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Page:Stanwood Pier--The ancient grudge.djvu/161

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Floyd on the head. "Don't be shocked, Floyd; your grandfather likes to be teased—by me."

"Just the same," Floyd said, standing in defense, "he's a big man, Grandmother; he has a grip on things. So don't you tease him too much."

"I won't, Floyd," she promised earnestly, and she added, "I'm glad to hear you talk in this way, my dear. It does me good. I hope I've never had a disloyal thought about your grandfather. Only sometimes—when I've been tired and depressed and cowardly—I've had a sort of fear—very vague, I can hardly describe it—as if something were lying in wait to mock all his serenity and confidence of power, make a ruin of his success and a sham of what had always seemed so real. Perhaps I've been afraid that in his very self-confidence was the germ of delusion and disappointment. It sounds disloyal, Floyd; but I've dreaded this only when I've been morbid and tired—and at least I've never shown my fear to him. It does me good to hear you speak so confidently,—for of course you know."

She stroked her grandson's hand for a moment; then she continued: "He has worked so hard, so honestly all his life, Floyd; his success has meant so much to him, and he's going on and on so industriously increasing it—that I don't want him to know tragedy now—the tragedy of failure. After he's attained and built up so much—if it were somehow to be broken down—the work of a long and ardent and patient life—well, he's a man and it might not crush his spirit; he'd set to work again. I don't know why I should sometimes have this dread; after the way you've talked I'll try not to be afraid any more."

Floyd did not answer. He had often shared his grandmother's vague apprehensiveness; he had often been made uneasy by Colonel Halket's sincere acceptance of himself as a great figure. That which had become reality to Colonel Halket was doubtless allowed to pass as pleasant