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A Hazard of New Fortunes — Complete by Howells

Papa thoat you wanted him to go


"Miss

Leighton thinks he ought to be afraid of her," Miss Woodburn explained.

"It's a question of his courage, then?" said Alma.

"Well, I don't think there are many young ladies that Beaton's afraid of," said Fulkerson, giving himself the respite of this purely random remark, while he interrogated the faces of Mrs. Leighton and Colonel Woodburn for some light upon the tendency of their daughters' words.

He was not helped by Mrs. Leighton's saying, with a certain anxiety, "I don't know what you mean, Mr. Fulkerson."

"Well, you're as much in the dark as I am myself, then," said Fulkerson. "I suppose I meant that Beaton is rather--a--favorite, you know. The women like him."

Mrs. Leighton sighed, and Colonel Woodburn rose and left the room.

In the silence that followed, Fulkerson looked from one lady to the other with dismay. "I seem to have put my foot in it, somehow," he suggested, and Miss Woodburn gave a cry of laughter.

"Poo' Mr. Fulkerson! Poo' Mr. Fulkerson! Papa thoat you wanted him to go."

"Wanted him to go?" repeated Fulkerson.

"We always mention Mr. Beaton when we want to get rid of papa."

"Well, it seems to me that I have noticed that

he didn't take much interest in Beaton, as a general topic. But I don't know that I ever saw it drive him out of the room before!"

"Well, he isn't always so bad," said Miss Woodburn. "But it was a case of hate at first sight, and it seems to be growin' on papa."

"Well, I can understand that," said Fulkerson. "The impulse to destroy Beaton is something that everybody has to struggle against at the start."

"I must say, Mr. Fulkerson," said Mrs. Leighton, in the tremor through which she nerved herself to differ openly with any one she liked, "I never had to struggle with anything of the kind, in regard to Mr. Beaton. He has always been most respectful and--and--considerate, with me, whatever he has been with others."

"Well, of course, Mrs. Leighton!" Fulkerson came back in a soothing tone. "But you see you're the rule that proves the exception. I was speaking of the way men felt about Beaton. It's different with ladies; I just said so."

"Is it always different?" Alma asked, lifting her head and her hand from her drawing, and staring at it absently.

Fulkerson pushed both his hands through his whiskers. "Look here! Look here!" he said. "Won't somebody start some other subject? We haven't had the weather up yet, have we? Or the opera? What is the matter with a few remarks about politics?"

"Why, Ah thoat you lahked to toak about the staff of yo' magazine," said Miss Woodburn.

"Oh, I do!" said Fulkerson. "But not always about the same member of it. He gets monotonous, when he doesn't get complicated. I've just come round from the Marches'," he added, to Mrs. Leighton.

"I suppose they've got thoroughly settled in their apartment by this time." Mrs. Leighton said something like this whenever the Marches were mentioned. At the bottom of her heart she had not forgiven them for not taking her rooms; she had liked their looks so much; and she was always hoping that they were uncomfortable or dissatisfied; she could not help wanting them punished a little.


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