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Page:Stanwood Pier--The ancient grudge.djvu/102

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INVESTIGATING THE DEPTHS

but they were already drinking. It was etiquette to drain the glass, ambition to finish first. Floyd lost prestige because he was the last; he regained it by rapping on the table and crying to the waiter, "Six beers."

At the table close beside Floyd sat three men, two of whom were quietly listening while the third talked glibly, passionately. He was an angular, narrow-chested man, with long black hair, a drooping mustache, wild flashing eyes; he wore dirty white cuffs much too long for his coat-sleeves; they slid down upon his knuckles when he gesticulated, as he did often.

"Organize," Floyd heard him imploring, "organize! The hope of labor, the dread of capital; the day of the workingman is marching on."

"He's an anarchist," Farrell said to Floyd. "He'll give you an earache quicker than any man in New Rome."

Floyd listened; Pulaski was already listening. The speaker, feeling with the acuteness of his kind that his audience was enlarged, raised his voice.

"You say you've got no grievance; I say there never yet was a laboring man without a grievance. And what if you ain't a grievance? In time of peace prepare for war. I make no doubt Mr.—or Colonel—Halket is a very fine gentleman indeed; you've got a library and a baseball park and a few other things to show for it; but let me ask you a question: Does either of you own the house you live in? No!"—and the speaker pounded his fist on the table—"no! and never will."

Billings spoke from across the table with an accent of defiance,—but spoke so that his words reached no farther than Floyd. "Ah, hell! I ain't got no use for no labor union."

The manner of the speech was that of a weak boy seizing an opportunity to curry favor. Floyd looked at him pityingly, and then with more consideration at Pulaski, who sat with his arms on the table, leaning forward and listening with close attention to the "anarchist's" words.