“Basil! Basil!” cried his wife. “This is fatalism!”
“Then you think,” he said, “that a sparrow falls to the ground without the will of God?” and he laughed provokingly. But he went on more soberly: “I don’t know what it all means Isabel though I believe it means good. What did Christ himself say? That if one rose from the dead it would not avail. And yet we are always looking for the miraculous! I believe that unhappy old man truly grieves for his son, whom he treated cruelly without the final intention of cruelty, for he loved him and wished to be proud of him; but I don’t think his death has changed him, any more than the smallest event in the chain of events remotely working through his nature from the beginning. But why do you think he’s changed at all? Because he offers to sell me Every Other Week on easy terms? He says himself that he has no further use for the thing; and he knows perfectly well that he couldn’t get his money out of it now, without an enormous shrinkage. He couldn’t appear at this late day as the owner, and sell it to anybody but Fulkerson and me for a fifth of what it’s cost him. He can sell it to us for all it’s cost him; and four per cent. is no bad interest on his money till we can pay it back. It’s a good thing for us; but we have to ask whether Dryfoos has done us the good, or whether it’s the blessing of Heaven. If it’s merely the blessing of Heaven, I don’t propose being grateful for it.”
March laughed again, and his wife said, “It’s disgusting.”
“It’s business,” he assented. “Business is business; but I don’t say it isn’t disgusting. Lindau had a low opinion of it.”
“I think that with all his faults Mr. Dryfoos is a better man than Lindau,” she proclaimed.
“Well, he’s certainly able to offer us a better thing in ’Every Other Week,’” said March.
She knew he was enamoured of the literary finish of his cynicism, and that at heart he was as humbly and truly grateful as she was for the good-fortune opening to them.
Beaton was at his best when he parted for the last time with Alma Leighton, for he saw then that what had happened to him was the necessary consequence of what he had been, if not what he had done. Afterward he lost this clear vision; he began to deny the fact; he drew upon his knowledge of life, and in arguing himself into a different frame of mind he alleged the case of different people who had done and been much worse things than he, and yet no such disagreeable consequence had befallen them. Then he saw that it was all the work of blind chance, and he said to himself that it was this that made him desperate, and willing to call evil his good, and to take his own wherever he could find it. There was a great deal that was literary and factitious and tawdry in the mood in which he went to see Christine Dryfoos, the night when the Marches sat talking their