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A Hazard of New Fortunes — Complete by Howells

Fulkerson laughed and said Well


"What

would you do?" asked Fulkerson, a good deal daunted by this view of the case.

"Do? Nothing. Hasn't the State Board of Arbitration declared itself powerless? We have no hold upon the strikers; and we're so used to being snubbed and disobliged by common carriers that we have forgotten our hold on the roads and always allow them to manage their own affairs in their own way, quite as if we had nothing to do with them and they owed us no services in return for their privileges."

"That's a good deal so," said Fulkerson, disordering his hair. "Well, it's nuts for the colonel nowadays. He says if he was boss of this town he would seize the roads on behalf of the people, and man 'em with policemen, and run 'em till the managers had come to terms with the strikers; and he'd do that every time there was a strike."

"Doesn't that rather savor of the paternalism he condemned in Lindau?" asked March.

"I don't know. It savors of horse sense."

"You are pretty far gone, Fulkerson. I thought you were the most engaged man I ever saw; but I guess you're more father-in-lawed. And before you're married, too."

"Well, the colonel's a glorious old fellow, March. I wish he had the power to do that thing, just for the fun of looking on while he waltzed in. He's on the keen jump from morning till night,

and he's up late and early to see the row. I'm afraid he'll get shot at some of the fights; he sees them all; I can't get any show at them: haven't seen a brickbat shied or a club swung yet. Have you?"

"No, I find I can philosophize the situation about as well from the papers, and that's what I really want to do, I suppose. Besides, I'm solemnly pledged by Mrs. March not to go near any sort of crowd, under penalty of having her bring the children and go with me. Her theory is that we must all die together; the children haven't been at school since the strike began. There's no precaution that Mrs. March hasn't used. She watches me whenever I go out, and sees that I start straight for this office."

Fulkerson laughed and said: "Well, it's probably the only thing that's saved your life. Have you seen anything of Beaton lately?"

"No. You don't mean to say he's killed!"

"Not if he knows it. But I don't know--What do you say, March? What's the reason you couldn't get us up a paper on the strike?"

"I knew it would fetch round to 'Every Other Week,' somehow."

"No, but seriously. There 'll be plenty of news paper accounts. But you could treat it in the historical spirit--like something that happened several centuries ago; De Foe's Plague of London style. Heigh? What made me think of it was Beaton. If I could get hold of him, you two could go round together and take down its aesthetic aspects. It's a big thing, March, this strike is. I tell you it's imposing to have a private war, as you say, fought out this way, in the heart of New York, and New York not minding, it a bit. See? Might take that view of it. With your descriptions and Beaton's sketches--well, it would just be the greatest card! Come! What do you say?"


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