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A Hazard of New Fortunes — Complete by Howells

He did not conceal from Miss Woodburn


"It

might have that complexion in some lights," said Beaton. He drank off his Chianti, and thought he would have it twice a week, or make Maroni keep the half-bottles over for him, and send his father two dollars. "And what are you going to do now?"

"That's what I don't know," said Fulkerson, ruefully. After a moment he said, desperately, "Beaton, you've got a pretty good head; why don't you suggest something?"

"Why don't you let March go?" Beaton suggested.

"Ah, I couldn't," said Fulkerson. "I got him to break up in Boston and come here; I like him; nobody else could get the hang of the thing like he has; he's--a friend." Fulkerson said this with the nearest approach he could make to seriousness, which was a kind of unhappiness.

Beaton shrugged. "Oh, if you can afford to have ideals, I congratulate you. They're too expensive for me. Then, suppose you get rid of Dryfoos?"

Fulkerson laughed forlornly. "Go on, Bildad. Like to sprinkle a few ashes over my boils? Don't mind me!"

They both sat silent a little while, and then Beaton said, "I suppose you haven't seen Dryfoos the second time?"

"No. I came in here to gird up my loins with a little dinner before I tackled him. But something seems to be the matter with Maroni's cook. I don't want anything

to eat."

"The cooking's about as bad as usual," said Beaton. After a moment he added, ironically, for he found Fulkerson's misery a kind of relief from his own, and was willing to protract it as long as it was amusing, "Why not try an envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary?"

"What do you mean?"

"Get that other old fool to go to Dryfoos for you!"

"Which other old fool? The old fools seem to be as thick as flies."

"That Southern one."

"Colonel Woodburn?"

"Mmmmm."

"He did seem to rather take to the colonel!" Fulkerson mused aloud.

"Of course he did. Woodburn, with his idiotic talk about patriarchal slavery, is the man on horseback to Dryfoos's muddy imagination. He'd listen to him abjectly, and he'd do whatever Woodburn told him to do." Beaton smiled cynically.

Fulkerson got up and reached for his coat and hat. "You've struck it, old man." The waiter came up to help him on with his coat; Fulkerson slipped a dollar in his hand. "Never mind the coat; you can give the rest of my dinner to the poor, Paolo. Beaton, shake! You've saved my life, little boy, though I don't think you meant it." He took Beaton's hand and solemnly pressed it, and then almost ran out of the door.

They had just reached coffee at Mrs. Leighton's when he arrived and sat down with them and began to put some of the life of his new hope into them. His appetite revived, and, after protesting that he would not take anything but coffee, he went back and ate some of the earlier courses. But with the pressure of his purpose driving him forward, he did not conceal from Miss Woodburn, at least, that he was eager to get her apart from the rest for some reason. When he accomplished this, it seemed as if he had contrived it all himself, but perhaps he had not wholly contrived it.

"I'm so glad to get a chance to speak to you alone," he said at once; and while she waited for the next word he made a pause, and then said, desperately, "I want you to help me; and if you can't help me, there's no help for me."


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