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A Hazard of New Fortunes — Complete by Howells

The mother was brought up a Dunkard


"The

Dryfooses certainly wouldn't know how to make their way among you," said Beaton, with a sort of dreamy absence in his tone.

Miss Vance went on, speaking out the process of reasoning in her mind, rather than any conclusions she had reached. "We defend ourselves by trying to believe that they must have friends of their own, or that they would think us patronizing, and wouldn't like being made the objects of social charity; but they needn't really suppose anything of the kind."

"I don't imagine they would," said Beaton. "I think they'd be only too happy to have you come. But you wouldn't know what to do with each other, indeed, Miss Vance."

"Perhaps we shall like each other," said the girl, bravely, "and then we shall know. What Church are they of?"

"I don't believe they're of any," said Beaton. "The mother was brought up a Dunkard."

"A Dunkard?"

Beaton told what he knew of the primitive sect, with its early Christian polity, its literal interpretation of Christ's ethics, and its quaint ceremonial of foot-washing; he made something picturesque of that. "The father is a Mammon-worshipper, pure and simple. I suppose the young ladies go to church, but I don't know where. They haven't tried to convert me."

"I'll tell them not to despair--after

I've converted them," said Miss Vance. "Will you let me use you as a 'point d'appui', Mr. Beaton?"

"Any way you like. If you're really going to see them, perhaps I'd better make a confession. I left your banjo with them, after I got it put in order."

"How very nice! Then we have a common interest already."

"Do you mean the banjo, or--"

"The banjo, decidedly. Which of them plays?"

"Neither. But the eldest heard that the banjo was 'all the rage,' as the youngest says. Perhaps you can persuade them that good works are the rage, too."

Beaton had no very lively belief that Margaret would go to see the Dryfooses; he did so few of the things he proposed that he went upon the theory that others must be as faithless. Still, he had a cruel amusement in figuring the possible encounter between Margaret Vance, with her intellectual elegance, her eager sympathies and generous ideals, and those girls with their rude past, their false and distorted perspective, their sordid and hungry selfishness, and their faith in the omnipotence of their father's wealth wounded by their experience of its present social impotence. At the bottom of his heart he sympathized with them rather than with her; he was more like them.

People had ceased coming, and some of them were going. Miss Vance said she must go, too, and she was about to rise, when the host came up with March; Beaton turned away.

"Miss Vance, I want to introduce Mr. March, the editor of 'Every Other Week.' You oughtn't to be restricted to the art department. We literary fellows think that arm of the service gets too much of the glory nowadays." His banter was for Beaton, but he was already beyond ear-shot, and the host went on:


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