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Title: Hazard of New Fortunes, a — Complete
Author: Howells, William Dean, 1837-1920
Language: English
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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 "Hazard of New Fortunes, a — Complete" ***

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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 door was supplemented by a vivid Italian, who spoke
French with the guests, and said, "Bien, Monsieur," and "toute suite,"
and "Merci!" to all, as he took their hats and coats, and effused a
hospitality that needed no language but the gleam of his eyes and teeth
and the play of his eloquent hands. From his professional dress-coat,
lustrous with the grease spotted on it at former dinners and parties,
they passed to the frocks of the elder and younger Dryfoos in the
drawing-room, which assumed informality for the affair, but did not put
their wearers wholly at their ease. The father's coat was of black
broadcloth, and he wore it unbuttoned; the skirts were long, and the
sleeves came down to his knuckles; he shook hands with his guests, and
the same dryness seemed to be in his palm and throat, as he huskily asked
each to take a chair. Conrad's coat was of modern texture and cut, and
was buttoned about him as if it concealed a bad conscience within its
lapels; he met March with his entreating smile, and he seemed no more
capable of coping with the situation than his father. They both waited
for Fulkerson, who went about and did his best to keep life in the party
during the half-hour that passed before they sat down at dinner. Beaton
stood gloomily aloof, as if waiting to be approached on the right basis
before yielding an inch of his ground; Colonel Woodburn, awaiting the
moment when he could sally out on his hobby, kept himself intrenched
within the dignity of a gentleman, and examined askance the figure of old
Lindau as he stared about the room, with his fine head up, and his empty
sleeve dangling over his wrist. March felt obliged to him for wearing a
new coat in the midst of that hostile luxury, and he was glad to see
Dryfoos make up to him and begin to talk with him, as if he wished to
show him particular respect, though it might have been because he was
less afraid of him than of the others. He heard Lindau saying, "Boat, the
name is Choarman?" and Dryfoos beginning to explain his Pennsylvania
Dutch origin, and he suffered himself, with a sigh of relief, to fall
into talk with Kendricks, who was always pleasant; he was willing to talk
about something besides himself, and had no opinions that he was not
ready to hold in abeyance for the time being out of kindness to others.
In that group of impassioned individualities, March felt him a refuge and
comfort--with his harmless dilettante intention of some day writing a
novel, and his belief that he was meantime collecting material for it.

Fulkerson, while breaking the ice for the whole company, was mainly
engaged in keeping Colonel Woodburn thawed out. He took Kendricks away
from March and presented him to the colonel as a person who, like
himself, was looking into social conditions; he put one hand on
Kendricks's shoulder, and one on the colonel's, and made some flattering
joke, apparently at the expense of the young fellow, and then left them.
March heard Kendricks protest in vain, and the colonel say, gravely: "I
do not wonder, sir, that these things interest you. They constitute a
problem which society must solve or which will dissolve society," and he
knew from that formula, which the colonel had, once used with him, that
he was laying out a road for the exhibition of the hobby's paces later.

Fulkerson came back to March, who had turned toward Conrad Dryfoos, and
said, "If we don't get this thing going pretty soon, it 'll be the death
of me," and just then Frescobaldi's butler came in and announced to
Dryfoos that dinner was served. The old man looked toward Fulkerson with
a troubled glance, as if he did not know what to do; he made a gesture to
touch Lindau's elbow. Fulkerson called out, "Here's Colonel Woodburn, Mr.
Dryfoos," as if Dryfoos were looking for him; and he set the example of
what he was to do by taking Lindau's arm himself. "Mr. Lindau is going to
sit at my end of the table, alongside of March. Stand not upon the order
of your going, gentlemen, but fall in at once." He contrived to get
Dryfoos and the colonel before him, and he let March follow with
Kendricks. Conrad came last with Beaton, who had been turning over the
music at the piano, and chafing inwardly at the whole affair. At the
table Colonel Woodburn was placed on Dryfoos's right, and March on his
left. March sat on Fulkerson's right, with Lindau next him; and the young
men occupied the other seats.

"Put you next to March, Mr. Lindau," said Fulkerson, "so you can begin to
put Apollinaris in his champagne-glass at the right moment; you know his
little weakness of old; sorry to say it's grown on him."

March laughed with kindly acquiescence in Fulkerson's wish to start the
gayety, and Lindau patted him on the shoulder. "I know hiss veakness. If
he liges a class of vine, it iss begause his loaf ingludes efen hiss
enemy, as Shakespeare galled it."

"Ah, but Shakespeare couldn't have been thinking of champagne," said
Kendricks.

"I suppose, sir," Colonel Woodburn interposed, with lofty courtesy,
"champagne could hardly have been known in his day."

"I suppose not, colonel," returned the younger man, deferentially. "He
seemed to think that sack and sugar might be a fault; but he didn't
mention champagne."

"Perhaps he felt there was no question about that," suggested Beaton, who
then felt that he had not done himself justice in the sally.

"I wonder just when champagne did come in," said March.

"I know when it ought to come in," said Fulkerson. "Before the soup!"

They all laughed, and gave themselves the air of drinking champagne out
of tumblers every day, as men like to do. Dryfoos listened uneasily; he
did not quite understand the allusions, though he knew what Shakespeare
was, well enough; Conrad's face expressed a gentle deprecation of joking
on such a subject, but he said nothing.

The talk ran on briskly through the dinner. The young men tossed the ball
back and forth; they made some wild shots, but they kept it going, and
they laughed when they were hit. The wine loosed Colonel Woodburn's
tongue; he became very companionable with the young fellows; with the
feeling that a literary dinner ought to have a didactic scope, he praised
Scott and Addison as the only authors fit to form the minds of gentlemen.

Kendricks agreed with him, but wished to add the name of Flaubert as a
master of style. "Style, you know," he added, "is the man."

"Very true, sir; you are quite right, sir," the colonel assented; he
wondered who Flaubert was.

Beaton praised Baudelaire and Maupassant; he said these were the masters.
He recited some lurid verses from Baudelaire; Lindau pronounced them a
disgrace to human nature, and gave a passage from Victor Hugo on Louis
Napoleon, with his heavy German accent, and then he quoted Schiller.
"Ach, boat that is a peaudifool! Not zo?" he demanded of March.

"Yes, beautiful; but, of course, you know I think there's nobody like
Heine!"

Lindau threw back his great old head and laughed, showing a want of teeth
under his mustache. He put his hand on March's back. "This poy--he was a
poy den--wars so gracy to pekin reading Heine that he gommence with the
tictionary bevore he knows any Grammar, and ve bick it out vort by vort
togeder."

"He was a pretty cay poy in those days, heigh, Lindau?" asked Fulkerson,
burlesquing the old man's accent, with an impudent wink that made Lindau
himself laugh. "But in the dark ages, I mean, there in Indianapolis. Just
how long ago did you old codgers meet there, anyway?" Fulkerson saw the
restiveness in Dryfoos's eye at the purely literary course the talk had
taken; he had intended it to lead up that way to business, to 'Every
Other Week;' but he saw that it was leaving Dryfoos too far out, and he
wished to get it on the personal ground, where everybody is at home.

"Ledt me zee," mused Lindau. "Wass it in fifty-nine or zixty, Passil? Idt
wass a year or dwo pefore the war proke oudt, anyway."

"Those were exciting times," said Dryfoos, making his first entry into
the general talk. "I went down to Indianapolis with the first company
from our place, and I saw the red-shirts pouring in everywhere. They had
a song,

  "Oh, never mind the weather, but git over double trouble,
   For we're bound for the land of Canaan."

The fellows locked arms and went singin' it up and down four or five
abreast in the moonlight; crowded everybody' else off the sidewalk."

"I remember, I remember," said Lindau, nodding his head slowly up and
down. "A coodt many off them nefer gome pack from that landt of Ganaan,
Mr. Dryfoos?"

"You're right, Mr. Lindau. But I reckon it was worth it--the country
we've got now. Here, young man!" He caught the arm of the waiter who was
going round with the champagne bottle. "Fill up Mr. Lindau's glass,
there. I want to drink the health of those old times with him. Here's to
your empty sleeve, Mr. Lindau. God bless it! No offence to you, Colonel
Woodburn," said Dryfoos, turning to him before he drank.

"Not at all, sir, not at all," said the colonel. "I will drink with you,
if you will permit me."

"We'll all drink--standing!" cried Fulkerson. "Help March to get up,
somebody! Fill high the bowl with Samian Apollinaris for Coonrod! Now,
then, hurrah for Lindau!"

They cheered, and hammered on the table with the butts of their
knife-handles. Lindau remained seated. The tears came into his eyes; he
said, "I thank you, chendlemen," and hiccoughed.

"I'd 'a' went into the war myself," said Dryfoos, "but I was raisin' a
family of young children, and I didn't see how I could leave my farm. But
I helped to fill up the quota at every call, and when the volunteering
stopped I went round with the subscription paper myself; and we offered
as good bounties as any in the State. My substitute was killed in one of
the last skirmishes--in fact, after Lee's surrender--and I've took care
of his family, more or less, ever since."

"By-the-way, March," said Fulkerson, "what sort of an idea would it be to
have a good war story--might be a serial--in the magazine? The war has
never fully panned out in fiction yet. It was used a good deal just after
it was over, and then it was dropped. I think it's time to take it up
again. I believe it would be a card."

It was running in March's mind that Dryfoos had an old rankling shame in
his heart for not having gone into the war, and that he had often made
that explanation of his course without having ever been satisfied with
it. He felt sorry for him; the fact seemed pathetic; it suggested a
dormant nobleness in the man.

Beaton was saying to Fulkerson: "You might get a series of sketches by
substitutes; the substitutes haven't been much heard from in the war
literature. How would 'The Autobiography of a Substitute' do? You might
follow him up to the moment he was killed in the other man's place, and
inquire whether he had any right to the feelings of a hero when he was
only hired in the place of one. Might call it 'The Career of a Deputy
Hero.'"

"I fancy," said March, "that there was a great deal of mixed motive in
the men who went into the war as well as in those who kept out of it. We
canonized all that died or suffered in it, but some of them must have
been self-seeking and low-minded, like men in other vocations." He found
himself saying this in Dryfoos's behalf; the old man looked at him
gratefully at first, he thought, and then suspiciously.

Lindau turned his head toward him and said: "You are righdt, Passil; you
are righdt. I haf zeen on the fieldt of pattle the voarst eggsipitions of
human paseness--chelousy, fanity, ecodistic bridte. I haf zeen men in the
face off death itself gofferned by motifes as low as--as pusiness
motifes."

"Well," said Fulkerson, "it would be a grand thing for 'Every Other Week'
if we could get some of those ideas worked up into a series. It would
make a lot of talk."

Colonel Woodburn ignored him in saying, "I think, Major Lindau--"

"High brifate; prefet gorporal," the old man interrupted, in rejection of
the title.

Hendricks laughed and said, with a glance of appreciation at Lindau,
"Brevet corporal is good."

Colonel Woodburn frowned a little, and passed over the joke. "I think Mr.
Lindau is right. Such exhibitions were common to both sides, though if
you gentlemen will pardon me for saying so, I think they were less
frequent on ours. We were fighting more immediately for existence. We
were fewer than you were, and we knew it; we felt more intensely that if
each were not for all, then none was for any."

The colonel's words made their impression. Dryfoos said, with authority,
"That is so."

"Colonel Woodburn," Fulkerson called out, "if you'll work up those ideas
into a short paper--say, three thousand words--I'll engage to make March
take it."

The colonel went on without replying: "But Mr. Lindau is right in
characterizing some of the motives that led men to the cannon's mouth as
no higher than business motives, and his comparison is the most forcible
that he could have used. I was very much struck by it."

The hobby was out, the colonel was in the saddle with so firm a seat that
no effort sufficed to dislodge him. The dinner went on from course to
course with barbaric profusion, and from time to time Fulkerson tried to
bring the talk back to 'Every Other Week.' But perhaps because that was
only the ostensible and not the real object of the dinner, which was to
bring a number of men together under Dryfoos's roof, and make them the
witnesses of his splendor, make them feel the power of his wealth,
Fulkerson's attempts failed. The colonel showed how commercialism was the
poison at the heart of our national life; how we began as a simple,
agricultural people, who had fled to these shores with the instinct,
divinely implanted, of building a state such as the sun never shone upon
before; how we had conquered the wilderness and the savage; how we had
flung off, in our struggle with the mother-country, the trammels of
tradition and precedent, and had settled down, a free nation, to the
practice of the arts of peace; how the spirit of commercialism had stolen
insidiously upon us, and the infernal impulse of competition had
embroiled us in a perpetual warfare of interests, developing the worst
passions of our nature, and teaching us to trick and betray and destroy
one another in the strife for money, till now that impulse had exhausted
itself, and we found competition gone and the whole economic problem in
the hands of monopolies--the Standard Oil Company, the Sugar Trust, the
Rubber Trust, and what not. And now what was the next thing? Affairs
could not remain as they were; it was impossible; and what was the next
thing?

The company listened for the main part silently. Dryfoos tried to grasp
the idea of commercialism as the colonel seemed to hold it; he conceived
of it as something like the dry-goods business on a vast scale, and he
knew he had never been in that. He did not like to hear competition
called infernal; he had always supposed it was something sacred; but he
approved of what Colonel Woodburn said of the Standard Oil Company; it
was all true; the Standard Oil has squeezed Dryfoos once, and made him
sell it a lot of oil-wells by putting down the price of oil so low in
that region that he lost money on every barrel he pumped.

All the rest listened silently, except Lindau; at every point the colonel
made against the present condition of things he said more and more
fiercely, "You are righdt, you are righdt." His eyes glowed, his hand
played with his knife-hilt. When the colonel demanded, "And what is the
next thing?" he threw himself forward, and repeated: "Yes, sir! What is
the next thing?"

"Natural gas, by thunder!" shouted Fulkerson.

One of the waiters had profited by Lindau's posture to lean over him and
put down in the middle of the table a structure in white sugar. It
expressed Frescobaldi's conception of a derrick, and a touch of nature
had been added in the flame of brandy, which burned luridly up from a
small pit in the centre of the base, and represented the gas in
combustion as it issued from the ground. Fulkerson burst into a roar of
laughter with the words that recognized Frescobaldi's personal tribute to
Dryfoos. Everybody rose and peered over at the thing, while he explained
the work of sinking a gas-well, as he had already explained it to
Frescobaldi. In the midst of his lecture he caught sight of the caterer
himself, where he stood in the pantry doorway, smiling with an artist's
anxiety for the effect of his masterpiece.

"Come in, come in, Frescobaldi! We want to congratulate you," Fulkerson
called to him. "Here, gentlemen! Here's Frescobaldi's health."

They all drank; and Frescobaldi, smiling brilliantly and rubbing his
hands as he bowed right and left, permitted himself to say to Dryfoos:
"You are please; no? You like?"

"First-rate, first-rate!" said the old man; but when the Italian had
bowed himself out and his guests had sunk into their seats again, he said
dryly to Fulkerson, "I reckon they didn't have to torpedo that well, or
the derrick wouldn't look quite so nice and clean."

"Yes," Fulkerson answered, "and that ain't quite the style--that little
wiggly-waggly blue flame--that the gas acts when you touch off a good
vein of it. This might do for weak gas"; and he went on to explain:

"They call it weak gas when they tap it two or three hundred feet down;
and anybody can sink a well in his back yard and get enough gas to light
and heat his house. I remember one fellow that had it blazing up from a
pipe through a flower-bed, just like a jet of water from a fountain. My,
my, my! You fel--you gentlemen--ought to go out and see that country, all
of you. Wish we could torpedo this well, Mr. Dryfoos, and let 'em see how
it works! Mind that one you torpedoed for me? You know, when they sink a
well," he went on to the company, "they can't always most generally
sometimes tell whether they're goin' to get gas or oil or salt water.
Why, when they first began to bore for salt water out on the Kanawha,
back about the beginning of the century, they used to get gas now and
then, and then they considered it a failure; they called a gas-well a
blower, and give it up in disgust; the time wasn't ripe for gas yet. Now
they bore away sometimes till they get half-way to China, and don't seem
to strike anything worth speaking of. Then they put a dynamite torpedo
down in the well and explode it. They have a little bar of iron that they
call a Go-devil, and they just drop it down on the business end of the
torpedo, and then stand from under, if you please! You hear a noise, and
in about half a minute you begin to see one, and it begins to rain oil
and mud and salt water and rocks and pitchforks and adoptive citizens;
and when it clears up the derrick's painted--got a coat on that 'll wear
in any climate. That's what our honored host meant. Generally get some
visiting lady, when there's one round, to drop the Go-devil. But that day
we had to put up with Conrad here. They offered to let me drop it, but I
declined. I told 'em I hadn't much practice with Go-devils in the
newspaper syndicate business, and I wasn't very well myself, anyway.
Astonishing," Fulkerson continued, with the air of relieving his
explanation by an anecdote, "how reckless they get using dynamite when
they're torpedoing wells. We stopped at one place where a fellow was
handling the cartridges pretty freely, and Mr. Dryfoos happened to
caution him a little, and that ass came up with one of 'em in his hand,
and began to pound it on the buggy-wheel to show us how safe it was. I
turned green, I was so scared; but Mr. Dryfoos kept his color, and kind
of coaxed the fellow till he quit. You could see he was the fool kind,
that if you tried to stop him he'd keep on hammering that cartridge, just
to show that it wouldn't explode, till he blew you into Kingdom Come.
When we got him to go away, Mr. Dryfoos drove up to his foreman. 'Pay
Sheney off, and discharge him on the spot,' says he. 'He's too safe a man
to have round; he knows too much about dynamite.' I never saw anybody so
cool."

Dryfoos modestly dropped his head under Fulkerson's flattery and, without
lifting it, turned his eyes toward Colonel Woodburn. "I had all sorts of
men to deal with in developing my property out there, but I had very
little trouble with them, generally speaking."

"Ah, ah! you foundt the laboring-man reasonable--dractable--tocile?"
Lindau put in.

"Yes, generally speaking," Dryfoos answered. "They mostly knew which side
of their bread was buttered. I did have one little difficulty at one
time. It happened to be when Mr. Fulkerson was out there. Some of the men
tried to form a union--"

"No, no!" cried Fulkerson. "Let me tell that! I know you wouldn't do
yourself justice, Mr. Dryfoos, and I want 'em to know how a strike can be
managed, if you take it in time. You see, some of those fellows got a
notion that there ought to be a union among the working-men to keep up
wages, and dictate to the employers, and Mr. Dryfoos's foreman was the
ringleader in the business. They understood pretty well that as soon as
he found it out that foreman would walk the plank, and so they watched
out till they thought they had Mr. Dryfoos just where they wanted
him--everything on the keen jump, and every man worth his weight in
diamonds--and then they came to him, and--told him to sign a promise to
keep that foreman to the end of the season, or till he was through with
the work on the Dryfoos and Hendry Addition, under penalty of having them
all knock off. Mr. Dryfoos smelled a mouse, but he couldn't tell where
the mouse was; he saw that they did have him, and he signed, of course.
There wasn't anything really against the fellow, anyway; he was a
first-rate man, and he did his duty every time; only he'd got some of
those ideas into his head, and they turned it. Mr. Dryfoos signed, and
then he laid low."

March saw Lindau listening with a mounting intensity, and heard him
murmur in German, "Shameful! shameful!"

Fulkerson went on: "Well, it wasn't long before they began to show their
hand, but Mr. Dryfoos kept dark. He agreed to everything; there never was
such an obliging capitalist before; there wasn't a thing they asked of
him that he didn't do, with the greatest of pleasure, and all went merry
as a marriage-bell till one morning a whole gang of fresh men marched
into the Dryfoos and Hendry Addition, under the escort of a dozen
Pinkertons with repeating rifles at half-cock, and about fifty fellows
found themselves out of a job. You never saw such a mad set."

"Pretty neat," said Kendricks, who looked at the affair purely from an
aesthetic point of view. "Such a coup as that would tell tremendously in
a play."

"That was vile treason," said Lindau in German to March. "He's an
infamous traitor! I cannot stay here. I must go."

He struggled to rise, while March held him by the coat, and implored him
under his voice: "For Heaven's sake, don't, Lindau! You owe it to
yourself not to make a scene, if you come here." Something in it all
affected him comically; he could not help laughing.

The others were discussing the matter, and seemed not to have noticed
Lindau, who controlled himself and sighed: "You are right. I must have
patience."

Beaton was saying to Dryfoos, "Pity your Pinkertons couldn't have given
them a few shots before they left."

"No, that wasn't necessary," said Dryfoos. "I succeeded in breaking up
the union. I entered into an agreement with other parties not to employ
any man who would not swear that he was non-union. If they had attempted
violence, of course they could have been shot. But there was no fear of
that. Those fellows can always be depended upon to cut one another's
throats in the long run."

"But sometimes," said Colonel Woodburn, who had been watching throughout.
for a chance to mount his hobby again, "they make a good deal of trouble
first. How was it in the great railroad strike of '77?"

"Well, I guess there was a little trouble that time, colonel," said
Fulkerson. "But the men that undertake to override the laws and paralyze
the industries of a country like this generally get left in the end."

"Yes, sir, generally; and up to a certain point, always. But it's the
exceptional that is apt to happen, as well as the unexpected. And a
little reflection will convince any gentleman here that there is always a
danger of the exceptional in your system. The fact is, those fellows have
the game in their own hands already. A strike of the whole body of the
Brotherhood of Engineers alone would starve out the entire Atlantic
seaboard in a week; labor insurrection could make head at a dozen given
points, and your government couldn't move a man over the roads without
the help of the engineers."

"That is so," said Kendrick, struck by the dramatic character of the
conjecture. He imagined a fiction dealing with the situation as something
already accomplished.

"Why don't some fellow do the Battle of Dorking act with that thing?"
said Fulkerson. "It would be a card."

"Exactly what I was thinking, Mr. Fulkerson," said Kendricks.

Fulkerson laughed. "Telepathy--clear case of mind transference. Better
see March, here, about it. I'd like to have it in 'Every Other Week.' It
would make talk."

"Perhaps it might set your people to thinking as well as talking," said
the colonel.

"Well, sir," said Dryfoos, setting his lips so tightly together that his
imperial stuck straight outward, "if I had my way, there wouldn't be any
Brotherhood of Engineers, nor any other kind of labor union in the whole
country."

"What!" shouted Lindau. "You would sobbress the unionss of the
voarking-men?"

"Yes, I would."

"And what would you do with the unionss of the gabidalists--the
drosts--and gompines, and boolss? Would you dake the righdt from one and
gif it to the odder?"

"Yes, sir, I would," said Dryfoos, with a wicked look at him.

Lindau was about to roar back at him with some furious protest, but March
put his hand on his shoulder imploringly, and Lindau turned to him to say
in German: "But it is infamous--infamous! What kind of man is this? Who
is he? He has the heart of a tyrant."

Colonel Woodburn cut in. "You couldn't do that, Mr. Dryfoos, under your
system. And if you attempted it, with your conspiracy laws, and that kind
of thing, it might bring the climax sooner than you expected. Your
commercialized society has built its house on the sands. It will have to
go. But I should be sorry if it went before its time."

"You are righdt, sir," said Lindau. "It would be a bity. I hobe it will
last till it feelss its rottenness, like Herodt. Boat, when its hour
gomes, when it trope to bieces with the veight off its own
gorrubtion--what then?"

"It's not to be supposed that a system of things like this can drop to
pieces of its own accord, like the old Republic of Venice," said the
colonel. "But when the last vestige of commercial society is gone, then
we can begin to build anew; and we shall build upon the central idea,
not of the false liberty you now worship, but of responsibility
--responsibility. The enlightened, the moneyed, the cultivated class shall
be responsible to the central authority--emperor, duke, president; the
name does not matter--for the national expense and the national defence,
and it shall be responsible to the working-classes of all kinds for homes
and lands and implements, and the opportunity to labor at all times.

"The working-classes shall be responsible to the leisure class for the
support of its dignity in peace, and shall be subject to its command in
war. The rich shall warrant the poor against planless production and the
ruin that now follows, against danger from without and famine from
within, and the poor--"

"No, no, no!" shouted Lindau. "The State shall do that--the whole beople.
The men who voark shall have and shall eat; and the men that will not
voark, they shall sdarfe. But no man need sdarfe. He will go to the
State, and the State will see that he haf voark, and that he haf foodt.
All the roadts and mills and mines and landts shall be the beople's and
be ron by the beople for the beople. There shall be no rich and no boor;
and there shall not be war any more, for what bower wouldt dare to addack
a beople bound togeder in a broderhood like that?"

"Lion and lamb act," said Fulkerson, not well knowing, after so much
champagne, what words he was using.

No one noticed him, and Colonel Woodburn said coldly to Lindau, "You are
talking paternalism, sir."

"And you are dalking feutalism!" retorted the old man.

The colonel did not reply. A silence ensued, which no one broke till
Fulkerson said: "Well, now, look here. If either one of these millenniums
was brought about, by force of arms, or otherwise, what would become of
'Every Other Week'? Who would want March for an editor? How would Beaton
sell his pictures? Who would print Mr. Kendricks's little society verses
and short stories? What would become of Conrad and his good works?" Those
named grinned in support of Fulkerson's diversion, but Lindau and the
colonel did not speak; Dryfoos looked down at his plate, frowning.

A waiter came round with cigars, and Fulkerson took one. "Ah," he said,
as he bit off the end, and leaned over to the emblematic masterpiece,
where the brandy was still feebly flickering, "I wonder if there's enough
natural gas left to light my cigar." His effort put the flame out and
knocked the derrick over; it broke in fragments on the table. Fulkerson
cackled over the ruin: "I wonder if all Moffitt will look that way after
labor and capital have fought it out together. I hope this ain't ominous
of anything personal, Dryfoos?"

"I'll take the risk of it," said the old man, harshly.

He rose mechanically, and Fulkerson said to Frescobaldi's man, "You can
bring us the coffee in the library."

The talk did not recover itself there. Landau would not sit down; he
refused coffee, and dismissed himself with a haughty bow to the company;
Colonel Woodburn shook hands elaborately all round, when he had smoked
his cigar; the others followed him. It seemed to March that his own
good-night from Dryfoos was dry and cold.



VII.

March met Fulkerson on the steps of the office next morning, when he
arrived rather later than his wont. Fulkerson did not show any of the
signs of suffering from the last night's pleasure which painted
themselves in March's face. He flirted his hand gayly in the air, and
said, "How's your poor head?" and broke into a knowing laugh. "You don't
seem to have got up with the lark this morning. The old gentleman is in
there with Conrad, as bright as a biscuit; he's beat you down. Well, we
did have a good time, didn't we? And old Lindau and the colonel, didn't
they have a good time? I don't suppose they ever had a chance before to
give their theories quite so much air. Oh, my! how they did ride over us!
I'm just going down to see Beaton about the cover of the Christmas
number. I think we ought to try it in three or four colors, if we are
going to observe the day at all." He was off before March could pull
himself together to ask what Dryfoos wanted at the office at that hour of
the morning; he always came in the afternoon on his way up-town.

The fact of his presence renewed the sinister misgivings with which March
had parted from him the night before, but Fulkerson's cheerfulness seemed
to gainsay them; afterward March did not know whether to attribute this
mood to the slipperiness that he was aware of at times in Fulkerson, or
to a cynical amusement he might have felt at leaving him alone to the old
man, who mounted to his room shortly after March had reached it.

A sort of dumb anger showed itself in his face; his jaw was set so firmly
that he did not seem able at once to open it. He asked, without the
ceremonies of greeting, "What does that one-armed Dutchman do on this
book?"

"What does he do?" March echoed, as people are apt to do with a question
that is mandatory and offensive.

"Yes, sir, what does he do? Does he write for it?"

"I suppose you mean Lindau," said March. He saw no reason for refusing to
answer Dryfoos's demand, and he decided to ignore its terms. "No, he
doesn't write for it in the usual way. He translates for it; he examines
the foreign magazines, and draws my attention to anything he thinks of
interest. But I told you about this before--"

"I know what you told me, well enough. And I know what he is. He is a
red-mouthed labor agitator. He's one of those foreigners that come here
from places where they've never had a decent meal's victuals in their
lives, and as soon as they get their stomachs full, they begin to make
trouble between our people and their hands. There's where the strikes
come from, and the unions and the secret societies. They come here and
break our Sabbath, and teach their atheism. They ought to be hung! Let
'em go back if they don't like it over here. They want to ruin the
country."

March could not help smiling a little at the words, which came fast
enough now in the hoarse staccato of Dryfoos's passion. "I don't know
whom you mean by they, generally speaking; but I had the impression that
poor old Lindau had once done his best to save the country. I don't
always like his way of talking, but I know that he is one of the truest
and kindest souls in the world; and he is no more an atheist than I am.
He is my friend, and I can't allow him to be misunderstood."

"I don't care what he is," Dryfoos broke out, "I won't have him round. He
can't have any more work from this office. I want you to stop it. I want
you to turn him off."

March was standing at his desk, as he had risen to receive Dryfoos when
he entered. He now sat down, and began to open his letters.

"Do you hear?" the old man roared at him. "I want you to turn him off."

"Excuse me, Mr. Dryfoos," said March, succeeding in an effort to speak
calmly, "I don't know you, in such a matter as this. My arrangements as
editor of 'Every Other Week' were made with Mr. Fulkerson. I have always
listened to any suggestion he has had to make."

"I don't care for Mr. Fulkerson? He has nothing to do with it," retorted
Dryfoos; but he seemed a little daunted by March's position.

"He has everything to do with it as far as I am concerned," March
answered, with a steadiness that he did not feel. "I know that you are
the owner of the periodical, but I can't receive any suggestion from you,
for the reason that I have given. Nobody but Mr. Fulkerson has any right
to talk with me about its management."

Dryfoos glared at him for a moment, and demanded, threateningly: "Then
you say you won't turn that old loafer off? You say that I have got to
keep on paying my money out to buy beer for a man that would cut my
throat if he got the chance?"

"I say nothing at all, Mr. Dryfoos," March answered. The blood came into
his face, and he added: "But I will say that if you speak again of Mr.
Lindau in those terms, one of us must leave this room. I will not hear
you."

Dryfoos looked at him with astonishment; then he struck his hat down on
his head, and stamped out of the room and down the stairs; and a vague
pity came into March's heart that was not altogether for himself. He
might be the greater sufferer in the end, but he was sorry to have got
the better of that old man for the moment; and he felt ashamed of the
anger into which Dryfoos's anger had surprised him. He knew he could not
say too much in defence of Lindau's generosity and unselfishness, and he
had not attempted to defend him as a political economist. He could not
have taken any ground in relation to Dryfoos but that which he held, and
he felt satisfied that he was right in refusing to receive instructions
or commands from him. Yet somehow he was not satisfied with the whole
affair, and not merely because his present triumph threatened his final
advantage, but because he felt that in his heat he had hardly done
justice to Dryfoos's rights in the matter; it did not quite console him
to reflect that Dryfoos had himself made it impossible. He was tempted to
go home and tell his wife what had happened, and begin his preparations
for the future at once. But he resisted this weakness and kept
mechanically about his work, opening the letters and the manuscripts
before him with that curious double action of the mind common in men of
vivid imaginations. It was a relief when Conrad Dryfoos, having
apparently waited to make sure that his father would not return, came up
from the counting-room and looked in on March with a troubled face.

"Mr. March," he began, "I hope father hasn't been saying anything to you
that you can't overlook. I know he was very much excited, and when he is
excited he is apt to say things that he is sorry for."

The apologetic attitude taken for Dryfoos, so different from any attitude
the peremptory old man would have conceivably taken for himself, made
March smile. "Oh no. I fancy the boot is on the other leg. I suspect I've
said some things your father can't overlook, Conrad." He called the young
man by his Christian name partly to distinguish him from his father,
partly from the infection of Fulkerson's habit, and partly from a
kindness for him that seemed naturally to express itself in that way.

"I know he didn't sleep last night, after you all went away," Conrad
pursued, "and of course that made him more irritable; and he was tried a
good deal by some of the things that Mr. Lindau said."

"I was tried a good deal myself," said March. "Lindau ought never to have
been there."

"No." Conrad seemed only partially to assent.

"I told Mr. Fulkerson so. I warned him that Lindau would be apt to break
out in some way. It wasn't just to him, and it wasn't just to your
father, to ask him."

"Mr. Fulkerson had a good motive," Conrad gently urged. "He did it
because he hurt his feelings that day about the pension."

"Yes, but it was a mistake. He knew that Lindau was inflexible about his
principles, as he calls them, and that one of his first principles is to
denounce the rich in season and out of season. I don't remember just what
he said last night; and I really thought I'd kept him from breaking out
in the most offensive way. But your father seems very much incensed."

"Yes, I know," said Conrad.

"Of course, I don't agree with Lindau. I think there are as many good,
kind, just people among the rich as there are among the poor, and that
they are as generous and helpful. But Lindau has got hold of one of those
partial truths that hurt worse than the whole truth, and--"

"Partial truth!" the young man interrupted. "Didn't the Saviour himself
say, 'How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of
God?'"

"Why, bless my soul!" cried March. "Do you agree with Lindau?"

"I agree with the Lord Jesus Christ," said the young man, solemnly, and a
strange light of fanaticism, of exaltation, came into his wide blue eyes.
"And I believe He meant the kingdom of heaven upon this earth, as well as
in the skies."

March threw himself back in his chair and looked at him with a kind of
stupefaction, in which his eye wandered to the doorway, where he saw
Fulkerson standing, it seemed to him a long time, before he heard him
saying: "Hello, hello! What's the row? Conrad pitching into you on old
Lindau's account, too?"

The young man turned, and, after a glance at Fulkerson's light, smiling
face, went out, as if in his present mood he could not bear the contact
of that persiflant spirit.

March felt himself getting provisionally very angry again. "Excuse me,
Fulkerson, but did you know when you went out what Mr. Dryfoos wanted to
see me for?"

"Well, no, I didn't exactly," said Fulkerson, taking his usual seat on a
chair and looking over the back of it at March. "I saw he was on his car
about something, and I thought I'd better not monkey with him much. I
supposed he was going to bring you to book about old Lindau, somehow."
Fulkerson broke into a laugh.

March remained serious. "Mr. Dryfoos," he said, willing to let the simple
statement have its own weight with Fulkerson, and nothing more, "came in
here and ordered me to discharge Lindau from his employment on the
magazine--to turn him off, as he put it."

"Did he?" asked Fulkerson, with unbroken cheerfulness. "The old man is
business, every time. Well, I suppose you can easily get somebody else to
do Lindau's work for you. This town is just running over with
half-starved linguists. What did you say?"

"What did I say?" March echoed. "Look here, Fulkerson; you may regard
this as a joke, but I don't. I'm not used to being spoken to as if I were
the foreman of a shop, and told to discharge a sensitive and cultivated
man like Lindau, as if he were a drunken mechanic; and if that's your
idea of me--"

"Oh, hello, now, March! You mustn't mind the old man's way. He don't mean
anything by it--he don't know any better, if you come to that."

"Then I know better," said March. "I refused to receive any instructions
from Mr. Dryfoos, whom I don't know in my relations with 'Every Other
Week,' and I referred him to you."

"You did?" Fulkerson whistled. "He owns the thing!"

"I don't care who owns the thing," said March. "My negotiations were with
you alone from the beginning, and I leave this matter with you. What do
you wish done about Lindau?"

"Oh, better let the old fool drop," said Fulkerson. "He'll light on his
feet somehow, and it will save a lot of rumpus."

"And if I decline to let him drop?"

"Oh, come, now, March; don't do that," Fulkerson began.

"If I decline to let him drop," March repeated, "what will you do?"

"I'll be dogged if I know what I'll do," said Fulkerson. "I hope you
won't take that stand. If the old man went so far as to speak to you
about it, his mind is made up, and we might as well knock under first as
last."

"And do you mean to say that you would not stand by me in what I
considered my duty-in a matter of principle?"

"Why, of course, March," said Fulkerson, coaxingly, "I mean to do the
right thing. But Dryfoos owns the magazine--"

"He doesn't own me," said March, rising. "He has made the little mistake
of speaking to me as if he did; and when"--March put on his hat and took
his overcoat down from its nail--"when you bring me his apologies, or
come to say that, having failed to make him understand they were
necessary, you are prepared to stand by me, I will come back to this
desk. Otherwise my resignation is at your service."

He started toward the door, and Fulkerson intercepted him. "Ah, now, look
here, March! Don't do that! Hang it all, don't you see where it leaves
me? Now, you just sit down a minute and talk it over. I can make you
see--I can show you--Why, confound the old Dutch beer-buzzer! Twenty of
him wouldn't be worth the trouble he's makin'. Let him go, and the old
man 'll come round in time."

"I don't think we've understood each other exactly, Mr. Fulkerson," said
March, very haughtily. "Perhaps we never can; but I'll leave you to think
it out."

He pushed on, and Fulkerson stood aside to let him pass, with a dazed
look and a mechanical movement. There was something comic in his rueful
bewilderment to March, who was tempted to smile, but he said to himself
that he had as much reason to be unhappy as Fulkerson, and he did not
smile. His indignation kept him hot in his purpose to suffer any
consequence rather than submit to the dictation of a man like Dryfoos; he
felt keenly the degradation of his connection with him, and all his
resentment of Fulkerson's original uncandor returned; at the same time
his heart ached with foreboding. It was not merely the work in which he
had constantly grown happier that he saw taken from him; but he felt the
misery of the man who stakes the security and plenty and peace of home
upon some cast, and knows that losing will sweep from him most that most
men find sweet and pleasant in life. He faced the fact, which no good man
can front without terror, that he was risking the support of his family,
and for a point of pride, of honor, which perhaps he had no right to
consider in view of the possible adversity. He realized, as every
hireling must, no matter how skillfully or gracefully the tie is
contrived for his wearing, that he belongs to another, whose will is his
law. His indignation was shot with abject impulses to go back and tell
Fulkerson that it was all right, and that he gave up. To end the anguish
of his struggle he quickened his steps, so that he found he was reaching
home almost at a run.



VIII.

He must have made more clatter than he supposed with his key at the
apartment door, for his wife had come to let him in when he flung it
open. "Why, Basil," she said, "what's brought you back? Are you sick?
You're all pale. Well, no wonder! This is the last of Mr. Fulkerson's
dinners you shall go to. You're not strong enough for it, and your
stomach will be all out of order for a week. How hot you are! and in a
drip of perspiration! Now you'll be sick." She took his hat away, which
hung dangling in his hand, and pushed him into a chair with tender
impatience. "What is the matter? Has anything happened?"

"Everything has happened," he said, getting his voice after one or two
husky endeavors for it; and then he poured out a confused and huddled
statement of the case, from which she only got at the situation by
prolonged cross-questioning.

At the end she said, "I knew Lindau would get you into trouble."

This cut March to the heart. "Isabel!" he cried, reproachfully.

"Oh, I know," she retorted, and the tears began to come. "I don't wonder
you didn't want to say much to me about that dinner at breakfast. I
noticed it; but I thought you were just dull, and so I didn't insist. I
wish I had, now. If you had told me what Lindau had said, I should have
known what would have come of it, and I could have advised you--"

"Would you have advised me," March demanded, curiously, "to submit to
bullying like that, and meekly consent to commit an act of cruelty
against a man who had once been such a friend to me?"

"It was an unlucky day when you met him. I suppose we shall have to go.
And just when we bad got used to New York, and begun to like it. I don't
know where we shall go now; Boston isn't like home any more; and we
couldn't live on two thousand there; I should be ashamed to try. I'm sure
I don't know where we can live on it. I suppose in some country village,
where there are no schools, or anything for the children. I don't know
what they'll say when we tell them, poor things."

Every word was a stab in March's heart, so weakly tender to his own; his
wife's tears, after so much experience of the comparative lightness of
the griefs that weep themselves out in women, always seemed wrung from
his own soul; if his children suffered in the least through him, he felt
like a murderer. It was far worse than he could have imagined, the way
his wife took the affair, though he had imagined certain words, or
perhaps only looks, from her that were bad enough. He had allowed for
trouble, but trouble on his account: a svmpathy that might burden and
embarrass him; but he had not dreamed of this merely domestic, this
petty, this sordid view of their potential calamity, which left him
wholly out of the question, and embraced only what was most crushing and
desolating in the prospect. He could not bear it. He caught up his hat
again, and, with some hope that his wife would try to keep him, rushed
out of the house. He wandered aimlessly about, thinking the same
exhausting thoughts over and over, till he found himself horribly hungry;
then he went into a restaurant for his lunch, and when he paid he tried
to imagine how he should feel if that were really his last dollar.

He went home toward the middle of the afternoon, basely hoping that
Fulkerson had sent him some conciliatory message, or perhaps was waiting
there for him to talk it over; March was quite willing to talk it over
now. But it was his wife who again met him at the door, though it seemed
another woman than the one he had left weeping in the morning.

"I told the children," she said, in smiling explanation of his absence
from lunch, "that perhaps you were detained by business. I didn't know
but you had gone back to the office."

"Did you think I would go back there, Isabel?" asked March, with a
haggard look. "Well, if you say so, I will go back, and do what Dryfoos
ordered me to do. I'm sufficiently cowed between him and you, I can
assure you."

"Nonsense," she said. "I approve of everything you did. But sit down,
now, and don't keep walking that way, and let me see if I understand it
perfectly. Of course, I had to have my say out."

She made him go all over his talk with Dryfoos again, and report his own
language precisely. From time to time, as she got his points, she said,
"That was splendid," "Good enough for him!" and "Oh, I'm so glad you said
that to him!" At the end she said:

"Well, now, let's look at it from his point of view. Let's be perfectly
just to him before we take another step forward."

"Or backward," March suggested, ruefully. "The case is simply this: he
owns the magazine."

"Of course."

"And he has a right to expect that I will consider his pecuniary
interests--"

"Oh, those detestable pecuniary interests! Don't you wish there wasn't
any money in the world?"

"Yes; or else that there was a great deal more of it. And I was perfectly
willing to do that. I have always kept that in mind as one of my duties
to him, ever since I understood what his relation to the magazine was."

"Yes, I can bear witness to that in any court of justice. You've done it
a great deal more than I could, Basil. And it was just the same way with
those horrible insurance people."

"I know," March went on, trying to be proof against her flatteries, or at
least to look as if he did not deserve praise; "I know that what Lindau
said was offensive to him, and I can understand how he felt that he had a
right to punish it. All I say is that he had no right to punish it
through me."

"Yes," said Mrs. March, askingly.

"If it had been a question of making 'Every Other Week' the vehicle of
Lindau's peculiar opinions--though they're not so very peculiar; he might
have got the most of them out of Ruskin--I shouldn't have had any ground
to stand on, or at least then I should have had to ask myself whether his
opinions would be injurious to the magazine or not."

"I don't see," Mrs. March interpolated, "how they could hurt it much
worse than Colonel Woodburn's article crying up slavery."

"Well," said March, impartially, "we could print a dozen articles
praising the slavery it's impossible to have back, and it wouldn't hurt
us. But if we printed one paper against the slavery which Lindau claims
still exists, some people would call us bad names, and the counting-room
would begin to feel it. But that isn't the point. Lindau's connection
with 'Every Other Week' is almost purely mechanical; he's merely a
translator of such stories and sketches as he first submits to me, and it
isn't at all a question of his opinions hurting us, but of my becoming an
agent to punish him for his opinions. That is what I wouldn't do; that's
what I never will do."

"If you did," said his wife, "I should perfectly despise you. I didn't
understand how it was before. I thought you were just holding out against
Dryfoos because he took a dictatorial tone with you, and because you
wouldn't recognize his authority. But now I'm with you, Basil, every
time, as that horrid little Fulkerson says. But who would ever have
supposed he would be so base as to side against you?"

"I don't know," said March, thoughtfully, "that we had a right to expect
anything else. Fulkerson's standards are low; they're merely business
standards, and the good that's in him is incidental and something quite
apart from his morals and methods. He's naturally a generous and
right-minded creature, but life has taught him to truckle and trick, like
the rest of us."

"It hasn't taught you that, Basil."

"Don't be so sure. Perhaps it's only that I'm a poor scholar. But I don't
know, really, that I despise Fulkerson so much for his course this
morning as for his gross and fulsome flatteries of Dryfoos last night. I
could hardly stomach it."

His wife made him tell her what they were, and then she said, "Yes, that
was loathsome; I couldn't have believed it of Mr. Fulkerson."

"Perhaps he only did it to keep the talk going, and to give the old man a
chance to say something," March leniently suggested. "It was a worse
effect because he didn't or couldn't follow up Fulkerson's lead."

"It was loathsome, all the same," his wife insisted. "It's the end of Mr.
Fulkerson, as far as I'm concerned."

"I didn't tell you before," March resumed, after a moment, "of my little
interview with Conrad Dryfoos after his father left," and now he went on
to repeat what had passed between him and the young man.

"I suspect that he and his father had been having some words before the
old man came up to talk with me, and that it was that made him so
furious."

"Yes, but what a strange position for the son of such a man to take! Do
you suppose he says such things to his father?"

"I don't know; but I suspect that in his meek way Conrad would say what
he believed to anybody. I suppose we must regard him as a kind of crank."

"Poor young fellow! He always makes me feel sad, somehow. He has such a
pathetic face. I don't believe I ever saw him look quite happy, except
that night at Mrs. Horn's, when he was talking with Miss Vance; and then
he made me feel sadder than ever."

"I don't envy him the life he leads at home, with those convictions of
his. I don't see why it wouldn't be as tolerable there for old Lindau
himself."

"Well, now," said Mrs. March, "let us put them all out of our minds and
see what we are going to do ourselves."

They began to consider their ways and means, and how and where they
should live, in view of March's severance of his relations with 'Every
Other Week.' They had not saved anything from the first year's salary;
they had only prepared to save; and they had nothing solid but their two
thousand to count upon. But they built a future in which they easily
lived on that and on what March earned with his pen. He became a free
lance, and fought in whatever cause he thought just; he had no ties, no
chains. They went back to Boston with the heroic will to do what was most
distasteful; they would have returned to their own house if they had not
rented it again; but, any rate, Mrs. March helped out by taking boarders,
or perhaps only letting rooms to lodgers. They had some hard struggles,
but they succeeded.

"The great thing," she said, "is to be right. I'm ten times as happy as
if you had come home and told me that you had consented to do what
Dryfoos asked and he had doubled your salary."

"I don't think that would have happened in any event," said March, dryly.

"Well, no matter. I just used it for an example."

They both experienced a buoyant relief, such as seems to come to people
who begin life anew on whatever terms. "I hope we are young enough yet,
Basil," she said, and she would not have it when he said they had once
been younger.

They heard the children's knock on the door; they knocked when they came
home from school so that their mother might let them in. "Shall we tell
them at once?" she asked, and ran to open for them before March could
answer.

They were not alone. Fulkerson, smiling from ear to ear, was with them.
"Is March in?" he asked.

"Mr. March is at home, yes," she said very haughtily. "He's in his
study," and she led the way there, while the children went to their
rooms.

"Well, March," Fulkerson called out at sight of him, "it's all right! The
old man has come down."

"I suppose if you gentlemen are going to talk business--" Mrs. March
began.

"Oh, we don't want you to go away," said Fulkerson. "I reckon March has
told you, anyway."

"Yes, I've told her," said March. "Don't go, Isabel. What do you mean,
Fulkerson?"

"He's just gone on up home, and he sent me round with his apologies. He
sees now that he had no business to speak to you as he did, and he
withdraws everything. He'd 'a' come round himself if I'd said so, but I
told him I could make it all right."

Fulkerson looked so happy in having the whole affair put right, and the
Marches knew him to be so kindly affected toward them, that they could
not refuse for the moment to share his mood. They felt themselves
slipping down from the moral height which they had gained, and March made
a clutch to stay himself with the question, "And Lindau?"

"Well," said Fulkerson, "he's going to leave Lindau to me. You won't have
anything to do with it. I'll let the old fellow down easy."

"Do you mean," asked March, "that Mr. Dryfoos insists on his being
dismissed?"

"Why, there isn't any dismissing about it," Fulkerson argued. "If you
don't send him any more work, he won't do any more, that's all. Or if he
comes round, you can--He's to be referred to me."

March shook his head, and his wife, with a sigh, felt herself plucked up
from the soft circumstance of their lives, which she had sunk back into
so quickly, and set beside him on that cold peak of principle again. "It
won't do, Fulkerson. It's very good of you, and all that, but it comes to
the same thing in the end. I could have gone on without any apology from
Mr. Dryfoos; he transcended his authority, but that's a minor matter. I
could have excused it to his ignorance of life among gentlemen; but I
can't consent to Lindau's dismissal--it comes to that, whether you do it
or I do it, and whether it's a positive or a negative thing--because he
holds this opinion or that."

"But don't you see," said Fulkerson, "that it's just Lindau's opinions
the old man can't stand? He hasn't got anything against him personally. I
don't suppose there's anybody that appreciates Lindau in some ways more
than the old man does."

"I understand. He wants to punish him for his opinions. Well, I can't
consent to that, directly or indirectly. We don't print his opinions, and
he has a perfect right to hold them, whether Mr. Dryfoos agrees with them
or not."

Mrs. March had judged it decorous for her to say nothing, but she now
went and sat down in the chair next her husband.

"Ah, dog on it!" cried Fulkerson, rumpling his hair with both his hands.
"What am I to do? The old man says he's got to go."

"And I don't consent to his going," said March.

"And you won't stay if he goes."

Fulkerson rose. "Well, well! I've got to see about it. I'm afraid the old
man won't stand it, March; I am, indeed. I wish you'd reconsider. I--I'd
take it as a personal favor if you would. It leaves me in a fix. You see
I've got to side with one or the other."

March made no reply to this, except to say, "Yes, you must stand by him,
or you must stand by me."

"Well, well! Hold on awhile! I'll see you in the morning. Don't take any
steps--"

"Oh, there are no steps to take," said March, with a melancholy smile.
"The steps are stopped; that's all." He sank back into his chair when
Fulkerson was gone and drew a long breath. "This is pretty rough. I
thought we had got through it."

"No," said his wife. "It seems as if I had to make the fight all over
again."

"Well, it's a good thing it's a holy war."

"I can't bear the suspense. Why didn't you tell him outright you wouldn't
go back on any terms?"

"I might as well, and got the glory. He'll never move Dryfoos. I suppose
we both would like to go back, if we could."

"Oh, I suppose so."

They could not regain their lost exaltation, their lost dignity. At
dinner Mrs. March asked the children how they would like to go back to
Boston to live.

"Why, we're not going, are we?" asked Tom, without enthusiasm.

"I was just wondering how you felt about it, now," she said, with an
underlook at her husband.

"Well, if we go back," said Bella, "I want to live on the Back Bay. It's
awfully Micky at the South End."

"I suppose I should go to Harvard," said Tom, "and I'd room out at
Cambridge. It would be easier to get at you on the Back Bay."

The parents smiled ruefully at each other, and, in view of these grand
expectations of his children, March resolved to go as far as he could in
meeting Dryfoos's wishes. He proposed the theatre as a distraction from
the anxieties that he knew were pressing equally on his wife. "We might
go to the 'Old Homestead,'" he suggested, with a sad irony, which only
his wife felt.

"Oh yes, let's!" cried Bella.

While they were getting ready, some one rang, and Bella went to the door,
and then came to tell her father that it was Mr. Lindau. "He says he
wants to see you just a moment. He's in the parlor, and he won't sit
down, or anything."

"What can he want?" groaned Mrs. March, from their common dismay.

March apprehended a storm in the old man's face. But he only stood in the
middle of the room, looking very sad and grave. "You are Going oudt," he
said. "I won't geep you long. I haf gome to pring pack dose macassines
and dis mawney. I can't do any more voark for you; and I can't geep the
mawney you haf baid me a'ready. It iss not hawnest mawney--that hass been
oarned py voark; it iss mawney that hass peen mate py sbeculation, and
the obbression off lapor, and the necessity of the boor, py a man--Here
it is, efery tollar, efery zent. Dake it; I feel as if dere vas ploodt on
it."

"Why, Lindau," March began, but the old man interrupted him.

"Ton't dalk to me, Passil! I could not haf believedt it of you. When you
know how I feel about dose tings, why tidn't you dell me whose mawney you
bay oudt to me? Ach, I ton't plame you--I ton't rebroach you. You haf
nefer thought of it; boat I have thought, and I should be Guilty, I must
share that man's Guilt, if I gept hiss mawney. If you hat toldt me at the
peginning--if you hat peen frank with meboat it iss all righdt; you can
go on; you ton't see dese tings as I see them; and you haf cot a family,
and I am a free man. I voark to myself, and when I ton't voark, I sdarfe
to myself. But I geep my handts glean, voark or sdarfe. Gif him hiss
mawney pack! I am sawry for him; I would not hoart hiss feelings, boat I
could not pear to douch him, and hiss mawney iss like boison!"

March tried to reason with Lindau, to show him the folly, the injustice,
the absurdity of his course; it ended in their both getting angry, and in
Lindau's going away in a whirl of German that included Basil in the guilt
of the man whom Lindau called his master.

"Well," said Mrs. March. "He is a crank, and I think you're well rid of
him. Now you have no quarrel with that horrid old Dryfoos, and you can
keep right on."

"Yes," said March, "I wish it didn't make me feel so sneaking. What a
long day it's been! It seems like a century since I got up."

"Yes, a thousand years. Is there anything else left to happen?"

"I hope not. I'd like to go to bed."

"Why, aren't you going to the theatre?" wailed Bella, coming in upon her
father's desperate expression.

"The theatre? Oh yes, certainly! I meant after we got home," and March
amused himself at the puzzled countenance of the child. "Come on! Is Tom
ready?"



IX.

Fulkerson parted with the Marches in such trouble of mind that he did not
feel able to meet that night the people whom he usually kept so gay at
Mrs. Leighton's table. He went to Maroni's for his dinner, for this
reason and for others more obscure. He could not expect to do anything
more with Dryfoos at once; he knew that Dryfoos must feel that he had
already made an extreme concession to March, and he believed that if he
was to get anything more from him it must be after Dryfoos had dined. But
he was not without the hope, vague and indefinite as it might be, that he
should find Lindau at Maroni's, and perhaps should get some concession
from him, some word of regret or apology which he could report to
Dryfoos, and at lest make the means of reopening the affair with him;
perhaps Lindau, when he knew how matters stood, would back down
altogether, and for March's sake would withdraw from all connection with
'Every Other Week' himself, and so leave everything serene. Fulkerson
felt capable, in his desperation, of delicately suggesting such a course
to Lindau, or even of plainly advising it: he did not care for Lindau a
great deal, and he did care a great deal for the magazine.

But he did not find Lindau at Maroni's; he only found Beaton. He sat
looking at the doorway as Fulkerson entered, and Fulkerson naturally came
and took a place at his table. Something in Beaton's large-eyed solemnity
of aspect invited Fulkerson to confidence, and he said, as he pulled his
napkin open and strung it, still a little damp (as the scanty,
often-washed linen at Maroni's was apt to be), across his knees, "I was
looking for you this morning, to talk with you about the Christmas
number, and I was a good deal worked up because I couldn't find you; but
I guess I might as well have spared myself my emotions."

"Why?" asked Beaton, briefly.

"Well, I don't know as there's going to be any Christmas number."

"Why?" Beaton asked again.

"Row between the financial angel and the literary editor about the chief
translator and polyglot smeller."

"Lindau?"

"Lindau is his name."

"What does the literary editor expect after Lindau's expression of his
views last night?"

"I don't know what he expected, but the ground he took with the old man
was that, as Lindau's opinions didn't characterize his work on the
magazine, he would not be made the instrument of punishing him for them
the old man wanted him turned off, as he calls it."

"Seems to be pretty good ground," said Beaton, impartially, while he
speculated, with a dull trouble at heart, on the effect the row would
have on his own fortunes. His late visit home had made him feel that the
claim of his family upon him for some repayment of help given could not
be much longer delayed; with his mother sick and his father growing old,
he must begin to do something for them, but up to this time he had spent
his salary even faster than he had earned it. When Fulkerson came in he
was wondering whether he could get him to increase it, if he threatened
to give up his work, and he wished that he was enough in love with
Margaret Vance, or even Christine Dryfoos, to marry her, only to end in
the sorrowful conviction that he was really in love with Alma Leighton,
who had no money, and who had apparently no wish to be married for love,
even. "And what are you going to do about it?" he asked, listlessly.

"Be dogged if I know what I'm going to do about it," said Fulkerson.
"I've been round all day, trying to pick up the pieces--row began right
after breakfast this morning--and one time I thought I'd got the thing
all put together again. I got the old man to say that he had spoken to
March a little too authoritatively about Lindau; that, in fact, he ought
to have communicated his wishes through me; and that he was willing to
have me get rid of Lindau, and March needn't have anything to do with it.
I thought that was pretty white, but March says the apologies and regrets
are all well enough in their way, but they leave the main question where
they found it."

"What is the main question?" Beaton asked, pouring himself out some
Chianti. As he set the flask down he made the reflection that if he would
drink water instead of Chianti he could send his father three dollars a
week, on his back debts, and he resolved to do it.

"The main question, as March looks at it, is the question of punishing
Lindau for his private opinions; he says that if he consents to my
bouncing the old fellow it's the same as if he bounced him."

"It might have that complexion in some lights," said Beaton. He drank off
his Chianti, and thought he would have it twice a week, or make Maroni
keep the half-bottles over for him, and send his father two dollars. "And
what are you going to do now?"

"That's what I don't know," said Fulkerson, ruefully. After a moment he
said, desperately, "Beaton, you've got a pretty good head; why don't you
suggest something?"

"Why don't you let March go?" Beaton suggested.

"Ah, I couldn't," said Fulkerson. "I got him to break up in Boston and
come here; I like him; nobody else could get the hang of the thing like
he has; he's--a friend." Fulkerson said this with the nearest approach he
could make to seriousness, which was a kind of unhappiness.

Beaton shrugged. "Oh, if you can afford to have ideals, I congratulate
you. They're too expensive for me. Then, suppose you get rid of Dryfoos?"

Fulkerson laughed forlornly. "Go on, Bildad. Like to sprinkle a few ashes
over my boils? Don't mind me!"

They both sat silent a little while, and then Beaton said, "I suppose you
haven't seen Dryfoos the second time?"

"No. I came in here to gird up my loins with a little dinner before I
tackled him. But something seems to be the matter with Maroni's cook. I
don't want anything to eat."

"The cooking's about as bad as usual," said Beaton. After a moment he
added, ironically, for he found Fulkerson's misery a kind of relief from
his own, and was willing to protract it as long as it was amusing, "Why
not try an envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary?"

"What do you mean?"

"Get that other old fool to go to Dryfoos for you!"

"Which other old fool? The old fools seem to be as thick as flies."

"That Southern one."

"Colonel Woodburn?"

"Mmmmm."

"He did seem to rather take to the colonel!" Fulkerson mused aloud.

"Of course he did. Woodburn, with his idiotic talk about patriarchal
slavery, is the man on horseback to Dryfoos's muddy imagination. He'd
listen to him abjectly, and he'd do whatever Woodburn told him to do."
Beaton smiled cynically.

Fulkerson got up and reached for his coat and hat. "You've struck it, old
man." The waiter came up to help him on with his coat; Fulkerson slipped
a dollar in his hand. "Never mind the coat; you can give the rest of my
dinner to the poor, Paolo. Beaton, shake! You've saved my life, little
boy, though I don't think you meant it." He took Beaton's hand and
solemnly pressed it, and then almost ran out of the door.

They had just reached coffee at Mrs. Leighton's when he arrived and sat
down with them and began to put some of the life of his new hope into
them. His appetite revived, and, after protesting that he would not take
anything but coffee, he went back and ate some of the earlier courses.
But with the pressure of his purpose driving him forward, he did not
conceal from Miss Woodburn, at least, that he was eager to get her apart
from the rest for some reason. When he accomplished this, it seemed as if
he had contrived it all himself, but perhaps he had not wholly contrived
it.

"I'm so glad to get a chance to speak to you alone," he said at once; and
while she waited for the next word he made a pause, and then said,
desperately, "I want you to help me; and if you can't help me, there's no
help for me."

"Mah goodness," she said, "is the case so bad as that? What in the woald
is the trouble?"

"Yes, it's a bad case," said Fulkerson. "I want your father to help me."

"Oh, I thoat you said me!"

"Yes; I want you to help me with your father. I suppose I ought to go to
him at once, but I'm a little afraid of him."

"And you awe not afraid of me? I don't think that's very flattering, Mr.
Fulkerson. You ought to think Ah'm twahce as awful as papa."

"Oh, I do! You see, I'm quite paralyzed before you, and so I don't feel
anything."

"Well, it's a pretty lahvely kyand of paralysis. But--go on."

"I will--I will. If I can only begin."

"Pohaps Ah maght begin fo' you."

"No, you can't. Lord knows, I'd like to let you. Well, it's like this."

Fulkerson made a clutch at his hair, and then, after another hesitation,
he abruptly laid the whole affair before her. He did not think it
necessary to state the exact nature of the offence Lindau had given
Dryfoos, for he doubted if she could grasp it, and he was profuse of his
excuses for troubling her with the matter, and of wonder at himself for
having done so. In the rapture of his concern at having perhaps made a
fool of himself, he forgot why he had told her; but she seemed to like
having been confided in, and she said, "Well, Ah don't see what you can
do with you' ahdeals of friendship except stand bah Mr. Mawch."

"My ideals of friendship? What do you mean?"

"Oh, don't you suppose we know? Mr. Beaton said you we' a pofect Bahyard
in friendship, and you would sacrifice anything to it."

"Is that so?" said Fulkerson, thinking how easily he could sacrifice
Lindau in this case. He had never supposed before that he was chivalrous
in such matters, but he now began to see it in that light, and he
wondered that he could ever have entertained for a moment the idea of
throwing March over.

"But Ah most say," Miss Woodburn went on, "Ah don't envy you you' next
interview with Mr. Dryfoos. Ah suppose you'll have to see him at once
aboat it."

The conjecture recalled Fulkerson to the object of his confidences. "Ah,
there's where your help comes in. I've exhausted all the influence I have
with Dryfoos--"

"Good gracious, you don't expect Ah could have any!"

They both laughed at the comic dismay with which she conveyed the
preposterous notion; and Fulkerson said, "If I judged from myself, I
should expect you to bring him round instantly."

"Oh, thank you, Mr. Fulkerson," she said, with mock meekness.

"Not at all. But it isn't Dryfoos I want you to help me with; it's your
father. I want your father to interview Dryfoos for me, and I-I'm afraid
to ask him."

"Poo' Mr. Fulkerson!" she said, and she insinuated something through her
burlesque compassion that lifted him to the skies. He swore in his heart
that the woman never lived who was so witty, so wise, so beautiful, and
so good. "Come raght with me this minute, if the cyoast's clea'." She
went to the door of the diningroom and looked in across its gloom to the
little gallery where her father sat beside a lamp reading his evening
paper; Mrs. Leighton could be heard in colloquy with the cook below, and
Alma had gone to her room. She beckoned Fulkerson with the hand
outstretched behind her, and said, "Go and ask him."

"Alone!" he palpitated.

"Oh, what a cyowahd!" she cried, and went with him. "Ah suppose you'll
want me to tell him aboat it."

"Well, I wish you'd begin, Miss Woodburn," he said. "The fact is, you
know, I've been over it so much I'm kind of sick of the thing."

Miss Woodburn advanced and put her hand on her father's shoulder. "Look
heah, papa! Mr. Fulkerson wants to ask you something, and he wants me to
do it fo' him."

The colonel looked up through his glasses with the sort of ferocity
elderly men sometimes have to put on in order to keep their glasses from
falling off. His daughter continued: "He's got into an awful difficulty
with his edito' and his proprieto', and he wants you to pacify them."

"I do not know whethah I understand the case exactly," said the colonel,
"but Mr. Fulkerson may command me to the extent of my ability."

"You don't understand it aftah what Ah've said?" cried the girl. "Then Ah
don't see but what you'll have to explain it you'self, Mr. Fulkerson."

"Well, Miss Woodburn has been so luminous about it, colonel," said
Fulkerson, glad of the joking shape she had given the affair, "that I can
only throw in a little side-light here and there."

The colonel listened as Fulkerson went on, with a grave diplomatic
satisfaction. He felt gratified, honored, even, he said, by Mr.
Fulkerson's appeal to him; and probably it gave him something of the high
joy that an affair of honor would have brought him in the days when he
had arranged for meetings between gentlemen. Next to bearing a challenge,
this work of composing a difficulty must have been grateful. But he gave
no outward sign of his satisfaction in making a resume of the case so as
to get the points clearly in his mind.

"I was afraid, sir," he said, with the state due to the serious nature of
the facts, "that Mr. Lindau had given Mr. Dryfoos offence by some of his
questions at the dinner-table last night."

"Perfect red rag to a bull," Fulkerson put in; and then he wanted to
withdraw his words at the colonel's look of displeasure.

"I have no reflections to make upon Mr. Landau," Colonel Woodburn
continued, and Fulkerson felt grateful to him for going on; "I do not
agree with Mr. Lindau; I totally disagree with him on sociological
points; but the course of the conversation had invited him to the
expression of his convictions, and he had a right to express them, so far
as they had no personal bearing."

"Of course," said Fulkerson, while Miss Woodburn perched on the arm of
her father's chair.

"At the same time, sir, I think that if Mr. Dryfoos felt a personal
censure in Mr. Lindau's questions concerning his suppression of the
strike among his workmen, he had a right to resent it."

"Exactly," Fulkerson assented.

"But it must be evident to you, sir, that a high-spirited gentleman like
Mr. March--I confess that my feelings are with him very warmly in the
matter--could not submit to dictation of the nature you describe."

"Yes, I see," said Fulkerson; and, with that strange duplex action of the
human mind, he wished that it was his hair, and not her father's, that
Miss Woodburn was poking apart with the corner of her fan.

"Mr. Lindau," the colonel concluded, "was right from his point of view,
and Mr. Dryfoos was equally right. The position of Mr. March is perfectly
correct--"

His daughter dropped to her feet from his chair-arm. "Mah goodness! If
nobody's in the wrong, ho' awe you evah going to get the mattah
straight?"

"Yes, you see," Fulkerson added, "nobody can give in."

"Pardon me," said the colonel, "the case is one in which all can give
in."

"I don't know which 'll begin," said Fulkerson.

The colonel rose. "Mr. Lindau must begin, sir. We must begin by seeing
Mr. Lindau, and securing from him the assurance that in the expression of
his peculiar views he had no intention of offering any personal offence
to Mr. Dryfoos. If I have formed a correct estimate of Mr. Lindau, this
will be perfectly simple."

Fulkerson shook his head. "But it wouldn't help. Dryfoos don't care a rap
whether Lindau meant any personal offence or not. As far as that is
concerned, he's got a hide like a hippopotamus. But what he hates is
Lindau's opinions, and what he says is that no man who holds such
opinions shall have any work from him. And what March says is that no man
shall be punished through him for his opinions, he don't care what they
are."

The colonel stood a moment in silence. "And what do you expect me to do
under the circumstances?"

"I came to you for advice--I thought you might suggest----?"

"Do you wish me to see Mr. Dryfoos?"

"Well, that's about the size of it," Fulkerson admitted. "You see,
colonel," he hastened on, "I know that you have a great deal of influence
with him; that article of yours is about the only thing he's ever read in
'Every Other Week,' and he's proud of your acquaintance. Well, you
know"--and here Fulkerson brought in the figure that struck him so much
in Beaton's phrase and had been on his tongue ever since--"you're the
man on horseback to him; and he'd be more apt to do what you say than if
anybody else said it."

"You are very good, sir," said the colonel, trying to be proof against
the flattery, "but I am afraid you overrate my influence." Fulkerson let
him ponder it silently, and his daughter governed her impatience by
holding her fan against her lips. Whatever the process was in the
colonel's mind, he said at last: "I see no good reason for declining to
act for you, Mr. Fulkerson, and I shall be very happy if I can be of
service to you. But"--he stopped Fulkerson from cutting in with
precipitate thanks--"I think I have a right, sir, to ask what your course
will be in the event of failure?"

"Failure?" Fulkerson repeated, in dismay.

"Yes, sir. I will not conceal from you that this mission is one not
wholly agreeable to my feelings."

"Oh, I understand that, colonel, and I assure you that I appreciate, I--"

"There is no use trying to blink the fact, sir, that there are certain
aspects of Mr. Dryfoos's character in which he is not a gentleman. We
have alluded to this fact before, and I need not dwell upon it now: I may
say, however, that my misgivings were not wholly removed last night."

"No," Fulkerson assented; though in his heart he thought the old man had
behaved very well.

"What I wish to say now is that I cannot consent to act for you, in this
matter, merely as an intermediary whose failure would leave the affair in
state quo."

"I see," said Fulkerson.

"And I should like some intimation, some assurance, as to which party
your own feelings are with in the difference."

The colonel bent his eyes sharply on Fulkerson; Miss Woodburn let hers
fall; Fulkerson felt that he was being tested, and he said, to gain time,
"As between Lindau and Dryfoos?" though he knew this was not the point.

"As between Mr. Dryfoos and Mr. March," said the colonel.

Fulkerson drew a long breath and took his courage in both hands. "There
can't be any choice for me in such a case. I'm for March, every time."

The colonel seized his hand, and Miss Woodburn said, "If there had been
any choice fo' you in such a case, I should never have let papa stir a
step with you."

"Why, in regard to that," said the colonel, with a literal application
of the idea, "was it your intention that we should both go?"

"Well, I don't know; I suppose it was."

"I think it will be better for me to go alone," said the colonel; and,
with a color from his experience in affairs of honor, he added: "In these
matters a principal cannot appear without compromising his dignity. I
believe I have all the points clearly in mind, and I think I should act
more freely in meeting Mr. Dryfoos alone."

Fulkerson tried to hide the eagerness with which he met these agreeable
views. He felt himself exalted in some sort to the level of the colonel's
sentiments, though it would not be easy to say whether this was through
the desperation bred of having committed himself to March's side, or
through the buoyant hope he had that the colonel would succeed in his
mission.

"I'm not afraid to talk with Dryfoos about it," he said.

"There is no question of courage," said the colonel. "It is a question of
dignity--of personal dignity."

"Well, don't let that delay you, papa," said his daughter, following him
to the door, where she found him his hat, and Fulkerson helped him on
with his overcoat. "Ah shall be jost wald to know ho' it's toned oat."

"Won't you let me go up to the house with you?" Fulkerson began. "I
needn't go in--"

"I prefer to go alone," said the colonel. "I wish to turn the points over
in my mind, and I am afraid you would find me rather dull company."

He went out, and Fulkerson returned with Miss Woodburn to the
drawing-room, where she said the Leightons were. They, were not there,
but she did not seem disappointed.

"Well, Mr. Fulkerson," she said, "you have got an ahdeal of friendship,
sure enough."

"Me?" said Fulkerson. "Oh, my Lord! Don't you see I couldn't do anything
else? And I'm scared half to death, anyway. If the colonel don't bring
the old man round, I reckon it's all up with me. But he'll fetch him. And
I'm just prostrated with gratitude to you, Miss Woodburn."

She waved his thanks aside with her fan. "What do you mean by its being
all up with you?"

"Why, if the old man sticks to his position, and I stick to March, we've
both got to go overboard together. Dryfoos owns the magazine; he can stop
it, or he can stop us, which amounts to the same thing, as far as we're
concerned."

"And then what?" the girl pursued.

"And then, nothing--till we pick ourselves up."

"Do you mean that Mr. Dryfoos will put you both oat of your places?"

"He may."

"And Mr. Mawch takes the risk of that jost fo' a principle?"

"I reckon."

"And you do it jost fo' an ahdeal?"

"It won't do to own it. I must have my little axe to grind, somewhere."

"Well, men awe splendid," sighed the girl. "Ah will say it."

"Oh, they're not so much better than women," said Fulkerson, with a
nervous jocosity. "I guess March would have backed down if it hadn't been
for his wife. She was as hot as pepper about it, and you could see that
she would have sacrificed all her husband's relations sooner than let him
back down an inch from the stand he had taken. It's pretty easy for a man
to stick to a principle if he has a woman to stand by him. But when you
come to play it alone--"

"Mr. Fulkerson," said the girl, solemnly, "Ah will stand bah you in this,
if all the woald tones against you." The tears came into her eyes, and
she put out her hand to him.

"You will?" he shouted, in a rapture. "In every way--and always--as long
as you live? Do you mean it?" He had caught her hand to his breast and
was grappling it tight there and drawing her to him.

The changing emotions chased one another through her heart and over her
face: dismay, shame, pride, tenderness. "You don't believe," she said,
hoarsely, "that Ah meant that?"

"No, but I hope you do mean it; for if you don't, nothing else means
anything."

There was no space, there was only a point of wavering. "Ah do mean it."

When they lifted their eyes from each other again it was half-past ten.
"No' you most go," she said.

"But the colonel--our fate?"

"The co'nel is often oat late, and Ah'm not afraid of ouah fate, no' that
we've taken it into ouah own hands." She looked at him with dewy eyes of
trust, of inspiration.

"Oh, it's going to come out all right," he said. "It can't come out wrong
now, no matter what happens. But who'd have thought it, when I came into
this house, in such a state of sin and misery, half an hour ago--"

"Three houahs and a half ago!" she said. "No! you most jost go. Ah'm
tahed to death. Good-night. You can come in the mawning to see-papa." She
opened the door and pushed him out with enrapturing violence, and he ran
laughing down the steps into her father's arms.

"Why, colonel! I was just going up to meet you." He had really thought he
would walk off his exultation in that direction.

"I am very sorry to say, Mr. Fulkerson," the colonel began, gravely,
"that Mr. Dryfoos adheres to his position."

"Oh, all right," said Fulkerson, with unabated joy. "It's what I
expected. Well, my course is clear; I shall stand by March, and I guess
the world won't come to an end if he bounces us both. But I'm
everlastingly obliged to you, Colonel Woodburn, and I don't know what to
say to you. I--I won't detain you now; it's so late. I'll see you in the
morning. Good-ni--"

Fulkerson did not realize that it takes two to part. The colonel laid
hold of his arm and turned away with him. "I will walk toward your place
with you. I can understand why you should be anxious to know the
particulars of my interview with Mr. Dryfoos"; and in the statement which
followed he did not spare him the smallest. It outlasted their walk and
detained them long on the steps of the 'Every Other Week' building. But
at the end Fulkerson let himself in with his key as light of heart as if
he had been listening to the gayest promises that fortune could make.

By the time he met March at the office next morning, a little, but only a
very little, misgiving saddened his golden heaven. He took March's hand
with high courage, and said, "Well, the old man sticks to his point,
March." He added, with the sense of saying it before Miss Woodburn: "And
I stick by you. I've thought it all over, and I'd rather be right with
you than wrong with him."

"Well, I appreciate your motive, Fulkerson," said March. "But
perhaps--perhaps we can save over our heroics for another occasion.
Lindau seems to have got in with his, for the present."

He told him of Lindau's last visit, and they stood a moment looking at
each other rather queerly. Fulkerson was the first to recover his
spirits. "Well," he said, cheerily, "that let's us out."

"Does it? I'm not sure it lets me out," said March; but he said this in
tribute to his crippled self-respect rather than as a forecast of any
action in the matter.

"Why, what are you going to do?" Fulkerson asked. "If Lindau won't work
for Dryfoos, you can't make him."

March sighed. "What are you going to do with this money?" He glanced at
the heap of bills he had flung on the table between them.

Fulkerson scratched his head. "Ah, dogged if I know: Can't we give it to
the deserving poor, somehow, if we can find 'em?"

"I suppose we've no right to use it in any way.  You must give it to
Dryfoos."

"To the deserving rich? Well, you can always find them. I reckon you
don't want to appear in the transaction! I don't, either; but I guess I
must." Fulkerson gathered up the money and carried it to Conrad. He
directed him to account for it in his books as conscience-money, and he
enjoyed the joke more than Conrad seemed to do when he was told where it
came from.

Fulkerson was able to wear off the disagreeable impression the affair
left during the course of the fore-noon, and he met Miss Woodburn with
all a lover's buoyancy when he went to lunch. She was as happy as he when
he told her how fortunately the whole thing had ended, and he took her
view that it was a reward of his courage in having dared the worst. They
both felt, as the newly plighted always do, that they were in the best
relations with the beneficent powers, and that their felicity had been
especially looked to in the disposition of events. They were in a glow of
rapturous content with themselves and radiant worship of each other; she
was sure that he merited the bright future opening to them both, as much
as if he owed it directly to some noble action of his own; he felt that
he was indebted for the favor of Heaven entirely to the still incredible
accident of her preference of him over other men.

Colonel Woodburn, who was not yet in the secret of their love, perhaps
failed for this reason to share their satisfaction with a result so
unexpectedly brought about. The blessing on their hopes seemed to his
ignorance to involve certain sacrifices of personal feeling at which he
hinted in suggesting that Dryfoos should now be asked to make some
abstract concessions and acknowledgments; his daughter hastened to deny
that these were at all necessary; and Fulkerson easily explained why. The
thing was over; what was the use of opening it up again?

"Perhaps none," the colonel admitted. But he added, "I should like the
opportunity of taking Mr. Lindau's hand in the presence of Mr. Dryfoos
and assuring him that I considered him a man of principle and a man of
honor--a gentleman, sir, whom I was proud and happy to have known."

"Well, Ah've no doabt," said his daughter, demurely, "that you'll have
the chance some day; and we would all lahke to join you. But at the same
tahme, Ah think Mr. Fulkerson is well oat of it fo' the present."



PG EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:

    Anticipative reprisal
    Buttoned about him as if it concealed a bad conscience
    Courtship
    Got their laugh out of too many things in life
    Had learned not to censure the irretrievable
    Had no opinions that he was not ready to hold in abeyance
    Ignorant of her ignorance
    It don't do any good to look at its drawbacks all the time
    Justice must be paid for at every step in fees and costs
    Life has taught him to truckle and trick
    Man's willingness to abide in the present
    No longer the gross appetite for novelty
    No right to burden our friends with our decisions
    Travel, with all its annoyances and fatigues
    Typical anything else, is pretty difficult to find



A HAZARD OF NEW FORTUNES

By William Dean Howells



PART FIFTH

I.

Superficially, the affairs of 'Every Other Week' settled into their
wonted form again, and for Fulkerson they seemed thoroughly reinstated.
But March had a feeling of impermanency from what had happened, mixed
with a fantastic sense of shame toward Lindau. He did not sympathize with
Lindau's opinions; he thought his remedy for existing evils as wildly
impracticable as Colonel Woodburn's. But while he thought this, and while
he could justly blame Fulkerson for Lindau's presence at Dryfoos's
dinner, which his zeal had brought about in spite of March's protests,
still he could not rid himself of the reproach of uncandor with Lindau.
He ought to have told him frankly about the ownership of the magazine,
and what manner of man the man was whose money he was taking. But he said
that he never could have imagined that he was serious in his preposterous
attitude in regard to a class of men who embody half the prosperity of
the country; and he had moments of revolt against his own humiliation
before Lindau, in which he found it monstrous that he should return
Dryfoos's money as if it had been the spoil of a robber. His wife agreed
with him in these moments, and said it was a great relief not to have
that tiresome old German coming about. They had to account for his
absence evasively to the children, whom they could not very well tell
that their father was living on money that Lindau disdained to take, even
though Lindau was wrong and their father was right. This heightened Mrs.
March's resentment toward both Lindau and Dryfoos, who between them had
placed her husband in a false position. If anything, she resented
Dryfoos's conduct more than Lindau's. He had never spoken to March about
the affair since Lindau had renounced his work, or added to the
apologetic messages he had sent by Fulkerson. So far as March knew,
Dryfoos had been left to suppose that Lindau had simply stopped for some
reason that did not personally affect him. They never spoke of him, and
March was too proud to ask either Fulkerson or Conrad whether the old man
knew that Lindau had returned his money. He avoided talking to Conrad,
from a feeling that if he did he should involuntarily lead him on to
speak of his differences with his father. Between himself and Fulkerson,
even, he was uneasily aware of a want of their old perfect friendliness.
Fulkerson had finally behaved with honor and courage; but his provisional
reluctance had given March the measure of Fulkerson's character in one
direction, and he could not ignore the fact that it was smaller than he
could have wished.

He could not make out whether Fulkerson shared his discomfort or not. It
certainly wore away, even with March, as time passed, and with Fulkerson,
in the bliss of his fortunate love, it was probably far more transient,
if it existed at all. He advanced into the winter as radiantly as if to
meet the spring, and he said that if there were any pleasanter month of
the year than November, it was December, especially when the weather was
good and wet and muddy most of the time, so that you had to keep indoors
a long while after you called anywhere.

Colonel Woodburn had the anxiety, in view of his daughter's engagement,
when she asked his consent to it, that such a dreamer must have in regard
to any reality that threatens to affect the course of his reveries. He
had not perhaps taken her marriage into account, except as a remote
contingency; and certainly Fulkerson was not the kind of son-in-law that
he had imagined in dealing with that abstraction. But because he had
nothing of the sort definitely in mind, he could not oppose the selection
of Fulkerson with success; he really knew nothing against him, and he
knew, many things in his favor; Fulkerson inspired him with the liking
that every one felt for him in a measure; he amused him, he cheered him;
and the colonel had been so much used to leaving action of all kinds to
his daughter that when he came to close quarters with the question of a
son-in-law he felt helpless to decide it, and he let her decide it, as if
it were still to be decided when it was submitted to him. She was
competent to treat it in all its phases: not merely those of personal
interest, but those of duty to the broken Southern past, sentimentally
dear to him, and practically absurd to her. No such South as he
remembered had ever existed to her knowledge, and no such civilization as
he imagined would ever exist, to her belief, anywhere. She took the world
as she found it, and made the best of it. She trusted in Fulkerson; she
had proved his magnanimity in a serious emergency; and in small things
she was willing fearlessly to chance it with him. She was not a
sentimentalist, and there was nothing fantastic in her expectations; she
was a girl of good sense and right mind, and she liked the immediate
practicality as well as the final honor of Fulkerson. She did not
idealize him, but in the highest effect she realized him; she did him
justice, and she would not have believed that she did him more than
justice if she had sometimes known him to do himself less.

Their engagement was a fact to which the Leighton household adjusted
itself almost as simply as the lovers themselves; Miss Woodburn told the
ladies at once, and it was not a thing that Fulkerson could keep from
March very long. He sent word of it to Mrs. March by her husband; and his
engagement perhaps did more than anything else to confirm the confidence
in him which had been shaken by his early behavior in the Lindau episode,
and not wholly restored by his tardy fidelity to March. But now she felt
that a man who wished to get married so obviously and entirely for love
was full of all kinds of the best instincts, and only needed the guidance
of a wife, to become very noble. She interested herself intensely in
balancing the respective merits of the engaged couple, and after her call
upon Miss Woodburn in her new character she prided herself upon
recognizing the worth of some strictly Southern qualities in her, while
maintaining the general average of New England superiority. She could not
reconcile herself to the Virginian custom illustrated in her having been
christened with the surname of Madison; and she said that its pet form of
Mad, which Fulkerson promptly invented, only made it more ridiculous.

Fulkerson was slower in telling Beaton. He was afraid, somehow, of
Beaton's taking the matter in the cynical way; Miss Woodburn said she
would break off the engagement if Beaton was left to guess it or find it
out by accident, and then Fulkerson plucked up his courage. Beaton
received the news with gravity, and with a sort of melancholy meekness
that strongly moved Fulkerson's sympathy, and made him wish that Beaton
was engaged, too.

It made Beaton feel very old; it somehow left him behind and forgotten;
in a manner, it made him feel trifled with. Something of the
unfriendliness of fate seemed to overcast his resentment, and he allowed
the sadness of his conviction that he had not the means to marry on to
tinge his recognition of the fact that Alma Leighton would not have
wanted him to marry her if he had. He was now often in that martyr mood
in which he wished to help his father; not only to deny himself Chianti,
but to forego a fur-lined overcoat which he intended to get for the
winter, He postponed the moment of actual sacrifice as regarded the
Chianti, and he bought the overcoat in an anguish of self-reproach. He
wore it the first evening after he got it in going to call upon the
Leightons, and it seemed to him a piece of ghastly irony when Alma
complimented his picturesqueness in it and asked him to let her sketch
him.

"Oh, you can sketch me," he said, with so much gloom that it made her
laugh.

"If you think it's so serious, I'd rather not."

"No, no! Go ahead! How do you want me?"

"Oh, fling yourself down on a chair in one of your attitudes of studied
negligence; and twist one corner of your mustache with affected absence
of mind."

"And you think I'm always studied, always affected?"

"I didn't say so."

"I didn't ask you what you said."

"And I won't tell you what I think."

"Ah, I know what you think."

"What made you ask, then?" The girl laughed again with the satisfaction
of her sex in cornering a man.

Beaton made a show of not deigning to reply, and put himself in the pose
she suggested, frowning.

"Ah, that's it. But a little more animation--

  "'As when a great thought strikes along the brain,
   And flushes all the cheek.'"

She put her forehead down on the back of her hand and laughed again. "You
ought to be photographed. You look as if you were sitting for it."

Beaton said: "That's because I know I am being photographed, in one way.
I don't think you ought to call me affected. I never am so with you; I
know it wouldn't be of any use."

"Oh, Mr. Beaton, you flatter."

"No, I never flatter you."

"I meant you flattered yourself."

"How?"

"Oh, I don't know. Imagine."

"I know what you mean. You think I can't be sincere with anybody."

"Oh no, I don't."

"What do you think?"

"That you can't--try." Alma gave another victorious laugh.

Miss Woodburn and Fulkerson would once have both feigned a great interest
in Alma's sketching Beaton, and made it the subject of talk, in which
they approached as nearly as possible the real interest of their lives.
Now they frankly remained away in the dining-room, which was very cozy
after the dinner had disappeared; the colonel sat with his lamp and paper
in the gallery beyond; Mrs. Leighton was about her housekeeping affairs,
in the content she always felt when Alma was with Beaton.

"They seem to be having a pretty good time in there," said Fulkerson,
detaching himself from his own absolute good time as well as he could.

"At least Alma does," said Miss Woodburn.

"Do you think she cares for him?"

"Quahte as moch as he desoves."

"What makes you all down on Beaton around here? He's not such a bad
fellow."

"We awe not all doan on him. Mrs. Leighton isn't doan on him."

"Oh, I guess if it was the old lady, there wouldn't be much question
about it."

They both laughed, and Alma said, "They seem to be greatly amused with
something in there."

"Me, probably," said Beaton. "I seem to amuse everybody to-night."

"Don't you always?"

"I always amuse you, I'm afraid, Alma."

She looked at him as if she were going to snub him openly for using her
name; but apparently she decided to do it covertly. "You didn't at first.
I really used to believe you could be serious, once."

"Couldn't you believe it again? Now?"

"Not when you put on that wind-harp stop."

"Wetmore has been talking to you about me. He would sacrifice his best
friend to a phrase. He spends his time making them."

"He's made some very pretty ones about you."

"Like the one you just quoted?"

"No, not exactly. He admires you ever so much. He says" She stopped,
teasingly.

"What?"

"He says you could be almost anything you wished, if you didn't wish to
be everything."

"That sounds more like the school of Wetmore. That's what you say, Alma.
Well, if there were something you wished me to be, I could be it."

"We might adapt Kingsley: 'Be good, sweet man, and let who will be
clever.'" He could not help laughing. She went on: "I always thought that
was the most patronizing and exasperating thing ever addressed to a human
girl; and we've had to stand a good deal in our time. I should like to
have it applied to the other 'sect' a while. As if any girl that was a
girl would be good if she had the remotest chance of being clever."

"Then you wouldn't wish me to be good?" Beaton asked.

"Not if you were a girl."

"You want to shock me. Well, I suppose I deserve it. But if I were
one-tenth part as good as you are, Alma, I should have a lighter heart
than I have now. I know that I'm fickle, but I'm not false, as you think
I am."

"Who said I thought you were false?"

"No one," said Beaton. "It isn't necessary, when you look it--live it."

"Oh, dear! I didn't know I devoted my whole time to the subject."

"I know I'm despicable. I could tell you something--the history of this
day, even--that would make you despise me." Beaton had in mind his
purchase of the overcoat, which Alma was getting in so effectively, with
the money he ought to have sent his father. "But," he went on, darkly,
with a sense that what he was that moment suffering for his selfishness
must somehow be a kind of atonement, which would finally leave him to the
guiltless enjoyment of the overcoat, "you wouldn't believe the depths of
baseness I could descend to."

"I would try," said Alma, rapidly shading the collar, "if you'd give me
some hint."

Beaton had a sudden wish to pour out his remorse to her, but he was
afraid of her laughing at him. He said to himself that this was a very
wholesome fear, and that if he could always have her at hand he should
not make a fool of himself so often. A man conceives of such an office as
the very noblest for a woman; he worships her for it if he is
magnanimous. But Beaton was silent, and Alma put back her head for the
right distance on her sketch. "Mr. Fulkerson thinks you are the sublimest
of human beings for advising him to get Colonel Woodburn to interview Mr.
Dryfoos about Lindau. What have you ever done with your Judas?"

"I haven't done anything with it. Nadel thought he would take hold of it
at one time, but he dropped it again. After all, I don't suppose it could
be popularized. Fulkerson wanted to offer it as a premium to subscribers
for 'Every Other Week,' but I sat down on that."

Alma could not feel the absurdity of this, and she merely said, "'Every
Other Week' seems to be going on just the same as ever."

"Yes, the trouble has all blown over, I believe. Fulkerson," said Beaton,
with a return to what they were saying, "has managed the whole business
very well. But he exaggerates the value of my advice."

"Very likely," Alma suggested, vaguely. "Or, no! Excuse me! He couldn't,
he couldn't!" She laughed delightedly at Beaton's foolish look of
embarrassment.

He tried to recover his dignity in saying, "He's 'a very good fellow, and
he deserves his happiness."

"Oh, indeed!" said Alma, perversely. "Does any one deserve happiness?"

"I know I don't," sighed Beaton.

"You mean you don't get it."

"I certainly don't get it."

"Ah, but that isn't the reason."

"What is?"

"That's the secret of the universe," She bit in her lower lip, and looked
at him with eyes, of gleaming fun.

"Are you never serious?" he asked.

"With serious people always."

"I am serious; and you have the secret of my happiness--" He threw
himself impulsively forward in his chair.

"Oh, pose, pose!" she cried.

"I won't pose," he answered, "and you have got to listen to me. You know
I'm in love with you; and I know that once you cared for me. Can't that
time--won't it--come back again? Try to think so, Alma!"

"No," she said, briefly and seriously enough.

"But that seems impossible. What is it I've done what have you against
me?"

"Nothing. But that time is past. I couldn't recall it if I wished. Why
did you bring it up? You've broken your word. You know I wouldn't have
let you keep coming here if you hadn't promised never to refer to it."

"How could I help it? With that happiness near us--Fulkerson--"

"Oh, it's that? I might have known it!"

"No, it isn't that--it's something far deeper. But if it's nothing you
have against me, what is it, Alma, that keeps you from caring for me now
as you did then? I haven't changed."

"But I have. I shall never care for you again, Mr. Beaton; you might as
well understand it once for all. Don't think it's anything in yourself,
or that I think you unworthy of me. I'm not so self-satisfied as that; I
know very well that I'm not a perfect character, and that I've no claim
on perfection in anybody else. I think women who want that are fools;
they won't get it, and they don't deserve it. But I've learned a good.
deal more about myself than I knew in St. Barnaby, and a life of work, of
art, and of art alone that's what I've made up my mind to."

"A woman that's made up her mind to that has no heart to hinder her!"

"Would a man have that had done so?"

"But I don't believe you, Alma. You're merely laughing at me. And,
besides, with me you needn't give up art. We could work together. You
know how much I admire your talent. I believe I could help it--serve it;
I would be its willing slave, and yours, Heaven knows!"

"I don't want any slave--nor any slavery. I want to be free always. Now
do you see? I don't care for you, and I never could in the old way; but I
should have to care for some one more than I believe I ever shall to give
up my work. Shall we go on?" She looked at her sketch.

"No, we shall not go on," he said, gloomily, as he rose.

"I suppose you blame me," she said, rising too.

"Oh no! I blame no one--or only myself. I threw my chance away."

"I'm glad you see that; and I'm glad you did it. You don't believe me, of
course. Why do men think life can be only the one thing to women? And if
you come to the selfish view, who are the happy women? I'm sure that if
work doesn't fail me, health won't, and happiness won't."

"But you could work on with me--"

"Second fiddle. Do you suppose I shouldn't be woman enough to wish my
work always less and lower than yours? At least I've heart enough for
that!"

"You've heart enough for anything, Alma. I was a fool to say you hadn't."

"I think the women who keep their hearts have an even chance, at least,
of having heart--"

"Ah, there's where you're wrong!"

"But mine isn't mine to give you, anyhow. And now I don't want you ever
to speak to me about this again."

"Oh, there's no danger!" he cried, bitterly. "I shall never willingly see
you again."

"That's as you like, Mr. Beaton. We've had to be very frank, but I don't
see why we shouldn't be friends. Still, we needn't, if you don't like."

"And I may come--I may come here--as--as usual?"

"Why, if you can consistently," she said, with a smile, and she held out
her hand to him.

He went home dazed, and feeling as if it were a bad joke that had been
put upon him. At least the affair went so deep that it estranged the
aspect of his familiar studio. Some of the things in it were not very
familiar; he had spent lately a great deal on rugs, on stuffs, on
Japanese bric-a-brac. When he saw these things in the shops he had felt
that he must have them; that they were necessary to him; and he was
partly in debt for them, still without having sent any of his earnings to
pay his father. As he looked at them now he liked to fancy something
weird and conscious in them as the silent witnesses of a broken life. He
felt about among some of the smaller objects on the mantel for his pipe.
Before he slept he was aware, in the luxury of his despair, of a remote
relief, an escape; and, after all, the understanding he had come to with
Alma was only the explicit formulation of terms long tacit between them.
Beaton would have been puzzled more than he knew if she had taken him
seriously. It was inevitable that he should declare himself in love with
her; but he was not disappointed at her rejection of his love; perhaps
not so much as he would have been at its acceptance, though he tried to
think otherwise, and to give himself airs of tragedy. He did not really
feel that the result was worse than what had gone before, and it left him
free.

But he did not go to the Leightons again for so long a time that Mrs.
Leighton asked Alma what had happened. Alma told her.

"And he won't come any more?" her mother sighed, with reserved censure.

"Oh, I think he will. He couldn't very well come the next night. But he
has the habit of coming, and with Mr. Beaton habit is everything--even
the habit of thinking he's in love with some one."

"Alma," said her mother, "I don't think it's very nice for a girl to let
a young man keep coming to see her after she's refused him."

"Why not, if it amuses him and doesn't hurt the girl?"

"But it does hurt her, Alma. It--it's indelicate. It isn't fair to him;
it gives him hopes."

"Well, mamma, it hasn't happened in the given case yet. If Mr. Beaton
comes again, I won't see him, and you can forbid him the house."

"If I could only feel sure, Alma," said her mother, taking up another
branch of the inquiry, "that you really knew your own mind, I should be
easier about it."

"Then you can rest perfectly quiet, mamma. I do know my own mind; and,
what's worse, I know Mr. Beaton's mind."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean that he spoke to me the other night simply because Mr.
Fulkerson's engagement had broken him all up."

"What expressions!" Mrs. Leighton lamented.

"He let it out himself," Alma went on. "And you wouldn't have thought it
was very flattering yourself. When I'm made love to, after this, I prefer
to be made love to in an off-year, when there isn't another engaged
couple anywhere about."

"Did you tell him that, Alma?"

"Tell him that! What do you mean, mamma? I may be indelicate, but I'm not
quite so indelicate as that."

"I didn't mean you were indelicate, really, Alma, but I wanted to warn
you. I think Mr. Beaton was very much in earnest."

"Oh, so did he!"

"And you didn't?"

"Oh yes, for the time being. I suppose he's very much in earnest with
Miss Vance at times, and with Miss Dryfoos at others. Sometimes he's a
painter, and sometimes he's an architect, and sometimes he's a sculptor.
He has too many gifts--too many tastes."

"And if Miss Vance and Miss Dryfoos--"

"Oh, do say Sculpture and Architecture, mamma! It's getting so dreadfully
personal!"

"Alma, you know that I only wish to get at your real feeling in the
matter."

"And you know that I don't want to let you--especially when I haven't got
any real feeling in the matter. But I should think--speaking in the
abstract entirely--that if either of those arts was ever going to be in
earnest about him, it would want his exclusive devotion for a week at
least."

"I didn't know," said Mrs. Leighton, "that he was doing anything now at
the others. I thought he was entirely taken up with his work on 'Every
Other Week.'"

"Oh, he is! he is!"

"And you certainly can't say, my dear, that he hasn't been very
kind--very useful to you, in that matter."

"And so I ought to have said yes out of gratitude? Thank you, mamma! I
didn't know you held me so cheap."

"You know whether I hold you cheap or not, Alma. I don't want you to
cheapen yourself. I don't want you to trifle with any one. I want you to
be honest with yourself."

"Well, come now, mamma! Suppose you begin. I've been perfectly honest
with myself, and I've been honest with Mr. Beaton. I don't care for him,
and I've told him I didn't; so he may be supposed to know it. If he comes
here after this, he'll come as a plain, unostentatious friend of the
family, and it's for you to say whether he shall come in that capacity or
not. I hope you won't trifle with him, and let him get the notion that
he's coming on any other basis."

Mrs. Leighton felt the comfort of the critical attitude far too keenly to
abandon it for anything constructive. She only said, "You know very well,
Alma, that's a matter I can have nothing to do with."

"Then you leave him entirely to me?"

"I hope you will regard his right to candid and open treatment."

"He's had nothing but the most open and candid treatment from me, mamma.
It's you that wants to play fast and loose with him. And, to tell you the
truth, I believe he would like that a good deal better; I believe that,
if there's anything he hates, it's openness and candor." Alma laughed,
and put her arms round her mother, who could not help laughing a little,
too.



II.

The winter did not renew for Christine and Mela the social opportunity
which the spring had offered. After the musicale at Mrs. Horn's, they
both made their party-call, as Mela said, in due season; but they did not
find Mrs. Horn at home, and neither she nor Miss Vance came to see them
after people returned to town in the fall. They tried to believe for a
time that Mrs. Horn had not got their cards; this pretence failed them,
and they fell back upon their pride, or rather Christine's pride. Mela
had little but her good-nature to avail her in any exigency, and if Mrs.
Horn or Miss Vance had come to call after a year of neglect, she would
have received them as amiably as if they had not lost a day in coming.
But Christine had drawn a line beyond which they would not have been
forgiven; and she had planned the words and the behavior with which she
would have punished them if they had appeared then. Neither sister
imagined herself in anywise inferior to them; but Christine was
suspicious, at least, and it was Mela who invented the hypothesis of the
lost cards. As nothing happened to prove or to disprove the fact, she
said, "I move we put Coonrod up to gittun' it out of Miss Vance, at some
of their meetun's."

"If you do," said Christine, "I'll kill you."

Christine, however, had the visits of Beaton to console her, and, if
these seemed to have no definite aim, she was willing to rest in the
pleasure they gave her vanity; but Mela had nothing. Sometimes she even
wished they were all back on the farm.

"It would be the best thing for both of you," said Mrs. Dryfoos, in
answer to such a burst of desperation. "I don't think New York is any
place for girls."

"Well, what I hate, mother," said Mela, "is, it don't seem to be any
place for young men, either." She found this so good when she had said it
that she laughed over it till Christine was angry.

"A body would think there had never been any joke before."

"I don't see as it's a joke," said Mrs. Dryfoos. "It's the plain truth."

"Oh, don't mind her, mother," said Mela. "She's put out because her old
Mr. Beaton ha'r't been round for a couple o' weeks. If you don't watch
out, that fellow 'll give you the slip yit, Christine, after all your
pains."

"Well, there ain't anybody to give you the slip, Mela," Christine clawed
back.

"No; I ha'n't ever set my traps for anybody." This was what Mela said for
want of a better retort; but it was not quite true. When Kendricks came
with Beaton to call after her father's dinner, she used all her cunning
to ensnare him, and she had him to herself as long as Beaton stayed;
Dryfoos sent down word that he was not very well and had gone to bed. The
novelty of Mela had worn off for Kendricks, and she found him, as she
frankly told him, not half as entertaining as he was at Mrs. Horn's; but
she did her best with him as the only flirtable material which had yet
come to her hand. It would have been her ideal to have the young men stay
till past midnight, and her father come down-stairs in his stocking-feet
and tell them it was time to go. But they made a visit of decorous
brevity, and Kendricks did not come again. She met him afterward, once,
as she was crossing the pavement in Union Square to get into her coupe,
and made the most of him; but it was necessarily very little, and so he
passed out of her life without having left any trace in her heart, though
Mela had a heart that she would have put at the disposition of almost any
young man that wanted it. Kendricks himself, Manhattan cockney as he was,
with scarcely more out look into the average American nature than if he
had been kept a prisoner in New York society all his days, perceived a
property in her which forbade him as a man of conscience to trifle with
her; something earthly good and kind, if it was simple and vulgar. In
revising his impressions of her, it seemed to him that she would come
even to better literary effect if this were recognized in her; and it
made her sacred, in spite of her willingness to fool and to be fooled, in
her merely human quality. After all, he saw that she wished honestly to
love and to be loved, and the lures she threw out to that end seemed to
him pathetic rather than ridiculous; he could not join Beaton in laughing
at her; and he did not like Beaton's laughing at the other girl, either.
It seemed to Kendricks, with the code of honor which he mostly kept to
himself because he was a little ashamed to find there were so few others
like it, that if Beaton cared nothing for the other girl--and Christine
appeared simply detestable to Kendricks--he had better keep away from
her, and not give her the impression he was in love with her. He rather
fancied that this was the part of a gentleman, and he could not have
penetrated to that aesthetic and moral complexity which formed the
consciousness of a nature like Beaton's and was chiefly a torment to
itself; he could not have conceived of the wayward impulses indulged at
every moment in little things till the straight highway was traversed and
well-nigh lost under their tangle. To do whatever one likes is finally to
do nothing that one likes, even though one continues to do what one will;
but Kendricks, though a sage of twenty-seven, was still too young to
understand this.

Beaton scarcely understood it himself, perhaps because he was not yet
twenty-seven. He only knew that his will was somehow sick; that it spent
itself in caprices, and brought him no happiness from the fulfilment of
the most vehement wish. But he was aware that his wishes grew less and
less vehement; he began to have a fear that some time he might have none
at all. It seemed to him that if he could once do something that was
thoroughly distasteful to himself, he might make a beginning in the right
direction; but when he tried this on a small scale, it failed, and it
seemed stupid. Some sort of expiation was the thing he needed, he was
sure; but he could not think of anything in particular to expiate; a man
could not expiate his temperament, and his temperament was what Beaton
decided to be at fault. He perceived that it went deeper than even fate
would have gone; he could have fulfilled an evil destiny and had done
with it, however terrible. His trouble was that he could not escape from
himself; and, for the most part, he justified himself in refusing to try.
After he had come to that distinct understanding with Alma Leighton, and
experienced the relief it really gave him, he thought for a while that if
it had fallen out otherwise, and she had put him in charge of her
destiny, he might have been better able to manage his own. But as it was,
he could only drift, and let all other things take their course. It was
necessary that he should go to see her afterward, to show her that he was
equal to the event; but he did not go so often, and he went rather
oftener to the Dryfooses; it was not easy to see Margaret Vance, except
on the society terms. With much sneering and scorning, he fulfilled the
duties to Mrs. Horn without which he knew he should be dropped from her
list; but one might go to many of her Thursdays without getting many
words with her niece. Beaton hardly knew whether he wanted many; the girl
kept the charm of her innocent stylishness; but latterly she wanted to
talk more about social questions than about the psychical problems that
young people usually debate so personally. Son of the working-people as
he was, Beaton had never cared anything about such matters; he did not
know about them or wish to know; he was perhaps too near them. Besides,
there was an embarrassment, at least on her part, concerning the
Dryfooses. She was too high-minded to blame him for having tempted her to
her failure with them by his talk about them; but she was conscious of
avoiding them in her talk. She had decided not to renew the effort she
had made in the spring; because she could not do them good as
fellow-creatures needing food and warmth and work, and she would not try
to befriend them socially; she had a horror of any such futile
sentimentality. She would have liked to account to Beaton in this way for
a course which she suspected he must have heard their comments upon, but
she did not quite know how to do it; she could not be sure how much or
how little he cared for them. Some tentative approaches which she made
toward explanation were met with such eager disclaim of personal interest
that she knew less than before what to think; and she turned the talk
from the sisters to the brother, whom it seemed she still continued to
meet in their common work among the poor.

"He seems very different," she ventured.

"Oh, quite," said Beaton. "He's the kind of person that you might suppose
gave the Catholics a hint for the cloistral life; he's a cloistered
nature--the nature that atones and suffers for. But he's awfully dull
company, don't you think? I never can get anything out of him."

"He's very much in earnest."

"Remorselessly. We've got a profane and mundane creature there at the
office who runs us all, and it's shocking merely to see the contact of
the tyro natures. When Fulkerson gets to joking Dryfoos--he likes to put
his joke in the form of a pretence that Dryfoos is actuated by a selfish
motive, that he has an eye to office, and is working up a political
interest for himself on the East Side--it's something inexpressible."

"I should think so," said Miss Vance, with such lofty disapproval that
Beaton felt himself included in it for having merely told what caused it.
He could not help saying, in natural rebellion, "Well, the man of one
idea is always a little ridiculous."

"When his idea is right?" she demanded. "A right idea can't be
ridiculous."

"Oh, I only said the man that held it was. He's flat; he has no relief,
no projection."

She seemed unable to answer, and he perceived that he had silenced her to
his own, disadvantage. It appeared to Beaton that she was becoming a
little too exacting for comfort in her idealism. He put down the cup of
tea he had been tasting, and said, in his solemn staccato: "I must go.
Good-bye!" and got instantly away from her, with an effect he had of
having suddenly thought of something imperative.

He went up to Mrs. Horn for a moment's hail and farewell, and felt
himself subtly detained by her through fugitive passages of conversation
with half a dozen other people. He fancied that at crises of this strange
interview Mrs. Horn was about to become confidential with him, and
confidential, of all things, about her niece. She ended by not having
palpably been so. In fact, the concern in her mind would have been
difficult to impart to a young man, and after several experiments Mrs.
Horn found it impossible to say that she wished Margaret could somehow be
interested in lower things than those which occupied her. She had watched
with growing anxiety the girl's tendency to various kinds of
self-devotion. She had dark hours in which she even feared her entire
withdrawal from the world in a life of good works. Before now, girls had
entered the Protestant sisterhoods, which appeal so potently to the young
and generous imagination, and Margaret was of just the temperament to be
influenced by them. During the past summer she had been unhappy at her
separation from the cares that had engrossed her more and more as their
stay in the city drew to an end in the spring, and she had hurried her
aunt back to town earlier in the fall than she would have chosen to come.
Margaret had her correspondents among the working-women whom she
befriended. Mrs. Horn was at one time alarmed to find that Margaret was
actually promoting a strike of the button-hole workers. This, of course,
had its ludicrous side, in connection with a young lady in good society,
and a person of even so little humor as Mrs. Horn could not help seeing
it. At the same time, she could not help foreboding the worst from it;
she was afraid that Margaret's health would give way under the strain,
and that if she did not go into a sisterhood she would at least go into a
decline. She began the winter with all such counteractive measures as she
could employ. At an age when such things weary, she threw herself into
the pleasures of society with the hope of dragging Margaret after her;
and a sympathetic witness must have followed with compassion her course
from ball to ball, from reception to reception, from parlor-reading to
parlor-reading, from musicale to musicale, from play to play, from opera
to opera. She tasted, after she had practically renounced them, the
bitter and the insipid flavors of fashionable amusement, in the hope that
Margaret might find them sweet, and now at the end she had to own to
herself that she had failed. It was coming Lent again, and the girl had
only grown thinner and more serious with the diversions that did not
divert her from the baleful works of beneficence on which Mrs. Horn felt
that she was throwing her youth away. Margaret could have borne either
alone, but together they were wearing her out. She felt it a duty to
undergo the pleasures her aunt appointed for her, but she could not
forego the other duties in which she found her only pleasure.

She kept up her music still because she could employ it at the meetings
for the entertainment, and, as she hoped, the elevation of her
working-women; but she neglected the other aesthetic interests which once
occupied her; and, at sight of Beaton talking with her, Mrs. Horn caught
at the hope that he might somehow be turned to account in reviving
Margaret's former interest in art. She asked him if Mr. Wetmore had his
classes that winter as usual; and she said she wished Margaret could be
induced to go again: Mr. Wetmore always said that she did not draw very
well, but that she had a great deal of feeling for it, and her work was
interesting. She asked, were the Leightons in town again; and she
murmured a regret that she had not been able to see anything of them,
without explaining why; she said she had a fancy that if Margaret knew
Miss Leighton, and what she was doing, it might stimulate her, perhaps.
She supposed Miss Leighton was still going on with her art? Beaton said,
Oh yes, he believed so.

But his manner did not encourage Mrs. Horn to pursue her aims in that
direction, and she said, with a sigh, she wished he still had a class;
she always fancied that Margaret got more good from his instruction than
from any one else's.

He said that she was very good; but there was really nobody who knew half
as much as Wetmore, or could make any one understand half as much. Mrs.
Horn was afraid, she said, that Mr. Wetmore's terrible sincerity
discouraged Margaret; he would not let her have any illusions about the
outcome of what she was doing; and did not Mr. Beaton think that some
illusion was necessary with young people? Of course, it was very nice of
Mr. Wetmore to be so honest, but it did not always seem to be the wisest
thing. She begged Mr. Beaton to try to think of some one who would be a
little less severe. Her tone assumed a deeper interest in the people who
were coming up and going away, and Beaton perceived that he was
dismissed.

He went away with vanity flattered by the sense of having been appealed
to concerning Margaret, and then he began to chafe at what she had said
of Wetmore's honesty, apropos of her wish that he still had a class
himself. Did she mean, confound her? that he was insincere, and would let
Miss Vance suppose she had more talent than she really had? The more
Beaton thought of this, the more furious he became, and the more he was
convinced that something like it had been unconsciously if not
consciously in her mind. He framed some keen retorts, to the general
effect that with the atmosphere of illusion preserved so completely at
home, Miss Vance hardly needed it in her art studies. Having just
determined never to go near Mrs. Horn's Thursdays again, he decided to go
once more, in order to plant this sting in her capacious but somewhat
callous bosom; and he planned how he would lead the talk up to the point
from which he should launch it.

In the mean time he felt the need of some present solace, such as only
unqualified worship could give him; a cruel wish to feel his power in
some direction where, even if it were resisted, it could not be overcome,
drove him on. That a woman who was to Beaton the embodiment of
artificiality should intimate, however innocently--the innocence made it
all the worse--that he was less honest than Wetmore, whom he knew to be
so much more honest, was something that must be retaliated somewhere
before his self-respect could be restored. It was only five o'clock, and
he went on up-town to the Dryfooses', though he had been there only the
night before last. He asked for the ladies, and Mrs. Mandel received him.

"The young ladies are down-town shopping," she said, "but I am very glad
of the opportunity of seeing you alone, Mr. Beaton. You know I lived
several years in Europe."

"Yes," said Beaton, wondering what that could have to do with her
pleasure in seeing him alone. "I believe so?" He involuntarily gave his
words the questioning inflection.

"You have lived abroad, too, and so you won't find what I am going to ask
so strange. Mr. Beaton, why do you come so much to this house?" Mrs.
Mandel bent forward with an aspect of ladylike interest and smiled.

Beaton frowned. "Why do I come so much?"

"Yes."

"Why do I--Excuse me, Mrs. Mandel, but will you allow me to ask why you
ask?"

"Oh, certainly. There's no reason why I shouldn't say, for I wish you to
be very frank with me. I ask because there are two young ladies in this
house; and, in a certain way, I have to take the place of a mother to
them. I needn't explain why; you know all the people here, and you
understand. I have nothing to say about them, but I should not be
speaking to you now if they were not all rather helpless people. They do
not know the world they have come to live in here, and they cannot help
themselves or one another. But you do know it, Mr. Beaton, and I am sure
you know just how much or how little you mean by coming here. You are
either interested in one of these young girls or you are not. If you are,
I have nothing more to say. If you are not--" Mrs. Mandel continued to
smile, but the smile had grown more perfunctory, and it had an icy gleam.

Beaton looked at her with surprise that he gravely kept to himself. He
had always regarded her as a social nullity, with a kind of pity, to be
sure, as a civilized person living among such people as the Dryfooses,
but not without a humorous contempt; he had thought of her as Mandel, and
sometimes as Old Mandel, though she was not half a score of years his
senior, and was still well on the sunny side of forty. He reddened, and
then turned an angry pallor. "Excuse me again, Mrs. Mandel. Do you ask
this from the young ladies?"

"Certainly not," she said, with the best temper, and with something in
her tone that convicted Beaton of vulgarity, in putting his question of
her authority in the form of a sneer. "As I have suggested, they would
hardly know how to help themselves at all in such a matter. I have no
objection to saying that I ask it from the father of the young ladies. Of
course, in and for myself I should have no right to know anything about
your affairs. I assure you the duty of knowing isn't very pleasant." The
little tremor in her clear voice struck Beaton as something rather nice.

"I can very well believe that, Mrs. Mandel," he said, with a dreamy
sadness in his own. He lifted his eyes and looked into hers. "If I told
you that I cared nothing about them in the way you intimate?"

"Then I should prefer to let you characterize your own conduct in
continuing to come here for the year past, as you have done, and tacitly
leading them on to infer differently." They both mechanically kept up the
fiction of plurality in speaking of Christine, but there was no doubt in
the mind of either which of the young ladies the other meant. A good many
thoughts went through Beaton's mind, and none of them were flattering. He
had not been unconscious that the part he had played toward this girl was
ignoble, and that it had grown meaner as the fancy which her beauty had
at first kindled in him had grown cooler. He was aware that of late he
had been amusing himself with her passion in a way that was not less than
cruel, not because he wished to do so, but because he was listless and
wished nothing. He rose in saying: "I might be a little more lenient than
you think, Mrs. Mandel; but I won't trouble you with any palliating
theory. I will not come any more."

He bowed, and Mrs. Mandel said, "Of course, it's only your action that I
am concerned with."

She seemed to him merely triumphant, and he could not conceive what it
had cost her to nerve herself up to her too easy victory. He left Mrs.
Mandel to a far harder lot than had fallen to him, and he went away
hating her as an enemy who had humiliated him at a moment when he
particularly needed exalting. It was really very simple for him to stop
going to see Christine Dryfoos, but it was not at all simple for Mrs.
Mandel to deal with the consequences of his not coming. He only thought
how lightly she had stopped him, and the poor woman whom he had left
trembling for what she had been obliged to do embodied for him the
conscience that accused him of unpleasant things.

"By heavens! this is piling it up," he said to himself through his set
teeth, realizing how it had happened right on top of that stupid insult
from Mrs. Horn. Now he should have to give up his place on 'Every Other
Week; he could not keep that, under the circumstances, even if some
pretence were not made to get rid of him; he must hurry and anticipate
any such pretence; he must see Fulkerson at once; he wondered where he
should find him at that hour. He thought, with bitterness so real that it
gave him a kind of tragical satisfaction, how certainly he could find him
a little later at Mrs. Leighton's; and Fulkerson's happiness became an
added injury.

The thing had, of course, come about just at the wrong time. There never
had been a time when Beaton needed money more, when he had spent what he
had and what he expected to have so recklessly. He was in debt to
Fulkerson personally and officially for advance payments of salary. The
thought of sending money home made him break into a scoffing laugh, which
he turned into a cough in order to deceive the passers. What sort of face
should he go with to Fulkerson and tell him that he renounced his
employment on 'Every Other Week;' and what should he do when he had
renounced it? Take pupils, perhaps; open a class? A lurid conception of a
class conducted on those principles of shameless flattery at which Mrs.
Horn had hinted--he believed now she had meant to insult him--presented
itself. Why should not he act upon the suggestion? He thought with
loathing for the whole race of women--dabblers in art. How easy the thing
would be: as easy as to turn back now and tell that old fool's girl that
he loved her, and rake in half his millions. Why should not he do that?
No one else cared for him; and at a year's end, probably, one woman would
be like another as far as the love was concerned, and probably he should
not be more tired if the woman were Christine Dryfoos than if she were
Margaret Vance. He kept Alma Leighton out of the question, because at the
bottom of his heart he believed that she must be forever unlike every
other woman to him.

The tide of his confused and aimless reverie had carried him far
down-town, he thought; but when he looked up from it to see where he was
he found himself on Sixth Avenue, only a little below Thirty-ninth
Street, very hot and blown; that idiotic fur overcoat was stifling. He
could not possibly walk down to Eleventh; he did not want to walk even to
the Elevated station at Thirty-fourth; he stopped at the corner to wait
for a surface-car, and fell again into his bitter fancies. After a while
he roused himself and looked up the track, but there was no car coming.
He found himself beside a policeman, who was lazily swinging his club by
its thong from his wrist.

"When do you suppose a car will be along?" he asked, rather in a general
sarcasm of the absence of the cars than in any special belief that the
policeman could tell him.

The policeman waited to discharge his tobacco-juice into the gutter. "In
about a week," he said, nonchalantly.

"What's the matter?" asked Beaton, wondering what the joke could be.

"Strike," said the policeman. His interest in Beaton's ignorance seemed
to overcome his contempt of it. "Knocked off everywhere this morning
except Third Avenue and one or two cross-town lines." He spat again and
kept his bulk at its incline over the gutter to glance at a group of men
on the corner below: They were neatly dressed, and looked like something
better than workingmen, and they had a holiday air of being in their best
clothes.

"Some of the strikers?" asked Beaton.

The policeman nodded.

"Any trouble yet?"

"There won't be any trouble till we begin to move the cars," said the
policeman.

Beaton felt a sudden turn of his rage toward the men whose action would
now force him to walk five blocks and mount the stairs of the Elevated
station. "If you'd take out eight or ten of those fellows," he said,
ferociously, "and set them up against a wall and shoot them, you'd save a
great deal of bother."

"I guess we sha'n't have to shoot much," said the policeman, still
swinging his locust. "Anyway, we shant begin it. If it comes to a fight,
though," he said, with a look at the men under the scooping rim of his
helmet, "we can drive the whole six thousand of 'em into the East River
without pullin' a trigger."

"Are there six thousand in it?"

"About."

"What do the infernal fools expect to live on?"

"The interest of their money, I suppose," said the officer, with a grin
of satisfaction in his irony. "It's got to run its course. Then they'll
come back with their heads tied up and their tails between their legs,
and plead to be taken on again."

"If I was a manager of the roads," said Beaton, thinking of how much he
was already inconvenienced by the strike, and obscurely connecting it as
one of the series with the wrongs he had suffered at the hands of Mrs.
Horn and Mrs. Mandel, "I would see them starve before I'd take them
back--every one of them."

"Well," said the policeman, impartially, as a man might whom the
companies allowed to ride free, but who had made friends with a good many
drivers and conductors in the course of his free riding, "I guess that's
what the roads would like to do if they could; but the men are too many
for them, and there ain't enough other men to take their places."

"No matter," said Beaton, severely. "They can bring in men from other
places."

"Oh, they'll do that fast enough," said the policeman.

A man came out of the saloon on the corner where the strikers were
standing, noisy drunk, and they began, as they would have said, to have
some fun with him. The policeman left Beaton, and sauntered slowly down
toward the group as if in the natural course of an afternoon ramble. On
the other side of the street Beaton could see another officer sauntering
up from the block below. Looking up and down the avenue, so silent of its
horse-car bells, he saw a policeman at every corner. It was rather
impressive.



III.

The strike made a good deal of talk in it he office of 'Every Other Week'
that is, it made Fulkerson talk a good deal. He congratulated himself
that he was not personally incommoded by it, like some of the fellows who
lived uptown, and had not everything under one roof, as it were. He
enjoyed the excitement of it, and he kept the office boy running out to
buy the extras which the newsmen came crying through the street almost
every hour with a lamentable, unintelligible noise. He read not only the
latest intelligence of the strike, but the editorial comments on it,
which praised the firm attitude of both parties, and the admirable
measures taken by the police to preserve order. Fulkerson enjoyed the
interviews with the police captains and the leaders of the strike; he
equally enjoyed the attempts of the reporters to interview the road
managers, which were so graphically detailed, and with such a fine
feeling for the right use of scare-heads as to have almost the value of
direct expression from them, though it seemed that they had resolutely
refused to speak. He said, at second-hand from the papers, that if the
men behaved themselves and respected the rights of property, they would
have public sympathy with them every time; but just as soon as they began
to interfere with the roads' right to manage their own affairs in their
own way, they must be put down with an iron hand; the phrase "iron hand"
did Fulkerson almost as much good as if it had never been used before.
News began to come of fighting between the police and the strikers when
the roads tried to move their cars with men imported from Philadelphia,
and then Fulkerson rejoiced at the splendid courage of the police. At the
same time, he believed what the strikers said, and that the trouble was
not made by them, but by gangs of roughs acting without their approval.
In this juncture he was relieved by the arrival of the State Board of
Arbitration, which took up its quarters, with a great many scare-heads,
at one of the principal hotels, and invited the roads and the strikers to
lay the matter in dispute before them; he said that now we should see the
working of the greatest piece of social machinery in modern times. But it
appeared to work only in the alacrity of the strikers to submit their
grievance. The road; were as one road in declaring that there was nothing
to arbitrate, and that they were merely asserting their right to manage
their own affairs in their own way. One of the presidents was reported to
have told a member of the Board, who personally summoned him, to get out
and to go about his business. Then, to Fulkerson's extreme
disappointment, the august tribunal, acting on behalf of the sovereign
people in the interest of peace, declared itself powerless, and got out,
and would, no doubt, have gone about its business if it had had any.
Fulkerson did not know what to say, perhaps because the extras did not;
but March laughed at this result.

"It's a good deal like the military manoeuvre of the King of France and
his forty thousand men. I suppose somebody told him at the top of the
hill that there was nothing to arbitrate, and to get out and go about his
business, and that was the reason he marched down after he had marched up
with all that ceremony. What amuses me is to find that in an affair of
this kind the roads have rights and the strikers have rights, but the
public has no rights at all. The roads and the strikers are allowed to
fight out a private war in our midst as thoroughly and precisely a
private war as any we despise the Middle Ages for having tolerated--as
any street war in Florence or Verona--and to fight it out at our pains
and expense, and we stand by like sheep and wait till they get tired.
It's a funny attitude for a city of fifteen hundred thousand
inhabitants."

"What would you do?" asked Fulkerson, a good deal daunted by this view of
the case.

"Do? Nothing. Hasn't the State Board of Arbitration declared itself
powerless? We have no hold upon the strikers; and we're so used to being
snubbed and disobliged by common carriers that we have forgotten our hold
on the roads and always allow them to manage their own affairs in their
own way, quite as if we had nothing to do with them and they owed us no
services in return for their privileges."

"That's a good deal so," said Fulkerson, disordering his hair. "Well,
it's nuts for the colonel nowadays. He says if he was boss of this town
he would seize the roads on behalf of the people, and man 'em with
policemen, and run 'em till the managers had come to terms with the
strikers; and he'd do that every time there was a strike."

"Doesn't that rather savor of the paternalism he condemned in Lindau?"
asked March.

"I don't know. It savors of horse sense."

"You are pretty far gone, Fulkerson. I thought you were the most engaged
man I ever saw; but I guess you're more father-in-lawed. And before
you're married, too."

"Well, the colonel's a glorious old fellow, March. I wish he had the
power to do that thing, just for the fun of looking on while he waltzed
in. He's on the keen jump from morning till night, and he's up late and
early to see the row. I'm afraid he'll get shot at some of the fights; he
sees them all; I can't get any show at them: haven't seen a brickbat
shied or a club swung yet. Have you?"

"No, I find I can philosophize the situation about as well from the
papers, and that's what I really want to do, I suppose. Besides, I'm
solemnly pledged by Mrs. March not to go near any sort of crowd, under
penalty of having her bring the children and go with me. Her theory is
that we must all die together; the children haven't been at school since
the strike began. There's no precaution that Mrs. March hasn't used. She
watches me whenever I go out, and sees that I start straight for this
office."

Fulkerson laughed and said: "Well, it's probably the only thing that's
saved your life. Have you seen anything of Beaton lately?"

"No. You don't mean to say he's killed!"

"Not if he knows it. But I don't know--What do you say, March? What's the
reason you couldn't get us up a paper on the strike?"

"I knew it would fetch round to 'Every Other Week,' somehow."

"No, but seriously. There 'll be plenty of news paper accounts. But you
could treat it in the historical spirit--like something that happened
several centuries ago; De Foe's Plague of London style. Heigh? What made
me think of it was Beaton. If I could get hold of him, you two could go
round together and take down its aesthetic aspects. It's a big thing,
March, this strike is. I tell you it's imposing to have a private war, as
you say, fought out this way, in the heart of New York, and New York not
minding, it a bit. See? Might take that view of it. With your
descriptions and Beaton's sketches--well, it would just be the greatest
card! Come! What do you say?"

"Will you undertake to make it right with Mrs. March if I'm killed and
she and the children are not killed with me?"

"Well, it would be difficult. I wonder how it would do to get Kendricks
to do the literary part?"

"I've no doubt he'd jump at the chance. I've yet to see the form of
literature that Kendricks wouldn't lay down his life for."

"Say!" March perceived that Fulkerson was about to vent another
inspiration, and smiled patiently. "Look here! What's the reason we
couldn't get one of the strikers to write it up for us?"

"Might have a symposium of strikers and presidents," March suggested.

"No; I'm in earnest. They say some of those fellows-especially the
foreigners--are educated men. I know one fellow--a Bohemian--that used to
edit a Bohemian newspaper here. He could write it out in his kind of
Dutch, and we could get Lindau to translate it."

"I guess not," said March, dryly.

"Why not? He'd do it for the cause, wouldn't he? Suppose you put it up on
him the next time you see him."

"I don't see Lindau any more," said March. He added, "I guess he's
renounced me along with Mr. Dryfoos's money."

"Pshaw! You don't mean he hasn't been round since?"

"He came for a while, but he's left off coming now. I don't feel
particularly gay about it," March said, with some resentment of
Fulkerson's grin. "He's left me in debt to him for lessons to the
children."

Fulkerson laughed out. "Well, he is the greatest old fool! Who'd 'a'
thought he'd 'a' been in earnest with those 'brincibles' of his? But I
suppose there have to be just such cranks; it takes all kinds to make a
world."

"There has to be one such crank, it seems," March partially assented.
"One's enough for me."

"I reckon this thing is nuts for Lindau, too," said Fulkerson. "Why, it
must act like a schooner of beer on him all the while, to see 'gabidal'
embarrassed like it is by this strike. It must make old Lindau feel like
he was back behind those barricades at Berlin. Well, he's a splendid old
fellow; pity he drinks, as I remarked once before."

When March left the office he did not go home so directly as he came,
perhaps because Mrs. March's eye was not on him. He was very curious
about some aspects of the strike, whose importance, as a great social
convulsion, he felt people did not recognize; and, with his temperance in
everything, he found its negative expressions as significant as its more
violent phases. He had promised his wife solemnly that he would keep away
from these, and he had a natural inclination to keep his promise; he had
no wish to be that peaceful spectator who always gets shot when there is
any firing on a mob. He interested himself in the apparent indifference
of the mighty city, which kept on about its business as tranquilly as if
the private war being fought out in its midst were a vague rumor of
Indian troubles on the frontier; and he realized how there might once
have been a street feud of forty years in Florence without interfering
materially with the industry and prosperity of the city. On Broadway
there was a silence where a jangle and clatter of horse-car bells and
hoofs had been, but it was not very noticeable; and on the avenues,
roofed by the elevated roads, this silence of the surface tracks was not
noticeable at all in the roar of the trains overhead. Some of the
cross-town cars were beginning to run again, with a policeman on the rear
of each; on the Third Avenge line, operated by non-union men, who had not
struck, there were two policemen beside the driver of every car, and two
beside the conductor, to protect them from the strikers. But there were
no strikers in sight, and on Second Avenue they stood quietly about in
groups on the corners. While March watched them at a safe distance, a car
laden with policemen came down the track, but none of the strikers
offered to molest it. In their simple Sunday best, March thought them
very quiet, decent-looking people, and he could well believe that they
had nothing to do with the riotous outbreaks in other parts of the city.
He could hardly believe that there were any such outbreaks; he began more
and more to think them mere newspaper exaggerations in the absence of any
disturbance, or the disposition to it, that he could see. He walked on to
the East River.

Avenues A, B, and C presented the same quiet aspect as Second Avenue;
groups of men stood on the corners, and now and then a police-laden car
was brought unmolested down the tracks before them; they looked at it and
talked together, and some laughed, but there was no trouble.

March got a cross-town car, and came back to the West Side. A policeman,
looking very sleepy and tired, lounged on the platform.

"I suppose you'll be glad when this cruel war is over," March suggested,
as he got in.

The officer gave him a surly glance and made him no answer.

His behavior, from a man born to the joking give and take of our life,
impressed March. It gave him a fine sense of the ferocity which he had
read of the French troops putting on toward the populace just before the
coup d'etat; he began to feel like the populace; but he struggled with
himself and regained his character of philosophical observer. In this
character he remained in the car and let it carry him by the corner where
he ought to have got out and gone home, and let it keep on with him to
one of the farthermost tracks westward, where so much of the fighting was
reported to have taken place. But everything on the way was as quiet as
on the East Side.

Suddenly the car stopped with so quick a turn of the brake that he was
half thrown from his seat, and the policeman jumped down from the
platform and ran forward.



IV

Dryfoos sat at breakfast that morning with Mrs. Mandel as usual to pour
out his coffee. Conrad had gone down-town; the two girls lay abed much
later than their father breakfasted, and their mother had gradually grown
too feeble to come down till lunch. Suddenly Christine appeared at the
door. Her face was white to the edges of her lips, and her eyes were
blazing.

"Look here, father! Have you been saying anything to Mr. Beaton?"

The old man looked up at her across his coffee-cup through his frowning
brows. "No."

Mrs. Mandel dropped her eyes, and the spoon shook in her hand.

"Then what's the reason he don't come here any more?" demanded the girl;
and her glance darted from her father to Mrs. Mandel. "Oh, it's you, is
it? I'd like to know who told you to meddle in other people's business?"

"I did," said Dryfoos, savagely. "I told her to ask him what he wanted
here, and he said he didn't want anything, and he stopped coming. That's
all. I did it myself."

"Oh, you did, did you?" said the girl, scarcely less insolently than she
had spoken to Mrs. Mandel. "I should like to know what you did it for?
I'd like to know what made you think I wasn't able to take care of
myself. I just knew somebody had been meddling, but I didn't suppose it
was you. I can manage my own affairs in my own way, if you please, and
I'll thank you after this to leave me to myself in what don't concern
you."

"Don't concern me? You impudent jade!" her father began.

Christine advanced from the doorway toward the table; she had her hands
closed upon what seemed trinkets, some of which glittered and dangled
from them. She said, "Will you go to him and tell him that this
meddlesome minx, here, had no business to say anything about me to him,
and you take it all back?"

"No!" shouted the old man. "And if--"

"That's all I want of you!" the girl shouted in her turn. "Here are your
presents." With both hands she flung the jewels-pins and rings and
earrings and bracelets--among the breakfast-dishes, from which some of
them sprang to the floor. She stood a moment to pull the intaglio ring
from the finger where Beaton put it a year ago, and dashed that at her
father's plate. Then she whirled out of the room, and they heard her
running up-stairs.

The old man made a start toward her, but he fell back in his chair before
she was gone, and, with a fierce, grinding movement of his jaws,
controlled himself. "Take-take those things up," he gasped to Mrs.
Mandel. He seemed unable to rise again from his chair; but when she asked
him if he were unwell, he said no, with an air of offence, and got
quickly to his feet. He mechanically picked up the intaglio ring from the
table while he stood there, and put it on his little finger; his hand was
not much bigger than Christine's. "How do you suppose she found it out?"
he asked, after a moment.

"She seems to have merely suspected it," said Mrs. Mandel, in a tremor,
and with the fright in her eyes which Christine's violence had brought
there.

"Well, it don't make any difference. She had to know, somehow, and now
she knows." He started toward the door of the library, as if to go into
the hall, where his hat and coat hung.

"Mr. Dryfoos," palpitated Mrs. Mandel, "I can't remain here, after the
language your daughter has used to me--I can't let you leave me--I--I'm
afraid of her--"

"Lock yourself up, then," said the old man, rudely. He added, from the
hall before he went out, "I reckon she'll quiet down now."

He took the Elevated road. The strike seemed a vary far-off thing, though
the paper he bought to look up the stockmarket was full of noisy
typography about yesterday's troubles on the surface lines. Among the
millions in Wall Street there was some joking and some swearing, but not
much thinking, about the six thousand men who had taken such chances in
their attempt to better their condition. Dryfoos heard nothing of the
strike in the lobby of the Stock Exchange, where he spent two or three
hours watching a favorite stock of his go up and go down under the
betting. By the time the Exchange closed it had risen eight points, and
on this and some other investments he was five thousand dollars richer
than he had been in the morning. But he had expected to be richer still,
and he was by no means satisfied with his luck. All through the
excitement of his winning and losing had played the dull, murderous rage
he felt toward they child who had defied him, and when the game was over
and he started home his rage mounted into a sort of frenzy; he would
teach her, he would break her. He walked a long way without thinking, and
then waited for a car. None came, and he hailed a passing coupe.

"What has got all the cars?" he demanded of the driver, who jumped down
from his box to open the door for him and get his direction.

"Been away?" asked the driver. "Hasn't been any car along for a week.
Strike."

"Oh yes," said Dryfoos. He felt suddenly giddy, and he remained staring
at the driver after he had taken his seat.

The man asked, "Where to?"

Dryfoos could not think of his street or number, and he said, with
uncontrollable fury: "I told you once! Go up to West Eleventh, and drive
along slow on the south side; I'll show you the place."

He could not remember the number of 'Every Other Week' office, where he
suddenly decided to stop before he went home. He wished to see Fulkerson,
and ask him something about Beaton: whether he had been about lately, and
whether he had dropped any hint of what had happened concerning
Christine; Dryfoos believed that Fulkerson was in the fellow's
confidence.

There was nobody but Conrad in the counting-room, whither Dryfoos
returned after glancing into Fulkerson's empty office. "Where's
Fulkerson?" he asked, sitting down with his hat on.

"He went out a few moments ago," said Conrad, glancing at the clock. "I'm
afraid he isn't coming back again today, if you wanted to see him."

Dryfoos twisted his head sidewise and upward to indicate March's room.
"That other fellow out, too?"

"He went just before Mr. Fulkerson," answered Conrad.

"Do you generally knock off here in the middle of the afternoon?" asked
the old man.

"No," said Conrad, as patiently as if his father had not been there a
score of times and found the whole staff of "Every Other Week" at work
between four and five. "Mr. March, you know, always takes a good deal of
his work home with him, and I suppose Mr. Fulkerson went out so early
because there isn't much doing to-day. Perhaps it's the strike that makes
it dull."

"The strike-yes! It's a pretty piece of business to have everything
thrown out because a parcel of lazy hounds want a chance to lay off and
get drunk." Dryfoos seemed to think Conrad would make some answer to
this, but the young man's mild face merely saddened, and he said nothing.
"I've got a coupe out there now that I had to take because I couldn't get
a car. If I had my way I'd have a lot of those vagabonds hung. They're
waiting to get the city into a snarl, and then rob the houses--pack of
dirty, worthless whelps. They ought to call out the militia, and fire
into 'em. Clubbing is too good for them." Conrad was still silent, and
his father sneered, "But I reckon you don't think so."

"I think the strike is useless," said Conrad.

"Oh, you do, do you? Comin' to your senses a little. Gettin' tired
walkin' so much. I should like to know what your gentlemen over there on
the East Side think about the strike, anyway."

The young fellow dropped his eyes. "I am not authorized to speak for
them."

"Oh, indeed! And perhaps you're not authorized to speak for yourself?"

"Father, you know we don't agree about these things. I'd rather not
talk--"

"But I'm goin' to make you talk this time!" cried Dryfoos, striking the
arm of the chair he sat in with the side of his fist. A maddening thought
of Christine came over him. "As long as you eat my bread, you have got to
do as I say. I won't have my children telling me what I shall do and
sha'n't do, or take on airs of being holier than me. Now, you just speak
up! Do you think those loafers are right, or don't you? Come!"

Conrad apparently judged it best to speak. "I think they were very
foolish to strike--at this time, when the Elevated roads can do the
work."

"Oh, at this time, heigh! And I suppose they think over there on the East
Side that it 'd been wise to strike before we got the Elevated." Conrad
again refused to answer, and his father roared, "What do you think?"

"I think a strike is always bad business. It's war; but sometimes there
don't seem any other way for the workingmen to get justice. They say that
sometimes strikes do raise the wages, after a while."

"Those lazy devils were paid enough already," shrieked the old man.

"They got two dollars a day. How much do you think they ought to 'a' got?
Twenty?"

Conrad hesitated, with a beseeching look at his father. But he decided to
answer. "The men say that with partial work, and fines, and other things,
they get sometimes a dollar, and sometimes ninety cents a day."

"They lie, and you know they lie," said his father, rising and coming
toward him. "And what do you think the upshot of it all will be, after
they've ruined business for another week, and made people hire hacks, and
stolen the money of honest men? How is it going to end?"

"They will have to give in."

"Oh, give in, heigh! And what will you say then, I should like to know?
How will you feel about it then? Speak!"

"I shall feel as I do now. I know you don't think that way, and I don't
blame you--or anybody. But if I have got to say how I shall feel, why, I
shall feel sorry they didn't succeed, for I believe they have a righteous
cause, though they go the wrong way to help themselves."

His father came close to him, his eyes blazing, his teeth set. "Do you
dare so say that to me?"

"Yes. I can't help it. I pity them; my whole heart is with those poor
men."

"You impudent puppy!" shouted the old man. He lifted his hand and struck
his son in the face. Conrad caught his hand with his own left, and, while
the blood began to trickle from a wound that Christine's intaglio ring
had made in his temple, he looked at him with a kind of grieving wonder,
and said, "Father!"

The old man wrenched his fist away and ran out of the house. He
remembered his address now, and he gave it as he plunged into the coupe.
He trembled with his evil passion, and glared out of the windows at the
passers as he drove home; he only saw Conrad's mild, grieving, wondering
eyes, and the blood slowly trickling from the wound in his temple.

Conrad went to the neat-set bowl in Fulkerson's comfortable room and
washed the blood away, and kept bathing the wound with the cold water
till it stopped bleeding. The cut was not deep, and he thought he would
not put anything on it. After a while he locked up the office and started
out, he hardly knew where. But he walked on, in the direction he had
taken, till he found himself in Union Square, on the pavement in front of
Brentano's. It seemed to him that he heard some one calling gently to
him, "Mr. Dryfoos!"



V.

Conrad looked confusedly around, and the same voice said again, "Mr.
Dryfoos!" and he saw that it was a lady speaking to him from a coupe
beside the curbing, and then he saw that it was Miss Vance.

She smiled when, he gave signs of having discovered her, and came up to
the door of her carriage. "I am so glad to meet you. I have been longing
to talk to somebody; nobody seems to feel about it as I do. Oh, isn't it
horrible? Must they fail? I saw cars running on all the lines as I came
across; it made me sick at heart. Must those brave fellows give in? And
everybody seems to hate them so--I can't bear it." Her face was estranged
with excitement, and there were traces of tears on it. "You must think me
almost crazy to stop you in the street this way; but when I caught sight
of you I had to speak. I knew you would sympathize--I knew you would feel
as I do. Oh, how can anybody help honoring those poor men for standing by
one another as they do? They are risking all they have in the world for
the sake of justice! Oh, they are true heroes! They are staking the bread
of their wives and children on the dreadful chance they've taken! But no
one seems to understand it. No one seems to see that they are willing to
suffer more now that other poor men may suffer less hereafter. And those
wretched creatures that are coming in to take their places--those
traitors--"

"We can't blame them for wanting to earn a living, Miss Vance," said
Conrad.

"No, no! I don't blame them. Who am I, to do such a thing? It's
we--people like me, of my class--who make the poor betray one another.
But this dreadful fighting--this hideous paper is full of it!" She held
up an extra, crumpled with her nervous reading. "Can't something be done
to stop it? Don't you think that if some one went among them, and tried
to make them see how perfectly hopeless it was to resist the companies
and drive off the new men, he might do some good? I have wanted to go and
try; but I am a woman, and I mustn't! I shouldn't be afraid of the
strikers, but I'm afraid of what people would say!" Conrad kept pressing
his handkerchief to the cut in his temple, which he thought might be
bleeding, and now she noticed this. "Are you hurt, Mr. Dryfoos? You look
so pale."

"No, it's nothing--a little scratch I've got."

"Indeed, you look pale. Have you a carriage? How will you get home? Will
you get in here with me and let me drive you?"

"No, no," said Conrad, smiling at her excitement. "I'm perfectly well--"

"And you don't think I'm foolish and wicked for stopping you here and
talking in this way? But I know you feel as I do!"

"Yes, I feel as you do. You are right--right in every way--I mustn't keep
you--Good-bye." He stepped back to bow, but she put her beautiful hand
out of the window, and when he took it she wrung his hand hard.

"Thank you, thank you! You are good and you are just! But no one can do
anything. It's useless!"

The type of irreproachable coachman on the box whose respectability had
suffered through the strange behavior of his mistress in this interview
drove quickly off at her signal, and Conrad stood a moment looking after
the carriage. His heart was full of joy; it leaped; he thought it would
burst. As he turned to walk away it seemed to him as if he mounted upon
the air. The trust she had shown him, the praise she had given him, that
crush of the hand: he hoped nothing, he formed no idea from it, but it
all filled him with love that cast out the pain and shame he had been
suffering. He believed that he could never be unhappy any more; the
hardness that was in his mind toward his father went out of it; he saw
how sorely he had tried him; he grieved that he had done it, but the
means, the difference of his feeling about the cause of their quarrel, he
was solemnly glad of that since she shared it. He was only sorry for his
father. "Poor father!" he said under his breath as he went along. He
explained to her about his father in his reverie, and she pitied his
father, too.

He was walking over toward the West Side, aimlessly at first, and then at
times with the longing to do something to save those mistaken men from
themselves forming itself into a purpose. Was not that what she meant
when she bewailed her woman's helplessness? She must have wished him to
try if he, being a man, could not do something; or if she did not, still
he would try, and if she heard of it she would recall what she had said
and would be glad he had understood her so. Thinking of her pleasure in
what he was going to do, he forgot almost what it was; but when he came
to a street-car track he remembered it, and looked up and down to see if
there were any turbulent gathering of men whom he might mingle with and
help to keep from violence. He saw none anywhere; and then suddenly, as
if at the same moment, for in his exalted mood all events had a
dream-like simultaneity, he stood at the corner of an avenue, and in the
middle of it, a little way off, was a street-car, and around the car a
tumult of shouting, cursing, struggling men. The driver was lashing his
horses forward, and a policeman was at their heads, with the conductor,
pulling them; stones, clubs, brickbats hailed upon the car, the horses,
the men trying to move them. The mob closed upon them in a body, and then
a patrol-wagon whirled up from the other side, and a squad of policemen
leaped out and began to club the rioters. Conrad could see how they
struck them under the rims of their hats; the blows on their skulls
sounded as if they had fallen on stone; the rioters ran in all
directions.

One of the officers rushed up toward the corner where Conrad stood, and
then he saw at his side a tall, old man, with a long, white beard, who
was calling out at the policemen: "Ah, yes! Glup the strikerss--gif it to
them! Why don't you co and glup the bresidents that insoalt your lawss,
and gick your Boart of Arpidration out-of-toors? Glup the strikerss--they
cot no friendts! They cot no money to pribe you, to dreat you!"

The officer lifted his club, and the old man threw his left arm up to
shield his head. Conrad recognized Zindau, and now he saw the empty
sleeve dangle in the air over the stump of his wrist. He heard a shot in
that turmoil beside the car, and something seemed to strike him in the
breast. He was going to say to the policeman: "Don't strike him! He's an
old soldier! You see he has no hand!" but he could not speak, he could
not move his tongue. The policeman stood there; he saw his face: it was
not bad, not cruel; it was like the face of a statue, fixed,
perdurable--a mere image of irresponsible and involuntary authority. Then
Conrad fell forward, pierced through the heart by that shot fired from
the car.

March heard the shot as he scrambled out of his car, and at the same
moment he saw Lindau drop under the club of the policeman, who left him
where he fell and joined the rest of the squad in pursuing the rioters.
The fighting round the car in the avenue ceased; the driver whipped his
horses into a gallop, and the place was left empty.

March would have liked to run; he thought how his wife had implored him
to keep away from the rioting; but he could not have left Lindau lying
there if he would. Something stronger than his will drew him to the spot,
and there he saw Conrad, dead beside the old man.



VI.

In the cares which Mrs. March shared with her husband that night she was
supported partly by principle, but mainly by the potent excitement which
bewildered Conrad's family and took all reality from what had happened.
It was nearly midnight when the Marches left them and walked away toward
the Elevated station with Fulkerson. Everything had been done, by that
time, that could be done; and Fulkerson was not without that satisfaction
in the business-like despatch of all the details which attends each step
in such an affair and helps to make death tolerable even to the most
sorely stricken. We are creatures of the moment; we live from one little
space to another; and only one interest at a time fills these. Fulkerson
was cheerful when they got into the street, almost gay; and Mrs. March
experienced a rebound from her depression which she felt that she ought
not to have experienced. But she condoned the offence a little in
herself, because her husband remained so constant in his gravity; and,
pending the final accounting he must make her for having been where he
could be of so much use from the first instant of the calamity, she was
tenderly, gratefully proud of all the use he had been to Conrad's family,
and especially his miserable old father. To her mind, March was the
principal actor in the whole affair, and much more important in having
seen it than those who had suffered in it. In fact, he had suffered
incomparably.

"Well, well," said Fulkerson. "They'll get along now. We've done all we
could, and there's nothing left but for them to bear it. Of course it's
awful, but I guess it 'll come out all right. I mean," he added, "they'll
pull through now."

"I suppose," said March, "that nothing is put on us that we can't bear.
But I should think," he went on, musingly, "that when God sees what we
poor finite creatures can bear, hemmed round with this eternal darkness
of death, He must respect us."

"Basil!" said his wife. But in her heart she drew nearer to him for the
words she thought she ought to rebuke him for.

"Oh, I know," he said, "we school ourselves to despise human nature. But
God did not make us despicable, and I say, whatever end He meant us for,
He must have some such thrill of joy in our adequacy to fate as a father
feels when his son shows himself a man. When I think what we can be if we
must, I can't believe the least of us shall finally perish."

"Oh, I reckon the Almighty won't scoop any of us," said Fulkerson, with a
piety of his own.

"That poor boy's father!" sighed Mrs. March. "I can't get his face out of
my sight. He looked so much worse than death."

"Oh, death doesn't look bad," said March. "It's life that looks so in its
presence. Death is peace and pardon. I only wish poor old Lindau was as
well out of it as Conrad there."

"Ah, Lindau! He has done harm enough," said Mrs. March. "I hope he will
be careful after this."

March did not try to defend Lindau against her theory of the case, which
inexorably held him responsible for Conrad's death.

"Lindau's going to come out all right, I guess," said Fulkerson. "He was
first-rate when I saw him at the hospital to-night." He whispered in
March's ear, at a chance he got in mounting the station stairs: "I didn't
like to tell you there at the house, but I guess you'd better know. They
had to take Lindau's arm off near the shoulder. Smashed all to pieces by
the clubbing."

In the house, vainly rich and foolishly unfit for them, the bereaved
family whom the Marches had just left lingered together, and tried to get
strength to part for the night. They were all spent with the fatigue that
comes from heaven to such misery as theirs, and they sat in a torpor in
which each waited for the other to move, to speak.

Christine moved, and Mela spoke. Christine rose and went out of the room
without saying a word, and they heard her going up-stairs. Then Mela
said:

"I reckon the rest of us better be goun' too, father. Here, let's git
mother started."

She put her arm round her mother, to lift her from her chair, but the old
man did not stir, and Mela called Mrs. Mandel from the next room. Between
them they raised her to her feet.

"Ain't there anybody agoin' to set up with it?" she asked, in her hoarse
pipe. "It appears like folks hain't got any feelin's in New York. Woon't
some o' the neighbors come and offer to set up, without waitin' to be
asked?"

"Oh, that's all right, mother. The men 'll attend to that. Don't you
bother any," Mela coaxed, and she kept her arm round her mother, with
tender patience.

"Why, Mely, child! I can't feel right to have it left to hirelin's so.
But there ain't anybody any more to see things done as they ought. If
Coonrod was on'y here--"

"Well, mother, you are pretty mixed!" said Mela, with a strong tendency
to break into her large guffaw. But she checked herself and said: "I know
just how you feel, though. It keeps acomun' and agoun'; and it's so and
it ain't so, all at once; that's the plague of it. Well, father! Ain't
you goun' to come?"

"I'm goin' to stay, Mela," said the old man, gently, without moving. "Get
your mother to bed, that's a good girl."

"You goin' to set up with him, Jacob?" asked the old woman.

"Yes, 'Liz'beth, I'll set up. You go to bed."

"Well, I will, Jacob. And I believe it 'll do you good to set up. I
wished I could set up with you; but I don't seem to have the stren'th I
did when the twins died. I must git my sleep, so's to--I don't like very
well to have you broke of your rest, Jacob, but there don't appear to be
anybody else. You wouldn't have to do it if Coonrod was here. There I go
ag'in! Mercy! mercy!"

"Well, do come along, then, mother," said Mela; and she got her out of
the room, with Mrs. Mandel's help, and up the stairs.

From the top the old woman called down, "You tell Coonrod--" She stopped,
and he heard her groan out, "My Lord! my Lord!"

He sat, one silence in the dining-room, where they had all lingered
together, and in the library beyond the hireling watcher sat, another
silence. The time passed, but neither moved, and the last noise in the
house ceased, so that they heard each other breathe, and the vague,
remote rumor of the city invaded the inner stillness. It grew louder
toward morning, and then Dryfoos knew from the watcher's deeper breathing
that he had fallen into a doze.

He crept by him to the drawing-room, where his son was; the place was
full of the awful sweetness of the flowers that Fulkerson had brought,
and that lay above the pulseless breast. The old man turned up a burner
in the chandelier, and stood looking on the majestic serenity of the dead
face.

He could not move when he saw his wife coming down the stairway in the
hall. She was in her long, white flannel bed gown, and the candle she
carried shook with her nervous tremor. He thought she might be walking in
her sleep, but she said, quite simply, "I woke up, and I couldn't git to
sleep ag'in without comin' to have a look." She stood beside their dead
son with him, "well, he's beautiful, Jacob. He was the prettiest baby!
And he was always good, Coonrod was; I'll say that for him. I don't
believe he ever give me a minute's care in his whole life. I reckon I
liked him about the best of all the children; but I don't know as I ever
done much to show it. But you was always good to him, Jacob; you always
done the best for him, ever since he was a little feller. I used to be
afraid you'd spoil him sometimes in them days; but I guess you're glad
now for every time you didn't cross him. I don't suppose since the twins
died you ever hit him a lick." She stooped and peered closer at the face.
"Why, Jacob, what's that there by his pore eye?" Dryfoos saw it, too, the
wound that he had feared to look for, and that now seemed to redden on
his sight. He broke into a low, wavering cry, like a child's in despair,
like an animal's in terror, like a soul's in the anguish of remorse.



VII.

The evening after the funeral, while the Marches sat together talking it
over, and making approaches, through its shadow, to the question of their
own future, which it involved, they were startled by the twitter of the
electric bell at their apartment door. It was really not so late as the
children's having gone to bed made it seem; but at nine o'clock it was
too late for any probable visitor except Fulkerson. It might be he, and
March was glad to postpone the impending question to his curiosity
concerning the immediate business Fulkerson might have with him. He went
himself to the door, and confronted there a lady deeply veiled in black
and attended by a very decorous serving-woman.

"Are you alone, Mr. March--you and Mrs. March?" asked the lady, behind
her veil; and, as he hesitated, she said: "You don't know me! Miss
Vance"; and she threw back her veil, showing her face wan and agitated in
the dark folds. "I am very anxious to see you--to speak with you both.
May I come in?"

"Why, certainly, Miss Vance," he answered, still too much stupefied by
her presence to realize it.

She promptly entered, and saying, with a glance at the hall chair by the
door, "My maid can sit here?" followed him to the room where he had left
his wife.

Mrs. March showed herself more capable of coping with the fact. She
welcomed Miss Vance with the liking they both felt for the girl, and with
the sympathy which her troubled face inspired.

"I won't tire you with excuses for coming, Mrs. March," she said, "for it
was the only thing left for me to do; and I come at my aunt's
suggestion." She added this as if it would help to account for her more
on the conventional plane, and she had the instinctive good taste to
address herself throughout to Mrs. March as much as possible, though what
she had to say was mainly for March. "I don't know how to begin--I don't
know how to speak of this terrible affair. But you know what I mean. I
feel as if I had lived a whole lifetime since it happened. I don't want
you to pity me for it," she said, forestalling a politeness from Mrs.
March. "I'm the last one to be thought of, and you mustn't mind me if I
try to make you. I came to find out all of the truth that I can, and when
I know just what that is I shall know what to do. I have read the
inquest; it's all burned into my brain. But I don't care for that--for
myself: you must let me say such things without minding me. I know that
your husband--that Mr. March was there; I read his testimony; and I
wished to ask him--to ask him--" She stopped and looked distractedly
about. "But what folly! He must have said everything he knew--he had to."
Her eyes wandered to him from his wife, on whom she had kept them with
instinctive tact.

"I said everything--yes," he replied. "But if you would like to know--"

"Perhaps I had better tell you something first. I had just parted with
him--it couldn't have been more than half an hour--in front of
Brentano's; he must have gone straight to his death. We were talking, and
I--I said, Why didn't some one go among the strikers and plead with them
to be peaceable, and keep them from attacking the new men. I knew that he
felt as I did about the strikers: that he was their friend. Did you
see--do you know anything that makes you think he had been trying to do
that?"

"I am sorry," March began, "I didn't see him at all till--till I saw him
lying dead."

"My husband was there purely by accident," Mrs. March put in. "I had
begged and entreated him not to go near the striking anywhere. And he had
just got out of the car, and saw the policeman strike that wretched
Lindau--he's been such an anxiety to me ever since we have had anything
to do with him here; my husband knew him when he was a boy in the West.
Mr. March came home from it all perfectly prostrated; it made us all
sick! Nothing so horrible ever came into our lives before. I assure you
it was the most shocking experience."

Miss Vance listened to her with that look of patience which those who
have seen much of the real suffering of the world--the daily portion of
the poor--have for the nervous woes of comfortable people. March hung his
head; he knew it would be useless to protest that his share of the
calamity was, by comparison, infinitesimally small.

After she had heard Mrs. March to the end even of her repetitions, Miss
Vance said, as if it were a mere matter of course that she should have
looked the affair up, "Yes, I have seen Mr. Lindau at the hospital--"

"My husband goes every day to see him," Mrs. March interrupted, to give.
a final touch to the conception of March's magnanimity throughout.

"The poor man seems to have been in the wrong at the time," said Miss
Vance.

"I could almost say he had earned the right to be wrong. He's a man of
the most generous instincts, and a high ideal of justice, of equity--too
high to be considered by a policeman with a club in his hand," said
March, with a bold defiance of his wife's different opinion of Lindau.
"It's the policeman's business, I suppose, to club the ideal when he
finds it inciting a riot."

"Oh, I don't blame Mr. Lindau; I don't blame the policeman; he was as
much a mere instrument as his club was. I am only trying to find out how
much I am to blame myself. I had no thought of Mr. Dryfoos's going
there--of his attempting to talk with the strikers and keep them quiet; I
was only thinking, as women do, of what I should try to do if I were a
man.

"But perhaps he understood me to ask him to go--perhaps my words sent him
to his death."

She had a sort of calm in her courage to know the worst truth as to her
responsibility that forbade any wish to flatter her out of it. "I'm
afraid," said March, "that is what can never be known now." After a
moment he added: "But why should you wish to know? If he went there as a
peacemaker, he died in a good cause, in such a way as he would wish to
die, I believe."

"Yes," said the girl; "I have thought of that. But death is awful; we
must not think patiently, forgivingly of sending any one to their death
in the best cause."--"I fancy life was an awful thing to Conrad Dryfoos,"
March replied. "He was thwarted and disappointed, without even pleasing
the ambition that thwarted and disappointed him. That poor old man, his
father, warped him from his simple, lifelong wish to be a minister, and
was trying to make a business man of him. If it will be any consolation
to you to know it, Miss Vance, I can assure you that he was very unhappy,
and I don't see how he could ever have been happy here."

"It won't," said the girl, steadily. "If people are born into this world,
it's because they were meant to live in it. It isn't a question of being
happy here; no one is happy, in that old, selfish way, or can be; but he
could have been of great use."

"Perhaps he was of use in dying. Who knows? He may have been trying to
silence Lindau."

"Oh, Lindau wasn't worth it!" cried Mrs. March.

Miss Vance looked at her as if she did not quite understand. Then she
turned to March. "He might have been unhappy, as we all are; but I know
that his life here would have had a higher happiness than we wish for or
aim for." The tears began to run silently down her cheeks.

"He looked strangely happy that day when he left me. He had hurt himself
somehow, and his face was bleeding from a scratch; he kept his
handkerchief up; he was pale, but such a light came into his face when he
shook hands--ah, I know he went to try and do what I said!" They were all
silent, while she dried her eyes and then put her handkerchief back into
the pocket from which she had suddenly pulled it, with a series of vivid,
young-ladyish gestures, which struck March by their incongruity with the
occasion of their talk, and yet by their harmony with the rest of her
elegance. "I am sorry, Miss Vance," he began, "that I can't really tell
you anything more--"

"You are very kind," she said, controlling herself and rising quickly. "I
thank you--thank you both very much." She turned to Mrs. March and shook
hands with her and then with him. "I might have known--I did know that
there wasn't anything more for you to tell. But at least I've found out
from you that there was nothing, and now I can begin to bear what I must.
How are those poor creatures--his mother and father, his sisters? Some
day, I hope, I shall be ashamed to have postponed them to the thought of
myself; but I can't pretend to be yet. I could not come to the funeral; I
wanted to."

She addressed her question to Mrs. March, who answered: "I can
understand. But they were pleased with the flowers you sent; people are,
at such times, and they haven't many friends."

"Would you go to see them?" asked the girl. "Would you tell them what
I've told you?"

Mrs. March looked at her husband.

"I don't see what good it would do. They wouldn't understand. But if it
would relieve you--"

"I'll wait till it isn't a question of self-relief," said the girl.
"Good-bye!"

She left them to long debate of the event. At the end Mrs. March said,
"She is a strange being; such a mixture of the society girl and the
saint."

Her husband answered: "She's the potentiality of several kinds of
fanatic. She's very unhappy, and I don't see how she's to be happier
about that poor fellow. I shouldn't be surprised if she did inspire him
to attempt something of that kind."

"Well, you got out of it very well, Basil. I admired the way you managed.
I was afraid you'd say something awkward."

"Oh, with a plain line of truth before me, as the only possible thing, I
can get on pretty well. When it comes to anything decorative, I'd rather
leave it to you, Isabel."

She seemed insensible of his jest. "Of course, he was in love with her.
That was the light that came into his face when he was going to do what
he thought she wanted him to do."

"And she--do you think that she was--"

"What an idea! It would have been perfectly grotesque!"



VIII.

Their affliction brought the Dryfooses into humaner relations with the
Marches, who had hitherto regarded them as a necessary evil, as the
odious means of their own prosperity. Mrs. March found that the women of
the family seemed glad of her coming, and in the sense of her usefulness
to them all she began to feel a kindness even for Christine. But she
could not help seeing that between the girl and her father there was an
unsettled account, somehow, and that it was Christine and not the old man
who was holding out. She thought that their sorrow had tended to refine
the others. Mela was much more subdued, and, except when she abandoned
herself to a childish interest in her mourning, she did nothing to shock
Mrs. March's taste or to seem unworthy of her grief. She was very good to
her mother, whom the blow had left unchanged, and to her father, whom it
had apparently fallen upon with crushing weight. Once, after visiting
their house, Mrs. March described to March a little scene between Dryfoos
and Mela, when he came home from Wall Street, and the girl met him at the
door with a kind of country simpleness, and took his hat and stick, and
brought him into the room where Mrs. March sat, looking tired and broken.
She found this look of Dryfoos's pathetic, and dwelt on the sort of
stupefaction there was in it; he must have loved his son more than they
ever realized. "Yes," said March, "I suspect he did. He's never been
about the place since that day; he was always dropping in before, on his
way up-town. He seems to go down to Wall Street every day, just as
before, but I suppose that's mechanical; he wouldn't know what else to
do; I dare say it's best for him. The sanguine Fulkerson is getting a
little anxious about the future of 'Every Other Week.' Now Conrad's gone,
he isn't sure the old man will want to keep on with it, or whether he'll
have to look up another Angel. He wants to get married, I imagine, and he
can't venture till this point is settled."

"It's a very material point to us too, Basil," said Mrs. March.

"Well, of course. I hadn't overlooked that, you may be sure. One of the
things that Fulkerson and I have discussed is a scheme for buying the
magazine. Its success is pretty well assured now, and I shouldn't be
afraid to put money into it--if I had the money."

"I couldn't let you sell the house in Boston, Basil!"

"And I don't want to. I wish we could go back and live in it and get the
rent, too! It would be quite a support. But I suppose if Dryfoos won't
keep on, it must come to another Angel. I hope it won't be a literary
one, with a fancy for running my department."

"Oh, I guess whoever takes the magazine will be glad enough to keep you!"

"Do you think so? Well, perhaps. But I don't believe Fulkerson would let
me stand long between him and an Angel of the right description."

"Well, then, I believe he would. And you've never seen anything, Basil,
to make you really think that Mr. Fulkerson didn't appreciate you to the
utmost."

"I think I came pretty near an undervaluation in that Lindau trouble. I
shall always wonder what put a backbone into Fulkerson just at that
crisis. Fulkerson doesn't strike me as the stuff of a moral hero."

"At any rate, he was one," said Mrs. March, "and that's quite enough for
me."

March did not answer. "What a noble thing life is, anyway! Here I am,
well on the way to fifty, after twenty-five years of hard work, looking
forward to the potential poor-house as confidently as I did in youth. We
might have saved a little more than we have saved; but the little more
wouldn't avail if I were turned out of my place now; and we should have
lived sordidly to no purpose. Some one always has you by the throat,
unless you have some one else in your grip. I wonder if that's the
attitude the Almighty intended His respectable creatures to take toward
one another! I wonder if He meant our civilization, the battle we fight
in, the game we trick in! I wonder if He considers it final, and if the
kingdom of heaven on earth, which we pray for--"

"Have you seen Lindau to-day?" Mrs. March asked.

"You inferred it from the quality of my piety?" March laughed, and then
suddenly sobered. "Yes, I saw him. It's going rather hard with him, I'm
afraid. The amputation doesn't heal very well; the shock was very great,
and he's old. It 'll take time. There's so much pain that they have to
keep him under opiates, and I don't think he fully knew me. At any rate,
I didn't get my piety from him to-day."

"It's horrible! Horrible!" said Mrs. March. "I can't get over it! After
losing his hand in the war, to lose his whole arm now in this way! It
does seem too cruel! Of course he oughtn't to have been there; we can say
that. But you oughtn't to have been there, either, Basil."

"Well, I wasn't exactly advising the police to go and club the railroad
presidents."

"Neither was poor Conrad Dryfoos."

"I don't deny it. All that was distinctly the chance of life and death.
That belonged to God; and no doubt it was law, though it seems chance.
But what I object to is this economic chance-world in which we live, and
which we men seem to have created. It ought to be law as inflexible in
human affairs as the order of day and night in the physical world that if
a man will work he shall both rest and eat, and shall not be harassed
with any question as to how his repose and his provision shall come.
Nothing less ideal than this satisfies the reason. But in our state of
things no one is secure of this. No one is sure of finding work; no one
is sure of not losing it. I may have my work taken away from me at any
moment by the caprice, the mood, the indigestion of a man who has not the
qualification for knowing whether I do it well, or ill. At my time of
life--at every time of life--a man ought to feel that if he will keep on
doing his duty he shall not suffer in himself or in those who are dear to
him, except through natural causes. But no man can feel this as things
are now; and so we go on, pushing and pulling, climbing and crawling,
thrusting aside and trampling underfoot; lying, cheating, stealing; and
then we get to the end, covered with blood and dirt and sin and shame,
and look back over the way we've come to a palace of our own, or the
poor-house, which is about the only possession we can claim in common
with our brother-men, I don't think the retrospect can be pleasing."

"I know, I know!" said his wife. "I think of those things, too, Basil.
Life isn't what it seems when you look forward to it. But I think people
would suffer less, and wouldn't have to work so hard, and could make all
reasonable provision for the future, if they were not so greedy and so
foolish."

"Oh, without doubt! We can't put it all on the conditions; we must put
some of the blame on character. But conditions make character; and people
are greedy and foolish, and wish to have and to shine, because having and
shining are held up to them by civilization as the chief good of life. We
all know they are not the chief good, perhaps not good at all; but if
some one ventures to say so, all the rest of us call him a fraud and a
crank, and go moiling and toiling on to the palace or the poor-house. We
can't help it. If one were less greedy or less foolish, some one else
would have and would shine at his expense. We don't moil and toil to
ourselves alone; the palace or the poor-house is not merely for
ourselves, but for our children, whom we've brought up in the
superstition that having and shining is the chief good. We dare not teach
them otherwise, for fear they may falter in the fight when it comes their
turn, and the children of others will crowd them out of the palace into
the poor-house. If we felt sure that honest work shared by all would
bring them honest food shared by all, some heroic few of us, who did not
wish our children to rise above their fellows--though we could not bear
to have them fall below--might trust them with the truth. But we have no
such assurance, and so we go on trembling before Dryfooses and living in
gimcrackeries."

"Basil, Basil! I was always willing to live more simply than you. You
know I was!"

"I know you always said so, my dear. But how many bell-ratchets and
speaking-tubes would you be willing to have at the street door below? I
remember that when we were looking for a flat you rejected every building
that had a bell-ratchet or a speaking-tube, and would have nothing to do
with any that had more than an electric button; you wanted a hall-boy,
with electric buttons all over him. I don't blame you. I find such things
quite as necessary as you do."

"And do you mean to say, Basil," she asked, abandoning this unprofitable
branch of the inquiry, "that you are really uneasy about your place? that
you are afraid Mr. Dryfoos may give up being an Angel, and Mr. Fulkerson
may play you false?"

"Play me false? Oh, it wouldn't be playing me false. It would be merely
looking out for himself, if the new Angel had editorial tastes and wanted
my place. It's what any one would do."

"You wouldn't do it, Basil!"

"Wouldn't I? Well, if any one offered me more salary than 'Every Other
Week' pays--say, twice as much--what do you think my duty to my suffering
family would be? It's give and take in the business world, Isabel;
especially take. But as to being uneasy, I'm not, in the least. I've the
spirit of a lion, when it comes to such a chance as that. When I see how
readily the sensibilities of the passing stranger can be worked in New
York, I think of taking up the role of that desperate man on Third Avenue
who went along looking for garbage in the gutter to eat. I think I could
pick up at least twenty or thirty cents a day by that little game, and
maintain my family in the affluence it's been accustomed to."

"Basil!" cried his wife. "You don't mean to say that man was an impostor!
And I've gone about, ever since, feeling that one such case in a million,
the bare possibility of it, was enough to justify all that Lindau said
about the rich and the poor!"

March laughed teasingly. "Oh, I don't say he was an impostor. Perhaps he
really was hungry; but, if he wasn't, what do you think of a civilization
that makes the opportunity of such a fraud? that gives us all such a bad
conscience for the need which is that we weaken to the need that isn't?
Suppose that poor fellow wasn't personally founded on fact: nevertheless,
he represented the truth; he was the ideal of the suffering which would
be less effective if realistically treated. That man is a great comfort
to me. He probably rioted for days on that quarter I gave him; made a
dinner very likely, or a champagne supper; and if 'Every Other Week'
wants to get rid of me, I intend to work that racket. You can hang round
the corner with Bella, and Tom can come up to me in tears, at stated
intervals, and ask me if I've found anything yet. To be sure, we might be
arrested and sent up somewhere. But even in that extreme case we should
be provided for. Oh no, I'm not afraid of losing my place! I've merely a
sort of psychological curiosity to know how men like Dryfoos and
Fulkerson will work out the problem before them."



IX.

It was a curiosity which Fulkerson himself shared, at least concerning
Dryfoos. "I don't know what the old man's going to do," he said to March
the day after the Marches had talked their future over. "Said anything to
you yet?"

"No, not a word."

"You're anxious, I suppose, same as I am. Fact is," said Fulkerson,
blushing a little, "I can't ask to have a day named till I know where I
am in connection with the old man. I can't tell whether I've got to look
out for something else or somebody else. Of course, it's full soon yet."

"Yes," March said, "much sooner than it seems to us. We're so anxious
about the future that we don't remember how very recent the past is."

"That's something so. The old man's hardly had time yet to pull himself
together. Well, I'm glad you feel that way about it, March. I guess it's
more of a blow to him than we realize. He was a good deal bound up in
Coonrod, though he didn't always use him very well. Well, I reckon it's
apt to happen so oftentimes; curious how cruel love can be. Heigh? We're
an awful mixture, March!"

"Yes, that's the marvel and the curse, as Browning says."

"Why, that poor boy himself," pursued Fulkerson, "had streaks of the mule
in him that could give odds to Beaton, and he must have tried the old man
by the way he would give in to his will and hold out against his
judgment. I don't believe he ever budged a hairs-breadth from his
original position about wanting to be a preacher and not wanting to be a
business man. Well, of course! I don't think business is all in all; but
it must have made the old man mad to find that without saying anything,
or doing anything to show it, and after seeming to come over to his
ground, and really coming, practically, Coonrod was just exactly where he
first planted himself, every time."

"Yes, people that have convictions are difficult. Fortunately, they're
rare."

"Do you think so? It seems to me that everybody's got convictions. Beaton
himself, who hasn't a principle to throw at a dog, has got convictions
the size of a barn. They ain't always the same ones, I know, but they're
always to the same effect, as far as Beaton's being Number One is
concerned. The old man's got convictions or did have, unless this thing
lately has shaken him all up--and he believes that money will do
everything. Colonel Woodburn's got convictions that he wouldn't part with
for untold millions. Why, March, you got convictions yourself!"

"Have I?" said March. "I don't know what they are."

"Well, neither do I; but I know you were ready to kick the trough over
for them when the old man wanted us to bounce Lindau that time."

"Oh yes," said March; he remembered the fact; but he was still uncertain
just what the convictions were that he had been so stanch for.

"I suppose we could have got along without you," Fulkerson mused aloud.
"It's astonishing how you always can get along in this world without the
man that is simply indispensable. Makes a fellow realize that he could
take a day off now and then without deranging the solar system a great
deal. Now here's Coonrod--or, rather, he isn't. But that boy managed his
part of the schooner so well that I used to tremble when I thought of his
getting the better of the old man and going into a convent or something
of that kind; and now here he is, snuffed out in half a second, and I
don't believe but what we shall be sailing along just as chipper as usual
inside of thirty days. I reckon it will bring the old man to the point
when I come to talk with him about who's to be put in Coonrod's place. I
don't like very well to start the subject with him; but it's got to be
done some time."

"Yes," March admitted. "It's terrible to think how unnecessary even the
best and wisest of us is to the purposes of Providence. When I looked at
that poor young fellow's face sometimes--so gentle and true and pure--I
used to think the world was appreciably richer for his being in it. But
are we appreciably poorer for his being out of it now?"

"No, I don't reckon we are," said Fulkerson. "And what a lot of the raw
material of all kinds the Almighty must have, to waste us the way He
seems to do. Think of throwing away a precious creature like Coonrod
Dryfoos on one chance in a thousand of getting that old fool of a Lindau
out of the way of being clubbed! For I suppose that was what Coonrod was
up to. Say! Have you been round to see Lindau to-day?"

Something in the tone or the manner of Fulkerson startled March. "No! I
haven't seen him since yesterday."

"Well, I don't know," said Fulkerson. "I guess I saw him a little while
after you did, and that young doctor there seemed to feel kind of worried
about him.

"Or not worried, exactly; they can't afford to let such things worry
them, I suppose; but--"

"He's worse?" asked March.

"Oh, he didn't say so. But I just wondered if you'd seen him to-day."

"I think I'll go now," said March, with a pang at heart. He had gone
every day to see Lindau, but this day he had thought he would not go, and
that was why his heart smote him. He knew that if he were in Lindau's
place Lindau would never have left his side if he could have helped it.
March tried to believe that the case was the same, as it stood now; it
seemed to him that he was always going to or from the hospital; he said
to himself that it must do Lindau harm to be visited so much. But he knew
that this was not true when he was met at the door of the ward where
Lindau lay by the young doctor, who had come to feel a personal interest
in March's interest in Lindau.

He smiled without gayety, and said, "He's just going."

"What! Discharged?"

"Oh no. He has been failing very fast since you saw him yesterday, and
now--" They had been walking softly and talking softly down the aisle
between the long rows of beds. "Would you care to see him?"

The doctor made a slight gesture toward the white canvas screen which in
such places forms the death-chamber of the poor and friendless. "Come
round this way--he won't know you! I've got rather fond of the poor old
fellow. He wouldn't have a clergyman--sort of agnostic, isn't he? A good
many of these Germans are--but the young lady who's been coming to see
him--"

They both stopped. Lindau's grand, patriarchal head, foreshortened to
their view, lay white upon the pillow, and his broad, white beard flowed
upon the sheet, which heaved with those long last breaths. Beside his bed
Margaret Vance was kneeling; her veil was thrown back, and her face was
lifted; she held clasped between her hands the hand of the dying man; she
moved her lips inaudibly.



X.

In spite of the experience of the whole race from time immemorial, when
death comes to any one we know we helplessly regard it as an incident of
life, which will presently go on as before. Perhaps this is an
instinctive perception of the truth that it does go on somewhere; but we
have a sense of death as absolutely the end even for earth only if it
relates to some one remote or indifferent to us. March tried to project
Lindau to the necessary distance from himself in order to realize the
fact in his case, but he could not, though the man with whom his youth
had been associated in a poetic friendship had not actually reentered the
region of his affection to the same degree, or in any like degree. The
changed conditions forbade that. He had a soreness of heart concerning
him; but he could not make sure whether this soreness was grief for his
death, or remorse for his own uncandor with him about Dryfoos, or a
foreboding of that accounting with his conscience which he knew his wife
would now exact of him down to the last minutest particular of their
joint and several behavior toward Lindau ever since they had met him in
New York.

He felt something knock against his shoulder, and he looked up to have
his hat struck from his head by a horse's nose. He saw the horse put his
foot on the hat, and he reflected, "Now it will always look like an
accordion," and he heard the horse's driver address him some sarcasms
before he could fully awaken to the situation. He was standing bareheaded
in the middle of Fifth Avenue and blocking the tide of carriages flowing
in either direction. Among the faces put out of the carriage windows he
saw that of Dryfoos looking from a coupe. The old man knew him, and said,
"Jump in here, Mr. March"; and March, who had mechanically picked up his
hat, and was thinking, "Now I shall have to tell Isabel about this at
once, and she will never trust me on the street again without her,"
mechanically obeyed. Her confidence in him had been undermined by his
being so near Conrad when he was shot; and it went through his mind that
he would get Dryfoos to drive him to a hatter's, where he could buy a new
hat, and not be obliged to confess his narrow escape to his wife till the
incident was some days old and she could bear it better. It quite drove
Lindau's death out of his mind for the moment; and when Dryfoos said if
he was going home he would drive up to the first cross-street and turn
back with him, March said he would be glad if he would take him to a
hat-store. The old man put his head out again and told the driver to take
them to the Fifth Avenue Hotel. "There's a hat-store around there
somewhere, seems to me," he said; and they talked of March's accident as
well as they could in the rattle and clatter of the street till they
reached the place. March got his hat, passing a joke with the hatter
about the impossibility of pressing his old hat over again, and came out
to thank Dryfoos and take leave of him.

"If you ain't in any great hurry," the old man said, "I wish you'd get in
here a minute. I'd like to have a little talk with you."

"Oh, certainly," said March, and he thought: "It's coming now about what
he intends to do with 'Every Other Week.' Well, I might as well have all
the misery at once and have it over."

Dryfoos called up to his driver, who bent his head down sidewise to
listen: "Go over there on Madison Avenue, onto that asphalt, and keep
drivin' up and down till I stop you. I can't hear myself think on these
pavements," he said to March. But after they got upon the asphalt, and
began smoothly rolling over it, he seemed in no haste to begin. At last
he said, "I wanted to talk with you about that--that Dutchman that was at
my dinner--Lindau," and March's heart gave a jump with wonder whether he
could already have heard of Lindau's death; but in an instant he
perceived that this was impossible. "I been talkin' with Fulkerson about
him, and he says they had to take the balance of his arm off."

March nodded; it seemed to him he could not speak. He could not make out
from the close face of the old man anything of his motive. It was set,
but set as a piece of broken mechanism is when it has lost the power to
relax itself. There was no other history in it of what the man had passed
through in his son's death.

"I don't know," Dryfoos resumed, looking aside at the cloth window-strap,
which he kept fingering, "as you quite understood what made me the
maddest. I didn't tell him I could talk Dutch, because I can't keep it up
with a regular German; but my father was Pennsylvany Dutch, and I could
understand what he was saying to you about me. I know I had no business
to understood it, after I let him think I couldn't but I did, and I
didn't like very well to have a man callin' me a traitor and a tyrant at
my own table. Well, I look at it differently now, and I reckon I had
better have tried to put up with it; and I would, if I could have
known--" He stopped with a quivering lip, and then went on: "Then, again,
I didn't like his talkin' that paternalism of his. I always heard it was
the worst kind of thing for the country; I was brought up to think the
best government was the one that governs the least; and I didn't want to
hear that kind of talk from a man that was livin' on my money. I couldn't
bear it from him. Or I thought I couldn't before--before--" He stopped
again, and gulped. "I reckon now there ain't anything I couldn't bear."
March was moved by the blunt words and the mute stare forward with which
they ended. "Mr. Dryfoos, I didn't know that you understood Lindau's
German, or I shouldn't have allowed him he wouldn't have allowed
himself--to go on. He wouldn't have knowingly abused his position of
guest to censure you, no matter how much he condemned you." "I don't care
for it now," said Dryfoos. "It's all past and gone, as far as I'm
concerned; but I wanted you to see that I wasn't tryin' to punish him for
his opinions, as you said."

"No; I see now," March assented, though he thought, his position still
justified. "I wish--"

"I don't know as I understand much about his opinions, anyway; but I
ain't ready to say I want the men dependent on me to manage my business
for me. I always tried to do the square thing by my hands; and in that
particular case out there I took on all the old hands just as fast as
they left their Union. As for the game I came on them, it was dog eat
dog, anyway."

March could have laughed to think how far this old man was from even
conceiving of Lindau's point'of view, and how he was saying the worst of
himself that Lindau could have said of him. No one could have
characterized the kind of thing he had done more severely than he when he
called it dog eat dog.

"There's a great deal to be said on both sides," March began, hoping to
lead up through this generality to the fact of Lindau's death; but the
old man went on:

"Well, all I wanted him to know is that I wasn't trying to punish him for
what he said about things in general. You naturally got that idea, I
reckon; but I always went in for lettin' people say what they please and
think what they please; it's the only way in a free country."

"I'm afraid, Mr. Dryfoos, that it would make little difference to Lindau
now--"

"I don't suppose he bears malice for it," said Dryfoos, "but what I want
to do is to have him told so. He could understand just why I didn't want
to be called hard names, and yet I didn't object to his thinkin' whatever
he pleased. I'd like him to know--"

"No one can speak to him, no one can tell him," March began again, but
again Dryfoos prevented him from going on.

"I understand it's a delicate thing; and I'm not askin' you to do it.
What I would really like to do--if you think he could be prepared for it,
some way, and could stand it--would be to go to him myself, and tell him
just what the trouble was. I'm in hopes, if I done that, he could see how
I felt about it."

A picture of Dryfoos going to the dead Lindau with his vain regrets
presented itself to March, and he tried once more to make the old man
understand. "Mr. Dryfoos," he said, "Lindau is past all that forever,"
and he felt the ghastly comedy of it when Dryfoos continued, without
heeding him.

"I got a particular reason why I want him to believe it wasn't his ideas
I objected to--them ideas of his about the government carryin' everything
on and givin' work. I don't understand 'em exactly, but I found a
writin'--among--my son's-things" (he seemed to force the words through
his teeth), "and I reckon he--thought--that way. Kind of a diary--where
he--put down--his thoughts. My son and me--we differed about a good-many
things." His chin shook, and from time to time he stopped. "I wasn't very
good to him, I reckon; I crossed him where I guess I got no business to
cross him; but I thought everything of--Coonrod. He was the best boy,
from a baby, that ever was; just so patient and mild, and done whatever
he was told. I ought to 'a' let him been a preacher! Oh, my son! my son!"
The sobs could not be kept back any longer; they shook the old man with a
violence that made March afraid for him; but he controlled himself at
last with a series of hoarse sounds like barks. "Well, it's all past and
gone! But as I understand you from what you saw, when Coonrod
was--killed, he was tryin' to save that old man from trouble?"

"Yes, yes! It seemed so to me."

"That 'll do, then! I want you to have him come back and write for the
book when he gets well. I want you to find out and let me know if there's
anything I can do for him. I'll feel as if I done it--for my--son. I'll
take him into my own house, and do for him there, if you say so, when he
gets so he can be moved. I'll wait on him myself. It's what Coonrod 'd
do, if he was here. I don't feel any hardness to him because it was him
that got Coonrod killed, as you might say, in one sense of the term; but
I've tried to think it out, and I feel like I was all the more beholden
to him because my son died tryin' to save him. Whatever I do, I'll be
doin' it for Coonrod, and that's enough for me." He seemed to have
finished, and he turned to March as if to hear what he had to say.

March hesitated. "I'm afraid, Mr. Dryfoos--Didn't Fulkerson tell you that
Lindau was very sick?"

"Yes, of course. But he's all right, he said."

Now it had to come, though the fact had been latterly playing fast and
loose with March's consciousness. Something almost made him smile; the
willingness he had once felt to give this old man pain; then he consoled
himself by thinking that at least he was not obliged to meet Dryfoos's
wish to make atonement with the fact that Lindau had renounced him, and
would on no terms work for such a man as he, or suffer any kindness from
him. In this light Lindau seemed the harder of the two, and March had the
momentary force to say--

"Mr. Dryfoos--it can't be. Lindau--I have just come from him--is dead."



XI.

"How did he take it? How could he bear it? Oh, Basil! I wonder you could
have the heart to say it to him. It was cruel!"

"Yes, cruel enough, my dear," March owned to his wife, when they talked
the matter over on his return home. He could not wait till the children
were out of the way, and afterward neither he nor his wife was sorry that
he had spoken of it before them. The girl cried plentifully for her old
friend who was dead, and said she hated Mr. Dryfoos, and then was sorry
for him, too; and the boy listened to all, and spoke with a serious sense
that pleased his father. "But as to how he took it," March went on to
answer his wife's question about Dryfoos--"how do any of us take a thing
that hurts? Some of us cry out, and some of us don't. Dryfoos drew a kind
of long, quivering breath, as a child does when it grieves--there's
something curiously simple and primitive about him--and didn't say
anything. After a while he asked me how he could see the people at the
hospital about the remains; I gave him my card to the young doctor there
that had charge of Lindau. I suppose he was still carrying forward his
plan of reparation in his mind--to the dead for the dead. But how
useless! If he could have taken the living Lindau home with him, and
cared for him all his days, what would it have profited the gentle
creature whose life his worldly ambition vexed and thwarted here? He
might as well offer a sacrifice at Conrad's grave. Children," said March,
turning to them, "death is an exile that no remorse and no love can
reach. Remember that, and be good to every one here on earth, for your
longing to retrieve any harshness or unkindness to the dead will be the
very ecstasy of anguish to you. I wonder," he mused, "if one of the
reasons why we're shut up to our ignorance of what is to be hereafter
isn't because if we were sure of another world we might be still more
brutal to one another here, in the hope of making reparation somewhere
else. Perhaps, if we ever come to obey the law of love on earth, the
mystery of death will be taken away."

"Well"--the ancestral Puritanism spoke in Mrs. March--"these two old men
have been terribly punished. They have both been violent and wilful, and
they have both been punished. No one need ever tell me there is not a
moral government of the universe!"

March always disliked to hear her talk in this way, which did both her
head and heart injustice. "And Conrad," he said, "what was he punished
for?"

"He?"--she answered, in an exaltation--"he suffered for the sins of
others."

"Ah, well, if you put it in that way, yes. That goes on continually.
That's another mystery."

He fell to brooding on it, and presently he heard his son saying, "I
suppose, papa, that Mr. Lindau died in a bad cause?"

March was startled. He had always been so sorry for Lindau, and admired
his courage and generosity so much, that he had never fairly considered
this question. "Why, yes," he answered; "he died in the cause of
disorder; he was trying to obstruct the law. No doubt there was a wrong
there, an inconsistency and an injustice that he felt keenly; but it
could not be reached in his way without greater wrong."

"Yes; that's what I thought," said the boy. "And what's the use of our
ever fighting about anything in America? I always thought we could vote
anything we wanted."

"We can, if we're honest, and don't buy and sell one another's votes,"
said his father. "And men like Lindau, who renounce the American means as
hopeless, and let their love of justice hurry them into sympathy with
violence--yes, they are wrong; and poor Lindau did die in a bad cause, as
you say, Tom."

"I think Conrad had no business there, or you, either, Basil," said his
wife.

"Oh, I don't defend myself," said March. "I was there in the cause of
literary curiosity and of conjugal disobedience. But Conrad--yes, he had
some business there: it was his business to suffer there for the sins of
others. Isabel, we can't throw aside that old doctrine of the Atonement
yet. The life of Christ, it wasn't only in healing the sick and going
about to do good; it was suffering for the sins of others. That's as
great a mystery as the mystery of death. Why should there be such a
principle in the world? But it's been felt, and more or less dumbly,
blindly recognized ever since Calvary. If we love mankind, pity them, we
even wish to suffer for them. That's what has created the religious
orders in all times--the brotherhoods and sisterhoods that belong to our
day as much as to the mediaeval past. That's what is driving a girl like
Margaret Vance, who has everything that the world can offer her young
beauty, on to the work of a Sister of Charity among the poor and the
dying."

"Yes, yes!" cried Mrs. March. "How--how did she look there, Basil?" She
had her feminine misgivings; she was not sure but the girl was something
of a poseuse, and enjoyed the picturesqueness, as well as the pain; and
she wished to be convinced that it was not so.

"Well," she said, when March had told again the little there was to tell,
"I suppose it must be a great trial to a woman like Mrs. Horn to have her
niece going that way."

"The way of Christ?" asked March, with a smile.

"Oh, Christ came into the world to teach us how to live rightly in it,
too. If we were all to spend our time in hospitals, it would be rather
dismal for the homes. But perhaps you don't think the homes are worth
minding?" she suggested, with a certain note in her voice that he knew.

He got up and kissed her. "I think the gimcrackeries are." He took the
hat he had set down on the parlor table on coming in, and started to put
it in the hall, and that made her notice it.

"You've been getting a new hat!"

"Yes," he hesitated; "the old one had got--was decidedly shabby."

"Well, that's right. I don't like you to wear them too long. Did you
leave the old one to be pressed?"

"Well, the hatter seemed to think it was hardly worth pressing," said
March. He decided that for the present his wife's nerves had quite all
they could bear.



XII.

It was in a manner grotesque, but to March it was all the more natural
for that reason, that Dryfoos should have Lindau's funeral from his
house. He knew the old man to be darkly groping, through the payment of
these vain honors to the dead, for some atonement to his son, and he
imagined him finding in them such comfort as comes from doing all one
can, even when all is useless.

No one knew what Lindau's religion was, and in default they had had the
Anglican burial service read over him; it seems so often the refuge of
the homeless dead. Mrs. Dryfoos came down for the ceremony. She
understood that it was for Coonrod's sake that his father wished the
funeral to be there; and she confided to Mrs. March that she believed
Coonrod would have been pleased. "Coonrod was a member of the 'Piscopal
Church; and fawther's doin' the whole thing for Coonrod as much as for
anybody. He thought the world of Coonrod, fawther did. Mela, she kind of
thought it would look queer to have two funerals from the same house,
hand-runnin', as you might call it, and one of 'em no relation, either;
but when she saw how fawther was bent on it, she give in. Seems as if she
was tryin' to make up to fawther for Coonrod as much as she could. Mela
always was a good child, but nobody can ever come up to Coonrod."

March felt all the grotesqueness, the hopeless absurdity of Dryfoos's
endeavor at atonement in these vain obsequies to the man for whom he
believed his son to have died; but the effort had its magnanimity, its
pathos, and there was a poetry that appealed to him in the reconciliation
through death of men, of ideas, of conditions, that could only have gone
warring on in life. He thought, as the priest went on with the solemn
liturgy, how all the world must come together in that peace which,
struggle and strive as we may, shall claim us at last. He looked at
Dryfoos, and wondered whether he would consider these rites a sufficient
tribute, or whether there was enough in him to make him realize their
futility, except as a mere sign of his wish to retrieve the past. He
thought how we never can atone for the wrong we do; the heart we have
grieved and wounded cannot kindle with pity for us when once it is
stilled; and yet we can put our evil from us with penitence, and somehow,
somewhere, the order of loving kindness, which our passion or our
wilfulness has disturbed, will be restored.

Dryfoos, through Fulkerson, had asked all the more intimate contributors
of 'Every Other Week' to come. Beaton was absent, but Fulkerson had
brought Miss Woodburn, with her father, and Mrs. Leighton and Alma, to
fill up, as he said. Mela was much present, and was official with the
arrangement of the flowers and the welcome of the guests. She imparted
this impersonality to her reception of Kendricks, whom Fulkerson met in
the outer hall with his party, and whom he presented in whisper to them
all. Kendricks smiled under his breath, as it were, and was then mutely
and seriously polite to the Leightons. Alma brought a little bunch of
flowers, which were lost in those which Dryfoos had ordered to be
unsparingly provided.

It was a kind of satisfaction to Mela to have Miss Vance come, and
reassuring as to how it would look to have the funeral there; Miss Vance
would certainly not have come unless it had been all right; she had come,
and had sent some Easter lilies.

"Ain't Christine coming down?" Fulkerson asked Mela.

"No, she ain't a bit well, and she ain't been, ever since Coonrod died. I
don't know, what's got over her," said Mela. She added, "Well, I should
'a' thought Mr. Beaton would 'a' made out to 'a' come!"

"Beaton's peculiar," said Fulkerson. "If he thinks you want him he takes
a pleasure in not letting you have him."

"Well, goodness knows, I don't want him," said the girl.

Christine kept her room, and for the most part kept her bed; but there
seemed nothing definitely the matter with her, and she would not let them
call a doctor. Her mother said she reckoned she was beginning to feel the
spring weather, that always perfectly pulled a body down in New York; and
Mela said if being as cross as two sticks was any sign of spring-fever,
Christine had it bad. She was faithfully kind to her, and submitted to
all her humors, but she recompensed herself by the freest criticism of
Christine when not in actual attendance on her. Christine would not
suffer Mrs. Mandel to approach her, and she had with her father a sullen
submission which was not resignation. For her, apparently, Conrad had not
died, or had died in vain.

"Pshaw!" said Mela, one morning when she came to breakfast, "I reckon if
we was to send up an old card of Mr. Beaton's she'd rattle down-stairs
fast enough. If she's sick, she's love-sick. It makes me sick to see
her."

Mela was talking to Mrs. Mandel, but her father looked up from his plate
and listened. Mela went on: "I don't know what's made the fellow quit
comun'. But he was an aggravatun' thing, and no more dependable than
water. It's just like Air. Fulkerson said, if he thinks you want him
he'll take a pleasure in not lettun' you have him. I reckon that's what's
the matter with Christine. I believe in my heart the girl 'll die if she
don't git him."

Mela went on to eat her breakfast with her own good appetite. She now
always came down to keep her father company, as she said, and she did her
best to cheer and comfort him. At least she kept the talk going, and she
had it nearly all to herself, for Mrs. Mandel was now merely staying on
provisionally, and, in the absence of any regrets or excuses from
Christine, was looking ruefully forward to the moment when she must leave
even this ungentle home for the chances of the ruder world outside.

The old man said nothing at table, but, when Mela went up to see if she
could do anything for Christine, he asked Mrs. Mandel again about all the
facts of her last interview with Beaton.

She gave them as fully as she could remember them, and the old man made
no comment on them. But he went out directly after, and at the 'Every
Other Week' office he climbed the stairs to Fulkerson's room and asked
for Beaton's address. No one yet had taken charge of Conrad's work, and
Fulkerson was running the thing himself, as he said, till he could talk
with Dryfoos about it. The old man would not look into the empty room
where he had last seen his son alive; he turned his face away and hurried
by the door.



XIII.

The course of public events carried Beaton's private affairs beyond the
reach of his simple first intention to renounce his connection with
'Every Other Week.' In fact, this was not perhaps so simple as it seemed,
and long before it could be put in effect it appeared still simpler to do
nothing about the matter--to remain passive and leave the initiative to
Dryfoos, to maintain the dignity of unconsciousness and let recognition
of any change in the situation come from those who had caused the change.
After all, it was rather absurd to propose making a purely personal
question the pivot on which his relations with 'Every Other Week' turned.
He took a hint from March's position and decided that he did not know
Dryfoos in these relations; he knew only Fulkerson, who had certainly had
nothing to do with Mrs. Mandel's asking his intentions. As he reflected
upon this he became less eager to look Fulkerson up and make the magazine
a partner of his own sufferings. This was the soberer mood to which
Beaton trusted that night even before he slept, and he awoke fully
confirmed in it. As he examined the offence done him in the cold light of
day, he perceived that it had not come either from Mrs. Mandel, who was
visibly the faltering and unwilling instrument of it, or from Christine,
who was altogether ignorant of it, but from Dryfoos, whom he could not
hurt by giving up his place. He could only punish Fulkerson by that, and
Fulkerson was innocent. Justice and interest alike dictated the passive
course to which Beaton inclined; and he reflected that he might safely
leave the punishment of Dryfoos to Christine, who would find out what had
happened, and would be able to take care of herself in any encounter of
tempers with her father.

Beaton did not go to the office during the week that followed upon this
conclusion; but they were used there to these sudden absences of his,
and, as his work for the time was in train, nothing was made of his
staying away, except the sarcastic comment which the thought of him was
apt to excite in the literary department. He no longer came so much to
the Leightons, and Fulkerson was in no state of mind to miss any one
there except Miss Woodburn, whom he never missed. Beaton was left, then,
unmolestedly awaiting the course of destiny, when he read in the morning
paper, over his coffee at Maroni's, the deeply scare-headed story of
Conrad's death and the clubbing of Lindau. He probably cared as little
for either of them as any man that ever saw them; but he felt a shock, if
not a pang, at Conrad's fate, so out of keeping with his life and
character. He did not know what to do; and he did nothing. He was not
asked to the funeral, but he had not expected that, and, when Fulkerson
brought him notice that Lindau was also to be buried from Dryfoos's
house, it was without his usual sullen vindictiveness that he kept away.
In his sort, and as much as a man could who was necessarily so much taken
up with himself, he was sorry for Conrad's father; Beaton had a peculiar
tenderness for his own father, and he imagined how his father would feel
if it were he who had been killed in Conrad's place, as it might very
well have been; he sympathized with himself in view of the possibility;
and for once they were mistaken who thought him indifferent and merely
brutal in his failure to appear at Lindau's obsequies.

He would really have gone if he had known how to reconcile his presence
in that house with the terms of his effective banishment from it; and he
was rather forgivingly finding himself wronged in the situation, when
Dryfoos knocked at the studio door the morning after Lindau's funeral.
Beaton roared out, "Come in!" as he always did to a knock if he had not a
model; if he had a model he set the door slightly ajar, and with his
palette on his thumb frowned at his visitor and told him he could not
come in. Dryfoos fumbled about for the knob in the dim passageway
outside, and Beaton, who had experience of people's difficulties with it,
suddenly jerked the door open. The two men stood confronted, and at first
sight of each other their quiescent dislike revived. Each would have been
willing to turn away from the other, but that was not possible. Beaton
snorted some sort of inarticulate salutation, which Dryfoos did not try
to return; he asked if he could see him alone for a minute or two, and
Beaton bade him come in, and swept some paint-blotched rags from the
chair which he told him to take. He noticed, as the old man sank
tremulously into it, that his movement was like that of his own father,
and also that he looked very much like Christine. Dryfoos folded his
hands tremulously on the top of his horn-handled stick, and he was rather
finely haggard, with the dark hollows round his black eyes and the fall
of the muscles on either side of his chin. He had forgotten to take his
soft, wide-brimmed hat off; and Beaton felt a desire to sketch him just
as he sat.

Dryfoos suddenly pulled himself together from the dreary absence into
which he fell at first. "Young man," he began, "maybe I've come here on a
fool's errand," and Beaton rather fancied that beginning.

But it embarrassed him a little, and he said, with a shy glance aside, "I
don't know what you mean." "I reckon," Dryfoos answered, quietly, "you
got your notion, though. I set that woman on to speak to you the way she
done. But if there was anything wrong in the way she spoke, or if you
didn't feel like she had any right to question you up as if we suspected
you of anything mean, I want you to say so."

Beaton said nothing, and the old man went on.

"I ain't very well up in the ways of the world, and I don't pretend to
be. All I want is to be fair and square with everybody. I've made
mistakes, though, in my time--" He stopped, and Beaton was not proof
against the misery of his face, which was twisted as with some strong
physical ache. "I don't know as I want to make any more, if I can help
it. I don't know but what you had a right to keep on comin', and if you
had I want you to say so. Don't you be afraid but what I'll take it in
the right way. I don't want to take advantage of anybody, and I don't ask
you to say any more than that."

Beaton did not find the humiliation of the man who had humiliated him so
sweet as he could have fancied it might be. He knew how it had come
about, and that it was an effect of love for his child; it did not matter
by what ungracious means she had brought him to know that he loved her
better than his own will, that his wish for her happiness was stronger
than his pride; it was enough that he was now somehow brought to give
proof of it. Beaton could not be aware of all that dark coil of
circumstance through which Dryfoos's present action evolved itself; the
worst of this was buried in the secret of the old man's heart, a worm of
perpetual torment. What was apparent to another was that he was broken by
the sorrow that had fallen upon him, and it was this that Beaton
respected and pitied in his impulse to be frank and kind in his answer.

"No, I had no right to keep coming to your house in the way I did,
unless--unless I meant more than I ever said." Beaton added: "I don't say
that what you did was usual--in this country, at any rate; but I can't
say you were wrong. Since you speak to me about the matter, it's only
fair to myself to say that a good deal goes on in life without much
thinking of consequences. That's the way I excuse myself."

"And you say Mrs. Mandel done right?" asked Dryfoos, as if he wished
simply to be assured of a point of etiquette.

"Yes, she did right. I've nothing to complain of."

"That's all I wanted to know," said Dryfoos; but apparently he had not
finished, and he did not go, though the silence that Beaton now kept gave
him a chance to do so. He began a series of questions which had no
relation to the matter in hand, though they were strictly personal to
Beaton. "What countryman are you?" he asked, after a moment.

"What countryman?" Beaton frowned back at him.

"Yes, are you an American by birth?"

"Yes; I was born in Syracuse."

"Protestant?"

"My father is a Scotch Seceder."

"What business is your father in?"

Beaton faltered and blushed; then he answered:

"He's in the monument business, as he calls it. He's a tombstone cutter."
Now that he was launched, Beaton saw no reason for not declaring, "My
father's always been a poor man, and worked with his own hands for his
living." He had too slight esteem socially for Dryfoos to conceal a fact
from him that he might have wished to blink with others.

"Well, that's right," said Dryfoos. "I used to farm it myself. I've got a
good pile of money together, now. At first it didn't come easy; but now
it's got started it pours in and pours in; it seems like there was no end
to it. I've got well on to three million; but it couldn't keep me from
losin' my son. It can't buy me back a minute of his life; not all the
money in the world can do it!"

He grieved this out as if to himself rather than to Beaton, who, scarcely
ventured to say, "I know--I am very sorry--"

"How did you come," Dryfoos interrupted, "to take up paintin'?"

"Well, I don't know," said Beaton, a little scornfully. "You don't take
a thing of that kind up, I fancy. I always wanted to paint."

"Father try to stop you?"

"No. It wouldn't have been of any use. Why--"

"My son, he wanted to be a preacher, and I did stop him or I thought I
did. But I reckon he was a preacher, all the same, every minute of his
life. As you say, it ain't any use to try to stop a thing like that. I
reckon if a child has got any particular bent, it was given to it; and
it's goin' against the grain, it's goin' against the law, to try to bend
it some other way. There's lots of good business men, Mr. Beaton, twenty
of 'em to every good preacher?"

"I imagine more than twenty," said Beaton, amused and touched through his
curiosity as to what the old man was driving at by the quaint simplicity
of his speculations.

"Father ever come to the city?"

"No; he never has the time; and my mother's an invalid."

"Oh! Brothers and sisters?"

"Yes; we're a large family."

"I lost two little fellers--twins," said Dryfoos, sadly. "But we hain't
ever had but just the five. Ever take portraits?"

"Yes," said Beaton, meeting this zigzag in the queries as seriously as
the rest. "I don't think I am good at it."

Dryfoos got to his feet. "I wish you'd paint a likeness of my son. You've
seen him plenty of times. We won't fight about the price, don't you be
afraid of that."

Beaton was astonished, and in a mistaken way he was disgusted. He saw
that Dryfoos was trying to undo Mrs. Mandel's work practically, and get
him to come again to his house; that he now conceived of the offence
given him as condoned, and wished to restore the former situation. He
knew that he was attempting this for Christine's sake, but he was not the
man to imagine that Dryfoos was trying not only to tolerate him, but to
like him; and, in fact, Dryfoos was not wholly conscious himself of this
end. What they both understood was that Dryfoos was endeavoring to get at
Beaton through Conrad's memory; but with one this was its dedication to a
purpose of self sacrifice, and with the other a vulgar and shameless use
of it.

"I couldn't do it," said Beaton. "I couldn't think of attempting it."

"Why not?" Dryfoos persisted. "We got some photographs of him; he didn't
like to sit very well; but his mother got him to; and you know how he
looked."

"I couldn't do it--I couldn't. I can't even consider it. I'm very sorry.
I would, if it were possible. But it isn't possible."

"I reckon if you see the photographs once"

"It isn't that, Mr. Dryfoos. But I'm not in the way of that kind of thing
any more."

"I'd give any price you've a mind to name--"

"Oh, it isn't the money!" cried Beaton, beginning to lose control of
himself.

The old man did not notice him. He sat with his head fallen forward, and
his chin resting on his folded hands. Thinking of the portrait, he saw
Conrad's face before him, reproachful, astonished, but all gentle as it
looked when Conrad caught his hand that day after he struck him; he heard
him say, "Father!" and the sweat gathered on his forehead. "Oh, my God!"
he groaned. "No; there ain't anything I can do now."

Beaton did not know whether Dryfoos was speaking to him or not. He
started toward him. "Are you ill?"

"No, there ain't anything the matter," said the old man. "But I guess
I'll lay down on your settee a minute." He tottered with Beaton's help to
the aesthetic couch covered with a tiger-skin, on which Beaton had once
thought of painting a Cleopatra; but he could never get the right model.
As the old man stretched himself out on it, pale and suffering, he did
not look much like a Cleopatra, but Beaton was struck with his
effectiveness, and the likeness between him and his daughter; she would
make a very good Cleopatra in some ways. All the time, while these
thoughts passed through his mind, he was afraid Dryfoos would die. The
old man fetched his breath in gasps, which presently smoothed and
lengthened into his normal breathing. Beaton got him a glass of wine, and
after tasting it he sat up.

"You've got to excuse me," he said, getting back to his characteristic
grimness with surprising suddenness, when once he began to recover
himself. "I've been through a good deal lately; and sometimes it ketches
me round the heart like a pain."

In his life of selfish immunity from grief, Beaton could not understand
this experience that poignant sorrow brings; he said to himself that
Dryfoos was going the way of angina pectoris; as he began shuffling off
the tiger-skin he said: "Had you better get up? Wouldn't you like me to
call a doctor?"

"I'm all right, young man." Dryfoos took his hat and stick from him, but
he made for the door so uncertainly that Beaton put his hand under his
elbow and helped him out, and down the stairs, to his coupe.

"Hadn't you better let me drive home with you?" he asked.

"What?" said Dryfoos, suspiciously.

Beaton repeated his question.

"I guess I'm able to go home alone," said Dryfoos, in a surly tone, and
he put his head out of the window and called up "Home!" to the driver,
who immediately started off and left Beaton standing beside the
curbstone.



XIV.

Beaton wasted the rest of the day in the emotions and speculations which
Dryfoos's call inspired. It was not that they continuously occupied him,
but they broke up the train of other thoughts, and spoiled him for work;
a very little spoiled Beaton for work; he required just the right mood
for work. He comprehended perfectly well that Dryfoos had made him that
extraordinary embassy because he wished him to renew his visits, and he
easily imagined the means that had brought him to this pass. From what he
knew of that girl he did not envy her father his meeting with her when he
must tell her his mission had failed. But had it failed? When Beaton came
to ask himself this question, he could only perceive that he and Dryfoos
had failed to find any ground of sympathy, and had parted in the same
dislike with which they had met. But as to any other failure, it was
certainly tacit, and it still rested with him to give it effect. He could
go back to Dryfoos's house, as freely as before, and it was clear that he
was very much desired to come back. But if he went back it was also clear
that he must go back with intentions more explicit than before, and now
he had to ask himself just how much or how little he had meant by going
there. His liking for Christine had certainly not increased, but the
charm, on the other hand, of holding a leopardess in leash had not yet
palled upon him. In his life of inconstancies, it was a pleasure to rest
upon something fixed, and the man who had no control over himself liked
logically enough to feel his control of some one else. The fact cannot
other wise be put in terms, and the attraction which Christine Dryfoos
had for him, apart from this, escapes from all terms, as anything purely
and merely passional must. He had seen from the first that she was a cat,
and so far as youth forecasts such things, he felt that she would be a
shrew. But he had a perverse sense of her beauty, and he knew a sort of
life in which her power to molest him with her temper could be reduced to
the smallest proportions, and even broken to pieces. Then the
consciousness of her money entered. It was evident that the old man had
mentioned his millions in the way of a hint to him of what he might
reasonably expect if he would turn and be his son-in-law. Beaton did not
put it to himself in those words; and in fact his cogitations were not in
words at all. It was the play of cognitions, of sensations, formlessly
tending to the effect which can only be very clumsily interpreted in
language. But when he got to this point in them, Beaton rose to
magnanimity and in a flash of dramatic reverie disposed of a part of
Dryfoos's riches in placing his father and mother, and his brothers and
sisters, beyond all pecuniary anxiety forever. He had no shame, no
scruple in this, for he had been a pensioner upon others ever since a
Syracusan amateur of the arts had detected his talent and given him the
money to go and study abroad. Beaton had always considered the money a
loan, to be repaid out of his future success; but he now never dreamt of
repaying it; as the man was rich, he had even a contempt for the notion
of repaying him; but this did not prevent him from feeling very keenly
the hardships he put his father to in borrowing money from him, though he
never repaid his father, either. In this reverie he saw himself
sacrificed in marriage with Christine Dryfoos, in a kind of admiring
self-pity, and he was melted by the spectacle of the dignity with which
he suffered all the lifelong trials ensuing from his unselfishness. The
fancy that Alma Leighton came bitterly to regret him, contributed to
soothe and flatter him, and he was not sure that Margaret. Vance did not
suffer a like loss in him.

There had been times when, as he believed, that beautiful girl's high
thoughts had tended toward him; there had been looks, gestures, even
words, that had this effect to him, or that seemed to have had it; and
Beaton saw that he might easily construe Mrs. Horn's confidential appeal
to him to get Margaret interested in art again as something by no means
necessarily offensive, even though it had been made to him as to a master
of illusion. If Mrs. Horn had to choose between him and the life of good
works to which her niece was visibly abandoning herself, Beaton could not
doubt which she would choose; the only question was how real the danger
of a life of good works was.

As he thought of these two girls, one so charming and the other so
divine, it became indefinitely difficult to renounce them for Christine
Dryfoos, with her sultry temper and her earthbound ideals. Life had been
so flattering to Beaton hitherto that he could not believe them both
finally indifferent; and if they were not indifferent, perhaps he did not
wish either of them to be very definite. What he really longed for was
their sympathy; for a man who is able to walk round quite ruthlessly on
the feelings of others often has very tender feelings of his own, easily
lacerated, and eagerly responsive to the caresses of compassion. In this
frame Beaton determined to go that afternoon, though it was not Mrs.
Horn's day, and call upon her in the hope of possibly seeing Miss Vance
alone. As he continued in it, he took this for a sign and actually went.
It did not fall out at once as he wished, but he got Mrs. Horn to talking
again about her niece, and Mrs. Horn again regretted that nothing could
be done by the fine arts to reclaim Margaret from good works.

"Is she at home? Will you let me see her?" asked Beacon, with something
of the scientific interest of a physician inquiring for a patient whose
symptoms have been rehearsed to him. He had not asked for her before.

"Yes, certainly," said Mrs. Horn, and she went herself to call Margaret,
and she did not return with her. The girl entered with the gentle grace
peculiar to her; and Beaton, bent as he was on his own consolation, could
not help being struck with the spiritual exaltation of her look. At sight
of her, the vague hope he had never quite relinquished, that they might
be something more than aesthetic friends, died in his heart. She wore
black, as she often did; but in spite of its fashion her dress received a
nun-like effect from the pensive absence of her face. "Decidedly,"
thought Beaton, "she is far gone in good works."

But he rose, all the same, to meet her on the old level, and he began at
once to talk to her of the subject he had been discussing with her aunt.
He said frankly that they both felt she had unjustifiably turned her back
upon possibilities which she ought not to neglect.

"You know very well," she answered, "that I couldn't do anything in that
way worth the time I should waste on it. Don't talk of it, please. I
suppose my aunt has been asking you to say this, but it's no use. I'm
sorry it's no use, she wishes it so much; but I'm not sorry otherwise.
You can find the pleasure at least of doing good work in it; but I
couldn't find anything in it but a barren amusement. Mr. Wetmore is
right; for me, it's like enjoying an opera, or a ball."

"That's one of Wetmore's phrases. He'd sacrifice anything to them."

She put aside the whole subject with a look. "You were not at Mr.
Dryfoos's the other day. Have you seen them, any of them, lately?"

"I haven't been there for some time, no," said Beaton, evasively. But he
thought if he was to get on to anything, he had better be candid. "Mr.
Dryfoos was at my studio this morning. He's got a queer notion. He wants
me to paint his son's portrait."

She started. "And will you--"

"No, I couldn't do such a thing. It isn't in my way. I told him so. His
son had a beautiful face an antique profile; a sort of early Christian
type; but I'm too much of a pagan for that sort of thing."

"Yes."

"Yes," Beaton continued, not quite liking her assent after he had invited
it. He had his pride in being a pagan, a Greek, but it failed him in her
presence, now; and he wished that she had protested he was none. "He was
a singular creature; a kind of survival; an exile in our time and place.
I don't know: we don't quite expect a saint to be rustic; but with all
his goodness Conrad Dryfoos was a country person. If he were not dying
for a cause you could imagine him milking." Beaton intended a contempt
that came from the bitterness of having himself once milked the family
cow.

His contempt did not reach Miss Vance. "He died for a cause," she said.
"The holiest."

"Of labor?"

"Of peace. He was there to persuade the strikers to be quiet and go
home."

"I haven't been quite sure," said Beaton. "But in any case he had no
business there. The police were on hand to do the persuading."

"I can't let you talk so!" cried the girl. "It's shocking! Oh, I know
it's the way people talk, and the worst is that in the sight of the world
it's the right way. But the blessing on the peacemakers is not for the
policemen with their clubs."

Beaton saw that she was nervous; he made his reflection that she was
altogether too far gone in good works for the fine arts to reach her; he
began to think how he could turn her primitive Christianity to the
account of his modern heathenism. He had no deeper design than to get
flattered back into his own favor far enough to find courage for some
sort of decisive step. In his heart he was trying to will whether he
should or should not go back to Dryfoos's house. It could not be from the
caprice that had formerly taken him; it must be from a definite purpose;
again he realized this. "Of course; you are right," he said. "I wish I
could have answered that old man differently. I fancy he was bound up in
his son, though he quarrelled with him, and crossed him. But I couldn't
do it; it wasn't possible." He said to himself that if she said "No,"
now, he would be ruled by her agreement with him; and if she disagreed
with him, he would be ruled still by the chance, and would go no more to
the Dryfooses'. He found himself embarrassed to the point of blushing
when she said nothing, and left him, as it were, on his own hands. "I
should like to have given him that comfort; I fancy he hasn't much
comfort in life; but there seems no comfort in me."

He dropped his head in a fit attitude for compassion; but she poured no
pity upon it.

"There is no comfort for us in ourselves," she said. "It's hard to get
outside; but there's only despair within. When we think we have done
something for others, by some great effort, we find it's all for our own
vanity."

"Yes," said Beaton. "If I could paint pictures for righteousness' sake, I
should have been glad to do Conrad Dryfoos for his father. I felt sorry
for him. Did the rest seem very much broken up? You saw them all?"

"Not all. Miss Dryfoos was ill, her sister said. It's hard to tell how
much people suffer. His mother seemed bewildered. The younger sister is a
simple creature; she looks like him; I think she must have something of
his spirit."

"Not much spirit of any kind, I imagine," said Beaton. "But she's amiably
material. Did they say Miss Dryfoos was seriously ill?"

"No. I supposed she might be prostrated by her brother's death."

"Does she seem that kind of person to you, Miss Vance?" asked Beaton.

"I don't know. I haven't tried to see so much of them as I might, the
past winter. I was not sure about her when I met her; I've never seen
much of people, except in my own set, and the--very poor. I have been
afraid I didn't understand her. She may have a kind of pride that would
not let her do herself justice."

Beaton felt the unconscious dislike in the endeavor of praise. "Then she
seems to you like a person whose life--its trials, its chances--would
make more of than she is now?"

"I didn't say that. I can't judge of her at all; but where we don't know,
don't you think we ought to imagine the best?"

"Oh yes," said Beaton. "I didn't know but what I once said of them might
have prejudiced you against them. I have accused myself of it." He always
took a tone of conscientiousness, of self-censure, in talking with Miss
Vance; he could not help it.

"Oh no. And I never allowed myself to form any judgment of her. She is
very pretty, don't you think, in a kind of way?"

"Very."

"She has a beautiful brunette coloring: that floury white and the
delicate pink in it. Her eyes are beautiful."

"She's graceful, too," said Beaton. "I've tried her in color; but I
didn't make it out."

"I've wondered sometimes," said Miss Vance, "whether that elusive quality
you find in some people you try to paint doesn't characterize them all
through. Miss Dryfoos might be ever so much finer and better than we
would find out in the society way that seems the only way."

"Perhaps," said Beaton, gloomily; and he went away profoundly discouraged
by this last analysis of Christine's character. The angelic
imperviousness of Miss Vance to properties of which his own wickedness
was so keenly aware in Christine might have made him laugh, if it had not
been such a serious affair with him. As it was, he smiled to think how
very differently Alma Leighton would have judged her from Miss Vance's
premises. He liked that clear vision of Alma's even when it pierced his
own disguises. Yes, that was the light he had let die out, and it might
have shone upon his path through life. Beaton never felt so poignantly
the disadvantage of having on any given occasion been wanting to his own
interests through his self-love as in this. He had no one to blame but
himself for what had happened, but he blamed Alma for what might happen
in the future because she shut out the way of retrieval and return. When
be thought of the attitude she had taken toward him, it seemed
incredible, and he was always longing to give her a final chance to
reverse her final judgment. It appeared to him that the time had come for
this now, if ever.



XV.

While we are still young we feel a kind of pride, a sort of fierce
pleasure, in any important experience, such as we have read of or heard
of in the lives of others, no matter how painful. It was this pride, this
pleasure, which Beaton now felt in realizing that the toils of fate were
about him, that between him and a future of which Christine Dryfoos must
be the genius there was nothing but the will, the mood, the fancy of a
girl who had not given him the hope that either could ever again be in
his favor. He had nothing to trust to, in fact, but his knowledge that he
had once had them all; she did not deny that; but neither did she conceal
that he had flung away his power over them, and she had told him that
they never could be his again. A man knows that he can love and wholly
cease to love, not once merely, but several times; he recognizes the fact
in regard to himself, both theoretically and practically; but in regard
to women he cherishes the superstition of the romances that love is once
for all, and forever. It was because Beaton would not believe that Alma
Leighton, being a woman, could put him out of her heart after suffering
him to steal into it, that he now hoped anything from her, and she had
been so explicit when they last spoke of that affair that he did not hope
much. He said to himself that he was going to cast himself on her mercy,
to take whatever chance of life, love, and work there was in her having
the smallest pity on him. If she would have none, then there was but one
thing he could do: marry Christine and go abroad. He did not see how he
could bring this alternative to bear upon Alma; even if she knew what he
would do in case of a final rejection, he had grounds for fearing she
would not care; but he brought it to bear upon himself, and it nerved him
to a desperate courage. He could hardly wait for evening to come, before
he went to see her; when it came, it seemed to have come too soon. He had
wrought himself thoroughly into the conviction that he was in earnest,
and that everything depended upon her answer to him, but it was not till
he found himself in her presence, and alone with her, that he realized
the truth of his conviction. Then the influences of her grace, her
gayety, her arch beauty, above all, her good sense, penetrated his soul
like a subtle intoxication, and he said to himself that he was right; he
could not live without her; these attributes of hers were what he needed
to win him, to cheer him, to charm him, to guide him. He longed so to
please her, to ingratiate himself with her, that he attempted to be light
like her in his talk, but lapsed into abysmal absences and gloomy
recesses of introspection.

"What are you laughing at?" he asked, suddenly starting from one of
these.

"What you are thinking of."

"It's nothing to laugh at. Do you know what I'm thinking of?"

"Don't tell, if it's dreadful."

"Oh, I dare say you wouldn't think it's dreadful," he said, with
bitterness. "It's simply the case of a man who has made a fool of himself
and sees no help of retrieval in himself."

"Can any one else help a man unmake a fool of himself?" she asked, with a
smile.

"Yes. In a case like this."

"Dear me! This is very interesting."

She did not ask him what the case was, but he was launched now, and he
pressed on. "I am the man who has made a fool of himself--"

"Oh!"

"And you can help me out if you will. Alma, I wish you could see me as I
really am."

"Do you, Mr. Beacon? Perhaps I do."

"No; you don't. You formulated me in a certain way, and you won't allow
for the change that takes place in every one. You have changed; why
shouldn't I?"

"Has this to do with your having made a fool of yourself?"

"Yes."

"Oh! Then I don't see how you have changed."

She laughed, and he too, ruefully. "You're cruel. Not but what I deserve
your mockery. But the change was not from the capacity of making a fool
of myself. I suppose I shall always do that more or less--unless you help
me. Alma! Why can't you have a little compassion? You know that I must
always love you."

"Nothing makes me doubt that like your saying it, Mr. Beaton. But now
you've broken your word--"

"You are to blame for that. You knew I couldn't keep it!"

"Yes, I'm to blame. I was wrong to let you come--after that. And so I
forgive you for speaking to me in that way again. But it's perfectly
impossible and perfectly useless for me to hear you any more on that
subject; and so-good-bye!"

She rose, and he perforce with her. "And do you mean it?" he asked.
"Forever?"

"Forever. This is truly the last time I will ever see you if I can help
it. Oh, I feel sorry enough for you!" she said, with a glance at his
face. "I do believe you are in earnest. But it's too late now. Don't let
us talk about it any more! But we shall, if we meet, and so,--"

"And so good-bye! Well, I've nothing more to say, and I might as well say
that. I think you've been very good to me. It seems to me as if you had
been--shall I say it?--trying to give me a chance. Is that so?" She
dropped her eyes and did not answer.

"You found it was no use! Well, I thank you for trying. It's curious to
think that I once had your trust, your regard, and now I haven't it. You
don't mind my remembering that I had? It'll be some little consolation,
and I believe it will be some help. I know I can't retrieve the past now.
It is too late. It seems too preposterous--perfectly lurid--that I could
have been going to tell you what a tangle I'd got myself in, and to ask
you to help untangle me. I must choke in the infernal coil, but I'd like
to have the sweetness of your pity in it--whatever it is."

She put out her hand. "Whatever it is, I do pity you; I said that."

"Thank you." He kissed the band she gave him and went.

He had gone on some such terms before; was it now for the last time? She
believed it was. She felt in herself a satiety, a fatigue, in which his
good looks, his invented airs and poses, his real trouble, were all alike
repulsive. She did not acquit herself of the wrong of having let him
think she might yet have liked him as she once did; but she had been
honestly willing to see whether she could. It had mystified her to find
that when they first met in New York, after their summer in St. Barnaby,
she cared nothing for him; she had expected to punish him for his
neglect, and then fancy him as before, but she did not. More and more she
saw him selfish and mean, weak-willed, narrow-minded, and hard-hearted;
and aimless, with all his talent. She admired his talent in proportion as
she learned more of artists, and perceived how uncommon it was; but she
said to herself that if she were going to devote herself to art, she
would do it at first-hand. She was perfectly serene and happy in her
final rejection of Beaton; he had worn out not only her fancy, but her
sympathy, too.

This was what her mother would not believe when Alma reported the
interview to her; she would not believe it was the last time they should
meet; death itself can hardly convince us that it is the last time of
anything, of everything between ourselves and the dead. "Well, Alma," she
said, "I hope you'll never regret what you've done."

"You may be sure I shall not regret it. If ever I'm low-spirited about
anything, I'll think of giving Mr. Beaton his freedom, and that will
cheer me up."

"And don't you expect to get married? Do you intend to be an old maid?"
demanded her mother, in the bonds of the superstition women have so long
been under to the effect that every woman must wish to get married, if
for no other purpose than to avoid being an old maid.

"Well, mamma," said Alma, "I intend being a young one for a few years
yet; and then I'll see. If I meet the right person, all well and good; if
not, not. But I shall pick and choose, as a man does; I won't merely be
picked and chosen."

"You can't help yourself; you may be very glad if you are picked and
chosen."

"What nonsense, mamma! A girl can get any man she wants, if she goes
about it the right way. And when my 'fated fairy prince' comes along, I
shall just simply make furious love to him and grab him. Of course, I
shall make a decent pretence of talking in my sleep. I believe it's done
that way more than half the time. The fated fairy prince wouldn't see the
princess in nine cases out of ten if she didn't say something; he would
go mooning along after the maids of honor."

Mrs. Leighton tried to look unspeakable horror; but she broke down and
laughed. "Well, you are a strange girl, Alma."

"I don't know about that. But one thing I do know, mamma, and that is
that Prince Beaton isn't the F. F. P. for me. How strange you are, mamma!
Don't you think it would be perfectly disgusting to accept a person you
didn't care for, and let him go on and love you and marry you? It's
sickening."

"Why, certainly, Alma. It's only because I know you did care for him
once--"

"And now I don't. And he didn't care for me once, and now he does. And so
we're quits."

"If I could believe--"

"You had better brace up and try, mamma; for as Mr. Fulkerson says, it's
as sure as guns. From the crown of his head to the sole of his foot, he's
loathsome to me; and he keeps getting loathsomer. Ugh! Goodnight!"



XVI.

"Well, I guess she's given him the grand bounce at last," said Fulkerson
to March in one of their moments of confidence at the office. "That's
Mad's inference from appearances--and disappearances; and some little
hints from Alma Leighton."

"Well, I don't know that I have any criticisms to offer," said March. "It
may be bad for Beaton, but it's a very good thing for Miss Leighton. Upon
the whole, I believe I congratulate her."

"Well, I don't know. I always kind of hoped it would turn out the other
way. You know I always had a sneaking fondness for the fellow."

"Miss Leighton seems not to have had."

"It's a pity she hadn't. I tell you, March, it ain't so easy for a girl
to get married, here in the East, that she can afford to despise any
chance."

"Isn't that rather a low view of it?"

"It's a common-sense view. Beaton has the making of a first-rate fellow
in him. He's the raw material of a great artist and a good citizen. All
he wants is somebody to take him in hand and keep him from makin' an ass
of himself and kickin' over the traces generally, and ridin' two or three
horses bareback at once."

"It seems a simple problem, though the metaphor is rather complicated,"
said March. "But talk to Miss Leighton about it. I haven't given Beaton
the grand bounce."

He began to turn over the manuscripts on his table, and Fulkerson went
away. But March found himself thinking of the matter from time to time
during the day, and he spoke to his wife about it when he went home. She
surprised him by taking Fulkerson's view of it.

"Yes, it's a pity she couldn't have made up her mind to have him. It's
better for a woman to be married."

"I thought Paul only went so far as to say it was well. But what would
become of Miss Leighton's artistic career if she married?"

"Oh, her artistic career!" said Mrs. March, with matronly contempt of it.

"But look here!" cried her husband. "Suppose she doesn't like him?"

"How can a girl of that age tell whether she likes any one or not?"

"It seems to me you were able to tell at that age, Isabel. But let's
examine this thing. (This thing! I believe Fulkerson is characterizing my
whole parlance, as well as your morals.) Why shouldn't we rejoice as much
at a non-marriage as a marriage? When we consider the enormous risks
people take in linking their lives together, after not half so much
thought as goes to an ordinary horse trade, I think we ought to be glad
whenever they don't do it. I believe that this popular demand for the
matrimony of others comes from our novel-reading. We get to thinking that
there is no other happiness or good-fortune in life except marriage; and
it's offered in fiction as the highest premium for virtue, courage,
beauty, learning, and saving human life. We all know it isn't. We know
that in reality marriage is dog cheap, and anybody can have it for the
asking--if he keeps asking enough people. By-and-by some fellow will wake
up and see that a first-class story can be written from the anti-marriage
point of view; and he'll begin with an engaged couple, and devote his
novel to disengaging them and rendering them separately happy ever after
in the denouement. It will make his everlasting fortune."

"Why don't you write it, Basil?" she asked. "It's a delightful idea. You
could do it splendidly."

He became fascinated with the notion. He developed it in detail; but at
the end he sighed and said: "With this 'Every Other Week' work on my
hands, of course I can't attempt a novel. But perhaps I sha'n't have it
long."

She was instantly anxious to know what he meant, and the novel and Miss
Leighton's affair were both dropped out of their thoughts. "What do you
mean? Has Mr. Fulkerson said anything yet?"

"Not a word. He knows no more about it than I do. Dryfoos hasn't spoken,
and we're both afraid to ask him. Of course, I couldn't ask him."

"No."

"But it's pretty uncomfortable, to be kept hanging by the gills so, as
Fulkerson says."

"Yes, we don't know what to do."

March and Fulkerson said the same to each other; and Fulkerson said that
if the old man pulled out, he did not know what would happen. He had no
capital to carry the thing on, and the very fact that the old man had
pulled out would damage it so that it would be hard to get anybody else
to put it. In the mean time Fulkerson was running Conrad's office-work,
when he ought to be looking after the outside interests of the thing; and
he could not see the day when he could get married.

"I don't know which it's worse for, March: you or me. I don't know, under
the circumstances, whether it's worse to have a family or to want to have
one. Of course--of course! We can't hurry the old man up. It wouldn't be
decent, and it would be dangerous. We got to wait."

He almost decided to draw upon Dryfoos for some money; he did not need
any, but, he said maybe the demand would act as a hint upon him. One day,
about a week after Alma's final rejection of Beaton, Dryfoos came into
March's office. Fulkerson was out, but the old man seemed not to have
tried to see him.

He put his hat on the floor by his chair, after he sat down, and looked
at March awhile with his old eyes, which had the vitreous glitter of old.
eyes stimulated to sleeplessness. Then he said, abruptly, "Mr. March, how
would you like to take this thing off my hands?"

"I don't understand, exactly," March began; but of course he understood
that Dryfoos was offering to let him have 'Every Other Week' on some
terms or other, and his heart leaped with hope.

The old man knew he understood, and so he did not explain. He said: "I am
going to Europe, to take my family there. The doctor thinks it might do
my wife some good; and I ain't very well myself, and my girls both want
to go; and so we're goin'. If you want to take this thing off my hands, I
reckon I can let you have it in 'most any shape you say. You're all
settled here in New York, and I don't suppose you want to break up, much,
at your time of life, and I've been thinkin' whether you wouldn't like to
take the thing."

The word, which Dryfoos had now used three times, made March at last
think of Fulkerson; he had been filled too full of himself to think of
any one else till he had mastered the notion of such wonderful good
fortune as seemed about falling to him. But now he did think of
Fulkerson, and with some shame and confusion; for he remembered how, when
Dryfoos had last approached him there on the business of his connection
with 'Every Other Week,' he had been very haughty with him, and told him
that he did not know him in this connection. He blushed to find how far
his thoughts had now run without encountering this obstacle of etiquette.

"Have you spoken to Mr. Fulkerson?" he asked.

"No, I hain't. It ain't a question of management. It's a question of
buying and selling. I offer the thing to you first. I reckon Fulkerson
couldn't get on very well without you."

March saw the real difference in the two cases, and he was glad to see
it, because he could act more decisively if not hampered by an obligation
to consistency. "I am gratified, of course, Mr. Dryfoos; extremely
gratified; and it's no use pretending that I shouldn't be happy beyond
bounds to get possession of 'Every Other Week.' But I don't feel quite
free to talk about it apart from Mr. Fulkerson."

"Oh, all right!" said the old man, with quick offence.

March hastened to say: "I feel bound to Mr. Fulkerson in every way. He
got me to come here, and I couldn't even seem to act without him."

He put it questioningly, and the old man answered:

"Yes, I can see that. When 'll he be in? I can wait." But he looked
impatient.

"Very soon, now," said March, looking at his watch. "He was only to be
gone a moment," and while he went on to talk with Dryfoos, he wondered
why the old man should have come first to speak with him, and whether it
was from some obscure wish to make him reparation for displeasures in the
past, or from a distrust or dislike of Fulkerson. Whichever light he
looked at it in, it was flattering.

"Do you think of going abroad soon?" he asked.

"What? Yes--I don't know--I reckon. We got our passage engaged. It's on
one of them French boats. We're goin' to Paris."

"Oh! That will be interesting to the young ladies."

"Yes. I reckon we're goin' for them. 'Tain't likely my wife and me would
want to pull up stakes at our age," said the old man, sorrowfully.

"But you may find it do you good, Mr. Dryfoos," said March, with a
kindness that was real, mixed as it was with the selfish interest he now
had in the intended voyage.

"Well, maybe, maybe," sighed the old man; and he dropped his head
forward. "It don't make a great deal of difference what we do or we don't
do, for the few years left."

"I hope Mrs. Dryfoos is as well as usual," said March, finding the ground
delicate and difficult.

"Middlin', middlin'," said the old man. "My daughter Christine, she ain't
very well."

"Oh," said March. It was quite impossible for him to affect a more
explicit interest in the fact. He and Dryfoos sat silent for a few
moments, and he was vainly casting about in his thought for something
else which would tide them over the interval till Fulkerson came, when he
heard his step on the stairs.

"Hello, hello!" he said. "Meeting of the clans!" It was always a meeting
of the clans, with Fulkerson, or a field day, or an extra session, or a
regular conclave, whenever he saw people of any common interest together.
"Hain't seen you here for a good while, Mr. Dryfoos. Did think some of
running away with 'Every Other Week' one while, but couldn't seem to work
March up to the point."

He gave Dryfoos his hand, and pushed aside the papers on the corner of
March's desk, and sat down there, and went on briskly with the nonsense
he could always talk while he was waiting for another to develop any
matter of business; he told March afterward that he scented business in
the air as soon as he came into the room where he and Dryfoos were
sitting.

Dryfoos seemed determined to leave the word to March, who said, after an
inquiring look at him, "Mr. Dryfoos has been proposing to let us have
'Every Other Week,' Fulkerson."

"Well, that's good; that suits yours truly; March & Fulkerson, publishers
and proprietors, won't pretend it don't, if the terms are all right."

"The terms," said the old man, "are whatever you want 'em. I haven't got
any more use for the concern--" He gulped, and stopped; they knew what he
was thinking of, and they looked down in pity. He went on: "I won't put
any more money in it; but what I've put in a'ready can stay; and you can
pay me four per cent."

He got upon his feet; and March and Fulkerson stood, too.

"Well, I call that pretty white," said Fulkerson. "It's a bargain as far
as I'm concerned. I suppose you'll want to talk it over with your wife,
March?"

"Yes; I shall," said March. "I can see that it's a great chance; but I
want to talk it over with my wife."

"Well, that's right," said the old man. "Let me hear from you tomorrow."

He went out, and Fulkerson began to dance round the room. He caught March
about his stalwart girth and tried to make him waltz; the office-boy came
to the door and looked on with approval.

"Come, come, you idiot!" said March, rooting himself to the carpet.

"It's just throwing the thing into our mouths," said Fulkerson. "The
wedding will be this day week. No cards! Teedle-lumpty-diddle!
Teedle-lumpty-dee! What do you suppose he means by it, March?" he asked,
bringing himself soberly up, of a sudden. "What is his little game? Or is
he crazy? It don't seem like the Dryfoos of my previous acquaintance."

"I suppose," March suggested, "that he's got money enough, so that he
don't care for this--"

"Pshaw! You're a poet! Don't you know that the more money that kind of
man has got, the more he cares for money? It's some fancy of his--like
having Lindau's funeral at his house--By Jings, March, I believe you're
his fancy!"

"Oh, now! Don't you be a poet, Fulkerson!"

"I do! He seemed to take a kind of shine to you from the day you wouldn't
turn off old Lindau; he did, indeed. It kind of shook him up. It made him
think you had something in you. He was deceived by appearances. Look
here! I'm going round to see Mrs. March with you, and explain the thing
to her. I know Mrs. March! She wouldn't believe you knew what you were
going in for. She has a great respect for your mind, but she don't think
you've got any sense. Heigh?"

"All right," said March, glad of the notion; and it was really a comfort
to have Fulkerson with him to develop all the points; and it was
delightful to see how clearly and quickly she seized them; it made March
proud of her. She was only angry that they had lost any time in coming to
submit so plain a case to her.

Mr. Dryfoos might change his mind in the night, and then everything would
be lost. They must go to him instantly, and tell him that they accepted;
they must telegraph him.

"Might as well send a district messenger; he'd get there next week," said
Fulkerson. "No, no! It 'll all keep till to-morrow, and be the better for
it. If he's got this fancy for March, as I say, he ain't agoing to change
it in a single night. People don't change their fancies for March in a
lifetime. Heigh?"

When Fulkerson turned up very early at the office next morning, as March
did, he was less strenuous about Dryfoos's fancy for March. It was as if
Miss Woodburn might have blown cold upon that theory, as something unjust
to his own merit, for which she would naturally be more jealous than he.

March told him what he had forgotten to tell him the day before, though
he had been trying, all through their excited talk, to get it in, that
the Dryfooses were going abroad.

"Oh, ho!" cried Fulkerson. "That's the milk in the cocoanut, is it? Well,
I thought there must be something."

But this fact had not changed Mrs. March at all in her conviction that it
was Mr. Dryfoos's fancy for her husband which had moved him to make him
this extraordinary offer, and she reminded him that it had first been
made to him, without regard to Fulkerson. "And perhaps," she went on,
"Mr. Dryfoos has been changed---softened; and doesn't find money all in
all any more. He's had enough to change him, poor old man!"

"Does anything from without change us?" her husband mused aloud. "We're
brought up to think so by the novelists, who really have the charge of
people's thinking, nowadays. But I doubt it, especially if the thing
outside is some great event, something cataclysmal, like this tremendous
sorrow of Dryfoos's."

"Then what is it that changes us?" demanded his wife, almost angry with
him for his heresy.

"Well, it won't do to say, the Holy Spirit indwelling. That would sound
like cant at this day. But the old fellows that used to say that had some
glimpses of the truth. They knew that it is the still, small voice that
the soul heeds, not the deafening blasts of doom. I suppose I should have
to say that we didn't change at all. We develop. There's the making of
several characters in each of us; we are each several characters, and
sometimes this character has the lead in us, and sometimes that. From
what Fulkerson has told me of Dryfoos, I should say he had always had the
potentiality of better things in him than he has ever been yet; and
perhaps the time has come for the good to have its chance. The growth in
one direction has stopped; it's begun in another; that's all. The man
hasn't been changed by his son's death; it stunned, it benumbed him; but
it couldn't change him. It was an event, like any other, and it had to
happen as much as his being born. It was forecast from the beginning of
time, and was as entirely an effect of his coming into the world--"

"Basil! Basil!" cried his wife. "This is fatalism!"

"Then you think," he said, "that a sparrow falls to the ground without
the will of God?" and he laughed provokingly. But he went on more
soberly: "I don't know what it all means Isabel though I believe it means
good. What did Christ himself say? That if one rose from the dead it
would not avail. And yet we are always looking for the miraculous! I
believe that unhappy old man truly grieves for his son, whom he treated
cruelly without the final intention of cruelty, for he loved him and
wished to be proud of him; but I don't think his death has changed him,
any more than the smallest event in the chain of events remotely working
through his nature from the beginning. But why do you think he's changed
at all? Because he offers to sell me Every Other Week on easy terms? He
says himself that he has no further use for the thing; and he knows
perfectly well that he couldn't get his money out of it now, without an
enormous shrinkage. He couldn't appear at this late day as the owner, and
sell it to anybody but Fulkerson and me for a fifth of what it's cost
him. He can sell it to us for all it's cost him; and four per cent. is no
bad interest on his money till we can pay it back. It's a good thing for
us; but we have to ask whether Dryfoos has done us the good, or whether
it's the blessing of Heaven. If it's merely the blessing of Heaven, I
don't propose being grateful for it."

March laughed again, and his wife said, "It's disgusting."

"It's business," he assented. "Business is business; but I don't say it
isn't disgusting. Lindau had a low opinion of it."

"I think that with all his faults Mr. Dryfoos is a better man than
Lindau," she proclaimed.

"Well, he's certainly able to offer us a better thing in 'Every Other
Week,'" said March.

She knew he was enamoured of the literary finish of his cynicism, and
that at heart he was as humbly and truly grateful as she was for the
good-fortune opening to them.



XVII.

Beaton was at his best when he parted for the last time with Alma
Leighton, for he saw then that what had happened to him was the necessary
consequence of what he had been, if not what he had done. Afterward he
lost this clear vision; he began to deny the fact; he drew upon his
knowledge of life, and in arguing himself into a different frame of mind
he alleged the case of different people who had done and been much worse
things than he, and yet no such disagreeable consequence had befallen
them. Then he saw that it was all the work of blind chance, and he said
to himself that it was this that made him desperate, and willing to call
evil his good, and to take his own wherever he could find it. There was a
great deal that was literary and factitious and tawdry in the mood in
which he went to see Christine Dryfoos, the night when the Marches sat
talking their prospects over; and nothing that was decided in his
purpose. He knew what the drift of his mind was, but he had always
preferred to let chance determine his events, and now since chance had
played him such an ill turn with Alma, he left it the whole
responsibility. Not in terms, but in effect, this was his thought as he
walked on up-town to pay the first of the visits which Dryfoos had
practically invited him to resume. He had an insolent satisfaction in
having delayed it so long; if he was going back he was going back on his
own conditions, and these were to be as hard and humiliating as he could
make them. But this intention again was inchoate, floating, the stuff of
an intention, rather than intention; an expression of temperament
chiefly.

He had been expected before that. Christine had got out of Mela that her
father had been at Beaton's studio; and then she had gone at the old man
and got from him every smallest fact of the interview there. She had
flung back in his teeth the good-will toward herself with which he had
gone to Beaton. She was furious with shame and resentment; she told him
he had made bad worse, that he had made a fool of himself to no end; she
spared neither his age nor his grief-broken spirit, in which his will
could not rise against hers. She filled the house with her rage,
screaming it out upon him; but when her fury was once spent, she began to
have some hopes from what her father had done. She no longer kept her
bed; every evening she dressed herself in the dress Beaton admired the
most, and sat up till a certain hour to receive him. She had fixed a day
in her own mind before which, if he came, she would forgive him all he
had made her suffer: the mortification, the suspense, the despair. Beyond
this, she had the purpose of making her father go to Europe; she felt
that she could no longer live in America, with the double disgrace that
had been put upon her.

Beaton rang, and while the servant was coming the insolent caprice seized
him to ask for the young ladies instead of the old man, as he had
supposed of course he should do. The maid who answered the bell, in the
place of the reluctant Irishman of other days, had all his hesitation in
admitting that the young ladies were at home.

He found Mela in the drawing-room. At sight of him she looked scared; but
she seemed to be reassured by his calm. He asked if he was not to have
the pleasure of seeing Miss Dryfoos, too; and Mela said she reckoned the
girl had gone up-stairs to tell her. Mela was in black, and Beaton noted
how well the solid sable became her rich red-blonde beauty; he wondered
what the effect would be with Christine.

But she, when she appeared, was not in mourning. He fancied that she wore
the lustrous black silk, with the breadths of white Venetian lace about
the neck which he had praised, because he praised it. Her cheeks burned
with a Jacqueminot crimson; what should be white in her face was chalky
white. She carried a plumed ostrich fan, black and soft, and after giving
him her hand, sat down and waved it to and fro slowly, as he remembered
her doing the night they first met. She had no ideas, except such as
related intimately to herself, and she had no gabble, like Mela; and she
let him talk. It was past the day when she promised herself she would
forgive him; but as he talked on she felt all her passion for him revive,
and the conflict of desires, the desire to hate, the desire to love, made
a dizzying whirl in her brain. She looked at him, half doubting whether
he was really there or not. He had never looked so handsome, with his
dreamy eyes floating under his heavy overhanging hair, and his pointed
brown beard defined against his lustrous shirtfront. His mellowly
modulated, mysterious voice lulled her; when Mela made an errand out of
the room, and Beaton crossed to her and sat down by her, she shivered.

"Are you cold?" he asked, and she felt the cruel mockery and exultant
consciousness of power in his tone, as perhaps a wild thing feels
captivity in the voice of its keeper. But now, she said she would still
forgive him if he asked her.

Mela came back, and the talk fell again to the former level; but Beaton
had not said anything that really meant what she wished, and she saw that
he intended to say nothing. Her heart began to burn like a fire in her
breast.

"You been tellun' him about our goun' to Europe?" Mela asked.

"No," said Christine, briefly, and looking at the fan spread out on her
lap.

Beaton asked when; and then he rose, and said if it was so soon, he
supposed he should not see them again, unless he saw them in Paris; he
might very likely run over during the summer. He said to himself that he
had given it a fair trial with Christine, and he could not make it go.

Christine rose, with a kind of gasp; and mechanically followed him to the
door of the drawing-room; Mela came, too; and while he was putting on his
overcoat, she gurgled and bubbled in good-humor with all the world.
Christine stood looking at him, and thinking how still handsomer he was
in his overcoat; and that fire burned fiercer in her. She felt him more
than life to her and knew him lost, and the frenzy, that makes a woman
kill the man she loves, or fling vitriol to destroy the beauty she cannot
have for all hers, possessed her lawless soul. He gave his hand to Mela,
and said, in his wind-harp stop, "Good-bye."

As he put out his hand to Christine, she pushed it aside with a scream of
rage; she flashed at him, and with both hands made a feline pass at the
face he bent toward her. He sprang back, and after an instant of
stupefaction he pulled open the door behind him and ran out into the
street.

"Well, Christine Dryfoos!" said Mela, "Sprang at him like a wild-cat!"

"I, don't care," Christine shrieked. "I'll tear his eyes out!" She flew
up-stairs to her own room, and left the burden of the explanation to
Mela, who did it justice.

Beaton found himself, he did not know how, in his studio, reeking with
perspiration and breathless. He must almost have run. He struck a match
with a shaking hand, and looked at his face in the glass. He expected to
see the bleeding marks of her nails on his cheeks, but he could see
nothing. He grovelled inwardly; it was all so low and coarse and vulgar;
it was all so just and apt to his deserts.

There was a pistol among the dusty bric-a-brac on the mantel which he had
kept loaded to fire at a cat in the area. He took it and sat looking into
the muzzle, wishing it might go off by accident and kill him. It slipped
through his hand and struck the floor, and there was a report; he sprang
into the air, feeling that he had been shot. But he found himself still
alive, with only a burning line along his cheek, such as one of
Christine's finger-nails might have left.

He laughed with cynical recognition of the fact that he had got his
punishment in the right way, and that his case was not to be dignified
into tragedy.



XVIII.

The Marches, with Fulkerson, went to see the Dryfooses off on the French
steamer. There was no longer any business obligation on them to be civil,
and there was greater kindness for that reason in the attention they
offered. 'Every Other Week' had been made over to the joint ownership of
March and Fulkerson, and the details arranged with a hardness on
Dryfoos's side which certainly left Mrs. March with a sense of his
incomplete regeneration. Yet when she saw him there on the steamer, she
pitied him; he looked wearied and bewildered; even his wife, with her
twitching head, and her prophecies of evil, croaked hoarsely out, while
she clung to Mrs. March's hand where they sat together till the
leave-takers were ordered ashore, was less pathetic. Mela was looking
after both of them, and trying to cheer them in a joyful excitement. "I
tell 'em it's goun' to add ten years to both their lives," she said. "The
voyage 'll do their healths good; and then, we're gittun' away from that
miser'ble pack o' servants that was eatun' us up, there in New York. I
hate the place!" she said, as if they had already left it. "Yes, Mrs.
Mandel's goun', too," she added, following the direction of Mrs. March's
eyes where they noted Mrs. Mandel, speaking to Christine on the other
side of the cabin. "Her and Christine had a kind of a spat, and she was
goun' to leave, but here only the other day, Christine offered to make it
up with her, and now they're as thick as thieves. Well, I reckon we
couldn't very well 'a' got along without her. She's about the only one
that speaks French in this family."

Mrs. March's eyes still dwelt upon Christine's face; it was full of a
furtive wildness. She seemed to be keeping a watch to prevent herself
from looking as if she were looking for some one. "Do you know," Mrs.
March said to her husband as they jingled along homeward in the
Christopher Street bob-tail car, "I thought she was in love with that
detestable Mr. Beaton of yours at one time; and that he was amusing
himself with her."

"I can bear a good deal, Isabel," said March, "but I wish you wouldn't
attribute Beaton to me. He's the invention of that Mr. Fulkerson of
yours."

"Well, at any rate, I hope, now, you'll both get rid of him, in the
reforms you're going to carry out."

These reforms were for a greater economy in the management of 'Every
Other Week;' but in their very nature they could not include the
suppression of Beaton. He had always shown himself capable and loyal to
the interests of the magazine, and both the new owners were glad to keep
him. He was glad to stay, though he made a gruff pretence of
indifference, when they came to look over the new arrangement with him.
In his heart he knew that he was a fraud; but at least he could say to
himself with truth that he had not now the shame of taking Dryfoos's
money.

March and Fulkerson retrenched at several points where it had seemed
indispensable to spend, as long as they were not spending their own: that
was only human. Fulkerson absorbed Conrad's department into his, and
March found that he could dispense with Kendricks in the place of
assistant which he had lately filled since Fulkerson had decided that
March was overworked. They reduced the number of illustrated articles,
and they systematized the payment of contributors strictly according to
the sales of each number, on their original plan of co-operation: they
had got to paying rather lavishly for material without reference to the
sales.

Fulkerson took a little time to get married, and went on his wedding
journey out to Niagara, and down the St. Lawrence to Quebec over the line
of travel that the Marches had taken on their wedding journey. He had the
pleasure of going from Montreal to Quebec on the same boat on which he
first met March.

They have continued very good friends, and their wives are almost without
the rivalry that usually embitters the wives of partners. At first Mrs.
March did not like Mrs. Fulkerson's speaking of her husband as the Ownah,
and March as the Edito'; but it appeared that this was only a convenient
method of recognizing the predominant quality in each, and was meant
neither to affirm nor to deny anything. Colonel Woodburn offered as his
contribution to the celebration of the copartnership, which Fulkerson
could not be prevented from dedicating with a little dinner, the story of
Fulkerson's magnanimous behavior in regard to Dryfoos at that crucial
moment when it was a question whether he should give up Dryfoos or give
up March. Fulkerson winced at it; but Mrs. March told her husband that
now, whatever happened, she should never have any misgivings of Fulkerson
again; and she asked him if he did not think he ought to apologize to him
for the doubts with which he had once inspired her. March said that he
did not think so.

The Fulkersons spent the summer at a seaside hotel in easy reach of the
city; but they returned early to Mrs. Leighton's, with whom they are to
board till spring, when they are going to fit up Fulkerson's bachelor
apartment for housekeeping. Mrs. March, with her Boston scruple, thinks
it will be odd, living over the 'Every Other Week' offices; but there
will be a separate street entrance to the apartment; and besides, in New
York you may do anything.

The future of the Leightons promises no immediate change. Kendricks goes
there a good deal to see the Fulkersons, and Mrs. Fulkerson says he comes
to see Alma. He has seemed taken with her ever since he first met her at
Dryfoos's, the day of Lindau's funeral, and though Fulkerson objects to
dating a fancy of that kind from an occasion of that kind, he justly
argues with March that there can be no harm in it, and that we are liable
to be struck by lightning any time. In the mean while there is no proof
that Alma returns Kendricks's interest, if he feels any. She has got a
little bit of color into the fall exhibition; but the fall exhibition is
never so good as the spring exhibition. Wetmore is rather sorry she has
succeeded in this, though he promoted her success. He says her real hope
is in black and white, and it is a pity for her to lose sight of her
original aim of drawing for illustration.

News has come from Paris of the engagement of Christine Dryfoos. There
the Dryfooses met with the success denied them in New York; many American
plutocrats must await their apotheosis in Europe, where society has them,
as it were, in a translation. Shortly after their arrival they were
celebrated in the news papers as the first millionaire American family of
natural-gas extraction who had arrived in the capital of civilization;
and at a French watering-place Christine encountered her fate--a nobleman
full of present debts and of duels in the past. Fulkerson says the old
man can manage the debtor, and Christine can look out for the duellist.
"They say those fellows generally whip their wives. He'd better not try
it with Christine, I reckon, unless he's practised with a panther."

One day, shortly after their return to town in the autumn from the brief
summer outing they permitted themselves, the Marches met Margaret Vance.
At first they did not know her in the dress of the sisterhood which she
wore; but she smiled joyfully, almost gayly, on seeing them, and though
she hurried by with the sister who accompanied her, and did not stay to
speak, they felt that the peace that passeth understanding had looked at
them from her eyes.

"Well, she is at rest, there can't be any doubt of that," he said, as he
glanced round at the drifting black robe which followed her free,
nun-like walk.

"Yes, now she can do all the good she likes," sighed his wife. "I
wonder--I wonder if she ever told his father about her talk with poor
Conrad that day he was shot?"

"I don't know. I don't care. In any event, it would be right. She did
nothing wrong. If she unwittingly sent him to his death, she sent him to
die for God's sake, for man's sake."

"Yes--yes. But still--"

"Well, we must trust that look of hers."



PG EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:

    Affected absence of mind
    Be good, sweet man, and let who will be clever
    Comfort of the critical attitude
    Conscience weakens to the need that isn't
    Death is an exile that no remorse and no love can reach
    Death is peace and pardon
    Did not idealize him, but in the highest effect she realized him
    Does any one deserve happiness
    Does anything from without change us?
    Europe, where society has them, as it were, in a translation
    Favorite stock of his go up and go down under the betting
    Hemmed round with this eternal darkness of death
    Indispensable
    Love of justice hurry them into sympathy with violence
    Married for no other purpose than to avoid being an old maid
    Nervous woes of comfortable people
    Novelists, who really have the charge of people's thinking
    People that have convictions are difficult
    Rejoice as much at a non-marriage as a marriage
    Respect for your mind, but she don't think you've got any sense
    Superstition of the romances that love is once for all
    Superstition that having and shining is the chief good
    To do whatever one likes is finally to do nothing that one likes
    Took the world as she found it, and made the best of it
    What we can be if we must
    When you look it--live it
    Would sacrifice his best friend to a phrase





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