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A Hazard of New Fortunes — Complete by Howells

He may have been trying to silence Lindau


"Perhaps

he was of use in dying. Who knows? He may have been trying to silence Lindau."

"Oh, Lindau wasn't worth it!" cried Mrs. March.

Miss Vance looked at her as if she did not quite understand. Then she turned to March. "He might have been unhappy, as we all are; but I know that his life here would have had a higher happiness than we wish for or aim for." The tears began to run silently down her cheeks.

"He looked strangely happy that day when he left me. He had hurt himself somehow, and his face was bleeding from a scratch; he kept his handkerchief up; he was pale, but such a light came into his face when he shook hands--ah, I know he went to try and do what I said!" They were all silent, while she dried her eyes and then put her handkerchief back into the pocket from which she had suddenly pulled it, with a series of vivid, young-ladyish gestures, which struck March by their incongruity with the occasion of their talk, and yet by their harmony with the rest of her elegance. "I am sorry, Miss Vance," he began, "that I can't really tell you anything more--"

"You are very kind," she said, controlling herself and rising quickly. "I thank you--thank you both very much." She turned to Mrs. March and shook hands with her and then with him. "I might have known--I did know that there wasn't anything more for you to tell. But at least I've found out from

you that there was nothing, and now I can begin to bear what I must. How are those poor creatures--his mother and father, his sisters? Some day, I hope, I shall be ashamed to have postponed them to the thought of myself; but I can't pretend to be yet. I could not come to the funeral; I wanted to."

She addressed her question to Mrs. March, who answered: "I can understand. But they were pleased with the flowers you sent; people are, at such times, and they haven't many friends."

"Would you go to see them?" asked the girl. "Would you tell them what I've told you?"

Mrs. March looked at her husband.

"I don't see what good it would do. They wouldn't understand. But if it would relieve you--"

"I'll wait till it isn't a question of self-relief," said the girl. "Good-bye!"

She left them to long debate of the event. At the end Mrs. March said, "She is a strange being; such a mixture of the society girl and the saint."

Her husband answered: "She's the potentiality of several kinds of fanatic. She's very unhappy, and I don't see how she's to be happier about that poor fellow. I shouldn't be surprised if she did inspire him to attempt something of that kind."

"Well, you got out of it very well, Basil. I admired the way you managed. I was afraid you'd say something awkward."

"Oh, with a plain line of truth before me, as the only possible thing, I can get on pretty well. When it comes to anything decorative, I'd rather leave it to you, Isabel."

She seemed insensible of his jest. "Of course, he was in love with her. That was the light that came into his face when he was going to do what he thought she wanted him to do."

"And she--do you think that she was--"


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