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A Hazard of New Fortunes — Complete by Howells

And Ah'm not afraid of ouah fate


"You will?" he shouted, in a rapture. "In every way--and always--as long as you live? Do you mean it?" He had caught her hand to his breast and was grappling it tight there and drawing her to him.

The changing emotions chased one another through her heart and over her face: dismay, shame, pride, tenderness. "You don't believe," she said, hoarsely, "that Ah meant that?"

"No, but I hope you do mean it; for if you don't, nothing else means anything."

There was no space, there was only a point of wavering. "Ah do mean it."

When they lifted their eyes from each other again it was half-past ten. "No' you most go," she said.

"But the colonel--our fate?"

"The co'nel is often oat late, and Ah'm not afraid of ouah fate, no' that we've taken it into ouah own hands." She looked at him with dewy eyes of trust, of inspiration.

"Oh, it's going to come out all right," he said. "It can't come out wrong now, no matter what happens. But who'd have thought it, when I came into this house, in such a state of sin and misery, half an hour ago--"

"Three houahs and a half ago!" she said. "No! you most jost go. Ah'm tahed to death. Good-night. You can come in the mawning to see-papa." She opened the door and pushed him out with enrapturing violence, and he ran laughing down the steps into her father's arms.

"Why, colonel! I was just going up to meet you." He had really thought he would walk off his exultation in that direction.

"I am very sorry to say, Mr. Fulkerson," the colonel began, gravely, "that Mr. Dryfoos adheres to his position."

"Oh, all right," said Fulkerson, with unabated joy. "It's what I expected. Well, my course is clear; I shall stand by March, and I guess the world won't come to an end if he bounces us both. But I'm everlastingly obliged to you, Colonel Woodburn, and I don't know what to say to you. I--I won't detain you now; it's so late. I'll see you in the morning. Good-ni--"

Fulkerson did not realize that it takes two to part. The colonel laid hold of his arm and turned away with him. "I will walk toward your place with you. I can understand why you should be anxious to know the particulars of my interview with Mr. Dryfoos"; and in the statement which followed he did not spare him the smallest. It outlasted their walk and detained them long on the steps of the 'Every Other Week' building. But at the end Fulkerson let himself in with his key as light of heart as if he had been listening to the gayest promises that fortune could make.

By the time he met March at the office next morning, a little, but only a very little, misgiving saddened his golden heaven. He took March's hand with high courage, and said, "Well, the old man sticks to his point, March." He added, with the sense of saying it before Miss Woodburn: "And I stick by you. I've thought it all over, and I'd rather be right with you than wrong with him."

"Well, I appreciate your motive, Fulkerson," said March. "But perhaps--perhaps we can save over our heroics for another occasion. Lindau seems to have got in with his, for the present."

He told him of Lindau's last visit, and they stood a moment looking at each other rather queerly. Fulkerson was the first to recover his spirits. "Well," he said, cheerily, "that let's us out."


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