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Page:Stanwood Pier--The ancient grudge.djvu/171

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of this town are as nice as those of any other. It is true that there is a greater variety; society here is changing very fast, the place is growing, and new people are appearing with sudden large fortunes which they have n't been trained to use. But my experience is that most people can acquire some cultivation—enough to be tolerable—in a remarkably short time. And you must n't take a hypercritical attitude about everybody; it won't do; it won't do."

"No," said Floyd stoutly; "it's just the hypercritical attitude in others that I'm protesting against. I went and danced with the little girl in pink who I had been told was nouveau riche; and she was a very attractive, nice little girl—much nicer than the one who had told me about her. I think I have a mission in society—to be the wallflowers' friend."

He said it laughingly, but his grandmother seized his wrists in distress.

"Floyd, don't do it, don't," she cried. "If there is anything dangerous and deplorable it is for a man to start out on a career of conscious chivalry."

"I will do it," declared Floyd, smiting his hands together with gleeful emphasis. Then, throwing himself into melodramatic posture, he exclaimed, "I, leader of the Junior Hundred and Fifty, do pledge myself to be the wallflowers' friend."

"If you really are—and won't have anything to do with the nice attractive girls like Marion Clark and Helen Foster and May Pennington," said Mrs. Halket, "I shall be seriously displeased. But I'm not much afraid. You're too human and normal a boy."

Her sense of security was reasonable enough, but she knew nothing of Floyd's feeling for Lydia, which materially altered his outlook upon the world of girls. With a standard in his own heart to which he was silently loyal, the prettiest and most popular left him as cold as the homely and dull; not one of them awakened in him the