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A Hazard of New Fortunes, v5 by William Dean Howells

Part 3 out of 3

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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."

ETEXT 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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