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A Hazard of New Fortunes — Complete by Howells

Alma could not feel the absurdity of this


"I

would try," said Alma, rapidly shading the collar, "if you'd give me some hint."

Beaton had a sudden wish to pour out his remorse to her, but he was afraid of her laughing at him. He said to himself that this was a very wholesome fear, and that if he could always have her at hand he should not make a fool of himself so often. A man conceives of such an office as the very noblest for a woman; he worships her for it if he is magnanimous. But Beaton was silent, and Alma put back her head for the right distance on her sketch. "Mr. Fulkerson thinks you are the sublimest of human beings for advising him to get Colonel Woodburn to interview Mr. Dryfoos about Lindau. What have you ever done with your Judas?"

"I haven't done anything with it. Nadel thought he would take hold of it at one time, but he dropped it again. After all, I don't suppose it could be popularized. Fulkerson wanted to offer it as a premium to subscribers for 'Every Other Week,' but I sat down on that."

Alma could not feel the absurdity of this, and she merely said, "'Every Other Week' seems to be going on just the same as ever."

"Yes, the trouble has all blown over, I believe. Fulkerson," said Beaton, with a return to what they were saying, "has managed the whole business very well. But he exaggerates the value of my advice."

"Very likely," Alma

suggested, vaguely. "Or, no! Excuse me! He couldn't, he couldn't!" She laughed delightedly at Beaton's foolish look of embarrassment.

He tried to recover his dignity in saying, "He's 'a very good fellow, and he deserves his happiness."

"Oh, indeed!" said Alma, perversely. "Does any one deserve happiness?"

"I know I don't," sighed Beaton.

"You mean you don't get it."

"I certainly don't get it."

"Ah, but that isn't the reason."

"What is?"

"That's the secret of the universe," She bit in her lower lip, and looked at him with eyes, of gleaming fun.

"Are you never serious?" he asked.

"With serious people always."

"I am serious; and you have the secret of my happiness--" He threw himself impulsively forward in his chair.

"Oh, pose, pose!" she cried.

"I won't pose," he answered, "and you have got to listen to me. You know I'm in love with you; and I know that once you cared for me. Can't that time--won't it--come back again? Try to think so, Alma!"

"No," she said, briefly and seriously enough.

"But that seems impossible. What is it I've done what have you against me?"

"Nothing. But that time is past. I couldn't recall it if I wished. Why did you bring it up? You've broken your word. You know I wouldn't have let you keep coming here if you hadn't promised never to refer to it."

"How could I help it? With that happiness near us--Fulkerson--"


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