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A Hazard of New Fortunes — Complete by Howells

March came home from it all perfectly prostrated


"Why,

certainly, Miss Vance," he answered, still too much stupefied by her presence to realize it.

She promptly entered, and saying, with a glance at the hall chair by the door, "My maid can sit here?" followed him to the room where he had left his wife.

Mrs. March showed herself more capable of coping with the fact. She welcomed Miss Vance with the liking they both felt for the girl, and with the sympathy which her troubled face inspired.

"I won't tire you with excuses for coming, Mrs. March," she said, "for it was the only thing left for me to do; and I come at my aunt's suggestion." She added this as if it would help to account for her more on the conventional plane, and she had the instinctive good taste to address herself throughout to Mrs. March as much as possible, though what she had to say was mainly for March. "I don't know how to begin--I don't know how to speak of this terrible affair. But you know what I mean. I feel as if I had lived a whole lifetime since it happened. I don't want you to pity me for it," she said, forestalling a politeness from Mrs. March. "I'm the last one to be thought of, and you mustn't mind me if I try to make you. I came to find out all of the truth that I can, and when I know just what that is I shall know what to do. I have read the inquest; it's all burned into my brain. But I don't care for that--for myself: you must let me say such things

without minding me. I know that your husband--that Mr. March was there; I read his testimony; and I wished to ask him--to ask him--" She stopped and looked distractedly about. "But what folly! He must have said everything he knew--he had to." Her eyes wandered to him from his wife, on whom she had kept them with instinctive tact.

"I said everything--yes," he replied. "But if you would like to know--"

"Perhaps I had better tell you something first. I had just parted with him--it couldn't have been more than half an hour--in front of Brentano's; he must have gone straight to his death. We were talking, and I--I said, Why didn't some one go among the strikers and plead with them to be peaceable, and keep them from attacking the new men. I knew that he felt as I did about the strikers: that he was their friend. Did you see--do you know anything that makes you think he had been trying to do that?"

"I am sorry," March began, "I didn't see him at all till--till I saw him lying dead."

"My husband was there purely by accident," Mrs. March put in. "I had begged and entreated him not to go near the striking anywhere. And he had just got out of the car, and saw the policeman strike that wretched Lindau--he's been such an anxiety to me ever since we have had anything to do with him here; my husband knew him when he was a boy in the West. Mr. March came home from it all perfectly prostrated; it made us all sick! Nothing so horrible ever came into our lives before. I assure you it was the most shocking experience."


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