oh no; it would be money out of Fulkerson's pocket."



VII.

They went to a quiet hotel far down-town, and took a small apartment
which they thought they could easily afford for the day or two they need
spend in looking up a furnished flat. They were used to staying at this
hotel when they came on for a little outing in New York, after some rigid
winter in Boston, at the time of the spring exhibitions. They were
remembered there from year to year; the colored call-boys, who never
seemed to get any older, smiled upon them, and the clerk called March by
name even before he registered. He asked if Mrs. March were with him, and
said then he supposed they would want their usual quarters; and in a
moment they were domesticated in a far interior that seemed to have been
waiting for them in a clean, quiet, patient disoccupation ever since they
left it two years before. The little parlor, with its gilt paper and
ebonized furniture, was the lightest of the rooms, but it was not very
light at noonday without the gas, which the bell-boy now flared up for
them. The uproar of the city came to it in a soothing murmur, and they
took possession of its peace and comfort with open celebration. After
all, they agreed, there was no place in the world so delightful as a
hotel apartment like that; the boasted charms of home were nothing to it;
and then the magic of its being always there, ready for any one, every
one, just as if it were for some one alone: it was like the experience of
an Arabian Nights hero come true for all the race.

"Oh, why can't we always stay here, just we two!" Mrs. March sighed to
her husband, as he came out of his room rubbing his face red with the
towel, while she studied a new arrangement of her bonnet and handbag on
the mantel.

"And ignore the past? I'm willing. I've no doubt that the children could
get on perfectly well without us, and could find some lot in the scheme
of Providence that would really be just as well for them."

"Yes; or could contrive somehow never to have existed. I should insist
upon that. If they are, don't you see that we couldn't wish them not to
be?"

"Oh yes; I see your point; it's simply incontrovertible."

She laughed and said: "Well, at any rate, if we can't find a flat to suit
us we can all crowd into these three rooms somehow, for the winter, and
then browse about for meals. By the week we could get them much cheaper;
and we could save on the eating, as they do in Europe. Or on something
else."

"Something else, probably," said March. "But we won't take this apartment
till the ideal furnished flat winks out altogether. We shall not have any
trouble. We can easily find some one who is going South for the winter
and will be glad to give up their flat 'to the right party' at a nominal
rent. That's my notion. That's what the Evanses did one winter when they
came on here in February. All but the nominality of the rent."

"Yes, and we could pay a very good rent and still save something on
letting our house. You can settle yourselves in a hundred different ways
in New York, that is one merit of the place. But if everything else
fails, we can come back to this. I want you to take the refusal of it,
Basil. And we'll commence looking this very evening as soon as we've had
dinner. I cut a lot of things out of the Herald as we came on. See here!"

She took a long strip of paper out of her hand-bag with minute
advertisements pinned transversely upon it, and forming the effect of
some glittering nondescript vertebrate.

"Looks something like the sea-serpent," said March, drying his hands on
the towel, while he glanced up and down the list. "But we sha'n't have
any trouble. I've no doubt there are half a dozen things there that will
do. You haven't gone up-town? Because we must be near the 'Every Other
Week' office."

"No; but I wish Mr. Fulkerson hadn't called it that! It always makes one
think of 'jam yesterday and jam tomorrow, but never jam to-day,' in
'Through the Looking-Glass.' They're all in this region."

They were still at their table, beside a low window, where some sort of
never-blooming shrub symmetrically balanced itself in a large pot, with a
leaf to the right and a leaf to the left and a spear up the middle, when
Fulkerson came stepping square-footedly over the thick dining-room
carpet. He wagged in the air a gay hand of salutation at sight of them,
and of repression when they offered to rise to meet him; then, with an
apparent simultaneity of action he gave a hand to each, pulled up a chair
from the next table, put his hat and stick on the floor beside it, and
seated himself.

"Well, you've burned your ships behind you, sure enough," he said,
beaming his satisfaction upon them from eyes and teeth.

"The ships are burned," said March, "though I'm not sure we alone did it.
But here we are, looking for shelter, and a little anxious about the
disposition of the natives."

"Oh, they're an awful peaceable lot," said Fulkerson. "I've been round
among the caciques a little, and I think I've got two or three places
that will just suit you, Mrs. March. How did you leave the children?"

"Oh, how kind of you! Very well, and very proud to be left in charge of
the smoking wrecks."

Fulkerson naturally paid no attention to what she said, being but
secondarily interested in the children at the best. "Here are some things
right in this neighborhood, within gunshot of the office, and if you want
you can go and look at them to-night; the agents gave me houses where the
people would be in."

"We will go and look at them instantly," said Mrs. March. "Or, as soon as
you've had coffee with us."

"Never do," Fulkerson replied. He gathered up his hat and stick. "Just
rushed in to say Hello, and got to run right away again. I tell you,
March, things are humming. I'm after those fellows with a sharp stick all
the while to keep them from loafing on my house, and at the same time I'm
just bubbling over with ideas about 'The Lone Hand--wish we could call it
that!--that I want to talk up with you."

"Well, come to breakfast," said Mrs. March, cordially.

"No; the ideas will keep till you've secured your lodge in this vast
wilderness. Good-bye."

"You're as nice as you can be, Mr. Fulkerson," she said, "to keep us in
mind when you have so much to occupy you."

"I wouldn't have anything to occupy me if I hadn't kept you in mind, Mrs.
March," said Fulkerson, going off upon as good a speech as he could
apparently hope to make.

"Why, Basil," said Mrs. March, when he was gone, "he's charming! But now
we mustn't lose an instant. Let's see where the places are." She ran over
the half-dozen agents' permits. "Capital-first-rate-the very thing-every
one. Well, I consider ourselves settled! We can go back to the children
to-morrow if we like, though I rather think I should like to stay over
another day and get a little rested for the final pulling up that's got
to come. But this simplifies everything enormously, and Mr. Fulkerson is
as thoughtful and as sweet as he can be. I know you will get on well with
him. He has such a good heart. And his attitude toward you, Basil, is
beautiful always--so respectful; or not that so much as appreciative.
Yes, appreciative--that's the word; I must always keep that in mind."

"It's quite important to do so," said March.

"Yes," she assented, seriously, "and we must not forget just what kind of
flat we are going to look for. The 'sine qua nons' are an elevator and
steam heat, not above the third floor, to begin with. Then we must each
have a room, and you must have your study and I must have my parlor; and
the two girls must each have a room. With the kitchen and dining room,
how many does that make?"

"Ten."

"I thought eight. Well, no matter. You can work in the parlor, and run
into your bedroom when anybody comes; and I can sit in mine, and the
girls must put up with one, if it's large and sunny, though I've always
given them two at home. And the kitchen must be sunny, so they can sit in
it. And the rooms must all have outside light. And the rent must not be
over eight hundred for the winter. We only get a thousand for our whole
house, and we must save something out of that, so as to cover the
expenses of moving. Now, do you think you can remember all that?"

"Not the half of it," said March. "But you can; or if you forget a third
of it, I can come in with my partial half and more than make it up."

She had brought her bonnet and sacque down-stairs with her, and was
transferring them from the hatrack to her person while she talked. The
friendly door-boy let them into the street, and the clear October evening
air brightened her so that as she tucked her hand under her husband's arm
and began to pull him along she said, "If we find something right
away--and we're just as likely to get the right flat soon as late; it's
all a lottery--well go to the theatre somewhere."

She had a moment's panic about having left the agents' permits on the
table, and after remembering that she had put them into her little
shopping-bag, where she kept her money (each note crushed into a round
wad), and had heft it on the hat-rack, where it would certainly be
stolen, she found it on her wrist. She did not think that very funny; but
after a first impulse to inculpate her husband, she let him laugh, while
they stopped under a lamp and she held the permits half a yard away to
read the numbers on them.

"Where are your glasses, Isabel?"

"On the mantel in our room, of course."

"Then you ought to have brought a pair of tongs."

"I wouldn't get off second-hand jokes, Basil," she said; and "Why, here!"
she cried, whirling round to the door before which they had halted, "this
is the very number. Well, I do believe it's a sign!"

One of those colored men who soften the trade of janitor in many of the
smaller apartment-houses in New York by the sweetness of their race let
the Marches in, or, rather, welcomed them to the possession of the
premises by the bow with which he acknowledged their permit. It was a
large, old mansion cut up into five or six dwellings, but it had kept
some traits of its former dignity, which pleased people of their
sympathetic tastes. The dark-mahogany trim, of sufficiently ugly design,
gave a rich gloom to the hallway, which was wide and paved with marble;
the carpeted stairs curved aloft through a generous space.

"There is no elevator?" Mrs. March asked of the janitor.

He answered, "No, ma'am; only two flights up," so winningly that she
said,

"Oh!" in courteous apology, and whispered to her husband, as she followed
lightly up, "We'll take it, Basil, if it's like the rest."

"If it's like him, you mean."

"I don't wonder they wanted to own them," she hurriedly philosophized.
"If I had such a creature, nothing but death should part us, and I should
no more think of giving him his freedom!"

"No; we couldn't afford it," returned her husband.

The apartment which the janitor unlocked for them, and lit up from those
chandeliers and brackets of gilt brass in the form of vine bunches,
leaves, and tendrils in which the early gas-fitter realized most of his
conceptions of beauty, had rather more of the ugliness than the dignity
of the hall. But the rooms were large, and they grouped themselves in a
reminiscence of the time when they were part of a dwelling that had its
charm, its pathos, its impressiveness. Where they were cut up into
smaller spaces, it had been done with the frankness with which a proud
old family of fallen fortunes practises its economies. The rough
pine-floors showed a black border of tack-heads where carpets had been
lifted and put down for generations; the white paint was yellow with age;
the apartment had light at the front and at the back, and two or three
rooms had glimpses of the day through small windows let into their
corners; another one seemed lifting an appealing eye to heaven through a
glass circle in its ceiling; the rest must darkle in perpetual twilight.
Yet something pleased in it all, and Mrs. March had gone far to adapt the
different rooms to the members of her family, when she suddenly thought
(and for her to think was to say), "Why, but there's no steam heat!"

"No, ma'am," the janitor admitted; "but dere's grates in most o' de
rooms, and dere's furnace heat in de halls."

"That's true," she admitted, and, having placed her family in the
apartments, it was hard to get them out again. "Could we manage?" she
referred to her husband.

"Why, I shouldn't care for the steam heat if--What is the rent?" he broke
off to ask the janitor.

"Nine hundred, sir."

March concluded to his wife, "If it were furnished."

"Why, of course! What could I have been thinking of? We're looking for a
furnished flat," she explained to the janitor, "and this was so pleasant
and homelike that I never thought whether it was furnished or not."

She smiled upon the janitor, and he entered into the joke and chuckled so
amiably at her flattering oversight on the way down-stairs that she said,
as she pinched her husband's arm, "Now, if you don't give him a quarter
I'll never speak to you again, Basil!"

"I would have given half a dollar willingly to get you beyond his
glamour," said March, when they were safely on the pavement outside.
"If it hadn't been for my strength of character, you'd have taken an
unfurnished flat without heat and with no elevator, at nine hundred a
year, when you had just sworn me to steam heat, an elevator, furniture,
and eight hundred."

"Yes! How could I have lost my head so completely?" she said, with a
lenient amusement in her aberration which she was not always able to feel
in her husband's.

"The next time a colored janitor opens the door to us, I'll tell him the
apartment doesn't suit at the threshold. It's the only way to manage you,
Isabel."

"It's true. I am in love with the whole race. I never saw one of them
that didn't have perfectly angelic manners. I think we shall all be black
in heaven--that is, black-souled."

"That isn't the usual theory," said March.

"Well, perhaps not," she assented. "Where are we going now? Oh yes, to
the Xenophon!"

She pulled him gayly along again, and after they had walked a block down
and half a block over they stood before the apartment-house of that name,
which was cut on the gas-lamps on either side of the heavily spiked,
aesthetic-hinged black door. The titter of an electric-bell brought a
large, fat Buttons, with a stage effect of being dressed to look small,
who said he would call the janitor, and they waited in the dimly
splendid, copper-colored interior, admiring the whorls and waves into
which the wallpaint was combed, till the janitor came in his gold-banded
cap, like a Continental porker. When they said they would like to see
Mrs. Grosvenor Green's apartment, he owned his inability to cope with the
affair, and said he must send for the superintendent; he was either in
the Herodotus or the Thucydides, and would be there in a minute. The
Buttons brought him--a Yankee of browbeating presence in plain
clothes--almost before they had time to exchange a frightened whisper in
recognition of the fact that there could be no doubt of the steam heat
and elevator in this case. Half stifled in the one, they mounted in the
other eight stories, while they tried to keep their self-respect under
the gaze of the superintendent, which they felt was classing and
assessing them with unfriendly accuracy. They could not, and they
faltered abashed at the threshold of Mrs. Grosvenor Green's apartment,
while the superintendent lit the gas in the gangway that he called a
private hall, and in the drawing-room and the succession of chambers
stretching rearward to the kitchen. Everything had, been done by the
architect to save space, and everything, to waste it by Mrs. Grosvenor
Green. She had conformed to a law for the necessity of turning round in
each room, and had folding-beds in the chambers, but there her
subordination had ended, and wherever you might have turned round she had
put a gimcrack so that you would knock it over if you did turn. The place
was rather pretty and even imposing at first glance, and it took several
joint ballots for March and his wife to make sure that with the kitchen
there were only six rooms. At every door hung a portiere from large rings
on a brass rod; every shelf and dressing-case and mantel was littered
with gimcracks, and the corners of the tiny rooms were curtained off, and
behind these portieres swarmed more gimcracks. The front of the upright
piano had what March called a short-skirted portiere on it, and the top
was covered with vases, with dragon candlesticks and with Jap fans, which
also expanded themselves bat wise on the walls between the etchings and
the water colors. The floors were covered with filling, and then rugs and
then skins; the easy-chairs all had tidies, Armenian and Turkish and
Persian; the lounges and sofas had embroidered cushions hidden under
tidies.

The radiator was concealed by a Jap screen, and over the top of this some
Arab scarfs were flung. There was a superabundance of clocks. China pugs
guarded the hearth; a brass sunflower smiled from the top of either
andiron, and a brass peacock spread its tail before them inside a high
filigree fender; on one side was a coalhod in 'repousse' brass, and on
the other a wrought iron wood-basket. Some red Japanese bird-kites were
stuck about in the necks of spelter vases, a crimson Jap umbrella hung
opened beneath the chandelier, and each globe had a shade of yellow silk.

March, when he had recovered his self-command a little in the presence of
the agglomeration, comforted himself by calling the bric-a-brac
Jamescracks, as if this was their full name.

The disrespect he was able to show the whole apartment by means of this
joke strengthened him to say boldly to the superintendent that it was
altogether too small; then he asked carelessly what the rent was.

"Two hundred and fifty."

The Marches gave a start, and looked at each other.

"Don't you think we could make it do?" she asked him, and he could see
that she had mentally saved five hundred dollars as the difference
between the rent of their house and that of this flat. "It has some very
pretty features, and we could manage to squeeze in, couldn't we?"

"You won't find another furnished flat like it for no two-fifty a month
in the whole city," the superintendent put in.

They exchanged glances again, and March said, carelessly, "It's too
small."

"There's a vacant flat in the Herodotus for eighteen hundred a year, and
one in the Thucydides for fifteen," the superintendent suggested,
clicking his keys together as they sank down in the elevator; "seven
rooms and bath."

"Thank you," said March; "we're looking for a furnished flat."

They felt that the superintendent parted from them with repressed
sarcasm.

"Oh, Basil, do you think we really made him think it was the smallness
and not the dearness?"

"No, but we saved our self-respect in the attempt; and that's a great
deal."

"Of course, I wouldn't have taken it, anyway, with only six rooms, and so
high up. But what prices! Now, we must be very circumspect about the next
place."

It was a janitress, large, fat, with her arms wound up in her apron, who
received them there. Mrs. March gave her a succinct but perfect statement
of their needs. She failed to grasp the nature of them, or feigned to do
so. She shook her head, and said that her son would show them the flat.
There was a radiator visible in the narrow hall, and Isabel tacitly
compromised on steam heat without an elevator, as the flat was only one
flight up. When the son appeared from below with a small kerosene
hand-lamp, it appeared that the flat was unfurnished, but there was no
stopping him till he had shown it in all its impossibility. When they got
safely away from it and into the street March said: "Well, have you had
enough for to-night, Isabel? Shall we go to the theatre now?"

"Not on any account. I want to see the whole list of flats that Mr.
Fulkerson thought would be the very thing for us." She laughed, but with
a certain bitterness.

"You'll be calling him my Mr. Fulkerson next, Isabel."

"Oh no!"

The fourth address was a furnished flat without a kitchen, in a house
with a general restaurant. The fifth was a furnished house. At the sixth
a pathetic widow and her pretty daughter wanted to take a family to
board, and would give them a private table at a rate which the Marches
would have thought low in Boston.

Mrs. March came away tingling with compassion for their evident anxiety,
and this pity naturally soured into a sense of injury. "Well, I must say
I have completely lost confidence in Mr. Fulkerson's judgment. Anything
more utterly different from what I told him we wanted I couldn't imagine.
If he doesn't manage any better about his business than he has done about
this, it will be a perfect failure."

"Well, well, let's hope he'll be more circumspect about that," her
husband returned, with ironical propitiation. "But I don't think it's
Fulkerson's fault altogether. Perhaps it's the house-agents'. They're a
very illusory generation. There seems to be something in the human
habitation that corrupts the natures of those who deal in it, to buy or
sell it, to hire or let it. You go to an agent and tell him what kind of
a house you want. He has no such house, and he sends you to look at
something altogether different, upon the well-ascertained principle that
if you can't get what you want you will take what you can get. You don't
suppose the 'party' that took our house in Boston was looking for any
such house? He was looking for a totally different kind of house in
another part of the town."

"I don't believe that!" his wife broke in.

"Well, no matter. But see what a scandalous rent you asked for it."

"We didn't get much more than half; and, besides, the agent told me to
ask fourteen hundred."

"Oh, I'm not blaming you, Isabel. I'm only analyzing the house-agent and
exonerating Fulkerson."

"Well, I don't believe he told them just what we wanted; and, at any
rate, I'm done with agents. Tomorrow I'm going entirely by
advertisements."



VIII.

Mrs. March took the vertebrate with her to the Vienna Coffee-House, where
they went to breakfast next morning. She made March buy her the Herald
and the World, and she added to its spiny convolutions from them. She
read the new advertisements aloud with ardor and with faith to believe
that the apartments described in them were every one truthfully
represented, and that any one of them was richly responsive to their
needs. "Elegant, light, large, single and outside flats" were offered
with "all improvements--bath, ice-box, etc."--for twenty-five to thirty
dollars a month. The cheapness was amazing. The Wagram, the Esmeralda,
the Jacinth, advertised them for forty dollars and sixty dollars, "with
steam heat and elevator," rent free till November. Others, attractive
from their air of conscientious scruple, announced "first-class flats;
good order; reasonable rents." The Helena asked the reader if she had
seen the "cabinet finish, hard-wood floors, and frescoed ceilings" of its
fifty-dollar flats; the Asteroid affirmed that such apartments, with "six
light rooms and bath, porcelain wash-tubs, electric bells, and hall-boy,"
as it offered for seventy-five dollars were unapproached by competition.
There was a sameness in the jargon which tended to confusion. Mrs. March
got several flats on her list which promised neither steam heat nor
elevators; she forgot herself so far as to include two or three as remote
from the down-town region of her choice as Harlem. But after she had
rejected these the nondescript vertebrate was still voluminous enough to
sustain her buoyant hopes.

The waiter, who remembered them from year to year, had put them at a
window giving a pretty good section of Broadway, and before they set out
on their search they had a moment of reminiscence. They recalled the
Broadway of five, of ten, of twenty years ago, swelling and roaring with
a tide of gayly painted omnibuses and of picturesque traffic that the
horsecars have now banished from it. The grind of their wheels and the
clash of their harsh bells imperfectly fill the silence that the
omnibuses have left, and the eye misses the tumultuous perspective of
former times.

They went out and stood for a moment before Grace Church, and looked down
the stately thoroughfare, and found it no longer impressive, no longer
characteristic. It is still Broadway in name, but now it is like any
other street. You do not now take your life in your hand when you attempt
to cross it; the Broadway policeman who supported the elbow of timorous
beauty in the hollow of his cotton-gloved palm and guided its little
fearful boots over the crossing, while he arrested the billowy omnibuses
on either side with an imperious glance, is gone, and all that certain
processional, barbaric gayety of the place is gone.

"Palmyra, Baalbec, Timour of the Desert," said March, voicing their
common feeling of the change.

They turned and went into the beautiful church, and found themselves in
time for the matin service. Rapt far from New York, if not from earth, in
the dim richness of the painted light, the hallowed music took them with
solemn ecstasy; the aerial, aspiring Gothic forms seemed to lift them
heavenward. They came out, reluctant, into the dazzle and bustle of the
street, with a feeling that they were too good for it, which they
confessed to each other with whimsical consciousness.

"But no matter how consecrated we feel now," he said, "we mustn't forget
that we went into the church for precisely the same reason that we went
to the Vienna Cafe for breakfast--to gratify an aesthetic sense, to renew
the faded pleasure of travel for a moment, to get back into the Europe of
our youth. It was a purely Pagan impulse, Isabel, and we'd better own
it."

"I don't know," she returned. "I think we reduce ourselves to the bare
bones too much. I wish we didn't always recognize the facts as we do.
Sometimes I should like to blink them. I should like to think I was
devouter than I am, and younger and prettier."

"Better not; you couldn't keep it up. Honesty is the best policy even in
such things."

"No; I don't like it, Basil. I should rather wait till the last day for
some of my motives to come to the top. I know they're always mixed, but
do let me give them the benefit of a doubt sometimes."

"Well, well, have it your own way, my dear. But I prefer not to lay up so
many disagreeable surprises for myself at that time."

She would not consent. "I know I am a good deal younger than I was. I
feel quite in the mood of that morning when we walked down Broadway on
our wedding journey. Don't you?"

"Oh yes. But I know I'm not younger; I'm only prettier."

She laughed for pleasure in his joke, and also for unconscious joy in the
gay New York weather, in which there was no 'arriere pensee' of the east
wind. They had crossed Broadway, and were walking over to Washington
Square, in the region of which they now hoped to place themselves. The
'primo tenore' statue of Garibaldi had already taken possession of the
place in the name of Latin progress, and they met Italian faces, French
faces, Spanish faces, as they strolled over the asphalt walks, under the
thinning shadows of the autumn-stricken sycamores. They met the familiar
picturesque raggedness of Southern Europe with the old kindly illusion
that somehow it existed for their appreciation, and that it found
adequate compensation for poverty in this. March thought he sufficiently
expressed his tacit sympathy in sitting down on one of the iron benches
with his wife and letting a little Neapolitan put a superfluous shine on
his boots, while their desultory comment wandered with equal esteem to
the old-fashioned American respectability which keeps the north side of
the square in vast mansions of red brick, and the international
shabbiness which has invaded the southern border, and broken it up into
lodging-houses, shops, beer-gardens, and studios.

They noticed the sign of an apartment to let on the north side, and as
soon as the little bootblack could be bought off they went over to look
at it. The janitor met them at the door and examined them. Then he said,
as if still in doubt, "It has ten rooms, and the rent is twenty-eight
hundred dollars."

"It wouldn't do, then," March replied, and left him to divide the
responsibility between the paucity of the rooms and the enormity of the
rent as he best might. But their self-love had received a wound, and they
questioned each other what it was in their appearance made him doubt
their ability to pay so much.

"Of course, we don't look like New-Yorkers," sighed Mrs. March, "and
we've walked through the Square. That might be as if we had walked along
the Park Street mall in the Common before we came out on Beacon. Do you
suppose he could have seen you getting your boots blacked in that way?"

"It's useless to ask," said March. "But I never can recover from this
blow."

"Oh, pshaw! You know you hate such things as badly as I do. It was very
impertinent of him."

"Let us go back and 'ecraser l'infame' by paying him a year's rent in
advance and taking immediate possession. Nothing else can soothe my
wounded feelings. You were not having your boots blacked: why shouldn't
he have supposed you were a New-Yorker, and I a country cousin?"

"They always know. Don't you remember Mrs. Williams's going to a Fifth
Avenue milliner in a Worth dress, and the woman's asking her instantly
what hotel she should send her hat to?"

"Yes; these things drive one to despair. I don't wonder the bodies of so
many genteel strangers are found in the waters around New York. Shall we
try the south side, my dear? or had we better go back to our rooms and
rest awhile?"

Mrs. March had out the vertebrate, and was consulting one of its
glittering ribs and glancing up from it at a house before which they
stood. "Yes, it's the number; but do they call this being ready October
first?" The little area in front of the basement was heaped with a
mixture of mortar, bricks, laths, and shavings from the interior; the
brownstone steps to the front door were similarly bestrewn; the doorway
showed the half-open, rough pine carpenter's sketch of an unfinished
house; the sashless windows of every story showed the activity of workmen
within; the clatter of hammers and the hiss of saws came out to them from
every opening.

"They may call it October first," said March, "because it's too late to
contradict them. But they'd better not call it December first in my
presence; I'll let them say January first, at a pinch."

"We will go in and look at it, anyway," said his wife; and he admired
how, when she was once within, she began provisionally to settle the
family in each of the several floors with the female instinct for
domiciliation which never failed her. She had the help of the landlord,
who was present to urge forward the workmen apparently; he lent a hopeful
fancy to the solution of all her questions. To get her from under his
influence March had to represent that the place was damp from undried
plastering, and that if she stayed she would probably be down with that
New York pneumonia which visiting Bostonians are always dying of. Once
safely on the pavement outside, she realized that the apartment was not
only unfinished, but unfurnished, and had neither steam heat nor
elevator. "But I thought we had better look at everything," she
explained.

"Yes, but not take everything. If I hadn't pulled you away from there by
main force you'd have not only died of New York pneumonia on the spot,
but you'd have had us all settled there before we knew what we were
about."

"Well, that's what I can't help, Basil. It's the only way I can realize
whether it will do for us. I have to dramatize the whole thing."

She got a deal of pleasure as well as excitement out of this, and he had
to own that the process of setting up housekeeping in so many different
places was not only entertaining, but tended, through association with
their first beginnings in housekeeping, to restore the image of their
early married days and to make them young again.

It went on all day, and continued far into the night, until it was too
late to go to the theatre, too late to do anything but tumble into bed
and simultaneously fall asleep. They groaned over their reiterated
disappointments, but they could not deny that the interest was unfailing,
and that they got a great deal of fun out of it all. Nothing could abate
Mrs. March's faith in her advertisements. One of them sent her to a flat
of ten rooms which promised to be the solution of all their difficulties;
it proved to be over a livery-stable, a liquor store, and a milliner's
shop, none of the first fashion. Another led them far into old Greenwich
Village to an apartment-house, which she refused to enter behind a small
girl with a loaf of bread under one arm and a quart can of milk under the
other.

In their search they were obliged, as March complained, to the
acquisition of useless information in a degree unequalled in their
experience. They came to excel in the sad knowledge of the line at which
respectability distinguishes itself from shabbiness. Flattering
advertisements took them to numbers of huge apartment-houses chiefly
distinguishable from tenement-houses by the absence of fire-escapes on
their facades, till Mrs. March refused to stop at any door where there
were more than six bell-ratchets and speaking-tubes on either hand.
Before the middle of the afternoon she decided against ratchets
altogether, and confined herself to knobs, neatly set in the door-trim.
Her husband was still sunk in the superstition that you can live anywhere
you like in New York, and he would have paused at some places where her
quicker eye caught the fatal sign of "Modes" in the ground-floor windows.
She found that there was an east and west line beyond which they could
not go if they wished to keep their self-respect, and that within the
region to which they had restricted themselves there was a choice of
streets. At first all the New York streets looked to them ill-paved,
dirty, and repulsive; the general infamy imparted itself in their casual
impression to streets in no wise guilty. But they began to notice that
some streets were quiet and clean, and, though never so quiet and clean
as Boston streets, that they wore an air of encouraging reform, and
suggested a future of greater and greater domesticity. Whole blocks of
these downtown cross-streets seemed to have been redeemed from decay, and
even in the midst of squalor a dwelling here and there had been seized,
painted a dull red as to its brick-work, and a glossy black as to its
wood-work, and with a bright brass bell-pull and door-knob and a large
brass plate for its key-hole escutcheon, had been endowed with an effect
of purity and pride which removed its shabby neighborhood far from it.
Some of these houses were quite small, and imaginably within their means;
but, as March said, some body seemed always to be living there himself,
and the fact that none of them was to rent kept Mrs. March true to her
ideal of a fiat. Nothing prevented its realization so much as its
difference from the New York ideal of a flat, which was inflexibly seven
rooms and a bath. One or two rooms might be at the front, the rest
crooked and cornered backward through in creasing and then decreasing
darkness till they reached a light bedroom or kitchen at the rear. It
might be the one or the other, but it was always the seventh room with
the bath; or if, as sometimes happened, it was the eighth, it was so
after having counted the bath as one; in this case the janitor said you
always counted the bath as one. If the flats were advertised as having
"all light rooms," he explained that any room with a window giving into
the open air of a court or shaft was counted a light room.

The Marches tried to make out why it was that these flats were go much
more repulsive than the apartments which everyone lived in abroad; but
they could only do so upon the supposition that in their European days
they were too young, too happy, too full of the future, to notice whether
rooms were inside or outside, light or dark, big or little, high or low.
"Now we're imprisoned in the present," he said, "and we have to make the
worst of it."

In their despair he had an inspiration, which she declared worthy of him:
it was to take two small flats, of four or five rooms and a bath, and
live in both. They tried this in a great many places, but they never
could get two flats of the kind on the same floor where there was steam
heat and an elevator. At one place they almost did it. They had resigned
themselves to the humility of the neighborhood, to the prevalence of
modistes and livery-stablemen (they seem to consort much in New York), to
the garbage in the gutters and the litter of paper in the streets, to the
faltering slats in the surrounding window-shutters and the crumbled
brownstone steps and sills, when it turned out that one of the apartments
had been taken between two visits they made. Then the only combination
left open to them was of a ground-floor flat to the right and a
third-floor flat to the left.

Still they kept this inspiration in reserve for use at the first
opportunity. In the mean time there were several flats which they thought
they could almost make do: notably one where they could get an extra
servant's room in the basement four flights down, and another where they
could get it in the roof five flights up. At the first the janitor was
respectful and enthusiastic; at the second he had an effect of ironical
pessimism. When they trembled on the verge of taking his apartment, he
pointed out a spot in the kalsomining of the parlor ceiling, and
gratuitously said, Now such a thing as that he should not agree to put in
shape unless they took the apartment for a term of years. The apartment
was unfurnished, and they recurred to the fact that they wanted a
furnished apartment, and made their escape. This saved them in several
other extremities; but short of extremity they could not keep their
different requirements in mind, and were always about to decide without
regard to some one of them.

They went to several places twice without intending: once to that
old-fashioned house with the pleasant colored janitor, and wandered all
over the apartment again with a haunting sense of familiarity, and then
recognized the janitor and laughed; and to that house with the pathetic
widow and the pretty daughter who wished to take them to board. They
stayed to excuse their blunder, and easily came by the fact that the
mother had taken the house that the girl might have a home while she was
in New York studying art, and they hoped to pay their way by taking
boarders. Her daughter was at her class now, the mother concluded; and
they encouraged her to believe that it could only be a few days till the
rest of her scheme was realized.

"I dare say we could be perfectly comfortable there," March suggested
when they had got away. "Now if we were truly humane we would modify our
desires to meet their needs and end this sickening search, wouldn't we?"

"Yes, but we're not truly humane," his wife answered, "or at least not in
that sense. You know you hate boarding; and if we went there I should
have them on my sympathies the whole time."

"I see. And then you would take it out of me."

"Then I should take it out of you. And if you are going to be so weak,
Basil, and let every little thing work upon you in that way, you'd better
not come to New York. You'll see enough misery here."

"Well, don't take that superior tone with me, as if I were a child that
had its mind set on an undesirable toy, Isabel."

"Ah, don't you suppose it's because you are such a child in some respects
that I like you, dear?" she demanded, without relenting.

"But I don't find so much misery in New York. I don't suppose there's any
more suffering here to the population than there is in the country. And
they're so gay about it all. I think the outward aspect of the place and
the hilarity of the sky and air must get into the people's blood. The
weather is simply unapproachable; and I don't care if it is the ugliest
place in the world, as you say. I suppose it is. It shrieks and yells
with ugliness here and there but it never loses its spirits. That widow
is from the country. When she's been a year in New York she'll be as
gay--as gay as an L road." He celebrated a satisfaction they both had in
the L roads. "They kill the streets and avenues, but at least they
partially hide them, and that is some comfort; and they do triumph over
their prostrate forms with a savage exultation that is intoxicating.
Those bends in the L that you get in the corner of Washington Square, or
just below the Cooper Institute--they're the gayest things in the world.
Perfectly atrocious, of course, but incomparably picturesque! And the
whole city is so," said March, "or else the L would never have got built
here. New York may be splendidly gay or squalidly gay; but, prince or
pauper, it's gay always."

"Yes, gay is the word," she admitted, with a sigh. "But frantic. I can't
get used to it. They forget death, Basil; they forget death in New York."

"Well, I don't know that I've ever found much advantage in remembering
it."

"Don't say such a thing, dearest."

He could see that she had got to the end of her nervous strength for the
present, and he proposed that they should take the Elevated road as far
as it would carry them into the country, and shake off their nightmare of
flat-hunting for an hour or two; but her conscience would not let her.
She convicted him of levity equal to that of the New-Yorkers in proposing
such a thing; and they dragged through the day. She was too tired to care
for dinner, and in the night she had a dream from which she woke herself
with a cry that roused him, too. It was something about the children at
first, whom they had talked of wistfully before falling asleep, and then
it was of a hideous thing with two square eyes and a series of sections
growing darker and then lighter, till the tail of the monstrous
articulate was quite luminous again. She shuddered at the vague
description she was able to give; but he asked, "Did it offer to bite
you?"

"No. That was the most frightful thing about it; it had no mouth."

March laughed. "Why, my dear, it was nothing but a harmless New York
flat--seven rooms and a bath."

"I really believe it was," she consented, recognizing an architectural
resemblance, and she fell asleep again, and woke renewed for the work
before them.



IX.

Their house-hunting no longer had novelty, but it still had interest; and
they varied their day by taking a coupe, by renouncing advertisements,
and by reverting to agents. Some of these induced them to consider the
idea of furnished houses; and Mrs. March learned tolerance for Fulkerson
by accepting permits to visit flats and houses which had none of the
qualifications she desired in either, and were as far beyond her means as
they were out of the region to which she had geographically restricted
herself. They looked at three-thousand and four-thousand dollar
apartments, and rejected them for one reason or another which had nothing
to do with the rent; the higher the rent was, the more critical they were
of the slippery inlaid floors and the arrangement of the richly decorated
rooms. They never knew whether they had deceived the janitor or not; as
they came in a coupe, they hoped they had.

They drove accidentally through one street that seemed gayer in the
perspective than an L road. The fire-escapes, with their light iron
balconies and ladders of iron, decorated the lofty house fronts; the
roadway and sidewalks and door-steps swarmed with children; women's heads
seemed to show at every window. In the basements, over which flights of
high stone steps led to the tenements, were green-grocers' shops
abounding in cabbages, and provision stores running chiefly to bacon and
sausages, and cobblers' and tinners' shops, and the like, in proportion
to the small needs of a poor neighborhood. Ash barrels lined the
sidewalks, and garbage heaps filled the gutters; teams of all trades
stood idly about; a peddler of cheap fruit urged his cart through the
street, and mixed his cry with the joyous screams and shouts of the
children and the scolding and gossiping voices of the women; the burly
blue bulk of a policeman defined itself at the corner; a drunkard
zigzagged down the sidewalk toward him. It was not the abode of the
extremest poverty, but of a poverty as hopeless as any in the world,
transmitting itself from generation to generation, and establishing
conditions of permanency to which human life adjusts itself as it does to
those of some incurable disease, like leprosy.

The time had been when the Marches would have taken a purely aesthetic
view of the facts as they glimpsed them in this street of
tenement-houses; when they would have contented themselves with saying
that it was as picturesque as a street in Naples or Florence, and with
wondering why nobody came to paint it; they would have thought they were
sufficiently serious about it in blaming the artists for their failure to
appreciate it, and going abroad for the picturesque when they had it here
under their noses. It was to the nose that the street made one of its
strongest appeals, and Mrs. March pulled up her window of the coupe. "Why
does he take us through such a disgusting street?" she demanded, with an
exasperation of which her husband divined the origin.

"This driver may be a philanthropist in disguise," he answered, with
dreamy irony, "and may want us to think about the people who are not
merely carried through this street in a coupe, but have to spend their
whole lives in it, winter and summer, with no hopes of driving out of it,
except in a hearse. I must say they don't seem to mind it. I haven't seen
a jollier crowd anywhere in New York. They seem to have forgotten death a
little more completely than any of their fellow-citizens, Isabel. And I
wonder what they think of us, making this gorgeous progress through their
midst. I suppose they think we're rich, and hate us--if they hate rich
people; they don't look as if they hated anybody. Should we be as patient
as they are with their discomfort? I don't believe there's steam heat or
an elevator in the whole block. Seven rooms and a bath would be more than
the largest and genteelest family would know what to do with. They
wouldn't know what to do with the bath, anyway."

His monologue seemed to interest his wife apart from the satirical point
it had for themselves. "You ought to get Mr. Fulkerson to let you work
some of these New York sights up for Every Other Week, Basil; you could
do them very nicely."

"Yes; I've thought of that. But don't let's leave the personal ground.
Doesn't it make you feel rather small and otherwise unworthy when you see
the kind of street these fellow-beings of yours live in, and then think
how particular you are about locality and the number of bellpulls? I
don't see even ratchets and speaking-tubes at these doors." He craned his
neck out of the window for a better look, and the children of discomfort
cheered him, out of sheer good feeling and high spirits. "I didn't know I
was so popular. Perhaps it's a recognition of my humane sentiments."

"Oh, it's very easy to have humane sentiments, and to satirize ourselves
for wanting eight rooms and a bath in a good neighborhood, when we see
how these wretched creatures live," said his wife. "But if we shared all
we have with them, and then settled down among them, what good would it
do?"

"Not the least in the world. It might help us for the moment, but it
wouldn't keep the wolf from their doors for a week; and then they would
go on just as before, only they wouldn't be on such good terms with the
wolf. The only way for them is to keep up an unbroken intimacy with the
wolf; then they can manage him somehow. I don't know how, and I'm afraid
I don't want to. Wouldn't you like to have this fellow drive us round
among the halls of pride somewhere for a little while? Fifth Avenue or
Madison, up-town?"

"No; we've no time to waste. I've got a place near Third Avenue, on a
nice cross street, and I want him to take us there." It proved that she
had several addresses near together, and it seemed best to dismiss their
coupe and do the rest of their afternoon's work on foot. It came to
nothing; she was not humbled in the least by what she had seen in the
tenement-house street; she yielded no point in her ideal of a flat, and
the flats persistently refused to lend themselves to it. She lost all
patience with them.

"Oh, I don't say the flats are in the right of it," said her husband,
when she denounced their stupid inadequacy to the purposes of a Christian
home. "But I'm not so sure that we are, either. I've been thinking about
that home business ever since my sensibilities were dragged--in a
coupe--through that tenement-house street. Of course, no child born and
brought up in such a place as that could have any conception of home. But
that's because those poor people can't give character to their
habitations. They have to take what they can get. But people like
us--that is, of our means--do give character to the average flat. It's
made to meet their tastes, or their supposed tastes; and so it's made for
social show, not for family life at all. Think of a baby in a flat! It's
a contradiction in terms; the flat is the negation of motherhood. The
flat means society life; that is, the pretence of social life. It's made
to give artificial people a society basis on a little money--too much
money, of course, for what they get. So the cost of the building is put
into marble halls and idiotic decoration of all kinds. I don't object to
the conveniences, but none of these flats has a living-room. They have
drawing-rooms to foster social pretence, and they have dining-rooms and
bedrooms; but they have no room where the family can all come together
and feel the sweetness of being a family. The bedrooms are black-holes
mostly, with a sinful waste of space in each. If it were not for the
marble halls, and the decorations, and the foolishly expensive finish,
the houses could be built round a court, and the flats could be shaped
something like a Pompeiian house, with small sleeping-closets--only lit
from the outside--and the rest of the floor thrown into two or three
large cheerful halls, where all the family life could go on, and society
could be transacted unpretentiously. Why, those tenements are better and
humaner than those flats! There the whole family lives in the kitchen,
and has its consciousness of being; but the flat abolishes the family
consciousness. It's confinement without coziness; it's cluttered without
being snug. You couldn't keep a self-respecting cat in a flat; you
couldn't go down cellar to get cider. No! the Anglo-Saxon home, as we
know it in the Anglo-Saxon house, is simply impossible in the
Franco-American flat, not because it's humble, but because it's false."

"Well, then," said Mrs. March, "let's look at houses."

He had been denouncing the flat in the abstract, and he had not expected
this concrete result. But he said, "We will look at houses, then."



X.

Nothing mystifies a man more than a woman's aberrations from some point
at which he, supposes her fixed as a star. In these unfurnished houses,
without steam or elevator, March followed his wife about with patient
wonder. She rather liked the worst of them best: but she made him go down
into the cellars and look at the furnaces; she exacted from him a rigid
inquest of the plumbing. She followed him into one of the cellars by the
fitful glare of successively lighted matches, and they enjoyed a moment
in which the anomaly of their presence there on that errand, so remote
from all the facts of their long-established life in Boston, realized
itself for them.

"Think how easily we might have been murdered and nobody been any the
wiser!" she said when they were comfortably outdoors again.

"Yes, or made way with ourselves in an access of emotional insanity,
supposed to have been induced by unavailing flat-hunting," he suggested.
She fell in with the notion. "I'm beginning to feel crazy. But I don't
want you to lose your head, Basil. And I don't want you to sentimentalize
any of the things you see in New York. I think you were disposed to do it
in that street we drove through. I don't believe there's any real
suffering--not real suffering--among those people; that is, it would be
suffering from our point of view, but they've been used to it all their
lives, and they don't feel their' discomfort so much."

"Of course, I understand that, and I don't propose to sentimentalize
them. I think when people get used to a bad state of things they had
better stick to it; in fact, they don't usually like a better state so
well, and I shall keep that firmly in mind."

She laughed with him, and they walked along the L bestridden avenue,
exhilarated by their escape from murder and suicide in that cellar,
toward the nearest cross town track, which they meant to take home to
their hotel. "Now to-night we will go to the theatre," she said, "and get
this whole house business out of our minds, and be perfectly fresh for a
new start in the morning." Suddenly she clutched his arm. "Why, did you
see that man?" and she signed with her head toward a decently dressed
person who walked beside them, next the gutter, stooping over as if to
examine it, and half halting at times.

"No. What?"

"Why, I saw him pick up a dirty bit of cracker from the pavement and cram
it into his mouth and eat it down as if he were famished. And look! he's
actually hunting for more in those garbage heaps!"

This was what the decent-looking man with the hard hands and broken nails
of a workman was doing-like a hungry dog. They kept up with him, in the
fascination of the sight, to the next corner, where he turned down the
side street still searching the gutter.

They walked on a few paces. Then March said, "I must go after him," and
left his wife standing.

"Are you in want--hungry?" he asked the man.

The man said he could not speak English, Monsieur.

March asked his question in French.

The man shrugged a pitiful, desperate shrug, "Mais, Monsieur--"

March put a coin in his hand, and then suddenly the man's face twisted
up; he caught the hand of this alms-giver in both of his and clung to it.
"Monsieur! Monsieur!" he gasped, and the tears rained down his face.

His benefactor pulled himself away, shocked and ashamed, as one is by
such a chance, and got back to his wife, and the man lapsed back into the
mystery of misery out of which he had emerged.

March felt it laid upon him to console his wife for what had happened.
"Of course, we might live here for years and not see another case like
that; and, of course, there are twenty places where he could have gone
for help if he had known where to find them."

"Ah, but it's the possibility of his needing the help so badly as that,"
she answered. "That's what I can't bear, and I shall not come to a place
where such things are possible, and we may as well stop our house-hunting
here at once."

"Yes? And what part of Christendom will you live in? Such things are
possible everywhere in our conditions."

"Then we must change the conditions--"

"Oh no; we must go to the theatre and forget them. We can stop at
Brentano's for our tickets as we pass through Union Square."

"I am not going to the theatre, Basil. I am going home to Boston
to-night. You can stay and find a flat."

He convinced her of the absurdity of her position, and even of its
selfishness; but she said that her mind was quite made up irrespective of
what had happened, that she had been away from the children long enough;
that she ought to be at home to finish up the work of leaving it. The
word brought a sigh. "Ah, I don't know why we should see nothing but sad
and ugly things now. When we were young--"

"Younger," he put in. "We're still young."

"That's what we pretend, but we know better. But I was thinking how
pretty and pleasant things used to be turning up all the time on our
travels in the old days. Why, when we were in New York here on our
wedding journey the place didn't seem half so dirty as it does now, and
none of these dismal things happened."

"It was a good deal dirtier," he answered; "and I fancy worse in every
way-hungrier, raggeder, more wretchedly housed. But that wasn't the
period of life for us to notice it. Don't you remember, when we started
to Niagara the last time, how everybody seemed middle-aged and
commonplace; and when we got there there were no evident brides; nothing
but elderly married people?"

"At least they weren't starving," she rebelled.

"No, you don't starve in parlor-cars and first-class hotels; but if you
step out of them you run your chance of seeing those who do, if you're
getting on pretty well in the forties. If it's the unhappy who see
unhappiness, think what misery must be revealed to people who pass their
lives in the really squalid tenement-house streets--I don't mean
picturesque avenues like that we passed through."

"But we are not unhappy," she protested, bringing the talk back to the
personal base again, as women must to get any good out of talk. "We're
really no unhappier than we were when we were young."

"We're more serious."

"Well, I hate it; and I wish you wouldn't be so serious, if that's what
it brings us to."

"I will be trivial from this on," said March. "Shall we go to the Hole in
the Ground to-night?"

"I am going to Boston."

"It's much the same thing. How do you like that for triviality? It's a
little blasphemous, I'll allow."

"It's very silly," she said.

At the hotel they found a letter from the agent who had sent them the
permit to see Mrs. Grosvenor Green's apartment. He wrote that she had
heard they were pleased with her apartment, and that she thought she
could make the terms to suit. She had taken her passage for Europe, and
was very anxious to let the flat before she sailed. She would call that
evening at seven.

"Mrs. Grosvenor Green!" said Mrs. March. "Which of the ten thousand flats
is it, Basil?"

"The gimcrackery," he answered. "In the Xenophon, you know."

"Well, she may save herself the trouble. I shall not see her. Or yes--I
must. I couldn't go away without seeing what sort of creature could have
planned that fly-away flat. She must be a perfect--"

"Parachute," March suggested.

"No! anybody so light as that couldn't come down."

"Well, toy balloon."

"Toy balloon will do for the present," Mrs. March admitted. "But I feel
that naught but herself can be her parallel for volatility."

When Mrs. Grosvenor-Green's card came up they both descended to the hotel
parlor, which March said looked like the saloon of a Moorish day-boat;
not that he knew of any such craft, but the decorations were so Saracenic
and the architecture so Hudson Riverish. They found there on the grand
central divan a large lady whose vast smoothness, placidity, and
plumpness set at defiance all their preconceptions of Mrs. Grosvenor
Green, so that Mrs. March distinctly paused with her card in her hand
before venturing even tentatively to address her. Then she was astonished
at the low, calm voice in which Mrs. Green acknowledged herself, and
slowly proceeded to apologize for calling. It was not quite true that she
had taken her passage for Europe, but she hoped soon to do so, and she
confessed that in the mean time she was anxious to let her flat. She was
a little worn out with the care of housekeeping--Mrs. March breathed, "Oh
yes!" in the sigh with which ladies recognize one another's
martyrdom--and Mrs. Green had business abroad, and she was going to
pursue her art studies in Paris; she drew in Mr. Ilcomb's class now, but
the instruction was so much better in Paris; and as the superintendent
seemed to think the price was the only objection, she had ventured to
call.

"Then we didn't deceive him in the least," thought Mrs. March, while she
answered, sweetly: "No; we were only afraid that it would be too small
for our family. We require a good many rooms." She could not forego the
opportunity of saying, "My husband is coming to New York to take charge
of a literary periodical, and he will have to have a room to write in,"
which made Mrs. Green bow to March, and made March look sheepish. "But we
did think the apartment very charming", (It was architecturally charming,
she protested to her conscience), "and we should have been so glad if we
could have got into it." She followed this with some account of their
house-hunting, amid soft murmurs of sympathy from Mrs. Green, who said
that she had been through all that, and that if she could have shown her
apartment to them she felt sure that she could have explained it so that
they would have seen its capabilities better, Mrs. March assented to
this, and Mrs. Green added that if they found nothing exactly suitable
she would be glad to have them look at it again; and then Mrs. March said
that she was going back to Boston herself, but she was leaving Mr. March
to continue the search; and she had no doubt he would be only too glad to
see the apartment by daylight. "But if you take it, Basil," she warned
him, when they were alone, "I shall simply renounce you. I wouldn't live
in that junk-shop if you gave it to me. But who would have thought she
was that kind of looking person? Though of course I might have known if I
had stopped to think once. It's because the place doesn't express her at
all that it's so unlike her. It couldn't be like anybody, or anything
that flies in the air, or creeps upon the earth, or swims in the waters
under the earth. I wonder where in the world she's from; she's no
New-Yorker; even we can see that; and she's not quite a country person,
either; she seems like a person from some large town, where she's been an
aesthetic authority. And she can't find good enough art instruction in
New York, and has to go to Paris for it! Well, it's pathetic, after all,
Basil. I can't help feeling sorry for a person who mistakes herself to
that extent."

"I can't help feeling sorry for the husband of a person who mistakes
herself to that extent. What is Mr. Grosvenor Green going to do in Paris
while she's working her way into the Salon?"

"Well, you keep away from her apartment, Basil; that's all I've got to
say to you. And yet I do like some things about her."

"I like everything about her but her apartment," said March.

"I like her going to be out of the country," said his wife. "We shouldn't
be overlooked. And the place was prettily shaped, you can't deny it. And
there was an elevator and steam heat. And the location is very
convenient. And there was a hall-boy to bring up cards. The halls and
stairs were kept very clean and nice. But it wouldn't do. I could put you
a folding bed in the room where you wrote, and we could even have one in
the parlor."

"Behind a portiere? I couldn't stand any more portieres!"

"And we could squeeze the two girls into one room, or perhaps only bring
Margaret, and put out the whole of the wash. Basil!" she almost shrieked,
"it isn't to be thought of!"

He retorted, "I'm not thinking of it, my dear."

Fulkerson came in just before they started for Mrs. March's train, to
find out what had become of them, he said, and to see whether they had
got anything to live in yet.

"Not a thing," she said. "And I'm just going back to Boston, and leaving
Mr. March here to do anything he pleases about it. He has 'carte
blanche.'"

"But freedom brings responsibility, you know, Fulkerson, and it's the
same as if I'd no choice. I'm staying behind because I'm left, not
because I expect to do anything."

"Is that so?" asked Fulkerson. "Well, we must see what can be done. I
supposed you would be all settled by this time, or I should have humped
myself to find you something. None of those places I gave you amounts to
anything?"

"As much as forty thousand others we've looked at," said Mrs. March.
"Yes, one of them does amount to something. It comes so near being what
we want that I've given Mr. March particular instructions not to go near
it."

She told him about Mrs. Grosvenor Green and her flats, and at the end he
said:

"Well, well, we must look out for that. I'll keep an eye on him, Mrs.
March, and see that he doesn't do anything rash, and I won't leave him
till he's found just the right thing. It exists, of course; it must in a
city of eighteen hundred thousand people, and the only question is where
to find it. You leave him to me, Mrs. March; I'll watch out for him."

Fulkerson showed some signs of going to the station when he found they
were not driving, but she bade him a peremptory good-bye at the hotel
door.

"He's very nice, Basil, and his way with you is perfectly charming. It's
very sweet to see how really fond of you he is. But I didn't want him
stringing along with us up to Forty-second Street and spoiling our last
moments together."

At Third Avenue they took the Elevated for which she confessed an
infatuation. She declared it the most ideal way of getting about in the
world, and was not ashamed when he reminded her of how she used to say
that nothing under the sun could induce her to travel on it. She now said
that the night transit was even more interesting than the day, and that
the fleeing intimacy you formed with people in second and third floor
interiors, while all the usual street life went on underneath, had a
domestic intensity mixed with a perfect repose that was the last effect
of good society with all its security and exclusiveness. He said it was
better than the theatre, of which it reminded him, to see those people
through their windows: a family party of work-folk at a late tea, some of
the men in their shirt-sleeves; a woman sewing by a lamp; a mother laying
her child in its cradle; a man with his head fallen on his hands upon a
table; a girl and her lover leaning over the window-sill together. What
suggestion! what drama? what infinite interest! At the Forty-second
Street station they stopped a minute on the bridge that crosses the track
to the branch road for the Central Depot, and looked up and down the long
stretch of the Elevated to north and south. The track that found and lost
itself a thousand times in the flare and tremor of the innumerable
lights; the moony sheen of the electrics mixing with the reddish points
and blots of gas far and near; the architectural shapes of houses and
churches and towers, rescued by the obscurity from all that was ignoble
in them, and the coming and going of the trains marking the stations with
vivider or fainter plumes of flame-shot steam-formed an incomparable
perspective. They often talked afterward of the superb spectacle, which
in a city full of painters nightly works its unrecorded miracles; and
they were just to the Arachne roof spun in iron over the cross street on
which they ran to the depot; but for the present they were mostly
inarticulate before it. They had another moment of rich silence when they
paused in the gallery that leads from the Elevated station to the
waiting-rooms in the Central Depot and looked down upon the great night
trains lying on the tracks dim under the rain of gas-lights that starred
without dispersing the vast darkness of the place. What forces, what
fates, slept in these bulks which would soon be hurling themselves north
and south and west through the night! Now they waited there like fabled
monsters of Arab story ready for the magician's touch, tractable,
reckless, will-less--organized lifelessness full of a strange semblance
of life.

The Marches admired the impressive sight with a thrill of patriotic pride
in the fact that the whole world perhaps could not afford just the like.
Then they hurried down to the ticket-offices, and he got her a lower
berth in the Boston sleeper, and went with her to the car. They made the
most of the fact that her berth was in the very middle of the car; and
she promised to write as soon as she reached home. She promised also
that, having seen the limitations of New York in respect to flats, she
would not be hard on him if he took something not quite ideal. Only he
must remember that it was not to be above Twentieth Street nor below
Washington Square; it must not be higher than the third floor; it must
have an elevator, steam heat, hail-boys, and a pleasant janitor. These
were essentials; if he could not get them, then they must do without. But
he must get them.



XI.

Mrs. March was one of those wives who exact a more rigid adherence to
their ideals from their husbands than from themselves. Early in their
married life she had taken charge of him in all matters which she
considered practical. She did not include the business of bread-winning
in these; that was an affair that might safely be left to his
absent-minded, dreamy inefficiency, and she did not interfere with him
there. But in such things as rehanging the pictures, deciding on a summer
boarding-place, taking a seaside cottage, repapering rooms, choosing
seats at the theatre, seeing what the children ate when she was not at
table, shutting the cat out at night, keeping run of calls and
invitations, and seeing if the furnace was dampered, he had failed her so
often that she felt she could not leave him the slightest discretion in
regard to a flat. Her total distrust of his judgment in the matters cited
and others like them consisted with the greatest admiration of his mind
and respect for his character. She often said that if he would only bring
these to bear in such exigencies he would be simply perfect; but she had
long given up his ever doing so. She subjected him, therefore, to an iron
code, but after proclaiming it she was apt to abandon him to the native
lawlessness of his temperament. She expected him in this event to do as
he pleased, and she resigned herself to it with considerable comfort in
holding him accountable. He learned to expect this, and after suffering
keenly from her disappointment with whatever he did he waited patiently
till she forgot her grievance and began to extract what consolation lurks
in the irreparable. She would almost admit at moments that what he had
done was a very good thing, but she reserved the right to return in full
force to her original condemnation of it; and she accumulated each act of
independent volition in witness and warning against him. Their mass
oppressed but never deterred him. He expected to do the wrong thing when
left to his own devices, and he did it without any apparent recollection
of his former misdeeds and their consequences. There was a good deal of
comedy in it all, and some tragedy.

He now experienced a certain expansion, such as husbands of his kind will
imagine, on going back to his hotel alone. It was, perhaps, a revulsion
from the pain of parting; and he toyed with the idea of Mrs. Grosvenor
Green's apartment, which, in its preposterous unsuitability, had a
strange attraction. He felt that he could take it with less risk than
anything else they had seen, but he said he would look at all the other
places in town first. He really spent the greater part of the next day in
hunting up the owner of an apartment that had neither steam heat nor an
elevator, but was otherwise perfect, and trying to get him to take less
than the agent asked. By a curious psychical operation he was able, in
the transaction, to work himself into quite a passionate desire for the
apartment, while he held the Grosvenor Green apartment in the background
of his mind as something that he could return to as altogether more
suitable. He conducted some simultaneous negotiation for a furnished
house, which enhanced still more the desirability of the Grosvenor Green
apartment. Toward evening he went off at a tangent far up-town, so as to
be able to tell his wife how utterly preposterous the best there would be
as compared even with this ridiculous Grosvenor Green gimcrackery. It is
hard to report the processes of his sophistication; perhaps this, again,
may best be left to the marital imagination.

He rang at the last of these up-town apartments as it was falling dusk,
and it was long before the janitor appeared. Then the man was very surly,
and said if he looked at the flat now he would say it was too dark, like
all the rest. His reluctance irritated March in proportion to his
insincerity in proposing to look at it at all. He knew he did not mean to
take it under any circumstances; that he was going to use his inspection
of it in dishonest justification of his disobedience to his wife; but he
put on an air of offended dignity. "If you don't wish to show the
apartment," he said, "I don't care to see it."

The man groaned, for he was heavy, and no doubt dreaded the stairs. He
scratched a match on his thigh, and led the way up. March was sorry for
him, and he put his fingers on a quarter in his waistcoat-pocket to give
him at parting. At the same time, he had to trump up an objection to the
flat. This was easy, for it was advertised as containing ten rooms, and
he found the number eked out with the bath-room and two large closets.
"It's light enough," said March, "but I don't see how you make out ten
rooms."

"There's ten rooms," said the man, deigning no proof.

March took his fingers off the quarter, and went down-stairs and out of
the door without another word. It would be wrong, it would be impossible,
to give the man anything after such insolence. He reflected, with shame,
that it was also cheaper to punish than forgive him.

He returned to his hotel prepared for any desperate measure, and
convinced now that the Grosvenor Green apartment was not merely the only
thing left for him, but was, on its own merits, the best thing in New
York.

Fulkerson was waiting for him in the reading-room, and it gave March the
curious thrill with which a man closes with temptation when he said:
"Look here! Why don't you take that woman's flat in the Xenophon? She's
been at the agents again, and they've been at me. She likes your look--or
Mrs. March's--and I guess you can have it at a pretty heavy discount from
the original price. I'm authorized to say you can have it for one
seventy-five a month, and I don't believe it would be safe for you to
offer one fifty."

March shook his head, and dropped a mask of virtuous rejection over his
corrupt acquiescence. "It's too small for us--we couldn't squeeze into
it."

"Why, look here!" Fulkerson persisted. "How many rooms do you people
want?"

"I've got to have a place to work--"

"Of course! And you've got to have it at the Fifth Wheel office."

"I hadn't thought of that," March began. "I suppose I could do my work at
the office, as there's not much writing--"

"Why, of course you can't do your work at home. You just come round with
me now, and look at that again."

"No; I can't do it."

"Why?"

"I--I've got to dine."

"All right," said Fulkerson. "Dine with me. I want to take you round to a
little Italian place that I know."

One may trace the successive steps of March's descent in this simple
matter with the same edification that would attend the study of the
self-delusions and obfuscations of a man tempted to crime. The process is
probably not at all different, and to the philosophical mind the kind of
result is unimportant; the process is everything.

Fulkerson led him down one block and half across another to the steps of
a small dwelling-house, transformed, like many others, into a restaurant
of the Latin ideal, with little or no structural change from the pattern
of the lower middle-class New York home. There were the corroded
brownstone steps, the mean little front door, and the cramped entry with
its narrow stairs by which ladies could go up to a dining-room appointed
for them on the second floor; the parlors on the first were set about
with tables, where men smoked cigarettes between the courses, and a
single waiter ran swiftly to and fro with plates and dishes, and,
exchanged unintelligible outcries with a cook beyond a slide in the back
parlor. He rushed at the new-comers, brushed the soiled table-cloth
before them with a towel on his arm, covered its worst stains with a
napkin, and brought them, in their order, the vermicelli soup, the fried
fish, the cheese-strewn spaghetti, the veal cutlets, the tepid roast fowl
and salad, and the wizened pear and coffee which form the dinner at such
places.

"Ah, this is nice!" said Fulkerson, after the laying of the charitable
napkin, and he began to recognize acquaintances, some of whom he
described to March as young literary men and artists with whom they
should probably have to do; others were simply frequenters of the place,
and were of all nationalities and religions apparently--at least, several
were Hebrews and Cubans. "You get a pretty good slice of New York here,"
he said, "all except the frosting on top. That you won't find much at
Maroni's, though you will occasionally. I don't mean the ladies ever, of
course." The ladies present seemed harmless and reputable-looking people
enough, but certainly they were not of the first fashion, and, except in
a few instances, not Americans. "It's like cutting straight down through
a fruitcake," Fulkerson went on, "or a mince-pie, when you don't know who
made the pie; you get a little of everything." He ordered a small flask
of Chianti with the dinner, and it came in its pretty wicker jacket.
March smiled upon it with tender reminiscence, and Fulkerson laughed.
"Lights you up a little. I brought old Dryfoos here one day, and he
thought it was sweet-oil; that's the kind of bottle they used to have it
in at the country drug-stores."

"Yes, I remember now; but I'd totally forgotten it," said March. "How far
back that goes! Who's Dryfoos?"

"Dryfoos?" Fulkerson, still smiling, tore off a piece of the half-yard of
French loaf which had been supplied them, with two pale, thin disks of
butter, and fed it into himself. "Old Dryfoos? Well, of course! I call
him old, but he ain't so very. About fifty, or along there."

"No," said March, "that isn't very old--or not so old as it used to be."

"Well, I suppose you've got to know about him, anyway," said Fulkerson,
thoughtfully. "And I've been wondering just how I should tell you. Can't
always make out exactly how much of a Bostonian you really are! Ever been
out in the natural-gas country?"

"No," said March. "I've had a good deal of curiosity about it, but I've
never been able to get away except in summer, and then we always
preferred to go over the old ground, out to Niagara and back through
Canada, the route we took on our wedding journey. The children like it as
much as we do."

"Yes, yes," said Fulkerson. "Well, the natural-gas country is worth
seeing. I don't mean the Pittsburg gas-fields, but out in Northern Ohio
and Indiana around Moffitt--that's the place in the heart of the gas
region that they've been booming so. Yes, you ought to see that country.
If you haven't been West for a good many years, you haven't got any idea
how old the country looks. You remember how the fields used to be all
full of stumps?"

"I should think so."

"Well, you won't see any stumps now. All that country out around Moffitt
is just as smooth as a checker-board, and looks as old as England. You
know how we used to burn the stumps out; and then somebody invented a
stump-extractor, and we pulled them out with a yoke of oxen. Now they
just touch 'em off with a little dynamite, and they've got a cellar dug
and filled up with kindling ready for housekeeping whenever you want it.
Only they haven't got any use for kindling in that country--all gas. I
rode along on the cars through those level black fields at corn-planting
time, and every once in a while I'd come to a place with a piece of
ragged old stove-pipe stickin' up out of the ground, and blazing away
like forty, and a fellow ploughing all round it and not minding it any
more than if it was spring violets. Horses didn't notice it, either.
Well, they've always known about the gas out there; they say there are
places in the woods where it's been burning ever since the country was
settled.

"But when you come in sight of Moffitt--my, oh, my! Well, you come in
smell of it about as soon. That gas out there ain't odorless, like the
Pittsburg gas, and so it's perfectly safe; but the smell isn't bad--about
as bad as the finest kind of benzine. Well, the first thing that strikes
you when you come to Moffitt is the notion that there has been a good
warm, growing rain, and the town's come up overnight. That's in the
suburbs, the annexes, and additions. But it ain't shabby--no shanty-farm
business; nice brick and frame houses, some of 'em Queen Anne style, and
all of 'em looking as if they had come to stay. And when you drive up
from the depot you think everybody's moving. Everything seems to be piled
into the street; old houses made over, and new ones going up everywhere.
You know the kind of street Main Street always used to be in our
section--half plank-road and turnpike, and the rest mud-hole, and a lot
of stores and doggeries strung along with false fronts a story higher
than the back, and here and there a decent building with the gable end to
the public; and a court-house and jail and two taverns and three or four
churches. Well, they're all there in Moffitt yet, but architecture has
struck it hard, and they've got a lot of new buildings that needn't be
ashamed of themselves anywhere; the new court-house is as big as St.
Peter's, and the Grand Opera-house is in the highest style of the art.
You can't buy a lot on that street for much less than you can buy a lot
in New York--or you couldn't when the boom was on; I saw the place just
when the boom was in its prime. I went out there to work the newspapers
in the syndicate business, and I got one of their men to write me a real
bright, snappy account of the gas; and they just took me in their arms
and showed me everything. Well, it was wonderful, and it was beautiful,
too! To see a whole community stirred up like that was--just like a big
boy, all hope and high spirits, and no discount on the remotest future;
nothing but perpetual boom to the end of time--I tell you it warmed your
blood. Why, there were some things about it that made you think what a
nice kind of world this would be if people ever took hold together,
instead of each fellow fighting it out on his own hook, and devil take
the hindmost. They made up their minds at Moffitt that if they wanted
their town to grow they'd got to keep their gas public property. So they
extended their corporation line so as to take in pretty much the whole
gas region round there; and then the city took possession of every well
that was put down, and held it for the common good. Anybody that's a mind
to come to Moffitt and start any kind of manufacture can have all the gas
he wants free; and for fifteen dollars a year you can have all the gas
you want to heat and light your private house. The people hold on to it
for themselves, and, as I say, it's a grand sight to see a whole
community hanging together and working for the good of all, instead of
splitting up into as many different cut-throats as there are able-bodied
citizens. See that fellow?" Fulkerson broke off, and indicated with a
twirl of his head a short, dark, foreign-looking man going out of the
door. "They say that fellow's a Socialist. I think it's a shame they're
allowed to come here. If they don't like the way we manage our affairs
let 'em stay at home," Fulkerson continued. "They do a lot of mischief,
shooting off their mouths round here. I believe in free speech and all
that; but I'd like to see these fellows shut up in jail and left to jaw
one another to death. We don't want any of their poison."

March did not notice the vanishing Socialist. He was watching, with a
teasing sense of familiarity, a tall, shabbily dressed, elderly man, who
had just come in. He had the aquiline profile uncommon among Germans, and
yet March recognized him at once as German. His long, soft beard and
mustache had once been fair, and they kept some tone of their yellow in
the gray to which they had turned. His eyes were full, and his lips and
chin shaped the beard to the noble outline which shows in the beards the
Italian masters liked to paint for their Last Suppers. His carriage was
erect and soldierly, and March presently saw that he had lost his left
hand. He took his place at a table where the overworked waiter found time
to cut up his meat and put everything in easy reach of his right hand.

"Well," Fulkerson resumed, "they took me round everywhere in Moffitt, and
showed me their big wells--lit 'em up for a private view, and let me hear
them purr with the soft accents of a mass-meeting of locomotives. Why,
when they let one of these wells loose in a meadow that they'd piped it
into temporarily, it drove the flame away forty feet from the mouth of
the pipe and blew it over half an acre of ground. They say when they let
one of their big wells burn away all winter before they had learned how
to control it, that well kept up a little summer all around it; the grass
stayed green, and the flowers bloomed all through the winter. I don't
know whether it's so or not. But I can believe anything of natural gas.
My! but it was beautiful when they turned on the full force of that well
and shot a roman candle into the gas--that's the way they light it--and a
plume of fire about twenty feet wide and seventy-five feet high, all red
and yellow and violet, jumped into the sky, and that big roar shook the
ground under your feet! You felt like saying:

"'Don't trouble yourself; I'm perfectly convinced. I believe in Moffitt.'
We-e-e-ll!" drawled Fulkerson, with a long breath, "that's where I met
old Dryfoos."

"Oh yes!--Dryfoos," said March. He observed that the waiter had brought
the old one-handed German a towering glass of beer.

"Yes," Fulkerson laughed. "We've got round to Dryfoos again. I thought I
could cut a long story short, but I seem to be cutting a short story
long. If you're not in a hurry, though--"

"Not in the least. Go on as long as you like."

"I met him there in the office of a real-estate man--speculator, of
course; everybody was, in Moffitt; but a first-rate fellow, and
public-spirited as all get-out; and when Dryfoos left he told me about
him. Dryfoos was an old Pennsylvania Dutch farmer, about three or four
miles out of Moffitt, and he'd lived there pretty much all his life;
father was one of the first settlers. Everybody knew he had the right
stuff in him, but he was slower than molasses in January, like those
Pennsylvania Dutch. He'd got together the largest and handsomest farm
anywhere around there; and he was making money on it, just like he was in
some business somewhere; he was a very intelligent man; he took the
papers and kept himself posted; but he was awfully old-fashioned in his
ideas. He hung on to the doctrines as well as the dollars of the dads; it
was a real thing with him. Well, when the boom began to come he hated it
awfully, and he fought it. He used to write communications to the weekly
newspaper in Moffitt--they've got three dailies there now--and throw cold
water on the boom. He couldn't catch on no way. It made him sick to hear
the clack that went on about the gas the whole while, and that stirred up
the neighborhood and got into his family. Whenever he'd hear of a man
that had been offered a big price for his land and was going to sell out
and move into town, he'd go and labor with him and try to talk him out of
it, and tell him how long his fifteen or twenty thousand would last him
to live on, and shake the Standard Oil Company before him, and try to
make him believe it wouldn't be five years before the Standard owned the
whole region.

"Of course, he couldn't do anything with them. When a man's offered a big
price for his farm, he don't care whether it's by a secret emissary from
the Standard Oil or not; he's going to sell and get the better of the
other fellow if he can. Dryfoos couldn't keep the boom out of has own
family even. His wife was with him. She thought whatever he said and did
was just as right as if it had been thundered down from Sinai. But the
young folks were sceptical, especially the girls that had been away to
school. The boy that had been kept at home because he couldn't be spared
from helping his father manage the farm was more like him, but they
contrived to stir the boy up--with the hot end of the boom, too. So when
a fellow came along one day and offered old Dryfoos a cool hundred
thousand for his farm, it was all up with Dryfoos. He'd 'a' liked to 'a'
kept the offer to himself and not done anything about it, but his vanity
wouldn't let him do that; and when he let it out in his family the girls
outvoted him. They just made him sell.

"He wouldn't sell all. He kept about eighty acres that was off in some
piece by itself, but the three hundred that had the old brick house on
it, and the big barn--that went, and Dryfoos bought him a place in
Moffitt and moved into town to live on the interest of his money. Just
What he had scolded and ridiculed everybody else for doing. Well, they
say that at first he seemed like he would go crazy. He hadn't anything to
do. He took a fancy to that land-agent, and he used to go and set in his
office and ask him what he should do. 'I hain't got any horses, I hain't
got any cows, I hain't got any pigs, I hain't got any chickens. I hain't
got anything to do from sun-up to sun-down.' The fellow said the tears
used to run down the old fellow's cheeks, and if he hadn't been so busy
himself he believed he should 'a' cried, too. But most o' people thought
old Dryfoos was down in the mouth because he hadn't asked more for his
farm, when he wanted to buy it back and found they held it at a hundred
and fifty thousand. People couldn't believe he was just homesick and
heartsick for the old place. Well, perhaps he was sorry he hadn't asked
more; that's human nature, too.

"After a while something happened. That land-agent used to tell Dryfoos
to get out to Europe with his money and see life a little, or go and live
in Washington, where he could be somebody; but Dryfoos wouldn't, and he
kept listening to the talk there, and all of a sudden he caught on. He
came into that fellow's one day with a plan for cutting up the eighty
acres he'd kept into town lots; and he'd got it all plotted out so-well,
and had so many practical ideas about it, that the fellow was astonished.
He went right in with him, as far as Dryfoos would let him, and glad of
the chance; and they were working the thing for all it was worth when I
struck Moffitt. Old Dryfoos wanted me to go out and see the Dryfoos &
Hendry Addition--guess he thought maybe I'd write it up; and he drove me
out there himself. Well, it was funny to see a town made: streets driven
through; two rows of shadetrees, hard and soft, planted; cellars dug and
houses put up-regular Queen Anne style, too, with stained glass-all at
once. Dryfoos apologized for the streets because they were hand-made;
said they expected their street-making machine Tuesday, and then they
intended to push things."

Fulkerson enjoyed the effect of his picture on March for a moment, and
then went on: "He was mighty intelligent, too, and he questioned me up
about my business as sharp as I ever was questioned; seemed to kind of
strike his fancy; I guess he wanted to find out if there was any money in
it. He was making money, hand over hand, then; and he never stopped
speculating and improving till he'd scraped together three or four
hundred thousand dollars, they said a million, but they like round
numbers at Moffitt, and I guess half a million would lay over it
comfortably and leave a few thousands to spare, probably. Then he came on
to New York."

Fulkerson struck a match against the ribbed side of the porcelain cup
that held the matches in the centre of the table, and lit a cigarette,
which he began to smoke, throwing his head back with a leisurely effect,
as if he had got to the end of at least as much of his story as he meant
to tell without prompting.

March asked him the desired question. "What in the world for?"

Fulkerson took out his cigarette and said, with a smile: "To spend his
money, and get his daughters into the old Knickerbocker society. Maybe he
thought they were all the same kind of Dutch."

"And has he succeeded?"

"Well, they're not social leaders yet. But it's only a question of
time--generation or two--especially if time's money, and if Every Other
Week is the success it's bound to be."

"You don't mean to say, Fulkerson," said March, with a half-doubting,
half-daunted laugh, "that he's your Angel?"

"That's what I mean to say," returned Fulkerson. "I ran onto him in
Broadway one day last summer. If you ever saw anybody in your life;
you're sure to meet him in Broadway again, sooner or later. That's the
philosophy of the bunco business; country people from the same
neighborhood are sure to run up against each other the first time they
come to New York. I put out my hand, and I said, 'Isn't this Mr. Dryfoos
from Moffitt?' He didn't seem to have any use for my hand; he let me keep
it, and he squared those old lips of his till his imperial stuck straight
out. Ever see Bernhardt in 'L'Etrangere'? Well, the American husband is
old Dryfoos all over; no mustache; and hay-colored chin-whiskers cut
slanting froze the corners of his mouth. He cocked his little gray eyes
at me, and says he: 'Yes, young man; my name is Dryfoos, and I'm from
Moffitt. But I don't want no present of Longfellow's Works, illustrated;
and I don't want to taste no fine teas; but I know a policeman that does;
and if you're the son of my old friend Squire Strohfeldt, you'd better
get out.' 'Well, then,' said I, 'how would you like to go into the
newspaper syndicate business?' He gave another look at me, and then he
burst out laughing, and he grabbed my hand, and he just froze to it. I
never saw anybody so glad.

"Well, the long and the short of it was that I asked him round here to
Maroni's to dinner; and before we broke up for the night we had settled
the financial side of the plan that's brought you to New York."

"I can see," said Fulkerson, who had kept his eyes fast on March's face,
"that you don't more than half like the idea of Dryfoos. It ought to give
you more confidence in the thing than you ever had. You needn't be
afraid," he added, with some feeling, "that I talked Dryfoos into the
thing for my own advantage."

"Oh, my dear Fulkerson!" March protested, all the more fervently because
he was really a little guilty.

"Well, of course not! I didn't mean you were. But I just happened to tell
him what I wanted to go into when I could see my way to it, and he caught
on of his own accord. The fact is," said Fulkerson, "I guess I'd better
make a clean breast of it, now I'm at it, Dryfoos wanted to get something
for that boy of his to do. He's in railroads himself, and he's in mines
and other things, and he keeps busy, and he can't bear to have his boy
hanging round the house doing nothing, like as if he was a girl. I told
him that the great object of a rich man was to get his son into just that
fix, but he couldn't seem to see it, and the boy hated it himself. He's
got a good head, and he wanted to study for the ministry when they were
all living together out on the farm; but his father had the old-fashioned
ideas about that. You know they used to think that any sort of stuff was
good enough to make a preacher out of; but they wanted the good timber
for business; and so the old man wouldn't let him. You'll see the fellow;
you'll like him; he's no fool, I can tell you; and he's going to be our
publisher, nominally at first and actually when I've taught him the ropes
a little."



XII.

Fulkerson stopped and looked at March, whom he saw lapsing into a serious
silence. Doubtless he divined his uneasiness with the facts that had been
given him to digest. He pulled out his watch and glanced at it. "See
here, how would you like to go up to Forty-sixth street with me, and drop
in on old Dryfoos? Now's your chance. He's going West tomorrow, and won't
be back for a month or so. They'll all be glad to see you, and you'll
understand things better when you've seen him and his family. I can't
explain."

March reflected a moment. Then he said, with a wisdom that surprised him,
for he would have liked to yield to the impulse of his curiosity:
"Perhaps we'd better wait till Mrs. March comes down, and let things take
the usual course. The Dryfoos ladies will want to call on her as the
last-comer, and if I treated myself 'en garcon' now, and paid the first
visit, it might complicate matters."

"Well, perhaps you're right," said Fulkerson. "I don't know much about
these things, and I don't believe Ma Dryfoos does, either." He was on his
legs lighting another cigarette. "I suppose the girls are getting
themselves up in etiquette, though. Well, then, let's have a look at the
'Every Other Week' building, and then, if you like your quarters there,
you can go round and close for Mrs. Green's flat."

March's dormant allegiance to his wife's wishes had been roused by his
decision in favor of good social usage. "I don't think I shall take the
flat," he said.

"Well, don't reject it without giving it another look, anyway. Come on!"

He helped March on with his light overcoat, and the little stir they made
for their departure caught the notice of the old German; he looked up
from his beer at them. March was more than ever impressed with something
familiar in his face. In compensation for his prudence in regard to the
Dryfooses he now indulged an impulse. He stepped across to where the old
man sat, with his bald head shining like ivory under the gas-jet, and his
fine patriarchal length of bearded mask taking picturesque lights and
shadows, and put out his hand to him.

"Lindau! Isn't this Mr. Lindau?"

The old man lifted himself slowly to his feet with mechanical politeness,
and cautiously took March's hand. "Yes, my name is Lindau," he said,
slowly, while he scanned March's face. Then he broke into a long cry.
"Ah-h-h-h-h, my dear poy! my gong friendt! my-my--Idt is Passil Marge,
not zo? Ah, ha, ha, ha! How gladt I am to zee you! Why, I am gladt! And
you rememberdt me? You remember Schiller, and Goethe, and Uhland? And
Indianapolis? You still lif in Indianapolis? It sheers my hardt to zee
you. But you are lidtle oldt, too? Tventy-five years makes a difference.
Ah, I am gladt! Dell me, idt is Passil Marge, not zo?"

He looked anxiously into March's face, with a gentle smile of mixed hope
and doubt, and March said: "As sure as it's Berthold Lindau, and I guess
it's you. And you remember the old times? You were as much of a boy as I
was, Lindau. Are you living in New York? Do you recollect how you tried
to teach me to fence? I don't know how to this day, Lindau. How good you
were, and how patient! Do you remember how we used to sit up in the
little parlor back of your printing-office, and read Die Rauber and Die
Theilung der Erde and Die Glocke? And Mrs. Lindau? Is she with--"

"Deadt--deadt long ago. Right after I got home from the war--tventy years
ago. But tell me, you are married? Children? Yes! Goodt! And how oldt are
you now?"

"It makes me seventeen to see you, Lindau, but I've got a son nearly as
old."

"Ah, ha, ha! Goodt! And where do you lif?"

"Well, I'm just coming to live in New York," March said, looking over at
Fulkerson, who had been watching his interview with the perfunctory smile
of sympathy that people put on at the meeting of old friends. "I want to
introduce you to my friend Mr. Fulkerson. He and I are going into a
literary enterprise here."

"Ah! zo?" said the old man, with polite interest. He took Fulkerson's
proffered hand, and they all stood talking a few moments together.

Then Fulkerson said, with another look at his watch, "Well, March, we're
keeping Mr. Lindau from his dinner."

"Dinner!" cried the old man. "Idt's better than breadt and meadt to see
Mr. Marge!"

"I must be going, anyway," said March. "But I must see you again soon,
Lindau. Where do you live? I want a long talk."

"And I. You will find me here at dinner-time." said the old man. "It is
the best place"; and March fancied him reluctant to give another address.

To cover his consciousness he answered, gayly: "Then, it's 'auf
wiedersehen' with us. Well!"

"Also!" The old man took his hand, and made a mechanical movement with
his mutilated arm, as if he would have taken it in a double clasp. He
laughed at himself. "I wanted to gif you the other handt, too, but I gafe
it to your gountry a goodt while ago."

"To my country?" asked March, with a sense of pain, and yet lightly, as
if it were a joke of the old man's. "Your country, too, Lindau?"

The old man turned very grave, and said, almost coldly, "What gountry
hass a poor man got, Mr. Marge?"

"Well, you ought to have a share in the one you helped to save for us
rich men, Lindau," March returned, still humoring the joke.

The old man smiled sadly, but made no answer as he sat down again.

"Seems to be a little soured," said Fulkerson, as they went down the
steps. He was one of those Americans whose habitual conception of life is
unalloyed prosperity. When any experience or observation of his went
counter to it he suffered--something like physical pain. He eagerly
shrugged away the impression left upon his buoyancy by Lindau, and added
to March's continued silence, "What did I tell you about meeting every
man in New York that you ever knew before?"

"I never expected to meat Lindau in the world again," said March, more to
himself than to Fulkerson. "I had an impression that he had been killed
in the war. I almost wish he had been."

"Oh, hello, now!" cried Fulkerson.

March laughed, but went on soberly: "He was a man predestined to
adversity, though. When I first knew him out in Indianapolis he was
starving along with a sick wife and a sick newspaper. It was before the
Germans had come over to the Republicans generally, but Lindau was
fighting the anti-slavery battle just as naturally at Indianapolis in
1858 as he fought behind the barricades at Berlin in 1848. And yet he was
always such a gentle soul! And so generous! He taught me German for the
love of it; he wouldn't spoil his pleasure by taking a cent from me; he
seemed to get enough out of my being young and enthusiastic, and out of
prophesying great things for me. I wonder what the poor old fellow is
doing here, with that one hand of his?"

"Not amassing a very 'handsome pittance,' I guess, as Artemus Ward would
say," said Fulkerson, getting back some of his lightness. "There are lots
of two-handed fellows in New York that are not doing much better, I
guess. Maybe he gets some writing on the German papers."

"I hope so. He's one of the most accomplished men! He used to be a
splendid musician--pianist--and knows eight or ten languages."

"Well, it's astonishing," said Fulkerson, "how much lumber those Germans
can carry around in their heads all their lives, and never work it up
into anything. It's a pity they couldn't do the acquiring, and let out
the use of their learning to a few bright Americans. We could make things
hum, if we could arrange 'em that way."

He talked on, unheeded by March, who went along half-consciously
tormented by his lightness in the pensive memories the meeting with
Lindau had called up. Was this all that sweet, unselfish nature could
come to? What a homeless old age at that meagre Italian table d'hote,
with that tall glass of beer for a half-hour's oblivion! That shabby
dress, that pathetic mutilation! He must have a pension, twelve dollars a
month, or eighteen, from a grateful country. But what else did he eke out
with?

"Well, here we are," said Fulkerson, cheerily. He ran up the steps before
March, and opened the carpenter's temporary valve in the door frame, and
led the way into a darkness smelling sweetly of unpainted wood-work and
newly dried plaster; their feat slipped on shavings and grated on sand.
He scratched a match, and found a candle, and then walked about up and
down stairs, and lectured on the advantages of the place. He had fitted
up bachelor apartments for himself in the house, and said that he was
going to have a flat to let on the top floor. "I didn't offer it to you
because I supposed you'd be too proud to live over your shop; and it's
too small, anyway; only five rooms."

"Yes, that's too small," said March, shirking the other point.

"Well, then, here's the room I intend for your office," said Fulkerson,
showing him into a large back parlor one flight up. "You'll have it quiet
from the street noises here, and you can be at home or not, as you
please. There'll be a boy on the stairs to find out. Now, you see, this
makes the Grosvenor Green flat practicable, if you want it."

March felt the forces of fate closing about him and pushing him to a
decision. He feebly fought them off till he could have another look at
the flat. Then, baked and subdued still more by the unexpected presence
of Mrs. Grosvenor Green herself, who was occupying it so as to be able to
show it effectively, he took it. He was aware more than ever of its
absurdities; he knew that his wife would never cease to hate it; but he
had suffered one of those eclipses of the imagination to which men of his
temperament are subject, and into which he could see no future for his
desires. He felt a comfort in irretrievably committing himself, and
exchanging the burden of indecision for the burden of responsibility.

"I don't know," said Fulkerson, as they walked back to his hotel
together, "but you might fix it up with that lone widow and her pretty
daughter to take part of their house here." He seemed to be reminded of
it by the fact of passing the house, and March looked up at its dark
front. He could not have told exactly why he felt a pang of remorse at
the sight, and doubtless it was more regret for having taken the
Grosvenor Green flat than for not having taken the widow's rooms. Still,
he could not forget her wistfulness when his wife and he were looking at
them, and her disappointment when they decided against them. He had
toyed, in, his after-talk to Mrs. March, with a sort of hypothetical
obligation they had to modify their plans so as to meet the widow's want
of just such a family as theirs; they had both said what a blessing it
would be to her, and what a pity they could not do it; but they had
decided very distinctly that they could not. Now it seemed to him that
they might; and he asked himself whether he had not actually departed as
much from their ideal as if he had taken board with the widow. Suddenly
it seemed to him that his wife asked him this, too.

"I reckon," said Fulkerson, "that she could have arranged to give you
your meals in your rooms, and it would have come to about the same thing
as housekeeping."

"No sort of boarding can be the same as house-keeping," said March. "I
want my little girl to have the run of a kitchen, and I want the whole
family to have the moral effect of housekeeping. It's demoralizing to
board, in every way; it isn't a home, if anybody else takes the care of
it off your hands."

"Well, I suppose so," Fulkerson assented; but March's words had a hollow
ring to himself, and in his own mind he began to retaliate his
dissatisfaction upon Fulkerson.

He parted from him on the usual terms outwardly, but he felt obscurely
abused by Fulkerson in regard to the Dryfooses, father and son. He did
not know but Fulkerson had taken an advantage of him in allowing him to
commit himself to their enterprise with out fully and frankly telling him
who and what his backer was; he perceived that with young Dryfoos as the
publisher and Fulkerson as the general director of the paper there might
be very little play for his own ideas of its conduct. Perhaps it was the
hurt to his vanity involved by the recognition of this fact that made him
forget how little choice he really had in the matter, and how, since he
had not accepted the offer to edit the insurance paper, nothing remained
for him but to close with Fulkerson. In this moment of suspicion and
resentment he accused Fulkerson of hastening his decision in regard to
the Grosvenor Green apartment; he now refused to consider it a decision,
and said to himself that if he felt disposed to do so he would send Mrs.
Green a note reversing it in the morning. But he put it all off till
morning with his clothes, when he went to bed, he put off even thinking
what his wife would say; he cast Fulkerson and his constructive treachery
out of his mind, too, and invited into it some pensive reveries of the
past, when he still stood at the parting of the ways, and could take this
path or that. In his middle life this was not possible; he must follow
the path chosen long, ago, wherever, it led. He was not master of
himself, as he once seemed, but the servant of those he loved; if he
could do what he liked, perhaps he might renounce this whole New York
enterprise, and go off somewhere out of the reach of care; but he could
not do what he liked, that was very clear. In the pathos of this
conviction he dwelt compassionately upon the thought of poor old Lindau;
he resolved to make him accept a handsome sum of money--more than he
could spare, something that he would feel the loss of--in payment of the
lessons in German and fencing given so long ago. At the usual rate for
such lessons, his debt, with interest for twenty-odd years, would run
very far into the hundreds. Too far, he perceived, for his wife's joyous
approval; he determined not to add the interest; or he believed that
Lindau would refuse the interest; he put a fine speech in his mouth,
making him do so; and after that he got Lindau employment on 'Every Other
Week,' and took care of him till he died.

Through all his melancholy and munificence he was aware of sordid
anxieties for having taken the Grosvenor Green apartment. These began to
assume visible, tangible shapes as he drowsed, and to became personal
entities, from which he woke, with little starts, to a realization of
their true nature, and then suddenly fell fast asleep.

In the accomplishment of the events which his reverie played with, there
was much that retroactively stamped it with prophecy, but much also that
was better than he forboded. He found that with regard to the Grosvenor
Green apartment he had not allowed for his wife's willingness to get any
sort of roof over her head again after the removal from their old home,
or for the alleviations that grow up through mere custom. The practical
workings of the apartment were not so bad; it had its good points, and
after the first sensation of oppression in it they began to feel the
convenience of its arrangement. They were at that time of life when
people first turn to their children's opinion with deference, and, in the
loss of keenness in their own likes and dislikes, consult the young
preferences which are still so sensitive. It went far to reconcile Mrs.
March to the apartment that her children were pleased with its novelty;
when this wore off for them, she had herself begun to find it much more
easily manageable than a house. After she had put away several barrels of
gimcracks, and folded up screens and rugs and skins, and carried them all
off to the little dark store-room which the flat developed, she perceived
at once a roominess and coziness in it unsuspected before. Then, when
people began to call, she had a pleasure, a superiority, in saying that
it was a furnished apartment, and in disclaiming all responsibility for
the upholstery and decoration. If March was by, she always explained that
it was Mr. March's fancy, and amiably laughed it off with her callers as
a mannish eccentricity. Nobody really seemed to think it otherwise than
pretty; and this again was a triumph for Mrs. March, because it showed
how inferior the New York taste was to the Boston taste in such matters.

March submitted silently to his punishment, and laughed with her before
company at his own eccentricity. She had been so preoccupied with the
adjustment of the family to its new quarters and circumstances that the
time passed for laying his misgivings, if they were misgivings, about
Fulkerson before her, and when an occasion came for expressing them they
had themselves passed in the anxieties of getting forward the first
number of 'Every Other Week.' He kept these from her, too, and the
business that brought them to New York had apparently dropped into
abeyance before the questions of domestic economy that presented and
absented themselves. March knew his wife to be a woman of good mind and
in perfect sympathy with him, but he understood the limitations of her
perspective; and if he was not too wise, he was too experienced to
intrude upon it any affairs of his till her own were reduced to the right
order and proportion. It would have been folly to talk to her of
Fulkerson's conjecturable uncandor while she was in doubt whether her
cook would like the kitchen, or her two servants would consent to room
together; and till it was decided what school Tom should go to, and
whether Bella should have lessons at home or not, the relation which
March was to bear to the Dryfooses, as owner and publisher, was not to be
discussed with his wife. He might drag it in, but he was aware that with
her mind distracted by more immediate interests he could not get from her
that judgment, that reasoned divination, which he relied upon so much.
She would try, she would do her best, but the result would be a view
clouded and discolored by the effort she must make.

He put the whole matter by, and gave himself to the details of the work
before him. In this he found not only escape, but reassurance, for it
became more and more apparent that whatever was nominally the structure
of the business, a man of his qualifications and his instincts could not
have an insignificant place in it. He had also the consolation of liking
his work, and of getting an instant grasp of it that grew constantly
firmer and closer. The joy of knowing that he had not made a mistake was
great. In giving rein to ambitions long forborne he seemed to get back to
the youth when he had indulged them first; and after half a lifetime
passed in pursuits alien to his nature, he was feeling the serene
happiness of being mated through his work to his early love. From the
outside the spectacle might have had its pathos, and it is not easy to
justify such an experiment as he had made at his time of life, except
upon the ground where he rested from its consideration--the ground of
necessity.

His work was more in his thoughts than himself, however; and as the time
for the publication of the first number of his periodical came nearer,
his cares all centred upon it. Without fixing any date, Fulkerson had
announced it, and pushed his announcements with the shameless vigor of a
born advertiser. He worked his interest with the press to the utmost, and
paragraphs of a variety that did credit to his ingenuity were afloat
everywhere. Some of them were speciously unfavorable in tone; they
criticised and even ridiculed the principles on which the new departure
in literary journalism was based. Others defended it; others yet denied
that this rumored principle was really the principle. All contributed to
make talk. All proceeded from the same fertile invention.

March observed with a degree of mortification that the talk was very
little of it in the New York press; there the references to the novel
enterprise were slight and cold. But Fulkerson said: "Don't mind that,
old man. It's the whole country that makes or breaks a thing like this;
New York has very little to do with it. Now if it were a play, it would
be different. New York does make or break a play; but it doesn't make or
break a book; it doesn't make or break a magazine. The great mass of the
readers are outside of New York, and the rural districts are what we have
got to go for. They don't read much in New York; they write, and talk
about what they've written. Don't you worry."

The rumor of Fulkerson's connection with the enterprise accompanied many
of the paragraphs, and he was able to stay March's thirst for employment
by turning over to him from day to day heaps of the manuscripts which
began to pour in from his old syndicate writers, as well as from
adventurous volunteers all over the country. With these in hand March
began practically to plan the first number, and to concrete a general
scheme from the material and the experience they furnished. They had
intended to issue the first number with the new year, and if it had been
an affair of literature alone, it would have been very easy; but it was
the art leg they limped on, as Fulkerson phrased it. They had not merely
to deal with the question of specific illustrations for this article or
that, but to decide the whole character of their illustrations, and first
of all to get a design for a cover which should both ensnare the heedless
and captivate the fastidious. These things did not come properly within
March's province--that had been clearly understood--and for a while
Fulkerson tried to run the art leg himself. The phrase was again his, but
it was simpler to make the phrase than to run the leg. The difficult
generation, at once stiff-backed and slippery, with which he had to do in
this endeavor, reduced even so buoyant an optimist to despair, and after
wasting some valuable weeks in trying to work the artists himself, he
determined to get an artist to work them. But what artist? It could not
be a man with fixed reputation and a following: he would be too costly,
and would have too many enemies among his brethren, even if he would
consent to undertake the job. Fulkerson had a man in mind, an artist,
too, who would have been the very thing if he had been the thing at all.
He had talent enough, and his sort of talent would reach round the whole
situation, but, as Fulkerson said, he was as many kinds of an ass as he
was kinds of an artist.



PG EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:

    Anticipative homesickness
    Any sort of stuff was good enough to make a preacher out of
    Appearance made him doubt their ability to pay so much
    As much of his story as he meant to tell without prompting
    Considerable comfort in holding him accountable
    Extract what consolation lurks in the irreparable
    Flavors not very sharply distinguished from one another
    Handsome pittance
    He expected to do the wrong thing when left to his own devices
    Hypothetical difficulty
    Never-blooming shrub
    Poverty as hopeless as any in the world
    Seeming interested in points necessarily indifferent to him
    Servant of those he loved
    Sigh with which ladies recognize one another's martyrdom
    Sorry he hadn't asked more; that's human nature
    That isn't very old--or not so old as it used to be
    Tried to be homesick for them, but failed
    Turn to their children's opinion with deference
    Wish we didn't always recognize the facts as we do



A HAZARD OF NEW FORTUNES

By William Dean Howells



PART SECOND

I.

The evening when March closed with Mrs. Green's reduced offer, and
decided to take her apartment, the widow whose lodgings he had rejected
sat with her daughter in an upper room at the back of her house. In the
shaded glow of the drop-light she was sewing, and the girl was drawing at
the same table. From time to time, as they talked, the girl lifted her
head and tilted it a little on one side so as to get some desired effect
of her work.

"It's a mercy the cold weather holds off," said the mother. "We should
have to light the furnace, unless we wanted to scare everybody away with
a cold house; and I don't know who would take care of it, or what would
become of us, every way."

"They seem to have been scared away from a house that wasn't cold," said
the girl. "Perhaps they might like a cold one. But it's too early for
cold yet. It's only just in the beginning of November."

"The Messenger says they've had a sprinkling of snow."

"Oh yes, at St. Barnaby! I don't know when they don't have sprinklings of
snow there. I'm awfully glad we haven't got that winter before us."

The widow sighed as mothers do who feel the contrast their experience
opposes to the hopeful recklessness of such talk as this. "We may have a
worse winter here," she said, darkly.

"Then I couldn't stand it," said the girl, "and I should go in for
lighting out to Florida double-quick."

"And how would you get to Florida?" demanded her mother, severely.

"Oh, by the usual conveyance Pullman vestibuled train, I suppose. What
makes you so blue, mamma?" The girl was all the time sketching away,
rubbing out, lifting her head for the effect, and then bending it over
her work again without looking at her mother.

"I am not blue, Alma. But I cannot endure this--this hopefulness of
yours."

"Why? What harm does it do?"

"Harm?" echoed the mother.

Pending the effort she must make in saying, the girl cut in: "Yes, harm.
You've kept your despair dusted off and ready for use at an instant's
notice ever since we came, and what good has it done? I'm going to keep
on hoping to the bitter end. That's what papa did."

It was what the Rev. Archibald Leighton had done with all the
consumptive's buoyancy. The morning he died he told them that now he had
turned the point and was really going to get well. The cheerfulness was
not only in his disease, but in his temperament. Its excess was always a
little against him in his church work, and Mrs. Leighton was right enough
in feeling that if it had not been for the ballast of her instinctive
despondency he would have made shipwreck of such small chances of
prosperity as befell him in life. It was not from him that his daughter
got her talent, though he had left her his temperament intact of his
widow's legal thirds. He was one of those men of whom the country people
say when he is gone that the woman gets along better without him. Mrs.
Leighton had long eked out their income by taking a summer boarder or
two, as a great favor, into her family; and when the greater need came,
she frankly gave up her house to the summer-folks (as they call them in
the country), and managed it for their comfort from the small quarter of
it in which she shut herself up with her daughter.

The notion of shutting up is an exigency of the rounded period. The fact
is, of course, that Alma Leighton was not shut up in any sense whatever.
She was the pervading light, if not force, of the house. She was a good
cook, and she managed the kitchen with the help of an Irish girl, while
her mother looked after the rest of the housekeeping. But she was not
systematic; she had inspiration but not discipline, and her mother
mourned more over the days when Alma left the whole dinner to the Irish
girl than she rejoiced in those when one of Alma's great thoughts took
form in a chicken-pie of incomparable savor or in a matchless pudding.
The off-days came when her artistic nature was expressing itself in
charcoal, for she drew to the admiration of all among the lady boarders
who could not draw. The others had their reserves; they readily conceded
that Alma had genius, but they were sure she needed instruction. On the
other hand, they were not so radical as to agree with the old painter who
came every summer to paint the elms of the St. Barnaby meadows. He
contended that she needed to be a man in order to amount to anything; but
in this theory he was opposed by an authority, of his own sex, whom the
lady sketchers believed to speak with more impartiality in a matter
concerning them as much as Alma Leighton. He said that instruction would
do, and he was not only, younger and handsomer, but he was fresher from
the schools than old Harrington, who, even the lady sketchers could see,
painted in an obsolescent manner. His name was Beaton--Angus Beaton; but
he was not Scotch, or not more Scotch than Mary Queen of Scots was. His
father was a Scotchman, but Beaton was born in Syracuse, New York, and it
had taken only three years in Paris to obliterate many traces of native
and ancestral manner in him. He wore his black beard cut shorter than his
mustache, and a little pointed; he stood with his shoulders well thrown
back and with a lateral curve of his person when he talked about art,
which would alone have carried conviction even if he had not had a thick,
dark bang coming almost to the brows of his mobile gray eyes, and had not
spoken English with quick, staccato impulses, so as to give it the effect
of epigrammatic and sententious French. One of the ladies said that you
always thought of him as having spoken French after it was over, and
accused herself of wrong in not being able to feel afraid of him. None of
the ladies was afraid of him, though they could not believe that he was
really so deferential to their work as he seemed; and they knew, when he
would not criticise Mr. Harrington's work, that he was just acting from
principle.

They may or may not have known the deference with which he treated Alma's
work; but the girl herself felt that his abrupt, impersonal comment
recognized her as a real sister in art. He told her she ought to come to
New York, and draw in the League, or get into some painter's private
class; and it was the sense of duty thus appealed to which finally
resulted in the hazardous experiment she and her mother were now making.
There were no logical breaks in the chain of their reasoning from past
success with boarders in St. Barnaby to future success with boarders in
New York. Of course the outlay was much greater. The rent of the
furnished house they had taken was such that if they failed their
experiment would be little less than ruinous.

But they were not going to fail; that was what Alma contended, with a
hardy courage that her mother sometimes felt almost invited failure, if
it did not deserve it. She was one of those people who believe that if
you dread harm enough it is less likely to happen. She acted on this
superstition as if it were a religion.

"If it had not been for my despair, as you call it, Alma," she answered,
"I don't know where we should have been now."

"I suppose we should have been in St. Barnaby," said the girl. "And if
it's worse to be in New York, you see what your despair's done, mamma.
But what's the use? You meant well, and I don't blame you. You can't
expect even despair to come out always just the way you want it. Perhaps
you've used too much of it." The girl laughed, and Mrs. Leighton laughed,
too. Like every one else, she was not merely a prevailing mood, as people
are apt to be in books, but was an irregularly spheroidal character, with
surfaces that caught the different lights of circumstance and reflected
them. Alma got up and took a pose before the mirror, which she then
transferred to her sketch. The room was pinned about with other sketches,
which showed with fantastic indistinctness in the shaded gaslight. Alma
held up the drawing. "How do you like it?"

Mrs. Leighton bent forward over her sewing to look at it. "You've got the
man's face rather weak."

"Yes, that's so. Either I see all the hidden weakness that's in men's
natures, and bring it to the surface in their figures, or else I put my
own weakness into them. Either way, it's a drawback to their presenting a
truly manly appearance. As long as I have one of the miserable objects
before me, I can draw him; but as soon as his back's turned I get to
putting ladies into men's clothes. I should think you'd be scandalized,
mamma, if you were a really feminine person. It must be your despair that
helps you to bear up. But what's the matter with the young lady in young
lady's clothes? Any dust on her?"

"What expressions!" said Mrs. Leighton. "Really, Alma, for a refined girl
you are the most unrefined!"

"Go on--about the girl in the picture!" said Alma, slightly knocking her
mother on the shoulder, as she stood over her.

"I don't see anything to her. What's she doing?"

"Oh, just being made love to, I suppose."

"She's perfectly insipid!"

"You're awfully articulate, mamma! Now, if Mr. Wetmore were to criticise
that picture he'd draw a circle round it in the air, and look at it
through that, and tilt his head first on one side and then on the other,
and then look at you, as if you were a figure in it, and then collapse
awhile, and moan a little and gasp, 'Isn't your young lady a little
too-too--' and then he'd try to get the word out of you, and groan and
suffer some more; and you'd say, 'She is, rather,' and that would give
him courage, and he'd say, 'I don't mean that she's so very--' 'Of course
not.' 'You understand?' 'Perfectly. I see it myself, now.' 'Well,
then'---and he'd take your pencil and begin to draw--'I should give her a
little more--Ah?' 'Yes, I see the difference.'--'You see the difference?'
And he'd go off to some one else, and you'd know that you'd been doing
the wishy-washiest thing in the world, though he hadn't spoken a word of
criticism, and couldn't. But he wouldn't have noticed the expression at
all; he'd have shown you where your drawing was bad. He doesn't care for
what he calls the literature of a thing; he says that will take care of
itself if the drawing's good. He doesn't like my doing these chic things;
but I'm going to keep it up, for I think it's the nearest way to
illustrating."

She took her sketch and pinned it up on the door.

"And has Mr. Beaton been about, yet?" asked her mother.

"No," said the girl, with her back still turned; and she added, "I
believe he's in New York; Mr. Wetmore's seen him."

"It's a little strange he doesn't call."

"It would be if he were not an artist. But artists never do anything like
other people. He was on his good behavior while he was with us, and he's
a great deal more conventional than most of them; but even he can't keep
it up. That's what makes me really think that women can never amount to
anything in art. They keep all their appointments, and fulfil all their
duties just as if they didn't know anything about art. Well, most of them
don't. We've got that new model to-day."

"What new model?"

"The one Mr. Wetmore was telling us about the old German; he's splendid.
He's got the most beautiful head; just like the old masters' things. He
used to be Humphrey Williams's model for his Biblical-pieces; but since
he's dead, the old man hardly gets anything to do. Mr. Wetmore says there
isn't anybody in the Bible that Williams didn't paint him as. He's the
Law and the Prophets in all his Old Testament pictures, and he's Joseph,
Peter, Judas Iscariot, and the Scribes and Pharisees in the New."

"It's a good thing people don't know how artists work, or some of the
most sacred pictures would have no influence," said Mrs. Leighton.

"Why, of course not!" cried the girl. "And the influence is the last
thing a painter thinks of--or supposes he thinks of. What he knows he's
anxious about is the drawing and the color. But people will never
understand how simple artists are. When I reflect what a complex and
sophisticated being I am, I'm afraid I can never come to anything in art.
Or I should be if I hadn't genius."

"Do you think Mr. Beaton is very simple?" asked Mrs. Leighton.

"Mr. Wetmore doesn't think he's very much of an artist. He thinks he
talks too well. They believe that if a man can express himself clearly he
can't paint."

"And what do you believe?"

"Oh, I can express myself, too."

The mother seemed to be satisfied with this evasion. After a while she
said, "I presume he will call when he gets settled."

The girl made no answer to this. "One of the girls says that old model is
an educated man. He was in the war, and lost a hand. Doesn't it seem a
pity for such a man to have to sit to a class of affected geese like us
as a model? I declare it makes me sick. And we shall keep him a week, and
pay him six or seven dollars for the use of his grand old head, and then
what will he do? The last time he was regularly employed was when Mr.
Mace was working at his Damascus Massacre. Then he wanted so many Arab
sheiks and Christian elders that he kept old Mr. Lindau steadily employed
for six months. Now he has to pick up odd jobs where he can."

"I suppose he has his pension," said Mrs. Leighton.

"No; one of the girls"--that was the way Alma always described her
fellow-students--"says he has no pension. He didn't apply for it for a
long time, and then there was a hitch about it, and it was
somethinged--vetoed, I believe she said."

"Who vetoed it?" asked Mrs. Leighton, with some curiosity about the
process, which she held in reserve.

"I don't know-whoever vetoes things. I wonder what Mr. Wetmore does think
of us--his class. We must seem perfectly crazy. There isn't one of us
really knows what she's doing it for, or what she expects to happen when
she's done it. I suppose every one thinks she has genius. I know the
Nebraska widow does, for she says that unless you have genius it isn't
the least use. Everybody's puzzled to know what she does with her baby
when she's at work--whether she gives it soothing syrup. I wonder how Mr.
Wetmore can keep from laughing in our faces. I know he does behind our
backs."

Mrs. Leighton's mind wandered back to another point. "Then if he says Mr.
Beaton can't paint, I presume he doesn't respect him very much."

"Oh, he never said he couldn't paint. But I know he thinks so. He says
he's an excellent critic."

"Alma," her mother said, with the effect of breaking off, "what do you
suppose is the reason he hasn't been near us?"

"Why, I don't know, mamma, except that it would have been natural for
another person to come, and he's an artist at least, artist enough for
that."

"That doesn't account for it altogether. He was very nice at St. Barnaby,
and seemed so interested in you--your work."

"Plenty of people were nice at St. Barnaby. That rich Mrs. Horn couldn't
contain her joy when she heard we were coming to New York, but she hasn't
poured in upon us a great deal since we got here."

"But that's different. She's very fashionable, and she's taken up with
her own set. But Mr. Beaton's one of our kind."

"Thank you. Papa wasn't quite a tombstone-cutter, mamma."

"That makes it all the harder to bear. He can't be ashamed of us. Perhaps
he doesn't know where we are."

"Do you wish to send him your card, mamma?" The girl flushed and towered
in scorn of the idea.

"Why, no, Alma," returned her mother.

"Well, then," said Alma.

But Mrs. Leighton was not so easily quelled. She had got her mind on Mr.
Beaton, and she could not detach it at once. Besides, she was one of
those women (they are commoner than the same sort of men) whom it does
not pain to take out their most intimate thoughts and examine them in the
light of other people's opinions. "But I don't see how he can behave so.
He must know that--"

"That what, mamma?" demanded the girl.

"That he influenced us a great deal in coming--"

"He didn't. If he dared to presume to think such a thing--"

"Now, Alma," said her mother, with the clinging persistence of such
natures, "you know he did. And it's no use for you to pretend that we
didn't count upon him in--in every way. You may not have noticed his
attentions, and I don't say you did, but others certainly did; and I must
say that I didn't expect he would drop us so."

"Drop us!" cried Alma, in a fury. "Oh!"

"Yes, drop us, Alma. He must know where we are. Of course, Mr. Wetmore's
spoken to him about you, and it's a shame that he hasn't been near us. I
should have thought common gratitude, common decency, would have brought
him after--after all we did for him."

"We did nothing for him--nothing! He paid his board, and that ended it."

"No, it didn't, Alma. You know what he used to say--about its being like
home, and all that; and I must say that after his attentions to you, and
all the things you told me he said, I expected something very dif--"

A sharp peal of the door-bell thrilled through the house, and as if the
pull of the bell-wire had twitched her to her feet, Mrs. Leighton sprang
up and grappled with her daughter in their common terror.

They both glared at the clock and made sure that it was five minutes
after nine. Then they abandoned themselves some moments to the
unrestricted play of their apprehensions.



II.

"Why, Alma," whispered the mother, "who in the world can it be at this
time of night? You don't suppose he--"

"Well, I'm not going to the door, anyhow, mother, I don't care who it is;
and, of course, he wouldn't be such a goose as to come at this hour." She
put on a look of miserable trepidation, and shrank back from the door,
while the hum of the bell died away, in the hall.

"What shall we do?" asked Mrs. Leighton, helplessly.

"Let him go away--whoever they are," said Alma.

Another and more peremptory ring forbade them refuge in this simple
expedient.

"Oh, dear! what shall we do? Perhaps it's a despatch."

The conjecture moved Alma to no more than a rigid stare. "I shall not
go," she said. A third ring more insistent than the others followed, and
she said: "You go ahead, mamma, and I'll come behind to scream if it's
anybody. We can look through the side-lights at the door first."

Mrs. Leighton fearfully led the way from the back chamber where they bad
been sitting, and slowly descended the stairs. Alma came behind and
turned up the hall gas-jet with a sudden flash that made them both jump a
little. The gas inside rendered it more difficult to tell who was on the
threshold, but Mrs. Leighton decided from a timorous peep through the
scrims that it was a lady and gentleman. Something in this distribution
of sex emboldened her; she took her life in her hand, and opened the
door.

The lady spoke. "Does Mrs. Leighton live heah?" she said, in a rich,
throaty voice; and she feigned a reference to the agent's permit she held
in her hand.

"Yes," said Mrs. Leighton; she mechanically occupied the doorway, while
Alma already quivered behind her with impatience of her impoliteness.

"Oh," said the lady, who began to appear more and more a young lady, "Ah
didn't know but Ah had mistaken the hoase. Ah suppose it's rather late to
see the apawtments, and Ah most ask you to pawdon us." She put this
tentatively, with a delicately growing recognition of Mrs. Leighton as
the lady of the house, and a humorous intelligence of the situation in
the glance she threw Alma over her mother's shoulder. "Ah'm afraid we
most have frightened you."

"Oh, not at all," said Alma; and at the same time her mother said, "Will
you walk in, please?"

The gentleman promptly removed his hat and made the Leightons an
inclusive bow. "You awe very kind, madam, and I am sorry for the trouble
we awe giving you." He was tall and severe-looking, with a gray,
trooperish mustache and iron-gray hair, and, as Alma decided, iron-gray
eyes. His daughter was short, plump, and fresh-colored, with an effect of
liveliness that did not all express itself in her broad-vowelled, rather
formal speech, with its odd valuations of some of the auxiliary verbs,
and its total elision of the canine letter.

"We awe from the Soath," she said, "and we arrived this mawning, but we
got this cyahd from the brokah just befo' dinnah, and so we awe rathah
late."

"Not at all; it's only nine o'clock," said Mrs. Leighton. She looked up
from the card the young lady had given her, and explained, "We haven't
got in our servants yet, and we had to answer the bell ourselves, and--"

"You were frightened, of coase," said the young lady, caressingly.

The gentleman said they ought not to have come so late, and he offered
some formal apologies.

"We should have been just as much scared any time after five o'clock,"
Alma said to the sympathetic intelligence in the girl's face.

She laughed out. "Of coase! Ah would have my hawt in my moath all day
long, too, if Ah was living in a big hoase alone."

A moment of stiffness followed; Mrs. Leighton would have liked to
withdraw from the intimacy of the situation, but she did not know how. It
was very well for these people to assume to be what they pretended; but,
she reflected too late, she had no proof of it except the agent's permit.
They were all standing in the hall together, and she prolonged the
awkward pause while she examined the permit. "You are Mr. Woodburn?" she
asked, in a way that Alma felt implied he might not be.

"Yes, madam; from Charlottesboag, Virginia," he answered, with the slight
umbrage a man shows when the strange cashier turns his check over and
questions him before cashing it.

Alma writhed internally, but outwardly remained subordinate; she examined
the other girl's dress, and decided in a superficial consciousness that
she had made her own bonnet.

"I shall be glad to show you my rooms," said Mrs. Leighton, with an
irrelevant sigh. "You must excuse their being not just as I should wish
them. We're hardly settled yet."

"Don't speak of it, madam," said the gentleman, "if you can overlook the
trouble we awe giving you at such an unseasonable houah."

"Ah'm a hoasekeepah mahself," Miss Woodburn joined in, "and Ah know ho'
to accyoant fo' everything."

Mrs. Leighton led the way up-stairs, and the young lady decided upon the
large front room and small side room on the third story. She said she
could take the small one, and the other was so large that her father
could both sleep and work in it. She seemed not ashamed to ask if Mrs.
Leighton's price was inflexible, but gave way laughing when her father
refused to have any bargaining, with a haughty self-respect which he
softened to deference for Mrs. Leighton. His impulsiveness opened the way
for some confidence from her, and before the affair was arranged she was
enjoying in her quality of clerical widow the balm of the Virginians'
reverent sympathy. They said they were church people themselves.

"Ah don't know what yo' mothah means by yo' hoase not being in oddah,"
the young lady said to Alma as they went down-stairs together. "Ah'm a
great hoasekeepah mahself, and Ah mean what Ah say."

They had all turned mechanically into the room where the Leightons were
sitting when the Woodburns rang: Mr. Woodburn consented to sit down, and
he remained listening to Mrs. Leighton while his daughter bustled up to
the sketches pinned round the room and questioned Alma about them.

"Ah suppose you awe going to be a great awtust?" she said, in friendly
banter, when Alma owned to having done the things. "Ah've a great notion
to take a few lessons mahself. Who's yo' teachah?"

Alma said she was drawing in Mr. Wetmore's class, and Miss Woodburn said:
"Well, it's just beautiful, Miss Leighton; it's grand. Ah suppose it's
raght expensive, now? Mah goodness! we have to cyoant the coast so much
nowadays; it seems to me we do nothing but cyoant it. Ah'd like to hah
something once without askin' the price."

"Well, if you didn't ask it," said Alma, "I don't believe Mr. Wetmore
would ever know what the price of his lessons was. He has to think, when
you ask him."

"Why, he most be chomming," said Miss Woodburn. "Perhaps Ah maght get the
lessons for nothing from him. Well, Ah believe in my soul Ah'll trah. Now
ho' did you begin? and ho' do you expect to get anything oat of it?" She
turned on Alma eyes brimming with a shrewd mixture of fun and earnest,
and Alma made note of the fact that she had an early nineteenth-century
face, round, arch, a little coquettish, but extremely sensible and
unspoiled-looking, such as used to be painted a good deal in miniature at
that period; a tendency of her brown hair to twine and twist at the
temples helped the effect; a high comb would have completed it, Alma
felt, if she had her bonnet off. It was almost a Yankee country-girl
type; but perhaps it appeared so to Alma because it was, like that, pure
Anglo-Saxon. Alma herself, with her dull, dark skin, slender in figure,
slow in speech, with aristocratic forms in her long hands, and the oval
of her fine face pointed to a long chin, felt herself much more Southern
in style than this blooming, bubbling, bustling Virginian.

"I don't know," she answered, slowly.

"Going to take po'traits," suggested Miss Woodburn, "or just paint the
ahdeal?" A demure burlesque lurked in her tone.

"I suppose I don't expect to paint at all," said Alma. "I'm going to
illustrate books--if anybody will let me."

"Ah should think they'd just joamp at you," said Miss Woodburn. "Ah'll
tell you what let's do, Miss Leighton: you make some pictures, and Ah'll
wrahte a book fo' them. Ah've got to do something. Ali maght as well
wrahte a book. You know we Southerners have all had to go to woak. But Ah
don't mand it. I tell papa I shouldn't ca' fo' the disgrace of bein' poo'
if it wasn't fo' the inconvenience."

"Yes, it's inconvenient," said Alma; "but you forget it when you're at
work, don't you think?"

"Mah, yes! Perhaps that's one reason why poo' people have to woak so
hawd-to keep their wands off their poverty."

The girls both tittered, and turned from talking in a low tone with their
backs toward their elders, and faced them.

"Well, Madison," said Mr. Woodburn, "it is time we should go. I bid you
good-night, madam," he bowed to Mrs. Leighton. "Good-night," he bowed
again to Alma.

His daughter took leave of them in formal phrase, but with a jolly
cordiality of manner that deformalized it. "We shall be roand raght soon
in the mawning, then," she threatened at the door.

"We shall be all ready for you," Alma called after her down the steps.

"Well, Alma?" her mother asked, when the door closed upon them.

"She doesn't know any more about art," said Alma, "than--nothing at all.
But she's jolly and good-hearted. She praised everything that was bad in
my sketches, and said she was going to take lessons herself. When a
person talks about taking lessons, as if they could learn it, you know
where they belong artistically."

Mrs. Leighton shook her head with a sigh. "I wish I knew where they
belonged financially. We shall have to get in two girls at once. I shall
have to go out the first thing in the morning, and then our troubles will
begin."

"Well, didn't you want them to begin? I will stay home and help you get
ready. Our prosperity couldn't begin without the troubles, if you mean
boarders, and boarders mean servants. I shall be very glad to be
afflicted with a cook for a while myself."

"Yes; but we don't know anything about these people, or whether they will
be able to pay us. Did she talk as if they were well off?"

"She talked as if they were poor; poo' she called it."

"Yes, how queerly she pronounced," said Mrs. Leighton. "Well, I ought to
have told them that I required the first week in advance."

"Mamma! If that's the way you're going to act!"

"Oh, of course, I couldn't, after he wouldn't let her bargain for the
rooms. I didn't like that."

"I did. And you can see that they were perfect ladies; or at least one of
them." Alma laughed at herself, but her mother did not notice.

"Their being ladies won't help if they've got no money. It 'll make it
all the worse."

"Very well, then; we have no money, either. We're a match for them any
day there. We can show them that two can play at that game."



III.

Arnus Beaton's studio looked at first glance like many other painters'
studios. A gray wall quadrangularly vaulted to a large north light; casts
of feet, hands, faces hung to nails about; prints, sketches in oil and
water-color stuck here and there lower down; a rickety table, with paint
and palettes and bottles of varnish and siccative tossed comfortlessly on
it; an easel, with a strip of some faded mediaeval silk trailing from it;
a lay figure simpering in incomplete nakedness, with its head on one
side, and a stocking on one leg, and a Japanese dress dropped before it;
dusty rugs and skins kicking over the varnished floor; canvases faced to
the mop-board; an open trunk overflowing with costumes: these features
one might notice anywhere. But, besides, there was a bookcase with an
unusual number of books in it, and there was an open colonial
writing-desk, claw-footed, brass-handled, and scutcheoned, with foreign
periodicals--French and English--littering its leaf, and some pages of
manuscript scattered among them. Above all, there was a sculptor's
revolving stand, supporting a bust which Beaton was modelling, with an
eye fixed as simultaneously as possible on the clay and on the head of
the old man who sat on the platform beside it.

Few men have been able to get through the world with several gifts to
advantage in all; and most men seem handicapped for the race if they have
more than one. But they are apparently immensely interested as well as
distracted by them. When Beaton was writing, he would have agreed, up to
a certain point, with any one who said literature was his proper
expression; but, then, when he was painting, up to a certain point, he
would have maintained against the world that he was a colorist, and
supremely a colorist. At the certain point in either art he was apt to
break away in a frenzy of disgust and wreak himself upon some other. In
these moods he sometimes designed elevations of buildings, very striking,
very original, very chic, very everything but habitable. It was in this
way that he had tried his hand on sculpture, which he had at first
approached rather slightingly as a mere decorative accessory of
architecture. But it had grown in his respect till he maintained that the
accessory business ought to be all the other way: that temples should be
raised to enshrine statues, not statues made to ornament temples; that
was putting the cart before the horse with a vengeance. This was when he
had carried a plastic study so far that the sculptors who saw it said
that Beaton might have been an architect, but would certainly never be a
sculptor. At the same time he did some hurried, nervous things that had a
popular charm, and that sold in plaster reproductions, to the profit of
another. Beaton justly despised the popular charm in these, as well as in
the paintings he sold from time to time; he said it was flat burglary to
have taken money for them, and he would have been living almost wholly
upon the bounty of the old tombstone-cutter in Syracuse if it had not
been for the syndicate letters which he supplied to Fulkerson for ten
dollars a week.

They were very well done, but he hated doing them after the first two or
three, and had to be punched up for them by Fulkerson, who did not cease
to prize them, and who never failed to punch him up. Beaton being what he
was, Fulkerson was his creditor as well as patron; and Fulkerson being
what he was, had an enthusiastic patience with the elusive, facile,
adaptable, unpractical nature of Beaton. He was very proud of his
art-letters, as he called them; but then Fulkerson was proud of
everything he secured for his syndicate. The fact that he had secured it
gave it value; he felt as if he had written it himself.

One art trod upon another's heels with Beaton. The day before he had
rushed upon canvas the conception of a picture which he said to himself
was glorious, and to others (at the table d'hote of Maroni) was not bad.
He had worked at it in a fury till the light failed him, and he execrated
the dying day. But he lit his lamp and transferred the process of his
thinking from the canvas to the opening of the syndicate letter which he
knew Fulkerson would be coming for in the morning. He remained talking so
long after dinner in the same strain as he had painted and written in
that he could not finish his letter that night. The next morning, while
he was making his tea for breakfast, the postman brought him a letter
from his father enclosing a little check, and begging him with tender,
almost deferential, urgence to come as lightly upon him as possible, for
just now his expenses were very heavy. It brought tears of shame into
Beaton's eyes--the fine, smouldering, floating eyes that many ladies
admired, under the thick bang--and he said to himself that if he were
half a man he would go home and go to work cutting gravestones in his
father's shop. But he would wait, at least, to finish his picture; and as
a sop to his conscience, to stay its immediate ravening, he resolved to
finish that syndicate letter first, and borrow enough money from
Fulkerson to be able to send his father's check back; or, if not that,
then to return the sum of it partly in Fulkerson's check. While he still
teemed with both of these good intentions the old man from whom he was
modelling his head of Judas came, and Beaton saw that he must get through
with him before he finished either the picture or the letter; he would
have to pay him for the time, anyway. He utilized the remorse with which
he was tingling to give his Judas an expression which he found novel in
the treatment of that character--a look of such touching, appealing
self-abhorrence that Beaton's artistic joy in it amounted to rapture;
between the breathless moments when he worked in dead silence for an
effect that was trying to escape him, he sang and whistled fragments of
comic opera.

In one of the hushes there came a blow on the outside of the door that
made Beaton jump, and swear with a modified profanity that merged itself
in apostrophic prayer. He knew it must be Fulkerson, and after roaring
"Come in!" he said to the model, "That 'll do this morning, Lindau."

Fulkerson squared his feet in front of the bust and compared it by
fleeting glances with the old man as he got stiffly up and suffered
Beaton to help him on with his thin, shabby overcoat.

"Can you come to-morrow, Lindau?"

"No, not to-morrow, Mr. Peaton. I haf to zit for the young ladties."

"Oh!" said Beaton. "Wet-more's class? Is Miss Leighton doing you?"

"I don't know their namess," Lindau began, when Fulkerson said:

"Hope you haven't forgotten mine, Mr. Lindau? I met you with Mr. March at
Maroni's one night." Fulkerson offered him a universally shakable hand.

"Oh yes! I am gladt to zee you again, Mr. Vulkerson. And Mr. Marge--he
don't zeem to gome any more?"

"Up to his eyes in work. Been moving on from Boston and getting settled,
and starting in on our enterprise. Beaton here hasn't got a very
flattering likeness of you, hey? Well, good-morning," he said, for Lindau
appeared not to have heard him and was escaping with a bow through the
door.

Beaton lit a cigarette which he pinched nervously between his lips before
he spoke. "You've come for that letter, I suppose, Fulkerson? It isn't
done."

Fulkerson turned from staring at the bust to which he had mounted. "What
you fretting about that letter for? I don't want your letter."

Beaton stopped biting his cigarette and looked at him. "Don't want my
letter? Oh, very good!" he bristled up. He took his cigarette from his
lips, and blew the smoke through his nostrils, and then looked at
Fulkerson.

"No; I don't want your letter; I want you."

Beacon disdained to ask an explanation, but he internally lowered his
crest, while he continued to look at Fulkerson without changing his
defiant countenance. This suited Fulkerson well enough, and he went on
with relish, "I'm going out of the syndicate business, old man, and I'm
on a new thing." He put his leg over the back of a chair and rested his
foot on its seat, and, with one hand in his pocket, he laid the scheme of
'Every Other Week' before Beaton with the help of the other. The artist
went about the room, meanwhile, with an effect of indifference which by
no means offended Fulkerson. He took some water into his mouth from a
tumbler, which he blew in a fine mist over the head of Judas before
swathing it in a dirty cotton cloth; he washed his brushes and set his
palette; he put up on his easel the picture he had blocked on the day
before, and stared at it with a gloomy face; then he gathered the sheets
of his unfinished letter together and slid them into a drawer of his
writing-desk. By the time he had finished and turned again to Fulkerson,
Fulkerson was saying: "I did think we could have the first number out by
New-Year's; but it will take longer than that--a month longer; but I'm
not sorry, for the holidays kill everything; and by February, or the
middle of February, people will get their breath again and begin to look
round and ask what's new. Then we'll reply in the language of Shakespeare
and Milton, 'Every Other Week; and don't you forget it.'" He took down
his leg and asked, "Got a pipe of 'baccy anywhere?"

Beaton nodded at a clay stem sticking out of a Japanese vase of bronze on
his mantel. "There's yours," he said; and Fulkerson said, "Thanks," and
filled the pipe and sat down and began to smoke tranquilly.

Beaton saw that he would have to speak now. "And what do you want with
me?"

"You? Oh yes," Fulkerson humorously dramatized a return to himself from a
pensive absence. "Want you for the art department."

Beaton shook his head. "I'm not your man, Fulkerson," he said,
compassionately. "You want a more practical hand, one that's in touch
with what's going. I'm getting further and further away from this century
and its claptrap. I don't believe in your enterprise; I don't respect it,
and I won't have anything to do with it. It would-choke me, that kind of
thing."

"That's all right," said Fulkerson. He esteemed a man who was not going
to let himself go cheap. "Or if it isn't, we can make it. You and March
will pull together first-rate. I don't care how much ideal you put into
the thing; the more the better. I can look after the other end of the
schooner myself."

"You don't understand me," said Beaton. "I'm not trying to get a rise out
of you. I'm in earnest. What you want is some man who can have patience
with mediocrity putting on the style of genius, and with genius turning
mediocrity on his hands. I haven't any luck with men; I don't get on with
them; I'm not popular." Beaton recognized the fact with the satisfaction
which it somehow always brings to human pride.

"So much the better!" Fulkerson was ready for him at this point. "I don't
want you to work the old-established racket the reputations. When I want
them I'll go to them with a pocketful of rocks--knock-down argument. But
my idea is to deal with the volunteer material. Look at the way the
periodicals are carried on now! Names! names! names! In a country that's
just boiling over with literary and artistic ability of every kind the
new fellows have no chance. The editors all engage their material. I
don't believe there are fifty volunteer contributions printed in a year
in all the New York magazines. It's all wrong; it's suicidal. 'Every
Other Week' is going back to the good old anonymous system, the only fair
system. It's worked well in literature, and it will work well in art."

"It won't work well in art," said Beaton. "There you have a totally
different set of conditions. What you'll get by inviting volunteer
illustrations will be a lot of amateur trash. And how are you going to
submit your literature for illustration? It can't be done. At any rate, I
won't undertake to do it."

"We'll get up a School of Illustration," said Fulkerson, with cynical
security. "You can read the things and explain 'em, and your pupils can
make their sketches under your eye. They wouldn't be much further out
than most illustrations are if they never knew what they were
illustrating. You might select from what comes in and make up a sort of
pictorial variations to the literature without any particular reference
to it. Well, I understand you to accept?"

"No, you don't."

"That is, to consent to help us with your advice and criticism. That's
all I want. It won't commit you to anything; and you can be as anonymous
as anybody." At the door Fulkerson added: "By-the-way, the new man--the
fellow that's taken my old syndicate business--will want you to keep on;
but I guess he's going to try to beat you down on the price of the
letters. He's going in for retrenchment. I brought along a check for this
one; I'm to pay for that." He offered Beaton an envelope.

"I can't take it, Fulkerson. The letter's paid for already." Fulkerson
stepped forward and laid the envelope on the table among the tubes of
paint.

"It isn't the letter merely. I thought you wouldn't object to a little
advance on your 'Every Other Week' work till you kind of got started."

Beaton remained inflexible. "It can't be done, Fulkerson. Don't I tell
you I can't sell myself out to a thing I don't believe in? Can't you
understand that?"

"Oh yes; I can understand that first-rate. I don't want to buy you; I
want to borrow you. It's all right. See? Come round when you can; I'd
like to introduce you to old March. That's going to be our address." He
put a card on the table beside the envelope, and Beaton allowed him to go
without making him take the check back. He had remembered his father's
plea; that unnerved him, and he promised himself again to return his
father's poor little check and to work on that picture and give it to
Fulkerson for the check he had left and for his back debts. He resolved
to go to work on the picture at once; he had set his palette for it; but
first he looked at Fulkerson's check. It was for only fifty dollars, and
the canny Scotch blood in Beaton rebelled; he could not let this picture
go for any such money; he felt a little like a man whose generosity has
been trifled with. The conflict of emotions broke him up, and he could
not work.



IV

The day wasted away in Beaton's hands; at half-past four o'clock he went
out to tea at the house of a lady who was At Home that afternoon from
four till seven. By this time Beaton was in possession of one of those
other selves of which we each have several about us, and was again the
laconic, staccato, rather worldlified young artist whose moments of a
controlled utterance and a certain distinction of manner had commended
him to Mrs. Horn's fancy in the summer at St. Barnaby.

Mrs. Horn's rooms were large, and they never seemed very full, though
this perhaps was because people were always so quiet. The ladies, who
outnumbered the men ten to one, as they always do at a New York tea, were
dressed in sympathy with the low tone every one spoke in, and with the
subdued light which gave a crepuscular uncertainty to the few objects,
the dim pictures, the unexcited upholstery, of the rooms. One breathed
free of bric-a-brac there, and the new-comer breathed softly as one does
on going into church after service has begun. This might be a suggestion
from the voiceless behavior of the man-servant who let you in, but it was
also because Mrs. Horn's At Home was a ceremony, a decorum, and not
festival. At far greater houses there was more gayety, at richer houses
there was more freedom; the suppression at Mrs. Horn's was a personal,
not a social, effect; it was an efflux of her character, demure,
silentious, vague, but very correct.

Beaton easily found his way to her around the grouped skirts and among
the detached figures, and received a pressure of welcome from the hand
which she momentarily relaxed from the tea-pot. She sat behind a table
put crosswise of a remote corner, and offered tea to people whom a niece
of hers received provisionally or sped finally in the outer room. They
did not usually take tea, and when they did they did not usually drink
it; but Beaton was, feverishly glad of his cup; he took rum and lemon in
it, and stood talking at Mrs. Horn's side till the next arrival should
displace him: he talked in his French manner.

"I have been hoping to see you," she said. "I wanted to ask you about the
Leightons. Did they really come?"

"I believe so. They are in town--yes. I haven't seen them."

"Then you don't know how they're getting on--that pretty creature, with
her cleverness, and poor Mrs. Leighton? I was afraid they were venturing
on a rash experiment. Do you know where they are?"

"In West Eleventh Street somewhere. Miss Leighton is in Mr. Wetmore's
class."

"I must look them up. Do you know their number?"

"Not at the moment. I can find out."

"Do," said Mrs. Horn. "What courage they must have, to plunge into New
York as they've done! I really didn't think they would. I wonder if
they've succeeded in getting anybody into their house yet?"

"I don't know," said Beaton.

"I discouraged their coming all I could," she sighed, "and I suppose you
did, too. But it's quite useless trying to make people in a place like
St. Barnaby understand how it is in town."

"Yes," said Beaton. He stirred his tea, while inwardly he tried to
believe that he had really discouraged the Leightons from coming to New
York. Perhaps the vexation of his failure made him call Mrs. Horn in his
heart a fraud.

"Yes," she went on, "it is very, very hard. And when they won't
understand, and rush on their doom, you feel that they are going to hold
you respons--"

Mrs. Horn's eyes wandered from Beaton; her voice faltered in the faded
interest of her remark, and then rose with renewed vigor in greeting a
lady who came up and stretched her glove across the tea-cups.

Beaton got himself away and out of the house with a much briefer adieu to
the niece than he had meant to make. The patronizing compassion of Mrs.
Horn for the Leightons filled him with indignation toward her, toward
himself. There was no reason why he should not have ignored them as he
had done; but there was a feeling. It was his nature to be careless, and
he had been spoiled into recklessness; he neglected everybody, and only
remembered them when it suited his whim or his convenience; but he
fiercely resented the inattentions of others toward himself. He had no
scruple about breaking an engagement or failing to keep an appointment;
he made promises without thinking of their fulfilment, and not because he
was a faithless person, but because he was imaginative, and expected at
the time to do what he said, but was fickle, and so did not. As most of
his shortcomings were of a society sort, no great harm was done to
anybody else. He had contracted somewhat the circle of his acquaintance
by what some people called his rudeness, but most people treated it as
his oddity, and were patient with it. One lady said she valued his coming
when he said he would come because it had the charm of the unexpected.
"Only it shows that it isn't always the unexpected that happens," she
explained.

It did not occur to him that his behavior was immoral; he did not realize
that it was creating a reputation if not a character for him. While we
are still young we do not realize that our actions have this effect. It
seems to us that people will judge us from what we think and feel. Later
we find out that this is impossible; perhaps we find it out too late;
some of us never find it out at all.

In spite of his shame about the Leightons, Beaton had no present
intention of looking them up or sending Mrs. Horn their address. As a
matter of fact, he never did send it; but he happened to meet Mr. Wetmore
and his wife at the restaurant where he dined, and he got it of the
painter for himself. He did not ask him how Miss Leighton was getting on;
but Wetmore launched out, with Alma for a tacit text, on the futility of
women generally going in for art. "Even when they have talent they've got
too much against them. Where a girl doesn't seem very strong, like Miss
Leighton, no amount of chic is going to help."

His wife disputed him on behalf of her sex, as women always do.

"No, Dolly," he persisted; "she'd better be home milking the cows and
leading the horse to water."

"Do you think she'd better be up till two in the morning at balls and
going all day to receptions and luncheons?"

"Oh, guess it isn't a question of that, even if she weren't drawing. You
knew them at home," he said to Beaton.

"Yes."

"I remember. Her mother said you suggested me. Well, the girl has some
notion of it; there's no doubt about that. But--she's a woman. The
trouble with these talented girls is that they're all woman. If they
weren't, there wouldn't be much chance for the men, Beaton. But we've got
Providence on our own side from the start. I'm able to watch all their
inspirations with perfect composure. I know just how soon it's going to
end in nervous breakdown. Somebody ought to marry them all and put them
out of their misery."

"And what will you do with your students who are married already?" his
wife said. She felt that she had let him go on long enough.

"Oh, they ought to get divorced."

"You ought to be ashamed to take their money if that's what you think of
them."

"My dear, I have a wife to support."

Beaton intervened with a question. "Do you mean that Miss Leighton isn't
standing it very well?"

"How do I know? She isn't the kind that bends; she's the kind that
breaks."

After a little silence Mrs. Wetmore asked, "Won't you come home with us,
Mr. Beaton?"

"Thank you; no. I have an engagement."

"I don't see why that should prevent you," said Wetmore. "But you always
were a punctilious cuss. Well!"

Beaton lingered over his cigar; but no one else whom he knew came in, and
he yielded to the threefold impulse of conscience, of curiosity, of
inclination, in going to call at the Leightons'. He asked for the ladies,
and the maid showed him into the parlor, where he found Mrs. Leighton and
Miss Woodburn.

The widow met him with a welcome neatly marked by resentment; she meant
him to feel that his not coming sooner had been noticed. Miss Woodburn
bubbled and gurgled on, and did what she could to mitigate his
punishment, but she did not feel authorized to stay it, till Mrs.
Leighton, by studied avoidance of her daughter's name, obliged Beaton to
ask for her. Then Miss Woodburn caught up her work, and said, "Ah'll go
and tell her, Mrs. Leighton." At the top of the stairs she found Alma,
and Alma tried to make it seem as if she had not been standing there.
"Mah goodness, chald! there's the handsomest young man asking for you
down there you evah saw. Alh told you' mothah Ah would come up fo' you."

"What--who is it?"

"Don't you know? But bo' could you? He's got the most beautiful eyes,
and he wea's his hai' in a bang, and he talks English like it was
something else, and his name's Mr. Beaton."

"Did he-ask for me?" said Alma, with a dreamy tone. She put her hand on
the stairs rail, and a little shiver ran over her.

"Didn't I tell you? Of coase he did! And you ought to go raght down if
you want to save the poo' fellah's lahfe; you' mothah's just freezin' him
to death."



V.

"She is?" cried Alma. "Tchk!" She flew downstairs, and flitted swiftly
into the room, and fluttered up to Beaton, and gave him a crushing
hand-shake.

"How very kind, of you to come and see us, Mr. Beaton! When did you come
to New York? Don't you find it warm here? We've only just lighted the
furnace, but with this mild weather it seems too early. Mamma does keep
it so hot!" She rushed about opening doors and shutting registers, and
then came back and sat facing him from the sofa with a mask of radiant
cordiality. "How have you been since we saw you?"

"Very well," said Beaton. "I hope you're well, Miss Leighton?"

"Oh, perfectly! I think New York agrees with us both wonderfully. I never
knew such air. And to think of our not having snow yet! I should think
everybody would want to come here! Why don't you come, Mr. Beaton?"

Beaton lifted his eyes and looked at her. "I--I live in New York," he
faltered.

"In New York City!" she exclaimed.

"Surely, Alma," said her mother, "you remember Mr. Beaton's telling us he
lived in New York."

"But I thought you came from Rochester; or was it Syracuse? I always get
those places mixed up."

"Probably I told you my father lived at Syracuse. I've been in New York
ever since I came home from Paris," said Beaton, with the confusion of a
man who feels himself played upon by a woman.

"From Paris!" Alma echoed, leaning forward, with her smiling mask tight
on. "Wasn't it Munich where you studied?"

"I was at Munich, too. I met Wetmore there."

"Oh, do you know Mr. Wetmore?"

"Why, Alma," her mother interposed again, "it was Mr. Beaton who told you
of Mr. Wetmore."

"Was it? Why, yes, to be sure. It was Mrs. Horn who suggested Mr. Ilcomb.
I remember now. I can't thank you enough for having sent me to Mr.
Wetmore, Mr. Beaton. Isn't he delightful? Oh yes, I'm a perfect
Wetmorian, I can assure you. The whole class is the same way."

"I just met him and Mrs. Wetmore at dinner," said Beaton, attempting the
recovery of something that he had lost through the girl's shining ease
and steely sprightliness. She seemed to him so smooth and hard, with a
repellent elasticity from which he was flung off. "I hope you're not
working too hard, Miss Leighton?"

"Oh no! I enjoy every minute of it, and grow stronger on it. Do I look
very much wasted away?" She looked him full in the face, brilliantly
smiling, and intentionally beautiful.

"No," he said, with a slow sadness; "I never saw you looking better."

"Poor Mr. Beaton!" she said, in recognition of his doleful tune. "It
seems to be quite a blow."

"Oh no--"

"I remember all the good advice you used to give me about not working too
hard, and probably it's that that's saved my life--that and the
house-hunting. Has mamma told you of our adventures in getting settled?

"Some time we must. It was such fun! And didn't you think we were
fortunate to get such a pretty house? You must see both our parlors." She
jumped up, and her mother followed her with a bewildered look as she ran
into the back parlor and flashed up the gas.

"Come in here, Mr. Beaton. I want to show you the great feature of the
house." She opened the low windows that gave upon a glazed veranda
stretching across the end of the room. "Just think of this in New York!
You can't see it very well at night, but when the southern sun pours in
here all the afternoon--"

"Yes, I can imagine it," he said. He glanced up at the bird-cage hanging
from the roof. "I suppose Gypsy enjoys it."

"You remember Gypsy?" she said; and she made a cooing, kissing little
noise up at the bird, who responded drowsily. "Poor old Gypsum! Well, he
sha'n't be disturbed. Yes, it's Gyp's delight, and Colonel Woodburn likes
to write here in the morning. Think of us having a real live author in
the house! And Miss Woodburn: I'm so glad you've seen her! They're
Southern people."

"Yes, that was obvious in her case."

"From her accent? Isn't it fascinating? I didn't believe I could ever
endure Southerners, but we're like one family with the Woodburns. I
should think you'd want to paint Miss Woodburn. Don't you think her
coloring is delicious? And such a quaint kind of eighteenth-century type
of beauty! But she's perfectly lovely every way, and everything she says
is so funny. The Southerners seem to be such great talkers; better than
we are, don't you think?"

"I don't know," said Beaton, in pensive discouragement. He was sensible
of being manipulated, operated, but he was helpless to escape from the
performer or to fathom her motives. His pensiveness passed into gloom,
and was degenerating into sulky resentment when he went away, after
several failures to get back to the old ground he had held in relation to
Alma. He retrieved something of it with Mrs. Leighton; but Alma glittered
upon him to the last with a keen impenetrable candor, a child-like
singleness of glance, covering unfathomable reserve.

"Well, Alma," said her mother, when the door had closed upon him.

"Well, mother." Then, after a moment, she said, with a rush: "Did you
think I was going to let him suppose we were piqued at his not coming?
Did you suppose I was going to let him patronize us, or think that we
were in the least dependent on his favor or friendship?"

Her mother did not attempt to answer her. She merely said, "I shouldn't
think he would come any more."

"Well, we have got on so far without him; perhaps we can live through the
rest of the winter."

"I couldn't help feeling sorry for him. He was quite stupefied. I could
see that he didn't know what to make of you."

"He's not required to make anything of me," said Alma.

"Do you think he really believed you had forgotten all those things?"

"Impossible to say, mamma."

"Well, I don't think it was quite right, Alma."

"I'll leave him to you the next time. Miss Woodburn said you were
freezing him to death when I came down."

"That was quite different. But, there won't be any next time, I'm
afraid," sighed Mrs. Leighton.

Beaton went home feeling sure there would not. He tried to read when he
got to his room; but Alma's looks, tones, gestures, whirred through and
through the woof of the story like shuttles; he could not keep them out,
and he fell asleep at last, not because he forgot them, but because he
forgave them. He was able to say to himself that he had been justly cut
off from kindness which he knew how to value in losing it. He did not
expect ever to right himself in Alma's esteem, but he hoped some day to
let her know that he had understood. It seemed to him that it would be a
good thing if she should find it out after his death. He imagined her
being touched by it under those circumstances.



VI.

In the morning it seemed to Beaton that he had done himself injustice.
When he uncovered his Judas and looked at it, he could not believe that
the man who was capable of such work deserved the punishment Miss
Leighton had inflicted upon him. He still forgave her, but in the
presence of a thing like that he could not help respecting himself; he
believed that if she could see it she would be sorry that she had cut
herself off from his acquaintance. He carried this strain of conviction
all through his syndicate letter, which he now took out of his desk and
finished, with an increasing security of his opinions and a mounting
severity in his judgments. He retaliated upon the general condition of
art among us the pangs of wounded vanity, which Alma had made him feel,
and he folded up his manuscript and put it in his pocket, almost healed
of his humiliation. He had been able to escape from its sting so entirely
while he was writing that the notion of making his life more and more
literary commended itself to him. As it was now evident that the future
was to be one of renunciation, of self-forgetting, an oblivion tinged
with bitterness, he formlessly reasoned in favor of reconsidering his
resolution against Fulkerson's offer. One must call it reasoning, but it
was rather that swift internal dramatization which constantly goes on in
persons of excitable sensibilities, and which now seemed to sweep Beaton
physically along toward the 'Every Other Week' office, and carried his
mind with lightning celerity on to a time when he should have given that
journal such quality and authority in matters of art as had never been
enjoyed by any in America before. With the prosperity which he made
attend his work he changed the character of the enterprise, and with
Fulkerson's enthusiastic support he gave the public an art journal of as
high grade as 'Les Lettres et les Arts', and very much that sort of
thing. All this involved now the unavailing regret of Alma Leighton, and
now his reconciliation with her they were married in Grace Church,
because Beaton had once seen a marriage there, and had intended to paint
a picture of it some time.

Nothing in these fervid fantasies prevented his responding with due
dryness to Fulkerson's cheery "Hello, old man!" when he found himself in
the building fitted up for the 'Every Other Week' office. Fulkerson's
room was back of the smaller one occupied by the bookkeeper; they had
been respectively the reception-room and dining-room of the little place
in its dwelling-house days, and they had been simply and tastefully
treated in their transformation into business purposes. The narrow old
trim of the doors and windows had been kept, and the quaintly ugly marble
mantels. The architect had said, Better let them stay they expressed
epoch, if not character.

"Well, have you come round to go to work? Just hang up your coat on the
floor anywhere," Fulkerson went on.

"I've come to bring you that letter," said Beaton, all the more haughtily
because he found that Fulkerson was not alone when he welcomed him in
these free and easy terms. There was a quiet-looking man, rather stout,
and a little above the middle height, with a full, close-cropped
iron-gray beard, seated beyond the table where Fulkerson tilted himself
back, with his knees set against it; and leaning against the mantel there
was a young man with a singularly gentle face, in which the look of
goodness qualified and transfigured a certain simplicity. His large blue
eyes were somewhat prominent; and his rather narrow face was drawn
forward in a nose a little too long perhaps, if it had not been for the
full chin deeply cut below the lip, and jutting firmly forward.

"Introduce you to Mr. March, our editor, Mr. Beaton," Fulkerson said,
rolling his head in the direction of the elder man; and then nodding it
toward the younger, he said, "Mr. Dryfoos, Mr. Beaton." Beaton shook
hands with March, and then with Mr. Dryfoos, and Fulkerson went on,
gayly: "We were just talking of you, Beaton--well, you know the old
saying. Mr. March, as I told you, is our editor, and Mr. Dryfoos has
charge of the publishing department--he's the counting-room incarnate,
the source of power, the fountain of corruption, the element that
prevents journalism being the high and holy thing that it would be if
there were no money in it." Mr. Dryfoos turned his large, mild eyes upon
Beaton, and laughed with the uneasy concession which people make to a
character when they do not quite approve of the character's language.
"What Mr. March and I are trying to do is to carry on this thing so that
there won't be any money in it--or very little; and we're planning to
give the public a better article for the price than it's ever had before.
Now here's a dummy we've had made up for 'Every Other Week', and as we've
decided to adopt it, we would naturally like your opinion of it, so's to
know what opinion to have of you." He reached forward and pushed toward
Beaton a volume a little above the size of the ordinary duodecimo book;
its ivory-white pebbled paper cover was prettily illustrated with a
water-colored design irregularly washed over the greater part of its
surface: quite across the page at top, and narrowing from right to left
as it descended. In the triangular space left blank the title of the
periodical and the publisher's imprint were tastefully lettered so as to
be partly covered by the background of color.

"It's like some of those Tartarin books of Daudet's," said Beacon,
looking at it with more interest than he suffered to be seen. "But it's a
book, not a magazine." He opened its pages of thick, mellow white paper,
with uncut leaves, the first few pages experimentally printed in the type
intended to be used, and illustrated with some sketches drawn into and
over the text, for the sake of the effect.

"A Daniel--a Daniel come to judgment! Sit down, Dan'el, and take it
easy." Fulkerson pushed a chair toward Beaton, who dropped into it.
"You're right, Dan'el; it's a book, to all practical intents and
purposes. And what we propose to do with the American public is to give
it twenty-four books like this a year--a complete library--for the absurd
sum of six dollars. We don't intend to sell 'em--it's no name for the
transaction--but to give 'em. And what we want to get out of you--beg,
borrow, buy, or steal from you is an opinion whether we shall make the
American public this princely present in paper covers like this, or in
some sort of flexible boards, so they can set them on the shelf and say
no more about it. Now, Dan'el, come to judgment, as our respected friend
Shylock remarked."

Beacon had got done looking at the dummy, and he dropped it on the table
before Fulkerson, who pushed it away, apparently to free himself from
partiality. "I don't know anything about the business side, and I can't
tell about the effect of either style on the sales; but you'll spoil the
whole character of the cover if you use anything thicker than that
thickish paper."

"All right; very good; first-rate. The ayes have it. Paper it is. I don't
mind telling you that we had decided for that paper before you came in.
Mr. March wanted it, because he felt in his bones just the way you do
about it, and Mr. Dryfoos wanted it, because he's the counting-room
incarnate, and it's cheaper; and I 'wanted it, because I always like to
go with the majority. Now what do you think of that little design
itself?"

"The sketch?" Beaton pulled the book toward him again and looked at it
again. "Rather decorative. Drawing's not remarkable. Graceful; rather
nice." He pushed the book away again, and Fulkerson pulled it to his aide
of the table.

"Well, that's a piece of that amateur trash you despise so much. I went
to a painter I know-by-the-way, he was guilty of suggesting you for this
thing, but I told him I was ahead of him--and I got him to submit my idea
to one of his class, and that's the result. Well, now, there ain't
anything in this world that sells a book like a pretty cover, and we're
going to have a pretty cover for 'Every Other Week' every time. We've cut
loose from the old traditional quarto literary newspaper size, and we've
cut loose from the old two-column big page magazine size; we're going to
have a duodecimo page, clear black print, and paper that 'll make your
mouth water; and we're going to have a fresh illustration for the cover
of each number, and we ain't agoing to give the public any rest at all.
Sometimes we're going to have a delicate little landscape like this, and
sometimes we're going to have an indelicate little figure, or as much so
as the law will allow."

The young man leaning against the mantelpiece blushed a sort of protest.

March smiled and said, dryly, "Those are the numbers that Mr. Fulkerson
is going to edit himself."

"Exactly. And Mr. Beaton, here, is going to supply the floating females,
gracefully airing themselves against a sunset or something of that kind."
Beaton frowned in embarrassment, while Fulkerson went on philosophically;
"It's astonishing how you fellows can keep it up at this stage of the
proceedings; you can paint things that your harshest critic would be
ashamed to describe accurately; you're as free as the theatre. But that's
neither here nor there. What I'm after is the fact that we're going to
have variety in our title-pages, and we are going to have novelty in the
illustrations of the body of the book. March, here, if he had his own
way, wouldn't have any illustrations at all."

"Not because I don't like them, Mr. Beacon," March interposed, "but
because I like them too much. I find that I look at the pictures in an
illustrated article, but I don't read the article very much, and I fancy
that's the case with most other people. You've got to doing them so
prettily that you take our eyes off the literature, if you don't take our
minds off."

"Like the society beauties on the stage: people go in for the beauty so
much that they don't know what the play is. But the box-office gets there
all the same, and that's what Mr. Dryfoos wants." Fulkerson looked up
gayly at Mr. Dryfoos, who smiled deprecatingly.

"It was different," March went on, "when the illustrations used to be
bad. Then the text had some chance."

"Old legitimate drama days, when ugliness and genius combined to storm
the galleries," said Fulkerson.

"We can still make them bad enough," said Beaton, ignoring Fulkerson in
his remark to March.

Fulkerson took the reply upon himself. "Well, you needn't make 'em so bad
as the old-style cuts; but you can make them unobtrusive, modestly
retiring. We've got hold of a process something like that those French
fellows gave Daudet thirty-five thousand dollars to write a novel to use
with; kind of thing that begins at one side; or one corner, and spreads
in a sort of dim religious style over the print till you can't tell which
is which. Then we've got a notion that where the pictures don't behave
quite so sociably, they can be dropped into the text, like a little
casual remark, don't you know, or a comment that has some connection, or
maybe none at all, with what's going on in the story. Something like
this." Fulkerson took away one knee from the table long enough to open
the drawer, and pull from it a book that he shoved toward Beacon. "That's
a Spanish book I happened to see at Brentano's, and I froze to it on
account of the pictures. I guess they're pretty good."

"Do you expect to get such drawings in this country?" asked Beaton, after
a glance at the book. "Such character--such drama? You won't."

"Well, I'm not so sure," said Fulkerson, "come to get our amateurs warmed
up to the work. But what I want is to get the physical effect, so to
speak-get that sized picture into our page, and set the fashion of it. I
shouldn't care if the illustration was sometimes confined to an initial
letter and a tail-piece."

"Couldn't be done here. We haven't the touch. We're good in some things,
but this isn't in our way," said Beaton, stubbornly. "I can't think of a
man who could do it; that is, among those that would."

"Well, think of some woman, then," said Fulkerson, easily. "I've got a
notion that the women could help us out on this thing, come to get 'em
interested. There ain't anything so popular as female fiction; why not
try female art?"

"The females themselves have been supposed to have been trying it for a
good while," March suggested; and Mr. Dryfoos laughed nervously; Beaton
remained solemnly silent.

"Yes, I know," Fulkerson assented. "But I don't mean that kind exactly.
What we want to do is to work the 'ewig Weibliche' in this concern. We
want to make a magazine that will go for the women's fancy every time. I
don't mean with recipes for cooking and fashions and personal gossip
about authors and society, but real high-tone literature that will show
women triumphing in all the stories, or else suffering tremendously.
We've got to recognize that women form three-fourths of the reading
public in this country, and go for their tastes and their sensibilities
and their sex-piety along the whole line. They do like to think that
women can do things better than men; and if we can let it leak out and
get around in the papers that the managers of 'Every Other Week' couldn't
stir a peg in the line of the illustrations they wanted till they got a
lot of God-gifted girls to help them, it 'll make the fortune of the
thing. See?"

He looked sunnily round at the other men, and March said: "You ought to
be in charge of a Siamese white elephant, Fulkerson. It's a disgrace to
be connected with you."

"It seems to me," said Becton, "that you'd better get a God-gifted girl
for your art editor."

Fulkerson leaned alertly forward, and touched him on the shoulder, with a
compassionate smile. "My dear boy, they haven't got the genius of
organization. It takes a very masculine man for that--a man who combines
the most subtle and refined sympathies with the most forceful purposes
and the most ferruginous will-power. Which his name is Angus Beaton, and
here he sets!"

The others laughed with Fulkerson at his gross burlesque of flattery, and
Becton frowned sheepishly. "I suppose you understand this man's style,"
he growled toward March.

"He does, my son," said Fulkerson. "He knows that I cannot tell a lie."
He pulled out his watch, and then got suddenly upon his feet.

"It's quarter of twelve, and I've got an appointment." Beaton rose too,
and Fulkerson put the two books in his lax hands. "Take these along,
Michelangelo Da Vinci, my friend, and put your multitudinous mind on them
for about an hour, and let us hear from you to-morrow. We hang upon your
decision."

"There's no deciding to be done," said Beaton. "You can't combine the two
styles. They'd kill each other."

"A Dan'el, a Dan'el come to judgment! I knew you could help us out! Take
'em along, and tell us which will go the furthest with the 'ewig
Weibliche.' Dryfoos, I want a word with you." He led the way into the
front room, flirting an airy farewell to Beaton with his hand as he went.



VII.

March and Beaton remained alone together for a moment, and March said: "I
hope you will think it worth while to take hold with us, Mr. Beaton. Mr.
Fulkerson puts it in his own way, of course; but we really want to make a
nice thing of the magazine." He had that timidity of the elder in the
presence of the younger man which the younger, preoccupied with his own
timidity in the presence of the elder, cannot imagine. Besides, March was
aware of the gulf that divided him as a literary man from Beaton as an
artist, and he only ventured to feel his way toward sympathy with him.
"We want to make it good; we want to make it high. Fulkerson is right
about aiming to please the women, but of course he caricatures the way of
going about it."

For answer, Beaton flung out, "I can't go in for a thing I don't
understand the plan of."

March took it for granted that he had wounded some exposed sensibility,
of Beaton's. He continued still more deferentially: "Mr. Fulkerson's
notion--I must say the notion is his, evolved from his syndicate
experience--is that we shall do best in fiction to confine our selves to
short stories, and make each number complete in itself. He found that the
most successful things he could furnish his newspapers were short
stories; we Americans are supposed to excel in writing them; and most
people begin with them in fiction; and it's Mr. Fulkerson's idea to work
unknown talent, as he says, and so he thinks he can not only get them
easily, but can gradually form a school of short-story writers. I can't
say I follow him altogether, but I respect his experience. We shall not
despise translations of short stories, but otherwise the matter will all
be original, and, of course, it won't all be short stories. We shall use
sketches of travel, and essays, and little dramatic studies, and bits of
biography and history; but all very light, and always short enough to be
completed in a single number. Mr. Fulkerson believes in pictures, and
most of the things would be capable of illustration."

"I see," said Beaton.

"I don't know but this is the whole affair," said March, beginning to
stiffen a little at the young man's reticence.

"I understand. Thank you for taking the trouble to explain.
Good-morning." Beaton bowed himself off, without offering to shake hands.

Fulkerson came in after a while from the outer office, and Mr. Dryfoos
followed him. "Well, what do you think of our art editor?"

"Is he our art editor?" asked March. "I wasn't quite certain when he
left."

"Did he take the books?"

"Yes, he took the books."

"I guess he's all right, then." Fulkerson added, in concession to the
umbrage he detected in March.

"Beaton has his times of being the greatest ass in the solar system, but
he usually takes it out in personal conduct. When it comes to work, he's
a regular horse."

"He appears to have compromised for the present by being a perfect mule,"
said March.

"Well, he's in a transition state," Fulkerson allowed. "He's the man for
us. He really understands what we want. You'll see; he'll catch on. That
lurid glare of his will wear off in the course of time. He's really a
good fellow when you take him off his guard; and he's full of ideas. He's
spread out over a good deal of ground at present, and so he's pretty
thin; but come to gather him up into a lump, there's a good deal of
substance to him. Yes, there is. He's a first-rate critic, and he's a
nice fellow with the other artists. They laugh at his universality, but
they all like him. He's the best kind of a teacher when he condescends to
it; and he's just the man to deal with our volunteer work. Yes, sir, he's
a prize. Well, I must go now."

Fulkerson went out of the street door, and then came quickly back.
"By-the-bye, March, I saw that old dynamiter of yours round at Beaton's
room yesterday."

"What old dynamiter of mine?"

"That old one-handed Dutchman--friend of your youth--the one we saw at
Maroni's--"

"Oh-Lindau!" said March, with a vague pang of self reproach for having
thought of Lindau so little after the first flood of his tender feeling
toward him was past.

"Yes, our versatile friend was modelling him as Judas Iscariot. Lindau
makes a first-rate Judas, and Beaton has got a big thing in that head if
he works the religious people right. But what I was thinking of was
this--it struck me just as I was going out of the door: Didn't you tell
me Lindau knew forty or fifty, different languages?"

"Four or five, yes."

"Well, we won't quarrel about the number. The question is, Why not work
him in the field of foreign literature? You can't go over all their
reviews and magazines, and he could do the smelling for you, if you could
trust his nose. Would he know a good thing?"

"I think he would," said March, on whom the scope of Fulkerson's
suggestion gradually opened. "He used to have good taste, and he must
know the ground. Why, it's a capital idea, Fulkerson! Lindau wrote very
fair English, and he could translate, with a little revision."

"And he would probably work cheap. Well, hadn't you better see him about
it? I guess it 'll be quite a windfall for him."

"Yes, it will. I'll look him up. Thank you for the suggestion,
Fulkerson."

"Oh, don't mention it! I don't mind doing 'Every Other Week' a good turn
now and then when it comes in my way." Fulkerson went out again, and this
time March was finally left with Mr. Dryfoos.

"Mrs. March was very sorry not to be at home when your sisters called the
other day. She wished me to ask if they had any afternoon in particular.
There was none on your mother's card."

"No, sir," said the young man, with a flush of embarrassment that seemed
habitual with him. "She has no day. She's at home almost every day. She
hardly ever goes out."

"Might we come some evening?" March asked. "We should be very glad to do
that, if she would excuse the informality. Then I could come with Mrs.
March."

"Mother isn't very formal," said the young man. "She would be very glad
to see you."

"Then we'll come some night this week, if you will let us. When do you
expect your father back?"

"Not much before Christmas. He's trying to settle up some things at
Moffitt."

"And what do you think of our art editor?" asked March, with a smile, for
the change of subject.

"Oh, I don't know much about such things," said the young man, with
another of his embarrassed flushes. "Mr. Fulkerson seems to feel sure
that he is the one for us."

"Mr. Fulkerson seemed to think that I was the one for you, too," said
March; and he laughed. "That's what makes me doubt his infallibility. But
he couldn't do worse with Mr. Beaton."

Mr. Dryfoos reddened and looked down, as if unable or unwilling to cope
with the difficulty of making a polite protest against March's
self-depreciation. He said, after a moment: "It's new business to all of
us except Mr. Fulkerson. But I think it will succeed. I think we can do
some good in it."

March asked rather absently, "Some good?" Then he added: "Oh yes; I think
we can. What do you mean by good? Improve the public taste? Elevate the
standard of literature? Give young authors and artists a chance?"

This was the only good that had ever been in March's mind, except the
good that was to come in a material way from his success, to himself and
to his family.

"I don't know," said the young man; and he looked down in a shamefaced
fashion. He lifted his head and looked into March's face. "I suppose I
was thinking that some time we might help along. If we were to have those
sketches of yours about life in every part of New York--"

March's authorial vanity was tickled. "Fulkerson has been talking to you
about them? He seemed to think they would be a card. He believes that
there's no subject so fascinating to the general average of people
throughout the country as life in New York City; and he liked my notion
of doing these things." March hoped that Dryfoos would answer that
Fulkerson was perfectly enthusiastic about his notion; but he did not
need this stimulus, and, at any rate, he went on without it. "The fact
is, it's something that struck my fancy the moment I came here; I found
myself intensely interested in the place, and I began to make notes,
consciously and unconsciously, at once. Yes, I believe I can get
something quite attractive out of it. I don't in the least know what it
will be yet, except that it will be very desultory; and I couldn't at all
say when I can get at it. If we postpone the first number till February I
might get a little paper into that. Yes, I think it might be a good thing
for us," March said, with modest self-appreciation.

"If you can make the comfortable people understand how the uncomfortable
people live, it will be a very good thing, Mr. March. Sometimes it seems
to me that the only trouble is that we don't know one another well
enough; and that the first thing is to do this." The young fellow spoke
with the seriousness in which the beauty of his face resided. Whenever he
laughed his face looked weak, even silly. It seemed to be a sense of this
that made him hang his head or turn it away at such times.

"That's true," said March, from the surface only. "And then, those phases
of low life are immensely picturesque. Of course, we must try to get the
contrasts of luxury for the sake of the full effect. That won't be so
easy. You can't penetrate to the dinner-party of a millionaire under the
wing of a detective as you could to a carouse in Mulberry Street, or to
his children's nursery with a philanthropist as you can to a street-boy's
lodging-house." March laughed, and again the young man turned his head
away. "Still, something can be done in that way by tact and patience."



VII.

That evening March went with his wife to return the call of the Dryfoos
ladies. On their way up-town in the Elevated he told her of his talk with
young Dryfoos. "I confess I was a little ashamed before him afterward for
having looked at the matter so entirely from the aesthetic point of view.
But of course, you know, if I went to work at those things with an
ethical intention explicitly in mind, I should spoil them."

"Of course," said his wife. She had always heard him say something of
this kind about such things.

He went on: "But I suppose that's just the point that such a nature as
young Dryfoos's can't get hold of, or keep hold of. We're a queer lot,
down there, Isabel--perfect menagerie. If it hadn't been that Fulkerson
got us together, and really seems to know what he did it for, I should
say he was the oddest stick among us. But when I think of myself and my
own crankiness for the literary department; and young Dryfoos, who ought
really to be in the pulpit, or a monastery, or something, for publisher;
and that young Beaton, who probably hasn't a moral fibre in his
composition, for the art man, I don't know but we could give Fulkerson
odds and still beat him in oddity."

His wife heaved a deep sigh of apprehension, of renunciation, of
monition. "Well, I'm glad you can feel so light about it, Basil."

"Light? I feel gay! With Fulkerson at the helm, I tell you the rocks and
the lee shore had better keep out of the way." He laughed with pleasure
in his metaphor. "Just when you think Fulkerson has taken leave of his
senses he says or does something that shows he is on the most intimate
and inalienable terms with them all the time. You know how I've been
worrying over those foreign periodicals, and trying to get some
translations from them for the first number? Well, Fulkerson has brought
his centipedal mind to bear on the subject, and he's suggested that old
German friend of mine I was telling you of--the one I met in the
restaurant--the friend of my youth."

"Do you think he could do it?" asked Mrs. March, sceptically.

"He's a perfect Babel of strange tongues; and he's the very man for the
work, and I was ashamed I hadn't thought of him myself, for I suspect he
needs the work."

"Well, be careful how you get mixed up with him, then, Basil," said his
wife, who had the natural misgiving concerning the friends of her
husband's youth that all wives have. "You know the Germans are so
unscrupulously dependent. You don't know anything about him now."

"I'm not afraid of Lindau," said March. "He was the best and kindest man
I ever saw, the most high-minded, the most generous. He lost a hand in
the war that helped to save us and keep us possible, and that stump of
his is character enough for me."

"Oh, you don't think I could have meant anything against him!" said Mrs.
March, with the tender fervor that every woman who lived in the time of
the war must feel for those who suffered in it. "All that I meant was
that I hoped you would not get mixed up with him too much. You're so apt
to be carried away by your impulses."

"They didn't carry me very far away in the direction of poor old Lindau,
I'm ashamed to think," said March. "I meant all sorts of fine things by
him after I met him; and then I forgot him, and I had to be reminded of
him by Fulkerson."

She did not answer him, and he fell into a remorseful reverie, in which
he rehabilitated Lindau anew, and provided handsomely for his old age. He
got him buried with military honors, and had a shaft raised over him,
with a medallion likeness by Beaton and an epitaph by himself, by the
time they reached Forty-second Street; there was no time to write
Lindau's life, however briefly, before the train stopped.

They had to walk up four blocks and then half a block across before they
came to the indistinctive brownstone house where the Dryfooses lived. It
was larger than some in the same block, but the next neighborhood of a
huge apartment-house dwarfed it again. March thought he recognized the
very flat in which he had disciplined the surly janitor, but he did not
tell his wife; he made her notice the transition character of the street,
which had been mostly built up in apartment-houses, with here and there a
single dwelling dropped far down beneath and beside them, to that
jag-toothed effect on the sky-line so often observable in such New York
streets. "I don't know exactly what the old gentleman bought here for,"
he said, as they waited on the steps after ringing, "unless he expects to
turn it into flats by-and-by. Otherwise, I don't believe he'll get his
money back."

An Irish serving-man, with a certain surprise that delayed him, said the
ladies were at home, and let the Marches in, and then carried their cards
up-stairs. The drawing-room, where he said they could sit down while he
went on this errand, was delicately, decorated in white and gold, and
furnished with a sort of extravagant good taste; there was nothing to
object to in the satin furniture, the pale, soft, rich carpet, the
pictures, and the bronze and china bric-a-brac, except that their
costliness was too evident; everything in the room meant money too
plainly, and too much of it. The Marches recognized this in the hoarse
whispers which people cannot get their voices above when they try to talk
away the interval of waiting in such circumstances; they conjectured from
what they had heard of the Dryfooses that this tasteful luxury in no wise
expressed their civilization. "Though when you come to that," said March,
"I don't know that Mrs. Green's gimcrackery expresses ours."

"Well, Basil, I didn't take the gimcrackery. That was your--"

The rustle of skirts on the stairs without arrested Mrs. March in the
well-merited punishment which she never failed to inflict upon her
husband when the question of the gimcrackery--they always called it
that--came up. She rose at the entrance of a bright-looking,
pretty-looking, mature, youngish lady, in black silk of a neutral
implication, who put out her hand to her, and said, with a very cheery,
very ladylike accent, "Mrs. March?" and then added to both of them, while
she shook hands with March, and before they could get the name out of
their months: "No, not Miss Dryfoos! Neither of them; nor Mrs. Dryfoos.
Mrs. Mandel. The ladies will be down in a moment. Won't you throw off
your sacque, Mrs. March? I'm afraid it's rather warm here, coming from
the outside."

"I will throw it back, if you'll allow me," said Mrs. March, with a sort
of provisionality, as if, pending some uncertainty as to Mrs. Mandel's
quality and authority, she did not feel herself justified in going
further.

But if she did not know about Mrs. Mandel, Mrs. Mandel seemed to know
about her. "Oh, well, do!" she said, with a sort of recognition of the
propriety of her caution. "I hope you are feeling a little at home in New
York. We heard so much of your trouble in getting a flat, from Mr.
Fulkerson."

"Well, a true Bostonian doesn't give up quite so soon," said Mrs. March.

"But I will say New York doesn't seem so far away, now we're here."

"I'm sure you'll like it. Every one does." Mrs. Mandel added to March,
"It's very sharp out, isn't it?"

"Rather sharp. But after our Boston winters I don't know but I ought to
repudiate the word."

"Ah, wait till you have been here through March!" said Mrs. Mandel. She
began with him, but skillfully transferred the close of her remark, and
the little smile of menace that went with it, to his wife.

"Yes," said Mrs. March, "or April, either: Talk about our east winds!"

"Oh, I'm sure they can't be worse than our winds," Mrs. Mandel returned,
caressingly.

"If we escape New York pneumonia," March laughed, "it will only be to
fall a prey to New York malaria as soon as the frost is out of the
ground."

"Oh, but you know," said Mrs. Mandel, "I think our malaria has really
been slandered a little. It's more a matter of drainage--of plumbing. I
don't believe it would be possible for malaria to get into this house,
we've had it gone over so thoroughly."

Mrs. March said, while she tried to divine Mrs. Mandel's position from
this statement, "It's certainly the first duty."

"If Mrs. March could have had her way, we should have had the drainage of
our whole ward put in order," said her husband, "before we ventured to
take a furnished apartment for the winter."

Mrs. Mandel looked discreetly at Mrs. March for permission to laugh at
this, but at the same moment both ladies became preoccupied with a second
rustling on the stairs.

Two tall, well-dressed young girls came in, and Mrs. Mandel introduced,
"Miss Dryfoos, Mrs. March; and Miss Mela Dryfoos, Mr. March," she added,
and the girls shook hands in their several ways with the Marches.

Miss Dryfoos had keen black eyes, and her hair was intensely black. Her
face, but for the slight inward curve of the nose, was regular, and the
smallness of her nose and of her mouth did not weaken her face, but gave
it a curious effect of fierceness, of challenge. She had a large black
fan in her hand, which she waved in talking, with a slow, watchful
nervousness. Her sister was blonde, and had a profile like her brother's;
but her chin was not so salient, and the weak look of the mouth was not
corrected by the spirituality or the fervor of his eyes, though hers were
of the same mottled blue. She dropped into the low seat beside Mrs.
Mandel, and intertwined her fingers with those of the hand which Mrs.
Mandel let her have. She smiled upon the Marches, while Miss Dryfoos
watched them intensely, with her eyes first on one and then on the other,
as if she did not mean to let any expression of theirs escape her.

"My mother will be down in a minute," she said to Mrs. March.

"I hope we're not disturbing her. It is so good of you to let us come in
the evening," Mrs. March replied.

"Oh, not at all," said the girl. "We receive in the evening."

"When we do receive," Miss Mela put in. "We don't always get the chance
to." She began a laugh, which she checked at a smile from Mrs. Mandel,
which no one could have seen to be reproving.

Miss Dryfoos looked down at her fan, and looked up defiantly at Mrs.
March. "I suppose you have hardly got settled. We were afraid we would
disturb you when we called."

"Oh no! We were very sorry to miss your visit. We are quite settled in
our new quarters. Of course, it's all very different from Boston."

"I hope it's more of a sociable place there," Miss Mela broke in again.
"I never saw such an unsociable place as New York. We've been in this
house three months, and I don't believe that if we stayed three years any
of the neighbors would call."

"I fancy proximity doesn't count for much in New York," March suggested.

Mrs. Mandel said: "That's what I tell Miss Mela. But she is a very social
nature, and can't reconcile herself to the fact."

"No, I can't," the girl pouted. "I think it was twice as much fun in
Moffitt. I wish I was there now."

"Yes," said March, "I think there's a great deal more enjoyment in those
smaller places. There's not so much going on in the way of public
amusements, and so people make more of one another. There are not so many
concerts, theatres, operas--"

"Oh, they've got a splendid opera-house in Moffitt. It's just grand,"
said Miss Mela.

"Have you been to the opera here, this winter?" Mrs. March asked of the
elder girl.

She was glaring with a frown at her sister, and detached her eyes from
her with an effort. "What did you say?" she demanded, with an absent
bluntness. "Oh yes. Yes! We went once. Father took a box at the
Metropolitan."

"Then you got a good dose of Wagner, I suppose?" said March.

"What?" asked the girl.

"I don't think Miss Dryfoos is very fond of Wagner's music," Mrs. Mandel
said. "I believe you are all great Wagnerites in Boston?"

"I'm a very bad Bostonian, Mrs. Mandel. I suspect myself of preferring
Verdi," March answered.

Miss Dryfoos looked down at her fan again, and said, "I like 'Trovatore'
the best."

"It's an opera I never get tired of," said March, and Mrs. March and Mrs.
Mandel exchanged a smile of compassion for his simplicity. He detected
it, and added: "But I dare say I shall come down with the Wagner fever in
time. I've been exposed to some malignant cases of it."

"That night we were there," said Miss Mela, "they had to turn the gas
down all through one part of it, and the papers said the ladies were
awful mad because they couldn't show their diamonds. I don't wonder, if
they all had to pay as much for their boxes as we did. We had to pay
sixty dollars." She looked at the Marches for their sensation at this
expense.

March said: "Well, I think I shall take my box by the month, then. It
must come cheaper, wholesale."

"Oh no, it don't," said the girl, glad to inform him. "The people that
own their boxes, and that had to give fifteen or twenty thousand dollars
apiece for them, have to pay sixty dollars a night whenever there's a
performance, whether they go or not."

"Then I should go every night," March said.

"Most of the ladies were low neck--"

March interposed, "Well, I shouldn't go low-neck."

The girl broke into a fondly approving laugh at his drolling. "Oh, I
guess you love to train! Us girls wanted to go low neck, too; but father
said we shouldn't, and mother said if we did she wouldn't come to the
front of the box once. Well, she didn't, anyway. We might just as well
'a' gone low neck. She stayed back the whole time, and when they had that
dance--the ballet, you know--she just shut her eyes. Well, Conrad didn't
like that part much, either; but us girls and Mrs. Mandel, we brazened it
out right in the front of the box. We were about the only ones there that
went high neck. Conrad had to wear a swallow-tail; but father hadn't any,
and he had to patch out with a white cravat. You couldn't see what he had
on in the back o' the box, anyway."

Mrs. March looked at Miss Dryfoos, who was waving her fan more and more
slowly up and down, and who, when she felt herself looked at, returned
Mrs. March's smile, which she meant to be ingratiating and perhaps
sympathetic, with a flash that made her start, and then ran her fierce
eyes over March's face. "Here comes mother," she said, with a sort of
breathlessness, as if speaking her thought aloud, and through the open
door the Marches could see the old lady on the stairs.

She paused half-way down, and turning, called up: "Coonrod! Coonrod! You
bring my shawl down with you."

Her daughter Mela called out to her, "Now, mother, Christine 'll give it
to you for not sending Mike."

"Well, I don't know where he is, Mely, child," the mother answered back.
"He ain't never around when he's wanted, and when he ain't, it seems like
a body couldn't git shet of him, nohow."

"Well, you ought to ring for him!" cried Miss Mela, enjoying the joke.

Her mother came in with a slow step; her head shook slightly as she
looked about the room, perhaps from nervousness, perhaps from a touch of
palsy. In either case the fact had a pathos which Mrs. March confessed in
the affection with which she took her hard, dry, large, old hand when she
was introduced to her, and in the sincerity which she put into the hope
that she was well.

"I'm just middlin'," Mrs. Dryfoos replied. "I ain't never so well,
nowadays. I tell fawther I don't believe it agrees with me very well
here, but he says I'll git used to it. He's away now, out at Moffitt,"
she said to March, and wavered on foot a moment before she sank into a
chair. She was a tall woman, who had been a beautiful girl, and her gray
hair had a memory of blondeness in it like Lindau's, March noticed. She
wore a simple silk gown, of a Quakerly gray, and she held a handkerchief
folded square, as it had come from the laundress. Something like the
Sabbath quiet of a little wooden meeting-house in thick Western woods
expressed itself to him from her presence.

"Laws, mother!" said Miss Mela; "what you got that old thing on for? If
I'd 'a' known you'd 'a' come down in that!"

"Coonrod said it was all right, Mely," said her mother.

Miss Mela explained to the Marches: "Mother was raised among the
Dunkards, and she thinks it's wicked to wear anything but a gray silk
even for dress-up."

"You hain't never heared o' the Dunkards, I reckon," the old woman said
to Mrs. March. "Some folks calls 'em the Beardy Men, because they don't
never shave; and they wash feet like they do in the Testament. My uncle
was one. He raised me."

"I guess pretty much everybody's a Beardy Man nowadays, if he ain't a
Dunkard!"

Miss Mela looked round for applause of her sally, but March was saying to
his wife: "It's a Pennsylvania German sect, I believe--something like the
Quakers. I used to see them when I was a boy."

"Aren't they something like the Mennists?" asked Mrs. Mandel.

"They're good people," said the old woman, "and the world 'd be a heap
better off if there was more like 'em."

Her son came in and laid a soft shawl over her shoulders before he shook
hands with the visitors. "I am glad you found your way here," he said to
them.

Christine, who had been bending forward over her fan, now lifted herself
up with a sigh and leaned back in her chair.

"I'm sorry my father isn't here," said the young man to Mrs. March. "He's
never met you yet?"

"No; and I should like to see him. We hear a great deal about your
father, you know, from Mr. Fulkerson."

"Oh, I hope you don't believe everything Mr. Fulkerson says about
people," Mela cried. "He's the greatest person for carrying on when he
gets going I ever saw. It makes Christine just as mad when him and mother
gets to talking about religion; she says she knows he don't care anything
more about it than the man in the moon. I reckon he don't try it on much
with father."

"Your fawther ain't ever been a perfessor," her mother interposed; "but
he's always been a good church-goin' man."

"Not since we come to New York," retorted the girl.

"He's been all broke up since he come to New York," said the old woman,
with an aggrieved look.

Mrs. Mandel attempted a diversion. "Have you heard any of our great New
York preachers yet, Mrs. March?"

"No, I haven't," Mrs. March admitted; and she tried to imply by her
candid tone that she intended to begin hearing them the very next Sunday.

"There are a great many things here," said Conrad, "to take your thoughts
off the preaching that you hear in most of the churches. I think the city
itself is preaching the best sermon all the time."

"I don't know that I understand you," said March.

Mela answered for him. "Oh, Conrad has got a lot of notions that nobody
can understand. You ought to see the church he goes to when he does go.
I'd about as lief go to a Catholic church myself; I don't see a bit o'
difference. He's the greatest crony with one of their preachers; he
dresses just like a priest, and he says he is a priest." She laughed for
enjoyment of the fact, and her brother cast down his eyes.

Mrs. March, in her turn, tried to take from it the personal tone which
the talk was always assuming. "Have you been to the fall exhibition?" she
asked Christine; and the girl drew herself up out of the abstraction she
seemed sunk in.

"The exhibition?" She looked at Mrs. Mandel.

"The pictures of the Academy, you know," Mrs. Mandel explained. "Where I
wanted you to go the day you had your dress tried on."

"No; we haven't been yet. Is it good?" She had turned to Mrs. March
again.

"I believe the fall exhibitions are never so good as the spring ones. But
there are some good pictures."

"I don't believe I care much about pictures," said Christine. "I don't
understand them."

"Ah, that's no excuse for not caring about them," said March, lightly.
"The painters themselves don't, half the time."

The girl looked at him with that glance at once defiant and appealing,
insolent and anxious, which he had noticed before, especially when she
stole it toward himself and his wife during her sister's babble. In the
light of Fulkerson's history of the family, its origin and its ambition,
he interpreted it to mean a sense of her sister's folly and an ignorant
will to override his opinion of anything incongruous in themselves and
their surroundings. He said to himself that she was deathly proud--too
proud to try to palliate anything, but capable of anything that would put
others under her feet. Her eyes seemed hopelessly to question his wife's
social quality, and he fancied, with not unkindly interest, the
inexperienced girl's doubt whether to treat them with much or little
respect. He lost himself in fancies about her and her ideals, necessarily
sordid, of her possibilities of suffering, of the triumphs and
disappointments before her. Her sister would accept both with a lightness
that would keep no trace of either; but in her they would sink lastingly
deep. He came out of his reverie to find Mrs. Dryfoos saying to him, in
her hoarse voice:

"I think it's a shame, some of the pictur's a body sees in the winders.
They say there's a law ag'inst them things; and if there is, I don't
understand why the police don't take up them that paints 'em. I hear 182
tell, since I been here, that there's women that goes to have pictur's
took from them that way by men painters." The point seemed aimed at
March, as if he were personally responsible for the scandal, and it fell
with a silencing effect for the moment. Nobody seemed willing to take it
up, and Mrs. Dryfoos went on, with an old woman's severity: "I say they
ought to be all tarred and feathered and rode on a rail. They'd be
drummed out of town in Moffitt."

Miss Mela said, with a crowing laugh: "I should think they would! And
they wouldn't anybody go low neck to the opera-house there, either--not
low neck the way they do here, anyway."

"And that pack of worthless hussies," her mother resumed, "that come out
on the stage, and begun to kick."

"Laws, mother!" the girl shouted, "I thought you said you had your eyes
shut!"

All but these two simpler creatures were abashed at the indecorum of
suggesting in words the commonplaces of the theatre and of art.

"Well, I did, Mely, as soon as I could believe my eyes. I don't know what
they're doin' in all their churches, to let such things go on," said the
old woman. "It's a sin and a shame, I think. Don't you, Coonrod?"

A ring at the door cut short whatever answer he was about to deliver.

"If it's going to be company, Coonrod," said his mother, making an effort
to rise, "I reckon I better go up-stairs."

"It's Mr. Fulkerson, I guess," said Conrad. "He thought he might come";
and at the mention of this light spirit Mrs. Dryfoos sank contentedly
back in her chair, and a relaxation of their painful tension seemed to
pass through the whole company. Conrad went to the door himself (the
serving-man tentatively, appeared some minutes later) and let in
Fulkerson's cheerful voice before his cheerful person.

"Ah, how dye do, Conrad? Brought our friend, Mr. Beaton, with me," those
within heard him say; and then, after a sound of putting off overcoats,
they saw him fill the doorway, with his feet set square and his arms
akimbo.



IX.

"Ah! hello! hello!" Fulkerson said, in recognition of the Marches.
"Regular gathering of the clans. How are you, Mrs. Dryfoos? How do you
do, Mrs. Mandel, Miss Christine, Mela, Aunt Hitty, and all the folks? How
you wuz?" He shook hands gayly all round, and took a chair next the old
lady, whose hand he kept in his own, and left Conrad to introduce Beaton.
But he would not let the shadow of Beaton's solemnity fall upon the
company. He began to joke with Mrs. Dryfoos, and to match rheumatisms
with her, and he included all the ladies in the range of appropriate
pleasantries. "I've brought Mr. Beaton along to-night, and I want you to
make him feel at home, like you do me, Mrs. Dryfoos. He hasn't got any
rheumatism to speak of; but his parents live in Syracuse, and he's a kind
of an orphan, and we've just adopted him down at the office. When you
going to bring the young ladies down there, Mrs. Mandel, for a champagne
lunch? I will have some hydro-Mela, and Christine it, heigh? How's that
for a little starter? We dropped in at your place a moment, Mrs. March,
and gave the young folks a few pointers about their studies. My goodness!
it does me good to see a boy like that of yours; business, from the word
go; and your girl just scoops my youthful affections. She's a beauty, and
I guess she's good, too. Well, well, what a world it is! Miss Christine,
won't you show Mr. Beaton that seal ring of yours? He knows about such
things, and I brought him here to see it as much as anything. It's an
intaglio I brought from the other side," he explained to Mrs. March, "and
I guess you'll like to look at it. Tried to give it to the Dryfoos
family, and when I couldn't, I sold it to 'em. Bound to see it on Miss
Christine's hand somehow! Hold on! Let him see it where it belongs,
first!"

He arrested the girl in the motion she made to take off the ring, and let
her have the pleasure of showing her hand to the company with the ring on
it. Then he left her to hear the painter's words about it, which he
continued to deliver dissyllabically as he stood with her under a
gas-jet, twisting his elastic figure and bending his head over the ring.

"Well, Mely, child," Fulkerson went on, with an open travesty of her
mother's habitual address, "and how are you getting along? Mrs. Mandel
hold you up to the proprieties pretty strictly? Well, that's right. You
know you'd be roaming all over the pasture if she didn't."

The girl gurgled out her pleasure in his funning, and everybody took him.
on his own ground of privileged character. He brought them all together
in their friendliness for himself, and before the evening was over he had
inspired Mrs. Mandel to have them served with coffee, and had made both
the girls feel that they had figured brilliantly in society, and that two
young men had been devoted to them.

"Oh, I think he's just as lovely as he can live!" said Mela, as she stood
a moment with her sister on the scene of her triumph, where the others
had left them after the departure of their guests.

"Who?" asked Christine, deeply. As she glanced down at her ring, her eyes
burned with a softened fire.

She had allowed Beaton to change it himself from the finger where she had
worn it to the finger on which he said she ought to wear it. She did not
know whether it was right to let him, but she was glad she had done it.

"Who? Mr. Fulkerson, goosie-poosie! Not that old stuckup Mr. Beaton of
yours!"

"He is proud," assented Christine, with a throb of exultation.

Beaton and Fulkerson went to the Elevated station with the Marches; but
the painter said he was going to walk home, and Fulkerson let him go
alone.

"One way is enough for me," he explained. "When I walk up, I don't walk
down. Bye-bye, my son!" He began talking about Beaton to the Marches as
they climbed the station stairs together. "That fellow puzzles me. I
don't know anybody that I have such a desire to kick, and at the same
time that I want to flatter up so much. Affect you that way?" he asked of
March.

"Well, as far as the kicking goes, yes."

"And how is it with you, Mrs. March?"

"Oh, I want to flatter him up."

"No; really? Why? Hold on! I've got the change."

Fulkerson pushed March away from the ticket-office window; and made them
his guests, with the inexorable American hospitality, for the ride
down-town. "Three!" he said to the ticket-seller; and, when he had walked
them before him out on the platform and dropped his tickets into the urn,
he persisted in his inquiry, "Why?"

"Why, because you always want to flatter conceited people, don't you?"
Mrs. March answered, with a laugh.

"Do you? Yes, I guess you do. You think Beaton is conceited?"

"Well, slightly, Mr. Fulkerson."

"I guess you're partly right," said Fulkerson, with a sigh, so
unaccountable in its connection that they all laughed.

"An ideal 'busted'?" March suggested.

"No, not that, exactly," said Fulkerson. "But I had a notion maybe Beaton
wasn't conceited all the time."

"Oh!" Mrs. March exulted, "nobody could be so conceited all the time as
Mr. Beaton is most of the time. He must have moments of the direst
modesty, when he'd be quite flattery-proof."

"Yes, that's what I mean. I guess that's what makes me want to kick him.
He's left compliments on my hands that no decent man would."

"Oh! that's tragical," said March.

"Mr. Fulkerson," Mrs. March began, with change of subject in her voice,
"who is Mrs. Mandel?"

"Who? What do you think of her?" he rejoined. "I'll tell you about her
when we get in the cars. Look at that thing! Ain't it beautiful?"

They leaned over the track and looked up at the next station, where the
train, just starting, throbbed out the flame-shot steam into the white
moonlight.

"The most beautiful thing in New York--the one always and certainly
beautiful thing here," said March; and his wife sighed, "Yes, yes." She
clung to him, and remained rapt by the sight till the train drew near,
and then pulled him back in a panic.

"Well, there ain't really much to tell about her," Fulkerson resumed when
they were seated in the car. "She's an invention of mine."

"Of yours?" cried Mrs. March.

"Of course!" exclaimed her husband.

"Yes--at least in her present capacity. She sent me a story for the
syndicate, back in July some time, along about the time I first met old
Dryfoos here. It was a little too long for my purpose, and I thought I
could explain better how I wanted it cut in a call than I could in a
letter. She gave a Brooklyn address, and I went to see her. I found her,"
said Fulkerson, with a vague defiance, "a perfect lady. She was living
with an aunt over there; and she had seen better days, when she was a
girl, and worse ones afterward. I don't mean to say her husband was a bad
fellow; I guess he was pretty good; he was her music-teacher; she met him
in Germany, and they got married there, and got through her property
before they came over here. Well, she didn't strike me like a person that
could make much headway in literature. Her story was well enough, but it
hadn't much sand in it; kind of-well, academic, you know. I told her so,
and she understood, and cried a little; but she did the best she could
with the thing, and I took it and syndicated it. She kind of stuck in my
mind, and the first time I went to see the Dryfooses they were stopping
at a sort of family hotel then till they could find a house--" Fulkerson
broke off altogether, and said, "I don't know as I know just how the
Dryfooses struck you, Mrs. March?"

"Can't you imagine?" she answered, with a kindly, smile.

"Yes; but I don't believe I could guess how they would have struck you
last summer when I first saw them. My! oh my! there was the native earth
for you. Mely is a pretty wild colt now, but you ought to have seen her
before she was broken to harness.

"And Christine? Ever see that black leopard they got up there in the
Central Park? That was Christine. Well, I saw what they wanted. They all
saw it--nobody is a fool in all directions, and the Dryfooses are in
their right senses a good deal of the time. Well, to cut a long story
short, I got Mrs. Mandel to take 'em in hand--the old lady as well as the
girls. She was a born lady, and always lived like one till she saw
Mandel; and that something academic that killed her for a writer was just
the very thing for them. She knows the world well enough to know just how
much polish they can take on, and she don't try to put on a bit more.
See?"

"Yes, I can see," said Mrs. March.

"Well, she took hold at once, as ready as a hospital-trained nurse; and
there ain't anything readier on this planet. She runs the whole concern,
socially and economically, takes all the care of housekeeping off the old
lady's hands, and goes round with the girls. By-the-bye, I'm going to
take my meals at your widow's, March, and Conrad's going to have his
lunch there. I'm sick of browsing about."

"Mr. March's widow?" said his wife, looking at him with provisional
severity.

"I have no widow, Isabel," he said, "and never expect to have, till I
leave you in the enjoyment of my life-insurance. I suppose Fulkerson
means the lady with the daughter who wanted to take us to board."

"Oh yes. How are they getting on, I do wonder?" Mrs. March asked of
Fulkerson.

"Well, they've got one family to board; but it's a small one. I guess
they'll pull through. They didn't want to take any day boarders at first,
the widow said; I guess they have had to come to it."

"Poor things!" sighed Mrs. March. "I hope they'll go back to the
country."

"Well, I don't know. When you've once tasted New York--You wouldn't go
back to Boston, would you?"

"Instantly."

Fulkerson laughed out a tolerant incredulity.



X

Beaton lit his pipe when he found himself in his room, and sat down
before the dull fire in his grate to think. It struck him there was a
dull fire in his heart a great deal like it; and he worked out a fanciful
analogy with the coals, still alive, and the ashes creeping over them,
and the dead clay and cinders. He felt sick of himself, sick of his life
and of all his works. He was angry with Fulkerson for having got him into
that art department of his, for having bought him up; and he was bitter
at fate because he had been obliged to use the money to pay some pressing
debts, and had not been able to return the check his father had sent him.
He pitied his poor old father; he ached with compassion for him; and he
set his teeth and snarled with contempt through them for his own
baseness. This was the kind of world it was; but he washed his hands of
it. The fault was in human nature, and he reflected with pride that he
had at least not invented human nature; he had not sunk so low as that
yet. The notion amused him; he thought he might get a Satanic epigram out
of it some way. But in the mean time that girl, that wild animal, she
kept visibly, tangibly before him; if he put out his hand he might touch
hers, he might pass his arm round her waist. In Paris, in a set he knew
there, what an effect she would be with that look of hers, and that
beauty, all out of drawing! They would recognize the flame quality in
her. He imagined a joke about her being a fiery spirit, or nymph, naiad,
whatever, from one of her native gas-wells. He began to sketch on a bit
of paper from the table at his elbow vague lines that veiled and revealed
a level, dismal landscape, and a vast flame against an empty sky, and a
shape out of the flame that took on a likeness and floated detached from
it. The sketch ran up the left side of the sheet and stretched across it.
Beaton laughed out. Pretty good to let Fulkerson have that for the cover
of his first number! In black and red it would be effective; it would
catch the eye from the news-stands. He made a motion to throw it on the
fire, but held it back and slid it into the table-drawer, and smoked on.
He saw the dummy with the other sketch in the open drawer which he had
brought away from Fulkerson's in the morning and slipped in there, and he
took it out and looked at it. He made some criticisms in line with his
pencil on it, correcting the drawing here and there, and then he
respected it a little more, though he still smiled at the feminine
quality--a young lady quality.

In spite of his experience the night he called upon the Leightons, Beaton
could not believe that Alma no longer cared for him. She played at having
forgotten him admirably, but he knew that a few months before she had
been very mindful of him. He knew he had neglected them since they came
to New York, where he had led them to expect interest, if not attention;
but he was used to neglecting people, and he was somewhat less used to
being punished for it--punished and forgiven. He felt that Alma had
punished him so thoroughly that she ought to have been satisfied with her
work and to have forgiven him in her heart afterward. He bore no
resentment after the first tingling moments were-past; he rather admired
her for it; and he would have been ready to go back half an hour later
and accept pardon and be on the footing of last summer again. Even now he
debated with himself whether it was too late to call; but, decidedly, a
quarter to ten seemed late. The next day he determined never to call upon
the Leightons again; but he had no reason for this; it merely came into a
transitory scheme of conduct, of retirement from the society of women
altogether; and after dinner he went round to see them.

He asked for the ladies, and they all three received him, Alma not
without a surprise that intimated itself to him, and her mother with no
appreciable relenting; Miss Woodburn, with the needlework which she found
easier to be voluble over than a book, expressed in her welcome a
neutrality both cordial to Beaton and loyal to Alma.

"Is it snowing outdo's?" she asked, briskly, after the greetings were
transacted. "Mah goodness!" she said, in answer to his apparent surprise
at the question. "Ah mahght as well have stayed in the Soath, for all the
winter Ah have seen in New York yet."

"We don't often have snow much before New-Year's," said Beaton.

"Miss Woodburn is wild for a real Northern winter," Mrs. Leighton
explained.

"The othah naght Ah woke up and looked oat of the window and saw all the
roofs covered with snow, and it turned oat to be nothing but moonlaght.
Ah was never so disappointed in mah lahfe," said Miss Woodburn.

"If you'll come to St. Barnaby next summer, you shall have all the winter
you want," said Alma.

"I can't let you slander St. Barnaby in that way," said Beaton, with the
air of wishing to be understood as meaning more than he said.

"Yes?" returned Alma, coolly. "I didn't know you were so fond of the
climate."

"I never think of it as a climate. It's a landscape. It doesn't matter
whether it's hot or cold."

"With the thermometer twenty below, you'd find that it mattered," Alma
persisted.

"Is that the way you feel about St. Barnaby, too, Mrs. Leighton?" Beaton
asked, with affected desolation.

"I shall be glad enough to go back in the summer," Mrs. Leighton
conceded.

"And I should be glad to go now," said Beaton, looking at Alma. He had
the dummy of 'Every Other Week' in his hand, and he saw Alma's eyes
wandering toward it whenever he glanced at her. "I should be glad to go
anywhere to get out of a job I've undertaken," he continued, to Mrs.
Leighton. "They're going to start some sort of a new illustrated
magazine, and they've got me in for their art department. I'm not fit for
it; I'd like to run away. Don't you want to advise me a little, Mrs.
Leighton? You know how much I value your taste, and I'd like to have you
look at the design for the cover of the first number: they're going to
have a different one for every number. I don't know whether you'll agree
with me, but I think this is rather nice."

He faced the dummy round, and then laid it on the table before Mrs.
Leighton, pushing some of her work aside to make room for it and standing
over her while she bent forward to look at it.

Alma kept her place, away from the table.

"Mah goodness! Ho' exciting!" said Miss Woodburn. "May anybody look?"

"Everybody," said Beaton.

"Well, isn't it perfectly choming!" Miss Woodburn exclaimed. "Come and
look at this, Miss Leighton," she called to Alma, who reluctantly
approached.

"What lines are these?" Mrs. Leighton asked, pointing to Beaton's pencil
scratches.

"They're suggestions of modifications," he replied.

"I don't think they improve it much. What do you think, Alma?"

"Oh, I don't know," said the girl, constraining her voice to an effect of
indifference and glancing carelessly down at the sketch. "The design
might be improved; but I don't think those suggestions would do it."

"They're mine," said Beaton, fixing his eyes upon her with a beautiful
sad dreaminess that he knew he could put into them; he spoke with a
dreamy remoteness of tone--his wind-harp stop, Wetmore called it.

"I supposed so," said Alma, calmly.

"Oh, mah goodness!" cried Miss Woodburn. "Is that the way you awtusts
talk to each othah? Well, Ah'm glad Ah'm not an awtust--unless I could do
all the talking."

"Artists cannot tell a fib," Alma said, "or even act one," and she
laughed in Beaton's upturned face.

He did not unbend his dreamy gaze. "You're quite right. The suggestions
are stupid."

Alma turned to Miss Woodburn: "You hear? Even when we speak of our own
work."

"Ah nevah hoad anything lahke it!"

"And the design itself?" Beaton persisted.

"Oh, I'm not an art editor," Alma answered, with a laugh of exultant
evasion.

A tall, dark, grave-looking man of fifty, with a swarthy face and
iron-gray mustache and imperial and goatee, entered the room. Beaton knew
the type; he had been through Virginia sketching for one of the
illustrated papers, and he had seen such men in Richmond. Miss Woodburn
hardly needed to say, "May Ah introduce you to mah fathaw, Co'nel
Woodburn, Mr. Beaton?"

The men shook hands, and Colonel Woodburn said, in that soft, gentle,
slow Southern voice without our Northern contractions: "I am very glad to
meet you, sir; happy to make yo' acquaintance. Do not move, madam," he
said to Mrs. Leighton, who made a deprecatory motion to let him pass to
the chair beyond her; "I can find my way." He bowed a bulk that did not
lend itself readily to the devotion, and picked up the ball of yarn she
had let drop out of her lap in half rising. "Yo' worsteds, madam."

"Yarn, yarn, Colonel Woodburn!" Alma shouted. "You're quite incorrigible.
A spade is a spade!"

"But sometimes it is a trump, my dear young lady," said the Colonel, with
unabated gallantry; "and when yo' mothah uses yarn, it is worsteds. But I
respect worsteds even under the name of yarn: our ladies--my own mothah
and sistahs--had to knit the socks we wore--all we could get in the woe."

"Yes, and aftah the woe," his daughter put in. "The knitting has not
stopped yet in some places. Have you been much in the Soath, Mr. Beaton?"

Beaton explained just how much.

"Well, sir," said the Colonel, "then you have seen a country making
gigantic struggles to retrieve its losses, sir. The South is advancing
with enormous strides, sir."

"Too fast for some of us to keep up," said Miss Woodburn, in an audible
aside. "The pace in Charlottesboag is pofectly killing, and we had to
drop oat into a slow place like New York."

"The progress in the South is material now," said the Colonel; "and those
of us whose interests are in another direction find ourselves--isolated
--isolated, sir. The intellectual centres are still in the No'th, sir;
the great cities draw the mental activity of the country to them, sir.
Necessarily New York is the metropolis."

"Oh, everything comes here," said Beaton, impatient of the elder's
ponderosity. Another sort of man would have sympathized with the
Southerner's willingness to talk of himself, and led him on to speak of
his plans and ideals. But the sort of man that Beaton was could not do
this; he put up the dummy into the wrapper he had let drop on the floor
beside him, and tied it round with string while Colonel Woodburn was
talking. He got to his feet with the words he spoke and offered Mrs.
Leighton his hand.

"Must you go?" she asked, in surprise.

"I am on my way to a reception," he said. She had noticed that he was in
evening dress; and now she felt the vague hurt that people invited
nowhere feel in the presence of those who are going somewhere. She did
not feel it for herself, but for her daughter; and she knew Alma would
not have let her feel it if she could have prevented it. But Alma had
left the room for a moment, and she tacitly indulged this sense of injury
in her behalf.

"Please say good-night to Miss Leighton for me," Beaton continued. He
bowed to Miss Woodburn, "Goodnight, Miss Woodburn," and to her father,
bluntly, "Goodnight."

"Good-night, sir," said the Colonel, with a sort of severe suavity.

"Oh, isn't he choming!" Miss Woodburn whispered to Mrs. Leighton when
Beaton left the room.

Alma spoke to him in the hall without. "You knew that was my design, Mr.
Beaton. Why did you bring it?"

"Why?" He looked at her in gloomy hesitation.

Then he said: "You know why. I wished to talk it over with you, to serve
you, please you, get back your good opinion. But I've done neither the
one nor the other; I've made a mess of the whole thing."

Alma interrupted him. "Has it been accepted?"

"It will be accepted, if you will let it."

"Let it?" she laughed. "I shall be delighted." She saw him swayed a
little toward her. "It's a matter of business, isn't it?"

"Purely. Good-night."

When Alma returned to the room, Colonel Woodburn was saying to Mrs.
Leighton: "I do not contend that it is impossible, madam, but it is very
difficult in a thoroughly commercialized society, like yours, to have the
feelings of a gentleman. How can a business man, whose prosperity, whose
earthly salvation, necessarily lies in the adversity of some one else, be
delicate and chivalrous, or even honest? If we could have had time to
perfect our system at the South, to eliminate what was evil and develop
what was good in it, we should have had a perfect system. But the virus
of commercialism was in us, too; it forbade us to make the best of a
divine institution, and tempted us to make the worst. Now the curse is on
the whole country; the dollar is the measure of every value, the stamp of
every success. What does not sell is a failure; and what sells succeeds."

"The hobby is oat, mah deah," said Miss Woodburn, in an audible aside to
Alma.

"Were you speaking of me, Colonel Woodburn?" Alma asked.

"Surely not, my dear young lady."

"But he's been saying that awtusts are just as greedy aboat money as
anybody," said his daughter.

"The law of commercialism is on everything in a commercial society," the
Colonel explained, softening the tone in which his convictions were
presented. "The final reward of art is money, and not the pleasure of
creating."

"Perhaps they would be willing to take it all oat in that if othah people
would let them pay their bills in the pleasure of creating," his daughter
teased.

"They are helpless, like all the rest," said her father, with the same
deference to her as to other women. "I do not blame them."

"Oh, mah goodness! Didn't you say, sir, that Mr. Beaton had bad manners?"

Alma relieved a confusion which he seemed to feel in reference to her.
"Bad manners? He has no manners! That is, when he's himself. He has
pretty good ones when he's somebody else."

Miss Woodburn began, "Oh, mah-" and then stopped herself. Alma's mother
looked at her with distressed question, but the girl seemed perfectly
cool and contented; and she gave her mind provisionally to a point
suggested by Colonel Woodburn's talk.

"Still, I can't believe it was right to hold people in slavery, to whip
them and sell them. It never did seem right to me," she added, in apology
for her extreme sentiments to the gentleness of her adversary.

"I quite agree with you, madam," said the Colonel. "Those were the abuses
of the institution. But if we had not been vitiated on the one hand and
threatened on the other by the spirit of commercialism from the
North--and from Europe, too--those abuses could have been eliminated, and
the institution developed in the direction of the mild patriarchalism of
the divine intention." The Colonel hitched his chair, which figured a
hobby careering upon its hind legs, a little toward Mrs. Leighton and the
girls approached their heads and began to whisper; they fell
deferentially silent when the Colonel paused in his argument, and went on
again when he went on.

At last they heard Mrs. Leighton saying, "And have you heard from the
publishers about your book yet?"

Then Miss Woodburn cut in, before her father could answer: "The coase of
commercialism is on that, too. They are trahing to fahnd oat whethah it
will pay."

"And they are right-quite right," said the Colonel. "There is no longer
any other criterion; and even a work that attacks the system must be
submitted to the tests of the system."

"The system won't accept destruction on any othah tomes," said Miss
Woodburn, demurely.



XI.

At the reception, where two men in livery stood aside to let him pass up
the outside steps of the house, and two more helped him off with his
overcoat indoors, and a fifth miscalled his name into the drawing-room,
the Syracuse stone-cutter's son met the niece of Mrs. Horn, and began at
once to tell her about his evening at the Dryfooses'. He was in very good
spirits, for so far as he could have been elated or depressed by his
parting with Alma Leighton he had been elated; she had not treated his
impudence with the contempt that he felt it deserved; she must still be
fond of him; and the warm sense of this, by operation of an obscure but
well-recognized law of the masculine being, disposed him to be rather
fond of Miss Vance. She was a slender girl, whose semi-aesthetic dress
flowed about her with an accentuation of her long forms, and redeemed
them from censure by the very frankness with which it confessed them;
nobody could have said that Margaret Vance was too tall. Her pretty
little head, which she had an effect of choosing to have little in the
same spirit of judicious defiance, had a good deal of reading in it; she
was proud to know literary and artistic fashions as well as society
fashions. She liked being singled out by an exterior distinction so
obvious as Beaton's, and she listened with sympathetic interest to his
account of those people. He gave their natural history reality by drawing
upon his own; he reconstructed their plebeian past from the experiences
of his childhood and his youth of the pre-Parisian period; and he had a
pang of suicidal joy in insulting their ignorance of the world.

"What different kinds of people you meet!" said the girl at last, with an
envious sigh. Her reading had enlarged the bounds of her imagination, if
not her knowledge; the novels nowadays dealt so much with very common
people, and made them seem so very much more worth while than the people
one met.

She said something like this to Beaton. He answered: "You can meet the
people I'm talking of very easily, if you want to take the trouble. It's
what they came to New York for. I fancy it's the great ambition of their
lives to be met."

"Oh yes," said Miss Vance, fashionably, and looked down; then she looked
up and said, intellectually: "Don't you think it's a great pity? How much
better for them to have stayed where they were and what they were!"

"Then you could never have had any chance of meeting them," said Beaton.
"I don't suppose you intend to go out to the gas country?"

"No," said Miss Vance, amused. "Not that I shouldn't like to go."

"What a daring spirit! You ought to be on the staff of 'Every Other
Week,'" said Beaton.

"The staff-Every Other Week? What is it?"

"The missing link; the long-felt want of a tie between the Arts and the
Dollars." Beaton gave her a very picturesque, a very dramatic sketch of
the theory, the purpose, and the personnel of the new enterprise.

Miss Vance understood too little about business of any kind to know how
it differed from other enterprises of its sort. She thought it was
delightful; she thought Beaton must be glad to be part of it, though he
had represented himself so bored, so injured, by Fulkerson's insisting
upon having him. "And is it a secret? Is it a thing not to be spoken of?"

"'Tutt' altro'! Fulkerson will be enraptured to have it spoken of in
society. He would pay any reasonable bill for the advertisement."

"What a delightful creature! Tell him it shall all be spent in charity."

"He would like that. He would get two paragraphs out of the fact, and
your name would go into the 'Literary Notes' of all the newspapers."

"Oh, but I shouldn't want my name used!" cried the girl, half horrified
into fancying the situation real.

"Then you'd better not say anything about 'Every Other Week'. Fulkerson
is preternaturally unscrupulous."

March began to think so too, at times. He was perpetually suggesting
changes in the make-up of the first number, with a view to its greater
vividness of effect. One day he came and said: "This thing isn't going to
have any sort of get up and howl about it, unless you have a paper in the
first number going for Bevans's novels. Better get Maxwell to do it."

"Why, I thought you liked Bevans's novels?"

"So I did; but where the good of 'Every Other Week' is concerned I am a
Roman father. The popular gag is to abuse Bevans, and Maxwell is the man
to do it. There hasn't been a new magazine started for the last three
years that hasn't had an article from Maxwell in its first number cutting
Bevans all to pieces. If people don't see it, they'll think 'Every Other
Week' is some old thing."

March did not know whether Fulkerson was joking or not. He suggested,
"Perhaps they'll think it's an old thing if they do see it."

"Well, get somebody else, then; or else get Maxwell to write under an
assumed name. Or--I forgot! He'll be anonymous under our system, anyway.
Now there ain't a more popular racket for us to work in that first number
than a good, swinging attack on Bevans. People read his books and quarrel
over 'em, and the critics are all against him, and a regular flaying,
with salt and vinegar rubbed in afterward, will tell more with people who
like good old-fashioned fiction than anything else. I like Bevans's
things, but, dad burn it! when it comes to that first number, I'd offer
up anybody."

"What an immoral little wretch you are, Fulkerson!" said March, with a
laugh.

Fulkerson appeared not to be very strenuous about the attack on the
novelist. "Say!" he called out, gayly, "what should you think of a paper
defending the late lamented system of slavery'?"

"What do you mean, Fulkerson?" asked March, with a puzzled smile.

Fulkerson braced his knees against his desk, and pushed himself back, but
kept his balance to the eye by canting his hat sharply forward. "There's
an old cock over there at the widow's that's written a book to prove that
slavery was and is the only solution of the labor problem. He's a
Southerner."

"I should imagine," March assented.

"He's got it on the brain that if the South could have been let alone by
the commercial spirit and the pseudophilanthropy of the North, it would
have worked out slavery into a perfectly ideal condition for the laborer,
in which he would have been insured against want, and protected in all
his personal rights by the state. He read the introduction to me last
night. I didn't catch on to all the points--his daughter's an awfully
pretty girl, and I was carrying that fact in my mind all the time, too,
you know--but that's about the gist of it."

"Seems to regard it as a lost opportunity?" said March.

"Exactly! What a mighty catchy title, Neigh? Look well on the
title-page."

"Well written?"

"I reckon so; I don't know. The Colonel read it mighty eloquently."

"It mightn't be such bad business," said March, in a muse. "Could you get
me a sight of it without committing yourself?"

"If the Colonel hasn't sent it off to another publisher this morning. He
just got it back with thanks yesterday. He likes to keep it travelling."

"Well, try it. I've a notion it might be a curious thing."

"Look here, March," said Fulkerson, with the effect of taking a fresh
hold; "I wish you could let me have one of those New York things of yours
for the first number. After all, that's going to be the great card."

"I couldn't, Fulkerson; I couldn't, really. I want to philosophize the
material, and I'm too new to it all yet. I don't want to do merely
superficial sketches."

"Of course! Of course! I understand that. Well, I don't want to hurry
you. Seen that old fellow of yours yet? I think we ought to have that
translation in the first number; don't you? We want to give 'em a notion
of what we're going to do in that line."

"Yes," said March; "and I was going out to look up Lindau this morning.
I've inquired at Maroni's, and he hasn't been there for several days.
I've some idea perhaps he's sick. But they gave me his address, and I'm
going to see."

"Well, that's right. We want the first number to be the keynote in every
way."

March shook his head. "You can't make it so. The first number is bound to
be a failure always, as far as the representative character goes. It's
invariably the case. Look at the first numbers of all the things you've
seen started. They're experimental, almost amateurish, and necessarily
so, not only because the men that are making them up are comparatively
inexperienced like ourselves, but because the material sent them to deal
with is more or less consciously tentative. People send their adventurous
things to a new periodical because the whole thing is an adventure. I've
noticed that quality in all the volunteer contributions; it's in the
articles that have been done to order even. No; I've about made up my
mind that if we can get one good striking paper into the first number
that will take people's minds off the others, we shall be doing all we
can possible hope for. I should like," March added, less seriously, "to
make up three numbers ahead, and publish the third one first."

Fulkerson dropped forward and struck his fist on the desk. "It's a
first-rate idea. Why not do it?"

March laughed. "Fulkerson, I don't believe there's any quackish thing you
wouldn't do in this cause. From time to time I'm thoroughly ashamed of
being connected with such a charlatan."

Fulkerson struck his hat sharply backward. "Ah, dad burn it! To give that
thing the right kind of start I'd walk up and down Broadway between two
boards, with the title-page of Every Other Week facsimiled on one and my
name and address on the--"

He jumped to his feet and shouted, "March, I'll do it!"

"What?"

"I'll hire a lot of fellows to make mud-turtles of themselves, and I'll
have a lot of big facsimiles of the title-page, and I'll paint the town
red!"

March looked aghast at him. "Oh, come, now, Fulkerson!"

"I mean it. I was in London when a new man had taken hold of the old
Cornhill, and they were trying to boom it, and they had a procession of
these mudturtles that reached from Charing Cross to Temple Bar. Cornhill
Magazine. Sixpence. Not a dull page in it.' I said to myself then that it
was the livest thing I ever saw. I respected the man that did that thing
from the bottom of my heart. I wonder I ever forgot it. But it shows what
a shaky thing the human mind is at its best."

"You infamous mountebank!", said March, with great amusement at
Fulkerson's access; "you call that congeries of advertising instinct of
yours the human mind at its best? Come, don't be so diffident, Fulkerson.
Well, I'm off to find Lindau, and when I come back I hope Mr. Dryfoos
will have you under control. I don't suppose you'll be quite sane again
till after the first number is out. Perhaps public opinion will sober you
then."

"Confound it, March! How do you think they will take it? I swear I'm
getting so nervous I don't know half the time which end of me is up. I
believe if we don't get that thing out by the first of February it 'll be
the death of me."

"Couldn't wait till Washington's Birthday? I was thinking it would give
the day a kind of distinction, and strike the public imagination, if--"

"No, I'll be dogged if I could!" Fulkerson lapsed more and more into the
parlance of his early life in this season of strong excitement. "I
believe if Beaton lags any on the art leg I'll kill him."

"Well, I shouldn't mind your killing Beaton," said March, tranquilly, as
he went out.

He went over to Third Avenue and took the Elevated down to Chatham
Square. He found the variety of people in the car as unfailingly
entertaining as ever. He rather preferred the East Side to the West Side
lines, because they offered more nationalities, conditions, and
characters to his inspection. They draw not only from the up-town
American region, but from all the vast hive of populations swarming
between them and the East River. He had found that, according to the
hour, American husbands going to and from business, and American wives
going to and from shopping, prevailed on the Sixth Avenue road, and that
the most picturesque admixture to these familiar aspects of human nature
were the brilliant eyes and complexions of the American Hebrews, who
otherwise contributed to the effect of well-clad comfort and
citizen-self-satisfaction of the crowd. Now and then he had found himself
in a car mostly filled with Neapolitans from the constructions far up the
line, where he had read how they are worked and fed and housed like
beasts; and listening to the jargon of their unintelligible dialect, he
had occasion for pensive question within himself as to what notion these
poor animals formed of a free republic from their experience of life
under its conditions; and whether they found them practically very
different from those of the immemorial brigandage and enforced complicity
with rapine under which they had been born. But, after all, this was an
infrequent effect, however massive, of travel on the West Side, whereas
the East offered him continual entertainment in like sort. The sort was
never quite so squalid. For short distances the lowest poverty, the
hardest pressed labor, must walk; but March never entered a car without
encountering some interesting shape of shabby adversity, which was almost
always adversity of foreign birth. New York is still popularly supposed
to be in the control of the Irish, but March noticed in these East Side
travels of his what must strike every observer returning to the city
after a prolonged absence: the numerical subordination of the dominant
race. If they do not outvote them, the people of Germanic, of Slavonic,
of Pelasgic, of Mongolian stock outnumber the prepotent Celts; and March
seldom found his speculation centred upon one of these. The small eyes,
the high cheeks, the broad noses, the puff lips, the bare, cue-filleted
skulls, of Russians, Poles, Czechs, Chinese; the furtive glitter of
Italians; the blonde dulness of Germans; the cold quiet of
Scandinavians--fire under ice--were aspects that he identified, and that
gave him abundant suggestion for the personal histories he constructed,
and for the more public-spirited reveries in which he dealt with the
future economy of our heterogeneous commonwealth. It must be owned that
he did not take much trouble about this; what these poor people were
thinking, hoping, fearing, enjoying, suffering; just where and how they
lived; who and what they individually were--these were the matters of his
waking dreams as he stared hard at them, while the train raced farther
into the gay ugliness--the shapeless, graceful, reckless picturesqueness
of the Bowery.

There were certain signs, certain facades, certain audacities of the
prevailing hideousness that always amused him in that uproar to the eye
which the strident forms and colors made. He was interested in the
insolence with which the railway had drawn its erasing line across the
Corinthian front of an old theatre, almost grazing its fluted pillars,
and flouting its dishonored pediment. The colossal effigies of the fat
women and the tuft-headed Circassian girls of cheap museums; the vistas
of shabby cross streets; the survival of an old hip-roofed house here and
there at their angles; the Swiss chalet, histrionic decorativeness of the
stations in prospect or retrospect; the vagaries of the lines that
narrowed together or stretched apart according to the width of the
avenue, but always in wanton disregard of the life that dwelt, and bought
and sold, and rejoiced or sorrowed, and clattered or crawled, around,
below, above--were features of the frantic panorama that perpetually
touched his sense of humor and moved his sympathy. Accident and then
exigency seemed the forces at work to this extraordinary effect; the play
of energies as free and planless as those that force the forest from the
soil to the sky; and then the fierce struggle for survival, with the
stronger life persisting over the deformity, the mutilation, the
destruction, the decay of the weaker. The whole at moments seemed to him
lawless, godless; the absence of intelligent, comprehensive purpose in
the huge disorder, and the violent struggle to subordinate the result to
the greater good, penetrated with its dumb appeal the consciousness of a
man who had always been too self-enwrapped to perceive the chaos to which
the individual selfishness must always lead.

But there was still nothing definite, nothing better than a vague
discomfort, however poignant, in his half recognition of such facts; and
he descended the station stairs at Chatham Square with a sense of the
neglected opportunities of painters in that locality. He said to himself
that if one of those fellows were to see in Naples that turmoil of cars,
trucks, and teams of every sort, intershot with foot-passengers going and
coming to and from the crowded pavements, under the web of the railroad
tracks overhead, and amid the spectacular approach of the streets that
open into the square, he would have it down in his sketch-book at once.
He decided simultaneously that his own local studies must be illustrated,
and that he must come with the artist and show him just which bits to do,
not knowing that the two arts can never approach the same material from
the same point. He thought he would particularly like his illustrator to
render the Dickensy, cockneyish quality of the shabby-genteel
ballad-seller of whom he stopped to ask his way to the street where
Lindau lived, and whom he instantly perceived to be, with his stock in
trade, the sufficient object of an entire study by himself. He had his
ballads strung singly upon a cord against the house wall, and held down
in piles on the pavement with stones and blocks of wood. Their control in
this way intimated a volatility which was not perceptible in their
sentiment. They were mostly tragical or doleful: some of them dealt with
the wrongs of the working-man; others appealed to a gay experience of the
high seas; but vastly the greater part to memories and associations of an
Irish origin; some still uttered the poetry of plantation life in the
artless accents of the end--man. Where they trusted themselves, with
syntax that yielded promptly to any exigency of rhythmic art, to the
ordinary American speech, it was to strike directly for the affections,
to celebrate the domestic ties, and, above all, to embalm the memories of
angel and martyr mothers whose dissipated sons deplored their sufferings
too late. March thought this not at all a bad thing in them; he smiled in
patronage of their simple pathos; he paid the tribute of a laugh when the
poet turned, as he sometimes did, from his conception of angel and martyr
motherhood, and portrayed the mother in her more familiar phases of
virtue and duty, with the retributive shingle or slipper in her hand. He
bought a pocketful of this literature, popular in a sense which the most
successful book can never be, and enlisted the ballad vendor so deeply in
the effort to direct him to Lindau's dwelling by the best way that he
neglected another customer, till a sarcasm on his absent-mindedness stung
hint to retort, "I'm a-trying to answer a gentleman a civil question;
that's where the absent-minded comes in."

It seemed for some reason to be a day of leisure with the Chinese
dwellers in Mott Street, which March had been advised to take first. They
stood about the tops of basement stairs, and walked two and two along the
dirty pavement, with their little hands tucked into their sleeves across
their breasts, aloof in immaculate cleanliness from the filth around
them, and scrutinizing the scene with that cynical sneer of faint
surprise to which all aspects of our civilization seem to move their
superiority. Their numbers gave character to the street, and rendered not
them, but what was foreign to them, strange there; so that March had a
sense of missionary quality in the old Catholic church, built long before
their incursion was dreamed of. It seemed to have come to them there, and
he fancied in the statued saint that looked down from its facade
something not so much tolerant as tolerated, something propitiatory,
almost deprecatory. It was a fancy, of course; the street was
sufficiently peopled with Christian children, at any rate, swarming and
shrieking at their games; and presently a Christian mother appeared,
pushed along by two policemen on a handcart, with a gelatinous tremor
over the paving and a gelatinous jouncing at the curbstones. She lay with
her face to the sky, sending up an inarticulate lamentation; but the
indifference of the officers forbade the notion of tragedy in her case.
She was perhaps a local celebrity; the children left off their games, and
ran gayly trooping after her; even the young fellow and young girl
exchanging playful blows in a robust flirtation at the corner of a liquor
store suspended their scuffle with a pleased interest as she passed.
March understood the unwillingness of the poor to leave the worst
conditions in the city for comfort and plenty in the country when he
reflected upon this dramatic incident, one of many no doubt which daily
occur to entertain them in such streets. A small town could rarely offer
anything comparable to it, and the country never. He said that if life
appeared so hopeless to him as it must to the dwellers in that
neighborhood he should not himself be willing to quit its distractions,
its alleviations, for the vague promise of unknown good in the distance
somewhere.

But what charm could such a man as Lindau find in such a place? It could
not be that he lived there because he was too poor to live elsewhere:
with a shutting of the heart, March refused to believe this as he looked
round on the abounding evidences of misery, and guiltily remembered his
neglect of his old friend. Lindau could probably find as cheap a lodging
in some decenter part of the town; and, in fact, there was some
amelioration of the prevailing squalor in the quieter street which he
turned into from Mott.

A woman with a tied-up face of toothache opened the door for him when he
pulled, with a shiver of foreboding, the bell-knob, from which a yard of
rusty crape dangled. But it was not Lindau who was dead, for the woman
said he was at home, and sent March stumbling up the four or five dark
flights of stairs that led to his tenement. It was quite at the top of
the house, and when March obeyed the German-English "Komm!" that followed
his knock, he found himself in a kitchen where a meagre breakfast was
scattered in stale fragments on the table before the stove. The place was
bare and cold; a half-empty beer bottle scarcely gave it a convivial air.
On the left from this kitchen was a room with a bed in it, which seemed
also to be a cobbler's shop: on the right, through a door that stood
ajar, came the German-English voice again, saying this time, "Hier!"



XII.

March pushed the door open into a room like that on the left, but with a
writing-desk instead of a cobbler's bench, and a bed, where Lindau sat
propped up; with a coat over his shoulders and a skull-cap on his head,
reading a book, from which he lifted his eyes to stare blankly over his
spectacles at March. His hairy old breast showed through the night-shirt,
which gaped apart; the stump of his left arm lay upon the book to keep it
open.

"Ah, my tear yo'ng friendt! Passil! Marge! Iss it you?" he called out,
joyously, the next moment.

"Why, are you sick, Lindau?" March anxiously scanned his face in taking
his hand.

Lindau laughed. "No; I'm all righdt. Only a lidtle lazy, and a lidtle
eggonomigal. Idt's jeaper to stay in pedt sometimes as to geep a fire
a-goin' all the time. Don't wandt to gome too hardt on the 'brafer Mann',
you know:

     "Braver Mann, er schafft mir zu essen."

You remember? Heine? You readt Heine still? Who is your favorite boet
now, Passil? You write some boetry yourself yet? No? Well, I am gladt to
zee you. Brush those baperss off of that jair. Well, idt is goodt for
zore eyess. How didt you findt where I lif?

"They told me at Maroni's," said March. He tried to keep his eyes on
Lindau's face, and not see the discomfort of the room, but he was aware
of the shabby and frowsy bedding, the odor of stale smoke, and the pipes
and tobacco shreds mixed with the books and manuscripts strewn over the
leaf of the writing-desk. He laid down on the mass the pile of foreign
magazines he had brought under his arm. "They gave me another address
first."

"Yes. I have chust gome here," said Lindau. "Idt is not very coy, Neigh?"

"It might be gayer," March admitted, with a smile. "Still," he added,
soberly, "a good many people seem to live in this part of the town.
Apparently they die here, too, Lindau. There is crape on your outside
door. I didn't know but it was for you."

"Nodt this time," said Lindau, in the same humor. "Berhaps some other
time. We geep the ondertakers bratty puzy down here."

"Well," said March, "undertakers must live, even if the rest of us have
to die to let them." Lindau laughed, and March went on: "But I'm glad it
isn't your funeral, Lindau. And you say you're not sick, and so I don't
see why we shouldn't come to business."

"Pusiness?" Lindau lifted his eyebrows. "You gome on pusiness?"

"And pleasure combined," said March, and he went on to explain the
service he desired at Lindau's hands.

The old man listened with serious attention, and with assenting nods that
culminated in a spoken expression of his willingness to undertake the
translations. March waited with a sort of mechanical expectation of his
gratitude for the work put in his way, but nothing of the kind came from
Lindau, and March was left to say, "Well, everything is understood, then;
and I don't know that I need add that if you ever want any little advance
on the work--"

"I will ask you," said Lindau, quietly, "and I thank you for that. But I
can wait; I ton't needt any money just at bresent." As if he saw some
appeal for greater frankness in, March's eye, he went on: "I tidn't gome
here begause I was too boor to lif anywhere else, and I ton't stay in
pedt begause I couldn't haf a fire to geep warm if I wanted it. I'm nodt
zo padt off as Marmontel when he went to Paris. I'm a lidtle loaxurious,
that is all. If I stay in pedt it's zo I can fling money away on
somethings else. Heigh?"

"But what are you living here for, Lindau?" March smiled at the irony
lurking in Lindau's words.

"Well, you zee, I foundt I was begoming a lidtle too moch of an
aristograt. I hadt a room oap in Creenvidge Willage, among dose pig pugs
over on the West Side, and I foundt"--Liudau's voice lost its jesting
quality, and his face darkened--"that I was beginning to forget the
boor!"

"I should have thought," said March, with impartial interest, "that you
might have seen poverty enough, now and then, in Greenwich Village to
remind you of its existence."

"Nodt like here," said Lindau. "Andt you must zee it all the dtime--zee
it, hear it, smell it, dtaste it--or you forget it. That is what I gome
here for. I was begoming a ploated aristograt. I thought I was nodt like
these beople down here, when I gome down once to look aroundt; I thought
I must be somethings else, and zo I zaid I better take myself in time,
and I gome here among my brothers--the becears and the thiefs!" A noise
made itself heard in the next room, as if the door were furtively opened,
and a faint sound of tiptoeing and of hands clawing on a table.

"Thiefs!" Lindau repeated, with a shout. "Lidtle thiefs, that gabture
your breakfast. Ah! ha! ha!" A wild scurrying of feet, joyous cries and
tittering, and a slamming door followed upon his explosion, and he
resumed in the silence: "Idt is the children cot pack from school. They
gome and steal what I leaf there on my daple. Idt's one of our lidtle
chokes; we onderstand one another; that's all righdt. Once the gobbler in
the other room there he used to chase 'em; he couldn't onderstand their
lidtle tricks. Now dot goppler's teadt, and he ton't chase 'em any more.
He was a Bohemian. Gindt of grazy, I cuess."

"Well, it's a sociable existence," March suggested. "But perhaps if you
let them have the things without stealing--"

"Oh no, no! Most nodt mage them too gonceitedt. They mostn't go and feel
themselfs petter than those boor millionairss that hadt to steal their
money."

March smiled indulgently at his old friend's violence. "Oh, there are
fagots and fagots, you know, Lindau; perhaps not all the millionaires are
so guilty."

"Let us speak German!" cried Lindau, in his own tongue, pushing his book
aside, and thrusting his skullcap back from his forehead. "How much money
can a man honestly earn without wronging or oppressing some other man?"

"Well, if you'll let me answer in English," said March, "I should say
about five thousand dollars a year. I name that figure because it's my
experience that I never could earn more; but the experience of other men
may be different, and if they tell me they can earn ten, or twenty, or
fifty thousand a year, I'm not prepared to say they can't do it."

Lindau hardly waited for his answer. "Not the most gifted man that ever
lived, in the practice of any art or science, and paid at the highest
rate that exceptional genius could justly demand from those who have
worked for their money, could ever earn a million dollars. It is the
landlords and the merchant princes, the railroad kings and the coal
barons (the oppressors to whom you instinctively give the titles of
tyrants)--it is these that make the millions, but no man earns them. What
artist, what physician, what scientist, what poet was ever a
millionaire?"

"I can only think of the poet Rogers," said March, amused by Lindau's
tirade. "But he was as exceptional as the other Rogers, the martyr, who
died with warm feet." Lindau had apparently not understood his joke, and
he went on, with the American ease of mind about everything: "But you
must allow, Lindau, that some of those fellows don't do so badly with
their guilty gains. Some of them give work to armies of poor people--"

Lindau furiously interrupted: "Yes, when they have gathered their
millions together from the hunger and cold and nakedness and ruin and
despair of hundreds of thousands of other men, they 'give work' to the
poor! They give work! They allow their helpless brothers to earn enough
to keep life in them! They give work! Who is it gives toil, and where
will your rich men be when once the poor shall refuse to give toil'? Why,
you have come to give me work!"

March laughed outright. "Well, I'm not a millionaire, anyway, Lindau, and
I hope you won't make an example of me by refusing to give toil. I dare
say the millionaires deserve it, but I'd rather they wouldn't suffer in
my person."

"No," returned the old man, mildly relaxing the fierce glare he had bent
upon March. "No man deserves to sufer at the hands of another. I lose
myself when I think of the injustice in the world. But I must not forget
that I am like the worst of them."

"You might go up Fifth Avenue and live among the rich awhile, when you're
in danger of that," suggested March. "At any rate," he added, by an
impulse which he knew he could not justify to his wife, "I wish you'd
come some day and lunch with their emissary. I've been telling Mrs. March
about you, and I want her and the children to see you. Come over with
these things and report." He put his hand on the magazines as he rose.

"I will come," said Lindau, gently.

"Shall I give you your book?" asked March.

"No; I gidt oap bretty soon."

"And--and--can you dress yourself?"

"I vhistle, 'and one of those lidtle fellowss comess. We haf to dake gare
of one another in a blace like this. Idt iss nodt like the worldt," said
Lindau, gloomily.

March thought he ought to cheer him up. "Oh, it isn't such a bad world,
Lindau! After all, the average of millionaires is small in it." He added,
"And I don't believe there's an American living that could look at that
arm of yours and not wish to lend you a hand for the one you gave us
all." March felt this to be a fine turn, and his voice trembled slightly
in saying it.

Lindau smiled grimly. "You think zo? I wouldn't moch like to drost 'em.
I've driedt idt too often." He began to speak German again fiercely:
"Besides, they owe me nothing. Do you think I knowingly gave my hand to
save this oligarchy of traders and tricksters, this aristocracy of
railroad wreckers and stock gamblers and mine-slave drivers and mill-serf
owners? No; I gave it to the slave; the slave--ha! ha! ha!--whom I helped
to unshackle to the common liberty of hunger and cold. And you think I
would be the beneficiary of such a state of things?"

"I'm sorry to hear you talk so, Lindau," said March; "very sorry." He
stopped with a look of pain, and rose to go. Lindau suddenly broke into a
laugh and into English.

"Oh, well, it is only dalk, Passil, and it toes me goodt. My parg is
worse than my pidte, I cuess. I pring these things roundt bretty soon.
Good-bye, Passil, my tear poy. Auf wiedersehen!"



XIII.

March went away thinking of what Lindau had said, but not for the
impersonal significance of his words so much as for the light they cast
upon Lindau himself. He thought the words violent enough, but in
connection with what he remembered of the cheery, poetic, hopeful
idealist, they were even more curious than lamentable. In his own life of
comfortable reverie he had never heard any one talk so before, but he had
read something of the kind now and then in blatant labor newspapers which
he had accidentally fallen in with, and once at a strikers' meeting he
had heard rich people denounced with the same frenzy. He had made his own
reflections upon the tastelessness of the rhetoric, and the obvious
buncombe of the motive, and he had not taken the matter seriously.

He could not doubt Lindau's sincerity, and he wondered how he came to
that way of thinking. From his experience of himself he accounted for a
prevailing literary quality in it; he decided it to be from Lindau's
reading and feeling rather than his reflection. That was the notion he
formed of some things he had met with in Ruskin to much the same effect;
he regarded them with amusement as the chimeras of a rhetorician run away
with by his phrases.

But as to Lindau, the chief thing in his mind was a conception of the
droll irony of a situation in which so fervid a hater of millionaires
should be working, indirectly at least, for the prosperity of a man like
Dryfoos, who, as March understood, had got his money together out of
every gambler's chance in speculation, and all a schemer's thrift from
the error and need of others. The situation was not more incongruous,
however, than all the rest of the 'Every Other Week' affair. It seemed to
him that there were no crazy fortuities that had not tended to its
existence, and as time went on, and the day drew near for the issue of
the first number, the sense of this intensified till the whole lost at
moments the quality of a waking fact, and came to be rather a fantastic
fiction of sleep.

Yet the heterogeneous forces did co-operate to a reality which March
could not deny, at least in their presence, and the first number was
representative of all their nebulous intentions in a tangible form. As a
result, it was so respectable that March began to respect these
intentions, began to respect himself for combining and embodying them in
the volume which appealed to him with a novel fascination, when the first
advance copy was laid upon his desk. Every detail of it was tiresomely
familiar already, but the whole had a fresh interest now. He now saw how
extremely fit and effective Miss Leighton's decorative design for the
cover was, printed in black and brick-red on the delicate gray tone of
the paper. It was at once attractive and refined, and he credited Beaton
with quite all he merited in working it over to the actual shape. The
touch and the taste of the art editor were present throughout the number.
As Fulkerson said, Beaton had caught on with the delicacy of a
humming-bird and the tenacity of a bulldog to the virtues of their
illustrative process, and had worked it for all it was worth. There were
seven papers in the number, and a poem on the last page of the cover, and
he had found some graphic comment for each. It was a larger proportion
than would afterward be allowed, but for once in a way it was allowed.
Fulkerson said they could not expect to get their money back on that
first number, anyway. Seven of the illustrations were Beaton's; two or
three he got from practised hands; the rest were the work of unknown
people which he had suggested, and then related and adapted with
unfailing ingenuity to the different papers. He handled the illustrations
with such sympathy as not to destroy their individual quality, and that
indefinable charm which comes from good amateur work in whatever art. He
rescued them from their weaknesses and errors, while he left in them the
evidence of the pleasure with which a clever young man, or a sensitive
girl, or a refined woman had done them. Inevitably from his manipulation,
however, the art of the number acquired homogeneity, and there was
nothing casual in its appearance. The result, March eagerly owned, was
better than the literary result, and he foresaw that the number would be
sold and praised chiefly for its pictures. Yet he was not ashamed of the
literature, and he indulged his admiration of it the more freely because
he had not only not written it, but in a way had not edited it. To be
sure, he had chosen all the material, but he had not voluntarily put it
all together for that number; it had largely put itself together, as
every number of every magazine does, and as it seems more and more to do,
in the experience of every editor. There had to be, of course, a story,
and then a sketch of travel. There was a literary essay and a social
essay; there was a dramatic trifle, very gay, very light; there was a
dashing criticism on the new pictures, the new plays, the new books, the
new fashions; and then there was the translation of a bit of vivid
Russian realism, which the editor owed to Lindau's exploration of the
foreign periodicals left with him; Lindau was himself a romanticist of
the Victor Hugo sort, but he said this fragment of Dostoyevski was good
of its kind. The poem was a bit of society verse, with a backward look
into simpler and wholesomer experiences.

Fulkerson was extremely proud of the number; but he said it was too
good--too good from every point of view. The cover was too good, and the
paper was too good, and that device of rough edges, which got over the
objection to uncut leaves while it secured their aesthetic effect, was a
thing that he trembled for, though he rejoiced in it as a stroke of the
highest genius. It had come from Beaton at the last moment, as a
compromise, when the problem of the vulgar croppiness of cut leaves and
the unpopularity of uncut leaves seemed to have no solution but suicide.
Fulkerson was still morally crawling round on his hands and knees, as he
said, in abject gratitude at Beaton's feet, though he had his qualms, his
questions; and he declared that Beaton was the most inspired ass since
Balaam's. "We're all asses, of course," he admitted, in semi-apology to
March; "but we're no such asses as Beaton." He said that if the tasteful
decorativeness of the thing did not kill it with the public outright, its
literary excellence would give it the finishing stroke. Perhaps that
might be overlooked in the impression of novelty which a first number
would give, but it must never happen again. He implored March to promise
that it should never happen again; he said their only hope was in the
immediate cheapening of the whole affair. It was bad enough to give the
public too much quantity for their money, but to throw in such quality as
that was simply ruinous; it must be stopped. These were the expressions
of his intimate moods; every front that he presented to the public wore a
glow of lofty, of devout exultation. His pride in the number gushed out
in fresh bursts of rhetoric to every one whom he could get to talk with
him about it. He worked the personal kindliness of the press to the
utmost. He did not mind making himself ridiculous or becoming a joke in
the good cause, as he called it. He joined in the applause when a
humorist at the club feigned to drop dead from his chair at Fulkerson's
introduction of the topic, and he went on talking that first number into
the surviving spectators. He stood treat upon all occasions, and he
lunched attaches of the press at all hours. He especially befriended the
correspondents of the newspapers of other cities, for, as he explained to
March, those fellows could give him any amount of advertising simply as
literary gossip. Many of the fellows were ladies who could not be so
summarily asked out to lunch, but Fulkerson's ingenuity was equal to
every exigency, and he contrived somehow to make each of these feel that
she had been possessed of exclusive information. There was a moment when
March conjectured a willingness in Fulkerson to work Mrs. March into the
advertising department, by means of a tea to these ladies and their
friends which she should administer in his apartment, but he did not
encourage Fulkerson to be explicit, and the moment passed. Afterward,
when he told his wife about it, he was astonished to find that she would
not have minded doing it for Fulkerson, and he experienced another proof
of the bluntness of the feminine instincts in some directions, and of the
personal favor which Fulkerson seemed to enjoy with the whole sex. This
alone was enough to account for the willingness of these correspondents
to write about the first number, but March accused him of sending it to
their addresses with boxes of Jacqueminot roses and Huyler candy.

Fulkerson let him enjoy his joke. He said that he would do that or
anything else for the good cause, short of marrying the whole circle of
female correspondents.

March was inclined to hope that if the first number had been made too
good for the country at large, the more enlightened taste of metropolitan
journalism would invite a compensating favor for it in New York. But
first Fulkerson and then the event proved him wrong. In spite of the
quality of the magazine, and in spite of the kindness which so many
newspaper men felt for Fulkerson, the notices in the New York papers
seemed grudging and provisional to the ardor of the editor. A merit in
the work was acknowledged, and certain defects in it for which March had
trembled were ignored; but the critics astonished him by selecting for
censure points which he was either proud of or had never noticed; which
being now brought to his notice he still could not feel were faults. He
owned to Fulkerson that if they had said so and so against it, he could
have agreed with them, but that to say thus and so was preposterous; and
that if the advertising had not been adjusted with such generous
recognition of the claims of the different papers, he should have known
the counting-room was at the bottom of it. As it was, he could only
attribute it to perversity or stupidity. It was certainly stupid to
condemn a magazine novelty like 'Every Other Week' for being novel; and
to augur that if it failed, it would fail through its departure from the
lines on which all the other prosperous magazines had been built, was in
the last degree perverse, and it looked malicious. The fact that it was
neither exactly a book nor a magazine ought to be for it and not against
it, since it would invade no other field; it would prosper on no ground
but its own.



XIV.

The more March thought of the injustice of the New York press (which had
not, however, attacked the literary quality of the number) the more
bitterly he resented it; and his wife's indignation superheated his own.
'Every Other Week' had become a very personal affair with the whole
family; the children shared their parents' disgust; Belle was outspoken
in, her denunciations of a venal press. Mrs. March saw nothing but ruin
ahead, and began tacitly to plan a retreat to Boston, and an
establishment retrenched to the basis of two thousand a year. She shed
some secret tears in anticipation of the privations which this must
involve; but when Fulkerson came to see March rather late the night of
the publication day, she nobly told him that if the worst came to the
worst she could only have the kindliest feeling toward him, and should
not regard him as in the slightest degree responsible.

"Oh, hold on, hold on!" he protested. "You don't think we've made a
failure, do you?"

"Why, of course," she faltered, while March remained gloomily silent.

"Well, I guess we'll wait for the official count, first. Even New York
hasn't gone against us, and I guess there's a majority coming down to
Harlem River that could sweep everything before it, anyway."

"What do you mean, Fulkerson?" March demanded, sternly.

"Oh, nothing! Only, the 'News Company' has ordered ten thousand now; and
you know we had to give them the first twenty on commission."

"What do you mean?" March repeated; his wife held her breath.

"I mean that the first number is a booming success already, and that it's
going to a hundred thousand before it stops. That unanimity and variety
of censure in the morning papers, combined with the attractiveness of the
thing itself, has cleared every stand in the city, and now if the favor
of the country press doesn't turn the tide against us, our fortune's
made." The Marches remained dumb. "Why, look here! Didn't I tell you
those criticisms would be the making of us, when they first began to turn
you blue this morning, March?"

"He came home to lunch perfectly sick," said Mrs. Marcli; "and I wouldn't
let him go back again."

"Didn't I tell you so?" Fulkerson persisted.

March could not remember that he had, or that he had been anything but
incoherently and hysterically jocose over the papers, but he said, "Yes,
yes--I think so."

"I knew it from the start," said Fulkerson. "The only other person who
took those criticisms in the right spirit was Mother Dryfoos--I've just
been bolstering up the Dryfoos family. She had them read to her by Mrs.
Mandel, and she understood them to be all the most flattering prophecies
of success. Well, I didn't read between the lines to that extent, quite;
but I saw that they were going to help us, if there was anything in us,
more than anything that could have been done. And there was something in
us! I tell you, March, that seven-shooting self-cocking donkey of a
Beaton has given us the greatest start! He's caught on like a mouse. He's
made the thing awfully chic; it's jimmy; there's lots of dog about it.
He's managed that process so that the illustrations look as expensive as
first-class wood-cuts, and they're cheaper than chromos. He's put style
into the whole thing."

"Oh yes," said March, with eager meekness, "it's Beaton that's done it."

Fulkerson read jealousy of Beaton in Mrs. March's face. "Beaton has given
us the start because his work appeals to the eye. There's no denying that
the pictures have sold this first number; but I expect the literature of
this first number to sell the pictures of the second. I've been reading
it all over, nearly, since I found how the cat was jumping; I was anxious
about it, and I tell you, old man, it's good. Yes, sir! I was afraid
maybe you had got it too good, with that Boston refinement of yours; but
I reckon you haven't. I'll risk it. I don't see how you got so much
variety into so few things, and all of them palpitant, all of 'em on the
keen jump with actuality."

The mixture of American slang with the jargon of European criticism in
Fulkerson's talk made March smile, but his wife did not seem to notice it
in her exultation. "That is just what I say," she broke in. "It's
perfectly wonderful. I never was anxious about it a moment, except, as
you say, Mr. Fulkerson, I was afraid it might be too good."

They went on in an antiphony of praise till March said: "Really, I don't
see what's left me but to strike for higher wages. I perceive that I'm
indispensable."

"Why, old man, you're coming in on the divvy, you know," said Fulkerson.

They both laughed, and when Fulkerson was gone, Mrs. March asked her
husband what a divvy was.

"It's a chicken before it's hatched."

"No! Truly?"

He explained, and she began to spend the divvy.

At Mrs. Leighton's Fulkerson gave Alma all the honor of the success; he
told her mother that the girl's design for the cover had sold every
number, and Mrs. Leighton believed him.

"Well, Ah think Ah maght have some of the glory," Miss Woodburn pouted.
"Where am Ah comin' in?"

"You're coming in on the cover of the next number," said Fulkerson.
"We're going to have your face there; Miss Leighton's going to sketch it
in." He said this reckless of the fact that he had already shown them the
design of the second number, which was Beaton's weird bit of gas-country
landscape.

"Ah don't see why you don't wrahte the fiction for your magazine, Mr.
Fulkerson," said the girl.

This served to remind Fulkerson of something. He turned to her father.
"I'll tell you what, Colonel Woodburn, I want Mr. March to see some
chapters of that book of yours. I've been talking to him about it."

"I do not think it would add to the popularity of your periodical, sir,"
said the Colonel, with a stately pleasure in being asked. "My views of a
civilization based upon responsible slavery would hardly be acceptable to
your commercialized society."

"Well, not as a practical thing, of course," Fulkerson admitted. "But as
something retrospective, speculative, I believe it would make a hit.
There's so much going on now about social questions; I guess people would
like to read it."

"I do not know that my work is intended to amuse people," said the
Colonel, with some state.

"Mah goodness! Ah only wish it WAS, then," said his daughter; and she
added: "Yes, Mr. Fulkerson, the Colonel will be very glad to submit
po'tions of his woak to yo' edito'. We want to have some of the honaw.
Perhaps we can say we helped to stop yo' magazine, if we didn't help to
stawt it."

They all laughed at her boldness, and Fulkerson said: "It 'll take a good
deal more than that to stop 'Every Other Week'. The Colonel's whole book
couldn't do it." Then he looked unhappy, for Colonel Woodburn did not
seem to enjoy his reassuring words; but Miss Woodburn came to his rescue.
"You maght illustrate it with the po'trait of the awthoris daughtaw, if
it's too late for the covah."

"Going to have that in every number, Miss Woodburn!" he cried.

"Oh, mah goodness!" she said, with mock humility.

Alma sat looking at her piquant head, black, unconsciously outlined
against the lamp, as she sat working by the table. "Just keep still a
moment!"

She got her sketch-block and pencils, and began to draw; Fulkerson tilted
himself forward and looked over her shoulder; he smiled outwardly;
inwardly he was divided between admiration of Miss Woodburn's arch beauty
and appreciation of the skill which reproduced it; at the same time he
was trying to remember whether March had authorized him to go so far as
to ask for a sight of Colonel Woodburn's manuscript. He felt that he had
trenched upon March's province, and he framed one apology to the editor
for bringing him the manuscript, and another to the author for bringing
it back.

"Most Ah hold raght still like it was a photograph?" asked Miss Woodburn.
"Can Ah toak?"

"Talk all you want," said Alma, squinting her eyes. "And you needn't be
either adamantine, nor yet--wooden."

"Oh, ho' very good of you! Well, if Ah can toak--go on, Mr. Fulkerson!"

"Me talk? I can't breathe till this thing is done!" sighed Fulkerson; at
that point of his mental drama the Colonel was behaving rustily about the
return of his manuscript, and he felt that he was looking his last on
Miss Woodburn's profile.

"Is she getting it raght?" asked the girl.

"I don't know which is which," said Fulkerson.

"Oh, Ah hope Ah shall! Ah don't want to go round feelin' like a sheet of
papah half the time."

"You could rattle on, just the same," suggested Alma.

"Oh, now! Jost listen to that, Mr. Fulkerson. Do you call that any way to
toak to people?"

"You might know which you were by the color," Fulkerson began, and then
he broke off from the personal consideration with a business inspiration,
and smacked himself on the knee, "We could print it in color!"

Mrs. Leighton gathered up her sewing and held it with both hands in her
lap, while she came round, and looked critically at the sketch and the
model over her glasses. "It's very good, Alma," she said.

Colonel Woodburn remained restively on his side of the table. "Of course,
Mr. Fulkerson, you were jesting, sir, when you spoke of printing a sketch
of my daughter."

"Why, I don't know--If you object--?

"I do, sir--decidedly," said the Colonel.

"Then that settles it, of course,--I only meant--"

"Indeed it doesn't!" cried the girl. "Who's to know who it's from? Ah'm
jost set on havin' it printed! Ah'm going to appear as the head of
Slavery--in opposition to the head of Liberty."

"There'll be a revolution inside of forty-eight hours, and we'll have the
Colonel's system going wherever a copy of 'Every Other Week' circulates,"
said Fulkerson.

"This sketch belongs to me," Alma interposed. "I'm not going to let it be
printed."

"Oh, mah goodness!" said Miss Woodburn, laughing good-humoredly. "That's
becose you were brought up to hate slavery."

"I should like Mr. Beaton to see it," said Mrs. Leighton, in a sort of
absent tone. She added, to Fulkerson: "I rather expected he might be in
to-night."

"Well, if he comes we'll leave it to Beaton," Fulkerson said, with relief
in the solution, and an anxious glance at the Colonel, across the table,
to see how he took that form of the joke. Miss Woodburn intercepted his
glance and laughed, and Fulkerson laughed, too, but rather forlornly.

Alma set her lips primly and turned her head first on one side and then
on the other to look at the sketch. "I don't think we'll leave it to Mr.
Beaton, even if he comes."

"We left the other design for the cover to Beaton," Fulkerson insinuated.
"I guess you needn't be afraid of him."

"Is it a question of my being afraid?" Alma asked; she seemed coolly
intent on her drawing.

"Miss Leighton thinks he ought to be afraid of her," Miss Woodburn
explained.

"It's a question of his courage, then?" said Alma.

"Well, I don't think there are many young ladies that Beaton's afraid
of," said Fulkerson, giving himself the respite of this purely random
remark, while he interrogated the faces of Mrs. Leighton and Colonel
Woodburn for some light upon the tendency of their daughters' words.

He was not helped by Mrs. Leighton's saying, with a certain anxiety, "I
don't know what you mean, Mr. Fulkerson."

"Well, you're as much in the dark as I am myself, then," said Fulkerson.
"I suppose I meant that Beaton is rather--a--favorite, you know. The
women like him."

Mrs. Leighton sighed, and Colonel Woodburn rose and left the room.

In the silence that followed, Fulkerson looked from one lady to the other
with dismay. "I seem to have put my foot in it, somehow," he suggested,
and Miss Woodburn gave a cry of laughter.

"Poo' Mr. Fulkerson! Poo' Mr. Fulkerson! Papa thoat you wanted him to
go."

"Wanted him to go?" repeated Fulkerson.

"We always mention Mr. Beaton when we want to get rid of papa."

"Well, it seems to me that I have noticed that he didn't take much
interest in Beaton, as a general topic. But I don't know that I ever saw
it drive him out of the room before!"

"Well, he isn't always so bad," said Miss Woodburn. "But it was a case of
hate at first sight, and it seems to be growin' on papa."

"Well, I can understand that," said Fulkerson. "The impulse to destroy
Beaton is something that everybody has to struggle against at the start."

"I must say, Mr. Fulkerson," said Mrs. Leighton, in the tremor through
which she nerved herself to differ openly with any one she liked, "I
never had to struggle with anything of the kind, in regard to Mr. Beaton.
He has always been most respectful and--and--considerate, with me,
whatever he has been with others."

"Well, of course, Mrs. Leighton!" Fulkerson came back in a soothing tone.
"But you see you're the rule that proves the exception. I was speaking of
the way men felt about Beaton. It's different with ladies; I just said
so."

"Is it always different?" Alma asked, lifting her head and her hand from
her drawing, and staring at it absently.

Fulkerson pushed both his hands through his whiskers. "Look here! Look
here!" he said. "Won't somebody start some other subject? We haven't had
the weather up yet, have we? Or the opera? What is the matter with a few
remarks about politics?"

"Why, Ah thoat you lahked to toak about the staff of yo' magazine," said
Miss Woodburn.

"Oh, I do!" said Fulkerson. "But not always about the same member of it.
He gets monotonous, when he doesn't get complicated. I've just come round
from the Marches'," he added, to Mrs. Leighton.

"I suppose they've got thoroughly settled in their apartment by this
time." Mrs. Leighton said something like this whenever the Marches were
mentioned. At the bottom of her heart she had not forgiven them for not
taking her rooms; she had liked their looks so much; and she was always
hoping that they were uncomfortable or dissatisfied; she could not help
wanting them punished a little.

"Well, yes; as much as they ever will be," Fulkerson answered. "The
Boston style is pretty different, you know; and the Marches are
old-fashioned folks, and I reckon they never went in much for bric-a-brac
They've put away nine or ten barrels of dragon candlesticks, but they
keep finding new ones."

"Their landlady has just joined our class," said Alma. "Isn't her name
Green? She happened to see my copy of 'Every Other Week', and said she
knew the editor; and told me."

"Well, it's a little world," said Fulkerson. "You seem to be touching
elbows with everybody. Just think of your having had our head translator
for a model."

"Ah think that your whole publication revolves aroand the Leighton
family," said Miss Woodburn.

"That's pretty much so," Fulkerson admitted. "Anyhow, the publisher seems
disposed to do so."

"Are you the publisher? I thought it was Mr. Dryfoos," said Alma.

"It is."

"Oh!"

The tone and the word gave Fulkerson a discomfort which he promptly
confessed. "Missed again."

The girls laughed, and he regained something of his lost spirits, and
smiled upon their gayety, which lasted beyond any apparent reason for it.

Miss Woodburn asked, "And is Mr. Dryfoos senio' anything like ouah Mr.
Dryfoos?"

"Not the least."

"But he's jost as exemplary?"

"Yes; in his way."

"Well, Ah wish Ah could see all those pinks of puffection togethah,
once."

"Why, look here! I've been thinking I'd celebrate a little, when the old
gentleman gets back. Have a little supper--something of that kind. How
would you like to let me have your parlors for it, Mrs. Leighton? You
ladies could stand on the stairs, and have a peep at us, in the bunch."

"Oh, mah! What a privilege! And will Miss Alma be there, with the othah
contributors? Ah shall jost expah of envy!"

"She won't be there in person," said Fulkerson, "but she'll be
represented by the head of the art department."

"Mah goodness! And who'll the head of the publishing department
represent?"

"He can represent you," said Alma.

"Well, Ah want to be represented, someho'."

"We'll have the banquet the night before you appear on the cover of our
fourth number," said Fulkerson.

"Ah thoat that was doubly fo'bidden," said Miss Woodburn. "By the stern
parent and the envious awtust."

"We'll get Beaton to get round them, somehow. I guess we can trust him to
manage that."

Mrs. Leighton sighed her resentment of the implication.

"I always feel that Mr. Beaton doesn't do himself justice," she began.

Fulkerson could not forego the chance of a joke. "Well, maybe he would
rather temper justice with mercy in a case like his." This made both the
younger ladies laugh. "I judge this is my chance to get off with my
life," he added, and he rose as he spoke. "Mrs. Leighton, I am about the
only man of my sex who doesn't thirst for Beaton's blood most of the
time. But I know him and I don't. He's more kinds of a good fellow than
people generally understand. He doesn't wear his heart upon his
sleeve-not his ulster sleeve, anyway. You can always count me on your
side when it's a question of finding Beaton not guilty if he'll leave the
State."

Alma set her drawing against the wall, in rising to say goodnight to
Fulkerson. He bent over on his stick to look at it. "Well, it's
beautiful," he sighed, with unconscious sincerity.

Alma made him a courtesy of mock modesty. "Thanks to Miss Woodburn!"

"Oh no! All she had to do was simply to stay put."

"Don't you think Ah might have improved it if Ah had, looked better?" the
girl asked, gravely.

"Oh, you couldn't!" said Fulkerson, and he went off triumphant in their
applause and their cries of "Which? which?"

Mrs. Leighton sank deep into an accusing gloom when at last she found
herself alone with her daughter. "I don't know what you are thinking
about, Alma Leighton. If you don't like Mr. Beaton--"

"I don't."

"You don't? You know better than that. You know that, you did care for
him."

"Oh! that's a very different thing. That's a thing that can be got over."

"Got over!" repeated Mrs. Leighton, aghast.

"Of course, it can! Don't be romantic, mamma. People get over dozens of
such fancies. They even marry for love two or three times."

"Never!" cried her mother, doing her best to feel shocked; and at last
looking it.

Her looking it had no effect upon Alma. "You can easily get over caring
for people; but you can't get over liking them--if you like them because
they are sweet and good. That's what lasts. I was a simple goose, and he
imposed upon me because he was a sophisticated goose. Now the case is
reversed."

"He does care for you, now. You can see it. Why do you encourage him to
come here?"

"I don't," said Alma. "I will tell him to keep away if you like. But
whether he comes or goes, it will be the same."

"Not to him, Alma! He is in love with you!"

"He has never said so."

"And you would really let him say so, when you intend to refuse him?"

"I can't very well refuse him till he does say so."

This was undeniable. Mrs. Leighton could only demand, in an awful tone,
"May I ask why--if you cared for him; and I know you care for him still
you will refuse him?"

Alma laughed. "Because--because I'm wedded to my Art, and I'm not going
to commit bigamy, whatever I do."

"Alma!"

"Well, then, because I don't like him--that is, I don't believe in him,
and don't trust him. He's fascinating, but he's false and he's fickle. He
can't help it, I dare say."

"And you are perfectly hard. Is it possible that you were actually
pleased to have Mr. Fulkerson tease you about Mr. Dryfoos?"

"Oh, good-night, now, mamma! This is becoming personal"



PG EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:

    Artists never do anything like other people
    Ballast of her instinctive despondency
    Clinging persistence of such natures
    Dividend: It's a chicken before it's hatched
    Gayety, which lasted beyond any apparent reason for it
    Hopeful recklessness
    How much can a man honestly earn without wronging or oppressing
    I cannot endure this--this hopefulness of yours
    If you dread harm enough it is less likely to happen
    It must be your despair that helps you to bear up
    Marry for love two or three times
    No man deserves to sufer at the hands of another
    Patience with mediocrity putting on the style of genius
    Person talks about taking lessons, as if they could learn it
    Say when he is gone that the woman gets along better without him
    Shouldn't ca' fo' the disgrace of bein' poo'--its inconvenience
    Timidity of the elder in the presence of the younger man



A HAZARD OF NEW FORTUNES

By William Dean Howells



PART THIRD

I.

The scheme of a banquet to celebrate the initial success of 'Every Other
Week' expanded in Fulkerson's fancy into a series. Instead of the
publishing and editorial force, with certain of the more representative
artists and authors sitting down to a modest supper in Mrs. Leighton's
parlors, he conceived of a dinner at Delmonico's, with the principal
literary and artistic, people throughout the country as guests, and an
inexhaustible hospitality to reporters and correspondents, from whom
paragraphs, prophetic and historic, would flow weeks before and after the
first of the series. He said the thing was a new departure in magazines;
it amounted to something in literature as radical as the American
Revolution in politics: it was the idea of self government in the arts;
and it was this idea that had never yet been fully developed in regard to
it. That was what must be done in the speeches at the dinner, and the
speeches must be reported. Then it would go like wildfire. He asked March
whether he thought Mr. Depew could be got to come; Mark Twain, he was
sure, would come; he was a literary man. They ought to invite Mr. Evarts,
and the Cardinal and the leading Protestant divines. His ambition stopped
at nothing, nothing but the question of expense; there he had to wait the
return of the elder Dryfoos from the West, and Dryfoos was still delayed
at Moffitt, and Fulkerson openly confessed that he was afraid he would
stay there till his own enthusiasm escaped in other activities, other
plans.

Fulkerson was as little likely as possible to fall under a superstitious
subjection to another man; but March could not help seeing that in this
possible measure Dryfoos was Fulkerson's fetish. He did not revere him,
March decided, because it was not in Fulkerson's nature to revere
anything; he could like and dislike, but he could not respect.
Apparently, however, Dryfoos daunted him somehow; and besides the homage
which those who have not pay to those who have, Fulkerson rendered
Dryfoos the tribute of a feeling which March could only define as a sort
of bewilderment. As well as March could make out, this feeling was evoked
by the spectacle of Dryfoos's unfailing luck, which Fulkerson was fond of
dazzling himself with. It perfectly consisted with a keen sense of
whatever was sordid and selfish in a man on whom his career must have had
its inevitable effect. He liked to philosophize the case with March, to
recall Dryfoos as he was when he first met him still somewhat in the sap,
at Moffitt, and to study the processes by which he imagined him to have
dried into the hardened speculator, without even the pretence to any
advantage but his own in his ventures. He was aware of painting the
character too vividly, and he warned March not to accept it exactly in
those tints, but to subdue them and shade it for himself. He said that
where his advantage was not concerned, there was ever so much good in
Dryfoos, and that if in some things he had grown inflexible, he had
expanded in others to the full measure of the vast scale on which he did
business. It had seemed a little odd to March that a man should put money
into such an enterprise as 'Every Other Week' and go off about other
affairs, not only without any sign of anxiety, but without any sort of
interest. But Fulkerson said that was the splendid side of Dryfoos. He
had a courage, a magnanimity, that was equal to the strain of any such
uncertainty. He had faced the music once for all, when he asked Fulkerson
what the thing would cost in the different degrees of potential failure;
and then he had gone off, leaving everything to Fulkerson and the younger
Dryfoos, with the instruction simply to go ahead and not bother him about
it. Fulkerson called that pretty tall for an old fellow who used to
bewail the want of pigs and chickens to occupy his mind. He alleged it as
another proof of the versatility of the American mind, and of the
grandeur of institutions and opportunities that let every man grow to his
full size, so that any man in America could run the concern if necessary.
He believed that old Dryfoos could step into Bismarck's shoes and run the
German Empire at ten days' notice, or about as long as it would take him
to go from New York to Berlin. But Bismarck would not know anything about
Dryfoos's plans till Dryfoos got ready to show his hand. Fulkerson
himself did not pretend to say what the old man had been up to since he
went West. He was at Moffitt first, and then he was at Chicago, and then
he had gone out to Denver to look after some mines he had out there, and
a railroad or two; and now he was at Moffitt again. He was supposed to be
closing up his affairs there, but nobody could say.

Fulkerson told March the morning after Dryfoos returned that he had not
only not pulled out at Moffitt, but had gone in deeper, ten times deeper
than ever. He was in a royal good-humor, Fulkerson reported, and was
going to drop into the office on his way up from the Street (March
understood Wall Street) that afternoon. He was tickled to death with
'Every Other Week' so far as it had gone, and was anxious to pay his
respects to the editor.

March accounted for some rhetoric in this, but let it flatter him, and
prepared himself for a meeting about which he could see that Fulkerson
was only less nervous than he had shown himself about the public
reception of the first number. It gave March a disagreeable feeling of
being owned and of being about to be inspected by his proprietor; but he
fell back upon such independence as he could find in the thought of those
two thousand dollars of income beyond the caprice of his owner, and
maintained an outward serenity.

He was a little ashamed afterward of the resolution it had cost him to do
so. It was not a question of Dryfoos's physical presence: that was rather
effective than otherwise, and carried a suggestion of moneyed
indifference to convention in the gray business suit of provincial cut,
and the low, wide-brimmed hat of flexible black felt. He had a stick with
an old-fashioned top of buckhorn worn smooth and bright by the palm of
his hand, which had not lost its character in fat, and which had a
history of former work in its enlarged knuckles, though it was now as
soft as March's, and must once have been small even for a man of Mr.
Dryfoos's stature; he was below the average size. But what struck March
was the fact that Dryfoos seemed furtively conscious of being a country
person, and of being aware that in their meeting he was to be tried by
other tests than those which would have availed him as a shrewd
speculator. He evidently had some curiosity about March, as the first of
his kind whom he had encountered; some such curiosity as the country
school trustee feels and tries to hide in the presence of the new
schoolmaster. But the whole affair was, of course, on a higher plane; on
one side Dryfoos was much more a man of the world than March was, and he
probably divined this at once, and rested himself upon the fact in a
measure. It seemed to be his preference that his son should introduce
them, for he came upstairs with Conrad, and they had fairly made
acquaintance before Fulkerson joined them.

Conrad offered to leave them at once, but his father made him stay. "I
reckon Mr. March and I haven't got anything so private to talk about that
we want to keep it from the other partners. Well, Mr. March, are you
getting used to New York yet? It takes a little time."

"Oh yes. But not so much time as most places. Everybody belongs more or
less in New York; nobody has to belong here altogether."

"Yes, that is so. You can try it, and go away if you don't like it a good
deal easier than you could from a smaller place. Wouldn't make so much
talk, would it?" He glanced at March with a jocose light in his shrewd
eyes. "That is the way I feel about it all the time: just visiting. Now,
it wouldn't be that way in Boston, I reckon?"

"You couldn't keep on visiting there your whole life," said March.

Dryfoos laughed, showing his lower teeth in a way that was at once simple
and fierce. "Mr. Fulkerson didn't hardly know as he could get you to
leave. I suppose you got used to it there. I never been in your city."

"I had got used to it; but it was hardly my city, except by marriage. My
wife's a Bostonian."

"She's been a little homesick here, then," said Dryfoos, with a smile of
the same quality as his laugh.

"Less than I expected," said March. "Of course, she was very much
attached to our old home."

"I guess my wife won't ever get used to New York," said Dryfoos, and he
drew in his lower lip with a sharp sigh. "But my girls like it; they're
young. You never been out our way yet, Mr. March? Out West?"

"Well, only for the purpose of being born, and brought up. I used to live
in Crawfordsville, and then Indianapolis."

"Indianapolis is bound to be a great place," said Dryfoos. "I remember
now, Mr. Fulkerson told me you was from our State." He went on to brag of
the West, as if March were an Easterner and had to be convinced. "You
ought to see all that country. It's a great country."

"Oh yes," said March, "I understand that." He expected the praise of the
great West to lead up to some comment on 'Every Other Week'; and there
was abundant suggestion of that topic in the manuscripts, proofs of
letter-press and illustrations, with advance copies of the latest number
strewn over his table.

But Dryfoos apparently kept himself from looking at these things. He
rolled his head about on his shoulders to take in the character of the
room, and said to his son, "You didn't change the woodwork, after all."

"No; the architect thought we had better let it be, unless we meant to
change the whole place. He liked its being old-fashioned."

"I hope you feel comfortable here, Mr. March," the old man said, bringing
his eyes to bear upon him again after their tour of inspection.

"Too comfortable for a working-man," said March, and he thought that this
remark must bring them to some talk about his work, but the proprietor
only smiled again.

"I guess I sha'n't lose much on this house," he returned, as if musing
aloud. "This down-town property is coming up. Business is getting in on
all these side streets. I thought I paid a pretty good price for it,
too." He went on to talk of real estate, and March began to feel a
certain resentment at his continued avoidance of the only topic in which
they could really have a common interest. "You live down this way
somewhere, don't you?" the old man concluded.

"Yes. I wished to be near my work." March was vexed with himself for
having recurred to it; but afterward he was not sure but Dryfoos shared
his own diffidence in the matter, and was waiting for him to bring it
openly into the talk. At times he seemed wary and masterful, and then
March felt that he was being examined and tested; at others so simple
that March might well have fancied that he needed encouragement, and
desired it. He talked of his wife and daughters in a way that invited
March to say friendly things of his family, which appeared to give the
old man first an undue pleasure and then a final distrust. At moments he
turned, with an effect of finding relief in it, to his son and spoke to
him across March of matters which he was unacquainted with; he did not
seem aware that this was rude, but the young man must have felt it so; he
always brought the conversation back, and once at some cost to himself
when his father made it personal.

"I want to make a regular New York business man out of that fellow," he
said to March, pointing at Conrad with his stick. "You s'pose I'm ever
going to do it?"

"Well, I don't know," said March, trying to fall in with the joke. "Do
you mean nothing but a business man?"

The old man laughed at whatever latent meaning he fancied in this, and
said: "You think he would be a little too much for me there? Well, I've
seen enough of 'em to know it don't always take a large pattern of a man
to do a large business. But I want him to get the business training, and
then if he wants to go into something else he knows what the world is,
anyway. Heigh?"

"Oh yes!" March assented, with some compassion for the young man
reddening patiently under his father's comment.

Dryfoos went on as if his son were not in hearing. "Now that boy wanted
to be a preacher. What does a preacher know about the world he preaches
against when he's been brought up a preacher? He don't know so much as a
bad little boy in his Sunday-school; he knows about as much as a girl. I
always told him, You be a man first, and then you be a preacher, if you
want to. Heigh?"

"Precisely." March began to feel some compassion for himself in being
witness of the young fellow's discomfort under his father's homily.

"When we first come to New York, I told him, Now here's your chance to
see the world on a big scale. You know already what work and saving and
steady habits and sense will bring a man, to; you don't want to go round
among the rich; you want to go among the poor, and see what laziness and
drink and dishonesty and foolishness will bring men to. And I guess he
knows, about as well as anybody; and if he ever goes to preaching he'll
know what he's preaching about." The old man smiled his fierce, simple
smile, and in his sharp eyes March fancied contempt of the ambition he
had balked in his son. The present scene must have been one of many
between them, ending in meek submission on the part of the young man,
whom his father, perhaps without realizing his cruelty, treated as a
child. March took it hard that he should be made to suffer in the
presence of a co-ordinate power like himself, and began to dislike the
old man out of proportion to his offence, which might have been mere want
of taste, or an effect of mere embarrassment before him. But evidently,
whatever rebellion his daughters had carried through against him, he had
kept his dominion over this gentle spirit unbroken. March did not choose
to make any response, but to let him continue, if he would, entirely upon
his own impulse.



II.

A silence followed, of rather painful length. It was broken by the cheery
voice of Fulkerson, sent before him to herald Fulkerson's cheery person.
"Well, I suppose you've got the glorious success of 'Every Other Week'
down pretty cold in your talk by this time. I should have been up sooner
to join you, but I was nipping a man for the last page of the cover. I
guess we'll have to let the Muse have that for an advertisement instead
of a poem the next time, March. Well, the old gentleman given you boys
your scolding?" The person of Fulkerson had got into the room long before
he reached this question, and had planted itself astride a chair.
Fulkerson looked over the chairback, now at March, and now at the elder
Dryfoos as he spoke.

March answered him. "I guess we must have been waiting for you,
Fulkerson. At any rate, we hadn't got to the scolding yet."

"Why, I didn't suppose Mr. Dryfoos could 'a' held in so long. I
understood he was awful mad at the way the thing started off, and wanted
to give you a piece of his mind, when he got at you. I inferred as much
from a remark that he made." March and Dryfoos looked foolish, as men do
when made the subject of this sort of merry misrepresentation.

"I reckon my scolding will keep awhile yet," said the old man, dryly.

"Well, then, I guess it's a good chance to give Mr. Dryfoos an idea of
what we've really done--just while we're resting, as Artemus Ward says.
Heigh, March?"

"I will let you blow the trumpet, Fulkerson. I think it belongs strictly
to the advertising department," said March. He now distinctly resented
the old man's failure to say anything to him of the magazine; he made his
inference that it was from a suspicion of his readiness to presume upon a
recognition of his share in the success, and he was determined to second
no sort of appeal for it.

"The advertising department is the heart and soul of every business,"
said Fulkerson, hardily, "and I like to keep my hand in with a little
practise on the trumpet in private. I don't believe Mr. Dryfoos has got
any idea of the extent of this thing. He's been out among those
Rackensackens, where we were all born, and he's read the notices in their
seven by nine dailies, and he's seen the thing selling on the cars, and
he thinks he appreciates what's been done. But I should just like to take
him round in this little old metropolis awhile, and show him 'Every Other
Week' on the centre tables of the millionaires--the Vanderbilts and the
Astors--and in the homes of culture and refinement everywhere, and let
him judge for himself. It's the talk of the clubs and the dinner-tables;
children cry for it; it's the Castoria of literature and the Pearline of
art, the 'Won't-be-happy-till-he-gets-it of every en lightened man,
woman, and child in this vast city. I knew we could capture the country;
but, my goodness! I didn't expect to have New York fall into our hands at
a blow. But that's just exactly what New York has done. Every Other Week
supplies the long-felt want that's been grinding round in New York and
keeping it awake nights ever since the war. It's the culmination of all
the high and ennobling ideals of the past."

"How much," asked Dryfoos, "do you expect to get out of it the first
year, if it keeps the start it's got?"

"Comes right down to business, every time!" said Fulkerson, referring the
characteristic to March with a delighted glance. "Well, sir, if
everything works right, and we get rain enough to fill up the springs,
and it isn't a grasshopper year, I expect to clear above all expenses
something in the neighborhood of twenty-five thousand dollars."

"Humph! And you are all going to work a year--editor, manager, publisher,
artists, writers, printers, and the rest of 'em--to clear twenty-five
thousand dollars?--I made that much in half a day in Moffitt once. I see
it made in half a minute in Wall Street, sometimes." The old man
presented this aspect of the case with a good-natured contempt, which
included Fulkerson and his enthusiasm in an obvious liking.

His son suggested, "But when we make that money here, no one loses it."

"Can you prove that?" His father turned sharply upon him. "Whatever is
won is lost. It's all a game; it don't make any difference what you bet
on. Business is business, and a business man takes his risks with his
eyes open."

"Ah, but the glory!" Fulkerson insinuated with impudent persiflage. "I
hadn't got to the glory yet, because it's hard to estimate it; but put
the glory at the lowest figure, Mr. Dryfoos, and add it to the
twenty-five thousand, and you've got an annual income from 'Every Other
Week' of dollars enough to construct a silver railroad, double-track,
from this office to the moon. I don't mention any of the sister planets
because I like to keep within bounds."

Dryfoos showed his lower teeth for pleasure in Fulkerson's fooling, and
said, "That's what I like about you, Mr. Fulkerson--you always keep
within bounds."

"Well, I ain't a shrinking Boston violet, like March, here. More
sunflower in my style of diffidence; but I am modest, I don't deny it,"
said Fulkerson. "And I do hate to have a thing overstated."

"And the glory--you do really think there's something in the glory that
pays?"

"Not a doubt of it! I shouldn't care for the paltry return in money,"
said Fulkerson, with a burlesque of generous disdain, "if it wasn't for
the glory along with it."

"And how should you feel about the glory, if there was no money along
with it?"

"Well, sir, I'm happy to say we haven't come to that yet."

"Now, Conrad, here," said the old man, with a sort of pathetic rancor,
"would rather have the glory alone. I believe he don't even care much for
your kind of glory, either, Mr. Fulkerson."

Fulkerson ran his little eyes curiously over Conrad's face and then
March's, as if searching for a trace there of something gone before which
would enable him to reach Dryfoos's whole meaning. He apparently resolved
to launch himself upon conjecture. "Oh, well, we know how Conrad feels
about the things of this world, anyway. I should like to take 'em on the
plane of another sphere, too, sometimes; but I noticed a good while ago
that this was the world I was born into, and so I made up my mind that I
would do pretty much what I saw the rest of the folks doing here below.
And I can't see but what Conrad runs the thing on business principles in
his department, and I guess you'll find it so if you look into it. I
consider that we're a whole team and big dog under the wagon with you to
draw on for supplies, and March, here, at the head of the literary
business, and Conrad in the counting-room, and me to do the heavy lying
in the advertising part. Oh, and Beaton, of course, in the art. I 'most
forgot Beaton--Hamlet with Hamlet left out."

Dryfoos looked across at his son. "Wasn't that the fellow's name that was
there last night?"

"Yes," said Conrad.

The old man rose. "Well, I reckon I got to be going. You ready to go
up-town, Conrad?"

"Well, not quite yet, father."

The old man shook hands with March, and went downstairs, followed by his
son.

Fulkerson remained.

"He didn't jump at the chance you gave him to compliment us all round,
Fulkerson," said March, with a smile not wholly of pleasure.

Fulkerson asked, with as little joy in the grin he had on, "Didn't he say
anything to you before I came in?"

"Not a word."

"Dogged if I know what to make of it," sighed Fulkerson, "but I guess
he's been having a talk with Conrad that's soured on him. I reckon maybe
he came back expecting to find that boy reconciled to the glory of this
world, and Conrad's showed himself just as set against it as ever."

"It might have been that," March admitted, pensively. "I fancied
something of the kind myself from words the old man let drop."

Fulkerson made him explain, and then he said:

"That's it, then; and it's all right. Conrad 'll come round in time; and
all we've got to do is to have patience with the old man till he does. I
know he likes you." Fulkerson affirmed this only interrogatively, and
looked so anxiously to March for corroboration that March laughed.

"He dissembled his love," he said; but afterward, in describing to his
wife his interview with Mr. Dryfoos, he was less amused with this fact.

When she saw that he was a little cast down by it, she began to encourage
him. "He's just a common, ignorant man, and probably didn't know how to
express himself. You may be perfectly sure that he's delighted with the
success of the magazine, and that he understands as well as you do that
he owes it all to you."

"Ah, I'm not so sure. I don't believe a man's any better for having made
money so easily and rapidly as Dryfoos has done, and I doubt if he's any
wiser. I don't know just the point he's reached in his evolution from
grub to beetle, but I do know that so far as it's gone the process must
have involved a bewildering change of ideals and criterions. I guess he's
come to despise a great many things that he once respected, and that
intellectual ability is among them--what we call intellectual ability. He
must have undergone a moral deterioration, an atrophy of the generous
instincts, and I don't see why it shouldn't have reached his mental
make-up. He has sharpened, but he has narrowed; his sagacity has turned
into suspicion, his caution to meanness, his courage to ferocity. That's
the way I philosophize a man of Dryfoos's experience, and I am not very
proud when I realize that such a man and his experience are the ideal and
ambition of most Americans. I rather think they came pretty near being
mine, once."

"No, dear, they never did," his wife protested.

"Well, they're not likely to be in the future. The Dryfoos feature of
'Every Other Week' is thoroughly distasteful to me."

"Why, but he hasn't really got anything to do with it, has he, beyond
furnishing the money?"

"That's the impression that Fulkerson has allowed us to get. But the man
that holds the purse holds the reins. He may let us guide the horse, but
when he likes he can drive. If we don't like his driving, then we can get
down."

Mrs. March was less interested in this figure of speech than in the
personal aspects involved. "Then you think Mr. Fulkerson has deceived
you?"

"Oh no!" said her husband, laughing. "But I think he has deceived
himself, perhaps."

"How?" she pursued.

"He may have thought he was using Dryfoos, when Dryfoos was using him,
and he may have supposed he was not afraid of him when he was very much
so. His courage hadn't been put to the test, and courage is a matter of
proof, like proficiency on the fiddle, you know: you can't tell whether
you've got it till you try."

"Nonsense! Do you mean that he would ever sacrifice you to Mr. Dryfoos?"

"I hope he may not be tempted. But I'd rather be taking the chances with
Fulkerson alone than with Fulkerson and Dryfoos to back him. Dryfoos
seems, somehow, to take the poetry and the pleasure out of the thing."

Mrs. March was a long time silent. Then she began, "Well, my dear, I
never wanted to come to New York--"

"Neither did I," March promptly put in.

"But now that we're here," she went on, "I'm not going to have you
letting every little thing discourage you. I don't see what there was in
Mr. Dryfoos's manner to give you any anxiety. He's just a common, stupid,
inarticulate country person, and he didn't know how to express himself,
as I said in the beginning, and that's the reason he didn't say
anything."

"Well, I don't deny you're right about it."

"It's dreadful," his wife continued, "to be mixed up with such a man and
his family, but I don't believe he'll ever meddle with your management,
and, till he does, all you need do is to have as little to do with him as
possible, and go quietly on your own way."

"Oh, I shall go on quietly enough," said March. "I hope I sha'n't begin
going stealthily."

"Well, my dear," said Mrs. March, "just let me know when you're tempted
to do that. If ever you sacrifice the smallest grain of your honesty or
your self-respect to Mr. Dryfoos, or anybody else, I will simply renounce
you."

"In view of that I'm rather glad the management of 'Every Other Week'
involves tastes and not convictions," said March.



III.

That night Dryfoos was wakened from his after-dinner nap by the sound of
gay talk and nervous giggling in the drawing-room. The talk, which was
Christine's, and the giggling, which was Mela's, were intershot with the
heavier tones of a man's voice; and Dryfoos lay awhile on the leathern
lounge in his library, trying to make out whether he knew the voice. His
wife sat in a deep chair before the fire, with her eyes on his face,
waiting for him to wake.

"Who is that out there?" he asked, without opening his eyes.

"Indeed, indeed, I don't know, Jacob," his wife answered. "I reckon it's
just some visitor of the girls'."

"Was I snoring?"

"Not a bit. You was sleeping as quiet! I did hate to have 'em wake you,
and I was just goin' out to shoo them. They've been playin' something,
and that made them laugh."

"I didn't know but I had snored," said the old man, sitting up.

"No," said his wife. Then she asked, wistfully, "Was you out at the old
place, Jacob?"

"Yes."

"Did it look natural?"

"Yes; mostly. They're sinking the wells down in the woods pasture."

"And--the children's graves?"

"They haven't touched that part. But I reckon we got to have 'em moved to
the cemetery. I bought a lot."

The old woman began softly to weep. "It does seem too hard that they
can't be let to rest in peace, pore little things. I wanted you and me to
lay there, too, when our time come, Jacob. Just there, back o' the
beehives and under them shoomakes--my, I can see the very place! And I
don't believe I'll ever feel at home anywheres else. I woon't know where
I am when the trumpet sounds. I have to think before I can tell where the
east is in New York; and what if I should git faced the wrong way when I
raise? Jacob, I wonder you could sell it!" Her head shook, and the
firelight shone on her tears as she searched the folds of her dress for
her pocket.

A peal of laughter came from the drawing-room, and then the sound of
chords struck on the piano.

"Hush! Don't you cry, 'Liz'beth!" said Dryfoos. "Here; take my
handkerchief. I've got a nice lot in the cemetery, and I'm goin' to have
a monument, with two lambs on it--like the one you always liked so much.
It ain't the fashion, any more, to have family buryin' grounds; they're
collectin' 'em into the cemeteries, all round."

"I reckon I got to bear it," said his wife, muffling her face in his
handkerchief. "And I suppose the Lord kin find me, wherever I am. But I
always did want to lay just there. You mind how we used to go out and set
there, after milkin', and watch the sun go down, and talk about where
their angels was, and try to figger it out?"

"I remember, 'Liz'beth."

The man's voice in the drawing-room sang a snatch of French song,
insolent, mocking, salient; and then Christine's attempted the same
strain, and another cry of laughter from Mela followed.

"Well, I always did expect to lay there. But I reckon it's all right. It
won't be a great while, now, anyway. Jacob, I don't believe I'm a-goin'
to live very long. I know it don't agree with me here."

"Oh, I guess it does, 'Liz'beth. You're just a little pulled down with
the weather. It's coming spring, and you feel it; but the doctor says
you're all right. I stopped in, on the way up, and he says so."

"I reckon he don't know everything," the old woman persisted: "I've been
runnin' down ever since we left Moffitt, and I didn't feel any too well
there, even. It's a very strange thing, Jacob, that the richer you git,
the less you ain't able to stay where you want to, dead or alive."

"It's for the children we do it," said Dryfoos. "We got to give them
their chance in the world."

"Oh, the world! They ought to bear the yoke in their youth, like we done.
I know it's what Coonrod would like to do."

Dryfoos got upon his feet. "If Coonrod 'll mind his own business, and do
what I want him to, he'll have yoke enough to bear." He moved from his
wife, without further effort to comfort her, and pottered heavily out
into the dining-room. Beyond its obscurity stretched the glitter of the
deep drawing-room. His feet, in their broad; flat slippers, made no sound
on the dense carpet, and he came unseen upon the little group there near
the piano. Mela perched upon the stool with her back to the keys, and
Beaton bent over Christine, who sat with a banjo in her lap, letting him
take her hands and put them in the right place on the instrument. Her
face was radiant with happiness, and Mela was watching her with foolish,
unselfish pleasure in her bliss.

There was nothing wrong in the affair to a man of Dryfoos's traditions
and perceptions, and if it had been at home in the farm sitting-room, or
even in his parlor at Moffitt, he would not have minded a young man's
placing his daughter's hands on a banjo, or even holding them there; it
would have seemed a proper, attention from him if he was courting her.
But here, in such a house as this, with the daughter of a man who had
made as much money as he had, he did not know but it was a liberty. He
felt the angry doubt of it which beset him in regard to so many
experiences of his changed life; he wanted to show his sense of it, if it
was a liberty, but he did not know how, and he did not know that it was
so. Besides, he could not help a touch of the pleasure in Christine's
happiness which Mela showed; and he would have gone back to the library,
if he could, without being discovered.

But Beaton had seen him, and Dryfoos, with a nonchalant nod to the young
man, came forward. "What you got there, Christine?"

"A banjo," said the girl, blushing in her father's presence.

Mela gurgled. "Mr. Beaton is learnun' her the first position."

Beaton was not embarrassed. He was in evening dress, and his face,
pointed with its brown beard, showed extremely handsome above the expanse
of his broad, white shirt-front. He gave back as nonchalant a nod as he
had got, and, without further greeting to Dryfoos, he said to Christine:
"No, no. You must keep your hand and arm so." He held them in position.
"There! Now strike with your right hand. See?"

"I don't believe I can ever learn," said the girl, with a fond upward
look at him.

"Oh yes, you can," said Beaton.

They both ignored Dryfoos in the little play of protests which followed,
and he said, half jocosely, half suspiciously, "And is the banjo the
fashion, now?" He remembered it as the emblem of low-down show business,
and associated it with end-men and blackened faces and grotesque
shirt-collars.

"It's all the rage," Mela shouted, in answer for all. "Everybody plays
it. Mr. Beaton borrowed this from a lady friend of his."

"Humph! Pity I got you a piano, then," said Dryfoos. "A banjo would have
been cheaper."

Beaton so far admitted him to the conversation as to seem reminded of the
piano by his mentioning it. He said to Mela, "Oh, won't you just strike
those chords?" and as Mela wheeled about and beat the keys he took the
banjo from Christine and sat down with it. "This way!" He strummed it,
and murmured the tune Dryfoos had heard him singing from the library,
while he kept his beautiful eyes floating on Christine's. "You try that,
now; it's very simple."

"Where is Mrs. Mandel?" Dryfoos demanded, trying to assert himself.

Neither of the girls seemed to have heard him at first in the chatter
they broke into over what Beaton proposed. Then Mela said, absently, "Oh,
she had to go out to see one of her friends that's sick," and she struck
the piano keys. "Come; try it, Chris!"

Dryfoos turned about unheeded and went back to the library. He would have
liked to put Beaton out of his house, and in his heart he burned against
him as a contumacious hand; he would have liked to discharge him from the
art department of 'Every Other Week' at once. But he was aware of not
having treated Beaton with much ceremony, and if the young man had
returned his behavior in kind, with an electrical response to his own
feeling, had he any right to complain? After all, there was no harm in
his teaching Christine the banjo.

His wife still sat looking into the fire. "I can't see," she said, "as
we've got a bit more comfort of our lives, Jacob, because we've got such
piles and piles of money. I wisht to gracious we was back on the farm
this minute. I wisht you had held out ag'inst the childern about sellin'
it; 'twould 'a' bin the best thing fur 'em, I say. I believe in my soul
they'll git spoiled here in New York. I kin see a change in 'em
a'ready--in the girls."

Dryfoos stretched himself on the lounge again. "I can't see as Coonrod is
much comfort, either. Why ain't he here with his sisters? What does all
that work of his on the East Side amount to? It seems as if he done it to
cross me, as much as anything." Dryfoos complained to his wife on the
basis of mere affectional habit, which in married life often survives the
sense of intellectual equality. He did not expect her to reason with him,
but there was help in her listening, and though she could only soothe his
fretfulness with soft answers which were often wide of the purpose, he
still went to her for solace. "Here, I've gone into this newspaper
business, or whatever it is, on his account, and he don't seem any more
satisfied than ever. I can see he hain't got his heart in it."

"The pore boy tries; I know he does, Jacob; and he wants to please you.
But he give up a good deal when he give up bein' a preacher; I s'pose we
ought to remember that."

"A preacher!" sneered Dryfoos. "I reckon bein' a preacher wouldn't
satisfy him now. He had the impudence to tell me this afternoon that he
would like to be a priest; and he threw it up to me that he never could
be because I'd kept him from studyin'."

"He don't mean a Catholic priest--not a Roman one, Jacob," the old woman
explained, wistfully. "He's told me all about it. They ain't the kind o'
Catholics we been used to; some sort of 'Piscopalians; and they do a heap
o' good amongst the poor folks over there. He says we ain't got any idea
how folks lives in them tenement houses, hundreds of 'em in one house,
and whole families in a room; and it burns in his heart to help 'em like
them Fathers, as he calls 'em, that gives their lives to it. He can't be
a Father, he says, because he can't git the eddication now; but he can be
a Brother; and I can't find a word to say ag'inst it, when it gits to
talkin', Jacob."

"I ain't saying anything against his priests, 'Liz'beth," said Dryfoos.
"They're all well enough in their way; they've given up their lives to
it, and it's a matter of business with them, like any other. But what I'm
talking about now is Coonrod. I don't object to his doin' all the charity
he wants to, and the Lord knows I've never been stingy with him about it.
He might have all the money he wants, to give round any way he pleases."

"That's what I told him once, but he says money ain't the thing--or not
the only thing you got to give to them poor folks. You got to give your
time and your knowledge and your love--I don't know what all you got to
give yourself, if you expect to help 'em. That's what Coonrod says."

"Well, I can tell him that charity begins at home," said Dryfoos, sitting
up in his impatience. "And he'd better give himself to us a little--to
his old father and mother. And his sisters. What's he doin' goin' off
there to his meetings, and I don't know what all, an' leavin' them here
alone?"

"Why, ain't Mr. Beaton with 'em?" asked the old woman. "I thought I
heared his voice."

"Mr. Beaton! Of course he is! And who's Mr. Beaton, anyway?"

"Why, ain't he one of the men in Coonrod's office? I thought I heared--"

"Yes, he is! But who is he? What's he doing round here? Is he makin' up
to Christine?"

"I reckon he is. From Mely's talk, she's about crazy over the fellow.
Don't you like him, Jacob?"

"I don't know him, or what he is. He hasn't got any manners. Who brought
him here? How'd he come to come, in the first place?"

"Mr. Fulkerson brung him, I believe," said the old woman, patiently.

"Fulkerson!" Dryfoos snorted. "Where's Mrs. Mandel, I should like to
know? He brought her, too. Does she go traipsin' off this way every
evening?"

"No, she seems to be here pretty regular most o' the time. I don't know
how we could ever git along without her, Jacob; she seems to know just
what to do, and the girls would be ten times as outbreakin' without her.
I hope you ain't thinkin' o' turnin' her off, Jacob?"

Dryfoos did not think it necessary to answer such a question. "It's all
Fulkerson, Fulkerson, Fulkerson. It seems to me that Fulkerson about runs
this family. He brought Mrs. Mandel, and he brought that Beaton, and he
brought that Boston fellow! I guess I give him a dose, though; and I'll
learn Fulkerson that he can't have everything his own way. I don't want
anybody to help me spend my money. I made it, and I can manage it. I
guess Mr. Fulkerson can bear a little watching now. He's been travelling
pretty free, and he's got the notion he's driving, maybe. I'm a-going to
look after that book a little myself."

"You'll kill yourself, Jacob," said his wife, "tryin' to do so many
things. And what is it all fur? I don't see as we're better off, any, for
all the money. It's just as much care as it used to be when we was all
there on the farm together. I wisht we could go back, Ja--"

"We can't go back!" shouted the old man, fiercely. "There's no farm any
more to go back to. The fields is full of gas-wells and oil-wells and
hell-holes generally; the house is tore down, and the barn's goin'--"

"The barn!" gasped the old woman. "Oh, my!"

"If I was to give all I'm worth this minute, we couldn't go back to the
farm, any more than them girls in there could go back and be little
children. I don't say we're any better off, for the money. I've got more
of it now than I ever had; and there's no end to the luck; it pours in.
But I feel like I was tied hand and foot. I don't know which way to move;
I don't know what's best to do about anything. The money don't seem to
buy anything but more and more care and trouble. We got a big house that
we ain't at home in; and we got a lot of hired girls round under our feet
that hinder and don't help. Our children don't mind us, and we got no
friends or neighbors. But it had to be. I couldn't help but sell the
farm, and we can't go back to it, for it ain't there. So don't you say
anything more about it, 'Liz'beth."

"Pore Jacob!" said his wife. "Well, I woon't, dear."



IV

It was clear to Beaton that Dryfoos distrusted him; and the fact
heightened his pleasure in Christine's liking for him. He was as sure of
this as he was of the other, though he was not so sure of any reason for
his pleasure in it. She had her charm; the charm of wildness to which a
certain wildness in himself responded; and there were times when his
fancy contrived a common future for them, which would have a prosperity
forced from the old fellow's love of the girl. Beaton liked the idea of
this compulsion better than he liked the idea of the money; there was
something a little repulsive in that; he imagined himself rejecting it;
he almost wished he was enough in love with the girl to marry her without
it; that would be fine. He was taken with her in a certain' measure, in a
certain way; the question was in what measure, in what way.

It was partly to escape from this question that he hurried down-town, and
decided to spend with the Leightons the hour remaining on his hands
before it was time to go to the reception for which he was dressed. It
seemed to him important that he should see Alma Leighton. After all, it
was her charm that was most abiding with him; perhaps it was to be final.
He found himself very happy in his present relations with her. She had
dropped that barrier of pretences and ironical surprise. It seemed to him
that they had gone back to the old ground of common artistic interest
which he had found so pleasant the summer before. Apparently she and her
mother had both forgiven his neglect of them in the first months of their
stay in New York; he was sure that Mrs. Leighton liked him as well as
ever, and, if there was still something a little provisional in Alma's
manner at times, it was something that piqued more than it discouraged;
it made him curious, not anxious.

He found the young ladies with Fulkerson when he rang. He seemed to be
amusing them both, and they were both amused beyond the merit of so small
a pleasantry, Beaton thought, when Fulkerson said: "Introduce myself, Mr.
Beaton: Mr. Fulkerson of 'Every Other Week.' Think I've met you at our
place." The girls laughed, and Alma explained that her mother was not
very well, and would be sorry not to see him. Then she turned, as he
felt, perversely, and went on talking with Fulkerson and left him to Miss
Woodburn.

She finally recognized his disappointment: "Ah don't often get a chance
at you, Mr. Beaton, and Ah'm just goin' to toak yo' to death. Yo' have
been Soath yo'self, and yo' know ho' we do toak."

"I've survived to say yes," Beaton admitted.

"Oh, now, do you think we toak so much mo' than you do in the No'th?" the
young lady deprecated.

"I don't know. I only know you can't talk too much for me. I should like
to hear you say Soath and house and about for the rest of my life."

"That's what Ah call raght personal, Mr. Beaton. Now Ah'm goin' to be
personal, too." Miss Woodburn flung out over her lap the square of cloth
she was embroidering, and asked him: "Don't you think that's beautiful?
Now, as an awtust--a great awtust?"

"As a great awtust, yes," said Beaton, mimicking her accent. "If I were
less than great I might have something to say about the arrangement of
colors. You're as bold and original as Nature."

"Really? Oh, now, do tell me yo' favo'ite colo', Mr. Beaton."

"My favorite color? Bless my soul, why should I prefer any? Is blue good,
or red wicked? Do people have favorite colors?" Beaton found himself
suddenly interested.

"Of co'se they do," answered the girl. "Don't awtusts?"

"I never heard of one that had--consciously."

"Is it possible? I supposed they all had. Now mah favo'ite colo' is
gawnet. Don't you think it's a pretty colo'?"

"It depends upon how it's used. Do you mean in neckties?" Beaton stole a
glance at the one Fulkerson was wearing.

Miss Woodburn laughed with her face bowed upon her wrist. "Ah do think
you gentlemen in the No'th awe ten tahms as lahvely as the ladies."

"Strange," said Beaton. "In the South--Soath, excuse me! I made the
observation that the ladies were ten times as lively as the gentlemen.
What is that you're working?"

"This?" Miss Woodburn gave it another flirt, and looked at it with a
glance of dawning recognition. "Oh, this is a table-covah. Wouldn't you
lahke to see where it's to go?"

"Why, certainly."

"Well, if you'll be raght good I'll let yo' give me some professional
advass about putting something in the co'ners or not, when you have seen
it on the table."

She rose and led the way into the other room. Beaton knew she wanted to
talk with him about something else; but he waited patiently to let her
play her comedy out. She spread the cover on the table, and he advised
her, as he saw she wished, against putting anything in the corners; just
run a line of her stitch around the edge, he said.

"Mr. Fulkerson and Ah, why, we've been having a regular faght aboat it,"
she commented. "But we both agreed, fahnally, to leave it to you; Mr.
Fulkerson said you'd be sure to be raght. Ah'm so glad you took mah
sahde. But he's a great admahrer of yours, Mr. Beaton," she concluded,
demurely, suggestively.

"Is he? Well, I'm a great admirer of Fulkerson," said Beaton, with a
capricious willingness to humor her wish to talk about Fulkerson. "He's a
capital fellow; generous, magnanimous, with quite an ideal of friendship
and an eye single to the main chance all the time. He would advertise
'Every Other Week' on his family vault."

Miss Woodburn laughed, and said she should tell him what Beaton had said.

"Do. But he's used to defamation from me, and he'll think you're joking."

"Ah suppose," said Miss Woodburn, "that he's quahte the tahpe of a New
York business man." She added, as if it followed logically, "He's so
different from what I thought a New York business man would be."

"It's your Virginia tradition to despise business," said Beaton, rudely.

Miss Woodburn laughed again. "Despahse it? Mah goodness! we want to get
into it and woak it fo' all it's wo'th,' as Mr. Fulkerson says. That
tradition is all past. You don't know what the Soath is now. Ah suppose
mah fathaw despahses business, but he's a tradition himself, as Ah tell
him." Beaton would have enjoyed joining the young lady in anything she
might be going to say in derogation of her father, but he restrained
himself, and she went on more and more as if she wished to account for
her father's habitual hauteur with Beaton, if not to excuse it. "Ah tell
him he don't understand the rising generation. He was brought up in the
old school, and he thinks we're all just lahke he was when he was young,
with all those ahdeals of chivalry and family; but, mah goodness! it's
money that cyoants no'adays in the Soath, just lahke it does everywhere
else. Ah suppose, if we could have slavery back in the fawm mah fathaw
thinks it could have been brought up to, when the commercial spirit
wouldn't let it alone, it would be the best thing; but we can't have it
back, and Ah tell him we had better have the commercial spirit as the
next best thing."

Miss Woodburn went on, with sufficient loyalty and piety, to expose the
difference of her own and her father's ideals, but with what Beaton
thought less reference to his own unsympathetic attention than to a
knowledge finally of the personnel and materiel of 'Every Other Week.'
and Mr. Fulkerson's relation to the enterprise. "You most excuse my
asking so many questions, Mr. Beaton. You know it's all mah doing that we
awe heah in New York. Ah just told mah fathaw that if he was evah goin'
to do anything with his wrahtings, he had got to come No'th, and Ah made
him come. Ah believe he'd have stayed in the Soath all his lahfe. And now
Mr. Fulkerson wants him to let his editor see some of his wrahtings, and
Ah wanted to know something aboat the magazine. We awe a great deal
excited aboat it in this hoase, you know, Mr. Beaton," she concluded,
with a look that now transferred the interest from Fulkerson to Alma. She
led the way back to the room where they were sitting, and went up to
triumph over Fulkerson with Beaton's decision about the table-cover.

Alma was left with Beaton near the piano, and he began to talk about the
Dryfooses as he sat down on the piano-stool. He said he had been giving
Miss Dryfoos a lesson on the banjo; he had borrowed the banjo of Miss
Vance. Then he struck the chord he had been trying to teach Christine,
and played over the air he had sung.

"How do you like that?" he asked, whirling round.

"It seems rather a disrespectful little tune, somehow," said Alma,
placidly.

Beaton rested his elbow on the corner of the piano and gazed dreamily at
her. "Your perceptions are wonderful. It is disrespectful. I played it,
up there, because I felt disrespectful to them."

"Do you claim that as a merit?"

"No, I state it as a fact. How can you respect such people?"

"You might respect yourself, then," said the girl. "Or perhaps that
wouldn't be so easy, either."

"No, it wouldn't. I like to have you say these things to me," said
Beaton, impartially.

"Well, I like to say them," Alma returned.

"They do me good."

"Oh, I don't know that that was my motive."

"There is no one like you--no one," said Beaton, as if apostrophizing her
in her absence. "To come from that house, with its assertions of
money--you can hear it chink; you can smell the foul old banknotes; it
stifles you--into an atmosphere like this, is like coming into another
world."

"Thank you," said Alma. "I'm glad there isn't that unpleasant odor here;
but I wish there was a little more of the chinking."

"No, no! Don't say that!" he implored. "I like to think that there is one
soul uncontaminated by the sense of money in this big, brutal, sordid
city."

"You mean two," said Alma, with modesty. "But if you stifle at the
Dryfooses', why do you go there?"

"Why do I go?" he mused. "Don't you believe in knowing all the natures,
the types, you can? Those girls are a strange study: the young one is a
simple, earthly creature, as common as an oat-field and the other a sort
of sylvan life: fierce, flashing, feline--"

Alma burst out into a laugh. "What apt alliteration! And do they like
being studied? I should think the sylvan life might--scratch."

"No," said Beaton, with melancholy absence, "it only-purrs."

The girl felt a rising indignation. "Well, then, Mr. Beaton, I should
hope it would scratch, and bite, too. I think you've no business to go
about studying people, as you do. It's abominable."

"Go on," said the young man. "That Puritan conscience of yours! It
appeals to the old Covenanter strain in me--like a voice of
pre-existence. Go on--"

"Oh, if I went on I should merely say it was not only abominable, but
contemptible."

"You could be my guardian angel, Alma," said the young man, making his
eyes more and more slumbrous and dreamy.

"Stuff! I hope I have a soul above buttons!"

He smiled, as she rose, and followed her across the room. "Good-night;
Mr. Beaton," she said.

Miss Woodburn and Fulkerson came in from the other room. "What! You're
not going, Beaton?"

"Yes; I'm going to a reception. I stopped in on my way."

"To kill time," Alma explained.

"Well," said Fulkerson, gallantly, "this is the last place I should like
to do it. But I guess I'd better be going, too. It has sometimes occurred
to me that there is such a thing as staying too late. But with Brother
Beaton, here, just starting in for an evening's amusement, it does seem a
little early yet. Can't you urge me to stay, somebody?"

The two girls laughed, and Miss Woodburn said:

"Mr. Beaton is such a butterfly of fashion! Ah wish Ah was on mah way to
a pawty. Ah feel quahte envious."

"But he didn't say it to make you," Alma explained, with meek softness.

"Well, we can't all be swells. Where is your party, anyway, Beaton?"
asked Fulkerson. "How do you manage to get your invitations to those
things? I suppose a fellow has to keep hinting round pretty lively,
Neigh?"

Beaton took these mockeries serenely, and shook hands with Miss Woodburn,
with the effect of having already shaken hands with Alma. She stood with
hers clasped behind her.



V.

Beaton went away with the smile on his face which he had kept in
listening to Fulkerson, and carried it with him to the reception. He
believed that Alma was vexed with him for more personal reasons than she
had implied; it flattered him that she should have resented what he told
her of the Dryfooses. She had scolded him in their behalf apparently; but
really because he had made her jealous by his interest, of whatever kind,
in some one else. What followed, had followed naturally. Unless she had
been quite a simpleton she could not have met his provisional love-making
on any other terms; and the reason why Beaton chiefly liked Alma Leighton
was that she was not a simpleton. Even up in the country, when she was
overawed by his acquaintance, at first, she was not very deeply overawed,
and at times she was not overawed at all. At such times she astonished
him by taking his most solemn histrionics with flippant incredulity, and
even burlesquing them. But he could see, all the same, that he had caught
her fancy, and he admired the skill with which she punished his neglect
when they met in New York. He had really come very near forgetting the
Leightons; the intangible obligations of mutual kindness which hold some
men so fast, hung loosely upon him; it would not have hurt him to break
from them altogether; but when he recognized them at last, he found that
it strengthened them indefinitely to have Alma ignore them so completely.
If she had been sentimental, or softly reproachful, that would have been
the end; he could not have stood it; he would have had to drop her. But
when she met him on his own ground, and obliged him to be sentimental,
the game was in her hands. Beaton laughed, now, when he thought of that,
and he said to himself that the girl had grown immensely since she had
come to New York; nothing seemed to have been lost upon her; she must
have kept her eyes uncommonly wide open. He noticed that especially in
their talks over her work; she had profited by everything she had seen
and heard; she had all of Wetmore's ideas pat; it amused Beaton to see
how she seized every useful word that he dropped, too, and turned him to
technical account whenever she could. He liked that; she had a great deal
of talent; there was no question of that; if she were a man there could
be no question of her future. He began to construct a future for her; it
included provision for himself, too; it was a common future, in which
their lives and work were united.

He was full of the glow of its prosperity when he met Margaret Vance at
the reception.

The house was one where people might chat a long time together without
publicly committing themselves to an interest in each other except such a
grew out of each other's ideas. Miss Vance was there because she united
in her catholic sympathies or ambitions the objects of the fashionable
people and of the aesthetic people who met there on common ground. It was
almost the only house in New York where this happened often, and it did
not happen very often there. It was a literary house, primarily, with
artistic qualifications, and the frequenters of it were mostly authors
and artists; Wetmore, who was always trying to fit everything with a
phrase, said it was the unfrequenters who were fashionable. There was
great ease there, and simplicity; and if there was not distinction, it
was not for want of distinguished people, but because there seems to be
some solvent in New York life that reduces all men to a common level,
that touches everybody with its potent magic and brings to the surface
the deeply underlying nobody. The effect for some temperaments, for
consciousness, for egotism, is admirable; for curiosity, for hero
worship, it is rather baffling. It is the spirit of the street
transferred to the drawing-room; indiscriminating, levelling, but
doubtless finally wholesome, and witnessing the immensity of the place,
if not consenting to the grandeur of reputations or presences.

Beaton now denied that this house represented a salon at all, in the old
sense; and he held that the salon was impossible, even undesirable, with
us, when Miss Vance sighed for it. At any rate, he said that this turmoil
of coming and going, this bubble and babble, this cackling and hissing of
conversation was not the expression of any such civilization as had
created the salon. Here, he owned, were the elements of intellectual
delightfulness, but he said their assemblage in such quantity alone
denied the salon; there was too much of a good thing. The French word
implied a long evening of general talk among the guests, crowned with a
little chicken at supper, ending at cock-crow. Here was tea, with milk or
with lemon-baths of it and claret-cup for the hardier spirits throughout
the evening. It was very nice, very pleasant, but it was not the little
chicken--not the salon. In fact, he affirmed, the salon descended from
above, out of the great world, and included the aesthetic world in it.
But our great world--the rich people, were stupid, with no wish to be
otherwise; they were not even curious about authors and artists. Beaton
fancied himself speaking impartially, and so he allowed himself to speak
bitterly; he said that in no other city in the world, except Vienna,
perhaps, were such people so little a part of society.

"It isn't altogether the rich people's fault," said Margaret; and she
spoke impartially, too. "I don't believe that the literary men and the
artists would like a salon that descended to them. Madame Geoffrin, you
know, was very plebeian; her husband was a business man of some sort."

"He would have been a howling swell in New York," said Beaton, still
impartially.

Wetmore came up to their corner, with a scroll of bread and butter in one
hand and a cup of tea in the other. Large and fat, and clean-shaven, he
looked like a monk in evening dress.

"We were talking about salons," said Margaret.

"Why don't you open a salon yourself?" asked Wetmore, breathing thickly
from the anxiety of getting through the crowd without spilling his tea.

"Like poor Lady Barberina Lemon?" said the girl, with a laugh. "What a
good story! That idea of a woman who couldn't be interested in any of the
arts because she was socially and traditionally the material of them! We
can, never reach that height of nonchalance in this country."

"Not if we tried seriously?" suggested the painter. "I've an idea that if
the Americans ever gave their minds to that sort of thing, they could
take the palm--or the cake, as Beaton here would say--just as they do in
everything else. When we do have an aristocracy, it will be an
aristocracy that will go ahead of anything the world has ever seen. Why
don't somebody make a beginning, and go in openly for an ancestry, and a
lower middle class, and an hereditary legislature, and all the rest?
We've got liveries, and crests, and palaces, and caste feeling. We're all
right as far as we've gone, and we've got the money to go any length."

"Like your natural-gas man, Mr. Beaton," said the girl, with a smiling
glance round at him.

"Ah!" said Wetmore, stirring his tea, "has Beaton got a natural-gas man?"

"My natural-gas man," said Beaton, ignoring Wetmore's question, "doesn't
know how to live in his palace yet, and I doubt if he has any caste
feeling. I fancy his family believe themselves victims of it. They
say--one of the young ladies does--that she never saw such an unsociable
place as New York; nobody calls."

"That's good!" said Wetmore. "I suppose they're all ready for company,
too: good cook, furniture, servants, carriages?"

"Galore," said Beaton.

"Well, that's too bad. There's a chance for you, Miss Vance. Doesn't your
philanthropy embrace the socially destitute as well as the financially?
Just think of a family like that, without a friend, in a great city! I
should think common charity had a duty there--not to mention the
uncommon."

He distinguished that kind as Margaret's by a glance of ironical
deference. She had a repute for good works which was out of proportion to
the works, as it always is, but she was really active in that way, under
the vague obligation, which we now all feel, to be helpful. She was of
the church which seems to have found a reversion to the imposing ritual
of the past the way back to the early ideals of Christian brotherhood.

"Oh, they seem to have Mr. Beaton," Margaret answered, and Beaton felt
obscurely flattered by her reference to his patronage of the Dryfooses.

He explained to Wetmore: "They have me because they partly own me.
Dryfoos is Fulkerson's financial backer in 'Every Other Week'."

"Is that so? Well, that's interesting, too. Aren't you rather astonished,
Miss Vance, to see what a petty thing Beaton is making of that magazine
of his?"

"Oh," said Margaret, "it's so very nice, every way; it makes you feel as
if you did have a country, after all. It's as chic--that detestable
little word!--as those new French books."

"Beaton modelled it on them. But you mustn't suppose he does everything
about 'Every Other Week'; he'd like you to. Beaton, you haven't come up
to that cover of your first number, since. That was the design of one of
my pupils, Miss Vance--a little girl that Beaton discovered down in New
Hampshire last summer."

"Oh yes. And have you great hopes of her, Mr. Wetmore?"

"She seems to have more love of it and knack for it than any one of her
sex I've seen yet. It really looks like a case of art for art's sake, at
times. But you can't tell. They're liable to get married at any moment,
you know. Look here, Beaton, when your natural-gas man gets to the
picture-buying stage in his development, just remember your old friends,
will you? You know, Miss Vance, those new fellows have their regular
stages. They never know what to do with their money, but they find out
that people buy pictures, at one point. They shut your things up in their
houses where nobody comes, and after a while they overeat
themselves--they don't know what, else to do--and die of apoplexy, and
leave your pictures to a gallery, and then they see the light. It's slow,
but it's pretty sure. Well, I see Beaton isn't going to move on, as he
ought to do; and so I must. He always was an unconventional creature."

Wetmore went away, but Beaton remained, and he outstayed several other
people who came up to speak to Miss Vance. She was interested in
everybody, and she liked the talk of these clever literary, artistic,
clerical, even theatrical people, and she liked the sort of court with
which they recognized her fashion as well as her cleverness; it was very
pleasant to be treated intellectually as if she were one of themselves,
and socially as if she was not habitually the same, but a sort of guest
in Bohemia, a distinguished stranger. If it was Arcadia rather than
Bohemia, still she felt her quality of distinguished stranger. The
flattery of it touched her fancy, and not her vanity; she had very little
vanity. Beaton's devotion made the same sort of appeal; it was not so
much that she liked him as she liked being the object of his admiration.
She was a girl of genuine sympathies, intellectual rather than
sentimental. In fact, she was an intellectual person, whom qualities of
the heart saved from being disagreeable, as they saved her on the other
hand from being worldly or cruel in her fashionableness. She had read a
great many books, and had ideas about them, quite courageous and original
ideas; she knew about pictures--she had been in Wetmore's class; she was
fond of music; she was willing to understand even politics; in Boston she
might have been agnostic, but in New York she was sincerely religious;
she was very accomplished; and perhaps it was her goodness that prevented
her feeling what was not best in Beaton.

"Do you think," she said, after the retreat of one of the comers and
goers left her alone with him again, "that those young ladies would like
me to call on them?"

"Those young ladies?" Beaton echoed. "Miss Leighton and--"

"No; I have been there with my aunt's cards already."

"Oh yes," said Beaton, as if he had known of it; he admired the pluck and
pride with which Alma had refrained from ever mentioning the fact to him,
and had kept her mother from mentioning it, which must have been
difficult.

"I mean the Miss Dryfooses. It seems really barbarous, if nobody goes
near them. We do all kinds of things, and help all kinds of people in
some ways, but we let strangers remain strangers unless they know how to
make their way among us."

"The Dryfooses certainly wouldn't know how to make their way among you,"
said Beaton, with a sort of dreamy absence in his tone.

Miss Vance went on, speaking out the process of reasoning in her mind,
rather than any conclusions she had reached. "We defend ourselves by
trying to believe that they must have friends of their own, or that they
would think us patronizing, and wouldn't like being made the objects of
social charity; but they needn't really suppose anything of the kind."

"I don't imagine they would," said Beaton. "I think they'd be only too
happy to have you come. But you wouldn't know what to do with each other,
indeed, Miss Vance."

"Perhaps we shall like each other," said the girl, bravely, "and then we
shall know. What Church are they of?"

"I don't believe they're of any," said Beaton. "The mother was brought up
a Dunkard."

"A Dunkard?"

Beaton told what he knew of the primitive sect, with its early Christian
polity, its literal interpretation of Christ's ethics, and its quaint
ceremonial of foot-washing; he made something picturesque of that. "The
father is a Mammon-worshipper, pure and simple. I suppose the young
ladies go to church, but I don't know where. They haven't tried to
convert me."

"I'll tell them not to despair--after I've converted them," said Miss
Vance. "Will you let me use you as a 'point d'appui', Mr. Beaton?"

"Any way you like. If you're really going to see them, perhaps I'd better
make a confession. I left your banjo with them, after I got it put in
order."

"How very nice! Then we have a common interest already."

"Do you mean the banjo, or--"

"The banjo, decidedly. Which of them plays?"

"Neither. But the eldest heard that the banjo was 'all the rage,' as the
youngest says. Perhaps you can persuade them that good works are the
rage, too."

Beaton had no very lively belief that Margaret would go to see the
Dryfooses; he did so few of the things he proposed that he went upon the
theory that others must be as faithless. Still, he had a cruel amusement
in figuring the possible encounter between Margaret Vance, with her
intellectual elegance, her eager sympathies and generous ideals, and
those girls with their rude past, their false and distorted perspective,
their sordid and hungry selfishness, and their faith in the omnipotence
of their father's wealth wounded by their experience of its present
social impotence. At the bottom of his heart he sympathized with them
rather than with her; he was more like them.

People had ceased coming, and some of them were going. Miss Vance said
she must go, too, and she was about to rise, when the host came up with
March; Beaton turned away.

"Miss Vance, I want to introduce Mr. March, the editor of 'Every Other
Week.' You oughtn't to be restricted to the art department. We literary
fellows think that arm of the service gets too much of the glory
nowadays." His banter was for Beaton, but he was already beyond ear-shot,
and the host went on:

"Mr. March can talk with you about your favorite Boston. He's just turned
his back on it."

"Oh, I hope not!" said Miss Vance. "I can't imagine anybody voluntarily
leaving Boston."

"I don't say he's so bad as that," said the host, committing March to
her. "He came to New York because he couldn't help it--like the rest of
us. I never know whether that's a compliment to New York or not."

They talked Boston a little while, without finding that they had common
acquaintance there; Miss Vance must have concluded that society was much
larger in Boston than she had supposed from her visits there, or else
that March did not know many people in it. But she was not a girl to care
much for the inferences that might be drawn from such conclusions; she
rather prided herself upon despising them; and she gave herself to the
pleasure of being talked to as if she were of March's own age. In the
glow of her sympathetic beauty and elegance he talked his best, and tried
to amuse her with his jokes, which he had the art of tingeing with a
little seriousness on one side. He made her laugh; and he flattered her
by making her think; in her turn she charmed him so much by enjoying what
he said that he began to brag of his wife, as a good husband always does
when another woman charms him; and she asked, Oh was Mrs. March there;
and would he introduce her?

She asked Mrs. March for her address, and whether she had a day; and she
said she would come to see her, if she would let her. Mrs. March could
not be so enthusiastic about her as March was, but as they walked home
together they talked the girl over, and agreed about her beauty and her
amiability. Mrs. March said she seemed very unspoiled for a person who
must have been so much spoiled. They tried to analyze her charm, and they
succeeded in formulating it as a combination of intellectual
fashionableness and worldly innocence. "I think," said Mrs. March, "that
city girls, brought up as she must have been, are often the most innocent
of all. They never imagine the wickedness of the world, and if they marry
happily they go through life as innocent as children. Everything combines
to keep them so; the very hollowness of society shields them. They are
the loveliest of the human race. But perhaps the rest have to pay too
much for them."

"For such an exquisite creature as Miss Vance," said March, "we couldn't
pay too much."

A wild laughing cry suddenly broke upon the air at the street-crossing in
front of them. A girl's voice called out: "Run, run, Jen! The copper is
after you." A woman's figure rushed stumbling across the way and into the
shadow of the houses, pursued by a burly policeman.

"Ah, but if that's part of the price?"

They went along fallen from the gay spirit of their talk into a silence
which he broke with a sigh. "Can that poor wretch and the radiant girl we
left yonder really belong to the same system of things? How impossible
each makes the other seem!"



VI.

Mrs. Horn believed in the world and in society and its unwritten
constitution devoutly, and she tolerated her niece's benevolent
activities as she tolerated her aesthetic sympathies because these
things, however oddly, were tolerated--even encouraged--by society; and
they gave Margaret a charm. They made her originality interesting. Mrs.
Horn did not intend that they should ever go so far as to make her
troublesome; and it was with a sense of this abeyant authority of her
aunt's that the girl asked her approval of her proposed call upon the
Dryfooses. She explained as well as she could the social destitution of
these opulent people, and she had of course to name Beaton as the source
of her knowledge concerning them.

"Did Mr. Beaton suggest your calling on them?"

"No; he rather discouraged it."

"And why do you think you ought to go in this particular instance? New
York is full of people who don't know anybody."

Margaret laughed. "I suppose it's like any other charity: you reach the
cases you know of. The others you say you can't help, and you try to
ignore them."

"It's very romantic," said Mrs. Horn. "I hope you've counted the cost;
all the possible consequences."

Margaret knew that her aunt had in mind their common experience with the
Leightons, whom, to give their common conscience peace, she had called
upon with her aunt's cards and excuses, and an invitation for her
Thursdays, somewhat too late to make the visit seem a welcome to New
York. She was so coldly received, not so much for herself as in her
quality of envoy, that her aunt experienced all the comfort which
vicarious penance brings. She did not perhaps consider sufficiently her
niece's guiltlessness in the expiation. Margaret was not with her at St.
Barnaby in the fatal fortnight she passed there, and never saw the
Leightons till she went to call upon them. She never complained: the
strain of asceticism, which mysteriously exists in us all, and makes us
put peas, boiled or unboiled, in our shoes, gave her patience with the
snub which the Leightons presented her for her aunt. But now she said,
with this in mind: "Nothing seems simpler than to get rid of people if
you don't want them. You merely have to let them alone."

"It isn't so pleasant, letting them alone," said Mrs. Horn.

"Or having them let you alone," said Margaret; for neither Mrs. Leighton
nor Alma had ever come to enjoy the belated hospitality of Mrs. Horn's
Thursdays.

"Yes, or having them let you alone," Mrs. Horn courageously consented.
"And all that I ask you, Margaret, is to be sure that you really want to
know these people."

"I don't," said the girl, seriously, "in the usual way."

"Then the question is whether you do in the un usual way. They will build
a great deal upon you," said Mrs. Horn, realizing how much the Leightons
must have built upon her, and how much out of proportion to her desert
they must now dislike her; for she seemed to have had them on her mind
from the time they came, and had always meant to recognize any reasonable
claim they had upon her.

"It seems very odd, very sad," Margaret returned, "that you never could
act unselfishly in society affairs. If I wished to go and see those girls
just to do them a pleasure, and perhaps because if they're strange and
lonely, I might do them good, even--it would be impossible."

"Quite," said her aunt. "Such a thing would be quixotic. Society doesn't
rest upon any such basis. It can't; it would go to pieces, if people
acted from unselfish motives."

"Then it's a painted savage!" said the girl. "All its favors are really
bargains. It's gifts are for gifts back again."

"Yes, that is true," said Mrs. Horn, with no more sense of wrong in the
fact than the political economist has in the fact that wages are the
measure of necessity and not of merit. "You get what you pay for. It's a
matter of business." She satisfied herself with this formula, which she
did not invent, as fully as if it were a reason; but she did not dislike
her niece's revolt against it. That was part of Margaret's originality,
which pleased her aunt in proportion to her own conventionality; she was
really a timid person, and she liked the show of courage which Margaret's
magnanimity often reflected upon her. She had through her a repute, with
people who did not know her well, for intellectual and moral qualities;
she was supposed to be literary and charitable; she almost had opinions
and ideals, but really fell short of their possession. She thought that
she set bounds to the girl's originality because she recognized them.
Margaret understood this better than her aunt, and knew that she had
consulted her about going to see the Dryfooses out of deference, and with
no expectation of luminous instruction. She was used to being a law to
herself, but she knew what she might and might not do, so that she was
rather a by-law. She was the kind of girl that might have fancies for
artists and poets, but might end by marrying a prosperous broker, and
leavening a vast lump of moneyed and fashionable life with her culture,
generosity, and good-will. The intellectual interests were first with
her, but she might be equal to sacrificing them; she had the best heart,
but she might know how to harden it; if she was eccentric, her social
orbit was defined; comets themselves traverse space on fixed lines. She
was like every one else, a congeries of contradictions and
inconsistencies, but obedient to the general expectation of what a girl
of her position must and must not finally be. Provisionally, she was very
much what she liked to be.



VII

Margaret Vance tried to give herself some reason for going to call upon
the Dryfooses, but she could find none better than the wish to do a kind
thing. This seemed queerer and less and less sufficient as she examined
it, and she even admitted a little curiosity as a harmless element in her
motive, without being very well satisfied with it. She tried to add a
slight sense of social duty, and then she decided to have no motive at
all, but simply to pay her visit as she would to any other eligible
strangers she saw fit to call upon. She perceived that she must be very
careful not to let them see that any other impulse had governed her; she
determined, if possible, to let them patronize her; to be very modest and
sincere and diffident, and, above all, not to play a part. This was easy,
compared with the choice of a manner that should convey to them the fact
that she was not playing a part. When the hesitating Irish serving-man
had acknowledged that the ladies were at home, and had taken her card to
them, she sat waiting for them in the drawing-room. Her study of its
appointments, with their impersonal costliness, gave her no suggestion
how to proceed; the two sisters were upon her before she had really
decided, and she rose to meet them with the conviction that she was going
to play a part for want of some chosen means of not doing so. She found
herself, before she knew it, making her banjo a property in the little
comedy, and professing so much pleasure in the fact that Miss Dryfoos was
taking it up; she had herself been so much interested by it. Anything,
she said, was a relief from the piano; and then, between the guitar and
the banjo, one must really choose the banjo, unless one wanted to devote
one's whole natural life to the violin. Of course, there was the
mandolin; but Margaret asked if they did not feel that the bit of shell
you struck it with interposed a distance between you and the real soul of
the instrument; and then it did have such a faint, mosquitoy little tone!
She made much of the question, which they left her to debate alone while
they gazed solemnly at her till she characterized the tone of the
mandolin, when Mela broke into a large, coarse laugh.

"Well, that's just what it does sound like," she explained defiantly to
her sister. "I always feel like it was going to settle somewhere, and I
want to hit myself a slap before it begins to bite. I don't see what ever
brought such a thing into fashion."

Margaret had not expected to be so powerfully seconded, and she asked,
after gathering herself together, "And you are both learning the banjo?"
"My, no!" said Mela, "I've gone through enough with the piano. Christine
is learnun' it."

"I'm so glad you are making my banjo useful at the outset, Miss Dryfoos."
Both girls stared at her, but found it hard to cope with the fact that
this was the lady friend whose banjo Beaton had lent them. "Mr. Beaton
mentioned that he had left it here. I hope you'll keep it as long as you
find it useful."

At this amiable speech even Christine could not help thanking her. "Of
course," she said, "I expect to get another, right off. Mr. Beaton is
going to choose it for me."

"You are very fortunate. If you haven't a teacher yet I should so like to
recommend mine."

Mela broke out in her laugh again. "Oh, I guess Christine's pretty well
suited with the one she's got," she said, with insinuation. Her sister
gave her a frowning glance, and Margaret did not tempt her to explain.

"Then that's much better," she said. "I have a kind of superstition in
such matters; I don't like to make a second choice. In a shop I like to
take the first thing of the kind I'm looking for, and even if I choose
further I come back to the original."

"How funny!" said Mela. "Well, now, I'm just the other way. I always take
the last thing, after I've picked over all the rest. My luck always seems
to be at the bottom of the heap. Now, Christine, she's more like you. I
believe she could walk right up blindfolded and put her hand on the thing
she wants every time."

"I'm like father," said Christine, softened a little by the celebration
of her peculiarity. "He says the reason so many people don't get what
they want is that they don't want it bad enough. Now, when I want a
thing, it seems to me that I want it all through."

"Well, that's just like father, too," said Mela. "That's the way he done
when he got that eighty-acre piece next to Moffitt that he kept when he
sold the farm, and that's got some of the best gas-wells on it now that
there is anywhere." She addressed the explanation to her sister, to the
exclusion of Margaret, who, nevertheless, listened with a smiling face
and a resolutely polite air of being a party to the conversation. Mela
rewarded her amiability by saying to her, finally, "You've never been in
the natural-gas country, have you?"

"Oh no! And I should so much like to see it!" said Margaret, with a
fervor that was partly, voluntary.

"Would you? Well, we're kind of sick of it, but I suppose it would strike
a stranger."

"I never got tired of looking at the big wells when they lit them up,"
said Christine. "It seems as if the world was on fire."

"Yes, and when you see the surface-gas burnun' down in the woods, like it
used to by our spring-house-so still, and never spreadun' any, just like
a bed of some kind of wild flowers when you ketch sight of it a piece
off."

They began to tell of the wonders of their strange land in an antiphony
of reminiscences and descriptions; they unconsciously imputed a merit to
themselves from the number and violence of the wells on their father's
property; they bragged of the high civilization of Moffitt, which they
compared to its advantage with that of New York. They became excited by
Margaret's interest in natural gas, and forgot to be suspicious and
envious.

She said, as she rose, "Oh, how much I should like to see it all!" Then
she made a little pause, and added:

"I'm so sorry my aunt's Thursdays are over; she never has them after
Lent, but we're to have some people Tuesday evening at a little concert
which a musical friend is going to give with some other artists. There
won't be any banjos, I'm afraid, but there'll be some very good singing,
and my aunt would be so glad if you could come with your mother."

She put down her aunt's card on the table near her, while Mela gurgled,
as if it were the best joke: "Oh, my! Mother never goes anywhere; you
couldn't get her out for love or money." But she was herself overwhelmed
with a simple joy at Margaret's politeness, and showed it in a sensuous
way, like a child, as if she had been tickled. She came closer to
Margaret and seemed about to fawn physically upon her.

"Ain't she just as lovely as she can live?" she demanded of her sister
when Margaret was gone.

"I don't know," said Christine. "I guess she wanted to know who Mr.
Beaton had been lending her banjo to."

"Pshaw! Do you suppose she's in love with him?" asked Mela, and then she
broke into her hoarse laugh at the look her sister gave her. "Well, don't
eat me, Christine! I wonder who she is, anyway? I'm goun' to git it out
of Mr. Beaton the next time he calls. I guess she's somebody. Mrs. Mandel
can tell. I wish that old friend of hers would hurry up and git well--or
something. But I guess we appeared about as well as she did. I could see
she was afraid of you, Christine. I reckon it's gittun' around a little
about father; and when it does I don't believe we shall want for callers.
Say, are you goun'? To that concert of theirs?"

"I don't know. Not till I know who they are first."

"Well, we've got to hump ourselves if we're goun' to find out before
Tuesday."

As she went home Margaret felt wrought in her that most incredible of the
miracles, which, nevertheless, any one may make his experience. She felt
kindly to these girls because she had tried to make them happy, and she
hoped that in the interest she had shown there had been none of the
poison of flattery. She was aware that this was a risk she ran in such an
attempt to do good. If she had escaped this effect she was willing to
leave the rest with Providence.



VIII.

The notion that a girl of Margaret Vance's traditions would naturally
form of girls like Christine and Mela Dryfoos would be that they were
abashed in the presence of the new conditions of their lives, and that
they must receive the advance she had made them with a certain grateful
humility. However they received it, she had made it upon principle, from
a romantic conception of duty; but this was the way she imagined they
would receive it, because she thought that she would have done so if she
had been as ignorant and unbred as they. Her error was in arguing their
attitude from her own temperament, and endowing them, for the purposes of
argument, with her perspective. They had not the means, intellectual or
moral, of feeling as she fancied. If they had remained at home on the
farm where they were born, Christine would have grown up that embodiment
of impassioned suspicion which we find oftenest in the narrowest spheres,
and Mela would always have been a good-natured simpleton; but they would
never have doubted their equality with the wisest and the finest. As it
was, they had not learned enough at school to doubt it, and the splendor
of their father's success in making money had blinded them forever to any
possible difference against them. They had no question of themselves in
the social abeyance to which they had been left in New York. They had
been surprised, mystified; it was not what they had expected; there must
be some mistake.

They were the victims of an accident, which would be repaired as soon as
the fact of their father's wealth had got around. They had been steadfast
in their faith, through all their disappointment, that they were not only
better than most people by virtue of his money, but as good as any; and
they took Margaret's visit, so far as they, investigated its motive, for
a sign that at last it was beginning to get around; of course, a thing
could not get around in New York so quick as it could in a small place.
They were confirmed in their belief by the sensation of Mrs. Mandel when
she returned to duty that afternoon, and they consulted her about going
to Mrs. Horn's musicale. If she had felt any doubt at the name for there
were Horns and Horns--the address on the card put the matter beyond
question; and she tried to make her charges understand what a precious
chance had befallen them. She did not succeed; they had not the premises,
the experience, for a sufficient impression; and she undid her work in
part by the effort to explain that Mrs. Horn's standing was independent
of money; that though she was positively rich, she was comparatively
poor. Christine inferred that Miss Vance had called because she wished to
be the first to get in with them since it had begun to get around. This
view commended itself to Mela, too, but without warping her from her
opinion that Miss Vance was all the same too sweet for anything. She had
not so vivid a consciousness of her father's money as Christine had; but
she reposed perhaps all the more confidently upon its power. She was far
from thinking meanly of any one who thought highly of her for it; that
seemed so natural a result as to be amiable, even admirable; she was
willing that any such person should get all the good there was in such an
attitude toward her.

They discussed the matter that night at dinner before their father and
mother, who mostly sat silent at their meals; the father frowning
absently over his plate, with his head close to it, and making play into
his mouth with the back of his knife (he had got so far toward the use of
his fork as to despise those who still ate from the edge of their
knives), and the mother partly missing hers at times in the nervous
tremor that shook her face from side to side.

After a while the subject of Mela's hoarse babble and of Christine's
high-pitched, thin, sharp forays of assertion and denial in the field
which her sister's voice seemed to cover, made its way into the old man's
consciousness, and he perceived that they were talking with Mrs. Mandel
about it, and that his wife was from time to time offering an irrelevant
and mistaken comment. He agreed with Christine, and silently took her
view of the affair some time before he made any sign of having listened.
There had been a time in his life when other things besides his money
seemed admirable to him. He had once respected himself for the
hard-headed, practical common sense which first gave him standing among
his country neighbors; which made him supervisor, school trustee, justice
of the peace, county commissioner, secretary of the Moffitt County
Agricultural Society. In those days he had served the public with
disinterested zeal and proud ability; he used to write to the Lake Shore
Farmer on agricultural topics; he took part in opposing, through the
Moffitt papers, the legislative waste of the people's money; on the
question of selling a local canal to the railroad company, which killed
that fine old State work, and let the dry ditch grow up to grass, he
might have gone to the Legislature, but he contented himself with
defeating the Moffitt member who had voted for the job. If he opposed
some measures for the general good, like high schools and school
libraries, it was because he lacked perspective, in his intense
individualism, and suspected all expense of being spendthrift. He
believed in good district schools, and he had a fondness, crude but
genuine, for some kinds of reading--history, and forensics of an
elementary sort.

With his good head for figures he doubted doctors and despised preachers;
he thought lawyers were all rascals, but he respected them for their
ability; he was not himself litigious, but he enjoyed the intellectual
encounters of a difficult lawsuit, and he often attended a sitting of the
fall term of court, when he went to town, for the pleasure of hearing the
speeches. He was a good citizen, and a good husband. As a good father, he
was rather severe with his children, and used to whip them, especially
the gentle Conrad, who somehow crossed him most, till the twins died.
After that he never struck any of them; and from the sight of a blow
dealt a horse he turned as if sick. It was a long time before he lifted
himself up from his sorrow, and then the will of the man seemed to have
been breached through his affections. He let the girls do as they
pleased--the twins had been girls; he let them go away to school, and got
them a piano. It was they who made him sell the farm. If Conrad had only
had their spirit he could have made him keep it, he felt; and he resented
the want of support he might have found in a less yielding spirit than
his son's.

His moral decay began with his perception of the opportunity of making
money quickly and abundantly, which offered itself to him after he sold
his farm. He awoke to it slowly, from a desolation in which he tasted the
last bitter of homesickness, the utter misery of idleness and
listlessness. When he broke down and cried for the hard-working,
wholesome life he had lost, he was near the end of this season of
despair, but he was also near the end of what was best in himself. He
devolved upon a meaner ideal than that of conservative good citizenship,
which had been his chief moral experience: the money he had already made
without effort and without merit bred its unholy self-love in him; he
began to honor money, especially money that had been won suddenly and in
large sums; for money that had been earned painfully, slowly, and in
little amounts, he had only pity and contempt. The poison of that
ambition to go somewhere and be somebody which the local speculators had
instilled into him began to work in the vanity which had succeeded his
somewhat scornful self-respect; he rejected Europe as the proper field
for his expansion; he rejected Washington; he preferred New York, whither
the men who have made money and do not yet know that money has made them,
all instinctively turn. He came where he could watch his money breed more
money, and bring greater increase of its kind in an hour of luck than the
toil of hundreds of men could earn in a year. He called it speculation,
stocks, the Street; and his pride, his faith in himself, mounted with his
luck. He expected, when he had sated his greed, to begin to spend, and he
had formulated an intention to build a great house, to add another to the
palaces of the country-bred millionaires who have come to adorn the great
city. In the mean time he made little account of the things that occupied
his children, except to fret at the ungrateful indifference of his son to
the interests that could alone make a man of him. He did not know whether
his daughters were in society or not; with people coming and going in the
house he would have supposed they must be so, no matter who the people
were; in some vague way he felt that he had hired society in Mrs. Mandel,
at so much a year. He never met a superior himself except now and then a
man of twenty or thirty millions to his one or two, and then he felt his
soul creep within him, without a sense of social inferiority; it was a
question of financial inferiority; and though Dryfoos's soul bowed itself
and crawled, it was with a gambler's admiration of wonderful luck. Other
men said these many-millioned millionaires were smart, and got their
money by sharp practices to which lesser men could not attain; but
Dryfoos believed that he could compass the same ends, by the same means,
with the same chances; he respected their money, not them.

When he now heard Mrs. Mandel and his daughters talking of that person,
whoever she was, that Mrs. Mandel seemed to think had honored his girls
by coming to see them, his curiosity was pricked as much as his pride was
galled.

"Well, anyway," said Mela, "I don't care whether Christine's goon' or
not; I am. And you got to go with me, Mrs. Mandel."

"Well, there's a little difficulty," said Mrs. Mandel, with her unfailing
dignity and politeness. "I haven't been asked, you know."

"Then what are we goun' to do?" demanded Mela, almost crossly. She was
physically too amiable, she felt too well corporeally, ever to be quite
cross. "She might 'a' knowed--well known--we couldn't 'a' come alone, in
New York. I don't see why, we couldn't. I don't call it much of an
invitation."

"I suppose she thought you could come with your mother," Mrs. Mandel
suggested.

"She didn't say anything about mother: Did she, Christine? Or, yes, she
did, too. And I told her she couldn't git mother out. Don't you
remember?"

"I didn't pay much attention," said Christine. "I wasn't certain we
wanted to go."

"I reckon you wasn't goun' to let her see that we cared much," said Mela,
half reproachful, half proud of this attitude of Christine. "Well, I
don't see but what we got to stay at home." She laughed at this lame
conclusion of the matter.

"Perhaps Mr. Conrad--you could very properly take him without an express
invitation--" Mrs. Mandel began.

Conrad looked up in alarm and protest. "I--I don't think I could go that
evening--"

"What's the reason?" his father broke in, harshly. "You're not such a
sheep that you're afraid to go into company with your sisters? Or are you
too good to go with them?"

"If it's to be anything like that night when them hussies come out and
danced that way," said Mrs. Dryfoos, "I don't blame Coonrod for not
wantun' to go. I never saw the beat of it."

Mela sent a yelling laugh across the table to her mother. "Well, I wish
Miss Vance could 'a' heard that! Why, mother, did you think it like the
ballet?"

"Well, I didn't know, Mely, child," said the old woman. "I didn't know
what it was like. I hain't never been to one, and you can't be too
keerful where you go, in a place like New York."

"What's the reason you can't go?" Dryfoos ignored the passage between his
wife and daughter in making this demand of his son, with a sour face.

"I have an engagement that night--it's one of our meetings."

"I reckon you can let your meeting go for one night," said Dryfoos. "It
can't be so important as all that, that you must disappoint your
sisters."

"I don't like to disappoint those poor creatures. They depend so much
upon the meetings--"

"I reckon they can stand it for one night," said the old man. He added,
"The poor ye have with you always."

"That's so, Coonrod," said his mother. "It's the Saviour's own words."

"Yes, mother. But they're not meant just as father used them."

"How do you know how they were meant? Or how I used them?" cried the
father. "Now you just make your plans to go with the girls, Tuesday
night. They can't go alone, and Mrs. Mandel can't go with them."

"Pshaw!" said Mela. "We don't want to take Conrad away from his meetun',
do we, Chris?"

"I don't know," said Christine, in her high, fine voice. "They could get
along without him for one night, as father says."

"Well, I'm not a-goun' to take him," said Mela. "Now, Mrs. Mandel, just
think out some other way. Say! What's the reason we couldn't get somebody
else to take us just as well? Ain't that rulable?"

"It would be allowable--"

"Allowable, I mean," Mela corrected herself.

"But it might look a little significant, unless it was some old family
friend."

"Well, let's get Mr. Fulkerson to take us. He's the oldest family friend
we got."

"I won't go with Mr. Fulkerson," said Christine, serenely.

"Why, I'm sure, Christine," her mother pleaded, "Mr. Fulkerson is a very
good young man, and very nice appearun'."

Mela shouted, "He's ten times as pleasant as that old Mr. Beaton of
Christine's!"

Christine made no effort to break the constraint that fell upon the table
at this sally, but her father said: "Christine is right, Mela. It
wouldn't do for you to go with any other young man. Conrad will go with
you."

"I'm not certain I want to go, yet," said Christine.

"Well, settle that among yourselves. But if you want to go, your brother
will go with you."

"Of course, Coonrod 'll go, if his sisters wants him to," the old woman
pleaded. "I reckon it ain't agoun' to be anything very bad; and if it is,
Coonrod, why you can just git right up and come out."

"It will be all right, mother. And I will go, of course."

"There, now, I knowed you would, Coonrod. Now, fawther!" This appeal was
to make the old man say something in recognition of Conrad's sacrifice.

"You'll always find," he said, "that it's those of your own household
that have the first claim on you."

"That's so, Coonrod," urged his mother. "It's Bible truth. Your fawther
ain't a perfesser, but he always did read his Bible. Search the
Scriptures. That's what it means."

"Laws!" cried Mely, "a body can see, easy enough from mother, where
Conrad's wantun' to be a preacher comes from. I should 'a' thought she'd
'a' wanted to been one herself."

"Let your women keep silence in the churches," said the old woman,
solemnly.

"There you go again, mother! I guess if you was to say that to some of
the lady ministers nowadays, you'd git yourself into trouble." Mela
looked round for approval, and gurgled out a hoarse laugh.



IX.

The Dryfooses went late to Mrs. Horn's musicale, in spite of Mrs.
Mandel's advice. Christine made the delay, both because she wished to
show Miss Vance that she was (not) anxious, and because she had some
vague notion of the distinction of arriving late at any sort of
entertainment. Mrs. Mandel insisted upon the difference between this
musicale and an ordinary reception; but Christine rather fancied
disturbing a company that had got seated, and perhaps making people rise
and stand, while she found her way to her place, as she had seen them do
for a tardy comer at the theatre.

Mela, whom she did not admit to her reasons or feelings always, followed
her with the servile admiration she had for all that Christine did; and
she took on trust as somehow successful the result of Christine's
obstinacy, when they were allowed to stand against the wall at the back
of the room through the whole of the long piece begun just before they
came in. There had been no one to receive them; a few people, in the rear
rows of chairs near them, turned their heads to glance at them, and then
looked away again. Mela had her misgivings; but at the end of the piece
Miss Vance came up to them at once, and then Mela knew that she had her
eyes on them all the time, and that Christine must have been right.
Christine said nothing about their coming late, and so Mela did not make
any excuse, and Miss Vance seemed to expect none. She glanced with a sort
of surprise at Conrad, when Christine introduced him; Mela did not know
whether she liked their bringing him, till she shook hands with him, and
said: "Oh, I am very glad indeed! Mr. Dryfoos and I have met before."
Without explaining where or when, she led them to her aunt and presented
them, and then said, "I'm going to put you with some friends of yours,"
and quickly seated them next the Marches. Mela liked that well enough;
she thought she might have some joking with Mr. March, for all his wife
was so stiff; but the look which Christine wore seemed to forbid,
provisionally at least, any such recreation. On her part, Christine was
cool with the Marches. It went through her mind that they must have told
Miss Vance they knew her; and perhaps they had boasted of her intimacy.
She relaxed a little toward them when she saw Beaton leaning against the
wall at the end of the row next Mrs. March. Then she conjectured that he
might have told Miss Vance of her acquaintance with the Marches, and she
bent forward and nodded to Mrs. March across Conrad, Mela, and Mr. March.
She conceived of him as a sort of hand of her father's, but she was
willing to take them at their apparent social valuation for the time. She
leaned back in her chair, and did not look up at Beaton after the first
furtive glance, though she felt his eyes on her.

The music began again almost at once, before Mela had time to make Conrad
tell her where Miss Vance had met him before. She would not have minded
interrupting the music; but every one else seemed so attentive, even
Christine, that she had not the courage. The concert went onto an end
without realizing for her the ideal of pleasure which one ought to find.
in society. She was not exacting, but it seemed to her there were very
few young men, and when the music was over, and their opportunity came to
be sociable, they were not very sociable. They were not introduced, for
one thing; but it appeared to Mela that they might have got introduced,
if they had any sense; she saw them looking at her, and she was glad she
had dressed so much; she was dressed more than any other lady there, and
either because she was the most dressed of any person there, or because
it had got around who her father was, she felt that she had made an
impression on the young men. In her satisfaction with this, and from her
good nature, she was contented to be served with her refreshments after
the concert by Mr. March, and to remain joking with him. She was at her
ease; she let her hoarse voice out in her largest laugh; she accused him,
to the admiration of those near, of getting her into a perfect gale. It
appeared to her, in her own pleasure, her mission to illustrate to the
rather subdued people about her what a good time really was, so that they
could have it if they wanted it. Her joy was crowned when March modestly
professed himself unworthy to monopolize her, and explained how selfish
he felt in talking to a young lady when there were so many young men
dying to do so.

"Oh, pshaw, dyun', yes!" cried Mela, tasting the irony. "I guess I see
them!"

He asked if he might really introduce a friend of his to her, and she
said, Well, yes, if he thought he could live to get to her; and March
brought up a man whom he thought very young and Mela thought very old. He
was a contributor to 'Every Other Week,' and so March knew him; he
believed himself a student of human nature in behalf of literature, and
he now set about studying Mela. He tempted her to express her opinion on
all points, and he laughed so amiably at the boldness and humorous vigor
of her ideas that she was delighted with him. She asked him if he was a
New-Yorker by birth; and she told him she pitied him, when he said he had
never been West. She professed herself perfectly sick of New York, and
urged him to go to Moffitt if he wanted to see a real live town. He
wondered if it would do to put her into literature just as she was, with
all her slang and brag, but he decided that he would have to subdue her a
great deal: he did not see how he could reconcile the facts of her
conversation with the facts of her appearance: her beauty, her splendor
of dress, her apparent right to be where she was. These things perplexed
him; he was afraid the great American novel, if true, must be incredible.
Mela said he ought to hear her sister go on about New York when they
first came; but she reckoned that Christine was getting so she could put
up with it a little better, now. She looked significantly across the room
to the place where Christine was now talking with Beaton; and the student
of human nature asked, Was she here? and, Would she introduce him? Mela
said she would, the first chance she got; and she added, They would be
much pleased to have him call. She felt herself to be having a beautiful
time, and she got directly upon such intimate terms with the student of
human nature that she laughed with him about some peculiarities of his,
such as his going so far about to ask things he wanted to know from her;
she said she never did believe in beating about the bush much. She had
noticed the same thing in Miss Vance when she came to call that day; and
when the young man owned that he came rather a good deal to Mrs. Horn's
house, she asked him, Well, what sort of a girl was Miss Vance, anyway,
and where did he suppose she had met her brother? The student of human
nature could not say as to this, and as to Miss Vance he judged it safest
to treat of the non-society side of her character, her activity in
charity, her special devotion to the work among the poor on the East
Side, which she personally engaged in.

"Oh, that's where Conrad goes, too!" Mela interrupted. "I'll bet anything
that's where she met him. I wisht I could tell Christine! But I suppose
she would want to kill me, if I was to speak to her now."

The student of human nature said, politely, "Oh, shall I take you to
her?"

Mela answered, "I guess you better not!" with a laugh so significant that
he could not help his inferences concerning both Christine's absorption
in the person she was talking with and the habitual violence of her
temper. He made note of how Mela helplessly spoke of all her family by
their names, as if he were already intimate with them; he fancied that if
he could get that in skillfully, it would be a valuable color in his
study; the English lord whom she should astonish with it began to form
himself out of the dramatic nebulosity in his mind, and to whirl on a
definite orbit in American society. But he was puzzled to decide whether
Mela's willingness to take him into her confidence on short notice was
typical or personal: the trait of a daughter of the natural-gas
millionaire, or a foible of her own.

Beaton talked with Christine the greater part of the evening that was
left after the concert. He was very grave, and took the tone of a
fatherly friend; he spoke guardedly of the people present, and moderated
the severity of some of Christine's judgments of their looks and
costumes. He did this out of a sort of unreasoned allegiance to Margaret,
whom he was in the mood of wishing to please by being very kind and good,
as she always was. He had the sense also of atoning by this behavior for
some reckless things he had said before that to Christine; he put on a
sad, reproving air with her, and gave her the feeling of being held in
check.

She chafed at it, and said, glancing at Margaret in talk with her
brother, "I don't think Miss Vance is so very pretty, do you?"

"I never think whether she's pretty or not," said Becton, with dreamy,
affectation. "She is merely perfect. Does she know your brother?"

"So she says. I didn't suppose Conrad ever went anywhere, except to
tenement-houses."

"It might have been there," Becton suggested. "She goes among friendless
people everywhere."

"Maybe that's the reason she came to see us!" said Christine.

Becton looked at her with his smouldering eyes, and felt the wish to say,
"Yes, it was exactly that," but he only allowed himself to deny the
possibility of any such motive in that case. He added: "I am so glad you
know her, Miss Dryfoos. I never met Miss Vance without feeling myself
better and truer, somehow; or the wish to be so."

"And you think we might be improved, too?" Christine retorted. "Well, I
must say you're not very flattering, Mr. Becton, anyway."

Becton would have liked to answer her according to her cattishness, with
a good clawing sarcasm that would leave its smart in her pride; but he
was being good, and he could not change all at once. Besides, the girl's
attitude under the social honor done her interested him. He was sure she
had never been in such good company before, but he could see that she was
not in the least affected by the experience. He had told her who this
person and that was; and he saw she had understood that the names were of
consequence; but she seemed to feel her equality with them all. Her
serenity was not obviously akin to the savage stoicism in which Beaton
hid his own consciousness of social inferiority; but having won his way
in the world so far by his talent, his personal quality, he did not
conceive the simple fact in her case. Christine was self-possessed
because she felt that a knowledge of her father's fortune had got around,
and she had the peace which money gives to ignorance; but Beaton
attributed her poise to indifference to social values. This, while he
inwardly sneered at it, avenged him upon his own too keen sense of them,
and, together with his temporary allegiance to Margaret's goodness, kept
him from retaliating Christine's vulgarity. He said, "I don't see how
that could be," and left the question of flattery to settle itself.

The people began to go away, following each other up to take leave of
Mrs. Horn. Christine watched them with unconcern, and either because she
would not be governed by the general movement, or because she liked being
with Beaton, gave no sign of going. Mela was still talking to the student
of human nature, sending out her laugh in deep gurgles amid the
unimaginable confidences she was making him about herself, her family,
the staff of 'Every Other Week,' Mrs. Mandel, and the kind of life they
had all led before she came to them. He was not a blind devotee of art
for art's sake, and though he felt that if one could portray Mela just as
she was she would be the richest possible material, he was rather ashamed
to know some of the things she told him; and he kept looking anxiously
about for a chance of escape. The company had reduced itself to the
Dryfoos groups and some friends of Mrs. Horn's who had the right to
linger, when Margaret crossed the room with Conrad to Christine and
Beaton.

"I'm so glad, Miss Dryfoos, to find that I was not quite a stranger to
you all when I ventured to call, the other day. Your brother and I are
rather old acquaintances, though I never knew who he was before. I don't
know just how to say we met where he is valued so much. I suppose I
mustn't try to say how much," she added, with a look of deep regard at
him.

Conrad blushed and stood folding his arms tight over his breast, while
his sister received Margaret's confession with the suspicion which was
her first feeling in regard to any new thing. What she concluded was that
this girl was trying to get in with them, for reasons of her own. She
said: "Yes; it's the first I ever heard of his knowing you. He's so much
taken up with his meetings, he didn't want to come to-night."

Margaret drew in her lip before she answered, without apparent resentment
of the awkwardness or ungraciousness, whichever she found it: "I don't
wonder! You become so absorbed in such work that you think nothing else
is worth while. But I'm glad Mr. Dryfoos could come with you; I'm so glad
you could all come; I knew you would enjoy the music. Do sit down--"

"No," said Christine, bluntly; "we must be going. Mela!" she called out,
"come!"

The last group about Mrs. Horn looked round, but Christine advanced upon
them undismayed, and took the hand Mrs. Horn promptly gave her. "Well, I
must bid you good-night."

"Oh, good-night," murmured the elder lady. "So very kind of you to come."

"I've had the best kind of a time," said Mela, cordially. "I hain't
laughed so much, I don't know when."

"Oh, I'm glad you enjoyed it," said Mrs. Horn, in the same polite murmur
she had used with Christine; but she said nothing to either sister about
any future meeting.

They were apparently not troubled. Mela said over her shoulder to the
student of human nature, "The next time I see you I'll give it to you for
what you said about Moffitt."

Margaret made some entreating paces after them, but she did not succeed
in covering the retreat of the sisters against critical conjecture. She
could only say to Conrad, as if recurring to the subject, "I hope we can
get our friends to play for us some night. I know it isn't any real help,
but such things take the poor creatures out of themselves for the time
being, don't you think?"

"Oh yes," he answered. "They're good in that way." He turned back
hesitatingly to Mrs. Horn, and said, with a blush, "I thank you for a
happy evening."

"Oh, I am very glad," she replied, in her murmur.

One of the old friends of the house arched her eyebrows in saying
good-night, and offered the two young men remaining seats home in her
carriage. Beaton gloomily refused, and she kept herself from asking the
student of human nature, till she had got him into her carriage, "What is
Moffitt, and what did you say about it?"

"Now you see, Margaret," said Mrs. Horn, with bated triumph, when the
people were all gone.

"Yes, I see," the girl consented. "From one point of view, of course it's
been a failure. I don't think we've given Miss Dryfoos a pleasure, but
perhaps nobody could. And at least we've given her the opportunity of
enjoying herself."

"Such people," said Mrs. Horn, philosophically, "people with their money,
must of course be received sooner or later. You can't keep them out.
Only, I believe I would rather let some one else begin with them. The
Leightons didn't come?"

"I sent them cards. I couldn't call again."

Mrs. Horn sighed a little. "I suppose Mr. Dryfoos is one of your
fellow-philanthropists?"

"He's one of the workers," said Margaret. "I met him several times at the
Hall, but I only knew his first name. I think he's a great friend of
Father Benedict; he seems devoted to the work. Don't you think he looks
good?"

"Very," said Mrs. Horn, with a color of censure in her assent. "The
younger girl seemed more amiable than her sister. But what manners!"

"Dreadful!" said Margaret, with knit brows, and a pursed mouth of
humorous suffering. "But she appeared to feel very much at home."

"Oh, as to that, neither of them was much abashed. Do you suppose Mr.
Beaton gave the other one some hints for that quaint dress of hers? I
don't imagine that black and lace is her own invention. She seems to have
some sort of strange fascination for him."

"She's very picturesque," Margaret explained. "And artists see points in
people that the rest of us don't."

"Could it be her money?" Mrs. Horn insinuated. "He must be very poor."

"But he isn't base," retorted the girl, with a generous indignation that
made her aunt smile.

"Oh no; but if he fancies her so picturesque, it doesn't follow that he
would object to her being rich."

"It would with a man like Mr. Beaton!"

"You are an idealist, Margaret. I suppose your Mr. March has some
disinterested motive in paying court to Miss Mela--Pamela, I suppose, is
her name. He talked to her longer than her literature would have lasted."

"He seems a very kind person," said Margaret.

"And Mr. Dryfoos pays his salary?"

"I don't know anything about that. But that wouldn't make any difference
with him."

Mrs. Horn laughed out at this security; but she was not displeased by the
nobleness which it came from. She liked Margaret to be high-minded, and
was really not distressed by any good that was in her.

The Marches walked home, both because it was not far, and because they
must spare in carriage hire at any rate. As soon as they were out of the
house, she applied a point of conscience to him.

"I don't see how you could talk to that girl so long, Basil, and make her
laugh so."

"Why, there seemed no one else to do it, till I thought of Kendricks."

"Yes, but I kept thinking, Now he's pleasant to her because he thinks
it's to his interest. If she had no relation to 'Every Other Week,' he
wouldn't waste his time on her."

"Isabel," March complained, "I wish you wouldn't think of me in he, him,
and his; I never personalize you in my thoughts: you remain always a
vague unindividualized essence, not quite without form and void, but
nounless and pronounless. I call that a much more beautiful mental
attitude toward the object of one's affections. But if you must he and
him and his me in your thoughts, I wish you'd have more kindly thoughts
of me."

"Do you deny that it's true, Basil?"

"Do you believe that it's true, Isabel?"

"No matter. But could you excuse it if it were?"

"Ah, I see you'd have been capable of it in my place, and you're
ashamed."

"Yes," sighed the wife, "I'm afraid that I should. But tell me that you
wouldn't, Basil!"

"I can tell you that I wasn't. But I suppose that in a real exigency, I
could truckle to the proprietary Dryfooses as well as you."

"Oh no; you mustn't, dear! I'm a woman, and I'm dreadfully afraid. But
you must always be a man, especially with that horrid old Mr. Dryfoos.
Promise me that you'll never yield the least point to him in a matter of
right and wrong!"

"Not if he's right and I'm wrong?"

"Don't trifle, dear! You know what I mean. Will you promise?"

"I'll promise to submit the point to you, and let you do the yielding. As
for me, I shall be adamant. Nothing I like better."

"They're dreadful, even that poor, good young fellow, who's so different
from all the rest; he's awful, too, because you feel that he's a martyr
to them."

"And I never did like martyrs a great deal," March interposed.

"I wonder how they came to be there," Mrs. March pursued, unmindful of
his joke.

"That is exactly what seemed to be puzzling Miss Mela about us. She
asked, and I explained as well as I could; and then she told me that Miss
Vance had come to call on them and invited them; and first they didn't
know how they could come till they thought of making Conrad bring them.
But she didn't say why Miss Vance called on them. Mr. Dryfoos doesn't
employ her on 'Every Other Week.' But I suppose she has her own vile
little motive."

"It can't be their money; it can't be!" sighed Mrs. March.

"Well, I don't know. We all respect money."

"Yes, but Miss Vance's position is so secure. She needn't pay court to
those stupid, vulgar people."

"Well, let's console ourselves with the belief that she would, if she
needed. Such people as the Dryfooses are the raw material of good
society. It isn't made up of refined or meritorious people--professors
and litterateurs, ministers and musicians, and their families. All the
fashionable people there to-night were like the Dryfooses a generation or
two ago. I dare say the material works up faster now, and in a season or
two you won't know the Dryfooses from the other plutocrats. THEY will--a
little better than they do now; they'll see a difference, but nothing
radical, nothing painful. People who get up in the world by service to
others--through letters, or art, or science--may have their modest little
misgivings as to their social value, but people that rise by
money--especially if their gains are sudden--never have. And that's the
kind of people that form our nobility; there's no use pretending that we
haven't a nobility; we might as well pretend we haven't first-class cars
in the presence of a vestibuled Pullman. Those girls had no more doubt of
their right to be there than if they had been duchesses: we thought it
was very nice of Miss Vance to come and ask us, but they didn't; they
weren't afraid, or the least embarrassed; they were perfectly
natural--like born aristocrats. And you may be sure that if the
plutocracy that now owns the country ever sees fit to take on the outward
signs of an aristocracy--titles, and arms, and ancestors--it won't falter
from any inherent question of its worth. Money prizes and honors itself,
and if there is anything it hasn't got, it believes it can buy it."

"Well, Basil," said his wife, "I hope you won't get infected with Lindau's
ideas of rich people. Some of them are very good and kind."

"Who denies that? Not even Lindau himself. It's all right. And the great
thing is that the evening's enjoyment is over. I've got my society smile
off, and I'm radiantly happy. Go on with your little pessimistic
diatribes, Isabel; you can't spoil my pleasure."

"I could see," said Mela, as she and Christine drove home together, "that
she was as jealous as she could be, all the time you was talkun' to Mr.
Beaton. She pretended to be talkun' to Conrad, but she kep' her eye on
you pretty close, I can tell you. I bet she just got us there to see how
him and you would act together. And I reckon she was satisfied. He's dead
gone on you, Chris."

Christine listened with a dreamy pleasure to the flatteries with which
Mela plied her in the hope of some return in kind, and not at all because
she felt spitefully toward Miss Vance, or in anywise wished her ill. "Who
was that fellow with you so long?" asked Christine. "I suppose you turned
yourself inside out to him, like you always do."

Mela was transported by the cruel ingratitude. "It's a lie! I didn't tell
him a single thing."

Conrad walked home, choosing to do so because he did not wish to hear his
sisters' talk of the evening, and because there was a tumult in his
spirit which he wished to let have its way. In his life with its single
purpose, defeated by stronger wills than his own, and now struggling
partially to fulfil itself in acts of devotion to others, the thought of
women had entered scarcely more than in that of a child. His ideals were
of a virginal vagueness; faces, voices, gestures had filled his fancy at
times, but almost passionately; and the sensation that he now indulged
was a kind of worship, ardent, but reverent and exalted. The brutal
experiences of the world make us forget that there are such natures in
it, and that they seem to come up out of the lowly earth as well as down
from the high heaven. In the heart of this man well on toward thirty
there had never been left the stain of a base thought; not that
suggestion and conjecture had not visited him, but that he had not
entertained them, or in any-wise made them his. In a Catholic age and
country, he would have been one of those monks who are sainted after
death for the angelic purity of their lives, and whose names are invoked
by believers in moments of trial, like San Luigi Gonzaga. As he now
walked along thinking, with a lover's beatified smile on his face, of how
Margaret Vance had spoken and looked, he dramatized scenes in which he
approved himself to her by acts of goodness and unselfishness, and died
to please her for the sake of others. He made her praise him for them, to
his face, when he disclaimed their merit, and after his death, when he
could not. All the time he was poignantly sensible of her grace, her
elegance, her style; they seemed to intoxicate him; some tones of her
voice thrilled through his nerves, and some looks turned his brain with a
delicious, swooning sense of her beauty; her refinement bewildered him.
But all this did not admit the idea of possession, even of aspiration. At
the most his worship only set her beyond the love of other men as far as
beyond his own.



PG EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:

    Affectional habit
    Brag of his wife, as a good husband always does
    But when we make that money here, no one loses it
    Courage hadn't been put to the test
    Family buryin' grounds
    Homage which those who have not pay to those who have
    Hurry up and git well--or something
    Made money and do not yet know that money has made them
    Society: All its favors are really bargains
    Wages are the measure of necessity and not of merit
    Without realizing his cruelty, treated as a child



A HAZARD OF NEW FORTUNES

By William Dean Howells



PART FOURTH

I.

Not long after Lent, Fulkerson set before Dryfoos one day his scheme for
a dinner in celebration of the success of 'Every Other Week.' Dryfoos had
never meddled in any manner with the conduct of the periodical; but
Fulkerson easily saw that he was proud of his relation to it, and he
proceeded upon the theory that he would be willing to have this relation
known: On the days when he had been lucky in stocks, he was apt to drop
in at the office on Eleventh Street, on his way up-town, and listen to
Fulkerson's talk. He was on good enough terms with March, who revised his
first impressions of the man, but they had not much to say to each other,
and it seemed to March that Dryfoos was even a little afraid of him, as
of a piece of mechanism he had acquired, but did not quite understand; he
left the working of it to Fulkerson, who no doubt bragged of it
sufficiently. The old man seemed to have as little to say to his son; he
shut himself up with Fulkerson, where the others could hear the manager
begin and go on with an unstinted flow of talk about 'Every Other Week;'
for Fulkerson never talked of anything else if he could help it, and was
always bringing the conversation back to it if it strayed:

The day he spoke of the dinner he rose and called from his door: "March,
I say, come down here a minute, will you? Conrad, I want you, too."

The editor and the publisher found the manager and the proprietor seated
on opposite sides of the table. "It's about those funeral baked meats,
you know," Fulkerson explained, "and I was trying to give Mr. Dryfoos
some idea of what we wanted to do. That is, what I wanted to do," he
continued, turning from March to Dryfoos. "March, here, is opposed to it,
of course. He'd like to publish 'Every Other Week' on the sly; keep it
out of the papers, and off the newsstands; he's a modest Boston petunia,
and he shrinks from publicity; but I am not that kind of herb myself, and
I want all the publicity we can get--beg, borrow, or steal--for this
thing. I say that you can't work the sacred rites of hospitality in a
better cause, and what I propose is a little dinner for the purpose of
recognizing the hit we've made with this thing. My idea was to strike you
for the necessary funds, and do the thing on a handsome scale. The term
little dinner is a mere figure of speech. A little dinner wouldn't make a
big talk, and what we want is the big talk, at present, if we don't lay
up a cent. My notion was that pretty soon after Lent, now, when everybody
is feeling just right, we should begin to send out our paragraphs,
affirmative, negative, and explanatory, and along about the first of May
we should sit down about a hundred strong, the most distinguished people
in the country, and solemnize our triumph. There it is in a nutshell. I
might expand and I might expound, but that's the sum and substance of
it."

Fulkerson stopped, and ran his eyes eagerly over the faces of his three
listeners, one after the other. March was a little surprised when Dryfoos
turned to him, but that reference of the question seemed to give
Fulkerson particular pleasure: "What do you think, Mr. March?"

The editor leaned back in his chair. "I don't pretend to have Mr.
Fulkerson's genius for advertising; but it seems to me a little early
yet. We might celebrate later when we've got more to celebrate. At
present we're a pleasing novelty, rather than a fixed fact."

"Ah, you don't get the idea!" said Fulkerson. "What we want to do with
this dinner is to fix the fact."

"Am I going to come in anywhere?" the old man interrupted.

"You're going to come in at the head of the procession! We are going to
strike everything that is imaginative and romantic in the newspaper soul
with you and your history and your fancy for going in for this thing. I
can start you in a paragraph that will travel through all the newspapers,
from Maine to Texas and from Alaska to Florida. We have had all sorts of
rich men backing up literary enterprises, but the natural-gas man in
literature is a new thing, and the combination of your picturesque past
and your aesthetic present is something that will knock out the
sympathies of the American public the first round. I feel," said
Fulkerson, with a tremor of pathos in his voice, "that 'Every Other Week'
is at a disadvantage before the public as long as it's supposed to be my
enterprise, my idea. As far as I'm known at all, I'm known simply as a
syndicate man, and nobody in the press believes that I've got the money
to run the thing on a grand scale; a suspicion of insolvency must attach
to it sooner or later, and the fellows on the press will work up that
impression, sooner or later, if we don't give them something else to work
up. Now, as soon as I begin to give it away to the correspondents that
you're in it, with your untold millions--that, in fact, it was your idea
from the start, that you originated it to give full play to the
humanitarian tendencies of Conrad here, who's always had these theories
of co-operation, and longed to realize them for the benefit of our
struggling young writers and artists--"

March had listened with growing amusement to the mingled burlesque and
earnest of Fulkerson's self-sacrificing impudence, and with wonder as to
how far Dryfoos was consenting to his preposterous proposition, when
Conrad broke out: "Mr. Fulkerson, I could not allow you to do that. It
would not be true; I did not wish to be here; and--and what I think--what
I wish to do--that is something I will not let any one put me in a false
position about. No!" The blood rushed into the young man's gentle face,
and he met his father's glance with defiance.

Dryfoos turned from him to Fulkerson without speaking, and Fulkerson
said, caressingly: "Why, of course, Coonrod! I know how you feel, and I
shouldn't let anything of that sort go out uncontradicted afterward. But
there isn't anything in these times that would give us better standing
with the public than some hint of the way you feel about such things. The
publics expects to be interested, and nothing would interest it more than
to be told that the success of 'Every Other Week' sprang from the first
application of the principle of Live and let Live to a literary
enterprise. It would look particularly well, coming from you and your
father, but if you object, we can leave that part out; though if you
approve of the principle I don't see why you need object. The main thing
is to let the public know that it owes this thing to the liberal and
enlightened spirit of one of the foremost capitalists of the country; and
that his purposes are not likely to be betrayed in the hands of his son,
I should get a little cut made from a photograph of your father, and
supply it gratis with the paragraphs."

"I guess," said the old man, "we will get along without the cut."

Fulkerson laughed. "Well, well! Have it your own way, But the sight of
your face in the patent outsides of the country press would be worth half
a dozen subscribers in every school district throughout the length and
breadth of this fair land."

"There was a fellow," Dryfoos explained, in an aside to March, "that was
getting up a history of Moffitt, and he asked me to let him put a steel
engraving of me in. He said a good many prominent citizens were going to
have theirs in, and his price was a hundred and fifty dollars. I told him
I couldn't let mine go for less than two hundred, and when he said he
could give me a splendid plate for that money, I said I should want it
cash, You never saw a fellow more astonished when he got it through him.
that I expected him to pay the two hundred."

Fulkerson laughed in keen appreciation of the joke. "Well, sir, I guess
'Every Other Week' will pay you that much. But if you won't sell at any
price, all right; we must try to worry along without the light of your
countenance on, the posters, but we got to have it for the banquet."

"I don't seem to feel very hungry, yet," said they old man, dryly.

"Oh, 'l'appeit vient en mangeant', as our French friends say. You'll be
hungry enough when you see the preliminary Little Neck clam. It's too
late for oysters."

"Doesn't that fact seem to point to a postponement till they get back,
sometime in October," March suggested.

"No, no!" said Fulkerson, "you don't catch on to the business end of this
thing, my friends. You're proceeding on something like the old exploded
idea that the demand creates the supply, when everybody knows, if he's
watched the course of modern events, that it's just as apt to be the
other way. I contend that we've got a real substantial success to
celebrate now; but even if we hadn't, the celebration would do more than
anything else to create the success, if we got it properly before the
public. People will say: Those fellows are not fools; they wouldn't go
and rejoice over their magazine unless they had got a big thing in it.
And the state of feeling we should produce in the public mind would make
a boom of perfectly unprecedented grandeur for E. O. W. Heigh?"

He looked sunnily from one to the other in succession. The elder Dryfoos
said, with his chin on the top of his stick, "I reckon those Little Neck
clams will keep."

"Well, just as you say," Fulkerson cheerfully assented. "I understand you
to agree to the general principle of a little dinner?"

"The smaller the better," said the old man.

"Well, I say a little dinner because the idea of that seems to cover the
case, even if we vary the plan a little. I had thought of a reception,
maybe, that would include the lady contributors and artists, and the
wives and daughters of the other contributors. That would give us the
chance to ring in a lot of society correspondents and get the thing
written up in first-class shape. By-the-way!" cried Fulkerson, slapping
himself on the leg, "why not have the dinner and the reception both?"

"I don't understand," said Dryfoos.

"Why, have a select little dinner for ten or twenty choice spirits of the
male persuasion, and then, about ten o'clock, throw open your palatial
drawing-rooms and admit the females to champagne, salads, and ices. It is
the very thing! Come!"

"What do you think of it, Mr. March?" asked Dryfoos, on whose social
inexperience Fulkerson's words projected no very intelligible image, and
who perhaps hoped for some more light.

"It's a beautiful vision," said March, "and if it will take more time to
realize it I think I approve. I approve of anything that will delay Mr.
Fulkerson's advertising orgie."

"Then," Fulkerson pursued, "we could have the pleasure of Miss Christine
and Miss Mela's company; and maybe Mrs. Dryfoos would look in on us in
the course of the evening. There's no hurry, as Mr. March suggests, if we
can give the thing this shape. I will cheerfully adopt the idea of my
honorable colleague."

March laughed at his impudence, but at heart he was ashamed of Fulkerson
for proposing to make use of Dryfoos and his house in that way. He
fancied something appealing in the look that the old man turned on him,
and something indignant in Conrad's flush; but probably this was only his
fancy. He reflected that neither of them could feel it as people of more
worldly knowledge would, and he consoled himself with the fact that
Fulkerson was really not such a charlatan as he seemed. But it went
through his mind that this was a strange end for all Dryfoos's
money-making to come to; and he philosophically accepted the fact of his
own humble fortunes when he reflected how little his money could buy for
such a man. It was an honorable use that Fulkerson was putting it to in
'Every Other Week;' it might be far more creditably spent on such an
enterprise than on horses, or wines, or women, the usual resources of the
brute rich; and if it were to be lost, it might better be lost that way
than in stocks. He kept a smiling face turned to Dryfoos while these
irreverent considerations occupied him, and hardened his heart against
father and son and their possible emotions.

The old man rose to put an end to the interview. He only repeated, "I
guess those clams will keep till fall."

But Fulkerson was apparently satisfied with the progress he had made; and
when he joined March for the stroll homeward after office hours, he was
able to detach his mind from the subject, as if content to leave it.

"This is about the best part of the year in New York," he said; In some
of the areas the grass had sprouted, and the tender young foliage had
loosened itself froze the buds on a sidewalk tree here and there; the
soft air was full of spring, and the delicate sky, far aloof, had the
look it never wears at any other season. "It ain't a time of year to
complain much of, anywhere; but I don't want anything better than the
month of May in New York. Farther South it's too hot, and I've been in
Boston in May when that east wind of yours made every nerve in my body
get up and howl. I reckon the weather has a good deal to do with the
local temperament. The reason a New York man takes life so easily with
all his rush is that his climate don't worry him. But a Boston man must
be rasped the whole while by the edge in his air. That accounts for his
sharpness; and when he's lived through twenty-five or thirty Boston Mays,
he gets to thinking that Providence has some particular use for him, or
he wouldn't have survived, and that makes him conceited. See?"

"I see," said March. "But I don't know how you're going to work that idea
into an advertisement, exactly."

"Oh, pahaw, now, March! You don't think I've got that on the brain all
the time?"

"You were gradually leading up to 'Every Other Week', somehow."

"No, sir; I wasn't. I was just thinking what a different creature a
Massachusetts man is from a Virginian, And yet I suppose they're both as
pure English stock as you'll get anywhere in America. Marsh, I think
Colonel Woodburn's paper is going to make a hit."

"You've got there! When it knocks down the sale about one-half, I shall
know it's made a hit."

"I'm not afraid," said Fulkerson. "That thing is going to attract
attention. It's well written--you can take the pomposity out of it, here
and there and it's novel. Our people like a bold strike, and it's going
to shake them up tremendously to have serfdom advocated on high moral
grounds as the only solution of the labor problem. You see, in the first
place, he goes for their sympathies by the way he portrays the actual
relations of capital and labor; he shows how things have got to go from
bad to worse, and then he trots out his little old hobby, and proves that
if slavery had not been interfered with, it would have perfected itself
in the interest of humanity. He makes a pretty strong plea for it."

March threw back his head and laughed. "He's converted you! I swear,
Fulkerson, if we had accepted and paid for an article advocating
cannibalism as the only resource for getting rid of the superfluous poor,
you'd begin to believe in it."

Fulkerson smiled in approval of the joke, and only said: "I wish you
could meet the colonel in the privacy of the domestic circle, March.
You'd like him. He's a splendid old fellow; regular type. Talk about
spring!

"You ought to see the widow's little back yard these days. You know that
glass gallery just beyond the dining-room? Those girls have got the
pot-plants out of that, and a lot more, and they've turned the edges of
that back yard, along the fence, into a regular bower; they've got sweet
peas planted, and nasturtiums, and we shall be in a blaze of glory about
the beginning of June. Fun to see 'em work in the garden, and the bird
bossing the job in his cage under the cherry-tree. Have to keep the
middle of the yard for the clothesline, but six days in the week it's a
lawn, and I go over it with a mower myself. March, there ain't anything
like a home, is there? Dear little cot of your own, heigh? I tell you,
March, when I get to pushing that mower round, and the colonel is smoking
his cigar in the gallery, and those girls are pottering over the flowers,
one of these soft evenings after dinner, I feel like a human being. Yes,
I do. I struck it rich when I concluded to take my meals at the widow's.
For eight dollars a week I get good board, refined society, and all the
advantages of a Christian home. By-the-way, you've never had much talk
with Miss Woodburn, have you, March?"

"Not so much as with Miss Woodburn's father."

"Well, he is rather apt to scoop the conversation. I must draw his fire,
sometime, when you and Mrs. March are around, and get you a chance with
Miss Woodburn."

"I should like that better, I believe," said March.

"Well, I shouldn't wonder if you did. Curious, but Miss Woodburn isn't at
all your idea of a Southern girl. She's got lots of go; she's never idle
a minute; she keeps the old gentleman in first-class shape, and she don't
believe a bit in the slavery solution of the labor problem; says she's
glad it's gone, and if it's anything like the effects of it, she's glad
it went before her time. No, sir, she's as full of snap as the liveliest
kind of a Northern girl. None of that sunny Southern languor you read
about."

"I suppose the typical Southerner, like the typical anything else, is
pretty difficult to find," said March. "But perhaps Miss Woodburn
represents the new South. The modern conditions must be producing a
modern type."

"Well, that's what she and the colonel both say. They say there ain't
anything left of that Walter Scott dignity and chivalry in the rising
generation; takes too much time. You ought to see her sketch the
old-school, high-and-mighty manners, as they survive among some of the
antiques in Charlottesburg. If that thing could be put upon the stage it
would be a killing success. Makes the old gentleman laugh in spite of
himself. But he's as proud of her as Punch, anyway. Why don't you and
Mrs. March come round oftener? Look here! How would it do to have a
little excursion, somewhere, after the spring fairly gets in its work?"

"Reporters present?"

"No, no! Nothing of that kind; perfectly sincere and disinterested
enjoyment."

"Oh, a few handbills to be scattered around: 'Buy Every Other Week,' 'Look
out for the next number of "Every Other Week,"' 'Every Other Week at all
the news-stands.' Well, I'll talk it over with Mrs. March. I suppose
there's no great hurry."

March told his wife of the idyllic mood in which he had left Fulkerson at
the widow's door, and she said he must be in love.

"Why, of course! I wonder I didn't think of that. But Fulkerson is such
an impartial admirer of the whole sex that you can't think of his liking
one more than another. I don't know that he showed any unjust partiality,
though, in his talk of 'those girls,' as he called them. And I always
rather fancied that Mrs. Mandel--he's done so much for her, you know; and
she is such a well-balanced, well-preserved person, and so lady-like and
correct----"

"Fulkerson had the word for her: academic. She's everything that
instruction and discipline can make of a woman; but I shouldn't think
they could make enough of her to be in love with."

"Well, I don't know. The academic has its charm. There are moods in which
I could imagine myself in love with an academic person. That regularity
of line; that reasoned strictness of contour; that neatness of pose; that
slightly conventional but harmonious grouping of the emotions and
morals--you can see how it would have its charm, the Wedgwood in human
nature? I wonder where Mrs. Mandel keeps her urn and her willow."

"I should think she might have use for them in that family, poor thing!"
said Mrs. March.

"Ah, that reminds me," said her husband, "that we had another talk with
the old gentleman, this afternoon, about Fulkerson's literary, artistic,
and advertising orgie, and it's postponed till October."

"The later the better, I should think," said Mrs. March, who did not
really think about it at all, but whom the date fixed for it caused to
think of the intervening time. "We have got to consider what we will do
about the summer, before long, Basil."

"Oh, not yet, not yet," he pleaded; with that man's willingness to abide
in the present, which is so trying to a woman. "It's only the end of
April."

"It will be the end of June before we know. And these people wanting the
Boston house another year complicates it. We can't spend the summer
there, as we planned."

"They oughtn't to have offered us an increased rent; they have taken an
advantage of us."

"I don't know that it matters," said Mrs. March. "I had decided not to go
there."

"Had you? This is a surprise."

"Everything is a surprise to you, Basil, when it happens."

"True; I keep the world fresh, that way."

"It wouldn't have been any change to go from one city to another for the
summer. We might as well have stayed in New York."

"Yes, I wish we had stayed," said March, idly humoring a conception of
the accomplished fact. "Mrs. Green would have let us have the gimcrackery
very cheap for the summer months; and we could have made all sorts of
nice little excursions and trips off and been twice as well as if we had
spent the summer away."

"Nonsense! You know we couldn't spend the summer in New York."

"I know I could."

"What stuff! You couldn't manage."

"Oh yes, I could. I could take my meals at Fulkerson's widow's; or at
Maroni's, with poor old Lindau: he's got to dining there again. Or, I
could keep house, and he could dine with me here."

There was a teasing look in March's eyes, and he broke into a laugh, at
the firmness with which his wife said: "I think if there is to be any
housekeeping, I will stay, too; and help to look after it. I would try
not intrude upon you and your guest."

"Oh, we should be only too glad to have you join us," said March, playing
with fire.

"Very well, then, I wish you would take him off to Maroni's, the next
time he comes to dine here!" cried his wife.

The experiment of making March's old friend free of his house had not
given her all the pleasure that so kind a thing ought to have afforded so
good a woman. She received Lindau at first with robust benevolence, and
the high resolve not to let any of his little peculiarities alienate her
from a sense of his claim upon her sympathy and gratitude, not only as a
man who had been so generously fond of her husband in his youth, but a
hero who had suffered for her country. Her theory was that his mutilation
must not be ignored, but must be kept in mind as a monument of his
sacrifice, and she fortified Bella with this conception, so that the
child bravely sat next his maimed arm at table and helped him to dishes
he could not reach, and cut up his meat for him. As for Mrs. March
herself, the thought of his mutilation made her a little faint; she was
not without a bewildered resentment of its presence as a sort of
oppression. She did not like his drinking so much of March's beer,
either; it was no harm, but it was somehow unworthy, out of character
with a hero of the war. But what she really could not reconcile herself
to was the violence of Lindau's sentiments concerning the whole political
and social fabric. She did not feel sure that he should be allowed to say
such things before the children, who had been nurtured in the faith of
Bunker Hill and Appomattox, as the beginning and the end of all possible
progress in human rights. As a woman she was naturally an aristocrat, but
as an American she was theoretically a democrat; and it astounded, it
alarmed her, to hear American democracy denounced as a shuffling evasion.
She had never cared much for the United States Senate, but she doubted if
she ought to sit by when it was railed at as a rich man's club. It
shocked her to be told that the rich and poor were not equal before the
law in a country where justice must be paid for at every step in fees and
costs, or where a poor man must go to war in his own person, and a rich
man might hire someone to go in his. Mrs. March felt that this rebellious
mind in Lindau really somehow outlawed him from sympathy, and
retroactively undid his past suffering for the country: she had always
particularly valued that provision of the law, because in forecasting all
the possible mischances that might befall her own son, she had been
comforted by the thought that if there ever was another war, and Tom were
drafted, his father could buy him a substitute. Compared with such
blasphemy as this, Lindau's declaration that there was not equality of
opportunity in America, and that fully one-half the people were debarred
their right to the pursuit of happiness by the hopeless conditions of
their lives, was flattering praise. She could not listen to such things
in silence, though, and it did not help matters when Lindau met her
arguments with facts and reasons which she felt she was merely not
sufficiently instructed to combat, and he was not quite gentlemanly to
urge. "I am afraid for the effect on the children," she said to her
husband. "Such perfectly distorted ideas--Tom will be ruined by them."

"Oh, let Tom find out where they're false," said March. "It will be good
exercise for his faculties of research. At any rate, those things are
getting said nowadays; he'll have to hear them sooner or later."

"Had he better hear them at home?" demanded his wife.

"Why, you know, as you're here to refute them, Isabel," he teased,
"perhaps it's the best place. But don't mind poor old Lindau, my dear. He
says himself that his parg is worse than his pidte, you know."

"Ah, it's too late now to mind him," she sighed. In a moment of rash good
feeling, or perhaps an exalted conception of duty, she had herself
proposed that Lindau should come every week and read German with Tom; and
it had become a question first how they could get him to take pay for it,
and then how they could get him to stop it. Mrs. March never ceased to
wonder at herself for having brought this about, for she had warned her
husband against making any engagement with Lindau which would bring him
regularly to the house: the Germans stuck so, and were so unscrupulously
dependent. Yet, the deed being done, she would not ignore the duty of
hospitality, and it was always she who made the old man stay to their
Sunday-evening tea when he lingered near the hour, reading Schiller and
Heine and Uhland with the boy, in the clean shirt with which he observed
the day; Lindau's linen was not to be trusted during the week. She now
concluded a season of mournful reflection by saying, "He will get you
into trouble, somehow, Basil."

"Well, I don't know how, exactly. I regard Lindau as a political
economist of an unusual type; but I shall not let him array me against
the constituted authorities. Short of that, I think I am safe."

"Well, be careful, Basil; be careful. You know you are so rash."

"I suppose I may continue to pity him? He is such a poor, lonely old
fellow. Are you really sorry he's come into our lives, my dear?"

"No, no; not that. I feel as you do about it; but I wish I felt easier
about him--sure, that is, that we're not doing wrong to let him keep on
talking so."

"I suspect we couldn't help it," March returned, lightly. "It's one of
what Lindau calls his 'brincibles' to say what he thinks."



II.

The Marches had no longer the gross appetite for novelty which urges
youth to a surfeit of strange scenes, experiences, ideas; and makes
travel, with all its annoyances and fatigues, an inexhaustible delight.
But there is no doubt that the chief pleasure of their life in New York
was from its quality of foreignness: the flavor of olives, which, once
tasted, can never be forgotten. The olives may not be of the first
excellence; they may be a little stale, and small and poor, to begin
with, but they are still olives, and the fond palate craves them. The
sort which grew in New York, on lower Sixth Avenue and in the region of
Jefferson Market and on the soft exposures south of Washington Square,
were none the less acceptable because they were of the commonest Italian
variety.

The Marches spent a good deal of time and money in a grocery of that
nationality, where they found all the patriotic comestibles and potables,
and renewed their faded Italian with the friendly family in charge.
Italian table d'hotes formed the adventure of the week, on the day when
Mrs. March let her domestics go out, and went herself to dine abroad with
her husband and children; and they became adepts in the restaurants where
they were served, and which they varied almost from dinner to dinner. The
perfect decorum of these places, and their immunity from offence in any,
emboldened the Marches to experiment in Spanish restaurants, where red
pepper and beans insisted in every dinner, and where once they chanced
upon a night of 'olla podrida', with such appeals to March's memory of a
boyish ambition to taste the dish that he became poetic and then pensive
over its cabbage and carrots, peas and bacon. For a rare combination of
international motives they prized most the table d'hote of a French lady,
who had taken a Spanish husband in a second marriage, and had a Cuban
negro for her cook, with a cross-eyed Alsation for waiter, and a slim
young South-American for cashier. March held that some thing of the
catholic character of these relations expressed itself in the generous
and tolerant variety of the dinner, which was singularly abundant for
fifty cents, without wine. At one very neat French place he got a dinner
at the same price with wine, but it was not so abundant; and March
inquired in fruitless speculation why the table d'hote of the Italians, a
notoriously frugal and abstemious people, should be usually more than you
wanted at seventy-five cents and a dollar, and that of the French rather
less at half a dollar. He could not see that the frequenters were greatly
different at the different places; they were mostly Americans, of subdued
manners and conjecturably subdued fortunes, with here and there a table
full of foreigners. There was no noise and not much smoking anywhere;
March liked going to that neat French place because there Madame sat
enthroned and high behind a 'comptoir' at one side of the room, and every
body saluted her in going out. It was there that a gentle-looking young
couple used to dine, in whom the Marches became effectlessly interested,
because they thought they looked like that when they were young. The wife
had an aesthetic dress, and defined her pretty head by wearing her
back-hair pulled up very tight under her bonnet; the husband had dreamy
eyes set wide apart under a pure forehead. "They are artists, August, I
think," March suggested to the waiter, when he had vainly asked about
them. "Oh, hartis, cedenly," August consented; but Heaven knows whether
they were, or what they were: March never learned.

This immunity from acquaintance, this touch-and go quality in their New
York sojourn, this almost loss of individuality at times, after the
intense identification of their Boston life, was a relief, though Mrs.
March had her misgivings, and questioned whether it were not perhaps too
relaxing to the moral fibre. March refused to explore his conscience; he
allowed that it might be so; but he said he liked now and then to feel
his personality in that state of solution. They went and sat a good deal
in the softening evenings among the infants and dotards of Latin
extraction in Washington Square, safe from all who ever knew them, and
enjoyed the advancing season, which thickened the foliage of the trees
and flattered out of sight the church warden's Gothic of the University
Building. The infants were sometimes cross, and cried in their weary
mothers' or little sisters' arms; but they did not disturb the dotards,
who slept, some with their heads fallen forward, and some with their
heads fallen back; March arbitrarily distinguished those with the
drooping faces as tipsy and ashamed to confront the public. The small
Italian children raced up and down the asphalt paths, playing American
games of tag and hide and-whoop; larger boys passed ball, in training for
potential championships. The Marches sat and mused, or quarrelled
fitfully about where they should spend the summer, like sparrows, he once
said, till the electric lights began to show distinctly among the leaves,
and they looked round and found the infants and dotards gone and the
benches filled with lovers. That was the signal for the Marches to go
home. He said that the spectacle of so much courtship as the eye might
take in there at a glance was not, perhaps, oppressive, but the thought
that at the same hour the same thing was going on all over the country,
wherever two young fools could get together, was more than he could bear;
he did not deny that it was natural, and, in a measureuthorized, but
he declared that it was hackneyed; and the fact that it must go on
forever, as long as the race lasted, made him tired.

At home, generally, they found that the children had not missed them, and
were perfectly safe. It was one of the advantages of a flat that they
could leave the children there whenever they liked without anxiety. They
liked better staying there than wandering about in the evening with their
parents, whose excursions seemed to them somewhat aimless, and their
pleasures insipid. They studied, or read, or looked out of the window at
the street sights; and their mother always came back to them with a pang
for their lonesomeness. Bella knew some little girls in the house, but in
a ceremonious way; Tom had formed no friendships among the boys at school
such as he had left in Boston; as nearly as he could explain, the New
York fellows carried canes at an age when they would have had them broken
for them by the other boys at Boston; and they were both sissyish and
fast. It was probably prejudice; he never could say exactly what their
demerits were, and neither he nor Bella was apparently so homesick as
they pretended, though they answered inquirers, the one that New York was
a hole, and the other that it was horrid, and that all they lived for was
to get back to Boston. In the mean time they were thrown much upon each
other for society, which March said was well for both of them; he did not
mind their cultivating a little gloom and the sense of a common wrong; it
made them better comrades, and it was providing them with amusing
reminiscences for the future. They really enjoyed Bohemianizing in that
harmless way: though Tom had his doubts of its respectability; he was
very punctilious about his sister, and went round from his own school
every day to fetch her home from hers. The whole family went to the
theatre a good deal, and enjoyed themselves together in their desultory
explorations of the city.

They lived near Greenwich Village, and March liked strolling through its
quaintness toward the waterside on a Sunday, when a hereditary
Sabbatarianism kept his wife at home; he made her observe that it even
kept her at home from church. He found a lingering quality of pure
Americanism in the region, and he said the very bells called to worship
in a nasal tone. He liked the streets of small brick houses, with here
and there one painted red, and the mortar lines picked out in white, and
with now and then a fine wooden portal of fluted pillars and a bowed
transom. The rear of the tenement-houses showed him the picturesqueness
of clothes-lines fluttering far aloft, as in Florence; and the new
apartment-houses, breaking the old sky-line with their towering stories,
implied a life as alien to the American manner as anything in continental
Europe. In fact, foreign faces and foreign tongues prevailed in Greenwich
Village, but no longer German or even Irish tongues or faces. The eyes
and earrings of Italians twinkled in and out of the alleyways and
basements, and they seemed to abound even in the streets, where long
ranks of trucks drawn up in Sunday rest along the curbstones suggested
the presence of a race of sturdier strength than theirs. March liked the
swarthy, strange visages; he found nothing menacing for the future in
them; for wickedness he had to satisfy himself as he could with the
sneering, insolent, clean-shaven mug of some rare American of the b'hoy
type, now almost as extinct in New York as the dodo or the volunteer
fireman. When he had found his way, among the ash-barrels and the groups
of decently dressed church-goers, to the docks, he experienced a
sufficient excitement in the recent arrival of a French steamer, whose
sheds were thronged with hacks and express-wagons, and in a tacit inquiry
into the emotions of the passengers, fresh from the cleanliness of Paris,
and now driving up through the filth of those streets.

Some of the streets were filthier than others; there was at least a
choice; there were boxes and barrels of kitchen offal on all the
sidewalks, but not everywhere manure-heaps, and in some places the stench
was mixed with the more savory smell of cooking. One Sunday morning,
before the winter was quite gone, the sight of the frozen refuse melting
in heaps, and particularly the loathsome edges of the rotting ice near
the gutters, with the strata of waste-paper and straw litter, and
egg-shells and orange peel, potato-skins and cigar-stumps, made him
unhappy. He gave a whimsical shrug for the squalor of the neighboring
houses, and said to himself rather than the boy who was with him: "It's
curious, isn't it, how fond the poor people are of these unpleasant
thoroughfares? You always find them living in the worst streets."

"The burden of all the wrong in the world comes on the poor," said the
boy. "Every sort of fraud and swindling hurts them the worst. The city
wastes the money it's paid to clean the streets with, and the poor have
to suffer, for they can't afford to pay twice, like the rich."

March stopped short. "Hallo, Tom! Is that your wisdom?"

"It's what Mr. Lindau says," answered the boy, doggedly, as if not
pleased to have his ideas mocked at, even if they were second-hand.

"And you didn't tell him that the poor lived in dirty streets because
they liked them, and were too lazy and worthless to have them cleaned?"

"No; I didn't."

"I'm surprised. What do you think of Lindau, generally speaking, Tom?"

"Well, sir, I don't like the way he talks about some things. I don't
suppose this country is perfect, but I think it's about the best there
is, and it don't do any good to look at its drawbacks all the time."

"Sound, my son," said March, putting his hand on the boy's shoulder and
beginning to walk on. "Well?"

"Well, then, he says that it isn't the public frauds only that the poor
have to pay for, but they have to pay for all the vices of the rich; that
when a speculator fails, or a bank cashier defaults, or a firm suspends,
or hard times come, it's the poor who have to give up necessaries where
the rich give up luxuries."

"Well, well! And then?"

"Well, then I think the crank comes in, in Mr. Lindau. He says there's no
need of failures or frauds or hard times. It's ridiculous. There always
have been and there always will be. But if you tell him that, it seems to
make him perfectly furious."

March repeated the substance of this talk to his wife. "I'm glad to know
that Tom can see through such ravings. He has lots of good common sense."

It was the afternoon of the same Sunday, and they were sauntering up
Fifth Avenue, and admiring the wide old double houses at the lower end;
at one corner they got a distinct pleasure out of the gnarled elbows that
a pollarded wistaria leaned upon the top of a garden wall--for its
convenience in looking into the street, he said. The line of these
comfortable dwellings, once so fashionable, was continually broken by the
facades of shops; and March professed himself vulgarized by a want of
style in the people they met in their walk to Twenty-third Street.

"Take me somewhere to meet my fellow-exclusives, Isabel," he demanded. "I
pine for the society of my peers."

He hailed a passing omnibus, and made his wife get on the roof with him.
"Think of our doing such a thing in Boston!" she sighed, with a little
shiver of satisfaction in her immunity from recognition and comment.

"You wouldn't be afraid to do it in London or Paris?"

"No; we should be strangers there--just as we are in New York. I wonder
how long one could be a stranger here."

"Oh, indefinitely, in our way of living. The place is really vast, so
much larger than it used to seem, and so heterogeneous."

When they got down very far up-town, and began to walk back by Madison
Avenue, they found themselves in a different population from that they
dwelt among; not heterogeneous at all; very homogeneous, and almost
purely American; the only qualification was American Hebrew. Such a
well-dressed, well-satisfied, well-fed looking crowd poured down the
broad sidewalks before the handsome, stupid houses that March could
easily pretend he had got among his fellow-plutocrats at last. Still he
expressed his doubts whether this Sunday afternoon parade, which seemed
to be a thing of custom, represented the best form among the young people
of that region; he wished he knew; he blamed himself for becoming of a
fastidious conjecture; he could not deny the fashion and the richness and
the indigeneity of the spectacle; the promenaders looked New-Yorky; they
were the sort of people whom you would know for New-Yorkers
elsewhere,--so well equipped and so perfectly kept at all points. Their
silk hats shone, and their boots; their frocks had the right distension
behind, and their bonnets perfect poise and distinction.

The Marches talked of these and other facts of their appearance, and
curiously questioned whether this were the best that a great material
civilization could come to; it looked a little dull. The men's faces were
shrewd and alert, and yet they looked dull; the women's were pretty and
knowing, and yet dull. It was, probably, the holiday expression of the
vast, prosperous commercial class, with unlimited money, and no ideals
that money could not realize; fashion and comfort were all that they
desired to compass, and the culture that furnishes showily, that
decorates and that tells; the culture, say, of plays and operas, rather
than books.

Perhaps the observers did the promenaders injustice; they might not have
been as common-minded as they looked. "But," March said, "I understand
now why the poor people don't come up here and live in this clean,
handsome, respectable quarter of the town; they would be bored to death.
On the whole, I think I should prefer Mott Street myself."

In other walks the Marches tried to find some of the streets they had
wandered through the first day of their wedding journey in New York, so
long ago. They could not make sure of them; but once they ran down to the
Battery, and easily made sure of that, though not in its old aspect. They
recalled the hot morning, when they sauntered over the trodden weed that
covered the sickly grass-plots there, and sentimentalized the sweltering
paupers who had crept out of the squalid tenements about for a breath of
air after a sleepless night. Now the paupers were gone, and where the old
mansions that had fallen to their use once stood, there towered aloft and
abroad those heights and masses of many-storied brick-work for which
architecture has yet no proper form and aesthetics no name. The trees and
shrubs, all in their young spring green, blew briskly over the guarded
turf in the south wind that came up over the water; and in the well-paved
alleys the ghosts of eighteenth-century fashion might have met each other
in their old haunts, and exchanged stately congratulations upon its
vastly bettered condition, and perhaps puzzled a little over the colossal
lady on Bedloe's Island, with her lifted torch, and still more over the
curving tracks and chalet-stations of the Elevated road. It is an outlook
of unrivalled beauty across the bay, that smokes and flashes with the in
numerable stacks and sails of commerce, to the hills beyond, where the
moving forest of masts halts at the shore, and roots itself in the groves
of the many villaged uplands. The Marches paid the charming prospects a
willing duty, and rejoiced in it as generously as if it had been their
own. Perhaps it was, they decided. He said people owned more things in
common than they were apt to think; and they drew the consolations of
proprietorship from the excellent management of Castle Garden, which they
penetrated for a moment's glimpse of the huge rotunda, where the
immigrants first set foot on our continent. It warmed their hearts, so
easily moved to any cheap sympathy, to see the friendly care the nation
took of these humble guests; they found it even pathetic to hear the
proper authority calling out the names of such as had kin or acquaintance
waiting there to meet them. No one appeared troubled or anxious; the
officials had a conscientious civility; the government seemed to manage
their welcome as well as a private company or corporation could have
done. In fact, it was after the simple strangers had left the government
care that March feared their woes might begin; and he would have liked
the government to follow each of them to his home, wherever he meant to
fix it within our borders. He made note of the looks of the licensed
runners and touters waiting for the immigrants outside the government
premises; he intended to work them up into a dramatic effect in some
sketch, but they remained mere material in his memorandum-book, together
with some quaint old houses on the Sixth Avenue road, which he had
noticed on the way down. On the way up, these were superseded in his
regard by some hip-roof structures on the Ninth Avenue, which he thought
more Dutch-looking. The perspectives of the cross-streets toward the
river were very lively, with their turmoil of trucks and cars and carts
and hacks and foot passengers, ending in the chimneys and masts of
shipping, and final gleams of dancing water. At a very noisy corner,
clangorous with some sort of ironworking, he made his wife enjoy with him
the quiet sarcasm of an inn that called itself the Home-like Hotel, and
he speculated at fantastic length on the gentle associations of one who
should have passed his youth under its roof.



III.

First and last, the Marches did a good deal of travel on the Elevated
roads, which, he said, gave you such glimpses of material aspects in the
city as some violent invasion of others' lives might afford in human
nature. Once, when the impulse of adventure was very strong in them, they
went quite the length of the West Side lines, and saw the city pushing
its way by irregular advances into the country. Some spaces, probably
held by the owners for that rise in value which the industry of others
providentially gives to the land of the wise and good, it left vacant
comparatively far down the road, and built up others at remoter points.
It was a world of lofty apartment houses beyond the Park, springing up in
isolated blocks, with stretches of invaded rusticity between, and here
and there an old country-seat standing dusty in its budding vines with
the ground before it in rocky upheaval for city foundations. But wherever
it went or wherever it paused, New York gave its peculiar stamp; and the
adventurers were amused to find One Hundred and Twenty-fifth Street
inchoately like Twenty-third Street and Fourteenth Street in its shops
and shoppers. The butchers' shops and milliners' shops on the avenue
might as well have been at Tenth as at One Hundredth Street.

The adventurers were not often so adventurous. They recognized that in
their willingness to let their fancy range for them, and to let
speculation do the work of inquiry, they were no longer young. Their
point of view was singularly unchanged, and their impressions of New York
remained the same that they had been fifteen years before: huge, noisy,
ugly, kindly, it seemed to them now as it seemed then. The main
difference was that they saw it more now as a life, and then they only
regarded it as a spectacle; and March could not release himself from a
sense of complicity with it, no matter what whimsical, or alien, or
critical attitude he took. A sense of the striving and the suffering
deeply possessed him; and this grew the more intense as he gained some
knowledge of the forces at work-forces of pity, of destruction, of
perdition, of salvation. He wandered about on Sunday not only through the
streets, but into this tabernacle and that, as the spirit moved him, and
listened to those who dealt with Christianity as a system of economics as
well as a religion. He could not get his wife to go with him; she
listened to his report of what he heard, and trembled; it all seemed
fantastic and menacing. She lamented the literary peace, the intellectual
refinement of the life they had left behind them; and he owned it was
very pretty, but he said it was not life--it was death-in-life. She liked
to hear him talk in that strain of virtuous self-denunciation, but she
asked him, "Which of your prophets are you going to follow?" and he
answered: "All-all! And a fresh one every Sunday." And so they got their
laugh out of it at last, but with some sadness at heart, and with a dim
consciousness that they had got their laugh out of too many things in
life.

What really occupied and compassed his activities, in spite of his
strenuous reveries of work beyond it, was his editorship. On its social
side it had not fulfilled all the expectations which Fulkerson's radiant
sketch of its duties and relations had caused him to form of it. Most of
the contributions came from a distance; even the articles written in New
York reached him through the post, and so far from having his valuable
time, as they called it, consumed in interviews with his collaborators,
he rarely saw any of them. The boy on the stairs, who was to fence him
from importunate visitors, led a life of luxurious disoccupation, and
whistled almost uninterruptedly. When any one came, March found himself
embarrassed and a little anxious. The visitors were usually young men,
terribly respectful, but cherishing, as he imagined, ideals and opinions
chasmally different from his; and he felt in their presence something
like an anachronism, something like a fraud. He tried to freshen up his
sympathies on them, to get at what they were really thinking and feeling,
and it was some time before he could understand that they were not really
thinking and feeling anything of their own concerning their art, but were
necessarily, in their quality of young, inexperienced men, mere
acceptants of older men's thoughts and feelings, whether they were
tremendously conservative, as some were, or tremendously progressive, as
others were. Certain of them called themselves realists, certain
romanticists; but none of them seemed to know what realism was, or what
romanticism; they apparently supposed the difference a difference of
material. March had imagined himself taking home to lunch or dinner the
aspirants for editorial favor whom he liked, whether he liked their work
or not; but this was not an easy matter. Those who were at all
interesting seemed to have engagements and preoccupations; after two or
three experiments with the bashfuller sort--those who had come up to the
metropolis with manuscripts in their hands, in the good old literary
tradition--he wondered whether he was otherwise like them when he was
young like them. He could not flatter himself that he was not; and yet he
had a hope that the world had grown worse since his time, which his wife
encouraged:

Mrs. March was not eager to pursue the hospitalities which she had at
first imagined essential to the literary prosperity of 'Every Other
Week'; her family sufficed her; she would willingly have seen no one out
of it but the strangers at the weekly table-d'hote dinner, or the
audiences at the theatres. March's devotion to his work made him
reluctant to delegate it to any one; and as the summer advanced, and the
question of where to go grew more vexed, he showed a man's base
willingness to shirk it for himself by not going anywhere. He asked his
wife why she did not go somewhere with the children, and he joined her in
a search for non-malarial regions on the map when she consented to
entertain this notion. But when it came to the point she would not go; he
offered to go with her then, and then she would not let him. She said she
knew he would be anxious about his work; he protested that he could take
it with him to any distance within a few hours, but she would not be
persuaded. She would rather he stayed; the effect would be better with
Mr. Fulkerson; they could make excursions, and they could all get off a
week or two to the seashore near Boston--the only real seashore--in
August. The excursions were practically confined to a single day at Coney
Island; and once they got as far as Boston on the way to the seashore
near Boston; that is, Mrs. March and the children went; an editorial
exigency kept March at the last moment. The Boston streets seemed very
queer and clean and empty to the children, and the buildings little; in
the horse-cars the Boston faces seemed to arraign their mother with a
down-drawn severity that made her feel very guilty. She knew that this
was merely the Puritan mask, the cast of a dead civilization, which
people of very amiable and tolerant minds were doomed to wear, and she
sighed to think that less than a year of the heterogeneous gayety of New
York should have made her afraid of it. The sky seemed cold and gray; the
east wind, which she had always thought so delicious in summer, cut her
to the heart. She took her children up to the South End, and in the
pretty square where they used to live they stood before their alienated
home, and looked up at its close-shuttered windows. The tenants must have
been away, but Mrs. March had not the courage to ring and make sure,
though she had always promised herself that she would go all over the
house when she came back, and see how they had used it; she could pretend
a desire for something she wished to take away. She knew she could not
bear it now; and the children did not seem eager. She did not push on to
the seaside; it would be forlorn there without their father; she was glad
to go back to him in the immense, friendly homelessness of New York, and
hold him answerable for the change, in her heart or her mind, which made
its shapeless tumult a refuge and a consolation.

She found that he had been giving the cook a holiday, and dining about
hither and thither with Fulkerson. Once he had dined with him at the
widow's (as they always called Mrs. Leighton), and then had spent the
evening there, and smoked with Fulkerson and Colonel Woodburn on the
gallery overlooking the back yard. They were all spending the summer in
New York. The widow had got so good an offer for her house at St. Barnaby
for the summer that she could not refuse it; and the Woodburns found New
York a watering-place of exemplary coolness after the burning Augusts and
Septembers of Charlottesburg.

"You can stand it well enough in our climate, sir," the colonel
explained, "till you come to the September heat, that sometimes runs well
into October; and then you begin to lose your temper, sir. It's never
quite so hot as it is in New York at times, but it's hot longer, sir." He
alleged, as if something of the sort were necessary, the example of a
famous Southwestern editor who spent all his summers in a New York hotel
as the most luxurious retreat on the continent, consulting the weather
forecasts, and running off on torrid days to the mountains or the sea,
and then hurrying back at the promise of cooler weather. The colonel had
not found it necessary to do this yet; and he had been reluctant to leave
town, where he was working up a branch of the inquiry which had so long
occupied him, in the libraries, and studying the great problem of labor
and poverty as it continually presented itself to him in the streets. He
said that he talked with all sorts of people, whom he found monstrously
civil, if you took them in the right way; and he went everywhere in the
city without fear and apparently without danger. March could not find out
that he had ridden his hobby into the homes of want which he visited, or
had proposed their enslavement to the inmates as a short and simple
solution of the great question of their lives; he appeared to have
contented himself with the collection of facts for the persuasion of the
cultivated classes. It seemed to March a confirmation of this impression
that the colonel should address his deductions from these facts so
unsparingly to him; he listened with a respectful patience, for which
Fulkerson afterward personally thanked him. Fulkerson said it was not
often the colonel found such a good listener; generally nobody listened
but Mrs. Leighton, who thought his ideas were shocking, but honored him
for holding them so conscientiously. Fulkerson was glad that March, as
the literary department, had treated the old gentleman so well, because
there was an open feud between him and the art department. Beaton was
outrageously rude, Fulkerson must say; though as for that, the old
colonel seemed quite able to take care of himself, and gave Beaton an
unqualified contempt in return for his unmannerliness. The worst of it
was, it distressed the old lady so; she admired Beaton as much as she
respected the colonel, and she admired Beaton, Fulkerson thought, rather
more than Miss Leighton did; he asked March if he had noticed them
together. March had noticed them, but without any very definite
impression except that Beaton seemed to give the whole evening to the
girl. Afterward he recollected that he had fancied her rather harassed by
his devotion, and it was this point that he wished to present for his
wife's opinion.

"Girls often put on that air," she said. "It's one of their ways of
teasing. But then, if the man was really very much in love, and she was
only enough in love to be uncertain of herself, she might very well seem
troubled. It would be a very serious question. Girls often don't know
what to do in such a case."

"Yes," said March, "I've often been glad that I was not a girl, on that
account. But I guess that on general principles Beaton is not more in
love than she is. I couldn't imagine that young man being more in love
with anybody, unless it was himself. He might be more in love with
himself than any one else was."

"Well, he doesn't interest me a great deal, and I can't say Miss Leighton
does, either. I think she can take care of herself. She has herself very
well in hand."

"Why so censorious?" pleaded March. "I don't defend her for having
herself in hand; but is it a fault?"

Mrs. March did not say. She asked, "And how does Mr. Fulkerson's affair
get on?"

"His affair? You really think it is one? Well, I've fancied so myself,
and I've had an idea of some time asking him; Fulkerson strikes one as
truly domesticable, conjugable at heart; but I've waited for him to
speak."

"I should think so."

"Yes. He's never opened on the subject yet. Do you know, I think
Fulkerson has his moments of delicacy."

"Moments! He's all delicacy in regard to women."

"Well, perhaps so. There is nothing in them to rouse his advertising
instincts."



IV

The Dryfoos family stayed in town till August. Then the father went West
again to look after his interests; and Mrs. Mandel took the two girls to
one of the great hotels in Saratoga. Fulkerson said that he had never
seen anything like Saratoga for fashion, and Mrs. Mandel remembered that
in her own young ladyhood this was so for at least some weeks of the
year. She had been too far withdrawn from fashion since her marriage to
know whether it was still so or not. In this, as in so many other
matters, the Dryfoos family helplessly relied upon Fulkerson, in spite of
Dryfoos's angry determination that he should not run the family, and in
spite of Christine's doubt of his omniscience; if he did not know
everything, she was aware that he knew more than herself. She thought
that they had a right to have him go with them to Saratoga, or at least
go up and engage their rooms beforehand; but Fulkerson did not offer to
do either, and she did not quite see her way to commanding his services.
The young ladies took what Mela called splendid dresses with them; they
sat in the park of tall, slim trees which the hotel's quadrangle
enclosed, and listened to the music in the morning, or on the long piazza
in the afternoon and looked at the driving in the street, or in the vast
parlors by night, where all the other ladies were, and they felt that
they were of the best there. But they knew nobody, and Mrs. Mandel was so
particular that Mela was prevented from continuing the acquaintance even
of the few young men who danced with her at the Saturday-night hops. They
drove about, but they went to places without knowing why, except that the
carriage man took them, and they had all the privileges of a proud
exclusivism without desiring them. Once a motherly matron seemed to
perceive their isolation, and made overtures to them, but then desisted,
as if repelled by Christine's suspicion, or by Mela's too instant and
hilarious good-fellowship, which expressed itself in hoarse laughter and
in a flow of talk full of topical and syntactical freedom. From time to
time she offered to bet Christine that if Mr. Fulkerson was only there
they would have a good time; she wondered what they were all doing in New
York, where she wished herself; she rallied her sister about Beaton, and
asked her why she did not write and tell him to come up there.

Mela knew that Christine had expected Beaton to follow them. Some banter
had passed between them to this effect; he said he should take them in on
his way home to Syracuse. Christine would not have hesitated to write to
him and remind him of his promise; but she had learned to distrust her
literature with Beaton since he had laughed at the spelling in a scrap of
writing which dropped out of her music-book one night. She believed that
he would not have laughed if he had known it was hers; but she felt that
she could hide better the deficiencies which were not committed to paper;
she could manage with him in talking; she was too ignorant of her
ignorance to recognize the mistakes she made then. Through her own
passion she perceived that she had some kind of fascination for him; she
was graceful, and she thought it must be that; she did not understand
that there was a kind of beauty in her small, irregular features that
piqued and haunted his artistic sense, and a look in her black eyes
beyond her intelligence and intention. Once he sketched her as they sat
together, and flattered the portrait without getting what he wanted in
it; he said he must try her some time in color; and he said things which,
when she made Mela repeat them, could only mean that he admired her more
than anybody else. He came fitfully, but he came often, and she rested
content in a girl's indefiniteness concerning the affair; if her thought
went beyond lovemaking to marriage, she believed that she could have him
if she wanted him. Her father's money counted in this; she divined that
Beaton was poor; but that made no difference; she would have enough for
both; the money would have counted as an irresistible attraction if there
had been no other.

The affair had gone on in spite of the sidelong looks of restless dislike
with which Dryfoos regarded it; but now when Beaton did not come to
Saratoga it necessarily dropped, and Christine's content with it. She
bore the trial as long as she could; she used pride and resentment
against it; but at last she could not bear it, and with Mela's help she
wrote a letter, bantering Beaton on his stay in New York, and playfully
boasting of Saratoga. It seemed to them both that it was a very bright
letter, and would be sure to bring him; they would have had no scruple
about sending it but for the doubt they had whether they had got some of
the words right. Mela offered to bet Christine anything she dared that
they were right, and she said, Send it anyway; it was no difference if
they were wrong. But Christine could not endure to think of that laugh of
Beaton's, and there remained only Mrs. Mandel as authority on the
spelling. Christine dreaded her authority on other points, but Mela said
she knew she would not interfere, and she undertook to get round her.
Mrs. Mandel pronounced the spelling bad, and the taste worse; she forbade
them to send the letter; and Mela failed to get round her, though she
threatened, if Mrs. Mandel would not tell her how to spell the wrong
words, that she would send the letter as it was; then Mrs. Mandel said
that if Mr. Beaton appeared in Saratoga she would instantly take them
both home. When Mela reported this result, Christine accused her of
having mismanaged the whole business; she quarrelled with her, and they
called each other names. Christine declared that she would not stay in
Saratoga, and that if Mrs. Mandel did not go back to New York with her
she should go alone. They returned the first week in September; but by
that time Beaton had gone to see his people in Syracuse.

Conrad Dryfoos remained at home with his mother after his father went
West. He had already taken such a vacation as he had been willing to
allow himself, and had spent it on a charity farm near the city, where
the fathers with whom he worked among the poor on the East Side in the
winter had sent some of their wards for the summer. It was not possible
to keep his recreation a secret at the office, and Fulkerson found a
pleasure in figuring the jolly time Brother Conrad must have teaching
farm work among those paupers and potential reprobates. He invented
details of his experience among them, and March could not always help
joining in the laugh at Conrad's humorless helplessness under Fulkerson's
burlesque denunciation of a summer outing spent in such dissipation.

They had time for a great deal of joking at the office during the season
of leisure which penetrates in August to the very heart of business, and
they all got on terms of greater intimacy if not greater friendliness
than before. Fulkerson had not had so long to do with the advertising
side of human nature without developing a vein of cynicism, of no great
depth, perhaps, but broad, and underlying his whole point of view; he
made light of Beaton's solemnity, as he made light of Conrad's humanity.
The art editor, with abundant sarcasm, had no more humor than the
publisher, and was an easy prey in the manager's hands; but when he had
been led on by Fulkerson's flatteries to make some betrayal of egotism,
he brooded over it till he had thought how to revenge himself in
elaborate insult. For Beaton's talent Fulkerson never lost his
admiration; but his joke was to encourage him to give himself airs of
being the sole source of the magazine's prosperity. No bait of this sort
was too obvious for Beaton to swallow; he could be caught with it as
often as Fulkerson chose; though he was ordinarily suspicious as to the
motives of people in saying things. With March he got on no better than
at first. He seemed to be lying in wait for some encroachment of the
literary department on the art department, and he met it now and then
with anticipative reprisal. After these rebuffs, the editor delivered him
over to the manager, who could turn Beaton's contrary-mindedness to
account by asking the reverse of what he really wanted done. This was
what Fulkerson said; the fact was that he did get on with Beaton and
March contented himself with musing upon the contradictions of a
character at once so vain and so offensive, so fickle and so sullen, so
conscious and so simple.

After the first jarring contact with Dryfoos, the editor ceased to feel
the disagreeable fact of the old man's mastery of the financial
situation. None of the chances which might have made it painful occurred;
the control of the whole affair remained in Fulkerson's hands; before he
went West again, Dryfoos had ceased to come about the office, as if,
having once worn off the novelty of the sense of owning a literary
periodical, he was no longer interested in it.

Yet it was a relief, somehow, when he left town, which he did not do
without coming to take a formal leave of the editor at his office. He
seemed willing to leave March with a better impression than he had
hitherto troubled himself to make; he even said some civil things about
the magazine, as if its success pleased him; and he spoke openly to March
of his hope that his son would finally become interested in it to the
exclusion of the hopes and purposes which divided them. It seemed to
March that in the old man's warped and toughened heart he perceived a
disappointed love for his son greater than for his other children; but
this might have been fancy. Lindau came in with some copy while Dryfoos
was there, and March introduced them. When Lindau went out, March
explained to Dryfoos that he had lost his hand in the war; and he told
him something of Lindau's career as he had known it. Dryfoos appeared
greatly pleased that 'Every Other Week' was giving Lindau work. He said
that he had helped to enlist a good many fellows for the war, and had
paid money to fill up the Moffitt County quota under the later calls for
troops. He had never been an Abolitionist, but he had joined the
Anti-Nebraska party in '55, and he had voted for Fremont and for every
Republican President since then.

At his own house March saw more of Lindau than of any other contributor,
but the old man seemed to think that he must transact all his business
with March at his place of business. The transaction had some
peculiarities which perhaps made this necessary. Lindau always expected
to receive his money when he brought his copy, as an acknowledgment of
the immediate right of the laborer to his hire; and he would not take it
in a check because he did not approve of banks, and regarded the whole
system of banking as the capitalistic manipulation of the people's money.
He would receive his pay only from March's hand, because he wished to be
understood as working for him, and honestly earning money honestly
earned; and sometimes March inwardly winced a little at letting the old
man share the increase of capital won by such speculation as Dryfoos's,
but he shook off the feeling. As the summer advanced, and the artists and
classes that employed Lindau as a model left town one after another, he
gave largely of his increasing leisure to the people in the office of
'Every Other Week.' It was pleasant for March to see the respect with
which Conrad Dryfoos always used him, for the sake of his hurt and his
gray beard. There was something delicate and fine in it, and there was
nothing unkindly on Fulkerson's part in the hostilities which usually
passed between himself and Lindau. Fulkerson bore himself reverently at
times, too, but it was not in him to keep that up, especially when Lindau
appeared with more beer aboard than, as Fulkerson said, he could manage
shipshape. On these occasions Fulkerson always tried to start him on the
theme of the unduly rich; he made himself the champion of monopolies, and
enjoyed the invectives which Lindau heaped upon him as a slave of
capital; he said that it did him good.

One day, with the usual show of writhing under Lindau's scorn, he said,
"Well, I understand that although you despise me now, Lindau--"

"I ton't desbise you," the old man broke in, his nostrils swelling and
his eyes flaming with excitement, "I bity you."

"Well, it seems to come to the same thing in the end," said Fulkerson.
"What I understand is that you pity me now as the slave of capital, but
you would pity me a great deal more if I was the master of it."

"How you mean?"

"If I was rich."

"That would tebendt," said Lindau, trying to control himself. "If you hat
inheritedt your money, you might pe innocent; but if you hat mate it,
efery man that resbectedt himself would haf to ask how you mate it, and
if you hat mate moch, he would know--"

"Hold on; hold on, now, Lindau! Ain't that rather un-American doctrine?
We're all brought up, ain't we, to honor the man that made his money, and
look down--or try to look down; sometimes it's difficult on the fellow
that his father left it to?"

The old man rose and struck his breast. "On Amerigan!" he roared, and, as
he went on, his accent grew more and more uncertain. "What iss Amerigan?
Dere iss no Ameriga any more! You start here free and brafe, and you
glaim for efery man de right to life, liperty, and de bursuit of
habbiness. And where haf you entedt? No man that vorks vith his handts
among you has the liperty to bursue his habbiness. He iss the slafe of
some richer man, some gompany, some gorporation, dat crindt him down to
the least he can lif on, and that rops him of the marchin of his earnings
that he knight pe habby on. Oh, you Amerigans, you haf cot it down goldt,
as you say! You ton't puy foters; you puy lechislatures and goncressmen;
you puy gourts; you puy gombetitors; you pay infentors not to infent; you
atfertise, and the gounting-room sees dat de etitorial-room toesn't
tink."

"Yes, we've got a little arrangement of that sort with March here," said
Fulkerson.

"Oh, I am sawry," said the old man, contritely, "I meant noting bersonal.
I ton't tink we are all cuilty or gorrubt, and efen among the rich there
are goodt men. But gabidal"--his passion rose again--"where you find
gabidal, millions of money that a man hass cot togeder in fife, ten,
twenty years, you findt the smell of tears and ploodt! Dat iss what I
say. And you cot to loog oudt for yourself when you meet a rich man
whether you meet an honest man."

"Well," said Fulkerson, "I wish I was a subject of suspicion with you,
Lindau. By-the-way," he added, "I understand that you think capital was
at the bottom of the veto of that pension of yours."

"What bension? What feto?"--The old man flamed up again. "No bension of
mine was efer fetoedt. I renounce my bension, begause I would sgorn to
dake money from a gofernment that I ton't peliefe in any more. Where you
hear that story?"

"Well, I don't know," said Fulkerson, rather embarrassed. "It's common
talk."

"It's a gommon lie, then! When the time gome dat dis iss a free gountry
again, then I dake a bension again for my woundts; but I would sdarfe
before I dake a bension now from a rebublic dat iss bought oap by
monobolies, and ron by drusts and gompines, and railroadts andt oil
gompanies."

"Look out, Lindau," said Fulkerson. "You bite yourself mit dat dog some
day." But when the old man, with a ferocious gesture of renunciation,
whirled out of the place, he added: "I guess I went a little too far that
time. I touched him on a sore place; I didn't mean to; I heard some talk
about his pension being vetoed from Miss Leighton." He addressed these
exculpations to March's grave face, and to the pitying deprecation in the
eyes of Conrad Dryfoos, whom Lindau's roaring wrath had summoned to the
door. "But I'll make it all right with him the next time he comes. I
didn't know he was loaded, or I wouldn't have monkeyed with him."

"Lindau does himself injustice when he gets to talking in that way," said
March. "I hate to hear him. He's as good an American as any of us; and
it's only because he has too high an ideal of us--"

"Oh, go on! Rub it in--rub it in!" cried Fulkerson, clutching his hair in
suffering, which was not altogether burlesque. "How did I know he had
renounced his 'bension'? Why didn't you tell me?"

"I didn't know it myself. I only knew that he had none, and I didn't ask,
for I had a notion that it might be a painful subject."

Fulkerson tried to turn it off lightly. "Well, he's a noble old fellow;
pity he drinks." March would not smile, and Fulkerson broke out: "Dog on
it! I'll make it up to the old fool the next time he comes. I don't like
that dynamite talk of his; but any man that's given his hand to the
country has got mine in his grip for good. Why, March! You don't suppose
I wanted to hurt his feelings, do you?"

"Why, of course not, Fulkerson."

But they could not get away from a certain ruefulness for that time, and
in the evening Fulkerson came round to March's to say that he had got
Lindau's address from Conrad, and had looked him up at his lodgings.

"Well, there isn't so much bric-a-brac there, quite, as Mrs. Green left
you; but I've made it all right with Lindau, as far as I'm concerned. I
told him I didn't know when I spoke that way, and I honored him for
sticking to his 'brinciples'; I don't believe in his 'brincibles'; and we
wept on each other's necks--at least, he did. Dogged if he didn't kiss me
before I knew what he was up to. He said I was his chenerous gong
friendt, and he begged my barton if he had said anything to wound me. I
tell you it was an affecting scene, March; and rats enough round in that
old barracks where he lives to fit out a first-class case of delirium
tremens. What does he stay there for? He's not obliged to?"

Lindau's reasons, as March repeated them, affected Fulkerson as
deliciously comical; but after that he confined his pleasantries at the
office to Beaton and Conrad Dryfoos, or, as he said, he spent the rest of
the summer in keeping Lindau smoothed up.

It is doubtful if Lindau altogether liked this as well. Perhaps he missed
the occasions Fulkerson used to give him of bursting out against the
millionaires; and he could not well go on denouncing as the slafe of
gabidal a man who had behaved to him as Fulkerson had done, though
Fulkerson's servile relations to capital had been in nowise changed by
his nople gonduct.

Their relations continued to wear this irksome character of mutual
forbearance; and when Dryfoos returned in October and Fulkerson revived
the question of that dinner in celebration of the success of 'Every Other
Week,' he carried his complaisance to an extreme that alarmed March for
the consequences.



V.

"You see," Fulkerson explained, "I find that the old man has got an idea
of his own about that banquet, and I guess there's some sense in it. He
wants to have a preliminary little dinner, where we can talk the thing up
first-half a dozen of us; and he wants to give us the dinner at his
house. Well, that's no harm. I don't believe the old man ever gave a
dinner, and he'd like to show off a little; there's a good deal of human
nature in the old man, after all. He thought of you, of course, and
Colonel Woodburn, and Beaton, and me at the foot of the table; and
Conrad; and I suggested Kendricks: he's such a nice little chap; and the
old man himself brought up the idea of Lindau. He said you told him
something about him, and he asked why couldn't we have him, too; and I
jumped at it."

"Have Lindau to dinner?" asked March.

"Certainly; why not? Father Dryfoos has a notion of paying the old fellow
a compliment for what he done for the country. There won't be any trouble
about it. You can sit alongside of him, and cut up his meat for him, and
help him to things--"

"Yes, but it won't do, Fulkerson! I don't believe Lindau ever had on a
dress-coat in his life, and I don't believe his 'brincibles' would let
him wear one."

"Well, neither had Dryfoos, for the matter of that. He's as
high-principled as old Pan-Electric himself, when it comes to a
dress-coat," said Fulkerson. "We're all going to go in business dress;
the old man stipulated for that.

"It isn't the dress-coat alone," March resumed. "Lindau and Dryfoos
wouldn't get on. You know they're opposite poles in everything. You
mustn't do it. Dryfoos will be sure to say something to outrage Lindau's
'brincibles,' and there'll be an explosion. It's all well enough for
Dryfoos to feel grateful to Lindau, and his wish to honor him does him
credit; but to have Lindau to dinner isn't the way. At the best, the old
fellow would be very unhappy in such a house; he would have a bad
conscience; and I should be sorry to have him feel that he'd been
recreant to his 'brincibles'; they're about all he's got, and whatever we
think of them, we're bound to respect his fidelity to them." March warmed
toward Lindau in taking this view of him. "I should feel ashamed if I
didn't protest against his being put in a false position. After all, he's
my old friend, and I shouldn't like to have him do himself injustice if
he is a crank."

"Of course," said Fulkerson, with some trouble in his face. "I appreciate
your feeling. But there ain't any danger," he added, buoyantly. "Anyhow,
you spoke too late, as the Irishman said to the chicken when he swallowed
him in a fresh egg. I've asked Lindau, and he's accepted with blayzure;
that's what he says."

March made no other comment than a shrug.

"You'll see," Fulkerson continued, "it 'll go off all right. I'll engage
to make it, and I won't hold anybody else responsible."

In the course of his married life March had learned not to censure the
irretrievable; but this was just what his wife had not learned; and she
poured out so much astonishment at what Fulkerson had done, and so much
disapproval, that March began to palliate the situation a little.

"After all, it isn't a question of life and death; and, if it were, I
don't see how it's to be helped now."

"Oh, it's not to be helped now. But I am surprised at Mr. Fulkerson."

"Well, Fulkerson has his moments of being merely human, too."

Mrs. March would not deign a direct defence of her favorite. "Well, I'm
glad there are not to be ladies."

"I don't know. Dryfoos thought of having ladies, but it seems your
infallible Fulkerson overruled him. Their presence might have kept Lindau
and our host in bounds."

It had become part of the Marches' conjugal joke for him to pretend that
she could allow nothing wrong in Fulkerson, and he now laughed with a
mocking air of having expected it when she said: "Well, then, if Mr.
Fulkerson says he will see that it all comes out right, I suppose you
must trust his tact. I wouldn't trust yours, Basil. The first wrong step
was taken when Mr. Lindau was asked to help on the magazine."

"Well, it was your infallible Fulkerson that took the step, or at least
suggested it. I'm happy to say I had totally forgotten my early friend."

Mrs. March was daunted and silenced for a moment. Then she said: "Oh,
pshaw! You know well enough he did it to please you."

"I'm very glad he didn't do it to please you, Isabel," said her husband,
with affected seriousness. "Though perhaps he did."

He began to look at the humorous aspect of the affair, which it certainly
had, and to comment on the singular incongruities which 'Every Other
Week' was destined to involve at every moment of its career. "I wonder if
I'm mistaken in supposing that no other periodical was ever like it.
Perhaps all periodicals are like it. But I don't believe there's another
publication in New York that could bring together, in honor of itself, a
fraternity and equality crank like poor old Lindau, and a belated
sociological crank like Woodburn, and a truculent speculator like old
Dryfoos, and a humanitarian dreamer like young Dryfoos, and a
sentimentalist like me, and a nondescript like Beaton, and a pure
advertising essence like Fulkerson, and a society spirit like Kendricks.
If we could only allow one another to talk uninterruptedly all the time,
the dinner would be the greatest success in the world, and we should come
home full of the highest mutual respect. But I suspect we can't manage
that--even your infallible Fulkerson couldn't work it--and I'm afraid
that there'll be some listening that 'll spoil the pleasure of the time."

March was so well pleased with this view of the case that he suggested
the idea involved to Fulkerson. Fulkerson was too good a fellow not to
laugh at another man's joke, but he laughed a little ruefully, and he
seemed worn with more than one kind of care in the interval that passed
between the present time and the night of the dinner.

Dryfoos necessarily depended upon him for advice concerning the scope and
nature of the dinner, but he received the advice suspiciously, and
contested points of obvious propriety with pertinacious stupidity.
Fulkerson said that when it came to the point he would rather have had
the thing, as he called it, at Delmonico's or some other restaurant; but
when he found that Dryfoos's pride was bound up in having it at his own
house, he gave way to him. Dryfoos also wanted his woman-cook to prepare
the dinner, but Fulkerson persuaded him that this would not do; he must
have it from a caterer. Then Dryfoos wanted his maids to wait at table,
but Fulkerson convinced him that this would be incongruous at a man's
dinner. It was decided that the dinner should be sent in from
Frescobaldi's, and Dryfoos went with Fulkerson to discuss it with the
caterer. He insisted upon having everything explained to him, and the
reason for having it, and not something else in its place; and he treated
Fulkerson and Frescobaldi as if they were in league to impose upon him.
There were moments when Fulkerson saw the varnish of professional
politeness cracking on the Neapolitan's volcanic surface, and caught a
glimpse of the lava fires of the cook's nature beneath; he trembled for
Dryfoos, who was walking rough-shod over him in the security of an
American who had known how to make his money, and must know how to spend
it; but he got him safely away at last, and gave Frescobaldi a wink of
sympathy for his shrug of exhaustion as they turned to leave him.

It was at first a relief and then an anxiety with Fulkerson that Lindau
did not come about after accepting the invitation to dinner, until he
appeared at Dryfoos's house, prompt to the hour. There was, to be sure,
nothing to bring him; but Fulkerson was uneasily aware that Dryfoos
expected to meet him at the office, and perhaps receive some verbal
acknowledgment of the honor done him. Dryfoos, he could see, thought he
was doing all his invited guests a favor; and while he stood in a certain
awe of them as people of much greater social experience than himself,
regarded them with a kind of contempt, as people who were going to have a
better dinner at his house than they could ever afford to have at their
own. He had finally not spared expense upon it; after pushing Frescobaldi
to the point of eruption with his misgivings and suspicions at the first
interview, he had gone to him a second time alone, and told him not to
let the money stand between him and anything he would like to do. In the
absence of Frescobaldi's fellow-conspirator he restored himself in the
caterer's esteem by adding whatever he suggested; and Fulkerson, after
trembling for the old man's niggardliness, was now afraid of a fantastic
profusion in the feast. Dryfoos had reduced the scale of the banquet as
regarded the number of guests, but a confusing remembrance of what
Fulkerson had wished to do remained with him in part, and up to the day
of the dinner he dropped in at Frescobaldi's and ordered more dishes and
more of them. He impressed the Italian as an American original of a novel
kind; and when he asked Fulkerson how Dryfoos had made his money, and
learned that it was primarily in natural gas, he made note of some of his
eccentric tastes as peculiarities that were to be caressed in any future
natural-gas millionaire who might fall into his hands. He did not
begrudge the time he had to give in explaining to Dryfoos the relation of
the different wines to the different dishes; Dryfoos was apt to
substitute a costlier wine where he could for a cheaper one, and he gave
Frescobaldi carte blanche for the decoration of the table with pieces of
artistic confectionery. Among these the caterer designed one for a
surprise to his patron and a delicate recognition of the source of his
wealth, which he found Dryfoos very willing to talk about, when he
intimated that he knew what it was.

Dryfoos left it to Fulkerson to invite the guests, and he found ready
acceptance of his politeness from Kendricks, who rightly regarded the
dinner as a part of the 'Every Other Week' business, and was too sweet
and kind-hearted, anyway, not to seem very glad to come. March was a
matter of course; but in Colonel Woodburn, Fulkerson encountered a
reluctance which embarrassed him the more because he was conscious of
having, for motives of his own, rather strained a point in suggesting the
colonel to Dryfoos as a fit subject for invitation. There had been only
one of the colonel's articles printed as yet, and though it had made a
sensation in its way, and started the talk about that number, still it
did not fairly constitute him a member of the staff, or even entitle him
to recognition as a regular contributor. Fulkerson felt so sure of
pleasing him with Dryfoos's message that he delivered it in full family
council at the widow's. His daughter received it with all the enthusiasm
that Fulkerson had hoped for, but the colonel said, stiffly, "I have not
the pleasure of knowing Mr. Dryfoos." Miss Woodburn appeared ready to
fall upon him at this, but controlled herself, as if aware that filial
authority had its limits, and pressed her lips together without saying
anything.

"Yes, I know," Fulkerson admitted. "But it isn't a usual case. Mr.
Dryfoos don't go in much for the conventionalities; I reckon he don't
know much about 'em, come to boil it down; and he hoped"--here Fulkerson
felt the necessity of inventing a little--"that you would excuse any want
of ceremony; it's to be such an informal affair, anyway; we're all going
in business dress, and there ain't going to be any ladies. He'd have come
himself to ask you, but he's a kind of a bashful old fellow. It's all
right, Colonel Woodburn."

"I take it that it is, sir," said the colonel, courteously, but with
unabated state, "coming from you. But in these matters we have no right
to burden our friends with our decisions."

"Of course, of course," said Fulkerson, feeling that he had been
delicately told to mind his own business.

"I understand," the colonel went on, "the relation that Mr. Dryfoos bears
to the periodical in which you have done me the honor to print my papah,
but this is a question of passing the bounds of a purely business
connection, and of eating the salt of a man whom you do not definitely
know to be a gentleman."

"Mah goodness!" his daughter broke in. "If you bah your own salt with his
money--"

"It is supposed that I earn his money before I buy my salt with it,"
returned her father, severely. "And in these times, when money is got in
heaps, through the natural decay of our nefarious commercialism, it
behooves a gentleman to be scrupulous that the hospitality offered him is
not the profusion of a thief with his booty. I don't say that Mr.
Dryfoos's good-fortune is not honest. I simply say that I know nothing
about it, and that I should prefer to know something before I sat down at
his board."

"You're all right, colonel," said Fulkerson, "and so is Mr. Dryfoos. I
give you my word that there are no flies on his personal integrity, if
that's what you mean. He's hard, and he'd push an advantage, but I don't
believe he would take an unfair one. He's speculated and made money every
time, but I never heard of his wrecking a railroad or belonging to any
swindling company or any grinding monopoly. He does chance it in stocks,
but he's always played on the square, if you call stocks gambling."

"May I, think this over till morning?" asked the colonel.

"Oh, certainly, certainly," said Fulkerson, eagerly. "I don't know as
there's any hurry."

Miss Woodburn found a chance to murmur to him before he went: "He'll
come. And Ah'm so much oblahged, Mr. Fulkerson. Ah jost know it's all
you' doing, and it will give papa a chance to toak to some new people,
and get away from us evahlastin' women for once."

"I don't see why any one should want to do that," said Fulkerson, with
grateful gallantry. "But I'll be dogged," he said to March when he told
him about this odd experience, "if I ever expected to find Colonel
Woodburn on old Lindau's ground. He did come round handsomely this
morning at breakfast and apologized for taking time to think the
invitation over before he accepted. 'You understand,' he says, 'that if
it had been to the table of some friend not so prosperous as Mr.
Dryfoos--your friend Mr. March, for instance--it would have been
sufficient to know that he was your friend. But in these days it is a
duty that a gentleman owes himself to consider whether he wishes to know
a rich man or not. The chances of making money disreputably are so great
that the chances are against a man who has made money if he's made a
great deal of it.'"

March listened with a face of ironical insinuation. "That was very good;
and he seems to have had a good deal of confidence in your patience and
in your sense of his importance to the occasion--"

"No, no," Fulkerson protested, "there's none of that kind of thing about
the colonel. I told him to take time to think it over; he's the
simplest-hearted old fellow in the world."

"I should say so. After all, he didn't give any reason he had for
accepting. But perhaps the young lady had the reason."

"Pshaw, March!" said Fulkerson.



VI.

So far as the Dryfoos family was concerned, the dinner might as well have
been given at Frescobaldi's rooms. None of the ladies appeared. Mrs.
Dryfoos was glad to escape to her own chamber, where she sat before an
autumnal fire, shaking her head and talking to herself at times, with the
foreboding of evil which old women like her make part of their religion.
The girls stood just out of sight at the head of the stairs, and disputed
which guest it was at each arrival; Mrs. Mandel had gone to her room to
write letters, after beseeching them not to stand there. When Kendricks
came, Christine gave Mela a little pinch, equivalent to a little mocking
shriek; for, on the ground of his long talk with Mela at Mrs. Horn's, in
the absence of any other admirer, they based a superstition of his
interest in her; when Beaton came, Mela returned the pinch, but
awkwardly, so that it hurt, and then Christine involuntarily struck her.

Frescobaldi's men were in possession everywhere they had turned the cook
out of her kitchen and the waitress out of her pantry; the reluctant
Irishman at the