A HAZARD OF NEW FORTUNES
By William Dean Howells
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
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'appetit 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
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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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?"
"No, no! Nothing of that kind; perfectly sincere and disinterested
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"I suspect we couldn't help it," March returned, lightly. "It's one of
what Lindau calls his 'brincibles' to say what he thinks."
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
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 something 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 everybody
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 measure authorized, 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
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
innumerable 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.
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
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
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
"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
"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
"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
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
"Yes, we've got a little arrangement of that sort with March here," said
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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.
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
"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
"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
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
"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
"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,
"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
"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
"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
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
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
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
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
"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
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
"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
"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
"What!" shouted Lindau. "You would sobbress the unionss of the
"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
"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.
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
"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
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
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 heart 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
"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
"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
"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
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.
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
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 had 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
"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."
"And he has a right to expect that I will consider his pecuniary
"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
"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
"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
"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
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
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
"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
"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,
"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
"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
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
"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
"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, someone 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
"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 me boat 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
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 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
"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."
"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
"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
"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
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
"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
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
"Yes, you see," Fulkerson added, "nobody can give in."
"Pardon me," said the colonel, "the case is one in which all can give
"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
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
"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
"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,
"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
"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?"
"And Mr. Mawch takes the risk of that jost fo' a principle?"
"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
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
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 tune 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
"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
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."