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A Hazard of New Fortunes — Complete by Howells

Wetmore does think of us his class


"Who

vetoed it?" asked Mrs. Leighton, with some curiosity about the process, which she held in reserve.

"I don't know-whoever vetoes things. I wonder what Mr. Wetmore does think of us--his class. We must seem perfectly crazy. There isn't one of us really knows what she's doing it for, or what she expects to happen when she's done it. I suppose every one thinks she has genius. I know the Nebraska widow does, for she says that unless you have genius it isn't the least use. Everybody's puzzled to know what she does with her baby when she's at work--whether she gives it soothing syrup. I wonder how Mr. Wetmore can keep from laughing in our faces. I know he does behind our backs."

Mrs. Leighton's mind wandered back to another point. "Then if he says Mr. Beaton can't paint, I presume he doesn't respect him very much."

"Oh, he never said he couldn't paint. But I know he thinks so. He says he's an excellent critic."

"Alma," her mother said, with the effect of breaking off, "what do you suppose is the reason he hasn't been near us?"

"Why, I don't know, mamma, except that it would have been natural for another person to come, and he's an artist at least, artist enough for that."

"That doesn't account for it altogether. He was very nice at St. Barnaby, and seemed so interested in you--your

work."

"Plenty of people were nice at St. Barnaby. That rich Mrs. Horn couldn't contain her joy when she heard we were coming to New York, but she hasn't poured in upon us a great deal since we got here."

"But that's different. She's very fashionable, and she's taken up with her own set. But Mr. Beaton's one of our kind."

"Thank you. Papa wasn't quite a tombstone-cutter, mamma."

"That makes it all the harder to bear. He can't be ashamed of us. Perhaps he doesn't know where we are."

"Do you wish to send him your card, mamma?" The girl flushed and towered in scorn of the idea.

"Why, no, Alma," returned her mother.

"Well, then," said Alma.

But Mrs. Leighton was not so easily quelled. She had got her mind on Mr. Beaton, and she could not detach it at once. Besides, she was one of those women (they are commoner than the same sort of men) whom it does not pain to take out their most intimate thoughts and examine them in the light of other people's opinions. "But I don't see how he can behave so. He must know that--"

"That what, mamma?" demanded the girl.

"That he influenced us a great deal in coming--"

"He didn't. If he dared to presume to think such a thing--"

"Now, Alma," said her mother, with the clinging persistence of such natures, "you know he did. And it's no use for you to pretend that we didn't count upon him in--in every way. You may not have noticed his attentions, and I don't say you did, but others certainly did; and I must say that I didn't expect he would drop us so."


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