“Precisely.” March began to feel some compassion for himself in being witness of the young fellow’s discomfort under his father’s homily.
“When we first come to New York, I told him, Now here’s your chance to see the world on a big scale. You know already what work and saving and steady habits and sense will bring a man, to; you don’t want to go round among the rich; you want to go among the poor, and see what laziness and drink and dishonesty and foolishness will bring men to. And I guess he knows, about as well as anybody; and if he ever goes to preaching he’ll know what he’s preaching about.” The old man smiled his fierce, simple smile, and in his sharp eyes March fancied contempt of the ambition he had balked in his son. The present scene must have been one of many between them, ending in meek submission on the part of the young man, whom his father, perhaps without realizing his cruelty, treated as a child. March took it hard that he should be made to suffer in the presence of a co-ordinate power like himself, and began to dislike the old man out of proportion to his offence, which might have been mere want of taste, or an effect of mere embarrassment before him. But evidently, whatever rebellion his daughters had carried through against him, he had kept his dominion over this gentle spirit unbroken. March did not choose to make any response, but to let him continue, if he would, entirely upon his own impulse.
A silence followed, of rather painful length. It was broken by the cheery voice of Fulkerson, sent before him to herald Fulkerson’s cheery person. “Well, I suppose you’ve got the glorious success of ‘Every Other Week’ down pretty cold in your talk by this time. I should have been up sooner to join you, but I was nipping a man for the last page of the cover. I guess we’ll have to let the Muse have that for an advertisement instead of a poem the next time, March. Well, the old gentleman given you boys your scolding?” The person of Fulkerson had got into the room long before he reached this question, and had planted itself astride a chair. Fulkerson looked over the chairback, now at March, and now at the elder Dryfoos as he spoke.
March answered him. “I guess we must have been waiting for you, Fulkerson. At any rate, we hadn’t got to the scolding yet.”
“Why, I didn’t suppose Mr. Dryfoos could ‘a’ held in so long. I understood he was awful mad at the way the thing started off, and wanted to give you a piece of his mind, when he got at you. I inferred as much from a remark that he made.” March and Dryfoos looked foolish, as men do when made the subject of this sort of merry misrepresentation.
“I reckon my scolding will keep awhile yet,” said the old man, dryly.
“Well, then, I guess it’s a good chance to give Mr. Dryfoos an idea of what we’ve really done—just while we’re resting, as Artemus Ward says. Heigh, March?”