A Hazard of New Fortunes, V5
by William Dean Howells
Superficially, the affairs of 'Every Other Week' settled into their
wonted form again, and for Fulkerson they seemed thoroughly
reinstated. But March had a feeling of impermanency from what had
happened, mixed with a fantastic sense of shame toward Lindau. He did
not sympathize with Lindau's opinions; he thought his remedy for
existing evils as wildly impracticable as Colonel Woodburn's. But
while he thought this, and while he could justly blame Fulkerson for
Lindau's presence at Dryfoos's dinner, which his zeal had brought
about in spite of March's protests, still he could not rid himself of
the reproach of uncandor with Lindau. He ought to have told him
frankly about the ownership of the magazine, and what manner of man
the man was whose money he was taking. But he said that he never could
have imagined that he was serious in his preposterous attitude in
regard to a class of men who embody half the prosperity of the
country; and he had moments of revolt against his own humiliation
before Lindau, in which he found it monstrous that he should return
Dryfoos's money as if it had been the spoil of a robber. His wife
agreed with him in these moments, and said it was a great relief not
to have that tiresome old German coming about. They had to account
for his absence evasively to the children, whom they could not very
well tell that their father was living on money that Lindau disdained
to take, even though Lindau was wrong and their father was right.
This heightened Mrs. March's resentment toward both Lindau and
Dryfoos, who between them had placed her husband in a false position.
If anything, she resented Dryfoos's conduct more than Lindau's. He
had never spoken to March about the affair since Lindau had renounced
his work, or added to the apologetic messages he had sent by
Fulkerson. So far as March knew, Dryfoos had been left to suppose
that Lindau had simply stopped for some reason that did not personally
affect him. They never spoke of him, and March was too proud to ask
either Fulkerson or Conrad whether the old man knew that Lindau had
returned his money. He avoided talking to Conrad, from a feeling that
if be did he should involuntarily lead him on to speak of his
differences with his father. Between himself and Fulkerson, even, he
was uneasily aware of a want of their old perfect friendliness.
Fulkerson had finally behaved with honor and courage; but his
provisional reluctance had given March the measure of Fulkerson's
character in one direction, and he could not ignore the fact that it
was smaller than he could have wished.
He could not make out whether Fulkerson shared his discomfort or
not. It certainly wore away, even with March, as time passed, and with
Fulkerson, in the bliss of his fortunate love, it was probably far
more transient, if it existed at all. He advanced into the winter as
radiantly as if to meet the spring, and he said that if there were any
pleasanter month of the year than November, it was December,
especially when the weather was good and wet and muddy most of the
time, so that you had to keep indoors a long while after you called
Colonel Woodburn had the anxiety, in view of his daughter's
engagement, when she asked his consent to it, that such a dreamer must
have in regard to any reality that threatens to affect the course of
his reveries. He had not perhaps taken her marriage into account,
except as a remote contingency; and certainly Fulkerson was not the
kind of son-in-law that he had imagined in dealing with that
abstraction. But because he had nothing of the sort definitely in
mind, he could not oppose the selection of Fulkerson with success; he
really knew nothing against him, and he knew, many things in his
favor; Fulkerson inspired him with the liking that every one felt for
him in a measure; he amused him, he cheered him; and the colonel had
been so much used to leaving action of all kinds to his daughter that
when he came to close quarters with the question of a son-in-law he
felt helpless to decide it, and he let her decide it, as if it were
still to be decided when it was submitted to him. She was competent
to treat it in all its phases: not merely those of personal interest,
but those of duty to the broken Southern past, sentimentally dear to
him, and practically absurd to her. No such South as he remembered
had ever existed to her knowledge, and no such civilization as he
imagined would ever exist, to her belief, anywhere. She took the
world as she found it, and made the best of it. She trusted in
Fulkerson; she had proved his magnanimity in a serious emergency; and
in small things she was willing fearlessly to chance it with him. She
was not a sentimentalist, and there was nothing fantastic in her
expectations; she was a girl of good sense and right mind, and she
liked the immediate practicality as well as the final honor of
Fulkerson. She did not idealize him, but in the highest effect she
realized him; she did him justice, and she would not have believed
that she did him more than justice if she had sometimes known him to
do himself less.
Their engagement was a fact to which the Leighton household
adjusted itself almost as simply as the lovers themselves; Miss
Woodburn told the ladies at once, and it was not a thing that
Fulkerson could keep from March very long. He sent word of it to Mrs.
March by her husband; and his engagement perhaps did more than
anything else to confirm the confidence in him which had been shaken
by his early behavior in the Lindau episode, and not wholly restored
by his tardy fidelity to March. But now she felt that a man who wished
to get married so obviously and entirely for love was full of all
kinds of the best instincts, and only needed the guidance of a wife,
to become very noble. She interested herself intensely in balancing
the respective merits of the engaged couple, and after her call upon
Miss Woodburn in her new character she prided herself upon recognizing
the worth of some strictly Southern qualities in her, while
maintaining the general average of New England superiority. She could
not reconcile herself to the Virginian custom illustrated in her
having been christened with the surname of Madison; and she said that
its pet form of Mad, which Fulkerson promptly invented, only made it
Fulkerson was slower in telling Beaton. He was afraid, somehow, of
Beaton's taking the matter in the cynical way; Miss Woodburn said she
would break off the engagement if Beaton was left to guess it or find
it out by accident, and then Fulkerson plucked up his courage. Beaton
received the news with gravity, and with a sort of melancholy meekness
that strongly moved Fulkerson's sympathy, and made him wish that
Beaton was engaged, too.
It made Beaton feel very old; it somehow left him behind and
forgotten; in a manner, it made him feel trifled with. Something of
the unfriendliness of fate seemed to overcast his resentment, and he
allowed the sadness of his conviction that he had not the means to
marry on to tinge his recognition of the fact that Alma Leighton would
not have wanted him to marry her if he had. He was now often in that
martyr mood in which he wished to help his father; not only to deny
himself Chianti, but to forego a fur-lined overcoat which he intended
to get for the winter, He postponed the moment of actual sacrifice as
regarded the Chianti, and he bought the overcoat in an anguish of
self-reproach. He wore it the first evening after he got it in going
to call upon the Leightons, and it seemed to him a piece of ghastly
irony when Alma complimented his picturesqueness in it and asked him
to let her sketch him.
"Oh, you can sketch me," he said, with so much gloom that it made
"If you think it's so serious, I'd rather not."
"No, no! Go ahead! How do you want me?"
Oh, fling yourself down on a chair in one of your attitudes of
studied negligence; and twist one corner of your mustache with
affected absence of mind."
"And you think I'm always studied, always affected?"
"I didn't say so."
"I didn't ask you what you said."
"And I won't tell you what I think."
"Ah, I know what you think."
"What made you ask, then?" The girl laughed again with the
satisfaction of her sex in cornering a man.
Beaton made a show of not deigning to reply, and put himself in the
pose she suggested, frowning.
"Ah, that's it. But a little more animation--
"'As when a great thought strikes along the brain, And flushes all
She put her forehead down on the back of her hand and laughed
again. "You ought to be photographed. You look as if you were sitting
Beaton said: "That's because I know I am being photographed, in one
way. I don't think you ought to call me affected. I never am so with
you; I know it wouldn't be of any use."
"Oh, Mr. Beaton, you flatter."
"No, I never flatter you."
"I meant you flattered yourself."
"Oh, I don't know. Imagine."
"I know what you mean. You think I can't be sincere with anybody."
"Oh no, I don't."
"What do you think?"
"That you can't--try." Alma gave another victorious laugh.
Miss Woodburn and Fulkerson would once have both feigned a great
interest in Alma's sketching Beaton, and made it the subject of talk,
in which they approached as nearly as possible the real interest of
their lives. Now they frankly remained away in the dining-room, which
was very cozy after the dinner had disappeared; the colonel sat with
his lamp and paper in the gallery beyond; Mrs. Leighton was about her
housekeeping affairs, in the content she always felt when Alma was
"They seem to be having a pretty good time in there," said
Fulkerson, detaching himself from his own absolute good time as well
as he could.
"At least Alma does," said Miss Woodburn.
"Do you think she cares for him?"
"Quahte as moch as he desoves."
"What makes you all down on Beaton around here? He's not such a
"We awe not all doan on him. Mrs. Leighton isn't doan on him."
"Oh, I guess if it was the old lady, there wouldn't be much
question about it."
They both laughed, and Alma said, "They seem to be greatly amused
with something in there."
"Me, probably," said Beaton. "I seem to amuse everybody to-night."
"Don't you always?"
"I always amuse you, I'm afraid, Alma."
She looked at him as if she were going to snub him openly for using
her name; but apparently she decided to do it covertly. "You didn't
at first. I really used to believe you could be serious, once."
"Couldn't you believe it again? Now?"
"Not when you put on that wind-harp stop."
"Wetmore has been talking to you about me. He would sacrifice his
best friend to a phrase. He spends his time making them."
"He's made some very pretty ones about you."
"Like the one you just quoted?"
"No, not exactly. He admires you ever so much. He says" She
"He says you could be almost anything you wished, if you didn't
wish to be everything."
"That sounds more like the school of Wetmore. That's what you say,
Alma. Well, if there were something you wished me to be, I could be
"We might adapt Kingsley: 'Be good, sweet man, and let who will be
clever.'" He could not help laughing. She went on: "I always thought
that was the most patronizing and exasperating thing ever addressed to
a human girl; and we've had to stand a good deal in our time. I
should like to have it applied to the other 'sect' a while. As if any
girl that was a girl would be good if she had the remotest chance of
"Then you wouldn't wish me to be good?" Beaton asked.
"Not if you were a girl."
"You want to shock me. Well, I suppose I deserve it. But if I
were one- tenth part as good as you are, Alma, I should have a lighter
heart than I have now. I know that I'm fickle, but I'm not false, as
you think I am."
"Who said I thought you were false?"
"No one," said Beaton. "It isn't necessary, when you look it--live
"Oh, dear! I didn't know I devoted my whole time to the subject."
"I know I'm despicable. I could tell you something--the history of
this day, even--that would make you despise me." Beaton had in mind
his purchase of the overcoat, which Alma was getting in so
effectively, with the money he ought to have sent his father. "But,"
he went on, darkly, with a sense that what he was that moment
suffering for his selfishness must somehow be a kind of atonement,
which would finally leave him to the guiltless enjoyment of the
overcoat, "you wouldn't believe the depths of baseness I could descend
"I would try," said Alma, rapidly shading the collar, "if you'd
give me some hint."
Beaton had a sudden wish to pour out his remorse to her, but he was
afraid of her laughing at him. He said to himself that this was a
very wholesome fear, and that if he could always have her at hand he
should not make a fool of himself so often. A man conceives of such
an office as the very noblest for a woman; he worships her for it if
he is magnanimous. But Beaton was silent, and Alma put back her head
for the right distance on her sketch. "Mr. Fulkerson thinks you are
the sublimest of human beings for advising him to get Colonel Woodburn
to interview Mr. Dryfoos about Lindau. What have you ever done with
"I haven't done anything with it. Nadel thought he would take hold
of it at one time, but he dropped it again. After all, I don't
suppose it could be popularized. Fulkerson wanted to offer it as a
premium to subscribers for 'Every Other Week,' but I sat down on
Alma could not feel the absurdity of this, and she merely said,
"'Every Other Week' seems to be going on just the same as ever."
"Yes, the trouble has all blown over, I believe. Fulkerson," said
Beaton, with a return to what they were saying, "has managed the whole
business very well. But he exaggerates the value of my advice."
"Very likely," Alma suggested, vaguely. "Or, no! Excuse me! He
couldn't, he couldn't!" She laughed delightedly at Beaton's foolish
look of embarrassment.
He tried to recover his dignity in saying, "He's 'a very good
fellow, and he deserves his happiness."
"Oh, indeed!" said Alma, perversely. "Does any one deserve
"I know I don't," sighed Beaton.
"You mean you don't get it."
"I certainly don't get it."
"Ah, but that isn't the reason."
"That's the secret of the universe," She bit in her lower lip, and
looked at him with eyes, of gleaming fun.
"Are you never serious?" he asked.
"With serious people always."
"I am serious; and you have the secret of my happiness--" He threw
himself impulsively forward in his chair.
"Oh, pose, pose!" she cried.
"I won't pose," he answered, " and you have got to listen to me.
You know I'm in love with you; and I know that once you cared for me.
Can't that time--won't it--come back again? Try to think so, Alma!"
"No," she said, briefly and seriously enough.
"But that seems impossible. What is it I've done what have you
"Nothing. But that time is past. I couldn't recall it if I
wished. Why did you bring it up? You've broken your word. You know
I wouldn't have let you keep coming here if you hadn't promised never
to refer to it."
"How could I help it? With that happiness near us--Fulkerson--"
"Oh, it's that? I might have known it!"
"No, it isn't that--it's something far deeper. But if it's nothing
you have against me, what is it, Alma, that keeps you from caring for
me now as you did then? I haven't changed."
"But I have. I shall never care for you again, Mr. Beaton; you
might as well understand it once for all. Don't think it's anything
in yourself, or that I think you unworthy of me. I'm not so
self-satisfied as that; I know very well that I'm not a perfect
character, and that I've no claim on perfection in anybody else. I
think women who want that are fools; they won't get it, and they don't
deserve it. But I've learned a good. deal more about myself than I
knew in St. Barnaby, and a life of work, of art, and of art alone
that's what I've made up my mind to."
"A woman that's made up her mind to that has no heart to hinder
"Would a man have that had done so?"
"But I don't believe you, Alma. You're merely laughing at me.
And, besides, with me you needn't give up art. We could work
together. You know how much I admire your talent. I believe I could
help it--serve it; I would be its willing slave, and yours, Heaven
"I don't want any slave--nor any slavery. I want to be free
always. Now do you see? I don't care for you, and I never could in
the old way; but I should have to care for some one more than I
believe I ever shall to give up my work. Shall we go on?" She looked
at her sketch.
"No, we shall not go on," he said, gloomily, as he rose.
"I suppose you blame me," she said, rising too.
"Oh no! I blame no one--or only myself. I threw my chance away."
"I'm glad you see that; and I'm glad you did it. You don't believe
me, of course. Why do men think life can be only the one thing to
women? And if you come to the selfish view, who are the happy women?
I'm sure that if work doesn't fail me, health won't, and happiness
"But you could work on with me--"
"Second fiddle. Do you suppose I shouldn't be woman enough to wish
my work always less and lower than yours? At least I've heart enough
"You've heart enough for anything, Alma. I was a fool to say you
"I think the women who keep their hearts have an even chance, at
least, of having heart--"
"Ah, there's where you're wrong!"
"But mine isn't mine to give you, anyhow. And now I don't want you
ever to speak to me about this again."
"Oh, there's no danger!" he cried, bitterly. "I shall never
willingly see you again."
"That's as you like, Mr. Beaton. We've had to be very frank, but I
don't see why we shouldn't be friends. Still, we needn't, if you
"And I may come--I may come here--as--as usual?"
"Why, if you can consistently," she said, with a smile, and she
held out her hand to him.
He went home dazed, and feeling as if it were a bad joke that had
been put upon him. At least the affair went so deep that it estranged
the aspect of his familiar studio. Some of the things in it were not
very familiar; he had spent lately a great deal on rugs, on stuffs, on
Japanese bric-a-brac. When he saw these things in the shops he had
felt that he must have them; that they were necessary to him; and he
was partly in debt for them, still without having sent any of his
earnings to pay his father. As he looked at them now he liked to
fancy something weird and conscious in them as the silent witnesses of
a broken life. He felt about among some of the smaller objects on the
mantel for his pipe. Before he slept he was aware, in the luxury of
his despair, of a remote relief, an escape; and, after all, the
understanding he had come to with Alma was only the explicit
formulation of terms long tacit between them. Beaton would have been
puzzled more than he knew if she had taken him seriously. It was
inevitable that he should declare himself in love with her; but he was
not disappointed at her rejection of his love; perhaps not so much as
he would have been at its acceptance, though he tried to think
otherwise, and to give himself airs of tragedy. He did not really feel
that the result was worse than what had gone before, and it left him
But he did not go to the Leightons again for so long a time that
Mrs. Leighton asked Alma what had happened. Alma told her.
"And he won't come any more?" her mother sighed, with reserved
"Oh, I think he will. He couldn't very well come the next night.
But he has the habit of coming, and with Mr. Beaton habit is
everything--even the habit of thinking he's in love with some one."
"Alma," said her mother, "I don't think it's very nice for a girl
to let a young man keep coming to see her after she's refused him."
"Why not, if it amuses him and doesn't hurt the girl?"
"But it does hurt her, Alma. It--it's indelicate. It isn't fair
to him; it gives him hopes."
"Well, mamma, it hasn't happened in the given case yet. If Mr.
Beaton comes again, I won't see him, and you can forbid him the
"If I could only feel sure, Alma," said her mother, taking up
another branch of the inquiry, "that you really knew your own mind, I
should be easier about it."
"Then you can rest perfectly quiet, mamma. I do know my own mind;
and, what's worse, I know Mr. Beaton's mind."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean that he spoke to me the other night simply because Mr.
Fulkerson's engagement had broken him all up."
"What expressions!" Mrs. Leighton lamented.
"He let it out himself," Alma went on. "And you wouldn't have
thought it was very flattering yourself. When I'm made love to, after
this, I prefer to be made love to in an off-year, when there isn't
another engaged couple anywhere about."
"Did you tell him that, Alma?"
"Tell him that! What do you mean, mamma? I may be indelicate, but
I'm not quite so indelicate as that."
"I didn't mean you were indelicate, really, Alma, but I wanted to
warn you. I think Mr. Beaton was very much in earnest."
"Oh, so did he!"
"And you didn't?"
"Oh yes, for the time being. I suppose he's very much in earnest
with Miss Vance at times, and with Miss Dryfoos at others. Sometimes
he's a painter, and sometimes he's an architect, and sometimes he's a
sculptor. He has too many gifts--too many tastes."
"And if Miss Vance and Miss Dryfoos--"
"Oh, do say Sculpture and Architecture, mamma! It's getting so
"Alma, you know that I only wish to get at your real feeling in the
"And you know that I don't want to let you--especially when I
haven't got any real feeling in the matter. But I should
think--speaking in the abstract entirely--that if either of those arts
was ever going to be in earnest about him, it would want his exclusive
devotion for a week at least."
"I didn't know," said Mrs. Leighton, "that he was doing anything
now at the others. I thought he was entirely taken up with his work
on 'Every Other Week.'"
"Oh, he is! he is!"
"And you certainly can't say, my dear, that he hasn't been very
kind-- very useful to you, in that matter."
"And so I ought to have said yes out of gratitude? Thank you,
mamma! I didn't know you held me so cheap."
"You know whether I hold you cheap or not, Alma. I don't want you
to cheapen yourself. I don't want you to trifle with any one. I want
you to be honest with yourself."
"Well, come now, mamma! Suppose you begin. I've been perfectly
honest with myself, and I've been honest with Mr. Beaton. I don't
care for him, and I've told him I didn't; so he may be supposed to
know it. If he comes here after this, he'll come as a plain,
unostentatious friend of the family, and it's for you to say whether
he shall come in that capacity or not. I hope you won't trifle with
him, and let him get the notion that he's coming on any other basis."
Mrs. Leighton felt the comfort of the critical attitude far too
keenly to abandon it for anything constructive. She only said, "You
know very well, Alma, that's a matter I can have nothing to do with."
"Then you leave him entirely to me?"
"I hope you will regard his right to candid and open treatment."
"He's had nothing but the most open and candid treatment from me,
mamma. It's you that wants to play fast and loose with him. And, to
tell you the truth, I believe he would like that a good deal better; I
believe that, if there's anything he hates, it's openness and candor."
Alma laughed, and put her arms round her mother, who could not help
laughing a little, too.
The winter did not renew for Christine and Mela the social
opportunity which the spring had offered. After the musicale at Mrs.
Horn's, they both made their party-call, as Mela said, in due season;
but they did not find Mrs. Horn at home, and neither she nor Miss
Vance came to see them after people returned to town in the fall.
They tried to believe for a time that Mrs. Horn had not got their
cards; this pretence failed them, and they fell back upon their pride,
or rather Christine's pride. Mela had little but her good-nature to
avail her in any exigency, and if Mrs. Horn or Miss Vance had come to
call after a year of neglect, she would have received them as amiably
as if they had not lost a day in coming. But Christine had drawn a
line beyond which they would not have been forgiven; and she had
planned the words and the behavior with which she would have punished
them if they had appeared then. Neither sister imagined herself in
anywise inferior to them; but Christine was suspicious, at least, and
it was Mela who invented the hypothesis of the lost cards. As nothing
happened to prove or to disprove the fact, she said, "I move we put
Coonrod up to gittun' it out of Miss Vance, at some of their
"If you do," said Christine, " I'll kill you."
Christine, however, had the visits of Beaton to console her, and,
if these seemed to have no definite aim, she was willing to rest in
the pleasure they gave her vanity; but Mela had nothing. Sometimes
she even wished they were all back on the farm.
"It would be the best thing for both of you," said Mrs. Dryfoos, in
answer to such a burst of desperation. "I don't think New York is any
place for girls."
"Well, what I hate, mother," said Mela, "is, it don't seem to be
any place for young men, either." She found this so good when she had
said it that she laughed over it till Christine was angry.
"A body would think there had never been any joke before."
"I don't see as it's a joke," said Mrs. Dryfoos. "It's the plain
"Oh, don't mind her, mother," said Mela. "She's put out because
her old Mr. Beaton ha'r't been round for a couple o' weeks. If you
don't watch out, that fellow 'll give you the slip yit, Christine,
after all your pains."
"Well, there ain't anybody to give you the slip, Mela," Christine
"No; I ha'n't ever set my traps for anybody." This was what Mela
said for want of a better retort; but it was not quite true. When
Kendricks came with Beaton to call after her father's dinner, she used
all her cunning to ensnare him, and she had him to herself as long as
Beaton stayed; Dryfoos sent down word that he was not very well and
had gone to bed. The novelty of Mela had worn off for Kendricks, and
she found him, as she frankly told him, not half as entertaining as he
was at Mrs. Horn's; but she did her best with him as the only
flirtable material which had yet come to her hand. It would have been
her ideal to have the young men stay till past midnight, and her
father come down-stairs in his stocking-feet and tell them it was time
to go. But they made a visit of decorous brevity, and Kendricks did
not come again. She met him afterward, once, as she was crossing the
pavement in Union Square to get into her coupe, and made the most of
him; but it was necessarily very little, and so he passed out of her
life without having left any trace in her heart, though Mela had a
heart that she would have put at the disposition of almost any young
man that wanted it. Kendricks himself, Manhattan cockney as he was,
with scarcely more out look into the average American nature than if
he had been kept a prisoner in New York society all his days,
perceived a property in her which forbade him as a man of conscience
to trifle with her; something earthly good and kind, if it was simple
and vulgar. In revising his impressions of her, it seemed to him that
she would come even to better literary effect if this were recognized
in her; and it made her sacred, in spite of her willingness to fool
and to be fooled, in her merely human quality. After all, he saw that
she wished honestly to love and to be loved, and the lures she threw
out to that end seemed to him pathetic rather than ridiculous; he
could not join Beaton in laughing at her; and he did not like Beaton's
laughing at the other girl, either. It seemed to Kendricks, with the
code of honor which he mostly kept to himself because he was a little
ashamed to find there were so few others like it, that if Beaton cared
nothing for the other girl--and Christine appeared simply detestable
to Kendricks-- he had better keep away from her, and not give her the
impression he was in love with her. He rather fancied that this was
the part of a gentleman, and he could not have penetrated to that
aesthetic and moral complexity which formed the consciousness of a
nature like Beaton's and was chiefly a torment to itself; he could not
have conceived of the wayward impulses indulged at every moment in
little things till the straight highway was traversed and well-nigh
lost under their tangle. To do whatever one likes is finally to do
nothing that one likes, even though one continues to do what one will;
but Kendricks, though a sage of twenty-seven, was still too young to
Beaton scarcely understood it himself, perhaps because he was not
yet twenty-seven. He only knew that his will was somehow sick; that
it spent itself in caprices, and brought him no happiness from the
fulfilment of the most vehement wish. But he was aware that his
wishes grew less and less vehement; he began to have a fear that some
time he might have none at all. It seemed to him that if he could
once do something that was thoroughly distasteful to himself, he might
make a beginning in the right direction; but when he tried this on a
small scale, it failed, and it seemed stupid. Some sort of expiation
was the thing he needed, he was sure; but he could not think of
anything in particular to expiate; a man could not expiate his
temperament, and his temperament was what Beaton decided to be at
fault. He perceived that it went deeper than even fate would have
gone; he could have fulfilled an evil destiny and had done with it,
however terrible. His trouble was that he could not escape from
himself; and, for the most part, he justified himself in refusing to
try. After he had come to that distinct understanding with Alma
Leighton, and experienced the relief it really gave him, he thought
for a while that if it had fallen out otherwise, and she had put him
in charge of her destiny, he might have been better able to manage his
own. But as it was, he could only drift, and let all other things
take their course. It was necessary that he should go to see her
afterward, to show her that he was equal to the event; but he did not
go so often, and he went rather oftener to the Dryfooses; it was not
easy to see Margaret Vance, except on the society terms. With much
sneering and scorning, he fulfilled the duties to Mrs. Horn without
which he knew he should be dropped from her list; but one might go to
many of her Thursdays without getting many words with her niece.
Beaton hardly knew whether he wanted many; the girl kept the charm of
her innocent stylishness; but latterly she wanted to talk more about
social questions than about the psychical problems that young people
usually debate so personally. Son of the working- people as he was,
Beaton had never cared anything about such matters; he did not know
about them or wish to know; he was perhaps too near them. Besides,
there was an embarrassment, at least on her part, concerning the
Dryfooses. She was too high-minded to blame him for having tempted
her to her failure with them by his talk about them; but she was
conscious of avoiding them in her talk. She had decided not to renew
the effort she had made in the spring; because she could not do them
good as fellow- creatures needing food and warmth and work, and she
would not try to befriend them socially; she had a horror of any such
futile sentimentality. She would have liked to account to Beaton in
this way for a course which she suspected he must have heard their
comments upon, but she did not quite know how to do it; she could not
be sure how much or how little he cared for them. Some tentative
approaches which she made toward explanation were met with such eager
disclaim of personal interest that she knew less than before what to
think; and she turned the talk from the sisters to the brother, whom
it seemed she still continued to meet in their common work among the
"He seems very different," she ventured.
"Oh, quite," said Beaton. "He's the kind of person that you might
suppose gave the Catholics a hint for the cloistral life; he's a
cloistered nature--the nature that atones and suffers for. But he's
awfully dull company, don't you think? I never can get anything out
"He's very much in earnest."
"Remorselessly. We've got a profane and mundane creature there at
the office who runs us all, and it's shocking merely to see the
contact of the tyro natures. When Fulkerson gets to joking
Dryfoos--he likes to put his joke in the form of a pretence that
Dryfoos is actuated by a selfish motive, that he has an eye to office,
and is working up a political interest for himself on the East
Side--it's something inexpressible."
"I should think so," said Miss Vance, with such lofty disapproval
that Beaton felt himself included in it for having merely told what
caused it. He could not help saying, in natural rebellion, "Well, the
man of one idea is always a little ridiculous."
"When his idea is right?" she demanded. "A right idea can't be
"Oh, I only said the man that held it was. He's flat; he has no
relief, no projection."
She seemed unable to answer, and he perceived that he had silenced
her to his own, disadvantage. It appeared to Beaton that she was
becoming a little too exacting for comfort in her idealism. He put
down the cup of tea he had been tasting, and said, in his solemn
staccato: "I must go. Good-bye!" and got instantly away from her, with
an effect he had of having suddenly thought of something imperative.
He went up to Mrs. Horn for a moment's hail and farewell, and felt
himself subtly detained by her through fugitive passages of
conversation with half a dozen other people. He fancied that at
crises of this strange interview Mrs. Horn was about to become
confidential with him, and confidential, of all things, about her
niece. She ended by not having palpably been so. In fact, the
concern in her mind would have been difficult to impart to a young
man, and after several experiments Mrs. Horn found it impossible to
say that she wished Margaret could somehow be interested in lower
things than those which occupied her. She had watched with growing
anxiety the girl's tendency to various kinds of self-devotion. She
had dark hours in which she even feared her entire withdrawal from the
world in a life of good works. Before now, girls had entered the
Protestant sisterhoods, which appeal so potently to the young and
generous imagination, and Margaret was of just the temperament to be
influenced by them. During the past summer she had been unhappy at
her separation from the cares that had engrossed her more and more as
their stay in the city drew to an end in the spring, and she had
hurried her aunt back to town earlier in the fall than she would have
chosen to come. Margaret had her correspondents among the
working-women whom she befriended. Mrs. Horn was at one time alarmed
to find that Margaret was actually promoting a strike of the
button-hole workers. This, of course, had its ludicrous side, in
connection with a young lady in good society, and a person of even so
little humor as Mrs. Horn could not help seeing it. At the same time,
she could not help foreboding the worst from it; she was afraid that
Margaret's health would give way under the strain, and that if she did
not go into a sisterhood she would at least go into a decline. She
began the winter with all such counteractive measures as she could
employ. At an age when such things weary, she threw herself into the
pleasures of society with the hope of dragging Margaret after her; and
a sympathetic witness must have followed with compassion her course
from ball to ball, from reception to reception, from parlor- reading
to parlor-reading, from musicale to musicale, from play to play, from
opera to opera. She tasted, after she had practically renounced them,
the bitter and the insipid flavors of fashionable amusement, in the
hope that Margaret might find them sweet, and now at the end she had
to own to herself that she had failed. It was coming Lent again, and
the girl had only grown thinner and more serious with the diversions
that did not divert her from the baleful works of beneficence on which
Mrs. Horn felt that she was throwing her youth away. Margaret could
have borne either alone, but together they were wearing her out. She
felt it a duty to undergo the pleasures her aunt appointed for her,
but she could not forego the other duties in which she found her only
She kept up her music still because she could employ it at the
meetings for the entertainment, and, as she hoped, the elevation of
her working- women; but she neglected the other aesthetic interests
which once occupied her; and, at sight of Beaton talking with her,
Mrs. Horn caught at the hope that he might somehow be turned to
account in reviving Margaret's former interest in art. She asked him
if Mr. Wetmore had his classes that winter as usual; and she said she
wished Margaret could be induced to go again: Mr. Wetmore always said
that she did not draw very well, but that she had a great deal of
feeling for it, and her work was interesting. She asked, were the
Leightons in town again; and she murmured a regret that she had not
been able to see anything of them, without explaining why; she said
she had a fancy that if Margaret knew Miss Leighton, and what she was
doing, it might stimulate her, perhaps. She supposed Miss Leighton was
still going on with her art? Beaton said, Oh yes, he believed so.
But his manner did not encourage Mrs. Horn to pursue her aims in
that direction, and she said, with a sigh, she wished he still had a
class; she always fancied that Margaret got more good from his
instruction than from any one else's.
He said that she was very good; but there was really nobody who
knew half as much as Wetmore, or could make any one understand half as
much. Mrs. Horn was afraid, she said, that Mr. Wetmore's terrible
sincerity discouraged Margaret; he would not let her have any
illusions about the outcome of what she was doing; and did not Mr.
Beaton think that some illusion was necessary with young people? Of
course, it was very nice of Mr. Wetmore to be so honest, but it did
not always seem to be the wisest thing. She begged Mr. Beaton to try
to think of some one who would be a little less severe. Her tone
assumed a deeper interest in the people who were coming up and going
away, and Beaton perceived that he was dismissed.
He went away with vanity flattered by the sense of having been
appealed to concerning Margaret, and then he began to chafe at what
she had said of Wetmore's honesty, apropos of her wish that he still
had a class himself. Did she mean, confound her? that he was
insincere, and would let Miss Vance suppose she had more talent than
she really had? The more Beaton thought of this, the more furious he
became, and the more he was convinced that something like it had been
unconsciously if not consciously in her mind. He framed some keen
retorts, to the general effect that with the atmosphere of illusion
preserved so completely at home, Miss Vance hardly needed it in her
art studies. Having just determined never to go near Mrs. Horn's
Thursdays again, he decided to go once more, in order to plant this
sting in her capacious but somewhat callous bosom; and he planned how
he would lead the talk up to the point from which he should launch it.
In the mean time he felt the need of some present solace, such as
only unqualified worship could give him; a cruel wish to feel his
power in some direction where, even if it were resisted, it could not
be overcome, drove him on. That a woman who was to Beaton the
embodiment of artificiality should intimate, however innocently--the
innocence made it all the worse--that he was less honest than Wetmore,
whom he knew to be so much more honest, was something that must be
retaliated somewhere before his self-respect could be restored. It
was only five o'clock, and he went on up-town to the Dryfooses',
though he had been there only the night before last. He asked for the
ladies, and Mrs. Mandel received him.
"The young ladies are down-town shopping," she said, "but I am very
glad of the opportunity of seeing you alone, Mr. Beaton. You know I
lived several years in Europe."
"Yes," said Beaton, wondering what that could have to do with her
pleasure in seeing him alone. "I believe so?" He involuntarily gave
his words the questioning inflection.
"You have lived abroad, too, and so you won't find what I am going
to ask so strange. Mr. Beaton, why do you come so much to this
house?" Mrs. Mandel bent forward with an aspect of ladylike interest
Beaton frowned. "Why do I come so much?"
"Why do I--Excuse me, Mrs. Mandel, but will you allow me to ask why
"Oh, certainly. There's no reason why I shouldn't say, for I wish
you to be very frank with me. I ask because there are two young
ladies in this house; and, in a certain way, I have to take the place
of a mother to them. I needn't explain why; you know all the people
here, and you understand. I have nothing to say about them, but I
should not be speaking to you now if they were not all rather helpless
people. They do not know the world they have come to live in here,
and they cannot help themselves or one another. But you do know it,
Mr. Beaton, and I am sure you know just how much or how little you
mean by coming here. You are either interested in one of these young
girls or you are not. If you are, I have nothing more to say. If you
are not--" Mrs. Mandel continued to smile, but the smile had grown
more perfunctory, and it had an icy gleam.
Beaton looked at her with surprise that he gravely kept to himself.
He had always regarded her as a social nullity, with a kind of pity,
to be sure, as a civilized person living among such people as the
Dryfooses, but not without a humorous contempt; he had thought of her
as Mandel, and sometimes as Old Mandel, though she was not half a
score of years his senior, and was still well on the sunny side of
forty. He reddened, and then turned an angry pallor. "Excuse me
again, Mrs. Mandel. Do you ask this from the young ladies?"
"Certainly not," she said, with the best temper, and with something
in her tone that convicted Beaton of vulgarity, in putting his
question of her authority in the form of a sneer. "As I have
suggested, they would hardly know how to help themselves at all in
such a matter. I have no objection to saying that I ask it from the
father of the young ladies. Of course, in and for myself I should have
no right to know anything about your affairs. I assure you the duty
of knowing isn't very pleasant." The little tremor in her clear voice
struck Beaton as something rather nice.
"I can very well believe that, Mrs. Mandel," he said, with a dreamy
sadness in his own. He lifted his eyes and looked into hers. "If I
told you that I cared nothing about them in the way you intimate?"
"Then I should prefer to let you characterize your own conduct in
continuing to come here for the year past, as you have done, and
tacitly leading them on to infer differently." They both mechanically
kept up the fiction of plurality in speaking of Christine, but there
was no doubt in the mind of either which of the young ladies the other
meant. A good many thoughts went through Beaton's mind, and none of
them were flattering. He had not been unconscious that the part he
had played toward this girl was ignoble, and that it had grown meaner
as the fancy which her beauty had at first kindled in him had grown
cooler. He was aware that of late he had been amusing himself with
her passion in a way that was not less than cruel, not because he
wished to do so, but because he was listless and wished nothing. He
rose in saying: "I might be a little more lenient than you think, Mrs.
Mandel; but I won't trouble you with any palliating theory. I will
not come any more."
He bowed, and Mrs. Mandel said, "Of course, it's only your action
that I am concerned with."
She seemed to him merely triumphant, and he could not conceive what
it had cost her to nerve herself up to her too easy victory. He left
Mrs. Mandel to a far harder lot than had fallen to him, and he went
away hating her as an enemy who had humiliated him at a moment when he
particularly needed exalting. It was really very simple for him to
stop going to see Christine Dryfoos, but it was not at all simple for
Mrs. Mandel to deal with the consequences of his not coming. He only
thought how lightly she had stopped him, and the poor woman whom he
had left trembling for what she had been obliged to do embodied for
him the conscience that accused him of unpleasant things.
"By heavens! this is piling it up," he said to himself through his
set teeth, realizing how it had happened right on top of that stupid
insult from Mrs. Horn. Now he should have to give up his place on
'Every Other Week; he could not keep that, under the circumstances,
even if some pretence were not made to get rid of him; he must hurry
and anticipate any such pretence; he must see Fulkerson at once; he
wondered where he should find him at that hour. He thought, with
bitterness so real that it gave him a kind of tragical satisfaction,
how certainly he could find him a little later at Mrs. Leighton's; and
Fulkerson's happiness became an added injury.
The thing had, of course, come about just at the wrong time. There
never had been a time when Beaton needed money more, when he had spent
what he had and what he expected to have so recklessly. He was in
debt to Fulkerson personally and officially for advance payments of
salary. The thought of sending money home made him break into a
scoffing laugh, which he turned into a cough in order to deceive the
passers. What sort of face should he go with to Fulkerson and tell
him that he renounced his employment on 'Every Other Week;' and what
should he do when he had renounced it? Take pupils, perhaps; open a
class? A lurid conception of a class conducted on those principles of
shameless flattery at which Mrs. Horn had hinted--he believed now she
had meant to insult him--presented itself. Why should not he act upon
the suggestion? He thought with loathing for the whole race of
women--dabblers in art. How easy the thing would be: as easy as to
turn back now and tell that old fool's girl that he loved her, and
rake in half his millions. Why should not he do that? No one else
cared for him; and at a year's end, probably, one woman would be like
another as far as the love was concerned, and probably he should not
be more tired if the woman were Christine Dryfoos than if she were
Margaret Vance. He kept Alma Leighton out of the question, because at
the bottom of his heart he believed that she must be forever unlike
every other woman to him.
The tide of his confused and aimless reverie had carried him far
down- town, he thought; but when he looked up from it to see where he
was he found himself on Sixth Avenue, only a little below Thirty-ninth
Street, very hot and blown; that idiotic fur overcoat was stifling.
He could not possibly walk down to Eleventh; he did not want to walk
even to the Elevated station at Thirty-fourth; he stopped at the
corner to wait for a surface-car, and fell again into his bitter
fancies. After a while he roused himself and looked up the track, but
there was no car coming. He found himself beside a policeman, who was
lazily swinging his club by its thong from his wrist.
"When do you suppose a car will be along?" he asked, rather in a
general sarcasm of the absence of the cars than in any special belief
that the policeman could tell him.
The policeman waited to discharge his tobacco-juice into the
gutter. "In about a week," he said, nonchalantly.
"What's the matter?" asked Beaton, wondering what the joke could
"Strike," said the policeman. His interest in Beaton's ignorance
seemed to overcome his contempt of it. "Knocked off everywhere this
morning except Third Avenue and one or two cross-town lines." He spat
again and kept his bulk at its incline over the gutter to glance at a
group of men on the corner below: They were neatly dressed, and looked
like something better than workingmen, and they had a holiday air of
being in their best clothes.
"Some of the strikers?" asked Beaton.
The policeman nodded.
"Any trouble yet?"
"There won't be any trouble till we begin to move the cars," said
Beaton felt a sudden turn of his rage toward the men whose action
would now force him to walk five blocks and mount the stairs of the
Elevated station. "If you'd take out eight or ten of those fellows,"
he said, ferociously, "and set them up against a wall and shoot them,
you'd save a great deal of bother."
"I guess we sha'n't have to shoot much," said the policeman, still
swinging his locust. "Anyway, we shant begin it. If it comes to a
fight, though," he said, with a look at the men under the scooping rim
of his helmet, "we can drive the whole six thousand of 'em into the
East River without pullin' a trigger."
"Are there six thousand in it?"
"What do the infernal fools expect to live on?"
"The interest of their money, I suppose," said the officer, with a
grin of satisfaction in his irony. "It's got to run its course. Then
they'll come back with their heads tied up and their tails between
their legs, and plead to be taken on again."
"If I was a manager of the roads," said Beaton, thinking of how
much he was already inconvenienced by the strike, and obscurely
connecting it as one of the series with the wrongs he had suffered at
the hands of Mrs. Horn and Mrs. Mandel, "I would see them starve
before I'd take them back --every one of them."
"Well," said the policeman, impartially, as a man might whom the
companies allowed to ride free, but who had made friends with a good
many drivers and conductors in the course of his free riding, "I guess
that's what the roads would like to do if they could; but the men are
too many for them, and there ain't enough other men to take their
"No matter," said Beaton, severely. "They can bring in men from
"Oh, they'll do that fast enough," said the policeman.
A man came out of the saloon on the corner where the strikers were
standing, noisy drunk, and they began, as they would have said, to
have some fun with him. The policeman left Beaton, and sauntered
slowly down toward the group as if in the natural course of an
afternoon ramble. On the other side of the street Beaton could see
another officer sauntering up from the block below. Looking up and
down the avenue, so silent of its horse-car bells, he saw a policeman
at every corner. It was rather impressive.
The strike made a good deal of talk in it he office of 'Every Other
Week' that is, it made Fulkerson talk a good deal. He congratulated
himself that he was not personally incommoded by it, like some of the
fellows who lived uptown, and had not everything under one roof, as it
were. He enjoyed the excitement of it, and he kept the office boy
running out to buy the extras which the newsmen came crying through
the street almost every hour with a lamentable, unintelligible noise.
He read not only the latest intelligence of the strike, but the
editorial comments on it, which praised the firm attitude of both
parties, and the admirable measures taken by the police to preserve
order. Fulkerson enjoyed the interviews with the police captains and
the leaders of the strike; he equally enjoyed the attempts of the
reporters to interview the road managers, which were so graphically
detailed, and with such a fine feeling for the right use of
scare-heads as to have almost the value of direct expression from
them, though it seemed that they had resolutely refused to speak. He
said, at second-hand from the papers, that if the men behaved
themselves and respected the rights of property, they would have
public sympathy with them every time; but just as soon as they began
to interfere with the roads' right to manage their own affairs in
their own way, they must be put down with an iron hand; the phrase
"iron hand" did Fulkerson almost as much good as if it had never been
used before. News began to come of fighting between the police and the
strikers when the roads tried to move their cars with men imported
from Philadelphia, and then Fulkerson rejoiced at the splendid courage
of the police. At the same time, he believed what the strikers said,
and that the trouble was not made by them, but by gangs of roughs
acting without their approval. In this juncture he was relieved by
the arrival of the State Board of Arbitration, which took up its
quarters, with a great many scare-heads, at one of the principal
hotels, and invited the roads and the strikers to lay the matter in
dispute before them; he said that now we should see the working of the
greatest piece of social machinery in modern times. But it appeared
to work only in the alacrity of the strikers to submit their
grievance. The road; were as one road in declaring that there was
nothing to arbitrate, and that they were merely asserting their right
to manage their own affairs in their own way. One of the presidents
was reported to have told a member of the Board, who personally
summoned him, to get out and to go about his business. Then, to
Fulkerson's extreme disappointment, the august tribunal, acting on
behalf of the sovereign people in the interest of peace, declared
itself powerless, and got out, and would, no doubt, have gone about
its business if it had had any. Fulkerson did not know what to say,
perhaps because the extras did not; but March laughed at this result.
"It's a good deal like the military manoeuvre of the King of France
and his forty thousand men. I suppose somebody told him at the top of
the hill that there was nothing to arbitrate, and to get out and go
about his business, and that was the reason he marched down after he
had marched up with all that ceremony. What amuses me is to find that
in an affair of this kind the roads have rights and the strikers have
rights, but the public has no rights at all. The roads and the
strikers are allowed to fight out a private war in our midst as
thoroughly and precisely a private war as any we despise the Middle
Ages for having tolerated-- as any street war in Florence or
Verona--and to fight it out at our pains and expense, and we stand by
like sheep and wait till they get tired. It's a funny attitude for a
city of fifteen hundred thousand inhabitants."
"What would you do?" asked Fulkerson, a good deal daunted by this
view of the case.
"Do? Nothing. Hasn't the State Board of Arbitration declared
itself powerless? We have no hold upon the strikers; and we're so
used to being snubbed and disobliged by common carriers that we have
forgotten our hold on the roads and always allow them to manage their
own affairs in their own way, quite as if we had nothing to do with
them and they owed us no services in return for their privileges."
"That's a good deal so," said Fulkerson, disordering his hair.
"Well, it's nuts for the colonel nowadays. He says if he was boss of
this town he would seize the roads on behalf of the people, and man
'em with policemen, and run 'em till the managers had come to terms
with the strikers; and he'd do that every time there was a strike."
"Doesn't that rather savor of the paternalism he condemned in
Lindau?" asked March.
"I don't know. It savors of horse sense."
"You are pretty far gone, Fulkerson. I thought you were the most
engaged man I ever saw; but I guess you're more father-in-lawed. And
before you're married, too."
"Well, the colonel's a glorious old fellow, March. I wish he had
the power to do that thing, just for the fun of looking on while he
waltzed in. He's on the keen jump from morning till night, and he's
up late and early to see the row. I'm afraid he'll get shot at some
of the fights; he sees them all; I can't get any show at them: haven't
seen a brickbat shied or a club swung yet. Have you?"
"No, I find I can philosophize the situation about as well from the
papers, and that's what I really want to do, I suppose. Besides, I'm
solemnly pledged by Mrs. March not to go near any sort of crowd, under
penalty of having her bring the children and go with me. Her theory
is that we must all die together; the children haven't been at school
since the strike began. There's no precaution that Mrs. March hasn't
used. She watches me whenever I go out, and sees that I start straight
for this office."
Fulkerson laughed and said: "Well, it's probably the only thing
that's saved your life. Have you seen anything of Beaton lately?"
"No. You don't mean to say he's killed!"
"Not if he knows it. But I don't know-- What do you say, March?
What's the reason you couldn't get us up a paper on the strike?"
"I knew it would fetch round to 'Every Other Week,' somehow."
"No, but seriously. There 'll be plenty of news paper accounts.
But you could treat it in the historical spirit--like something that
happened several centuries ago; De Foe's Plague of London style.
Heigh? What made me think of it was Beaton. If I could get hold of
him, you two could go round together and take down its aesthetic
aspects. It's a big thing, March, this strike is. I tell you it's
imposing to have a private war, as you say, fought out this way, in
the heart of New York, and New York not minding, it a bit. See?
Might take that view of it. With your descriptions and Beaton's
sketches--well, it would just be the greatest card! Come! What do
"Will you undertake to make it right with Mrs. March if I'm killed
and she and the children are not killed with me?"
"Well, it would be difficult. I wonder how it would do to get
Kendricks to do the literary part?"
"I've no doubt he'd jump at the chance. I've yet to see the form
of literature that Kendricks wouldn't lay down his life for."
"Say!" March perceived that Fulkerson was about to vent another
inspiration, and smiled patiently. "Look here! What's the reason we
couldn't get one of the strikers to write it up for us?"
"Might have a symposium of strikers and presidents," March
"No; I'm in earnest. They say some of those fellows-especially the
foreigners--are educated men. I know one fellow--a Bohemian--that
used to edit a Bohemian newspaper here. He could write it out in his
kind of Dutch, and we could get Lindau to translate it."
"I guess not," said March, dryly.
"Why not? He'd do it for the cause, wouldn't he? Suppose you put
it up on him the next time you see him."
"I don't see Lindau any more," said March. He added, "I guess he's
renounced me along with Mr. Dryfoos's money."
"Pshaw! You don't mean he hasn't been round since?"
"He came for a while, but he's left off coming now. I don't feel
particularly gay about it," March said, with some resentment of
Fulkerson's grin. "He's left me in debt to him for lessons to the
Fulkerson laughed out. "Well, he is the greatest old fool! Who'd
'a' thought he'd 'a' been in earnest with those 'brincibles' of his?
But I suppose there have to be just such cranks; it takes all kinds
to make a world."
"There has to be one such crank, it seems," March partially
assented. "One's enough for me."
"I reckon this thing is nuts for Lindau, too," said Fulkerson.
"Why, it must act like a schooner of beer on him all the while, to
see 'gabidal' embarrassed like it is by this strike. It must make old
Lindau feel like he was back behind those barricades at Berlin. Well,
he's a splendid old fellow; pity he drinks, as I remarked once
When March left the office he did not go home so directly as he
came, perhaps because Mrs. March's eye was not on him. He was very
curious about some aspects of the strike, whose importance, as a great
social convulsion, he felt people did not recognize; and, with his
temperance in everything, he found its negative expressions as
significant as its more violent phases. He had promised his wife
solemnly that he would keep away ,from these, and he had a natural
inclination to keep his promise; he had no wish to be that peaceful
spectator who always gets shot when there is any firing on a mob. He
interested himself in the apparent indifference of the mighty city,
which kept on about its business as tranquilly as if the private war
being fought out in its midst were a vague rumor of Indian troubles on
the frontier; and he realized how there might once have been a street
feud of forty years in Florence without interfering materially with
the industry and prosperity of the city. On Broadway there was a
silence where a jangle and clatter of horse-car bells and hoofs had
been, but it was not very noticeable; and on the avenues, roofed by
the elevated roads, this silence of the surface tracks was not
noticeable at all in the roar of the trains overhead. Some of the
cross-town cars were beginning to run again, with a policeman on the
rear of each; on the Third Avenge line, operated by non-union men, who
had not struck, there were two policemen beside the driver of every
car, and two beside the conductor, to protect them from the strikers.
But there were no strikers in sight, and on Second Avenue they stood
quietly about in groups on the corners. While March watched them at a
safe distance, a car laden with policemen came down the track, but
none of the strikers offered to molest it. In their simple Sunday
best, March thought them very quiet, decent-looking people, and he
could well believe that they had nothing to do with the riotous
outbreaks in other parts of the city. He could hardly believe that
there were any such outbreaks; he began more and more to think them
mere newspaper exaggerations in the absence of any disturbance, or the
disposition to it, that he could see. He walked on to the East River
Avenues A, B, and C presented the same quiet aspect as Second
Avenue; groups of men stood on the corners, and now and then a
police-laden car was brought unmolested down the tracks before them;
they looked at it and talked together, and some laughed, but there was
March got a cross-town car, and came back to the West Side. A
policeman, looking very sleepy and tired, lounged on the platform.
"I suppose you'll be glad when this cruel war is over," March
suggested, as he got in.
The officer gave him a surly glance and made him no answer.
His behavior, from a man born to the joking give and take of our
life, impressed March. It gave him a fine sense of the ferocity which
he had read of the French troops putting on toward the populace just
before the coup d'etat; he began to feel like the populace; but he
struggled with himself and regained his character of philosophical
observer. In this character he remained in the car and let it carry
him by the corner where he ought to have got out and gone home, and
let it keep on with him to one of the farthermost tracks westward,
where so much of the fighting was reported to have taken place. But
everything on the way was as quiet as on the East Side.
Suddenly the car stopped with so quick a turn of the brake that he
was half thrown from his seat, and the policeman jumped down from the
platform and ran forward.
Dryfoos sat at breakfast that morning with Mrs. Mandel as usual to
pour out his coffee. Conrad had gone down-town; the two girls lay
abed much later than their father breakfasted, and their mother had
gradually grown too feeble to come down till lunch. Suddenly
Christine appeared at the door. Her face was white to the edges of
her lips, and her eyes were blazing.
Look here, father! Have you been saying anything to Mr. Beaton?"
The old man looked up at her across his coffee-cup through his
frowning brows. "No."
Mrs. Mandel dropped her eyes, and the spoon shook in her hand.
"Then what's the reason he don't come here any more?" demanded the
girl; and her glance darted from her father to Mrs. Mandel. "Oh, it's
you, is it? I'd like to know who told you to meddle in other people's
"I did," said Dryfoos, savagely. "I told her to ask him what he
wanted here, and he said he didn't want anything, and he stopped
coming. That's all. I did it myself."
"Oh, you did, did you?" said the girl, scarcely less insolently
than she had spoken to Mrs. Mandel. "I should like to know what you
did it for? I'd like to know what made you think I wasn't able to take
care of myself. I just knew somebody had been meddling, but I didn't
suppose it was you. I can manage my own affairs in my own way, if you
please, and I'll thank you after this to leave me to myself in what
don't concern you."
"Don't concern me? You impudent jade!" her father began.
Christine advanced from the doorway toward the table; she had her
hands closed upon what seemed trinkets, some of which glittered and
dangled from them. She said, "Will you go to him and tell him that
this meddlesome minx, here, had no business to say anything about me
to him, and you take it all back?"
"No!" shouted the old man. "And if--"
"That's all I want of you!" the girl shouted in her turn. "Here
are your presents." With both hands she flung the jewels-pins and
rings and earrings and bracelets--among the breakfast-dishes, from
which some of them sprang to the floor. She stood a moment to pull
the intaglio ring from the finger where Beaton put it a year ago, and
dashed that at her father's plate. Then she whirled out of the room,
and they heard her running up-stairs.
The old man made a start toward her, but he fell back in his chair
before she was gone, and, with a fierce, grinding movement of his
jaws, controlled himself. "Take-take those things up," he gasped to
Mrs. Mandel. He seemed unable to rise again from his chair; but when
she asked him if he were unwell, he said no, with an air of offence,
and got quickly to his feet. He mechanically picked up the intaglio
ring from the table while he stood there, and put it on his little
finger; his hand was not much bigger than Christine's. "How do you
suppose she found it out?" he asked, after a moment.
"She seems to have merely suspected it," said Mrs. Mandel , in a
tremor, and with the fright in her eyes which Christine's violence had
"Well, it don't make any difference. She had to know, somehow, and
now she knows." He started toward the door of the library, as if to
go into the hall, where his hat and coat hung.
"Mr. Dryfoos," palpitated Mrs. Mandel, "I can't remain here, after
the language your daughter has used to me--I can't let you leave
me--I--I'm afraid of her--"
"Lock yourself up, then," said the old man, rudely. He added, from
the hall before lie went out, "I reckon she'll quiet down now."
He took the Elevated road. The strike seemed a vary far-off thing,
though the paper he bought to look up the stockmarket was full of
noisy typography about yesterday's troubles on the surface lines.
Among the millions in Wall Street there was some joking and some
swearing, but not much thinking, about the six thousand men who had
taken such chances in their attempt to better their condition.
Dryfoos heard nothing of the strike in the lobby of the Stock
Exchange, where he spent two or three hours watching a favorite stock
of his go up and go down under the betting. By the time the Exchange
closed it had risen eight points, and on this and some other
investments he was five thousand dollars richer than he had been in
the morning. But he had expected to be richer still, and he was by no
means satisfied with his luck. All through the excitement of his
winning and losing had played the dull, murderous rage he felt toward
they child who had defied him, and when the game was over and he
started home his rage mounted into a sort of frenzy; he would teach
her, he would break her. He walked a long way without thinking, and
then waited for a car. None came, and he hailed a passing coupe.
"What has got all the cars?" he demanded of the driver, who jumped
down from his box to open the door for him and get his direction.
"Been away?" asked the driver. "Hasn't been any car along for a
"Oh yes," said Dryfoos. He felt suddenly giddy, and he remained
staring at the driver after he had taken his seat.
The man asked, "Where to?"
Dryfoos could not think of his street or number, and he said, with
uncontrollable fury: "I told you once! Go up to West Eleventh, and
drive along slow on the south side; I'll show you the place."
He could not remember the number of 'Every Other Week' office,
where he suddenly decided to stop before he went home. He wished to
see Fulkerson, and ask him something about Beaton: whether he had been
about lately, and whether he had dropped any hint of what had happened
concerning Christine; Dryfoos believed that Fulkerson was in the
There was nobody but Conrad in the counting-room, whither Dryfoos
returned after glancing into Fulkerson's empty office. "Where's
Fulkerson?" he asked, sitting down with his hat on.
"He went out a few moments ago," said Conrad, glancing at the
clock. "I'm afraid he isn't coming back again today, if you wanted to
Dryfoos twisted his head sidewise and upward to indicate March's
room. "That other fellow out, too?"
"He went just before Mr. Fulkerson," answered Conrad.
"Do you generally knock off here in the middle of the afternoon ?"
asked the old man.
"No," said Conrad, as patiently as if his father had not been there
a score of times and found the whole staff of Every Other leek at work
between four and five. "Mr. March, you know, always takes a good deal
of his work home with him, and I suppose Mr. Fulkerson went out so
early because there isn't much doing to-day. Perhaps it's the strike
that makes it dull."
"The strike-yes! It's a pretty piece of business to have everything
thrown out because a parcel of lazy hounds want a chance to lay off
and get drunk." Dryfoos seemed to think Conrad would make some answer
to this, but the young man's mild face merely saddened, and he said
nothing. "I've got a coupe out there now that I had to take because I
couldn't get a car. If I had my way I'd have a lot of those vagabonds
hung. They're waiting to get the city into a snarl, and then rob the
houses--pack of dirty, worthless whelps. They ought to call out the
militia, and fire into 'em. Clubbing is too good for them." Conrad
was still silent, and his father sneered, "But I reckon you don't
"I think the strike is useless," said Conrad.
"Oh, you do, do you? Comin' to your senses a little. Gettin'
tired walkin' so much. I should like to know what your gentlemen over
there on the East Side think about the strike, anyway."
The young fellow dropped his eyes. "I am not authorized to speak
"Oh, indeed! And perhaps you're not authorized to speak for
"Father, you know we don't agree about these things. I'd rather
"But I'm goin' to make you talk this time!" cried Dryfoos, striking
the arm of the chair he sat in with the side of his fist. A maddening
thought of Christine came over him. "As long as you eat my bread, you
have got to do as I say. I won't have my children telling me what I
shall do and sha'n't do, or take on airs of being holier than me.
Now, you just speak up! Do you think those loafers are right, or
don't you? Come!"
Conrad apparently judged it best to speak. "I think they were very
foolish to strike--at this time, when the Elevated roads can do the
"Oh, at this time, heigh! And I suppose they think over there on
the East Side that it 'd been wise to strike before we got the
Elevated." Conrad again refused to answer, and his father roared,
"What do you think?"
"I think a strike is always bad business. It's war; but sometimes
there don't seem any other way for the workingmen to get justice.
They say that sometimes strikes do raise the wages, after a while."
"Those lazy devils were paid enough already," shrieked the old man.
"They got two dollars a day. How much do you think they ought to
'a' got? Twenty?"
Conrad hesitated, with a beseeching look at his father. But he
decided to answer. "The men say that with partial work, and fines,
and other things, they get sometimes a dollar, and sometimes ninety
cents a day."
"They lie, and you know they lie," said his father, rising and
coming toward him. "And what do you think the upshot of it all will
be, after they've ruined business for another week, and made people
hire hacks, and stolen the money of honest men? How is it going to
"They will have to give in."
"Oh, give in, heigh! And what will you say then, I should like to
know? How will you feel about it then? Speak!"
"I shall feel as I do now. I know you don't think that way, and I
don't blame you--or anybody. But if I have got to say how I shall
feel, why, I shall feel sorry they didn't succeed, for I believe they
have a righteous cause, though they go the wrong way to help
His father came close to him, his eyes blazing, his teeth set. "Do
you dare so say that to me?"
"Yes. I can't help it. I pity them; my whole heart is with those
"You impudent puppy!" shouted the old man. He lifted his hand and
struck his son in the face. Conrad caught his hand with his own left,
and, while the blood began to trickle from a wound that Christine's
intaglio ring had made in his temple, he looked at him with a kind of
grieving wonder, and said, " Father!"
The old man wrenched his fist away and ran out of the house. He
remembered his address now, and he gave it as he plunged into the
coupe. He trembled with his evil passion, and glared out of the
windows at the passers as he drove home; he only saw Conrad's mild,
grieving, wondering eyes, and the blood slowly trickling from the
wound in his temple.
Conrad went to the neat-set bowl in Fulkerson's comfortable room
and washed the blood away, and kept bathing the wound with the cold
water till it stopped bleeding. The cut was not deep, and he thought
he would not put anything on it. After a while he locked up the
office and started out, be hardly knew where. But he walked on, in
the direction he had taken, till he found himself in Union Square, on
the pavement in front of Brentano's. It seemed to him that he heard
some one calling gently to him, "Mr. Dryfoos!"
Conrad looked confusedly around, and the same voice said again,
"Mr. Dryfoos!" and he saw that it was a lady speaking to him from a
coupe beside the curbing, and then he saw that it was Miss Vance.
She smiled when, he gave signs of having discovered her, and came
up to the door of her carriage. "I am so glad to meet you. I have
been longing to talk to somebody; nobody seems to feel about it as I
do. Oh, isn't it horrible? Must they fail? I saw cars running on
all the lines as I came across; it made me sick at heart. Must those
brave fellows give in? And everybody seems to hate them so--I can't
bear it." Her face was estranged with excitement, and there were
traces of tears on it. "You must think me almost crazy to stop you in
the street this way; but when I caught sight of you I had to speak. I
knew you would sympathize-- I knew you would feel as I do. Oh, how
can anybody help honoring those poor men for standing by one another
as they do? They are risking all they have in the world for the sake
of justice! Oh, they are true heroes! They are staking the bread of
their wives and children on the dreadful chance they've taken! But no
one seems to understand it. No one seems to see that they are willing
to suffer more now that other poor men may suffer less hereafter. And
those wretched creatures that are coming in to take their
"We can't blame them for wanting to earn a living, Miss Vance,"
"No, no! I don't blame them. Who am I, to do such a thing? It's
we --people like me, of my class--who make the poor betray one
another. But this dreadful fighting--this hideous paper is full of
it!" She held up an extra, crumpled with her nervous reading. "Can't
something be done to stop it? Don't you think that if some one went
among them, and tried to make them see how perfectly hopeless it was
to resist the companies and drive off the new men, he might do some
good? I have wanted to go and try; but I am a woman, and I mustn't!
I shouldn't be afraid of the strikers, but I'm afraid of what people
would say!" Conrad kept pressing his handkerchief to the cut in his
temple, which he thought might be bleeding, and now she noticed this.
"Are you hurt, Mr. Dryfoos? You look so pale."
"No, it's nothing--a little scratch I've got."
"Indeed, you look pale. Have you a carriage? How will you get
home? Will you get in here with me and let me drive you?"
"No, no," said Conrad, smiling at her excitement. "I'm perfectly
"And you don't think I'm foolish and wicked for stopping you here
and talking in this way? But I know you feel as I do!"
"Yes, I feel as you do. You are right--right in every way--I
mustn't keep you--Good-bye." He stepped back to bow, but she put her
beautiful hand out of the window, and when he took it she wrung his
"Thank you, thank you! You are good and you are just! But no one
can do anything. It's useless!"
The type of irreproachable coachman on the box whose respectability
had suffered through the strange behavior of his mistress in this
interview drove quickly off at her signal, and Conrad stood a moment
looking after the carriage. His heart was full of joy; it leaped; he
thought it would burst. As he turned to walk away it seemed to him as
if he mounted upon the air. The trust she had shown him, the praise
she had given him, that crush of the hand: he hoped nothing, he formed
no idea from it, but it all filled him with love that cast out the
pain and shame he had been suffering. He believed that he could never
be unhappy any more; the hardness that was in his mind toward his
father went out of it; he saw how sorely he had tried him; he grieved
that he had done it, but the means, the difference of his feeling
about the cause of their quarrel, he was solemnly glad of that since
she shared it. He was only sorry for his father. "Poor father!" he
said under his breath as he went along. He explained to her about his
father in his reverie, and she pitied his father, too.
He was walking over toward the West Side, aimlessly at first, and
then at times with the longing to do something to save those mistaken
men from themselves forming itself into a purpose. Was not that what
she meant when she bewailed her woman's helplessness? She must have
wished him to try if he, being a man, could not do something; or if
she did not, still he would try, and if she heard of it she would
recall what she had said and would be glad he had understood her so.
Thinking of her pleasure in what he was going to do, he forgot almost
what it was; but when he came to a street-car track he remembered it,
and looked up and down to see if there were any turbulent gathering of
men whom he might mingle with and help to keep from violence. He saw
none anywhere; and then suddenly, as if at the same moment, for in his
exalted mood all events had a dream- like simultaneity, he stood at
the corner of an avenue, and in the middle of it, a little way off,
was a street-car, and around the car a tumult of shouting, cursing,
struggling men. The driver was lashing his horses forward, and a
policeman was at their heads, with the conductor, pulling them;
stones, clubs, brickbats hailed upon the car, the horses, the men
trying to move them. The mob closed upon them in a body, and then a
patrol-wagon whirled up from the other side, and a squad of policemen
leaped out and began to club the rioters. Conrad could see how they
struck them under the rims of their hats; the blows on their skulls
sounded as if they had fallen on stone; the rioters ran in all
One of the officers rushed up toward the corner where Conrad stood,
and then he saw at his side a tall, old man, with a long, white beard,
who was calling out at the policemen: "Ah, yes! Glup the
strikerss--gif it to them! Why don't you co and glup the bresidents
that insoalt your lawss, and gick your Boart of Arpidration
out-of-toors? Glup the strikerss-- they cot no friendts! They cot no
money to pribe you, to dreat you!"
The officer lifted his club, and the old man threw his left arm up
to shield his head. Conrad recognized Zindau, and now he saw the
empty sleeve dangle in the air over the stump of his wrist. He heard
a shot in that turmoil beside the car, and something seemed to strike
him in the breast. He was going to say to the policeman: "Don't
strike him! He's an old soldier! You see he has no hand!" but he
could not speak, he could not move his tongue. The policeman stood
there; he saw his face: it was not bad, not cruel; it was like the
face of a statue, fixed, perdurable--a mere image of irresponsible and
involuntary authority. Then Conrad fell forward, pierced through the
heart by that shot fired from the car.
March heard the shot as he scrambled out of his car, and at the
same moment he saw Lindau drop under the club of the policeman, who
left him where he fell and joined the rest of the squad in pursuing
the rioters. The fighting round the car in the avenue ceased; the
driver whipped his horses into a gallop, and the place was left empty.
March would have liked to run; he thought how his wife had implored
him to keep away from the rioting; but he could not have left Lindau
lying there if he would. Something stronger than his will drew him to
the spot, and there he saw Conrad, dead beside the old man.
In the cares which Mrs. March shared with her husband that night
she was supported partly by principle, but mainly by the, potent
excitement which bewildered Conrad's family and took all reality from
what had happened. It was nearly midnight when the Marches left them
and walked away toward the Elevated station with Fulkerson.
Everything had been done, by that time, that could be done; and
Fulkerson was not without that satisfaction in the business-like
despatch of all the details which attends each step in such an affair
and helps to make death tolerable even to the most sorely stricken.
We are creatures of the moment; we live from one little space to
another; and only one interest at a time fills these. Fulkerson was
cheerful when they got into the street, almost gay; and Mrs. March
experienced a rebound from her depression which she felt that she
ought not to have experienced. But she condoned the offence a little
in herself, because her husband remained so constant in his gravity;
and, pending the final accounting he must make her for having been
where he could be of so much use from the first instant of the
calamity, she was tenderly, gratefully proud of all the use he had
been to Conrad's family, and especially his miserable old father. To
her mind, March was the principal actor in the whole affair, and much
more important in having seen it than those who had suffered in it.
In fact, he had suffered incomparably.
"Well, well," said Fulkerson. "They'll get along now. We've done
all we could, and there's nothing left but for them to bear it. Of
course it's awful, but I guess it 'll come out all right. I mean," he
added, "they'll pull through now."
"I suppose," said March, "that nothing is put on us that we can't
bear. But I should think," he went on, musingly, "that when God sees
what we poor finite creatures can bear, hemmed round with this eternal
darkness of death, He must respect us."
"Basil!" said his wife. But in her heart she drew nearer to him
for the words she thought she ought to rebuke him for.
"Oh, I know," he said, "we school ourselves to despise human
nature. But God did not make us despicable, and I say, whatever end He
meant us for, He must have some such thrill of joy in our adequacy to
fate as a father feels when his son shows himself a man. When I think
what we can be if we must, I can't believe the least of us shall
"Oh, I reckon the Almighty won't scoop any of us," said Fulkerson,
with a piety of his own.
"That poor boy's father!" sighed Mrs. March. "I can't get his face
out of my sight. He looked so much worse than death."
"Oh, death doesn't look bad," said March. "It's life that looks so
in its presence. Death is peace and pardon. I only wish poor old
Lindau was as well out of it as Conrad there."
"Ah, Lindau! He has done harm enough," said Mrs. March. "I hope
he will be careful after this."
March did not try to defend Lindau against her theory of the case,
which inexorably held him responsible for Conrad's death.
"Lindau's going to come out all right, I guess," said Fulkerson.
"He was first-rate when I saw him at the hospital to-night." He
whispered in March's ear, at a chance he got in mounting the station
stairs: "I didn't like to tell you there at the house, but I guess
you'd better know. They had to take Lindau's arm off near the
shoulder. Smashed all to pieces by the clubbing."
In the house, vainly rich and foolishly unfit for them, the
bereaved family whom the Marches had just left lingered together, and
tried to get strength to part for the night. They were all spent with
the fatigue that comes from heaven to such misery as theirs, and they
sat in a torpor in which each waited for the other to move, to speak.
Christine moved, and Mela spoke. Christine rose and went out of
the room without saying a word, and they heard her going up-stairs.
Then Mela said:
"I reckon the rest of us better be goun' too, father. Here, let's
git mother started."
She put her arm round her mother, to lift her from her chair, but
the old man did not stir, and Mela called Mrs. Mandel from the next
room. Between them they raised her to her feet.
"Ain't there anybody agoin' to set up with it?" she asked, in her
hoarse pipe. "It appears like folks hain't got any feelin's in New
York. Woon't some o' the neighbors come and offer to set up, without
waitin' to be asked?"
"Oh, that's all right, mother. The men 'll attend to that. Don't
you bother any," Mela coaxed, and she kept her arm round her mother,
with tender patience.
"Why, Mely, child! I can't feel right to have it left to hirelin's
so. But there ain't anybody any more to see things done as they ought.
If Coonrod was on'y here--"
"Well, mother, you are pretty mixed!" said Mela, with a strong
tendency to break into her large guffaw. But she checked herself and
said: "I know just how you feel, though. It keeps acomun' and agoun';
and it's so and it ain't so, all at once; that's the plague of it.
Well, father! Ain't you goun' to come?"
"I'm goin' to stay, Mela," said the old man, gently, without
moving. "Get your mother to bed, that's a good girl."
"You goin' to set up with him, Jacob?" asked the old woman.
"Yes, 'Liz'beth, I'll set up. You go to bed."
"Well, I will, Jacob. And I believe it 'll do you good to set up.
I wished I could set up with you; but I don't seem to have the
stren'th I did when the twins died. I must git my sleep, so's to--I
don't like very well to have you broke of your rest, Jacob, but there
don't appear to be anybody else. You wouldn't have to do it if
Coonrod was here. There I go ag'in! Mercy! mercy!"
"Well, do come along, then, mother," said Mela; and she got her out
of the room, with Mrs. Mandel's help, and up the stairs.
From the top the old woman called down, "You tell Coonrod--" She
stopped, and he heard her groan out, "My Lord! my Lord!"
He sat, one silence in the dining-room, where they had all lingered
together, and in the library beyond the hireling watcher sat, another
silence. The time passed, but neither moved, and the last noise in
the house ceased, so that they heard each other breathe, and the
vague, remote rumor of the city invaded the inner stillness. It grew
louder toward morning, and then Dryfoos knew from the watcher's deeper
breathing that he had fallen into a doze.
He crept by him to the drawing-room, where his son was; the place
was full of the awful sweetness of the flowers that Fulkerson had
brought, and that lay above the pulseless breast. The old man turned
up a burner in the chandelier, and stood looking on the majestic
serenity of the dead face.
He could not move when he saw his wife coming down the stairway in
the hall. She was in her long, white flannel bed gown, and the candle
she carried shook with her nervous tremor. He thought she might be
walking in her sleep, but she said, quite simply, "I woke up, and I
couldn't git to sleep ag'in without comin' to have a look." She stood
beside their dead son with him. "well, he's beautiful, Jacob. He was
the prettiest baby! And he was always good, Coonrod was; I'll say
that for him. I don't believe he ever give me a minute's care in his
whole life. I reckon I liked him about the best of all the children;
but I don't know as I ever done much to show it. But you was always
good to him, Jacob; you always done the best for him, ever since he
was a little feller. I used to be afraid you'd spoil him sometimes in
them days; but I guess you're glad now for every time you didn't cross
him. I don't suppose since the twins died you ever hit him a lick."
She stooped and peered closer at the face. "Why, Jacob, what's that
there by his pore eye Dryfoos saw it, too, the wound that he had
feared to look for, and that now seemed to redden on his eight. He
broke into a low, wavering cry, like a child's in despair, like an
animal's in terror, like a soul's in the anguish of remorse.
The evening after the funeral, while the Marches sat together
talking it over, and making approaches, through its shadow, to the
question of their own future, which it involved, they were startled by
the twitter of the electric bell at their apartment door. It was
really not so late as the children's having gone to bed made it seem;
but at nine o'clock it was too late for any probable visitor except
Fulkerson. It might be he, and March was glad to postpone the
impending question to his curiosity concerning the immediate business
Fulkerson might have with him. He went himself to the door, and
confronted there a lady deeply veiled in black and attended by a very
"Are you alone, Mr. March--you and Mrs. March ?" asked the lady,
behind her veil; and, as he hesitated, she said: "You don't know me!
Miss Vance"; and she threw back her veil, showing her face wan and
agitated in the dark folds. "I am very anxious to see you--to speak
with you both. May I come in?"
"Why, certainly, Miss Vance," he answered, still too much stupefied
by her presence to realize it.
She promptly entered, and saying, with a glance at the hall chair
by the door, "My maid can sit here?" followed him to the room where
he had left his wife.
Mrs. March showed herself more capable of coping with the fact.
She welcomed Miss Vance with the liking they both felt for the girl,
and with the sympathy which her troubled face inspired.
"I won't tire you with excuses for coming, Mrs. March," she said,
"for it was the only thing left for me to do; and I come at my aunt's
suggestion." She added this as if it would help to account for her
more on the conventional plane, and she had the instinctive good taste
to address herself throughout to Mrs. March as much as possible,
though what she had to say was mainly for March. "I don't know how to
begin--I don't know how to speak of this terrible affair. But you
know what I mean. I feel as if I had lived a whole lifetime since it
happened. I don't want you to pity me for it," she said, forestalling
a politeness from Mrs. March. "I'm the last one to be thought of, and
you mustn't mind me if I try to make you. I came to find out all of
the truth that I can, and when I know just what that is I shall know
what to do. I have read the inquest; it's all burned into my brain.
But I don't care for that-- for myself: you must let me say such
things without minding me. I know that your husband--that Mr. March
was there; I read his testimony; and I wished to ask him--to ask
him--" She stopped and looked distractedly about. "But what folly! He
must have said everything he knew--he had to." Her eves wandered to
him from his wife, on whom she had kept them with instinctive tact.
"I said everything--yes," he replied. "But if you would like to
"Perhaps I had better tell you something first. I had just parted
with him--it couldn't have been more than half an hour--in front of
Brentano's; he must have gone straight to his death. We were talking,
and I--I said, Why didn't some one go among the strikers and plead
with them to be peaceable, and keep them from attacking the new men.
I knew that he felt as I did about the strikers: that he was their
friend. Did you see--do you know anything that makes you think he had
been trying to do that?"
"I am sorry," March began, "I didn't see him at all till--till I
saw him lying dead."
"My husband was there purely by accident," Mrs. March put in. "I
had begged and entreated him not to go near the striking anywhere.
And he had just got out of the car, and saw the policeman strike that
wretched Lindau--he's been such an anxiety to me ever since we have
had anything to do with him here; my husband knew him when he was a
boy in the West. Mr. March came home from it all perfectly prostrated;
it made us all sick! Nothing so horrible ever came into our lives
before. I assure you it was the most shocking experience."
Miss Vance listened to her with that look of patience which those
who have seen much of the real suffering of the world--the daily
portion of the poor--have for the nervous woes of comfortable people.
March hung his head; he knew it would be useless to protest that his
share of the calamity was, by comparison, infinitesimally small.
After she had heard Mrs. March to the end even of her repetitions,
Miss Vance said, as if it were a mere matter of course that she should
have looked the affair up, "Yes, I have seen Mr. Lindau at the
"My husband goes every day to see him," Mrs. March interrupted, to
give. a final touch to the conception of March's magnanimity
"The poor man seems to have been in the wrong at the time," said
"I could almost say he had earned the right to be wrong. He's a
man of the most generous instincts, and a high ideal of justice, of
equity--too high to be considered by a policeman with a club in his
hand," said March, with a bold defiance of his wife's different
opinion of Lindau. "It's the policeman's business, I suppose, to club
the ideal when he finds it inciting a riot."
"Oh, I don't blame Mr. Lindau ; I don't blame the policeman; he was
as much a mere instrument as his club was. I am only trying to find
out how much I am to blame myself. I had no thought of Mr. Dryfoos's
going there--of his attempting to talk with the strikers and keep them
quiet; I was only thinking, as women do, of what I should try to do if
I were a man.
But perhaps he understood me to ask him to go--perhaps my words
sent him to his death."
She had a sort of calm in her courage to know the worst truth as to
her responsibility that forbade any wish to flatter her out of it.
"I'm afraid," said March, "that is what can never be known now."
After a moment he added: "But why should you wish to know? If he
went there as a peacemaker, he died in a good cause, in such a way as
he would wish to die, I believe."
"Yes," said the girl; " I have thought of that. But death is
awful; we must not think patiently, forgivingly of sending any one to
their death in the best cause." "I fancy life was an awful thing to
Conrad Dryfoos," March replied. "He was thwarted and disappointed,
without even pleasing the ambition that thwarted and disappointed him.
That poor old man, his father, warped him from his simple, lifelong
wish to be a minister, and was trying to make a business man of him.
If it will be any consolation to you to know it, Miss Vance, I can
assure you that he was very unhappy, and I don't see how he could ever
have been happy here."
"It won't," said the girl, steadily. "If people are born into this
world, it's because they were meant to live in it. It isn't a
question of being happy here; no one is happy, in that old, selfish
way, or can be; but he could have been of great use."
"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
"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)" be
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.
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
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--"
"What an idea! It would have been perfectly grotesque!"
Their affliction brought the Dryfooses into humaner relations with
the Marches, who had hitherto regarded them as a necessary evil, as
the odious means of their own prosperity. Mrs. March found that the
women of the family seemed glad of her coming, and in the sense of her
usefulness to them all she began to feel a kindness even for
Christine. But she could not help seeing that between the girl and
her father there was an unsettled account, somehow, and that it was
Christine and not the old man who was holding out. She thought that
their sorrow had tended to refine the others. Mela was much more
subdued, and, except when she abandoned herself to a childish interest
in her mourning, she did nothing to shock Mrs. March's taste or to
seem unworthy of her grief. She was very good to her mother, whom the
blow had left unchanged, and to her father, whom it had apparently
fallen upon with crushing weight. Once, after visiting their house,
Mrs. March described to March a little scene between Dryfoos and Mela,
when he came home from Wall Street, and the girl met him at the door
with a kind of country simpleness, and took his hat and stick, and
brought him into the room where Mrs. March sat, looking tired and
broken. She found this look of Dryfoos's pathetic, and dwelt on the
sort of stupefaction there was in it; he must have loved his son more
than they ever realized. " Yes," said March, " I suspect he did.
He's never been about the place since that day; he was always
dropping in before, on his way up-town. He seems to go down to Wall
Street every day, just as before, but I suppose that's mechanical; he
wouldn't know what else to do; I dare say it's best for him. The
sanguine Fulkerson is getting a little anxious about the future of
'Every Other Week.' Now Conrad's gone, he isn't sure the old man will
want to keep on with it, or whether he'll have to look up another
Angel. He wants to get married, I imagine, and he can't venture till
this point is settled."
"It's a very material point to us too, Basil," said Mrs. March.
"Well, of course. I hadn't overlooked that, you may be sure. One
of the things that Fulkerson and I have discussed is a scheme for
buying the magazine. Its success is pretty well assured now, and I
shouldn't be afraid to put money into it--if I had the money."
"I couldn't let you sell the house in Boston, Basil!"
"And I don't want to. I wish we could go back and live in it and
get the rent, too! It would be quite a support. But I suppose if
Dryfoos won't keep on, it must come to another Angel. I hope it won't
be a literary one, with a fancy for running my department."
"Oh, I guess whoever takes the magazine will be glad enough to keep
"Do you think so? Well, perhaps. But I don't believe Fulkerson
would let me stand long between him and an Angel of the right
"Well, then, I believe he would. And you've never seen anything,
Basil, to make you really think that Mr. Fulkerson didn't appreciate
you to the utmost."
"I think I came pretty near an undervaluation in that Lindau
trouble. I shall always wonder what put a backbone into Fulkerson just
at that crisis. Fulkerson doesn't strike me as the stuff of a moral
"At any rate, he was one," said Mrs. March, "and that's quite
enough for me."
March did not answer. "What a noble thing life is, anyway! Here I
am, well on the way to fifty, after twenty-five years of hard work,
looking forward to the potential poor-house as confidently as I did in
youth. We might have saved a little more than we have saved; but the
little more wouldn't avail if I were turned out of my place now; and
we should have lived sordidly to no purpose. Some one always has you
by the throat, unless you have some one else in your grip. I wonder
if that's the attitude the Almighty intended His respectable creatures
to take toward one another! I wonder if He meant our civilization,
the battle we fight in, the game we trick in! I wonder if He
considers it final, and if the kingdom of heaven on earth, which we
"Have you seen Lindau to-day?" Mrs. March asked.
"You inferred it from the quality of my piety?" March laughed, and
then suddenly sobered. "Yes, I saw him. It's going rather hard with
him, I'm afraid. The amputation doesn't heal very well; the shock was
very great, and he's old. It 'll take time. There's so much pain
that they have to keep him under opiates, and I don't think he fully
knew me. At any rate, I didn't get my piety from him to-day."
"It's horrible! Horrible!" said Mrs. March. "I can't get over it!
After losing his hand in the war, to lose his whole arm now in this
way! It does seem too cruel! Of course he oughtn't to have been
there; we can say that. But you oughtn't to have been there, either,
"Well, I wasn't exactly advising the police to go and club the
"Neither was poor Conrad Dryfoos."
"I don't deny it. All that was distinctly the chance of life and
death. That belonged to God; and no doubt it was law, though it seems
chance. But what I object to is this economic chance-world in which we
live, and which we men seem to have created. It ought to be law as
inflexible in human affairs as the order of day and night in the
physical world that if a man will work he shall both rest and eat, and
shall not be harassed with any question as to how his repose and his
provision shall come. Nothing less ideal than this satisfies the
reason. But in our state of things no one is secure of this. No one
is sure of finding work; no one is sure of not losing it. I may have
my work taken away from me at any moment by the caprice, the mood, the
indigestion of a man who has not the qualification for knowing whether
I do it well, or ill. At my time of life--at every time of life--a
man ought to feel that if he will keep on doing his duty he shall not
suffer in himself or in those who are dear to him, except through
natural causes. But no man can feel this as things are now; and so we
go on, pushing and pulling, climbing and crawling, thrusting aside and
trampling underfoot; lying, cheating, stealing; and then we get to the
end, covered with blood and dirt and sin and shame, and look back over
the way we've come to a palace of our own, or the poor-house, which is
about the only possession we can claim in common with our brother-men,
I don't think the retrospect can be pleasing."
"I know, I know!" said his wife. "I think of those things, too,
Basil. Life isn't what it seems when you look forward to it. But I
think people would suffer less, and wouldn't have to work so hard, and
could make all reasonable provision for the future, if they were not
so greedy and so foolish."
"Oh, without doubt! We can't put it all on the conditions; we must
put some of the blame on character. But conditions make character;
and people are greedy and foolish, and wish to have and to shine,
because having and shining are held up to them by civilization as the
chief good of life. We all know they are not the chief good, perhaps
not good at all; but if some one ventures to say so, all the rest of
us call him a fraud and a crank, and go moiling and toiling on to the
palace or the poor-house. We can't help it. If one were less greedy
or less foolish, some one else would have and would shine at his
expense. We don't moil and toil to ourselves alone; the palace or the
poor-house is not merely for ourselves, but for our children, whom
we've brought up in the superstition that having and shining is the
chief good. We dare not teach them otherwise, for fear they may
falter in the fight when it comes their turn, and the children of
others will crowd them out of the palace into the poor-house. If we
felt sure that honest work shared by all would bring them honest food
shared by all, some heroic few of us, who did not wish our children to
rise above their fellows--though we could not bear to have them fall
below--might trust them with the truth. But we have no such
assurance, and so we go on trembling before Dryfooses and living in
"Basil, Basil! I was always willing to live more simply than you.
You know I was!"
"I know you always said so, my dear. But how many bell-ratchets
and speaking-tubes would you be willing to have at the street door
below? I remember that when we were looking for a flat you rejected
every building that had a bell-ratchet or a speaking-tube, and would
have nothing to do with any that had more than an electric button; you
wanted a hall-boy, with electric buttons all over him. I don't blame
you. I find such things quite as necessary as you do."
"And do you mean to say, Basil," she asked, abandoning this
unprofitable branch of the inquiry, "that you are really uneasy about
your place? that you are afraid Mr. Dryfoos may give up being an
Angel, and Mr. Fulkerson may play you false?"
"Play me false? Oh, it wouldn't be playing me false. It would be
merely looking out for himself, if the new Angel had editorial tastes
and wanted my place. It's what any one would do."
"You wouldn't do it, Basil!"
"Wouldn't I? Well, if any one offered me more salary than 'Every
Other Week' pays--say, twice as much--what do you think my duty to my
suffering family would be? It's give and take in the business world,
Isabel; especially take. But as to being uneasy, I'm not, in the
least. I've the spirit of a lion, when it comes to such a chance as
that. When I see how readily the sensibilities of the passing
stranger can be worked in New York, I think of taking up the role of
that desperate man on Third Avenue who went along looking for garbage
in the gutter to eat. I think I could pick up at least twenty or
thirty cents a day by that little game, and maintain my family in the
affluence it's been accustomed to."
"Basil!" cried his wife. "You don't mean to say that man was an
impostor! And I've gone about, ever since, feeling that one such case
in a million, the bare possibility of it, was enough to justify all
that Lindau said about the rich and the poor!"
March laughed teasingly. "Oh, I don't say he was an impostor.
Perhaps he really was hungry; but, if he wasn't, what do you think of
a civilization that makes the opportunity of such a fraud? that gives
us all such a bad conscience for the need which is that we weaken to
the need that isn't? Suppose that poor fellow wasn't personally
founded on fact: nevertheless, he represented the truth; he was the
ideal of the suffering which would be less effective if realistically
treated. That man is a great comfort to me. He probably rioted for
days on that quarter I gave him; made a dinner very likely, or a
champagne supper; and if 'Every Other Week' wants to get rid of me, I
intend to work that racket. You can hang round the corner with Bella,
and Tom can come up to me in tears, at stated intervals, and ask me if
I've found anything yet. To be sure, we might be arrested and sent up
somewhere. But even in that extreme case we should be provided for.
Oh no, I'm not afraid of losing my place! I've merely a sort of
psychological curiosity to know how men like Dryfoos and Fulkerson
will work out the problem before them."
It was a curiosity which Fulkerson himself shared, at least
concerning Dryfoos. "I don't know what the old man's going to do," he
said to March the day after the Marches had talked their future over.
"Said anything to you yet?"
"No, not a word."
"You're anxious, I suppose, same as I am. Fact is," said
Fulkerson, blushing a little, "I can't ask to have a day named till I
know where I am in connection with the old man. I can't tell whether
I've got to look out for something else or somebody else. Of course,
it's full soon yet."
"Yes," March said, "much sooner than it seems to us. We're so
anxious about the future that we don't remember how very recent the
"That's something so. The old man's hardly had time yet to pull
himself together. Well, I'm glad you feel that way about it, March.
I guess it's more of a blow to him than we realize. He was a good
deal bound up in Coonrod, though he didn't always use him very well.
Well, I reckon it's apt to happen so oftentimes; curious how cruel
love can be. Heigh? We're an awful mixture, March!"
"Yes, that's the marvel and the curse, as Browning says."
"Why, that poor boy himself," pursued Fulkerson, had streaks of the
mule in him that could give odds to Beaton, and he must have tried the
old man by the way he would give in to his will and hold out against
his judgment. I don't believe he ever budged a hairs-breadth from his
original position about wanting to be a preacher and not wanting to be
a business man. Well, of course! I don't think business is all in
all; but it must have made the old man mad to find that without saying
anything, or doing anything to show it, and after seeming to come over
to his ground, and really coming, practically, Coonrod was just
exactly where he first planted himself, every time."
"Yes, people that have convictions are difficult. Fortunately,
"Do you think so? It seems to me that everybody's got convictions.
Beaton himself, who hasn't a principle to throw at a dog, has got
convictions the size of a barn. They ain't always the same ones, I
know, but they're always to the same effect, as far as Beaton's being
Number One is concerned. The old man's got convictions or did have,
unless this thing lately has shaken him all up--and he believes that
money will do everything. Colonel Woodburn's got convictions that he
wouldn't part with for untold millions. Why, March, you got
"Have I?" said March. "I don't know what they are."
"Well, neither do I; but I know you were ready to kick the trough
over for them when the old man wanted us to bounce Lindau that time."
"Oh yes," said March; he remembered the fact; but he was still
uncertain just what the convictions were that he had been so stanch
"I suppose we could have got along without you," Fulkerson mused
aloud. "It's astonishing how you always can get along in this world
without the man that is simply indispensable. Makes a fellow realize
that he could take a day off now and then without deranging the solar
system a great deal. Now here's Coonrod--or, rather, he isn't. But
that boy managed his part of the schooner so well that I used to
tremble when I thought of his getting the better of the old man and
going into a convent or something of that kind; and now here he is,
snuffed out in half a second, and I don't believe but what we shall be
sailing along just as chipper as usual inside of thirty days. I
reckon it will bring the old man to the point when I come to talk with
him about who's to be put in Coonrod's place. I don't like very well
to start the subject with him; but it's got to be done some time."
"Yes," March admitted. "It's terrible to think how unnecessary
even the best and wisest of us is to the purposes of Providence. When
I looked at that poor young fellow's face sometimes--so gentle and
true and pure-- I used to think the world was appreciably richer for
his being in it. But are we appreciably poorer for his being out of it
"No, I don't reckon we are," said Fulkerson. "And what a lot of
the raw material of all kinds the Almighty must have, to waste us the
way He seems to do. Think of throwing away a precious creature like
Coonrod Dryfoos on one chance in a thousand of getting that old fool
of a Lindau out of the way of being clubbed! For I suppose that was
what Coonrod was up to. Say! Have you been round to see Lindau
Something in the tone or the manner of Fulkerson startled March.
"No! I haven't seen him since yesterday."
"Well, I don't know," said Fulkerson. "I guess I saw him a little
while after you did, and that young doctor there seemed to feel kind
of worried about him.
Or not worried, exactly; they can't afford to let such things worry
them, I suppose; but--"
"He's worse?" asked March.
"Oh, he didn't say so. But I just wondered if you'd seen him
"I think I'll go now," said March, with a pang at heart. He had
gone every day to see Lindau, but this day he had thought he would not
go, and that was why his heart smote him. He knew that if he were in
Lindau's place Lindau would never have left his side if he could have
helped it. March tried to believe that the case was the same, as it
stood now; it seemed to him that he was always going to or from the
hospital; he said to himself that it must do Lindau harm to be visited
so much. But be knew that this was not true when he was met at the
door of the ward where Lindau lay by the young doctor, who had come to
feel a personal interest in March's interest in Lindau.
He smiled without gayety, and said, " He's just going."
"Oh no. He has been failing very fast since you saw him yesterday,
and now--" They had been walking softly and talking softly down the
aisle between the long rows of beds. "Would you care to see him?"
The doctor made a slight gesture toward the white canvas screen
which in such places forms the death-chamber of the poor and
friendless. "Come round this way--he won't know you! I've got rather
fond of the poor old fellow. He wouldn't have a clergyman--sort of
agnostic, isn't he? A good many of these Germans are--but the young
lady who's been coming to see him--"
They both stopped. Lindau's grand, patriarchal head, foreshortened
to their view, lay white upon the pillow, and his broad, white beard
flowed upon the sheet, which heaved with those long last breaths.
Beside his bed Margaret Vance was kneeling; her veil was thrown back,
and her face was lifted; she held clasped between her hands the hand
of the dying man; she moved her lips inaudibly.
In spite of the experience of the whole race from time immemorial,
when death comes to any one we know we helplessly regard it as an
incident of life, which will presently go on as before. Perhaps this
is an instinctive perception of the truth that it does go on
somewhere; but we have a sense of death as absolutely the end even for
earth only if it relates to some one remote or indifferent to us.
March tried to project Lindau to the necessary distance from himself
in order to realize the fact in his case, but he could not, though the
man with whom his youth had been associated in a poetic friendship had
not actually reentered the region of his affection to the same degree,
or in any like degree. The changed conditions forbade that. He had a
soreness of heart concerning him; but he could not make sure whether
this soreness was grief for his death, or remorse for his own uncandor
with him about Dryfoos, or a foreboding of that accounting with his
conscience which he knew his wife would now exact of him down to the
last minutest particular of their joint and several behavior toward
Lindau ever since they had met him in New York.
He felt something knock against his shoulder, and he looked up to
have his hat struck from his head by a horse's nose. He saw the horse
put his foot on the hat, and he reflected, "Now it will always look
like an accordion," and he heard the horse's driver address him some
sarcasms before he could fully awaken to the situation. He was
standing bareheaded in the middle of Fifth Avenue and blocking the
tide of carriages flowing in either direction. Among the faces put
out of the carriage windows he saw that of Dryfoos looking from a
coupe. The old man knew him, and said, "Jump in here, Mr. March"; and
March, who had mechanically picked up his hat, and was thinking, " Now
I shall have to tell Isabel about this at once, and she will never
trust me on the street again without her," mechanically obeyed. Her
confidence in him had been undermined by his being so near Conrad when
he was shot; and it went through his mind that he would get Dryfoos to
drive him to a hatter's, where he could buy a new hat, and not be
obliged to confess his narrow escape to his wife till the incident was
some days old and she could bear it better. It quite drove Lindau's
death out of his mind for the moment; and when Dryfoos said if he was
going home he would drive up to the first cross-street and turn back
with him, March said he would be glad if he would take him to a
hat-store. The old man put his head out again and told the driver to
take them to the Fifth Avenue Hotel. "There's a hat- store around
there somewhere, seems to me," he said; and they talked of March's
accident as well as they could in the rattle and clatter of the street
till they reached the place. March got his hat, passing a joke with
the hatter about the impossibility of pressing his old hat over again,
and came out to thank Dryfoos and take leave of him.
"If you ain't in any great hurry," the old man said, "I wish you'd
get in here a minute. I'd like to have a little talk with you."
"Oh, certainly," said March, and he thought: "It's coming now about
what he intends to do with 'Every Other Week.' Well, I might as well
have all the misery at once and have it over."
Dryfoos called up to his driver, who bent his head down sidewise to
listen: "Go over there on Madison Avenue, onto that asphalt, and keep
drivin' up and down till I stop you. I can't hear myself think on
these pavements," he said to March. But after they got upon the
asphalt, and began smoothly rolling over it, he seemed in no haste to
begin. At last he said, "I wanted to talk with you about that--that
Dutchman that was at my dinner--Lindau," and March's heart gave a jump
with wonder whether he could already have heard of Lindau's death; but
in an instant he perceived that this was impossible. "I been talkin'
with Fulkerson about him, and he says they had to take the balance of
his arm off."
March nodded; it seemed to him he could not speak. He could not
make out from the close face of the old man anything of his motive.
It was set, but set as a piece of broken mechanism is when it has
lost the power to relax itself. There was no other history in it of
what the man had passed through in his son's death.
"I don't know," Dryfoos resumed, looking aside at the cloth
window-strap, which he kept fingering, "as you quite understood what
made me the maddest. I didn't tell him I could talk Dutch, because I
can't keep it up with a regular German; but my father was Pennsylvany
Dutch, and I could understand what he was saying to you about me. I
know I had no business to understood it, after I let him think I
couldn't but I did, and I didn't like very well to have a man callin'
me a traitor and a tyrant at my own table. Well, I look at it
differently now, and I reckon I had better have tried to put up with
it; and I would, if I could have known--" He stopped with a quivering
lip, and then went on: "Then, again, I didn't like his talkin' that
paternalism of his. I always heard it was the worst kind of thing for
the country; I was brought up to think the best government was the one
that governs the least; and I didn't want to hear that kind of talk
from a man that was livin' on my money. I couldn't bear it from him.
Or I thought I couldn't before--before--" He stopped again, and
gulped. "I reckon now there ain't anything I couldn't bear." March
was moved by the blunt words and the mute stare forward with which
they ended. "Mr. Dryfoos, I didn't know that you understood Lindau's
German, or I shouldn't have allowed him he wouldn't have allowed
himself--to go on. He wouldn't have knowingly abused his position of
guest to censure you, no matter how much he condemned you." "I don't
care for it now," said Dryfoos. "It's all past and gone, as far as
I'm concerned; but I wanted you to see that I wasn't tryin' to punish
him for his opinions, as you said."
"No; I see now," March assented, though he thought, his position
still justified. "I wish--"
"I don't know as I understand much about his opinions, anyway; but
I ain't ready to say I want the men dependent on me to manage my
business for me. I always tried to do the square thing by my hands;
and in that particular case out there I took on all the old hands just
as fast as they left their Union. As for the game I came on them, it
was dog eat dog, anyway."
March could have laughed to think how far this old man was from
even conceiving of Lindau's point'of view, and how he was saying the
worst of himself that Lindau could have said of him. No one could
have characterized the kind of thing he had done more severely than he
when he called it dog eat dog.
"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
"I'm afraid, Mr. Dryfoos, that it would make little difference to
"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," be 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.
March hesitated. "I'm afraid, Mr. Dryfoos--Didn't Fulkerson tell
you that Lindau was very sick?"
"Yes, of course. But he's all right, he said."
Now it had to come, though the fact had been latterly playing fast
and loose with March's consciousness. Something almost made him
smile; the willingness he had once felt to give this old man pain;
then he consoled himself by thinking that at least he was not obliged
to meet Dryfoos's wish to make atonement with the fact that Lindau had
renounced him, and would on no terms work for such a man as he, or
suffer any kindness from him. In this light Lindau seemed the harder
of the two, and March had the momentary force to say
"Mr. Dryfoos--it can't be. Lindau--I have just come from him--is
"How did he take it? How could he bear it? Oh, Basil! I wonder
you could have the heart to say it to him. It was cruel!"
"Yes, cruel enough, my dear," March owned to his wife, when they
talked the matter over on his return home. He could not wait till the
children were out of the way, and afterward neither he nor his wife
was sorry that he had spoken of it before them. The girl cried
plentifully for her old friend who was dead, and said she hated Mr.
Dryfoos, and then was sorry for him, too; and the boy listened to all,
and spoke with a serious sense that pleased his father. "But as to
how he took it," March went on to answer his wife's question about
Dryfoos--"how do any of us take a thing that hurts? Some of us cry
out, and some of us don't. Dryfoos drew a kind of long, quivering
breath, as a child does when it grieves--there's something curiously
simple and primitive about him--and didn't say anything. After a
while he asked me how he could see the people at the hospital about
the remains; I gave him my card to the young doctor there that had
charge of Lindau. I suppose he was still carrying forward his plan of
reparation in his mind--to the dead for the dead. But how useless!
If he could have taken the living Lindau home with him, and cared for
him all his days, what would it have profited the gentle creature
whose life his worldly ambition vexed and thwarted here? He might as
well offer a sacrifice at Conrad's grave. Children," said March,
turning to them, "death is an exile that no remorse and no love can
reach. Remember that, and be good to every one here on earth, for
your longing to retrieve any harshness or unkindness to the dead will
be the very ecstasy of anguish to you. I wonder," he mused, "if one
of the reasons why we're shut up to our ignorance of what is to be
hereafter isn't because if we were sure of another world we might be
still more brutal to one another here, in the hope of making
reparation somewhere else. Perhaps, if we ever come to obey the law
of love on earth, the mystery of death will be taken away."
"Well"--the ancestral Puritanism spoke in Mrs. March--" these two
old men have been terribly punished. They have both been violent and
wilful, and they have both been punished. No one need ever tell me
there is not a moral government of the universe!"
March always disliked to hear her talk in this way, which did both
her head and heart injustice. "And Conrad," he said, "what was he
"He?" she answered, in an exaltation--" he suffered for the sins
"Ah, well, if you put it in that way, yes. That goes on
continually. That's another mystery."
He fell to brooding on it, and presently he heard his son saying,
"I suppose, papa, that Mr. Lindau died in a bad cause?"
March was startled. He had always been so sorry for Lindau, and
admired his courage and generosity so much, that he had never fairly
considered this question. "Why, yes," he answered; "he died in the
cause of disorder; he was trying to obstruct the law. No doubt there
was a wrong there, an inconsistency and an injustice that he felt
keenly; but it could not be reached in his way without greater wrong."
"Yes; that's what I thought," said the boy. "And what's the use of
our ever fighting about anything in America? I always thought we
could vote anything we wanted."
"We can, if we're honest, and don't buy and sell one another's
votes," said his father. "And men like Lindau, who renounce the
American means as hopeless, and let their love of justice hurry them
into sympathy with violence--yes, they are wrong; and poor Lindau did
die in a bad cause, as you say, Tom."
"I think Conrad had no business there, or you, either, Basil," said
"Oh, I don't defend myself," said March. "I was there in the cause
of literary curiosity and of conjugal disobedience. But Conrad--yes,
he had some business there: it was his business to suffer there for
the sins of others. Isabel, we can't throw aside that old doctrine of
the Atonement yet. The life of Christ, it wasn't only in healing the
sick and going about to do good; it was suffering for the sins of
others. That's as great a mystery as the mystery of death. Why
should there be such a principle in the world? But it's been felt,
and more or less dumbly, blindly recognized ever since Calvary. If we
love mankind, pity them, we even wish to suffer for them. That's what
has created the religious orders in all times--the brotherhoods and
sisterhoods that belong to our day as much as to the mediaeval past.
That's what is driving a girl like Margaret Vance, who has everything
that the world can offer her young beauty, on to the work of a Sister
of Charity among the poor and the dying."
"Yes, yes!" cried Mrs. March. "How--how did she look there,
Basil?" She had her feminine misgivings; she was not sure but the
girl was something of a poseuse, and enjoyed the picturesqueness, as
well as the pain; and she wished to be convinced that it was not so.
"Well," she said, when March had told again the little there was to
tell, "I suppose it must be a great trial to a woman like Mrs. Horn to
have her niece going that way."
"The way of Christ?" asked March, with a smile.
"Oh, Christ came into the world to teach us how to live rightly in
it, too. If we were all to spend our time in hospitals, it would be
rather dismal for the homes. But perhaps you don't think the homes
are worth minding?" she suggested, with a certain note in her voice
that he knew.
He got up and kissed her. "I think the gimcrackeries are." He
took the hat he had set down on the parlor table on coming in, and
started to put it in the hall, and that made her notice it.
"You've been getting a new hat!"
"Yes," he hesitated; " the old one had got--was decidedly shabby."
"Well, that's right. I don't like you to wear them too long. Did
you leave the old one to be pressed?"
"Well, the hatter seemed to think it was hardly worth pressing,"
said March. He decided that for the present his wife's nerves had
quite all they could bear.
It was in a manner grotesque, but to March it was all the more
natural for that reason, that Dryfoos should have Lindau's funeral
from his house. He knew the old man to be darkly groping, through the
payment of these vain honors to the dead, for some atonement to his
son, and he imagined him finding in them such comfort as comes from
doing all one can, even when all is useless.
No one knew what Lindau's religion was, and in default they had had
the Anglican burial service read over him; it seems so often the
refuge of the homeless dead. Mrs. Dryfoos came down for the ceremony.
She understood that it was for Coonrod's sake that his father wished
the funeral to be there; and she confided to Mrs. March that she
believed Coonrod would have been pleased. "Coonrod was a member of
the 'Piscopal Church; and fawther's doin' the whole thing for Coonrod
as much as for anybody. He thought the world of Coonrod, fawther did.
Mela, she kind of thought it would look queer to have two funerals
from the same house, hand-runnin', as you might call it, and one of
'em no relation, either; but when she saw how fawther was bent on it,
she give in. Seems as if she was tryin' to make up to fawther for
Coonrod as much as she could. Mela always was a good child, but nobody
can ever come up to Coonrod."
March felt all the grotesqueness, the hopeless absurdity of
Dryfoos's endeavor at atonement in these vain obsequies to the man for
whom he believed his son to have died; but the effort had its
magnanimity, its pathos, and there was a poetry that appealed to him
in the reconciliation through death of men, of ideas, of conditions,
that could only have gone warring on in life. He thought, as the
priest went on with the solemn liturgy, how all the world must come
together in that peace which, struggle and strive as we may, shall
claim us at last. He looked at Dryfoos, and wondered whether he would
consider these rites a sufficient tribute, or whether there was enough
in him to make him realize their futility, except as a mere sign of
his wish to retrieve the past. He thought how we never can atone for
the wrong we do; the heart we have grieved and wounded cannot kindle
with pity for us when once it is stilled; and yet we can put our evil
from us with penitence, and somehow, somewhere, the order of loving
kindness, which our passion or our wilfulness has disturbed, will be
Dryfoos, through Fulkerson, had asked all the more intimate
contributors of 'Every Other Week' to come. Beaton was absent, but
Fulkerson had brought Miss Woodburn, with her father, and Mrs.
Leighton and Alma, to fill up, as he said. Mela was much present, and
was official with the arrangement of the flowers and the welcome of
the guests. She imparted this impersonality to her reception of
Kendricks, whom Fulkerson met in the outer hall with his party, and
whom he presented in whisper to them all. Kendricks smiled under his
breath, as it were, and was then mutely and seriously polite to the
Leightons. Alma brought a little bunch of flowers, which were lost in
those which Dryfoos had ordered to be unsparingly provided.
It was a kind of satisfaction to Mela to have Miss Vance come, and
reassuring as to how it would look to have the funeral there; Miss
Vance would certainly not have come unless it had been all right; she
had come, and had sent some Easter lilies.
"Ain't Christine coming down?" Fulkerson asked Mela.
"No, she ain't a bit well, and she ain't been, ever since Coonrod
died. I don't know, what's got over her," said Mela. She added,
"Well, I should 'a' thought Mr. Beaton would 'a' made out to 'a'
"Beaton's peculiar," said Fulkerson. "If he thinks you want him he
takes a pleasure in not letting you have him."
"Well, goodness knows, I don't want him," said the girl.
Christine kept her room, and for the most part kept her bed; but
there seemed nothing definitely the matter with her, and she would not
let them call a doctor. Her mother said she reckoned she was
beginning to feel the spring weather, that always perfectly pulled a
body down in New York; and Mela said if being as cross as two sticks
was any sign of spring- fever, Christine had it bad. She was
faithfully kind to her, and submitted to all her humors, but she
recompensed herself by the freest criticism of Christine when not in
actual attendance on her. Christine would not suffer Mrs. Mandel to
approach her, and she had with her father a sullen submission which
was not resignation. For her, apparently, Conrad had not died, or had
died in vain.
"Pshaw!" said Mela, one morning when she came to breakfast, "I
reckon if we was to send up an old card of Mr. Beaton's she'd rattle
down-stairs fast enough. If she's sick, she's love-sick. It makes me
sick to see her."
Mela was talking to Mrs. Mandel, but her father looked up from his
plate and listened. Mela went on: "I don't know what's made the
fellow quit comun'. But he was an aggravatun' thing, and no more
dependable than water. It's just like Air. Fulkerson said, if he
thinks you want him he'll take a pleasure in not lettun' you have him.
I reckon that's what's the matter with Christine. I believe in my
heart the girl 'll die if she don't git him."
Mela went on to eat her breakfast with her own good appetite. She
now always came down to keep her father company, as she said, and she
did her best to cheer and comfort him. At least she kept the talk
going, and she had it nearly all to herself, for Mrs. Mandel was now
merely staying on provisionally, and, in the absence of any regrets or
excuses from Christine, was looking ruefully forward to the moment
when she must leave even this ungentle home for the chances of the
ruder world outside.
The old man said nothing at table, but, when Mela went up to see if
she could do anything for Christine, he asked Mrs. Mandel again about
all the facts of her last interview with Beaton.
She gave them as fully as she could remember them, and the old man
made no comment on them. But he went out directly after, and at the
'Every Other Week' office he climbed the stairs to Fulkerson's room
and asked for Beaton's address. No one yet had taken charge of
Conrad's work, and Fulkerson was running the thing himself, as he
said, till he could talk with Dryfoos about it. The old man would not
look into the empty room where he had last seen his son alive; he
turned his face away and hurried by the door.
The course of public events carried Beaton's private affairs beyond
the reach of his simple first intention to renounce his connection
with 'Every Other Week.' In fact, this was not perhaps so simple as
it seemed, and long before it could be put in effect it appeared still
simpler to do nothing about the matter--to remain passive and leave
the initiative to Dryfoos, to maintain the dignity of unconsciousness
and let recognition of any change in the situation come from those who
had caused the change. After all, it was rather absurd to propose
making a purely personal question the pivot on which his relations
with 'Every Other Week' turned. He took a hint from March's position
and decided that he did not know Dryfoos in these relations; he knew
only Fulkerson, who had certainly had nothing to do with Mrs. Mandel's
asking his intentions. As he reflected upon this he became less eager
to look Fulkerson up and make the magazine a partner of his own
sufferings. This was the soberer mood to which Beaton trusted that
night even before he slept, and he awoke fully confirmed in it. As he
examined the offence done him in the cold light of day, he perceived
that it had not come either from Mrs. Mandel, who was visibly the
faltering and unwilling instrument of it, or from Christine, who was
altogether ignorant of it, but from Dryfoos, whom he could not hurt by
giving up his place. He could only punish Fulkerson by that, and
Fulkerson was innocent. Justice and interest alike dictated the
passive course to which Beaton inclined; and he reflected that he
might safely leave the punishment of Dryfoos to Christine, who would
find out what had happened, and would be able to take care of herself
in any encounter of tempers with her father.
Beaton did not go to the office during the week that followed upon
this conclusion; but they were used there to these sudden absences of
his, and, as his work for the time was in train, nothing was made of
his staying away, except the sarcastic comment which the thought of
him was apt to excite in the literary department. He no longer came
so much to the Leightons, and Fulkerson was in no state of mind to
miss any one there except Miss Woodburn, whom he never missed. Beaton
was left, then, unmolestedly awaiting the course of destiny, when he
read in the morning paper, over his coffee at Maroni's, the deeply
scare-headed story of Conrad's death and the clubbing of Lindau. He
probably cared as little for either of them as any man that ever saw
them; but he felt a shock, if not a pang, at Conrad's fate, so out of
keeping with his life and character. He did not know what to do; and
he did nothing. He was not asked to the funeral, but he had not
expected that, and, when Fulkerson brought him notice that Lindau was
also to be buried from Dryfoos's house, it was without his usual
sullen vindictiveness that he kept away. In his sort, and as much as a
man could who was necessarily so much taken up with himself, he was
sorry for Conrad's father; Beaton had a peculiar tenderness for his
own father, and he imagined how his father would feel if it were he
who had been killed in Conrad's place, as it might very well have
been; he sympathized with himself in view of the possibility; and for
once they were mistaken who thought him indifferent and merely brutal
in his failure to appear at Lindau's obsequies.
He would really have gone if he had known how to reconcile his
presence in that house with the terms of his effective banishment from
it; and he was rather forgivingly finding himself wronged in the
situation, when Dryfoos knocked at the studio door the morning after
Lindau's funeral. Beaton roared out, "Come in!" as he always did to a
knock if he had not a model; if he had a model he set the door
slightly ajar, and with his palette on his thumb frowned at his
visitor and told him he could not come in. Dryfoos fumbled about for
the knob in the dim passageway outside, and Beaton, who had experience
of people's difficulties with it, suddenly jerked the door open. The
two men stood confronted, and at first sight of each other their
quiescent dislike revived. Each would have been willing to turn away
from the other, but that was not possible. Beaton snorted some sort of
inarticulate salutation, which Dryfoos did not try to return; he asked
if he could see him alone for a minute or two, and Beaton bade him
come in, and swept some paint-blotched rags from the chair which he
told him to take. He noticed, as the old man sank tremulously into
it, that his movement was like that of his own father, and also that
he looked very much like Christine. Dryfoos folded his hands
tremulously on the top of his horn-handled stick, and he was rather
finely haggard, with the dark hollows round his black eyes and the
fall of the muscles on either side of his chin. He had forgotten to
take his soft, wide-brimmed hat off; and Beaton felt a desire to
sketch him just as he sat.
Dryfoos suddenly pulled himself together from the dreary absence
into which he fell at first. "Young man," he began, "maybe I've come
here on a fool's errand," and Beaton rather fancied that beginning.
But it embarrassed him a little, and he said, with a shy glance
aside, "I don't know what you mean." "I reckon," Dryfoos answered,
quietly, "you got your notion, though. I set that woman on to speak to
you the way she done. But if there was anything wrong in the way she
spoke, or if you didn't feel like she had any right to question you up
as if we suspected you of anything mean, I want you to say so."
Beaton said nothing, and the old man went on.
"I ain't very well up in the ways of the world, and I don't pretend
to be. All I want is to be fair and square with everybody. I've made
mistakes, though, in my time--" He stopped, and Beaton was not proof
against the misery of his face, which was twisted as with some strong
physical ache. "I don't know as I want to make any more, if I can
help it. I don't know but what you had a right to keep on comin', and
if you had I want you to say so. Don't you be afraid but what I'll
take it in the right way. I don't want to take advantage of anybody,
and I don't ask you to say any more than that."
Beaton did not find the humiliation of the man who had humiliated
him so sweet as he could have fancied it might be. He knew how it had
come about, and that it was an effect of love for his child; it did
not matter by what ungracious means she had brought him to know that
he loved her better than his own will, that his wish for her happiness
was stronger than his pride; it was enough that he was now somehow
brought to give proof of it. Beaton could not be aware of all that
dark coil of circumstance through which Dryfoos's present action
evolved itself; the worst of this was buried in the secret of the old
man's heart, a worm of perpetual torment. What was apparent to
another was that he was broken by the sorrow that had fallen upon him,
and it was this that Beaton respected and pitied in his impulse to be
frank and kind in his answer.
"No, I had no right to keep coming to your house in the way I did,
unless--unless I meant more than I ever said." Beaton added: "I don't
say that what you did was usual--in this country, at any rate; but I
can't say you were wrong. Since you speak to me about the matter,
it's only fair to myself to say that a good deal goes on in life
without much thinking of consequences. That's the way I excuse
"And you say Mrs. Mandel done right?" asked Dryfoos, as if he
wished simply to be assured of a point of etiquette.
"Yes, she did right. I've nothing to complain of."
"That's all I wanted to know," said Dryfoos; but apparently he had
not finished, and he did not go, though the silence that Beaton now
kept gave him a chance to do so. He began a series of questions which
had no relation to the matter in hand, though they were strictly
personal to Beaton. "What countryman are you?" he asked, after a
"What countryman?" Beaton frowned back at him.
"Yes, are you an American by birth?"
"Yes; I was born in Syracuse."
"My father is a Scotch Seceder."
"What business is your father in?"
Beaton faltered and blushed; then he answered:
"He's in the monument business, as he calls it. He's a tombstone
cutter." Now that he was launched, Beaton saw no reason for not
declaring, "My father's always been a poor man, and worked with his
own hands for his living." He had too slight esteem socially for
Dryfoos to conceal a fact from him that he might have wished to blink
"Well, that's right," said Dryfoos. "I used to farm it myself.
I've got a good pile of money together, now. At first it didn't come
easy; but now it's got started it pours in and pours in; it seems like
there was no end to it. I've got well on to three million; but it
couldn't keep me from losin' my son. It can't buy me back a minute of
his life; not all the money in the world can do it!"
He grieved this out as if to himself rather than to Beaton, who,
scarcely ventured to say, "I know--I am very sorry--"
"How did you come," Dryfoos interrupted, "to take up paintin'?"
"Well, I don't know," said Beaton, a little scornfully. "You
don't. take a thing of that kind up, I fancy. I always wanted to
"Father try to stop you?"
"No. It wouldn't have been of any use. Why--"
"My son, he wanted to be a preacher, and I did stop him or I
thought I did. But I reckon he was a preacher, all the same, every
minute of his life. As you say, it ain't any use to try to stop a
thing like that. I reckon if a child has got any particular bent, it
was given to it; and it's goin' against the grain, it's goin' against
the law, to try to bend it some other way. There's lots of good
business men, Mr. Beaton, twenty of 'em to every good preacher?"
"I imagine more than twenty," said Beaton, amused and touched
through his curiosity as to what the old man was driving at by the
quaint simplicity of his speculations.
"Father ever come to the city?"
"No; he never has the time; and my mother's an invalid."
"Oh! Brothers and sisters?"
"Yes; we're a large family."
"I lost two little fellers--twins," said Dryfoos, sadly. "But we
hain't ever had but just the five. Ever take portraits?"
"Yes," said Beaton, meeting this zigzag in the queries as seriously
as the rest. "I don't think I am good at it."
Dryfoos got to his feet. "I wish you'd paint a likeness of my son.
You've seen him plenty of times. We won't fight about the price,
don't you be afraid of that."
Beaton was astonished, and in a mistaken way he was disgusted. He
saw that Dryfoos was trying to undo Mrs. Mandel's work practically,
and get him to come again to his house; that he now conceived of the
offence given him as condoned, and wished to restore the former
situation. He knew that he was attempting this for Christine's sake,
but he was not the man to imagine that Dryfoos was trying not only to
tolerate him, but to like him; and, in fact, Dryfoos was not wholly
conscious himself of this end. What they both understood was that
Dryfoos was endeavoring to get at Beaton through Conrad's memory; but
with one this was its dedication to a purpose of self sacrifice, and
with the other a vulgar and shameless use of it.
"I couldn't do it," said Beaton. "I couldn't think of attempting
"Why not?" Dryfoos persisted. "We got some photographs of him; he
didn't like to sit very well; but his mother got him to; and you know
how he looked."
"I couldn't do it--I couldn't. I can't even consider it. I'm very
sorry. I would, if it were possible. But it isn't possible."
"I reckon if you see the photographs once"
"It isn't that, Mr. Dryfoos. But I'm not in the way of that kind
of thing any more."
"I'd give any price you've a mind to name--"
"Oh, it isn't the money!" cried Beaton, beginning to lose control
The old man did not notice him. He sat with his head fallen
forward, and his chin resting on his folded hands. Thinking of the
portrait, he saw Conrad's face before him, reproachful, astonished,
but all gentle as it looked when Conrad caught his hand that day after
he struck him; he heard him say, "Father!" and the sweat gathered on
his forehead. "Oh, my God!" he groaned. "No; there ain't anything I
can do now."
Beaton did not know whether Dryfoos was speaking to him or not. He
started toward him. "Are you ill?"
"No, there ain't anything the matter," said the old man. "But I
guess I'll lay down on your settee a minute." He tottered with
Beaton's help to the aesthetic couch covered with a tiger-skin, on
which Beaton had once thought of painting a Cleopatra; but he could
never get the right model. As the old man stretched himself out on
it, pale and suffering, he did not look much like a Cleopatra, but
Beaton was struck with his effectiveness, and the likeness between him
and his daughter; she would make a very good Cleopatra in some ways.
All the time, while these thoughts passed through his mind, he was
afraid Dryfoos would die. The old man fetched his breath in gasps,
which presently smoothed and lengthened into his normal breathing.
Beaton got him a glass of wine, and after tasting it he sat up.
"You've got to excuse me," he said, getting back to his
characteristic grimness with surprising suddenness, when once he began
to recover himself. "I've been through a good deal lately; and
sometimes it ketches me round the heart like a pain."
In his life of selfish immunity from grief, Beaton could not
understand this experience that poignant sorrow brings; he said to
himself that Dryfoos was going the way of angina pectoris; as he began
shuffling off the tiger-skin he said: "Had you better get up?
Wouldn't you like me to call a doctor?"
"I'm all right, young man." Dryfoos took his hat and stick from
him, but he made for the door so uncertainly that Beaton put his hand
under his elbow and helped him out, and down the stairs, to his coupe.
"Hadn't you better let me drive home with you?" he asked.
"What?" said Dryfoos, suspiciously.
Beaton repeated his question.
"I guess I'm able to go home alone," said Dryfoos, in a surly tone,
and he put his head out of the window and called up "Home!" to the
driver, who immediately started off and left Beaton standing beside
Beaton wasted the rest of the day in the emotions and speculations
which Dryfoos's call inspired. It was not that they continuously
occupied him, but they broke up the train of other thoughts, and
spoiled him for work; a very little spoiled Beaton for work; he
required just the right mood for work. He comprehended perfectly well
that Dryfoos had made him that extraordinary embassy because he wished
him to renew his visits, and he easily imagined the means that had
brought him to this pass. From what he knew of that girl he did not
envy her father his meeting with her when he must tell her his mission
had failed. But had it failed? When Beaton came to ask himself this
question, he could only perceive that he and Dryfoos had failed to
find any ground of sympathy, and had parted in the same dislike with
which they had met. But as to any other failure, it was certainly
tacit, and it still rested with him to give it effect. He could go
back to Dryfoos's house, as freely as before, and it was clear that he
was very much desired to come back. But if he went back it was also
clear that he must go back with intentions more explicit than before,
and now he had to ask himself just how much or how little he had meant
by going there. His liking for Christine had certainly not increased,
but the charm, on the other hand, of holding a leopardess in leash had
not yet palled upon him. In his life of inconstancies, it was a
pleasure to rest upon something fixed, and the man who had no control
over himself liked logically enough to feel his control of some one
else. The fact cannot other wise be put in terms, and the attraction
which Christine Dryfoos had for him, apart from this, escapes from all
terms, as anything purely and merely passional must. He had seen from
the first that she was a cat, and so far as youth forecasts such
things, he felt that she would be a shrew. But he had a perverse
sense of her beauty, and he knew a sort of life in which her power to
molest him with her temper could be reduced to the smallest
proportions, and even broken to pieces. Then the consciousness of her
money entered. It was evident that the old man had mentioned his
millions in the way of a hint to him of what he might reasonably
expect if he would turn and be his son-in- law. Beaton did not put it
to himself in those words; and in fact his cogitations were not in
words at all. It was the play of cognitions, of sensations,
formlessly tending to the effect which can only be very clumsily
interpreted in language. But when he got to this point in them,
Beaton rose to magnanimity and in a flash of dramatic reverie disposed
of a part of Dryfoos's riches in placing his father and mother, and
his brothers and sisters, beyond all pecuniary anxiety forever. He
had no shame, no scruple in this, for he had been a pensioner upon
others ever since a Syracusan amateur of the arts had detected his
talent and given him the money to go and study abroad. Beaton had
always considered the money a loan, to be repaid out of his future
success; but he now never dreamt of repaying it; as the man was rich,
he had even a contempt for the notion of repaying him; but this did
not prevent him from feeling very keenly the hardships he put his
father to in borrowing money from him, though he never repaid his
father, either. In this reverie he saw himself sacrificed in marriage
with Christine Dryfoos, in a kind of admiring self-pity, and he was
melted by the spectacle of the dignity with which he suffered all the
lifelong trials ensuing from his unselfishness. The fancy that Alma
Leighton came bitterly to regret him, contributed to soothe and
flatter him, and he was not sure that Margaret. Vance did not suffer a
like loss in him.
There had been times when, as he believed, that beautiful girl's
high thoughts had tended toward him; there had been looks, gestures,
even words, that had this effect to him, or that seemed to have had
it; and Beaton saw that he might easily construe Mrs. Horn's
confidential appeal to him to get Margaret interested in art again as
something by no means necessarily offensive, even though it had been
made to him as to a master of illusion. If Mrs. Horn had to choose
between him and the life of good works to which her niece was visibly
abandoning herself, Beaton could not doubt which she would choose; the
only question was how real the danger of a life of good works was.
As he thought of these two girls, one so charming and the other so
divine, it became indefinitely difficult to renounce them for
Christine Dryfoos, with her sultry temper and her earthbound ideals.
Life had been so flattering to Beaton hitherto that he could not
believe them both finally indifferent; and if they were not
indifferent, perhaps he did not wish either of them to be very
definite. What he really longed for was their sympathy; for a man who
is able to walk round quite ruthlessly on the feelings of others often
has very tender feelings of his own, easily lacerated, and eagerly
responsive to the caresses of compassion. In this frame Beaton
determined to go that afternoon, though it was not Mrs. Horn's day,
and call upon her in the hope of possibly seeing Miss Vance alone. As
he continued in it, he took this for a sign and actually went. It did
not fall out at once as he wished, but he got Mrs. Horn to talking
again about her niece, and Mrs. Horn again regretted that nothing
could be done by the fine arts to reclaim Margaret from good works.
"Is she at home? Will you let me see her?" asked Beacon, with
something of the scientific interest of a physician inquiring for a
patient whose symptoms have been rehearsed to him. He had not asked
for her before.
"Yes, certainly," said Mrs. Horn, and she went herself to call
Margaret, and she did not return with her. The girl entered with the
gentle grace peculiar to her; and Beaton, bent as he was on his own
consolation, could not help being struck with the spiritual exaltation
of her look. At sight of her, the vague hope he had never quite
relinquished, that they might be something more than aesthetic
friends, died in his heart. She wore black, as she often did; but in
spite of its fashion her dress received a nun-like effect from the
pensive absence of her face. "Decidedly," thought Beaton, "she is far
gone in good works."
But he rose, all the same, to meet her on the old level, and he
began at once to talk to her of the subject he had been discussing
with her aunt. He said frankly that they both felt she had
unjustifiably turned her back upon possibilities which she ought not
"You know very well," she answered, " that I couldn't do anything
in that way worth the time I should waste on it. Don't talk of it,
please. I suppose my aunt has been asking you to say this, but it's no
use. I'm sorry it's no use, she wishes it so much; but I'm not sorry
otherwise. You can find the pleasure at least of doing good work in
it; but I couldn't find anything in it but a barren amusement. Mr.
Wetmore is right; for me, it's like enjoying an opera, or a ball."
"That's one of Wetmore's phrases. He'd sacrifice anything to
She put aside the whole subject with a look. "You were not at Mr.
Dryfoos's the other day. Have you seen them, any of them, lately?"
"I haven't been there for some time, no," said Beaton, evasively.
But he thought if he was to get on to anything, he had better be
candid. "Mr. Dryfoos was at my studio this morning. He's got a queer
notion. He wants me to paint his son's portrait."
She started. "And will you--"
"No, I couldn't do such a thing. It isn't in my way. I told him
so. His son had a beautiful face an antique profile; a sort of early
Christian type; but I'm too much of a pagan for that sort of thing."
"Yes," Beaton continued, not quite liking her assent after he had
invited it. He had his pride in being a pagan, a Greek, but it failed
him in her presence, now; and he wished that she had protested he was
none. "He was a singular creature; a kind of survival; an exile in
our time and place. I don't know: we don't quite expect a saint to be
rustic; but with all his goodness Conrad Dryfoos was a country person.
If he were not dying for a cause you could imagine him milking."
Beaton intended a contempt that came from the bitterness of having
himself once milked the family cow.
His contempt did not reach Miss Vance. "He died for a cause," she
said. "The holiest."
"Of peace. He was there to persuade the strikers to be quiet and
"I haven't been quite sure," said Beaton. "But in any case he had
no business there. The police were on hand to do the persuading."
"I can't let you talk so!" cried the girl. "It's shocking! Oh, I
know it's the way people talk, and the worst is that in the sight of
the world it's the right way. But the blessing on the peacemakers is
not for the policemen with their clubs."
Beaton saw that she was nervous; he made his reflection that she
was altogether too far gone in good works for the fine arts to reach
her; he began to think how he could turn her primitive Christianity to
the account of his modern heathenism. He had no deeper design than to
get flattered back into his own favor far enough to find courage for
some sort of decisive step. In his heart he was trying to will
whether he should or should not go back to Dryfoos's house. It could
not be from the caprice that had formerly taken him; it must be from a
definite purpose; again he realized this. "Of course; you are right,"
he said. "I wish I could have answered that old man differently. I
fancy he was bound up in his son, though he quarrelled with him, and
crossed him. But I couldn't do it; it wasn't possible." He said to
himself that if she said " No," now, he would be ruled by her
agreement with him; and if she disagreed with him, he would be ruled
still by the chance, and would go no more to the Dryfooses'. He found
himself embarrassed to the point of blushing when she said nothing,
and left him, as it were, on his own hands. "I should like to have
given him that comfort; I fancy he hasn't much comfort in life; but
there seems no comfort in me."
He dropped his head in a fit attitude for compassion; but she
poured no pity upon it.
"There is no comfort for us in ourselves," she said. "It's hard to
get outside; but there's only despair within. When we think we have
done something for others, by some great effort, we find it's all for
our own vanity."
"Yes," said Beaton. "If I could paint pictures for righteousness'
sake, I should have been glad to do Conrad Dryfoos for his father. I
felt sorry for him. Did the rest seem very much broken up? You saw
"Not all. Miss Dryfoos was ill, her sister said. It's hard to
tell how much people suffer. His mother seemed bewildered. The
younger sister is a simple creature; she looks like him; I think she
must have something of his spirit."
"Not much spirit of any kind, I imagine," said Beaton. "But she's
amiably material. Did they say Miss Dryfoos was seriously ill?"
"No. I supposed she might be prostrated by her brother's death."
"Does she seem that kind of person to you, Miss Vance?" asked
"I don't know. I haven't tried to see so much of them as I might,
the past winter. I was not sure about her when I met her; I've never
seen much of people, except in my own set, and the--very poor. I have
been afraid I didn't understand her. She may have a kind of pride
that would not let her do herself justice."
Beaton felt the unconscious dislike in the endeavor of praise.
"Then she seems to you like a person whose life--its trials, its
chances--would make more of than she is now?"
"I didn't say that. I can't judge of her at all; but where we
don't know, don't you think we ought to imagine the best?"
"Oh yes," said Beaton. "I didn't know but what I once said of them
might have prejudiced you against them. I have accused myself of it."
He always took a tone of conscientiousness, of self-censure, in
talking with Miss Vance; he could not help it.
"Oh no. And I never allowed myself to form any judgment of her.
She is very pretty, don't you think, in a kind of way?"
"She has a beautiful brunette coloring: that floury white and the
delicate pink in it. Her eyes are beautiful."
"She's graceful, too," said Beaton. "I've tried her in color; but
I didn't make it out."
"I've wondered sometimes," said Miss Vance, "whether that elusive
quality you find in some people you try to paint doesn't characterize
them all through. Miss Dryfoos might be ever so much finer and better
than we would find out in the society way that seems the only way."
"Perhaps," said Beaton, gloomily; and he went away profoundly
discouraged by this last analysis of Christine's character. The
angelic imperviousness of Miss Vance to properties of which his own
wickedness was so keenly aware in Christine might have made him laugh,
if it had not been such a serious affair with him. As it was, he
smiled to think how very differently Alma Leighton would have judged
her from Miss Vance's premises. He liked that clear vision of Alma's
even when it pierced his own disguises. Yes, that was the light he
had let die out, and it might have shone upon his path through life.
Beaton never felt so poignantly the disadvantage of having on any
given occasion been wanting to his own interests through his self-love
as in this. He had no one to blame but himself for what had happened,
but he blamed Alma for what might happen in the future because she
shut out the way of retrieval and return. When be thought of the
attitude she had taken toward him, it seemed incredible, and he was
always longing to give her a final chance to reverse her final
judgment. It appeared to him that the time had come for this now, if
While we are still young we feel a kind of pride, a sort of fierce
pleasure, in any important experience, such as we have read of or
heard of in the lives of others, no matter how painful. It was this
pride, this pleasure, which Beaton now felt in realizing that the
toils of fate were about him, that between him and a future of which
Christine Dryfoos must be the genius there was nothing but the will,
the mood, the fancy of a girl who had not given him the hope that
either could ever again be in his favor. He had nothing to trust to,
in fact, but his knowledge that he had once had them all; she did not
deny that; but neither did she conceal that he had flung away his
power over them, and she had told him that they never could be his
again. A man knows that he can love and wholly cease to love, not
once merely, but several times; he recognizes the fact in regard to
himself, both theoretically and practically; but in regard to women he
cherishes the superstition of the romances that love is once for all,
and forever. It was because Beaton would not believe that Alma
Leighton, being a woman, could put him out of her heart after
suffering him to steal into it, that he now hoped anything from her,
and she had been so explicit when they last spoke of that affair that
he did not hope much. He said to himself that he was going to cast
himself on her mercy, to take whatever chance of life, love, and work
there was in her having the smallest pity on him. If she would have
none, then there was but one thing he could do: marry Christine and go
abroad. He did not see how he could bring this alternative to bear
upon Alma; even if she knew what he would do in case of a final
rejection, he had grounds for fearing she would not care; but he
brought it to bear upon himself, and it nerved him to a desperate
courage. He could hardly wait for evening to come, before he went to
see her; when it came, it seemed to have come too soon. He had
wrought himself thoroughly into the conviction that he was in earnest,
and that everything depended upon her answer to him, but it was not
till he found himself in her presence, and alone with her, that he
realized the truth of his conviction. Then the influences of her
grace, her gayety, her arch beauty, above all, her good sense,
penetrated his soul like a subtle intoxication, and he said to himself
that he was right; he could not live without her; these attributes of
hers were what he needed to win him, to cheer him, to charm him, to
guide him. He longed so to please her, to ingratiate himself with
her, that he attempted to be light like her in his talk, but lapsed
into abysmal absences and gloomy recesses of introspection.
"What are you laughing at?" he asked, suddenly starting from one
"What you are thinking of."
"It's nothing to laugh at. Do you know what I'm thinking of?"
"Don't tell, if it's dreadful."
"Oh, I dare say you wouldn't think it's dreadful," he said, with
bitterness. "It's simply the case of a man who has made a fool of
himself and sees no help of retrieval in himself."
"Can any one else help a man unmake a fool of himself?" she asked,
with a smile.
"Yes. In a case like this."
"Dear me! This is very interesting."
She did not ask him what the case was, but he was launched now, and
he pressed on. "I am the man who has made a fool of himself--"
"And you can help me out if you will. Alma, I wish you could see
me as I really am."
"Do you, Mr. Beacon? Perhaps I do."
"No; you don't. You formulated me in a certain way, and you won't
allow for the change that takes place in every one. You have changed;
why shouldn't I?"
"Has this to do with your having made a fool of yourself?"
"Oh! Then I don't see how you have changed."
She laughed, and he too, ruefully. "You're cruel. Not but what I
deserve your mockery. But the change was not from the capacity of
making a fool of myself. I suppose I shall always do that more or
less--unless you help me. Alma! Why can't you have a little
compassion? You know that I must always love you."
"Nothing makes me doubt that like your saying it, Mr. Beaton. But
now you've broken your word--"
"You are to blame for that. You knew I couldn't keep it!"
"Yes, I'm to blame. I was wrong to let you come--after that. And
so I forgive you for speaking to me in that way again. But it's
perfectly impossible and perfectly useless for me to hear you any more
on that subject; and so-good-bye!"
She rose, and he perforce with her. "And do you mean it?" he
"Forever. This is truly the last time I will ever see you if I can
help it. Oh, I feel sorry enough for you!" she said, with a glance at
his face. "I do believe you are in earnest. But it's too late now.
Don't let us talk about it any more! But we shall, if we meet, and
"And so good-bye ! Well, I've nothing more to say, and I might as
well say that. I think you've been very good to me. It seems to me
as if you had been--shall I say it?--trying to give me a chance. Is
that so?" She dropped her eyes and did not answer.
"You found it was no use! Well, I thank you for trying. It's
curious to think that I once had your trust, your regard, and now I
haven't it. You don't mind my remembering that I had? It'll be some
little consolation, and I believe it will be some help. I know I
can't retrieve the past now. It is too late. It seems too
preposterous--perfectly lurid--that I could have been going to tell
you what a tangle I'd got myself in, and to ask you to help untangle
me. I must choke in the infernal coil, but I'd like to have the
sweetness of your pity in it--whatever it is."
She put out her hand. "Whatever it is, I do pity you; I said
"Thank you." He kissed the band she gave him and went.
He had gone on some such terms before; was it now for the last
time? She believed it was. She felt in herself a satiety, a fatigue,
in which his good looks, his invented airs and poses, his real
trouble, were all alike repulsive. She did not acquit herself of the
wrong of having let him think she might yet have liked him as she once
did; but she had been honestly willing to see whether she could. It
had mystified her to find that when they first met in New York, after
their summer in St. Barnaby, she cared nothing for him; she had
expected to punish him for his neglect, and then fancy him as before,
but she did not. More and more she saw him selfish and mean,
weak-willed, narrow-minded, and hard- hearted; and aimless, with all
his talent. She admired his talent in proportion as she learned more
of artists, and perceived how uncommon it was; but she said to herself
that if she were going to devote herself to art, she would do it at
first-hand. She was perfectly serene and happy in her final rejection
of Beaton; he had worn out not only her fancy, but her sympathy, too.
This was what her mother would not believe when Alma reported the
interview to her; she would not believe it was the last time they
should meet; death itself can hardly convince us that it is the last
time of anything, of everything between ourselves and the dead.
"Well, Alma," she said, "I hope you'll never regret what you've
"You may be sure I shall not regret it. If ever I'm low-spirited
about anything, I'll think of giving Mr. Beaton his freedom, and that
will cheer me up."
"And don't you expect to get married? Do you intend to be an old
maid?" demanded her mother, in the bonds of the superstition women
have so long been under to the effect that every woman must wish to
get married, if for no other purpose than to avoid being an old maid.
"Well, mamma," said Alma, "I intend being a young one for a few
years yet; and then I'll see. If I meet the right person, all well
and good; if not, not. But I shall pick and choose, as a man does; I
won't merely be picked and chosen."
"You can't help yourself; you may be very glad if you are picked
"What nonsense, mamma! A girl can get any man she wants, if she
goes about. it the right way. And when my 'fated fairy prince' comes
along, I shall just simply make furious love to him and grab him. Of
course, I shall make a decent pretence of talking in my sleep. I
believe it's done that way more than half the time. The fated fairy
prince wouldn't see the princess in nine cases out of ten if she
didn't say something; he would go mooning along after the maids of
Mrs. Leighton tried to look unspeakable horror; but she broke down
and laughed. " Well, you are a strange girl, Alma."
"I don't know about that. But one thing I do know, mamma, and that
is that Prince Beaton isn't the F. F. P. for me. How strange you are,
mamma! Don't you think it would be perfectly disgusting to accept a
person you didn't care for, and let him go on and love you and marry
you? It's sickening."
"Why, certainly, Alma. It's only because I know you did care for
"And now I don't. And he didn't care for me once, and now he does.
And so we're quits."
"If I could believe--"
"You had better brace up and try, mamma; for as Mr. Fulkerson says,
it's as sure as guns. From the crown of his head to the sole of his
foot, he's loathsome to me; and he keeps getting loathsomer. Ugh!
"Well, I guess she's given him the grand bounce at last," said
Fulkerson to March in one of their moments of confidence at the
office. "That's Mad's inference from appearances--and disappearances;
and some little hints from Alma Leighton."
"Well, I don't know that I have any criticisms to offer," said
March. "It may be bad for Beaton, but it's a very good thing for Miss
Leighton. Upon the whole, I believe I congratulate her."
"Well, I don't know. I always kind of hoped it would turn out the
other way. You know I always had a sneaking fondness for the fellow."
"Miss Leighton seems not to have had."
"It's a pity she hadn't. I tell you, March, it ain't so easy for a
girl to get married, here in the East, that she can afford to despise
"Isn't that rather a low view of it?"
"It's a common-sense view. Beaton has the making of a first-rate
fellow in him. He's the raw material of a great artist and a good
citizen. All he wants is somebody to take him in hand and keep him
from makin' an ass of himself and kickin' over the traces generally,
and ridin' two or three horses bareback at once."
"It seems a simple problem, though the metaphor is rather
complicated," said March. "But talk to Miss Leighton about it. I
haven't given Beaton the grand bounce."
He began to turn over the manuscripts on his table, and Fulkerson
went away. But March found himself thinking of the matter from time
to time during the day, and he spoke to his wife about it when he went
home. She surprised him by taking Fulkerson's view of it.
"Yes, it's a pity she couldn't have made up her mind to have him.
It's better for a woman to be married."
"I thought Paul only went so far as to say it was well. But what
would become of Miss Leighton's artistic career if she married?"
"Oh, her artistic career!" said Mrs. March, with matronly contempt
"But look here!" cried her husband. "Suppose she doesn't like
"How can a girl of that age tell whether she likes any one or not?"
"It seems to me you were able to tell at. that age, Isabel. But
let's examine this thing. (This thing! I believe Fulkerson is
characterizing my whole parlance, as well as your morals.) Why
shouldn't we rejoice as much at a non-marriage as a marriage? When we
consider the enormous risks people take in linking their lives
together, after not half so much thought as goes to an ordinary horse
trade, I think we ought to be glad whenever they don't do it. I
believe that this popular demand for the matrimony of others comes
from our novel-reading. We get to thinking that there is no other
happiness or good-fortune in life except marriage; and it's offered in
fiction as the highest premium for virtue, courage, beauty, learning,
and saving human life. We all know it isn't. We know that in reality
marriage is dog cheap, and anybody can have it for the asking--if he
keeps asking enough people. By-and-by some fellow will wake up and
see that a first-class story can be written from the anti- marriage
point of view; and he'll begin with an engaged couple, and devote his
novel to disengaging them and rendering them separately happy ever
after in the denouement. It will make his everlasting fortune."
"Why don't you write it, Basil?" she asked. "It's a delightful
idea. You could do it splendidly."
He became fascinated with the notion. He developed it in detail;
but at the end he sighed and said: "With this 'Every Other Week' work
on my hands, of course I can't attempt a novel. But perhaps I sha'n't
have it long."
She was instantly anxious to know what he meant, and the novel and
Miss Leighton's affair were both dropped out of their thoughts. "What
do you mean? Has Mr. Fulkerson said anything yet?"
"Not a word. He knows no more about it than I do. Dryfoos hasn't
spoken, and we're both afraid to ask him. Of course, I couldn't ask
"But it's pretty uncomfortable, to be kept hanging by the gills so,
as Fulkerson says."
"Yes, we don't know what to do."
March and Fulkerson said the same to each other; and Fulkerson said
that if the old man pulled out, he did not know what would happen. He
had no capital to carry the thing on, and the very fact that the old
man had pulled out would damage it so that it would be hard to get
anybody else to put it. In the mean time Fulkerson was running
Conrad's office-work, when he ought to be looking after the outside
interests of the thing; and he could not see the day when he could get
"I don't know which it's worse for, March: you or me. I don't
know, under the circumstances, whether it's worse to have a family or
to want to have one. Of course--of course! We can't hurry the old man
up. It wouldn't be decent, and it would be dangerous. We got to
He almost decided to draw upon Dryfoos for some money; he did not
need any, but, he said maybe the demand would act as a hint upon him.
One day, about a week after Alma's final rejection of Beaton, Dryfoos
came into March's office. Fulkerson was out, but the old man seemed
not to have tried to see him.
He put his hat on the floor by his chair, after he sat down, and
looked at March awhile with his old eyes, which had the vitreous
glitter of old. eyes stimulated to sleeplessness. Then he said,
abruptly, "Mr. March, how would you like to take this thing off my
"I don't understand, exactly," March began; but of course he
understood that Dryfoos was offering to let him have 'Every Other
Week' on some terms or other, and his heart leaped with hope.
The old man knew he understood, and so he did not explain. He
said: "I am going to Europe, to take my family there. The doctor
thinks it might do my wife some good; and I ain't very well myself,
and my girls both want to go; and so we're goin'. If you want to take
this thing off my hands, I reckon I can let you have it in 'most any
shape you say. You're all settled here in New York, and I don't
suppose you want to break up, much, at your time of life, and I've
been thinkin' whether you wouldn't like to take the thing."
The word, which Dryfoos had now used three times, made March at
last think of Fulkerson; he had been filled too full of himself to
think of any one else till he had mastered the notion of such
wonderful good fortune as seemed about falling to him. But now he did
think of Fulkerson, and with some shame and confusion; for he
remembered how, when Dryfoos had last approached him there on the
business of his connection with 'Every Other Week,' he had been very
haughty with him, and told him that he did not know him in this
connection. He blushed to find how far his thoughts had now run
without encountering this obstacle of etiquette.
"Have you spoken to Mr. Fulkerson?" he asked.
"No, I hain't. It ain't a question of management. It's a question
of buying and selling. I offer the thing to you first. I reckon
Fulkerson couldn't get on very well without you."
March saw the real difference in the two cases, and he was glad to
see it, because he could act more decisively if not hampered by an
obligation to consistency. "I am gratified, of course, Mr. Dryfoos;
extremely gratified; and it's no use pretending that I shouldn't be
happy beyond bounds to get possession of 'Every Other Week.' But I
don't feel quite free to talk about it apart from Mr. Fulkerson."
"Oh, all right!" said the old man, with quick offence.
March hastened to say: "I feel bound to Mr. Fulkerson in every way.
He got me to come here, and I couldn't even seem to act without him."
He put it questioningly, and the old man answered:
"Yes, I can see that. When 'll he be in? I can wait." But he
"Very soon, now," said March, looking at his watch. "He was only
to be gone a moment," and while he went on to talk with Dryfoos, he
wondered why the old man should have come first to speak with him, and
whether it was from some obscure wish to make him reparation for
displeasures in the past, or from a distrust or dislike of Fulkerson.
Whichever light he looked at it in, it was flattering.
"Do you think of going abroad soon?" he asked.
"What? Yes--I don't know--I reckon. We got our passage engaged.
It's on one of them French boats. We're goin' to Paris."
"Oh! That will be interesting to the young ladies."
"Yes. I reckon we're goin' for them. 'Tain't likely my wife and
me would want to pull up stakes at our age," said the old man,
"But you may find it do you good, Mr. Dryfoos," said March, with a
kindness that was real, mixed as it was with the selfish interest he
now had in the intended voyage.
"Well, maybe, maybe," sighed the old man; and he dropped his head
forward. "It don't make a great deal of difference what we do or we
don't do, for the few years left."
"I hope Mrs. Dryfoos is as well as usual," said March, finding the
ground delicate and difficult.
"Middlin', middlin'," said the old man. "My daughter Christine,
she ain't very well."
"Oh," said March. It was quite impossible for him to affect a more
explicit interest in the fact. He and Dryfoos sat silent for a few
moments, and he was vainly casting about in his thought for something
else which would tide them over the interval till Fulkerson came, when
he heard his step on the stairs.
"Hello, hello!" he said. "Meeting of the clans!" It was always a
meeting of the clans, with Fulkerson, or a field day, or an extra
session, or a regular conclave, whenever he saw people of any common
interest together. "Hain't seen you here for a good while, Mr.
Dryfoos. Did think some of running away with 'Every Other Week' one
while, but couldn't seem to work March up to the point."
He gave Dryfoos his hand, and pushed aside the papers on the corner
of March's desk, and sat down there, and went on briskly with the
nonsense he could always talk while he was waiting for another to
develop any matter of business; he told March afterward that he
scented business in the air as soon as he came into the room where he
and Dryfoos were sitting.
Dryfoos seemed determined to leave the word to March, who said,
after an inquiring look at him, "Mr. Dryfoos has been proposing to let
us have 'Every Other Week,' Fulkerson."
"Well, that's good; that suits yours truly; March Fulkerson,
publishers and proprietors, won't pretend it don't, if the terms are
"The terms," said the old man, "are whatever you want 'em. I
haven't got any more use for the concern--" He gulped, and stopped;
they knew what he was thinking of, and they looked down in pity. He
went on: "I won't put any more money in it; but what I've put in
a'ready can stay; and you can pay me four per cent."
He got upon his feet; and March and Fulkerson stood, too.
"Well, I call that pretty white," said Fulkerson. "It's a bargain
as far as I'm concerned. I suppose you'll want to talk it over with
your wife, March?"
"Yes; I shall," said March. "I can see that it's a great chance;
but I want to talk it over with my wife."
"Well, that's right," said the old man. "Let me hear from you
He went out, and Fulkerson began to dance round the room. He
caught March about his stalwart girth and tried to make him waltz; the
office- boy came to the door and looked on with approval.
"Come, come, you idiot!" said March, rooting himself to the carpet.
"It's just throwing the thing into our mouths," said Fulkerson.
"The wedding will be this day week. No cards! Teedle-lumpty-diddle!
Teedle- lumpty-dee! What do you suppose he means by it, March ?" he
asked, bringing himself soberly up, of a sudden. "What is his little
game? Or is he crazy? It don't seem like the Dryfoos of my previous
"I suppose," March suggested, "that he's got money enough, so that
he don't care for this--"
"Pshaw! You're a poet! Don't you know that the more money that
kind of man has got, the more he cares for money? It's some fancy of
his--like having Lindau's funeral at his house--By Jings, March, I
believe you're his fancy!"
"Oh, now! Don't you be a poet, Fulkerson!"
"I do! He seemed to take a kind of shine to you from the day you
wouldn't turn off old Lindau; he did, indeed. It kind of shook him
up. It made him think you had something in you. He was deceived by
appearances. Look here! I'm going round to see Mrs. March with you,
and explain the thing to her. I know Mrs. March! She wouldn't
believe you knew what you were going in for. She has a great respect
for your mind, but she don't think you've got any sense. Heigh?"
"All right," said March, glad of the notion; and it was really a
comfort to have Fulkerson with him to develop all the points; and it
was delightful to see how clearly and quickly she seized them; it made
March proud of her. She was only angry that they had lost any time in
coming to submit so plain a case to her.
Mr. Dryfoos might change his mind in the night, and then everything
would be lost. They must go to him instantly, and tell him that they
accepted; they must telegraph him.
"Might as well send a district messenger; he'd get there next
week," said Fulkerson. "No, no! It 'll all keep till to-morrow, and
be the better for it. If he's got this fancy for March, as I say, he
ain't agoing to change it in a single night. People don't change
their fancies for March in a lifetime. Heigh?"
When Fulkerson turned up very early at the office next morning, as
March did, he was less strenuous about Dryfoos's fancy for March. It
was as if Miss Woodburn might have blown cold upon that theory, as
something unjust to his own merit, for which she would naturally be
more jealous than he.
March told him what he had forgotten to tell him the day before,
though he had been trying, all through their excited talk, to get it
in, that the Dryfooses were going abroad.
"Oh, ho!" cried Fulkerson. "That's the milk in the cocoanut, is
it? Well, I thought there must be something."
But this fact had not changed Mrs. March at all in her conviction
that it was Mr. Dryfoos's fancy for her husband which had moved him to
make him this extraordinary offer, and she reminded him that it had
first been made to him, without regard to Fulkerson. "And perhaps,"
she went on, "Mr. Dryfoos has been changed---softened; and doesn't
find money all in all any more. He's had enough to change him, poor
"Does anything from without change us?" her husband mused aloud.
"We're brought up to think so by the novelists, who really have the
charge of people's thinking, nowadays. But I doubt it, especially if
the thing outside is some great event, something cataclysmal, like
this tremendous sorrow of Dryfoos's."
"Then what is it that changes us?" demanded his wife, almost angry
with him for his heresy.
"Well, it won't do to say, the Holy Spirit indwelling. That would
sound like cant at this day. But the old fellows that used to say
that had some glimpses of the truth. They knew that it is the still,
small voice that the soul heeds, not the deafening blasts of doom. I
suppose I should have to say that we didn't change at all. We
develop. There's the making of several characters in each of us; we
are each several characters, and sometimes this character has the lead
in us, and sometimes that. From what Fulkerson has told me of
Dryfoos, I should say he had always had the potentiality of better
things in him than he has ever been yet; and perhaps the time has come
for the good to have its chance. The growth in one direction has
stopped; it's begun in another; that's all. The man hasn't been
changed by his son's death; it stunned, it benumbed him; but it
couldn't change him. It was an event, like any other, and it had to
happen as much as his being born. It was forecast from the beginning
of time, and was as entirely an effect of his coming into the world--"
"Basil! Basil!" cried his wife. "This is fatalism!"
"Then you think," he said, "that a sparrow falls to the ground
without the will of God?" and he laughed provokingly. But he went on
more soberly: "I don't know what it all means Isabel though I believe
it means good. What did Christ himself say? That if one rose from
the dead it would not avail. And yet we are always looking for the
miraculous! I believe that unhappy old man truly grieves for his son,
whom he treated cruelly without the final intention of cruelty, for he
loved him and wished to be proud of him; but I don't think his death
has changed him, any more than the smallest event in the chain of
events remotely working through his nature from the beginning. But
why do you think he's changed at all? Because he offers to sell me
Every Other Week on easy terms? He says himself that he has no further
use for the thing; and he knows perfectly well that he couldn't get
his money out of it now, without an enormous shrinkage. He couldn't
appear at this late day as the owner, and sell it to anybody but
Fulkerson and me for a fifth of what it's cost him. He can sell it to
us for all it's cost him; and four per cent. is no bad interest on
his money till we can pay it back. It's a good thing for us; but we
have to ask whether Dryfoos has done us the good, or whether it's the
blessing of Heaven. If it's merely the blessing of Heaven, I don't
propose being grateful for it."
March laughed again, and his wife said, "It's disgusting."
"It's business," he assented. "Business is business; but I don't
say it isn't disgusting. Lindau had a low opinion of it."
"I think that with all his faults Mr. Dryfoos is a better man than
Lindau," she proclaimed.
"Well, he's certainly able to offer us a better thing in 'Every
Other Week,'" said March.
She knew he was enamoured of the literary finish of his cynicism,
and that at heart he was as humbly and truly grateful as she was for
the good-fortune opening to them.
Beaton was at his best when he parted for the last time with Alma
Leighton, for he saw then that what had happened to him was the
necessary consequence of what he had been, if not what he had done.
Afterward he lost this clear vision; he began to deny the fact; he
drew upon his knowledge of life, and in arguing himself into a
different frame of mind he alleged the case of different people who
had done and been much worse things than he, and yet no such
disagreeable consequence had befallen them. Then he saw that it was
all the work of blind chance, and he said to himself that it was this
that made him desperate, and willing to call evil his good, and to
take his own wherever he could find it. There was a great deal that
was literary and factitious and tawdry in the mood in which he went to
see Christine Dryfoos, the night when the Marches sat talking their
prospects over; and nothing that was decided in his purpose. He knew
what the drift of his mind was, but he had always preferred to let
chance determine his events, and now since chance had played him such
an ill turn with Alma, he left it the whole responsibility. Not in
terms, but in effect, this was his thought as he walked on up-town to
pay the first of the visits which Dryfoos had practically invited him
to resume. He had an insolent satisfaction in having delayed it so
long; if he was going back he was going back on his own conditions,
and these were to be as hard and humiliating as he could make them.
But this intention again was inchoate, floating, the stuff of an
intention, rather than intention; an expression of temperament
He had been expected before that. Christine had got out of Mela
that her father had been at Beaton's studio; and then she had gone at
the old man and got from him every smallest fact of the interview
there. She had flung back in his teeth the good-will toward herself
with which he had gone to Beaton. She was furious with shame and
resentment; she told him he had made bad worse, that he had made a
fool of himself to no end; she spared neither his age nor his
grief-broken spirit, in which his will could not rise against hers.
She filled the house with her rage, screaming it out upon him; but
when her fury was once spent, she began to have some hopes from what
her father had done. She no longer kept her bed; every evening she
dressed herself in the dress Beaton admired the most, and sat up till
a certain hour to receive him. She had fixed a day in her own mind
before which, if he came, she would forgive him all he had made her
suffer: the mortification, the suspense, the despair. Beyond this, she
had the purpose of making her father go to Europe; she felt that she
could no longer live in America, with the double disgrace that had
been put upon her.
Beaton rang, and while the servant was coming the insolent caprice
seized him to ask for the young ladies instead of the old man, as he
had supposed of course he should do. The maid who answered the bell,
in the place of the reluctant Irishman of other days, had all his
hesitation in admitting that the young ladies were at home.
He found Mela in the drawing-room. At sight of him she looked
scared; but she seemed to be reassured by his calm. He asked if he
was not to have the pleasure of seeing Miss Dryfoos, too; and Mela
said she reckoned the girl had gone up-stairs to tell her. Mela was
in black, and Beaton noted how well the solid sable became her rich
red-blonde beauty; he wondered what the effect would be with
But she, when she appeared, was not in mourning. He fancied that
she wore the lustrous black silk, with the breadths of white Venetian
lace about the neck which he had praised, because he praised it. Her
cheeks burned with a Jacqueminot crimson; what should be white in her
face was chalky white. She carried a plumed ostrich fan, black and
soft, and after giving him her hand, sat down and waved it to and fro
slowly, as he remembered her doing the night they first met. She had
no ideas, except such as related intimately to herself, and she had no
gabble, like Mela; and she let him talk. It was past the day when she
promised herself she would forgive him; but as he talked on she felt
all her passion for him revive, and the conflict of desires, the
desire to hate, the desire to love, made a dizzying whirl in her
brain. She looked at him, half doubting whether he was really there
or not. He had never looked so handsome, with his dreamy eyes
floating under his heavy overhanging hair, and his pointed brown beard
defined against his lustrous shirtfront. His mellowly modulated,
mysterious voice lulled her; when Mela made an errand out of the room,
and Beaton crossed to her and sat down by her, she shivered.
"Are you cold?" he asked, and she felt the cruel mockery and
exultant consciousness of power in his tone, as perhaps a wild thing
feels captivity in the voice of its keeper. But now, she said she
would still forgive him if he asked her.
Mela came back, and the talk fell again to the former level; but
Beaton had not said anything that really meant what she wished, and
she saw that he intended to say nothing. Her heart began to burn like
a fire in her breast.
"You been tellun' him about our goun' to Europe?" Mela asked.
"No," said Christine, briefly, and looking at the fan spread out on
Beaton asked when; and then he rose, and said if it was so soon, he
supposed he should not see them again, unless he saw them in Paris; he
might very likely run over during the summer. He said to himself that
he had given it a fair trial with Christine, and he could not make it
Christine rose, with a kind of gasp; and mechanically followed him
to the door of the drawing-room; Mela came, too; and while he was
putting on his overcoat, she gurgled and bubbled in good-humor with
all the world. Christine stood looking at him, and thinking how still
handsomer he was in his overcoat; and that fire burned fiercer in her.
She felt him more than life to her and knew him lost, and the frenzy,
that makes a woman kill the man she loves, or fling vitriol to destroy
the beauty she cannot have for all hers, possessed her lawless soul.
He gave his hand to Mela, and said, in his wind-harp stop,
As he put out his hand to Christine, she pushed it aside with a
scream of rage; she flashed at him, and with both hands made a feline
pass at the face he bent toward her. He sprang back, and after an
instant of stupefaction he pulled open the door behind him and ran out
into the street.
"Well, Christine Dryfoos!" said Mela, "Sprang at him like a
"I, don't care," Christine shrieked. "I'll tear his eyes out!"
She flew up-stairs to her own room, and left the burden of the
explanation to Mela, who did it justice.
Beaton found himself, he did not know how, in his studio, reeking
with perspiration and breathless. He must almost have run. He struck
a match with a shaking hand, and looked at his face in the glass. He
expected to see the bleeding marks of her nails on his cheeks, but he
could see nothing. He grovelled inwardly; it was all so low and
coarse and vulgar; it was all so just and apt to his deserts.
There was a pistol among the dusty bric-a-brac on the mantel which
he had kept loaded to fire at a cat in the area. He took it and sat
looking into the muzzle, wishing it might go off by accident and kill
him. It slipped through his hand and struck the floor, and there was a
report; he sprang into the air, feeling that he had been shot. But he
found himself still alive, with only a burning line along his cheek,
such as one of Christine's finger-nails might have left.
He laughed with cynical recognition of the fact that he had got his
punishment in the right way, and that his case was not to be dignified
The Marches, with Fulkerson, went to see the Dryfooses off on the
French steamer. There was no longer any business obligation on them
to be civil, and there was greater kindness for that reason in the
attention they offered. 'Every Other Week' had been made over to the
joint ownership of March and Fulkerson, and the details arranged with
a hardness on Dryfoos's side which certainly left Mrs. March with a
sense of his incomplete regeneration. Yet when she saw him there on
the steamer, she pitied him; he looked wearied and bewildered; even
his wife, with her twitching head, and her prophecies of evil, croaked
hoarsely out, while she clung to Mrs. March's hand where they sat
together till the leave-takers were ordered ashore, was less pathetic.
Mela was looking after both of them, and trying to cheer them in a
joyful excitement. "I tell 'em it's goun' to add ten years to both
their lives," she said. "The voyage 'll do their healths good; and
then, we're gittun' away from that miser'ble pack o' servants that was
eatun' us up, there in New York. I hate the place!" she said, as if
they had already left it. "Yes, Mrs. Mandel's goun', too," she added,
following the direction of Mrs. March's eyes where they noted Mrs.
Mandel, speaking to Christine on the other side of the cabin. "Her
and Christine had a kind of a spat, and she was goun' to leave, but
here only the other day, Christine offered to make it up with her, and
now they're as thick as thieves. Well, I reckon we couldn't very well
'a' got along without her. She's about the only one that speaks French
in this family."
Mrs. March's eyes still dwelt upon Christine's face; it was full of
a furtive wildness. She seemed to be keeping a watch to prevent
herself from looking as if she were looking for some one. "Do you
know," Mrs. March said to her husband as they jingled along homeward
in the Christopher Street bob-tail car, "I thought she was in love
with that detestable Mr. Beaton of yours at one time; and that he was
amusing himself with her."
"I can bear a good deal, Isabel," said March, " but I wish you
wouldn't attribute Beaton to me. He's the invention of that Mr.
Fulkerson of yours."
"Well, at any rate, I hope, now, you'll both get rid of him, in the
reforms you're going to carry out."
These reforms were for a greater economy in the management of
'Every Other Week;' but in their very nature they could not include
the suppression of Beaton. He had always shown himself capable and
loyal to the interests of the magazine, and both the new owners were
glad to keep him. He was glad to stay, though he made a gruff
pretence of indifference, when they came to look over the new
arrangement with him. In his heart he knew that he was a fraud; but at
least he could say to himself with truth that he had not now the shame
of taking Dryfoos's money.
March and Fulkerson retrenched at several points where it had
seemed indispensable to spend, as long as they were not spending their
own: that was only human. Fulkerson absorbed Conrad's department into
his, and March found that he could dispense with Kendricks in the
place of assistant which he had lately filled since Fulkerson had
decided that March was overworked. They reduced the number of
illustrated articles, and they systematized the payment of
contributors strictly according to the sales of each number, on their
original plan of co-operation: they had got to paying rather lavishly
for material without reference to the sales.
Fulkerson took a little time to get married, and went on his
wedding journey out to Niagara, and down the St. Lawrence to Quebec
over the line of travel that the Marches had taken on their wedding
journey. He had the pleasure of going from Montreal to Quebec on the
same boat on which he first met March.
They have continued very good friends, and their wives are almost
without the rivalry that usually embitters the wives of partners. At
first Mrs. March did not like Mrs. Fulkerson's speaking of her husband
as the Ownah, and March as the Edito'; but it appeared that this was
only a convenient method of recognizing the predominant quality in
each, and was meant neither to affirm nor to deny anything. Colonel
Woodburn offered as his contribution to the celebration of the
copartnership, which Fulkerson could not be prevented from dedicating
with a little dinner, the story of Fulkerson's magnanimous behavior in
regard to Dryfoos at that crucial moment when it was a question
whether he should give up Dryfoos or give up March. Fulkerson winced
at it; but Mrs. March told her husband that now, whatever happened,
she should never have any misgivings of Fulkerson again; and she asked
him if he did not think he ought to apologize to him for the doubts
with which he had once inspired her. March said that he did not think
The Fulkersons spent the summer at a seaside hotel in easy reach of
the city; but they returned early to Mrs. Leighton's, with whom they
are to board till spring, when they are going to fit up Fulkerson's
bachelor apartment for housekeeping. Mrs. March, with her Boston
scruple, thinks it will be odd, living over the 'Every Other Week'
offices; but there will be a separate street entrance to the
apartment; and besides, in New York you may do anything.
The future of the Leightons promises no immediate change.
Kendricks goes there a good deal to see the Fulkersons, and Mrs.
Fulkerson says he comes to see Alma. He has seemed taken with her
ever since he first met her at Dryfoos's, the day of Lindau's funeral,
and though Fulkerson objects to dating a fancy of that kind from an
occasion of that kind, he justly argues with March that there can be
no harm in it, and that we are liable to be struck by lightning any
time. In the mean while there is no proof that Alma returns
Kendricks's interest, if he feels any. She has got a little bit of
color into the fall exhibition; but the fall exhibition is never so
good as the spring exhibition. Wetmore is rather sorry she has
succeeded in this, though he promoted her success. He says her real
hope is in black and white, and it is a pity for her to lose sight of
her original aim of drawing for illustration.
News has come from Paris of the engagement of Christine Dryfoos.
There the Dryfooses met with the success denied them in New York;
many American plutocrats must await their apotheosis in Europe, where
society has them, as it were, in a translation. Shortly after their
arrival they were celebrated in the news papers as the first
millionaire American family of natural-gas extraction who had arrived
in the capital of civilization; and at a French watering-place
Christine encountered her fate--a nobleman full of present debts and
of duels in the past. Fulkerson says the old man can manage the
debtor, and Christine can look out for the duellist. "They say those
fellows generally whip their wives. He'd better not try it with
Christine, I reckon, unless he's practised with a panther."
One day, shortly after their return to town in the autumn from the
brief summer outing they permitted themselves, the Marches met
Margaret Vance. At first they did not know her in the dress of the
sisterhood which she wore; but she smiled joyfully, almost gayly, on
seeing them, and though she hurried by with the sister who accompanied
her, and did not stay to speak, they felt that the peace that passeth
understanding had looked at them from her eyes.
"Well, she is at rest, there can't be any doubt of that," he said,
as he glanced round at the drifting black robe which followed her
free, nun- like walk.
"Yes, now she can do all the good she likes," sighed his wife. "I
wonder--I wonder if she ever told his father about her talk with poor
Conrad that day he was shot?"
"I don't know. I don't care. In any event, it would be right.
She did nothing wrong. If she unwittingly sent him to his death, she
sent him to die for God's sake, for man's sake."
"Yes--yes. But still--"
"Well, we must trust that look of hers."