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A Hazard of New Fortunes — Complete by Howells

As that horrid little Fulkerson says


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 furious."

"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 himself."

"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.

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