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A Hazard of New Fortunes — Complete by Howells

But I thought everything of Coonrod


"There's

a great deal to be said on both sides," March began, hoping to lead up through this generality to the fact of Lindau's death; but the old man went on:

"Well, all I wanted him to know is that I wasn't trying to punish him for what he said about things in general. You naturally got that idea, I reckon; but I always went in for lettin' people say what they please and think what they please; it's the only way in a free country."

"I'm afraid, Mr. Dryfoos, that it would make little difference to Lindau now--"

"I don't suppose he bears malice for it," said Dryfoos, "but what I want to do is to have him told so. He could understand just why I didn't want to be called hard names, and yet I didn't object to his thinkin' whatever he pleased. I'd like him to know--"

"No one can speak to him, no one can tell him," March began again, but again Dryfoos prevented him from going on.

"I understand it's a delicate thing; and I'm not askin' you to do it. What I would really like to do--if you think he could be prepared for it, some way, and could stand it--would be to go to him myself, and tell him just what the trouble was. I'm in hopes, if I done that, he could see how I felt about it."

A picture of Dryfoos going to the dead Lindau with his vain regrets presented itself to March, and he tried

once more to make the old man understand. "Mr. Dryfoos," he said, "Lindau is past all that forever," and he felt the ghastly comedy of it when Dryfoos continued, without heeding him.

"I got a particular reason why I want him to believe it wasn't his ideas I objected to--them ideas of his about the government carryin' everything on and givin' work. I don't understand 'em exactly, but I found a writin'--among--my son's-things" (he seemed to force the words through his teeth), "and I reckon he--thought--that way. Kind of a diary--where he--put down--his thoughts. My son and me--we differed about a good-many things." His chin shook, and from time to time he stopped. "I wasn't very good to him, I reckon; I crossed him where I guess I got no business to cross him; but I thought everything of--Coonrod. He was the best boy, from a baby, that ever was; just so patient and mild, and done whatever he was told. I ought to 'a' let him been a preacher! Oh, my son! my son!" The sobs could not be kept back any longer; they shook the old man with a violence that made March afraid for him; but he controlled himself at last with a series of hoarse sounds like barks. "Well, it's all past and gone! But as I understand you from what you saw, when Coonrod was--killed, he was tryin' to save that old man from trouble?"

"Yes, yes! It seemed so to me."

"That 'll do, then! I want you to have him come back and write for the book when he gets well. I want you to find out and let me know if there's anything I can do for him. I'll feel as if I done it--for my--son. I'll take him into my own house, and do for him there, if you say so, when he gets so he can be moved. I'll wait on him myself. It's what Coonrod 'd do, if he was here. I don't feel any hardness to him because it was him that got Coonrod killed, as you might say, in one sense of the term; but I've tried to think it out, and I feel like I was all the more beholden to him because my son died tryin' to save him. Whatever I do, I'll be doin' it for Coonrod, and that's enough for me." He seemed to have finished, and he turned to March as if to hear what he had to say.


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