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A Hazard of New Fortunes — Complete by Howells

And if you didn't like New York


"I

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

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

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

"Stop it!" shouted March. "I tell you I never cared anything for Fulkerson's scheme or entertained it seriously, and I shouldn't if he'd proposed to carry it out in Boston." This was not quite true, but in the retrospect it seemed sufficiently so for the purposes of argument. "Don't say another word about it. The thing's over now, and I don't want to think of it any more. We couldn't change its nature if

we talked all night. But I want you to understand that it isn't your limitations that are in the way. It's mine. I shouldn't have the courage to take such a place; I don't think I'm fit for it, and that's the long and short of it."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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