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Chapter 28


<p  style="margin-top: 2em">"Hello!" said Bartley, one day after the autumn had brought back all the
summer wanderers to the city, "I haven't seen you for a month of Sundays."
He had Ricker by the hand, and he pulled him into a doorway to be a little
out of the rush on the crowded pavement, while they chatted.</p>

<p>"That's because I can't afford to go to the White Mountains, and swell
round at the aristocratic summer resorts like some people," returned
Ricker. "I'm a horny-handed son of toil, myself."</p>

<p>"Pshaw!" said Bartley. "Who isn't? I've been here hard at it, except for
three days at one time and live at another."</p>

<p>"Well, all I can say is that I saw in the Record personals, that
Mr. Hubbard, of the Events, was spending the summer months with his
father-in-law, Judge Gaylord, among the spurs of the White Mountains. I
supposed you wrote it yourself. You're full of ideas about journalism."</p>

<p>"Oh, come! I wouldn't work that joke any more. Look here, Ricker, I'll tell
you what I want. I want you to dine with me."</p>

<p>"Dines people!" said Ricker, in an awestricken aside.</p>

<p>"No,—I mean business! You Ve never seen my kid yet: and you've never seen
my house. I want you to come. We've all got back, and we're in nice running
order. What day are you disengaged?"</p>

<p>"Let me see," said Ricker, thoughtfully. "So many engagements! Wait! I
could squeeze your dinner in some time next month, Hubbard."</p>

<p>"All right. But suppose we say next Sunday. Six is the hour."</p>

<p>"Six? Oh, I can't dine in the middle of the forenoon that way! Make it

<p>"Well, we'll say one P.M., then. I know your dinner hour. We shall expect

<p>"Better not, till I come." Bartley knew that this was Ricker's way of
accepting, and he said nothing, but he answered his next question with easy
joviality. "How are you making it with old Witherby?"</p>

<p>"Oh, hand over hand! Witherby and I were formed for each other. By, by!"</p>

<p>"No, hold on! Why don't you come to the club any more?"</p>

<p>"We-e-ll! The club isn't what it used to be," said Bartley, confidentially.</p>

<p>"Why, of course! It isn't just the thing for a gentleman moving in the
select circles of Clover Street, as you do; but why not come, sometimes, in
the character of distinguished guest, and encourage your humble friends? I
was talking with a lot of the fellows about you the other night."</p>

<p>"Were they abusing me?"</p>

<p>"They were speaking the truth about you, and I stopped them. I told them
that sort of thing wouldn't do. Why, you're getting fat!"</p>

<p>"You're behind the times, Kicker," said Bartley. "I began to get fat six
months ago. I don't wonder the Chronicle Abstract is running down on your
hands. Come round and try my tivoli on Sunday. That's what gives a man
girth, my boy." He tapped Ricker lightly on his hollow waistcoat, and left
him with a wave of his hand.</p>

<p>Ricker leaned out of the doorway and followed him down the street with a
troubled eye. He had taken stock in Bartley, as the saying is, and his
heart misgave him that he should lose on the investment; he could not have
sold out to any of their friends for twenty cents on the dollar. Nothing
that any one could lay his finger on had happened, and yet there had been
a general loss of confidence in that particular stock. Ricker himself had
lost confidence in it, and when he lightly mentioned that talk at the club,
with a lot of the fellows, he had a serious wish to get at Bartley some
time, and see what it was that was beginning to make people mistrust him.
The fellows who liked him at first and wished him well, and believed in
his talent, had mostly dropped him. Bartley's associates were now the most
raffish set on the press, or the green hands; and something had brought
this to pass in less than two years. Ricker had believed that it was
Witherby; at the club he had contended that it was Bartley's association
with Witherby that made people doubtful of him. As for those ideas that
Bartley had advanced in their discussion of journalism, he had considered
it all mere young man's nonsense that Bartley would outgrow. But now, as he
looked at Bartley's back, he had his misgivings; it struck him as the back
of a degenerate man, and that increasing bulk seemed not to represent an
increase of wholesome substance, but a corky, buoyant tissue, materially
responsive to some sort of moral dry-rot.</p>

<p>Bartley pushed on to the Events office in a blithe humor. Witherby had
recently advanced his salary; he was giving him fifty dollars a week now;
and Bartley had made himself necessary in more ways than one. He was not
only readily serviceable, but since he had volunteered to write those
advertising articles for an advance of pay, he was in possession of
business facts that could be made very uncomfortable to Witherby in the
event of a disagreement. Witherby not only paid him well, but treated him
well; he even suffered Bartley to bully him a little, and let him foresee
the day when he must be recognized as the real editor of the Events.</p>

<p>At home everything went on smoothly. The baby was well and growing fast;
she was beginning to explode airy bubbles on her pretty lips that a fond
superstition might interpret as papa and mamma. She had passed that stage
in which a man regards his child with despair; she had passed out of
slippery and evasive doughiness into a firm tangibility that made it some
pleasure to hold her.</p>

<p>Bartley liked to take her on his lap, to feel the spring of her little
legs, as she tried to rise on her feet; he liked to have her stretch out
her arms to him from her mother's embrace. The innocent tenderness which he
experienced at these moments was satisfactory proof to him that he was a
very good fellow, if not a good man. When he spent an evening at home, with
Flavia in his lap for half an hour after dinner, he felt so domestic that
he seemed to himself to be spending all his evenings at home now. Once or
twice it had happened, when the housemaid was out, that he went to the door
with the baby on his arm, and answered the ring of Olive and Ben Halleck,
or of Olive and one or both of the intermediary sisters.</p>

<p>The Hallecks were the only people at all apt to call in the evening, and
Bartley ran so little chance of meeting any one else, when he opened the
door with Flavia on his arm, that probably he would not have thought it
worth while to put her down, even if he had not rather enjoyed meeting
them in that domestic phase. He had not only long felt how intensely Olive
disliked him, but he had observed that somehow it embarrassed Ben Halleck
to see him in his character of devoted young father. At those times he used
to rally his old friend upon getting married, and laughed at the confusion
to which the joke put him. He said more than once afterwards, that he did
not see what fun Ben Halleck got out of coming there; it must bore even
such a dull fellow as he was to sit a whole evening like that and not
say twenty words. "Perhaps he's livelier when I'm not here, though," he
suggested. "I always did seem to throw a wet blanket on Ben Halleck." He
did not at all begrudge Halleck's having a better time in his absence if he

<p>One night when the bell rung Bartley rose, and saying, "I wonder which
of the tribe it is this time," went to the door. But when he opened it,
instead of hearing the well-known voices, Marcia listened through a
hesitating silence, which ended in a loud laugh from without, and a cry
from her husband of "Well, I swear! Why, you infamous old scoundrel, come
in out of the wet!" There ensued, amidst Bartley's voluble greetings, a
noise of shy shuffling about in the hall, as of a man not perfectly master
of his footing under social pressure, a sound of husky, embarrassed
whispering, a dispute about doffing an overcoat, and question as to the
disposition of a hat, and then Bartley reappeared, driving before him the
lank, long figure of a man who blinked in the flash of gaslight, as Bartley
turned it all up in the chandelier overhead, and rubbed his immense hands
in cruel embarrassment at the beauty of Marcia, set like a jewel in the
pretty comfort of the little parlor.</p>

<p>"Mr. Kinney, Mrs. Hubbard," said Bartley; and having accomplished the
introduction, he hit Kinney a thwack between the shoulders with the flat of
his hand that drove him stumbling across Marcia's footstool into the seat
on the sofa to which she had pointed him. "You old fool, where did you come

<p>The refined warmth of Bartley's welcome seemed to make Kinney feel at home,
in spite of his trepidations at Marcia's presence. He bobbed his head
forward, and stretched his mouth wide, in one of his vast, silent laughs.
"Better ask where I'm goin' to."</p>

<p>"Well, I'll ask that, if it'll be any accommodation. Where you going?"</p>


<p>"For a divorce?"</p>

<p>"Try again."</p>

<p>"To get married?"</p>

<p>"Maybe, after I've made my pile." Kinney's eyes wandered about the room,
and took in its evidences of prosperity, with simple, unenvious admiration;
he ended with a furtive glimpse of Marcia, who seemed to be a climax of
good luck, too dazzling for contemplation; he withdrew his glance from her
as if hurt by her splendor, and became serious.</p>

<p>"Well, you're the <i>last</i> man I ever expected to see again," said Bartley,
sitting down with the baby in his lap, and contemplating Kinney with
deliberation. Kinney was dressed in a long frock-coat of cheap diagonals,
black cassimere pantaloons, a blue necktie, and a celluloid collar. He had
evidently had one of his encounters with a cheap clothier, in which the Jew
had triumphed; but he had not yet visited a barber, and his hair and beard
were as shaggy as they were in the logging-camp; his hands and face were
as brown as leather. "But I'm as glad," Bartley added, "as if you had
telegraphed you were coming. Of course, you're going to put up with us." He
had observed Kinney's awe of Marcia, and he added this touch to let
Kinney see that he was master in his house, and lord even of that radiant

<p>Kinney started in real distress. 'Oh, no! I couldn't do it! I've got all my
things round at the Quincy House."</p>

<p>"Trunk or bag?" asked Bartley.</p>

<p>"Well, it's a bag; but—"</p>

<p>"All right. We'll step round and get it together. I generally take a little
stroll out, after dinner," said Bartley, tranquilly.</p>

<p>Kinney was beginning again, when Marcia, who had been stealing some covert
looks at him under her eye lashes, while she put together the sewing she
was at work on, preparatory to going upstairs with the baby, joined Bartley
in his invitation.</p>

<p>"You wont make us the least trouble, Mr. Kinney," she said. "The
guest-chamber is all ready, and we shall be glad to have you stay."</p>

<p>Kinney must have felt the note of sincerity in her words. He hesitated, and
Bartley clinched his tacit assent with a quotation: "'The chief ornament of
a house is the guests who frequent it.' Who says that?"</p>

<p>Kinney's little blue eyes twinkled. "Old Emerson."</p>

<p>"Well, I agree with him. We don't care anything about your company, Kinney;
but we want you for decorative purposes."</p>

<p>Kinney opened his mouth for another noiseless laugh, and said, "Well, fix
it to suit yourselves."</p>

<p>"I'll carry her up for you," said Bartley to Marcia, who was stooping
forward to take the baby from him, "if Mr. Kinney will excuse us a moment."</p>

<p>"All right," said Kinney.</p>

<p>Bartley ventured upon this bold move, because he had found that it was
always best to have things out with Marcia at once, and, if she was going
to take his hospitality to Kinney in bad part, he wanted to get through the
trouble. "That was very nice of you, Marcia," he said, when they were in
their own room. "My invitation rather slipped out, and I didn't know how
you would like it."</p>

<p>"Oh, I'm very glad to have him stay. I never forget about his wanting to
lend you money that time," said Marcia, opening the baby's crib.</p>

<p>"You're a mighty good fellow, Marcia!" cried Bartley, kissing her over the
top of the baby's head as she took it from him. "And I'm not half good
enough for you. You never forget a benefit. Nor an injury either," he
added, with a laugh. "And I'm afraid that I forget one about as easily as
the other."</p>

<p>Marcia's eyes suffused themselves at this touch of self-analysis which,
coming from Bartley, had its sadness; but she said nothing, and he was
eager to escape and get back to their guest. He told her he should go out
with Kinney, and that she was not to sit up, for they might be out late.</p>

<p>In his pride, he took Kinney down to the Events office, and unlocked it,
and lit the gas, so as to show him the editorial rooms; and then he passed
him into one of the theatres, where they saw part of an Offenbach opera;
after that they went to the Parker House, and had a New York stew. Kinney
said he must be off by the Sunday-night train, and Bartley thought it well
to concentrate as many dazzling effects upon him as he could in the single
evening at his disposal. He only regretted that it was not the club night,
for he would have liked to take Kinney round, and show him some of the

<p>"But never mind," he said. "I'm going to have one of them dine with us
to-morrow, and you'll see about the best of the lot."</p>

<p>"Well, sir," observed Kinney, when they had got back into Bartley's parlor,
and he was again drinking in its prettiness in the subdued light of the
shaded argand burner, "I hain't seen anything yet that suits me much better
than this."</p>

<p>"It isn't bad," said Bartley. He had got up a plate of crackers and two
bottles of tivoli, and was opening the first. He offered the beaded goblet
to Kinney.</p>

<p>"Thank you," said Kinney. "Not any. I never do."</p>

<p>Bartley quaffed half of it in tolerant content. "I <i>always</i> do. Find it
takes my nerves down at the end of a hard week's work. Well, now, tell me
some thing about yourself. What are you going to do in Illinois?"</p>

<p>"Well, sir, I've got a friend out there that's got a coal mine, and he
thinks he can work me in somehow. I guess he can: I've tried pretty much
everything. Why don't you come out there and start a newspaper? We've got a
town that's bound to grow."</p>

<p>It amused Bartley to hear Kinney bragging already of a town that he had
never seen. He winked a good-natured disdain over the rim of the goblet
which he tilted on his lips. "And give up my chances here?" he said, as he
set the goblet down.</p>

<p>"Well, that's so!" said Kinney, responding to the sense of the wink. "I'll
tell you what, Bartley, I didn't know as you'd speak to me when I rung your
bell to-night. But thinks I to myself, 'Dumn it! look here! He can't more'n
slam the door in your face, anyway. And you've hankered after him so
long,—go and take your chances, you old buzzard!' And so I got your
address at the Events office pretty early this morning; and I went round
all day screwing my courage up, as old Macbeth says,—or Ritchloo, <i>I</i>
don't know which it was,—and at last I <i>did</i> get myself so that I toed the
mark like a little man."</p>

<p>Bartley laughed so that he could hardly get the cork out of the second

<p>"You see," said Kinney, leaning forward, and taking Bartley's plump, soft
knee between his thumb and forefinger, "I felt awfully about the way we
parted that night. I felt <i>bad</i>. I hadn't acted well, just to my own mind,
and it cut me to have you refuse my money; it cut me all the worse because
I saw that you was partly right; I <i>hadn't</i> been quite fair with you. But I
always did admire you, and you know it. Some them little things you used to
get off in the old Free Press—well, I could see 't you was <i>smart</i>. And I
liked you; and it kind o' hurt me when I thought you'd been makin' fun o'
me to that woman. Well, I could see 't I was a dumned old fool, afterwards.
And I always wanted to tell you so. And I always did hope that I should be
able to offer you that money again, twice over, and get you to take it just
to show that you didn't bear malice." Bartley looked up, with quickened
interest. "But I can't do it now, sir," added Kinney.</p>

<p>"Why, what's happened?" asked Bartley, in a disappointed tone, pouring out
his second glass from his second bottle.</p>

<p>"Well, sir," said Kinney, with a certain reluctance, "I undertook to
provision the camp on spec, last winter, and—well, you know, I always run
a little on food for the brain,"—Bartley broke into a reminiscent cackle,
and Kinney smiled forlornly,—"and thinks I, 'Dumn it, I'll give 'em the
real thing, every time.' And I got hold of a health-food circular; and I
sent on for a half a dozen barrels of their crackers and half a dozen
of their flour, and a lot of cracked cocoa, and I put the camp on a
health-food basis. I calculated to bring those fellows out in the spring
physically vigorous and mentally enlightened. But my goodness! After the
first bakin' o' that flour and the first round o' them crackers, it was all
up! Fellows got so mad that I suppose if I hadn't gone back to doughnuts,
and sody biscuits, and Japan tea, they'd 'a' burnt the camp down. Of course
I yielded. But it ruined me, Bartley; it bu'st me."</p>

<p>Bartley dropped his arms upon the table, and, hiding his face upon them,
laughed and laughed again.</p>

<p>"Well, sir," said Kinney, with sad satisfaction, "I'm glad to see that you
don't need any money from me." He had been taking another survey of the
parlor and the dining-room beyond. "I don't know as I ever saw anybody much
better fixed. I should say that you was a success; and you deserve it.
You're a smart fellow, Bart, and you're a good fellow. You're a generous
fellow." Kinney's voice shook with emotion.</p>

<p>Bartley, having lifted his wet and flushed face, managed to say: "Oh,
there's nothing mean about <i>me</i>, Kinney," as he felt blindly for the beer
bottles, which he shook in succession with an evident surprise at finding
them empty.</p>

<p>"You've acted like a brother to me, Bartley Hubbard," continued Kinney,
"and I sha'n't forget it in a hurry. I guess it would about broke my heart,
if you hadn't taken it just the way you did to-night. I should like to see
the man that didn't use you well, or the woman, either!" said Kinney, with
vague defiance. "Though <i>they</i> don't seem to have done so bad by you,"
he added, in recognition of Marcia's merit. "I should say <i>that</i> was the
biggest part of your luck She's a lady, sir, every inch of her. Mighty
different stripe from that Montreal woman that cut up so that night."</p>

<p>"Oh, Mrs. Macallister wasn't such a scamp, after all," said Bartley, with

<p>"Well, sir, <i>you</i> can say so. I ain't going to be too strict with a <i>girl</i>;
but I like to see a married woman <i>act</i> like a married woman. Now, I don't
think you'd catch Mrs. Hubbard flirting with a young fellow the way that
woman went on with you that night?" Bartley grinned. "Well, sir, you're
getting along and you're happy."</p>

<p>"Perfect clam," said Bartley.</p>

<p>"Such a position as you've got,—such a house, such a wife, <i>and</i> such a
baby! Well," said Kinney, rising, "it's a little too much for <i>me</i>."</p>

<p>"Want to go to bed?" asked Bartley.</p>

<p>"Yes, I guess I better turn in," returned Kinney, despairingly.</p>

<p>"Show you the way."</p>

<p>Bartley tripped up stairs with Kinney's bag, which they had left standing
in the hall, while Kinney creaked carefully after him; and so led the way
to the guest-chamber, and turned up the gaslight, which had been left
burning low.</p>

<p>Kinney stood erect, dwarfing the room, and looked round on the pink
chintzing, and soft carpet, and white coverleted bed, and lace-hooded
dressing-mirror, with meek veneration. "Well, I swear!" He said no more,
but sat hopelessly down, and began to pull off his boots.</p>

<p>He was in the same humble mood the next morning, when, having got up
inordinately early, he was found trying to fix his mind on a newspaper by
Bartley, who came down late to the Sunday breakfast, and led his guest into
the dining-room. Marcia, in a bewitching morning-gown, was already there,
having put the daintier touches to the meal herself; and the baby, in a
fresh white dress, was there tied into its arm-chair with a napkin, and
beating on the table with a spoon. Bartley's nonchalance amidst all this
impressed Kinney with a yet more poignant sense of his superiority, and
almost deprived him of the powers of speech. When after breakfast Bartley
took him out to Cambridge on the horse-cars, and showed him the College
buildings, and Memorial Hall, and the Washington Elm, and Mount Auburn,
Kinney fell into such a cowed and broken condition, that something had to
be specially done to put him in repair against Ricker's coming to dinner.
Marcia luckily thought of asking him if he would like to see her kitchen.
In this region Kinney found himself at home, and praised its neat
perfection with professional intelligence. Bartley followed them round with
Flavia on his arm, and put in a jocose word here and there, when he saw
Kinney about to fall a prey to his respect for Marcia, and so kept him
going till Ricker rang. He contrived to give Ricker a hint of the sort of
man he had on his hands, and by their joint effort they had Kinney talking
about himself at dinner before he knew what he was about. He could not help
talking well upon this theme, and he had them so vividly interested, as he
poured out adventure after adventure in his strange career, that Bartley
began to be proud of him.</p>

<p>"Well, sir," said Ricker, when he came to a pause, "you've lived a

<p>"Yes," replied Kinney, looking at Bartley for his approval, "and I've
always thought that, if I ever got run clean ashore, high and dry, I'd
make a stagger to write it out and do something with it. Do you suppose I

<p>"I promise to take it for the Sunday edition of the Chronicle Abstract,
whenever you get it ready," said Ricker.</p>

<p>Bartley laid his hand on his friend's arm. "It's bought up, old fellow.<br/>

That narrative—'Confessions of an Average American'—belongs to the<br/>


<p>They had their laugh at this, and then Ricker said to Kinney: "But look
here, my friend! What's to prevent our interviewing you on this little
personal history of yours, and using your material any way we like? It
seems to me that you've put your head in the lion's mouth."</p>

<p>"Oh, I'm amongst gentlemen," said Kinney, with an innocent swagger. "I
understand that."</p>

<p>"Well, I don't know about it," said Ricker. "Hubbard, here, is used to all
sorts of hard names; but I've never had that epithet applied to me before."</p>

<p>Kinney doubled himself up over the side of his chair in recognition of
Ricker's joke; and when Bartley rose and asked him if he would come into
the parlor and have a cigar, he said, with a wink, no, he guessed he would
stay with the ladies. He waited with great mystery till the folding-doors
were closed, and Bartley had stopped peeping through the crevice between
them, and then he began to disengage from his watch-chain the golden
nugget, shaped to a rude sphere, which hung there. This done, he asked
if he might put it on the little necklace—a christening gift from Mrs.
Halleck—which the baby had on, to see how it looked. It looked very well,
like an old Roman <i>bolla</i>, though neither Kinney nor Marcia knew it. "Guess
we'll let it stay there," he suggested, timidly.</p>

<p>"Mr. Kinney!" cried Marcia, in amaze, "I can't let you!"</p>

<p>"Oh, <i>do</i> now, ma'am!" pleaded the big fellow, simply. "If you knew how
much good it does me, you would. Why, it's been like heaven to me to get
into such a home as this for a day,—it has indeed."</p>

<p>"Like heaven?" said Marcia, turning pale. "Oh, my!"</p>

<p>"Well, I don't mean any harm. What I mean is, I've knocked about the world
so much, and never had any home of my own, that to see folks as happy as
you be makes me happier than I've been since I don't know when. Now, you
let it stay. It was the first piece of gold I picked up in Californy when
I went out there in '50, and it's about the last; I didn't have very good
luck. Well, of course! I know I ain't fit to give it; but I want to do it.
I think Bartley's about the greatest fellow and he's the best fellow this
world can show. That's the way I feel about him. And I want to do it. Sho!
the thing wa'n't no use to me!"</p>

<p>Marcia always gave her maid off all work Sunday afternoon, and she would
not trespass upon her rule because she had guests that day. Except for the
confusion to which Kinney's unexpected gift had put her, she would have
waited for him to join the others before she began to clear away the
dinner; but now she mechanically began, and Kinney, to whom these domestic
occupations were a second nature, joined her in the work, equally
absent-minded in the fervor of his petition.</p>

<p>Bartley suddenly flung open the doors. "My dear, Mr. Ricker says he must<br/>

be go—" He discovered Marcia with the dish of potatoes in her hand, and<br/>

Kinney in the act of carrying off the platter of turkey. "Look here,<br/>


<p>Kinney came to himself, and, opening his mouth above the platter wide
enough to swallow the remains of the turkey, slapped his leg with the
hand that he released for the purpose, and shouted, "The ruling passion,
Bartley, the ruling passion!"</p>

<p>The men roared; but Marcia, even while she took in the situation, did not
see anything so ridiculous in it as they. She smiled a little in sympathy
with their mirth, and then said, with a look and tone which he had not seen
or heard in her since the day of their picnic at Equity, "Come, see what
Mr. Kinney has given baby, Bartley."</p>

<p>They sat up talking Kinney over after he was gone; but even at ten o'clock<br/>

Bartley said he should not go to bed; he felt like writing.<br/>

William Dean Howells