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A Hazard of New Fortunes — Complete by Howells

And Fulkerson stood aside to let him pass


"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 last."

"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 it out."

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.


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