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THE ANCIENT GRUDGE

"Now don't you start out by turning clients away," Floyd protested.

"I'd turn the President away if he came to ask me to rebuild the White House," Stewart answered, slamming the door. "Now I've got you just where I want you. What the dickens have you done to your face in all these years?"

"I might ask you the same," said Floyd.

Thus they belittled the mustaches with which they had gradually adorned themselves—Floyd's black and drooping, shorn off stiffly above his lip, Stewart's long and light and gracefully twisted and pointed at the tips. In his blue working-blouse, Stewart looked taller, slimmer, more nonchalant than ever; his light blue eyes ran swiftly over Floyd, noting the changes with a kindly humor. Floyd, after the first glance, did not examine Stewart, but looked straight at his face with an uninquiring, complete delight in his presence. Except for the mustache, which gave him a fresh breeziness, he seemed to Floyd exactly the Stewart of old,—as boyish, as negligently gay and graceful, and as lovable to even the most passing glance. Stewart offered him a cigarette and at once Floyd experienced his old interested admiration for those oriental, slender, talented, versatile fingers; they made him conscious of the ugly stubbiness of his own, buried awkwardly in his pockets.

The room was large and well lighted and elaborately if somewhat scantily furnished with old Venetian chairs of walnut, deep, high-backed, covered with mediæval carvings. The table, on which were spread three or four plans, was also a solid old Italian piece, the spoil no doubt of some ancient palace; the walls were paneled in dark oak, and on them were hung four of Buskin's drawings of the Doge's Palace.

"You see, I'm not half settled yet," Stewart said. "I've hardly opened the shop. I'm going to hire the three rooms across the hall—that will give me six alto-