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A Hazard of New Fortunes — Complete by Howells

She said something like this to Beaton


At

last they heard Mrs. Leighton saying, "And have you heard from the publishers about your book yet?"

Then Miss Woodburn cut in, before her father could answer: "The coase of commercialism is on that, too. They are trahing to fahnd oat whethah it will pay."

"And they are right-quite right," said the Colonel. "There is no longer any other criterion; and even a work that attacks the system must be submitted to the tests of the system."

"The system won't accept destruction on any othah tomes," said Miss Woodburn, demurely.

XI.

At the reception, where two men in livery stood aside to let him pass up the outside steps of the house, and two more helped him off with his overcoat indoors, and a fifth miscalled his name into the drawing-room, the Syracuse stone-cutter's son met the niece of Mrs. Horn, and began at once to tell her about his evening at the Dryfooses'. He was in very good spirits, for so far as he could have been elated or depressed by his parting with Alma Leighton he had been elated; she had not treated his impudence with the contempt that he felt it deserved; she must still be fond of him; and the warm sense of this, by operation of an obscure but well-recognized law of the masculine being, disposed him to be rather fond of Miss Vance. She was a slender girl, whose

semi-aesthetic dress flowed about her with an accentuation of her long forms, and redeemed them from censure by the very frankness with which it confessed them; nobody could have said that Margaret Vance was too tall. Her pretty little head, which she had an effect of choosing to have little in the same spirit of judicious defiance, had a good deal of reading in it; she was proud to know literary and artistic fashions as well as society fashions. She liked being singled out by an exterior distinction so obvious as Beaton's, and she listened with sympathetic interest to his account of those people. He gave their natural history reality by drawing upon his own; he reconstructed their plebeian past from the experiences of his childhood and his youth of the pre-Parisian period; and he had a pang of suicidal joy in insulting their ignorance of the world.

"What different kinds of people you meet!" said the girl at last, with an envious sigh. Her reading had enlarged the bounds of her imagination, if not her knowledge; the novels nowadays dealt so much with very common people, and made them seem so very much more worth while than the people one met.

She said something like this to Beaton. He answered: "You can meet the people I'm talking of very easily, if you want to take the trouble. It's what they came to New York for. I fancy it's the great ambition of their lives to be met."

"Oh yes," said Miss Vance, fashionably, and looked down; then she looked up and said, intellectually: "Don't you think it's a great pity? How much better for them to have stayed where they were and what they were!"

"Then you could never have had any chance of meeting them," said Beaton. "I don't suppose you intend to go out to the gas country?"

"No," said Miss Vance, amused. "Not that I shouldn't like to go."

"What a daring spirit! You ought to be on the staff of 'Every Other Week,'" said Beaton.


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