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A Hazard of New Fortunes — Complete by Howells

Fulkerson called out at sight of him


"The

great thing," she said, "is to be right. I'm ten times as happy as if you had come home and told me that you had consented to do what Dryfoos asked and he had doubled your salary."

"I don't think that would have happened in any event," said March, dryly.

"Well, no matter. I just used it for an example."

They both experienced a buoyant relief, such as seems to come to people who begin life anew on whatever terms. "I hope we are young enough yet, Basil," she said, and she would not have it when he said they had once been younger.

They heard the children's knock on the door; they knocked when they came home from school so that their mother might let them in. "Shall we tell them at once?" she asked, and ran to open for them before March could answer.

They were not alone. Fulkerson, smiling from ear to ear, was with them. "Is March in?" he asked.

"Mr. March is at home, yes," she said very haughtily. "He's in his study," and she led the way there, while the children went to their rooms.

"Well, March," Fulkerson called out at sight of him, "it's all right! The old man has come down."

"I suppose if you gentlemen are going to talk business--" Mrs. March began.

"Oh, we don't want

you to go away," said Fulkerson. "I reckon March has told you, anyway."

"Yes, I've told her," said March. "Don't go, Isabel. What do you mean, Fulkerson?"

"He's just gone on up home, and he sent me round with his apologies. He sees now that he had no business to speak to you as he did, and he withdraws everything. He'd 'a' come round himself if I'd said so, but I told him I could make it all right."

Fulkerson looked so happy in having the whole affair put right, and the Marches knew him to be so kindly affected toward them, that they could not refuse for the moment to share his mood. They felt themselves slipping down from the moral height which they had gained, and March made a clutch to stay himself with the question, "And Lindau?"

"Well," said Fulkerson, "he's going to leave Lindau to me. You won't have anything to do with it. I'll let the old fellow down easy."

"Do you mean," asked March, "that Mr. Dryfoos insists on his being dismissed?"

"Why, there isn't any dismissing about it," Fulkerson argued. "If you don't send him any more work, he won't do any more, that's all. Or if he comes round, you can--He's to be referred to me."

March shook his head, and his wife, with a sigh, felt herself plucked up from the soft circumstance of their lives, which she had sunk back into so quickly, and set beside him on that cold peak of principle again. "It won't do, Fulkerson. It's very good of you, and all that, but it comes to the same thing in the end. I could have gone on without any apology from Mr. Dryfoos; he transcended his authority, but that's a minor matter. I could have excused it to his ignorance of life among gentlemen; but I can't consent to Lindau's dismissal--it comes to that, whether you do it or I do it, and whether it's a positive or a negative thing--because he holds this opinion or that."


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