The Entire March Family Trilogy
William Dean Howells
Part 10 out of 21
even of the few young men who danced with her at the Saturday-night hops.
They drove about, but they went to places without knowing why, except
that the carriage man took them, and they had all the privileges of a
proud exclusivism without desiring them. Once a motherly matron seemed
to perceive their isolation, and made overtures to them, but then
desisted, as if repelled by Christine's suspicion, or by Mela's too
instant and hilarious good-fellowship, which expressed itself in hoarse
laughter and in a flow of talk full of topical and syntactical freedom.
From time to time she offered to bet Christine that if Mr. Fulkerson was
only there they would have a good time; she wondered what they were all
doing in New York, where she wished herself; she rallied her sister about
Beaton, and asked her why she did not write and tell him to come up
Mela knew that Christine had expected Beaton to follow them. Some banter
had passed between them to this effect; he said he should take them in on
his way home to Syracuse. Christine would not have hesitated to write to
him and remind him of his promise; but she had learned to distrust her
literature with Beaton since he had laughed at the spelling in a scrap of
writing which dropped out of her music-book one night. She believed that
he would not have laughed if he had known it was hers; but she felt that
she could hide better the deficiencies which were not committed to paper;
she could manage with him in talking; she was too ignorant of her
ignorance to recognize the mistakes she made then. Through her own
passion she perceived that she had some kind of fascination for him; she
was graceful, and she thought it must be that; she did not understand
that there was a kind of beauty in her small, irregular features that
piqued and haunted his artistic sense, and a look in her black eyes
beyond her intelligence and intention. Once he sketched her as they sat
together, and flattered the portrait without getting what he wanted in
it; he said he must try her some time in color; and he said things which,
when she made Mela repeat them, could only mean that he admired her more
than anybody else. He came fitfully, but he came often, and she rested
content in a girl's indefiniteness concerning the affair; if her thought
went beyond lovemaking to marriage, she believed that she could have him
if she wanted him. Her father's money counted in this; she divined that
Beaton was poor; but that made no difference; she would have enough for
both; the money would have counted as an irresistible attraction if there
had been no other.
The affair had gone on in spite of the sidelong looks of restless dislike
with which Dryfoos regarded it; but now when Beaton did not come to
Saratoga it necessarily dropped, and Christine's content with it. She
bore the trial as long as she could; she used pride and resentment
against it; but at last she could not bear it, and with Mela's help she
wrote a letter, bantering Beaton on his stay in New York, and playfully
boasting of Saratoga. It seemed to them both that it was a very bright
letter, and would be sure to bring him; they would have had no scruple
about sending it but for the doubt they had whether they had got some of
the words right. Mela offered to bet Christine anything she dared that
they were right, and she said, Send it anyway; it was no difference if
they were wrong. But Christine could not endure to think of that laugh
of Beaton's, and there remained only Mrs. Mandel as authority on the
spelling. Christine dreaded her authority on other points, but Mela said
she knew she would not interfere, and she undertook to get round her.
Mrs. Mandel pronounced the spelling bad, and the taste worse; she forbade
them to send the letter; and Mela failed to get round her, though she
threatened, if Mrs. Mandel would not tell her how to spell the wrong
words, that she would send the letter as it was; then Mrs. Mandel said
that if Mr. Beaton appeared in Saratoga she would instantly take them
both home. When Mela reported this result, Christine accused her of
having mismanaged the whole business; she quarrelled with her, and they
called each other names. Christine declared that she would not stay in
Saratoga, and that if Mrs. Mandel did not go back to New York with her
she should go alone. They returned the first week in September; but by
that time Beaton had gone to see his people in Syracuse.
Conrad Dryfoos remained at home with his mother after his father went
West. He had already taken such a vacation as he had been willing to
allow himself, and had spent it on a charity farm near the city, where
the fathers with whom he worked among the poor on the East Side in the
winter had sent some of their wards for the summer. It was not possible
to keep his recreation a secret at the office, and Fulkerson found a
pleasure in figuring the jolly time Brother Conrad must have teaching
farm work among those paupers and potential reprobates. He invented
details of his experience among them, and March could not always help
joining in the laugh at Conrad's humorless helplessness under Fulkerson's
burlesque denunciation of a summer outing spent in such dissipation.
They had time for a great deal of joking at the office during the season
of leisure which penetrates in August to the very heart of business, and
they all got on terms of greater intimacy if not greater friendliness
than before. Fulkerson had not had so long to do with the advertising
side of human nature without developing a vein of cynicism, of no great
depth, perhaps, but broad, and underlying his whole point of view; he
made light of Beaton's solemnity, as he made light of Conrad's humanity.
The art editor, with abundant sarcasm, had no more humor than the
publisher, and was an easy prey in the manager's hands; but when he had
been led on by Fulkerson's flatteries to make some betrayal of egotism,
he brooded over it till he had thought how to revenge himself in
elaborate insult. For Beaton's talent Fulkerson never lost his
admiration; but his joke was to encourage him to give himself airs of
being the sole source of the magazine's prosperity. No bait of this sort
was too obvious for Beaton to swallow; he could be caught with it as
often as Fulkerson chose; though he was ordinarily suspicious as to the
motives of people in saying things. With March he got on no better than
at first. He seemed to be lying in wait for some encroachment of the
literary department on the art department, and he met it now and then
with anticipative reprisal. After these rebuffs, the editor delivered
him over to the manager, who could turn Beaton's contrary-mindedness to
account by asking the reverse of what he really wanted done. This was
what Fulkerson said; the fact was that he did get on with Beaton and
March contented himself with musing upon the contradictions of a
character at once so vain and so offensive, so fickle and so sullen, so
conscious and so simple.
After the first jarring contact with Dryfoos, the editor ceased to feel
the disagreeable fact of the old man's mastery of the financial
situation. None of the chances which might have made it painful
occurred; the control of the whole affair remained in Fulkerson's hands;
before he went West again, Dryfoos had ceased to come about the office,
as if, having once worn off the novelty of the sense of owning a literary
periodical, he was no longer interested in it.
Yet it was a relief, somehow, when he left town, which he did not do
without coming to take a formal leave of the editor at his office.
He seemed willing to leave March with a better impression than he had
hitherto troubled himself to make; he even said some civil things about
the magazine, as if its success pleased him; and he spoke openly to March
of his hope that his son would finally become interested in it to the
exclusion of the hopes and purposes which divided them. It seemed to
March that in the old man's warped and toughened heart he perceived a
disappointed love for his son greater than for his other children; but
this might have been fancy. Lindau came in with some copy while Dryfoos
was there, and March introduced them. When Lindau went out, March
explained to Dryfoos that he had lost his hand in the war; and he told
him something of Lindau's career as he had known it. Dryfoos appeared
greatly pleased that 'Every Other Week' was giving Lindau work. He said
that he had helped to enlist a good many fellows for the war, and had
paid money to fill up the Moffitt County quota under the later calls for
troops. He had never been an Abolitionist, but he had joined the Anti-
Nebraska party in '55, and he had voted for Fremont and for every
Republican President since then.
At his own house March saw more of Lindau than of any other contributor,
but the old man seemed to think that he must transact all his business
with March at his place of business. The transaction had some
peculiarities which perhaps made this necessary. Lindau always expected
to receive his money when he brought his copy, as an acknowledgment of
the immediate right of the laborer to his hire; and he would not take it
in a check because he did not approve of banks, and regarded the whole
system of banking as the capitalistic manipulation of the people's money.
He would receive his pay only from March's hand, because he wished to be
understood as working for him, and honestly earning money honestly
earned; and sometimes March inwardly winced a little at letting the old
man share the increase of capital won by such speculation as Dryfoos's,
but he shook off the feeling. As the summer advanced, and the artists
and classes that employed Lindau as a model left town one after another,
he gave largely of his increasing leisure to the people in the office of
'Every Other Week.' It was pleasant for March to see the respect with
which Conrad Dryfoos always used him, for the sake of his hurt and his
gray beard. There was something delicate and fine in it, and there was
nothing unkindly on Fulkerson's part in the hostilities which usually
passed between himself and Lindau. Fulkerson bore himself reverently at
times, too, but it was not in him to keep that up, especially when Lindau
appeared with more beer aboard than, as Fulkerson said, he could manage
shipshape. On these occasions Fulkerson always tried to start him on the
theme of the unduly rich; he made himself the champion of monopolies, and
enjoyed the invectives which Lindau heaped upon him as a slave of
capital; he said that it did him good.
One day, with the usual show of writhing under Lindau's scorn, he said,
"Well, I understand that although you despise me now, Lindau--"
"I ton't desbise you," the old man broke in, his nostrils swelling and
his eyes flaming with excitement, "I bity you."
"Well, it seems to come to the same thing in the end," said Fulkerson.
"What I understand is that you pity me now as the slave of capital, but
you would pity me a great deal more if I was the master of it."
"How you mean?"
"If I was rich."
"That would tebendt," said Lindau, trying to control himself. "If you
hat inheritedt your money, you might pe innocent; but if you hat mate it,
efery man that resbectedt himself would haf to ask how you mate it, and
if you hat mate moch, he would know--"
"Hold on; hold on, now, Lindau! Ain't that rather un-American doctrine?
We're all brought up, ain't we, to honor the man that made his money, and
look down--or try to look down; sometimes it's difficult on the fellow
that his father left it to?"
The old man rose and struck his breast. "On Amerigan!" he roared, and,
as he went on, his accent grew more and more uncertain. "What iss
Amerigan? Dere iss no Ameriga any more! You start here free and brafe,
and you glaim for efery man de right to life, liperty, and de bursuit of
habbiness. And where haf you entedt? No man that vorks vith his handts
among you has the liperty to bursue his habbiness. He iss the slafe of
some richer man, some gompany, some gorporation, dat crindt him down to
the least he can lif on, and that rops him of the marchin of his earnings
that he knight pe habby on. Oh, you Amerigans, you haf cot it down
goldt, as you say! You ton't puy foters; you puy lechislatures and
goncressmen; you puy gourts; you puy gombetitors; you pay infentors not
to infent; you atfertise, and the gounting-room sees dat de etitorial-
room toesn't tink."
"Yes, we've got a little arrangement of that sort with March here," said
"Oh, I am sawry," said the old man, contritely, "I meant noting bersonal.
I ton't tink we are all cuilty or gorrubt, and efen among the rich there
are goodt men. But gabidal"--his passion rose again" where you find
gabidal, millions of money that a man hass cot togeder in fife, ten,
twenty years, you findt the smell of tears and ploodt! Dat iss what I
say. And you cot to loog oudt for yourself when you meet a rich man
whether you meet an honest man."
"Well," said Fulkerson, "I wish I was a subject of suspicion with you,
Lindau. By-the-way," he added, "I understand that you think capital was
at the bottom of the veto of that pension of yours."
"What bension? What feto?"--The old man flamed up again. "No bension
of mine was efer fetoedt. I renounce my bension, begause I would sgorn
to dake money from a gofernment that I ton't peliefe in any more. Where
you hear that story?"
"Well, I don't know," said Fulkerson, rather embarrassed. "It's common
"It's a gommon lie, then! When the time gome dat dis iss a free gountry
again, then I dake a bension again for my woundts; but I would sdarfe
before I dake a bension now from a rebublic dat iss bought oap by
monobolies, and ron by drusts and gompines, and railroadts andt oil
"Look out, Lindau," said Fulkerson. "You bite yourself mit dat dog some
day." But when the old man, with a ferocious gesture of renunciation,
whirled out of the place, he added: "I guess I went a little too far that
time. I touched him on a sore place; I didn't mean to; I heard some talk
about his pension being vetoed from Miss Leighton." He addressed these
exculpations to March's grave face, and to the pitying deprecation in the
eyes of Conrad Dryfoos, whom Lindau's roaring wrath had summoned to the
door. "But I'll make it all right with him the next time he comes. I
didn't know he was loaded, or I wouldn't have monkeyed with him."
"Lindau does himself injustice when he gets to talking in that way," said
March. "I hate to hear him. He's as good an American as any of us; and
it's only because he has too high an ideal of us--"
"Oh, go on! Rub it in--rub it in!" cried Fulkerson, clutching his hair in
suffering, which was not altogether burlesque. "How did I know he had
renounced his 'bension'? Why didn't you tell me?"
"I didn't know it myself. I only knew that he had none, and I didn't
ask, for I had a notion that it might be a painful subject."
Fulkerson tried to turn it off lightly. "Well, he's a noble old fellow;
pity he drinks." March would not smile, and Fulkerson broke out: "Dog on
it! I'll make it up to the old fool the next time he comes. I don't
like that dynamite talk of his; but any man that's given his hand to the
country has got mine in his grip for good. Why, March! You don't suppose
I wanted to hurt his feelings, do you?"
"Why, of course not, Fulkerson."
But they could not get away from a certain ruefulness for that time, and
in the evening Fulkerson came round to March's to say that he had got
Lindau's address from Conrad, and had looked him up at his lodgings.
"Well, there isn't so much bric-a-brac there, quite, as Mrs. Green left
you; but I've made it all right with Lindau, as far as I'm concerned.
I told him I didn't know when I spoke that way, and I honored him for
sticking to his 'brinciples'; I don't believe in his 'brincibles';
and we wept on each other's necks--at least, he did. Dogged if he didn't
kiss me before I knew what he was up to. He said I was his chenerous
gong friendt, and he begged my barton if he had said anything to wound
me. I tell you it was an affecting scene, March; and rats enough round
in that old barracks where he lives to fit out a first-class case of
delirium tremens. What does he stay there for? He's not obliged to?"
Lindau's reasons, as March repeated them, affected Fulkerson as
deliciously comical; but after that he confined his pleasantries at the
office to Beaton and Conrad Dryfoos, or, as he said, he spent the rest of
the summer in keeping Lindau smoothed up.
It is doubtful if Lindau altogether liked this as well. Perhaps he
missed the occasions Fulkerson used to give him of bursting out against
the millionaires; and he could not well go on denouncing as the slafe of
gabidal a man who had behaved to him as Fulkerson had done, though
Fulkerson's servile relations to capital had been in nowise changed by
his nople gonduct.
Their relations continued to wear this irksome character of mutual
forbearance; and when Dryfoos returned in October and Fulkerson revived
the question of that dinner in celebration of the success of 'Every Other
Week,' he carried his complaisance to an extreme that alarmed March for
"You see," Fulkerson explained, "I find that the old man has got an idea
of his own about that banquet, and I guess there's some sense in it. He
wants to have a preliminary little dinner, where we can talk the thing up
first-half a dozen of us; and he wants to give us the dinner at his
house. Well, that's no harm. I don't believe the old man ever gave a
dinner, and he'd like to show off a little; there's a good deal of human
nature in the old man, after all. He thought of you, of course, and
Colonel Woodburn, and Beaton, and me at the foot of the table; and
Conrad; and I suggested Kendricks: he's such a nice little chap; and the
old man himself brought up the idea of Lindau. He said you told him
something about him, and he asked why couldn't we have him, too; and I
jumped at it."
"Have Lindau to dinner?" asked March.
"Certainly; why not? Father Dryfoos has a notion of paying the old
fellow a compliment for what he done for the country. There won't be any
trouble about it. You can sit alongside of him, and cut up his meat for
him, and help him to things--"
"Yes, but it won't do, Fulkerson! I don't believe Lindau ever had on a
dress-coat in his life, and I don't believe his 'brincibles' would let
him wear one."
"Well, neither had Dryfoos, for the matter of that. He's as high-
principled as old Pan-Electric himself, when it comes to a dress-coat,"
said Fulkerson. "We're all going to go in business dress; the old man
stipulated for that.
"It isn't the dress-coat alone," March resumed. "Lindau and Dryfoos
wouldn't get on. You know they're opposite poles in everything. You
mustn't do it. Dryfoos will be sure to say something to outrage Lindau's
'brincibles,' and there'll be an explosion. It's all well enough for
Dryfoos to feel grateful to Lindau, and his wish to honor him does him
credit; but to have Lindau to dinner isn't the way. At the best, the old
fellow would be very unhappy in such a house; he would have a bad
conscience; and I should be sorry to have him feel that he'd been
recreant to his 'brincibles'; they're about all he's got, and whatever we
think of them, we're bound to respect his fidelity to them." March
warmed toward Lindau in taking this view of him. "I should feel ashamed
if I didn't protest against his being put in a false position. After
all, he's my old friend, and I shouldn't like to have him do himself
injustice if he is a crank."
"Of course," said Fulkerson, with some trouble in his face.
"I appreciate your feeling. But there ain't any danger," he added,
buoyantly. "Anyhow, you spoke too late, as the Irishman said to the
chicken when he swallowed him in a fresh egg. I've asked Lindau, and
he's accepted with blayzure; that's what he says."
March made no other comment than a shrug.
"You'll see," Fulkerson continued, "it 'll go off all right. I'll engage
to make it, and I won't hold anybody else responsible."
In the course of his married life March had learned not to censure the
irretrievable; but this was just what his wife had not learned; and she
poured out so much astonishment at what Fulkerson had done, and so much
disapproval, that March began to palliate the situation a little.
"After all, it isn't a question of life and death; and, if it were, I
don't see how it's to be helped now."
"Oh, it's not to be helped now. But I am surprised at Mr. Fulkerson."
"Well, Fulkerson has his moments of being merely human, too."
Mrs. March would not deign a direct defence of her favorite. "Well, I'm
glad there are not to be ladies."
"I don't know. Dryfoos thought of having ladies, but it seems your
infallible Fulkerson overruled him. Their presence might have kept
Lindau and our host in bounds."
It had become part of the Marches' conjugal joke for him to pretend that
she could allow nothing wrong in Fulkerson, and he now laughed with a
mocking air of having expected it when she said: "Well, then, if Mr.
Fulkerson says he will see that it all comes out right, I suppose you
must trust his tact. I wouldn't trust yours, Basil. The first wrong
step was taken when Mr. Lindau was asked to help on the magazine."
"Well, it was your infallible Fulkerson that took the step, or at least
suggested it. I'm happy to say I had totally forgotten my early friend."
Mrs. March was daunted and silenced for a moment. Then she said: "Oh,
pshaw! You know well enough he did it to please you."
"I'm very glad he didn't do it to please you, Isabel," said her husband,
with affected seriousness. "Though perhaps he did."
He began to look at the humorous aspect of the affair, which it certainly
had, and to comment on the singular incongruities which 'Every Other
Week' was destined to involve at every moment of its career.
"I wonder if I'm mistaken in supposing that no other periodical was ever
like it. Perhaps all periodicals are like it. But I don't believe
there's another publication in New York that could bring together, in
honor of itself, a fraternity and equality crank like poor old Lindau,
and a belated sociological crank like Woodburn, and a truculent
speculator like old Dryfoos, and a humanitarian dreamer like young
Dryfoos, and a sentimentalist like me, and a nondescript like Beaton,
and a pure advertising essence like Fulkerson, and a society spirit like
Kendricks. If we could only allow one another to talk uninterruptedly
all the time, the dinner would be the greatest success in the world,
and we should come home full of the highest mutual respect. But I
suspect we can't manage that--even your infallible Fulkerson couldn't
work it--and I'm afraid that there'll be some listening that 'll spoil
the pleasure of the time."
March was so well pleased with this view of the case that he suggested
the idea involved to Fulkerson. Fulkerson was too good a fellow not to
laugh at another man's joke, but he laughed a little ruefully, and he
seemed worn with more than one kind of care in the interval that passed
between the present time and the night of the dinner.
Dryfoos necessarily depended upon him for advice concerning the scope and
nature of the dinner, but he received the advice suspiciously, and
contested points of obvious propriety with pertinacious stupidity.
Fulkerson said that when it came to the point he would rather have had
the thing, as he called it, at Delmonico's or some other restaurant; but
when he found that Dryfoos's pride was bound up in having it at his own
house, he gave way to him. Dryfoos also wanted his woman-cook to prepare
the dinner, but Fulkerson persuaded him that this would not do; he must
have it from a caterer. Then Dryfoos wanted his maids to wait at table,
but Fulkerson convinced him that this would be incongruous at a man's
dinner. It was decided that the dinner should be sent in from
Frescobaldi's, and Dryfoos went with Fulkerson to discuss it with the
caterer. He insisted upon having everything explained to him, and the
reason for having it, and not something else in its place; and he treated
Fulkerson and Frescobaldi as if they were in league to impose upon him.
There were moments when Fulkerson saw the varnish of professional
politeness cracking on the Neapolitan's volcanic surface, and caught a
glimpse of the lava fires of the cook's nature beneath; he trembled for
Dryfoos, who was walking rough-shod over him in the security of an
American who had known how to make his money, and must know how to spend
it; but he got him safely away at last, and gave Frescobaldi a wink of
sympathy for his shrug of exhaustion as they turned to leave him.
It was at first a relief and then an anxiety with Fulkerson that Lindau
did not come about after accepting the invitation to dinner, until he
appeared at Dryfoos's house, prompt to the hour. There was, to be sure,
nothing to bring him; but Fulkerson was uneasily aware that Dryfoos
expected to meet him at the office, and perhaps receive some verbal
acknowledgment of the honor done him. Dryfoos, he could see, thought he
was doing all his invited guests a favor; and while he stood in a certain
awe of them as people of much greater social experience than himself,
regarded them with a kind of contempt, as people who were going to have a
better dinner at his house than they could ever afford to have at their
own. He had finally not spared expense upon it; after pushing
Frescobaldi to the point of eruption with his misgivings and suspicions
at the first interview, he had gone to him a second time alone, and told
him not to let the money stand between him and anything he would like to
do. In the absence of Frescobaldi's fellow-conspirator he restored
himself in the caterer's esteem by adding whatever he suggested; and
Fulkerson, after trembling for the old man's niggardliness, was now
afraid of a fantastic profusion in the feast. Dryfoos had reduced the
scale of the banquet as regarded the number of guests, but a confusing
remembrance of what Fulkerson had wished to do remained with him in part,
and up to the day of the dinner he dropped in at Frescobaldi's and
ordered more dishes and more of them. He impressed the Italian as an
American original of a novel kind; and when he asked Fulkerson how
Dryfoos had made his money, and learned that it was primarily in natural
gas, he made note of some of his eccentric tastes as peculiarities that
were to be caressed in any future natural-gas millionaire who might fall
into his hands. He did not begrudge the time he had to give in
explaining to Dryfoos the relation of the different wines to the
different dishes; Dryfoos was apt to substitute a costlier wine where he
could for a cheaper one, and he gave Frescobaldi carte blanche for the
decoration of the table with pieces of artistic confectionery. Among
these the caterer designed one for a surprise to his patron and a
delicate recognition of the source of his wealth, which he found Dryfoos
very willing to talk about, when he intimated that he knew what it was.
Dryfoos left it to Fulkerson to invite the guests, and he found ready
acceptance of his politeness from Kendricks, who rightly regarded the
dinner as a part of the 'Every Other Week' business, and was too sweet
and kind-hearted, anyway, not to seem very glad to come. March was a
matter of course; but in Colonel Woodburn, Fulkerson encountered a
reluctance which embarrassed him the more because he was conscious of
having, for motives of his own, rather strained a point in suggesting the
colonel to Dryfoos as a fit subject for invitation. There had been only
one of the colonel's articles printed as yet, and though it had made a
sensation in its way, and started the talk about that number, still it
did not fairly constitute him a member of the staff, or even entitle him
to recognition as a regular contributor. Fulkerson felt so sure of
pleasing him with Dryfoos's message that he delivered it in full family
council at the widow's. His daughter received it with all the enthusiasm
that Fulkerson had hoped for, but the colonel said, stiffly, "I have not
the pleasure of knowing Mr. Dryfoos." Miss Woodburn appeared ready to
fall upon him at this, but controlled herself, as if aware that filial
authority had its limits, and pressed her lips together without saying
"Yes, I know," Fulkerson admitted. "But it isn't a usual case. Mr.
Dryfoos don't go in much for the conventionalities; I reckon he don't
know much about 'em, come to boil it down; and he hoped"--here Fulkerson
felt the necessity of inventing a little--"that you would excuse any want
of ceremony; it's to be such an informal affair, anyway; we're all going
in business dress, and there ain't going to be any ladies. He'd have
come himself to ask you, but he's a kind of a bashful old fellow. It's
all right, Colonel Woodburn."
"I take it that it is, sir," said the colonel, courteously, but with
unabated state, "coming from you. But in these matters we have no right
to burden our friends with our decisions."
"Of course, of course," said Fulkerson, feeling that he had been
delicately told to mind his own business.
"I understand," the colonel went on, "the relation that Mr. Dryfoos bears
to the periodical in which you have done me the honor to print my papah,
but this is a question of passing the bounds of a purely business
connection, and of eating the salt of a man whom you do not definitely
know to be a gentleman."
"Mah goodness!" his daughter broke in. "If you bah your own salt with
"It is supposed that I earn his money before I buy my salt with it,"
returned her father, severely. "And in these times, when money is got in
heaps, through the natural decay of our nefarious commercialism, it
behooves a gentleman to be scrupulous that the hospitality offered him is
not the profusion of a thief with his booty. I don't say that Mr.
Dryfoos's good-fortune is not honest. I simply say that I know nothing
about it, and that I should prefer to know something before I sat down at
"You're all right, colonel," said Fulkerson, "and so is Mr. Dryfoos.
I give you my word that there are no flies on his personal integrity,
if that's what you mean. He's hard, and he'd push an advantage, but I
don't believe he would take an unfair one. He's speculated and made
money every time, but I never heard of his wrecking a railroad or
belonging to any swindling company or any grinding monopoly. He does
chance it in stocks, but he's always played on the square, if you call
"May I, think this over till morning?" asked the colonel.
"Oh, certainly, certainly," said Fulkerson, eagerly. "I don't know as
there's any hurry."
Miss Woodburn found a chance to murmur to him before he went: "He'll
come. And Ah'm so much oblahged, Mr. Fulkerson. Ah jost know it's all
you' doing, and it will give papa a chance to toak to some new people,
and get away from us evahlastin' women for once."
"I don't see why any one should want to do that," said Fulkerson, with
grateful gallantry. "But I'll be dogged," he said to March when he told
him about this odd experience, "if I ever expected to find Colonel
Woodburn on old Lindau's ground. He did come round handsomely this
morning at breakfast and apologized for taking time to think the
invitation over before he accepted. 'You understand,' he says, 'that if
it had been to the table of some friend not so prosperous as Mr. Dryfoos
--your friend Mr. March, for instance--it would have been sufficient to
know that he was your friend. But in these days it is a duty that a
gentleman owes himself to consider whether he wishes to know a rich man
or not. The chances of making money disreputably are so great that the
chances are against a man who has made money if he's made a great deal of
March listened with a face of ironical insinuation. "That was very good;
and he seems to have had a good deal of confidence in your patience and
in your sense of his importance to the occasion--"
"No, no," Fulkerson protested, "there's none of that kind of thing about
the colonel. I told him to take time to think it over; he's the
simplest-hearted old fellow in the world."
"I should say so. After all, he didn't give any reason he had for
accepting. But perhaps the young lady had the reason."
"Pshaw, March!" said Fulkerson.
So far as the Dryfoos family was concerned, the dinner might as well have
been given at Frescobaldi's rooms. None of the ladies appeared. Mrs.
Dryfoos was glad to escape to her own chamber, where she sat before an
autumnal fire, shaking her head and talking to herself at times, with the
foreboding of evil which old women like her make part of their religion.
The girls stood just out of sight at the head of the stairs, and disputed
which guest it was at each arrival; Mrs. Mandel had gone to her room to
write letters, after beseeching them not to stand there. When Kendricks
came, Christine gave Mela a little pinch, equivalent to a little mocking
shriek; for, on the ground of his long talk with Mela at Mrs. Horn's, in
the absence of any other admirer, they based a superstition of his
interest in her; when Beaton came, Mela returned the pinch, but
awkwardly, so that it hurt, and then Christine involuntarily struck her.
Frescobaldi's men were in possession everywhere they had turned the cook
out of her kitchen and the waitress out of her pantry; the reluctant
Irishman at the door was supplemented by a vivid Italian, who spoke
French with the guests, and said, "Bien, Monsieur," and "toute suite,"
and "Merci!" to all, as he took their hats and coats, and effused a
hospitality that needed no language but the gleam of his eyes and teeth
and the play of his eloquent hands. From his professional dress-coat,
lustrous with the grease spotted on it at former dinners and parties,
they passed to the frocks of the elder and younger Dryfoos in the
drawing-room, which assumed informality for the affair, but did not put
their wearers wholly at their ease. The father's coat was of black
broadcloth, and he wore it unbuttoned; the skirts were long, and the
sleeves came down to his knuckles; he shook hands with his guests, and
the same dryness seemed to be in his palm and throat, as he huskily asked
each to take a chair. Conrad's coat was of modern texture and cut, and
was buttoned about him as if it concealed a bad conscience within its
lapels; he met March with his entreating smile, and he seemed no more
capable of coping with the situation than his father. They both waited
for Fulkerson, who went about and did his best to keep life in the party
during the half-hour that passed before they sat down at dinner. Beaton
stood gloomily aloof, as if waiting to be approached on the right basis
before yielding an inch of his ground; Colonel Woodburn, awaiting the
moment when he could sally out on his hobby, kept himself intrenched
within the dignity of a gentleman, and examined askance the figure of old
Lindau as he stared about the room, with his fine head up, and his empty
sleeve dangling over his wrist. March felt obliged to him for wearing a
new coat in the midst of that hostile luxury, and he was glad to see
Dryfoos make up to him and begin to talk with him, as if he wished to
show him particular respect, though it might have been because he was
less afraid of him than of the others. He heard Lindau saying, "Boat,
the name is Choarman?" and Dryfoos beginning to explain his Pennsylvania
Dutch origin, and he suffered himself, with a sigh of relief, to fall
into talk with Kendricks, who was always pleasant; he was willing to talk
about something besides himself, and had no opinions that he was not
ready to hold in abeyance for the time being out of kindness to others.
In that group of impassioned individualities, March felt him a refuge and
comfort--with his harmless dilettante intention of some day writing a
novel, and his belief that he was meantime collecting material for it.
Fulkerson, while breaking the ice for the whole company, was mainly
engaged in keeping Colonel Woodburn thawed out. He took Kendricks away
from March and presented him to the colonel as a person who, like
himself, was looking into social conditions; he put one hand on
Kendricks's shoulder, and one on the colonel's, and made some flattering
joke, apparently at the expense of the young fellow, and then left them.
March heard Kendricks protest in vain, and the colonel say, gravely:
"I do not wonder, sir, that these things interest you. They constitute a
problem which society must solve or which will dissolve society," and he
knew from that formula, which the colonel had, once used with him, that
he was laying out a road for the exhibition of the hobby's paces later.
Fulkerson came back to March, who had turned toward Conrad Dryfoos, and
said, "If we don't get this thing going pretty soon, it 'll be the death
of me," and just then Frescobaldi's butler came in and announced to
Dryfoos that dinner was served. The old man looked toward Fulkerson with
a troubled glance, as if he did not know what to do; he made a gesture to
touch Lindau's elbow. Fulkerson called out, "Here's Colonel Woodburn,
Mr. Dryfoos," as if Dryfoos were looking for him; and he set the example
of what he was to do by taking Lindau's arm himself. "Mr. Lindau is
going to sit at my end of the table, alongside of March. Stand not upon
the order of your going, gentlemen, but fall in at once." He contrived
to get Dryfoos and the colonel before him, and he let March follow with
Kendricks. Conrad came last with Beaton, who had been turning over the
music at the piano, and chafing inwardly at the whole affair. At the
table Colonel Woodburn was placed on Dryfoos's right, and March on his
left. March sat on Fulkerson's right, with Lindau next him; and the
young men occupied the other seats.
"Put you next to March, Mr. Lindau," said Fulkerson, "so you can begin to
put Apollinaris in his champagne-glass at the right moment; you know his
little weakness of old; sorry to say it's grown on him."
March laughed with kindly acquiescence in Fulkerson's wish to start the
gayety, and Lindau patted him on the shoulder. "I know hiss veakness.
If he liges a class of vine, it iss begause his loaf ingludes efen hiss
enemy, as Shakespeare galled it."
"Ah, but Shakespeare couldn't have been thinking of champagne," said
"I suppose, sir," Colonel Woodburn interposed, with lofty courtesy,
"champagne could hardly have been known in his day."
"I suppose not, colonel," returned the younger man, deferentially.
"He seemed to think that sack and sugar might be a fault; but he didn't
"Perhaps he felt there was no question about that," suggested Beaton, who
then felt that he had not done himself justice in the sally.
"I wonder just when champagne did come in," said March.
"I know when it ought to come in," said Fulkerson. "Before the soup!"
They all laughed, and gave themselves the air of drinking champagne out
of tumblers every day, as men like to do. Dryfoos listened uneasily; he
did not quite understand the allusions, though he knew what Shakespeare
was, well enough; Conrad's face expressed a gentle deprecation of joking
on such a subject, but he said nothing.
The talk ran on briskly through the dinner. The young men tossed the
ball back and forth; they made some wild shots, but they kept it going,
and they laughed when they were hit. The wine loosed Colonel Woodburn's
tongue; he became very companionable with the young fellows; with the
feeling that a literary dinner ought to have a didactic scope, he praised
Scott and Addison as the only authors fit to form the minds of gentlemen.
Kendricks agreed with him, but wished to add the name of Flaubert as a
master of style. "Style, you know," he added, "is the man."
"Very true, sir; you are quite right, sir," the colonel assented; he
wondered who Flaubert was.
Beaton praised Baudelaire and Maupassant; he said these were the masters.
He recited some lurid verses from Baudelaire; Lindau pronounced them a
disgrace to human nature, and gave a passage from Victor Hugo on Louis
Napoleon, with his heavy German accent, and then he quoted Schiller.
"Ach, boat that is a peaudifool! Not zo?" he demanded of March.
"Yes, beautiful; but, of course, you know I think there's nobody like
Lindau threw back his great old head and laughed, showing a want of teeth
under his mustache. He put his hand on March's back. "This poy--he was
a poy den--wars so gracy to pekin reading Heine that he gommence with the
tictionary bevore he knows any Grammar, and ve bick it out vort by vort
"He was a pretty cay poy in those days, heigh, Lindau ?" asked
Fulkerson, burlesquing the old man's accent, with an impudent wink that
made Lindau himself laugh. "But in the dark ages, I mean, there in
Indianapolis. Just how long ago did you old codgers meet there, anyway?"
Fulkerson saw the restiveness in Dryfoos's eye at the purely literary
course the talk had taken; he had intended it to lead up that way to
business, to 'Every Other Week;' but he saw that it was leaving Dryfoos
too far out, and he wished to get it on the personal ground, where
everybody is at home.
"Ledt me zee," mused Lindau. "Wass it in fifty-nine or zixty, Passil?
Idt wass a year or dwo pefore the war proke oudt, anyway."
"Those were exciting times," said Dryfoos, making his first entry into
the general talk. "I went down to Indianapolis with the first company
from our place, and I saw the red-shirts pouring in everywhere. They had
"Oh, never mind the weather, but git over double trouble,
For we're bound for the land of Canaan."
The fellows locked arms and went singin' it up and down four or five
abreast in the moonlight; crowded everybody' else off the sidewalk."
"I remember, I remember," said Lindau, nodding his head slowly up and
down. "A coodt many off them nefer gome pack from that landt of Ganaan,
"You're right, Mr. Lindau. But I reckon it was worth it--the country
we've got now. Here, young man!" He caught the arm of the waiter who was
going round with the champagne bottle. "Fill up Mr. Lindau's glass,
there. I want to drink the health of those old times with him. Here's
to your empty sleeve, Mr. Lindau. God bless it! No offence to you,
Colonel Woodburn," said Dryfoos, turning to him before he drank.
"Not at all, sir, not at all," said the colonel. "I will drink with you,
if you will permit me."
"We'll all drink--standing!" cried Fulkerson. "Help March to get up,
somebody! Fill high the bowl with Samian Apollinaris for Coonrod! Now,
then, hurrah for Lindau!"
They cheered, and hammered on the table with the butts of their knife-
handles. Lindau remained seated. The tears came into his eyes; he said,
"I thank you, chendlemen," and hiccoughed.
"I'd 'a' went into the war myself," said Dryfoos, "but I was raisin'
a family of young children, and I didn't see how I could leave my farm.
But I helped to fill up the quota at every call, and when the
volunteering stopped I went round with the subscription paper myself;
and we offered as good bounties as any in the State. My substitute was
killed in one of the last skirmishes--in fact, after Lee's surrender--
and I've took care of his family, more or less, ever since."
"By-the-way, March," said Fulkerson, "what sort of an idea would it be to
have a good war story--might be a serial--in the magazine? The war has
never fully panned out in fiction yet. It was used a good deal just
after it was over, and then it was dropped. I think it's time to take it
up again. I believe it would be a card."
It was running in March's mind that Dryfoos had an old rankling shame in
his heart for not having gone into the war, and that he had often made
that explanation of his course without having ever been satisfied with
it. He felt sorry for him; the fact seemed pathetic; it suggested a
dormant nobleness in the man.
Beaton was saying to Fulkerson: "You might get a series of sketches by
substitutes; the substitutes haven't been much heard from in the war
literature. How would 'The Autobiography of a Substitute' do? You might
follow him up to the moment he was killed in the other man's place, and
inquire whether he had any right to the feelings of a hero when he was
only hired in the place of one. Might call it 'The Career of a Deputy
"I fancy," said March, "that there was a great deal of mixed motive in
the men who went into the war as well as in those who kept out of it.
We canonized all that died or suffered in it, but some of them must have
been self-seeking and low-minded, like men in other vocations." He found
himself saying this in Dryfoos's behalf; the old man looked at him
gratefully at first, he thought, and then suspiciously.
Lindau turned his head toward him and said: "You are righdt, Passil; you
are righdt. I haf zeen on the fieldt of pattle the voarst eggsipitions
of human paseness--chelousy, fanity, ecodistic bridte. I haf zeen men in
the face off death itself gofferned by motifes as low as--as pusiness
"Well," said Fulkerson, "it would be a grand thing for 'Every Other Week'
if we could get some of those ideas worked up into a series. It would
make a lot of talk."
Colonel Woodburn ignored him in saying, "I think, Major Lindau--"
"High brifate; prefet gorporal," the old man interrupted, in rejection of
Hendricks laughed and said, with a glance of appreciation at Lindau,
"Brevet corporal is good."
Colonel Woodburn frowned a little, and passed over the joke. "I think
Mr. Lindau is right. Such exhibitions were common to both sides, though
if you gentlemen will pardon me for saying so, I think they were less
frequent on ours. We were fighting more immediately for existence.
We were fewer than you were, and we knew it; we felt more intensely that
if each were not for all, then none was for any."
The colonel's words made their impression. Dryfoos said, with authority,
"That is so."
"Colonel Woodburn," Fulkerson called out, "if you'll work up those ideas
into a short paper--say, three thousand words--I'll engage to make March
The colonel went on without replying: "But Mr. Lindau is right in
characterizing some of the motives that led men to the cannon's mouth as
no higher than business motives, and his comparison is the most forcible
that he could have used. I was very much struck by it."
The hobby was out, the colonel was in the saddle with so firm a seat that
no effort sufficed to dislodge him. The dinner went on from course to
course with barbaric profusion, and from time to time Fulkerson tried to
bring the talk back to 'Every Other Week.' But perhaps because that was
only the ostensible and not the real object of the dinner, which was to
bring a number of men together under Dryfoos's roof, and make them the
witnesses of his splendor, make them feel the power of his wealth,
Fulkerson's attempts failed. The colonel showed how commercialism was
the poison at the heart of our national life; how we began as a simple,
agricultural people, who had fled to these shores with the instinct,
divinely implanted, of building a state such as the sun never shone upon
before; how we had conquered the wilderness and the savage; how we had
flung off, in our struggle with the mother-country, the trammels of
tradition and precedent, and had settled down, a free nation, to the
practice of the arts of peace; how the spirit of commercialism had stolen
insidiously upon us, and the infernal impulse of competition had
embroiled us in a perpetual warfare of interests, developing the worst
passions of our nature, and teaching us to trick and betray and destroy
one another in the strife for money, till now that impulse had exhausted
itself, and we found competition gone and the whole economic problem in
the hands of monopolies--the Standard Oil Company, the Sugar Trust, the
Rubber Trust, and what not. And now what was the next thing? Affairs
could not remain as they were; it was impossible; and what was the next
The company listened for the main part silently. Dryfoos tried to grasp
the idea of commercialism as the colonel seemed to hold it; he conceived
of it as something like the dry-goods business on a vast scale, and he
knew he had never been in that. He did not like to hear competition
called infernal; he had always supposed it was something sacred; but he
approved of what Colonel Woodburn said of the Standard Oil Company; it
was all true; the Standard Oil has squeezed Dryfoos once, and made him
sell it a lot of oil-wells by putting down the price of oil so low in
that region that he lost money on every barrel he pumped.
All the rest listened silently, except Lindau; at every point the colonel
made against the present condition of things he said more and more
fiercely, "You are righdt, you are righdt." His eyes glowed, his hand
played with his knife-hilt. When the colonel demanded, "And what is the
next thing?" he threw himself forward, and repeated: "Yes, sir! What is
the next thing?"
"Natural gas, by thunder!" shouted Fulkerson.
One of the waiters had profited by Lindau's posture to lean over him and
put down in the middle of the table a structure in white sugar. It
expressed Frescobaldi's conception of a derrick, and a touch of nature
had been added in the flame of brandy, which burned luridly up from a
small pit in the centre of the base, and represented the gas in
combustion as it issued from the ground. Fulkerson burst into a roar of
laughter with the words that recognized Frescobaldi's personal tribute to
Dryfoos. Everybody rose and peered over at the thing, while he explained
the work of sinking a gas-well, as he had already explained it to
Frescobaldi. In the midst of his lecture he caught sight of the caterer
himself, where he stood in the pantry doorway, smiling with an artist's
anxiety for the effect of his masterpiece.
"Come in, come in, Frescobaldi! We want to congratulate you," Fulkerson
called to him. "Here, gentlemen! Here's Frescobaldi's health."
They all drank; and Frescobaldi, smiling brilliantly and rubbing his
hands as he bowed right and left, permitted himself to say to Dryfoos:
"You are please; no? You like?"
"First-rate, first-rate!" said the old man; but when the Italian had
bowed himself out and his guests had sunk into their seats again, he said
dryly to Fulkerson, "I reckon they didn't have to torpedo that well, or
the derrick wouldn't look quite so nice and clean."
"Yes," Fulkerson answered, "and that ain't quite the style--that little
wiggly-waggly blue flame--that the gas acts when you touch off a good
vein of it. This might do for weak gas"; and he went on to explain:
"They call it weak gas when they tap it two or three hundred feet down;
and anybody can sink a well in his back yard and get enough gas to light
and heat his house. I remember one fellow that had it blazing up from a
pipe through a flower-bed, just like a jet of water from a fountain.
My, my, my! You fel--you gentlemen--ought to go out and see that
country, all of you. Wish we could torpedo this well, Mr. Dryfoos, and
let 'em see how it works! Mind that one you torpedoed for me? You know,
when they sink a well," he went on to the company, "they can't always
most generally sometimes tell whether they're goin' to get gas or oil or
salt water. Why, when they first began to bore for salt water out on the
Kanawha, back about the beginning of the century, they used to get gas
now and then, and then they considered it a failure; they called a gas-
well a blower, and give it up in disgust; the time wasn't ripe for gas
yet. Now they bore away sometimes till they get half-way to China, and
don't seem to strike anything worth speaking of. Then they put a
dynamite torpedo down in the well and explode it. They have a little bar
of iron that they call a Go-devil, and they just drop it down on the
business end of the torpedo, and then stand from under, if you please!
You hear a noise, and in about half a minute you begin to see one, and it
begins to rain oil and mud and salt water and rocks and pitchforks and
adoptive citizens; and when it clears up the derrick's painted--got a
coat on that 'll wear in any climate. That's what our honored host
meant. Generally get some visiting lady, when there's one round, to drop
the Go-devil. But that day we had to put up with Conrad here. They
offered to let me drop it, but I declined. I told 'em I hadn't much
practice with Go-devils in the newspaper syndicate business, and I wasn't
very well myself, anyway. Astonishing," Fulkerson continued, with the
air of relieving his explanation by an anecdote, "how reckless they get
using dynamite when they're torpedoing wells. We stopped at one place
where a fellow was handling the cartridges pretty freely, and Mr. Dryfoos
happened to caution him a little, and that ass came up with one of 'em in
his hand, and began to pound it on the buggy-wheel to show us how safe it
was. I turned green, I was so scared; but Mr. Dryfoos kept his color,
and kind of coaxed the fellow till he quit. You could see he was the
fool kind, that if you tried to stop him he'd keep on hammering that
cartridge, just to show that it wouldn't explode, till he blew you into
Kingdom Come. When we got him to go away, Mr. Dryfoos drove up to his
foreman. 'Pay Sheney off, and discharge him on the spot,' says he.
'He's too safe a man to have round; he knows too much about dynamite.'
I never saw anybody so cool."
Dryfoos modestly dropped his head under Fulkerson's flattery and, without
lifting it, turned his eyes toward Colonel Woodburn. "I had all sorts of
men to deal with in developing my property out there, but I had very
little trouble with them, generally speaking."
"Ah, ah! you foundt the laboring-man reasonable--dractable--tocile?"
Lindau put in.
"Yes, generally speaking," Dryfoos answered. "They mostly knew which
side of their bread was buttered. I did have one little difficulty at
one time. It happened to be when Mr. Fulkerson was out there. Some of
the men tried to form a union--"
"No, no!" cried Fulkerson. "Let me tell that! I know you wouldn't do
yourself justice, Mr. Dryfoos, and I want 'em to know how a strike can be
managed, if you take it in time. You see, some of those fellows got a
notion that there ought to be a union among the working-men to keep up
wages, and dictate to the employers, and Mr. Dryfoos's foreman was the
ringleader in the business. They understood pretty well that as soon as
he found it out that foreman would walk the plank, and so they watched
out till they thought they had Mr. Dryfoos just where they wanted him--
everything on the keen jump, and every man worth his weight in diamonds
--and then they came to him, and--told him to sign a promise to keep that
foreman to the end of the season, or till he was through with the work on
the Dryfoos and Hendry Addition, under penalty of having them all knock
off. Mr. Dryfoos smelled a mouse, but he couldn't tell where the mouse
was; he saw that they did have him, and he signed, of course. There
wasn't anything really against the fellow, anyway; he was a first-rate
man, and he did his duty every time; only he'd got some of those ideas
into his head, and they turned it. Mr. Dryfoos signed, and then he laid
March saw Lindau listening with a mounting intensity, and heard him
murmur in German, "Shameful! shameful!"
Fulkerson went on: "Well, it wasn't long before they began to show their
hand, but Mr. Dryfoos kept dark. He agreed to everything; there never
was such an obliging capitalist before; there wasn't a thing they asked
of him that he didn't do, with the greatest of pleasure, and all went
merry as a marriage-bell till one morning a whole gang of fresh men
marched into the Dryfoos and Hendry Addition, under the escort of a dozen
Pinkertons with repeating rifles at half-cock, and about fifty fellows
found themselves out of a job. You never saw such a mad set."
"Pretty neat," said Kendricks, who looked at the affair purely from an
aesthetic point of view. "Such a coup as that would tell tremendously in
"That was vile treason," said Lindau in German to March. "He's an
infamous traitor! I cannot stay here. I must go."
He struggled to rise, while March held him by the coat, and implored him
under his voice: "For Heaven's sake, don't, Lindau! You owe it to
yourself not to make a scene, if you come here." Something in it all
affected him comically; he could not help laughing.
The others were discussing the matter, and seemed not to have noticed
Lindau, who controlled himself and sighed: "You are right. I must have
Beaton was saying to Dryfoos, "Pity your Pinkertons couldn't have given
them a few shots before they left."
"No, that wasn't necessary," said Dryfoos. "I succeeded in breaking up
the union. I entered into an agreement with other parties not to employ
any man who would not swear that he was non-union. If they had attempted
violence, of course they could have been shot. But there was no fear of
that. Those fellows can always be depended upon to cut one another's
throats in the long run."
"But sometimes," said Colonel Woodburn, who had been watching throughout.
for a chance to mount his hobby again, "they make a good deal of trouble
first. How was it in the great railroad strike of '77?"
"Well, I guess there was a little trouble that time, colonel," said
Fulkerson. "But the men that undertake to override the laws and paralyze
the industries of a country like this generally get left in the end."
"Yes, sir, generally; and up to a certain point, always. But it's the
exceptional that is apt to happen, as well as the unexpected. And a
little reflection will convince any gentleman here that there is always a
danger of the exceptional in your system. The fact is, those fellows
have the game in their own hands already. A strike of the whole body of
the Brotherhood of Engineers alone would starve out the entire Atlantic
seaboard in a week; labor insurrection could make head at a dozen given
points, and your government couldn't move a man over the roads without
the help of the engineers."
"That is so," said Kendrick, struck by the dramatic character of the
conjecture. He imagined a fiction dealing with the situation as
something already accomplished.
"Why don't some fellow do the Battle of Dorking act with that thing?"
said Fulkerson. "It would be a card."
"Exactly what I was thinking, Mr. Fulkerson," said Kendricks.
Fulkerson laughed. "Telepathy--clear case of mind transference. Better
see March, here, about it. I'd like to have it in 'Every Other Week.'
It would make talk."
"Perhaps it might set your people to thinking as well as talking," said
"Well, sir," said Dryfoos, setting his lips so tightly together that his
imperial stuck straight outward, "if I had my way, there wouldn't be any
Brotherhood of Engineers, nor any other kind of labor union in the whole
"What!" shouted Lindau. "You would sobbress the unionss of the voarking-
"Yes, I would."
"And what would you do with the unionss of the gabidalists--the drosts--
and gompines, and boolss? Would you dake the righdt from one and gif it
to the odder?"
"Yes, sir, I would," said Dryfoos, with a wicked look at him.
Lindau was about to roar back at him with some furious protest, but March
put his hand on his shoulder imploringly, and Lindau turned to him to say
in German: "But it is infamous--infamous! What kind of man is this? Who
is he? He has the heart of a tyrant."
Colonel Woodburn cut in. "You couldn't do that, Mr. Dryfoos, under your
system. And if you attempted it, with your conspiracy laws, and that
kind of thing, it might bring the climax sooner than you expected. Your
commercialized society has built its house on the sands. It will have to
go. But I should be sorry if it went before its time."
"You are righdt, sir," said Lindau. "It would be a bity. I hobe it will
last till it feelss its rottenness, like Herodt. Boat, when its hour
gomes, when it trope to bieces with the veight off its own gorrubtion--
"It's not to be supposed that a system of things like this can drop to
pieces of its own accord, like the old Republic of Venice," said the
colonel. "But when the last vestige of commercial society is gone, then
we can begin to build anew; and we shall build upon the central idea, not
of the false liberty you now worship, but of responsibility--
responsibility. The enlightened, the moneyed, the cultivated class shall
be responsible to the central authority--emperor, duke, president; the
name does not matter--for the national expense and the national defence,
and it shall be responsible to the working-classes of all kinds for homes
and lands and implements, and the opportunity to labor at all times.
"The working-classes shall be responsible to the leisure class for the
support of its dignity in peace, and shall be subject to its command in
war. The rich shall warrant the poor against planless production and the
ruin that now follows, against danger from without and famine from
within, and the poor--"
"No, no, no!" shouted Lindau. "The State shall do that--the whole
beople. The men who voark shall have and shall eat; and the men that
will not voark, they shall sdarfe. But no man need sdarfe. He will go
to the State, and the State will see that he haf voark, and that he haf
foodt. All the roadts and mills and mines and landts shall be the
beople's and be ron by the beople for the beople. There shall be no rich
and no boor; and there shall not be war any more, for what bower wouldt
dare to addack a beople bound togeder in a broderhood like that?"
"Lion and lamb act," said Fulkerson, not well knowing, after so much
champagne, what words he was using.
No one noticed him, and Colonel Woodburn said coldly to Lindau, "You are
talking paternalism, sir."
"And you are dalking feutalism!" retorted the old man.
The colonel did not reply. A silence ensued, which no one broke till
Fulkerson said: "Well, now, look here. If either one of these
millenniums was brought about, by force of arms, or otherwise, what would
become of 'Every Other Week'? Who would want March for an editor? How
would Beaton sell his pictures? Who would print Mr. Kendricks's little
society verses and short stories? What would become of Conrad and his
good works?" Those named grinned in support of Fulkerson's diversion,
but Lindau and the colonel did not speak; Dryfoos looked down at his
A waiter came round with cigars, and Fulkerson took one. "Ah," he said,
as he bit off the end, and leaned over to the emblematic masterpiece,
where the brandy was still feebly flickering, "I wonder if there's enough
natural gas left to light my cigar." His effort put the flame out and
knocked the derrick over; it broke in fragments on the table. Fulkerson
cackled over the ruin: "I wonder if all Moffitt will look that way after
labor and capital have fought it out together. I hope this ain't ominous
of anything personal, Dryfoos?"
"I'll take the risk of it," said the old man, harshly.
He rose mechanically, and Fulkerson said to Frescobaldi's man, "You can
bring us the coffee in the library."
The talk did not recover itself there. Landau would not sit down; he
refused coffee, and dismissed himself with a haughty bow to the company;
Colonel Woodburn shook hands elaborately all round, when he had smoked
his cigar; the others followed him. It seemed to March that his own
good-night from Dryfoos was dry and cold.
March met Fulkerson on the steps of the office next morning, when he
arrived rather later than his wont. Fulkerson did not show any of the
signs of suffering from the last night's pleasure which painted
themselves in March's face. He flirted his hand gayly in the air,
and said, "How's your poor head?" and broke into a knowing laugh.
"You don't seem to have got up with the lark this morning. The old
gentleman is in there with Conrad, as bright as a biscuit; he's beat you
down. Well, we did have a good time, didn't we? And old Lindau and the
colonel, didn't they have a good time? I don't suppose they ever had a
chance before to give their theories quite so much air. Oh, my! how they
did ride over us! I'm just going down to see Beaton about the cover of
the Christmas number. I think we ought to try it in three or four
colors, if we are going to observe the day at all." He was off before
March could pull himself together to ask what Dryfoos wanted at the
office at that hour of the morning; he always came in the afternoon on
his way up-town.
The fact of his presence renewed the sinister misgivings with which March
had parted from him the night before, but Fulkerson's cheerfulness seemed
to gainsay them; afterward March did not know whether to attribute this
mood to the slipperiness that he was aware of at times in Fulkerson, or
to a cynical amusement he might have felt at leaving him alone to the old
man, who mounted to his room shortly after March had reached it.
A sort of dumb anger showed itself in his face; his jaw was set so firmly
that he did not seem able at once to open it. He asked, without the
ceremonies of greeting, "What does that one-armed Dutchman do on this
"What does he do?" March echoed, as people are apt to do with a question
that is mandatory and offensive.
"Yes, sir, what does he do? Does he write for it?"
"I suppose you mean Lindau," said March. He saw no reason for refusing
to answer Dryfoos's demand, and he decided to ignore its terms. "No,
he doesn't write for it in the usual way. He translates for it;
he examines the foreign magazines, and draws my attention to anything he
thinks of interest. But I told you about this before--"
"I know what you told me, well enough. And I know what he is. He is a
red-mouthed labor agitator. He's one of those foreigners that come here
from places where they've never had a decent meal's victuals in their
lives, and as soon as they get their stomachs full, they begin to make
trouble between our people and their hands. There's where the strikes
come from, and the unions and the secret societies. They come here and
break our Sabbath, and teach their atheism. They ought to be hung!
Let 'em go back if they don't like it over here. They want to ruin the
March could not help smiling a little at the words, which came fast
enough now in the hoarse staccato of Dryfoos's passion. "I don't know
whom you mean by they, generally speaking; but I had the impression that
poor old Lindau had once done his best to save the country. I don't
always like his way of talking, but I know that he is one of the truest
and kindest souls in the world; and he is no more an atheist than I am.
He is my friend, and I can't allow him to be misunderstood."
"I don't care what he is," Dryfoos broke out, "I won't have him round.
He can't have any more work from this office. I want you to stop it.
I want you to turn him off."
March was standing at his desk, as he had risen to receive Dryfoos when
he entered. He now sat down, and began to open his letters.
"Do you hear?" the old man roared at him. "I want you to turn him off."
"Excuse me, Mr. Dryfoos," said March, succeeding in an effort to speak
calmly, "I don't know you, in such a matter as this. My arrangements as
editor of 'Every Other Week' were made with Mr. Fulkerson. I have always
listened to any suggestion he has had to make."
"I don't care for Mr. Fulkerson? He has nothing to do with it," retorted
Dryfoos; but he seemed a little daunted by March's position.
"He has everything to do with it as far as I am concerned," March
answered, with a steadiness that he did not feel. "I know that you are
the owner of the periodical, but I can't receive any suggestion from you,
for the reason that I have given. Nobody but Mr. Fulkerson has any right
to talk with me about its management."
Dryfoos glared at him for a moment, and demanded, threateningly: "Then
you say you won't turn that old loafer off? You say that I have got to
keep on paying my money out to buy beer for a man that would cut my
throat if he got the chance?"
"I say nothing at all, Mr. Dryfoos," March answered. The blood came into
his face, and he added: "But I will say that if you speak again of Mr.
Lindau in those terms, one of us must leave this room. I will not hear
Dryfoos looked at him with astonishment; then he struck his hat down on
his head, and stamped out of the room and down the stairs; and a vague
pity came into March's heart that was not altogether for himself.
He might be the greater sufferer in the end, but he was sorry to have got
the better of that old man for the moment; and he felt ashamed of the
anger into which Dryfoos's anger had surprised him. He knew he could not
say too much in defence of Lindau's generosity and unselfishness, and he
had not attempted to defend him as a political economist. He could not
have taken any ground in relation to Dryfoos but that which he held, and
he felt satisfied that he was right in refusing to receive instructions
or commands from him. Yet somehow he was not satisfied with the whole
affair, and not merely because his present triumph threatened his final
advantage, but because he felt that in his heat he had hardly done
justice to Dryfoos's rights in the matter; it did not quite console him
to reflect that Dryfoos had himself made it impossible. He was tempted
to go home and tell his wife what had happened, and begin his
preparations for the future at once. But he resisted this weakness and
kept mechanically about his work, opening the letters and the manuscripts
before him with that curious double action of the mind common in men of
vivid imaginations. It was a relief when Conrad Dryfoos, having
apparently waited to make sure that his father would not return, came up
from the counting-room and looked in on March with a troubled face.
"Mr. March," he began, "I hope father hasn't been saying anything to you
that you can't overlook. I know he was very much excited, and when he is
excited he is apt to say things that he is sorry for."
The apologetic attitude taken for Dryfoos, so different from any attitude
the peremptory old man would have conceivably taken for himself, made
March smile. "Oh no. I fancy the boot is on the other leg. I suspect
I've said some things your father can't overlook, Conrad." He called the
young man by his Christian name partly to distinguish him from his
father, partly from the infection of Fulkerson's habit, and partly from a
kindness for him that seemed naturally to express itself in that way.
"I know he didn't sleep last night, after you all went away," Conrad
pursued, "and of course that made him more irritable; and he was tried a
good deal by some of the things that Mr. Lindau said."
"I was tried a good deal myself," said March. "Lindau ought never to
have been there."
"No." Conrad seemed only partially to assent.
"I told Mr. Fulkerson so. I warned him that Lindau would be apt to break
out in some way. It wasn't just to him, and it wasn't just to your
father, to ask him."
"Mr. Fulkerson had a good motive," Conrad gently urged. "He did it
because he hurt his feelings that day about the pension."
"Yes, but it was a mistake. He knew that Lindau was inflexible about his
principles, as he calls them, and that one of his first principles is to
denounce the rich in season and out of season. I don't remember just
what he said last night; and I really thought I'd kept him from breaking
out in the most offensive way. But your father seems very much
"Yes, I know," said Conrad.
"Of course, I don't agree with Lindau. I think there are as many good,
kind, just people among the rich as there are among the poor, and that
they are as generous and helpful. But Lindau has got hold of one of
those partial truths that hurt worse than the whole truth, and--"
"Partial truth!" the young man interrupted. "Didn't the Saviour himself
say, 'How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of
"Why, bless my soul!" cried March. "Do you agree with Lindau?"
"I agree with the Lord Jesus Christ," said the young man, solemnly, and a
strange light of fanaticism, of exaltation, came into his wide blue eyes.
"And I believe He meant the kingdom of heaven upon this earth, as well as
in the skies."
March threw himself back in his chair and looked at him with a kind of
stupefaction, in which his eye wandered to the doorway, where he saw
Fulkerson standing, it seemed to him a long time, before he heard him
saying: "Hello, hello! What's the row? Conrad pitching into you on old
Lindau's account, too?"
The young man turned, and, after a glance at Fulkerson's light, smiling
face, went out, as if in his present mood he could not bear the contact
of that persiflant spirit.
March felt himself getting provisionally very angry again. "Excuse me,
Fulkerson, but did you know when you went out what Mr. Dryfoos wanted to
see me for?"
"Well, no, I didn't exactly," said Fulkerson, taking his usual seat on a
chair and looking over the back of it at March. "I saw he was on his car
about something, and I thought I'd better not monkey with him much.
I supposed he was going to bring you to book about old Lindau, somehow."
Fulkerson broke into a laugh.
March remained serious. "Mr. Dryfoos," he said, willing to let the
simple statement have its own weight with Fulkerson, and nothing more,
"came in here and ordered me to discharge Lindau from his employment on
the magazine--to turn him off, as he put it."
"Did he?" asked Fulkerson, with unbroken cheerfulness. "The old man is
business, every time. Well, I suppose you can easily get somebody else
to do Lindau's work for you. This town is just running over with half-
starved linguists. What did you say?"
"What did I say?" March echoed. "Look here, Fulkerson; you may regard
this as a joke, but I don't. I'm not used to being spoken to as if I
were the foreman of a shop, and told to discharge a sensitive and
cultivated man like Lindau, as if he were a drunken mechanic; and if
that's your idea of me--"
"Oh, hello, now, March! You mustn't mind the old man's way. He don't
mean anything by it--he don't know any better, if you come to that."
"Then I know better," said March. "I refused to receive any instructions
from Mr. Dryfoos, whom I don't know in my relations with 'Every Other
Week,' and I referred him to you."
"You did?" Fulkerson whistled. "He owns the thing!"
"I don't care who owns the thing," said March. "My negotiations were
with you alone from the beginning, and I leave this matter with you.
What do you wish done about Lindau?"
"Oh, better let the old fool drop," said Fulkerson. "He'll light on his
feet somehow, and it will save a lot of rumpus."
"And if I decline to let him drop?"
"Oh, come, now, March; don't do that," Fulkerson began.
"If I decline to let him drop," March repeated, "what will you do?"
"I'll be dogged if I know what I'll do," said Fulkerson. "I hope you
won't take that stand. If the old man went so far as to speak to you
about it, his mind is made up, and we might as well knock under first as
"And do you mean to say that you would not stand by me in what I
considered my duty-in a matter of principle?"
"Why, of course, March," said Fulkerson, coaxingly, "I mean to do the
right thing. But Dryfoos owns the magazine--"
"He doesn't own me," said March, rising. "He has made the little mistake
of speaking to me as if he did; and when"--March put on his hat and took
his overcoat down from its nail--"when you bring me his apologies, or
come to say that, having failed to make him understand they were
necessary, you are prepared to stand by me, I will come back to this
desk. Otherwise my resignation is at your service."
He started toward the door, and Fulkerson intercepted him. "Ah, now,
look here, March! Don't do that! Hang it all, don't you see where it
leaves me? Now, you just sit down a minute and talk it over. I can make
you see--I can show you--Why, confound the old Dutch beer-buzzer! Twenty
of him wouldn't be worth the trouble he's makin'. Let him go, and the
old man 'll come round in time."
"I don't think we've understood each other exactly, Mr. Fulkerson," said
March, very haughtily. "Perhaps we never can; but I'll leave you to
think it out."
He pushed on, and Fulkerson stood aside to let him pass, with a dazed
look and a mechanical movement. There was something comic in his rueful
bewilderment to March, who was tempted to smile, but he said to himself
that he had as much reason to be unhappy as Fulkerson, and he did not
smile. His indignation kept him hot in his purpose to suffer any
consequence rather than submit to the dictation of a man like Dryfoos;
he felt keenly the degradation of his connection with him, and all his
resentment of Fulkerson's original uncandor returned; at the same time
his heart ached with foreboding. It was not merely the work in which he
had constantly grown happier that he saw taken from him; but he felt the
misery of the man who stakes the security and plenty and peace of home
upon some cast, and knows that losing will sweep from him most that most
men find sweet and pleasant in life. He faced the fact, which no good
man can front without terror, that he was risking the support of his
family, and for a point of pride, of honor, which perhaps he had no right
to consider in view of the possible adversity. He realized, as every
hireling must, no matter how skillfully or gracefully the tie is
contrived for his wearing, that he belongs to another, whose will is his
law. His indignation was shot with abject impulses to go back and tell
Fulkerson that it was all right, and that he gave up. To end the anguish
of his struggle he quickened his steps, so that he found he was reaching
home almost at a run.
He must have made more clatter than he supposed with his key at the
apartment door, for his wife had come to let him in when he flung it
open. "Why, Basil," she said, "what's brought you back? Are you sick?
You're all pale. Well, no wonder! This is the last of Mr. Fulkerson's
dinners you shall go to. You're not strong enough for it, and your
stomach will be all out of order for a week. How hot you are! and in a
drip of perspiration! Now you'll be sick." She took his hat away, which
hung dangling in his hand, and pushed him into a chair with tender
impatience. "What is the matter? Has anything happened?"
"Everything has happened," he said, getting his voice after one or two
husky endeavors for it; and then he poured out a confused and huddled
statement of the case, from which she only got at the situation by
At the end she said, "I knew Lindau would get you into trouble."
This cut March to the heart. "Isabel!" he cried, reproachfully.
"Oh, I know," she retorted, and the tears began to come. "I don't wonder
you didn't want to say much to me about that dinner at breakfast.
I noticed it; but I thought you were just dull, and so I didn't insist.
I wish I had, now. If you had told me what Lindau had said, I should
have known what would have come of it, and I could have advised you--"
"Would you have advised me," March demanded, curiously, "to submit to
bullying like that, and meekly consent to commit an act of cruelty
against a man who had once been such a friend to me?"
"It was an unlucky day when you met him. I suppose we shall have to go.
And just when we bad got used to New York, and begun to like it. I don't
know where we shall go now; Boston isn't like home any more; and we
couldn't live on two thousand there; I should be ashamed to try. I'm
sure I don't know where we can live on it. I suppose in some country
village, where there are no schools, or anything for the children. I
don't know what they'll say when we tell them, poor things."
Every word was a stab in March's heart, so weakly tender to his own; his
wife's tears, after so much experience of the comparative lightness of
the griefs that weep themselves out in women, always seemed wrung from
his own soul; if his children suffered in the least through him, he felt
like a murderer. It was far worse than he could have imagined, the way
his wife took the affair, though he had imagined certain words, or
perhaps only looks, from her that were bad enough. He had allowed for
trouble, but trouble on his account: a svmpathy that might burden and
embarrass him; but he had not dreamed of this merely domestic, this
petty, this sordid view of their potential calamity, which left him
wholly out of the question, and embraced only what was most crushing and
desolating in the prospect. He could not bear it. He caught up his hat
again, and, with some hope that his wife would try to keep him, rushed
out of the house. He wandered aimlessly about, thinking the same
exhausting thoughts over and over, till he found himself horribly hungry;
then he went into a restaurant for his lunch, and when he paid he tried
to imagine how he should feel if that were really his last dollar.
He went home toward the middle of the afternoon, basely hoping that
Fulkerson had sent him some conciliatory message, or perhaps was waiting
there for him to talk it over; March was quite willing to talk it over
now. But it was his wife who again met him at the door, though it seemed
another woman than the one he had left weeping in the morning.
"I told the children," she said, in smiling explanation of his absence
from lunch, "that perhaps you were detained by business. I didn't know
but you had gone back to the office."
"Did you think I would go back there, Isabel?" asked March, with a
haggard look. "Well, if you say so, I will go back, and do what Dryfoos
ordered me to do. I'm sufficiently cowed between him and you, I can
"Nonsense," she said. "I approve of everything you did. But sit down,
now, and don't keep walking that way, and let me see if I understand it
perfectly. Of course, I had to have my say out."
She made him go all over his talk with Dryfoos again, and report his own
language precisely. From time to time, as she got his points, she said,
"That was splendid," "Good enough for him!" and "Oh, I'm so glad you said
that to him!" At the end she said:
"Well, now, let's look at it from his point of view. Let's be perfectly
just to him before we take another step forward."
"Or backward," March suggested, ruefully. "The case is simply this: he
owns the magazine."
"And he has a right to expect that I will consider his pecuniary
"Oh, those detestable pecuniary interests! Don't you wish there wasn't
any money in the world?"
"Yes; or else that there was a great deal more of it. And I was
perfectly willing to do that. I have always kept that in mind as one of
my duties to him, ever since I understood what his relation to the
"Yes, I can bear witness to that in any court of justice. You've done it
a great deal more than I could, Basil. And it was just the same way with
those horrible insurance people."
"I know," March went on, trying to be proof against her flatteries, or at
least to look as if he did not deserve praise; "I know that what Lindau
said was offensive to him, and I can understand how he felt that he had a
right to punish it. All I say is that he had no right to punish it
"Yes," said Mrs. March, askingly.
"If it had been a question of making 'Every Other Week' the vehicle of
Lindau's peculiar opinions--though they're not so very peculiar; he might
have got the most of them out of Ruskin--I shouldn't have had any ground
to stand on, or at least then I should have had to ask myself whether his
opinions would be injurious to the magazine or not."
"I don't see," Mrs. March interpolated, "how they could hurt it much
worse than Colonel Woodburn's article crying up slavery."
"Well," said March, impartially, "we could print a dozen articles
praising the slavery it's impossible to have back, and it wouldn't hurt
us. But if we printed one paper against the slavery which Lindau claims
still exists, some people would call us bad names, and the counting-room
would begin to feel it. But that isn't the point. Lindau's connection
with 'Every Other Week' is almost purely mechanical; he's merely a
translator of such stories and sketches as he first submits to me, and it
isn't at all a question of his opinions hurting us, but of my becoming an
agent to punish him for his opinions. That is what I wouldn't do; that's
what I never will do."
"If you did," said his wife, "I should perfectly despise you. I didn't
understand how it was before. I thought you were just holding out
against Dryfoos because he took a dictatorial tone with you, and because
you wouldn't recognize his authority. But now I'm with you, Basil, every
time, as that horrid little Fulkerson says. But who would ever have
supposed he would be so base as to side against you?"
"I don't know," said March, thoughtfully, "that we had a right to expect
anything else. Fulkerson's standards are low; they're merely business
standards, and the good that's in him is incidental and something quite
apart from his morals and methods. He's naturally a generous and right-
minded creature, but life has taught him to truckle and trick, like the
rest of us."
"It hasn't taught you that, Basil."
"Don't be so sure. Perhaps it's only that I'm a poor scholar. But I
don't know, really, that I despise Fulkerson so much for his course this
morning as for his gross and fulsome flatteries of Dryfoos last night.
I could hardly stomach it."
His wife made him tell her what they were, and then she said, "Yes, that
was loathsome; I couldn't have believed it of Mr. Fulkerson."
"Perhaps he only did it to keep the talk going, and to give the old man a
chance to say something," March leniently suggested. "It was a worse
effect because he didn't or couldn't follow up Fulkerson's lead."
"It was loathsome, all the same," his wife insisted. "It's the end of
Mr. Fulkerson, as far as I'm concerned."
"I didn't tell you before," March resumed, after a moment, "of my little
interview with Conrad Dryfoos after his father left," and now he went on
to repeat what had passed between him and the young man.
"I suspect that he and his father had been having some words before the
old man came up to talk with me, and that it was that made him so
"Yes, but what a strange position for the son of such a man to take!
Do you suppose he says such things to his father?"
"I don't know; but I suspect that in his meek way Conrad would say what
he believed to anybody. I suppose we must regard him as a kind of
"Poor young fellow! He always makes me feel sad, somehow. He has such a
pathetic face. I don't believe I ever saw him look quite happy, except
that night at Mrs. Horn's, when he was talking with Miss Vance; and then
he made me feel sadder than ever."
"I don't envy him the life he leads at home, with those convictions of
his. I don't see why it wouldn't be as tolerable there for old Lindau
"Well, now," said Mrs. March, "let us put them all out of our minds and
see what we are going to do ourselves."
They began to consider their ways and means, and how and where they
should live, in view of March's severance of his relations with 'Every
Other Week.' They had not saved anything from the first year's salary;
they had only prepared to save; and they had nothing solid but their two
thousand to count upon. But they built a future in which they easily
lived on that and on what March earned with his pen. He became a free
lance, and fought in whatever cause he thought just; he had no ties, no
chains. They went back to Boston with the heroic will to do what was
most distasteful; they would have returned to their own house if they had
not rented it again; but, any rate, Mrs. March helped out by taking
boarders, or perhaps only letting rooms to lodgers. They had some hard
struggles, but they succeeded.
"The great thing," she said, "is to be right. I'm ten times as happy as
if you had come home and told me that you had consented to do what
Dryfoos asked and he had doubled your salary."
"I don't think that would have happened in any event," said March, dryly.
"Well, no matter. I just used it for an example."
They both experienced a buoyant relief, such as seems to come to people
who begin life anew on whatever terms. "I hope we are young enough yet,
Basil," she said, and she would not have it when he said they had once
They heard the children's knock on the door; they knocked when they came
home from school so that their mother might let them in. "Shall we tell
them at once?" she asked, and ran to open for them before March could
They were not alone. Fulkerson, smiling from ear to ear, was with them.
"Is March in?" he asked.
"Mr. March is at home, yes," she said very haughtily. "He's in his
study," and she led the way there, while the children went to their
"Well, March," Fulkerson called out at sight of him, "it's all right!
The old man has come down."
"I suppose if you gentlemen are going to talk business--" Mrs. March
"Oh, we don't want you to go away," said Fulkerson. "I reckon March has
told you, anyway."
"Yes, I've told her," said March. "Don't go, Isabel. What do you mean,
"He's just gone on up home, and he sent me round with his apologies.
He sees now that he had no business to speak to you as he did, and he
withdraws everything. He'd 'a' come round himself if I'd said so, but I
told him I could make it all right."
Fulkerson looked so happy in having the whole affair put right, and the
Marches knew him to be so kindly affected toward them, that they could
not refuse for the moment to share his mood. They felt themselves
slipping down from the moral height which they had gained, and March made
a clutch to stay himself with the question, "And Lindau?"
"Well," said Fulkerson, "he's going to leave Lindau to me. You won't
have anything to do with it. I'll let the old fellow down easy."
"Do you mean," asked March, "that Mr. Dryfoos insists on his being
"Why, there isn't any dismissing about it," Fulkerson argued. "If you
don't send him any more work, he won't do any more, that's all. Or if he
comes round, you can--He's to be referred to me."
March shook his head, and his wife, with a sigh, felt herself plucked up
from the soft circumstance of their lives, which she had sunk back into
so quickly, and set beside him on that cold peak of principle again.
"It won't do, Fulkerson. It's very good of you, and all that, but it
comes to the same thing in the end. I could have gone on without any
apology from Mr. Dryfoos; he transcended his authority, but that's a
minor matter. I could have excused it to his ignorance of life among
gentlemen; but I can't consent to Lindau's dismissal--it comes to that,
whether you do it or I do it, and whether it's a positive or a negative
thing--because he holds this opinion or that."
"But don't you see," said Fulkerson, "that it's just Lindau's opinions
the old man can't stand? He hasn't got anything against him personally.
I don't suppose there's anybody that appreciates Lindau in some ways more
than the old man does."
"I understand. He wants to punish him for his opinions. Well, I can't
consent to that, directly or indirectly. We don't print his opinions,
and he has a perfect right to hold them, whether Mr. Dryfoos agrees with
them or not."
Mrs. March had judged it decorous for her to say nothing, but she now
went and sat down in the chair next her husband.
"Ah, dog on it!" cried Fulkerson, rumpling his hair with both his hands.
"What am I to do? The old man says he's got to go."
"And I don't consent to his going," said March.
"And you won't stay if he goes."
Fulkerson rose. "Well, well! I've got to see about it. I'm afraid the
old man won't stand it, March; I am, indeed. I wish you'd reconsider.
I--I'd take it as a personal favor if you would. It leaves me in a fix.
You see I've got to side with one or the other."
March made no reply to this, except to say, "Yes, you must stand by him,
or you must stand by me."
"Well, well! Hold on awhile! I'll see you in the morning. Don't take
"Oh, there are no steps to take," said March, with a melancholy smile.
"The steps are stopped; that's all." He sank back into his chair when
Fulkerson was gone and drew a long breath. "This is pretty rough. I
thought we had got through it."
"No," said his wife. "It seems as if I had to make the fight all over
"Well, it's a good thing it's a holy war."
"I can't bear the suspense. Why didn't you tell him outright you
wouldn't go back on any terms?"
"I might as well, and got the glory. He'll never move Dryfoos. I
suppose we both would like to go back, if we could."
"Oh, I suppose so."
They could not regain their lost exaltation, their lost dignity. At
dinner Mrs. March asked the children how they would like to go back to
Boston to live.
"Why, we're not going, are we?" asked Tom, without enthusiasm.
"I was just wondering how you felt about it, now," she said, with an
underlook at her husband.
"Well, if we go back," said Bella, "I want to live on the Back Bay. It's
awfully Micky at the South End."
"I suppose I should go to Harvard," said Tom, "and I'd room out at
Cambridge. It would be easier to get at you on the Back Bay."
The parents smiled ruefully at each other, and, in view of these grand
expectations of his children, March resolved to go as far as he could in
meeting Dryfoos's wishes. He proposed the theatre as a distraction from
the anxieties that he knew were pressing equally on his wife. "We might
go to the 'Old Homestead,'" he suggested, with a sad irony, which only
his wife felt.
"Oh yes, let's!" cried Bella.
While they were getting ready, some one rang, and Bella went to the door,
and then came to tell her father that it was Mr. Lindau. "He says he
wants to see you just a moment. He's in the parlor, and he won't sit
down, or anything."
"What can he want?" groaned Mrs. March, from their common dismay.
March apprehended a storm in the old man's face. But he only stood in
the middle of the room, looking very sad and grave. "You are Going
oudt," he said. "I won't geep you long. I haf gome to pring pack dose
macassines and dis mawney. I can't do any more voark for you; and I
can't geep the mawney you haf baid me a'ready. It iss not hawnest mawney
--that hass been oarned py voark; it iss mawney that hass peen mate py
sbeculation, and the obbression off lapor, and the necessity of the boor,
py a man--Here it is, efery tollar, efery zent. Dake it; I feel as if
dere vas ploodt on it."
"Why, Lindau," March began, but the old man interrupted him.
"Ton't dalk to me, Passil! I could not haf believedt it of you. When
you know how I feel about dose tings, why tidn't you dell me whose mawney
you bay oudt to me? Ach, I ton't plame you--I ton't rebroach you. You
haf nefer thought of it; boat I have thought, and I should be Guilty,
I must share that man's Guilt, if I gept hiss mawney. If you hat toldt
me at the peginning--if you hat peen frank with meboat it iss all righdt;
you can go on; you ton't see dese tings as I see them; and you haf cot a
family, and I am a free man. I voark to myself, and when I ton't voark,
I sdarfe to myself. But. I geep my handts glean, voark or sdarfe. Gif
him hiss mawney pack! I am sawry for him; I would not hoart hiss
feelings, boat I could not pear to douch him, and hiss mawney iss like
March tried to reason with Lindau, to show him the folly, the injustice,
the absurdity of his course; it ended in their both getting angry, and in
Lindau's going away in a whirl of German that included Basil in the guilt
of the man whom Lindau called his master.
"Well," said Mrs. March. "He is a crank, and I think you're well rid of
him. Now you have no quarrel with that horrid old Dryfoos, and you can
keep right on."
"Yes," said March, "I wish it didn't make me feel so sneaking. What a
long day it's been! It seems like a century since I got up."
"Yes, a thousand years. Is there anything else left to happen?"
"I hope not. I'd like to go to bed."
"Why, aren't you going to the theatre?" wailed Bella, coming in upon her
father's desperate expression.
"The theatre? Oh yes, certainly! I meant after we got home," and March
amused himself at the puzzled countenance of the child. "Come on!
Is Tom ready?"
Fulkerson parted with the Marches in such trouble of mind that he did not
feel able to meet that night the people whom he usually kept so gay at
Mrs. Leighton's table. He went to Maroni's for his dinner, for this
reason and for others more obscure. He could not expect to do anything
more with Dryfoos at once; he knew that Dryfoos must feel that he had
already made an extreme concession to March, and he believed that if he
was to get anything more from him it must be after Dryfoos had dined.
But he was not without the hope, vague and indefinite as it might be,
that he should find Lindau at Maroni's, and perhaps should get some
concession from him, some word of regret or apology which he could report
to Dryfoos, and at lest make the means of reopening the affair with him;
perhaps Lindau, when he knew how matters stood, would back down
altogether, and for March's sake would withdraw from all connection with
'Every Other Week' himself, and so leave everything serene. Fulkerson
felt capable, in his desperation, of delicately suggesting such a course
to Lindau, or even of plainly advising it: he did not care for Lindau a
great deal, and he did care a great deal for the magazine.
But he did not find Lindau at Maroni's; he only found Beaton. He sat
looking at the doorway as Fulkerson entered, and Fulkerson naturally came
and took a place at his table. Something in Beaton's large-eyed
solemnity of aspect invited Fulkerson to confidence, and he said, as he
pulled his napkin open and strung it, still a little damp (as the scanty,
often-washed linen at Maroni's was apt to be), across his knees, "I was
looking for you this morning, to talk with you about the Christmas
number, and I was a good deal worked up because I couldn't find you; but
I guess I might as well have spared myself my emotions."
"Why?" asked Beaton, briefly.
"Well, I don't know as there's going to be any Christmas number."
"Why?" Beaton asked again.
"Row between the financial angel and the literary editor about the chief
translator and polyglot smeller."
"Lindau is his name."
"What does the literary editor expect after Lindau's expression of his
views last night?"
"I don't know what he expected, but the ground he took with the old man
was that, as Lindau's opinions didn't characterize his work on the
magazine, he would not be made the instrument of punishing him for them
the old man wanted him turned off, as he calls it."
"Seems to be pretty good ground," said Beaton, impartially, while he
speculated, with a dull trouble at heart, on the effect the row would
have on his own fortunes. His late visit home had made him feel that the
claim of his family upon him for some repayment of help given could not
be much longer delayed; with his mother sick and his father growing old,
he must begin to do something for them, but up to this time he had spent
his salary even faster than he had earned it. When Fulkerson came in he
was wondering whether he could get him to increase it, if he threatened
to give up his work, and he wished that he was enough in love with
Margaret Vance, or even Christine Dryfoos, to marry her, only to end in
the sorrowful conviction that he was really in love with Alma Leighton,
who had no money, and who had apparently no wish to be married for love,
even. "And what are you going to do about it?" he asked, listlessly.
"Be dogged if I know what I'm going to do about it," said Fulkerson.
"I've been round all day, trying to pick up the pieces--row began right
after breakfast this morning--and one time I thought I'd got the thing
all put together again. I got the old man to say that he had spoken to
March a little too authoritatively about Lindau; that, in fact, he ought
to have communicated his wishes through me; and that he was willing to
have me get rid of Lindau, and March needn't have anything to do with it.
I thought that was pretty white, but March says the apologies and regrets
are all well enough in their way, but they leave the main question where
they found it."
"What is the main question?" Beaton asked, pouring himself out some
Chianti. As he set the flask down he made the reflection that if he
would drink water instead of Chianti he could send his father three
dollars a week, on his back debts, and he resolved to do it.
"The main question, as March looks at it, is the question of punishing
Lindau for his private opinions; he says that if he consents to my
bouncing the old fellow it's the same as if he bounced him."
"It might have that complexion in some lights," said Beaton. He drank
off his Chianti, and thought he would have it twice a week, or make
Maroni keep the half-bottles over for him, and send his father two
dollars. "And what are you going to do now?"
"That's what I don't know," said Fulkerson, ruefully. After a moment he
said, desperately, "Beaton, you've got a pretty good head; why don't you
"Why don't you let March go?" Beaton suggested.
"Ah, I couldn't," said Fulkerson. "I got him to break up in Boston and
come here; I like him; nobody else could get the hang of the thing like
he has; he's--a friend." Fulkerson said this with the nearest approach
he could make to seriousness, which was a kind of unhappiness.
Beaton shrugged. "Oh, if you can afford to have ideals, I congratulate
you. They're too expensive for me. Then, suppose you get rid of
Fulkerson laughed forlornly. "Go on, Bildad. Like to sprinkle a few
ashes over my boils? Don't mind me!"
They both sat silent a little while, and then Beaton said, "I suppose you
haven't seen Dryfoos the second time?"
"No. I came in here to gird up my loins with a little dinner before I
tackled him. But something seems to be the matter with Maroni's cook.
I don't want anything to eat."
"The cooking's about as bad as usual," said Beaton. After a moment he
added, ironically, for he found Fulkerson's misery a kind of relief from
his own, and was willing to protract it as long as it was amusing, "Why
not try an envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary?"
"What do you mean?"
"Get that other old fool to go to Dryfoos for you!"
"Which other old fool? The old fools seem to be as thick as flies."
"That Southern one."
"He did seem to rather take to the colonel!" Fulkerson mused aloud.
"Of course he did. Woodburn, with his idiotic talk about patriarchal
slavery, is the man on horseback to Dryfoos's muddy imagination. He'd
listen to him abjectly, and he'd do whatever Woodburn told him to do."
Beaton smiled cynically.
Fulkerson got up and reached for his coat and hat. "You've struck it,
old man." The waiter came up to help him on with his coat; Fulkerson
slipped a dollar in his hand. "Never mind the coat; you can give the
rest of my dinner to the poor, Paolo. Beaton, shake! You've saved my
life, little boy, though I don't think you meant it." He took Beaton's
hand and solemnly pressed it, and then almost ran out of the door.
They had just reached coffee at Mrs. Leighton's when he arrived and sat
down with them and began to put some of the life of his new hope into
them. His appetite revived, and, after protesting that he would not take
anything but coffee, he went back and ate some of the earlier courses.
But with the pressure of his purpose driving him forward, he did not
conceal from Miss Woodburn, at least, that he was eager to get her apart
from the rest for some reason. When he accomplished this, it seemed as
if he had contrived it all himself, but perhaps he had not wholly
"I'm so glad to get a chance to speak to you alone," he said at once; and
while she waited for the next word he made a pause, and then said,
desperately, "I want you to help me; and if you can't help me, there's no
help for me."
"Mah goodness," she said, "is the case so bad as that? What in the woald
is the trouble?"
"Yes, it's a bad case," said Fulkerson. "I want your father to help me."
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