free ebooks

A Hazard of New Fortunes — Complete by Howells

Conrad has got a lot of notions that nobody can understand


"I'm

sorry my father isn't here," said the young man to Mrs. March. "He's never met you yet?"

"No; and I should like to see him. We hear a great deal about your father, you know, from Mr. Fulkerson."

"Oh, I hope you don't believe everything Mr. Fulkerson says about people," Mela cried. "He's the greatest person for carrying on when he gets going I ever saw. It makes Christine just as mad when him and mother gets to talking about religion; she says she knows he don't care anything more about it than the man in the moon. I reckon he don't try it on much with father."

"Your fawther ain't ever been a perfessor," her mother interposed; "but he's always been a good church-goin' man."

"Not since we come to New York," retorted the girl.

"He's been all broke up since he come to New York," said the old woman, with an aggrieved look.

Mrs. Mandel attempted a diversion. "Have you heard any of our great New York preachers yet, Mrs. March?"

"No, I haven't," Mrs. March admitted; and she tried to imply by her candid tone that she intended to begin hearing them the very next Sunday.

"There are a great many things here," said Conrad, "to take your thoughts off the preaching that you hear in most of the churches. I think the city

itself is preaching the best sermon all the time."

"I don't know that I understand you," said March.

Mela answered for him. "Oh, Conrad has got a lot of notions that nobody can understand. You ought to see the church he goes to when he does go. I'd about as lief go to a Catholic church myself; I don't see a bit o' difference. He's the greatest crony with one of their preachers; he dresses just like a priest, and he says he is a priest." She laughed for enjoyment of the fact, and her brother cast down his eyes.

Mrs. March, in her turn, tried to take from it the personal tone which the talk was always assuming. "Have you been to the fall exhibition?" she asked Christine; and the girl drew herself up out of the abstraction she seemed sunk in.

"The exhibition?" She looked at Mrs. Mandel.

"The pictures of the Academy, you know," Mrs. Mandel explained. "Where I wanted you to go the day you had your dress tried on."

"No; we haven't been yet. Is it good?" She had turned to Mrs. March again.

"I believe the fall exhibitions are never so good as the spring ones. But there are some good pictures."

"I don't believe I care much about pictures," said Christine. "I don't understand them."

"Ah, that's no excuse for not caring about them," said March, lightly. "The painters themselves don't, half the time."

The girl looked at him with that glance at once defiant and appealing, insolent and anxious, which he had noticed before, especially when she stole it toward himself and his wife during her sister's babble. In the light of Fulkerson's history of the family, its origin and its ambition, he interpreted it to mean a sense of her sister's folly and an ignorant will to override his opinion of anything incongruous in themselves and their surroundings. He said to himself that she was deathly proud--too proud to try to palliate anything, but capable of anything that would put others under her feet. Her eyes seemed hopelessly to question his wife's social quality, and he fancied, with not unkindly interest, the inexperienced girl's doubt whether to treat them with much or little respect. He lost himself in fancies about her and her ideals, necessarily sordid, of her possibilities of suffering, of the triumphs and disappointments before her. Her sister would accept both with a lightness that would keep no trace of either; but in her they would sink lastingly deep. He came out of his reverie to find Mrs. Dryfoos saying to him, in her hoarse voice:


eBook Search
Social Sharing
Share Button
About us

freefictionbooks.org is a collection of free ebooks that can be read online. Ebooks are split into pages for easier reading and better bookmarking.

We have more than 35,000 free books in our collection and are adding new books daily.

We invite you to link to us, so as many people as possible can enjoy this wonderful free website.

© 2010-2013 freefictionbooks.org - All Rights Reserved.

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Contact Us