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Page:Stanwood Pier--The ancient grudge.djvu/192

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A CLIENT FOR STEWART

Only one discordant voice reached him, that of an older man, Bennett, the leading architect of Avalon. "Lee does n't quite patronize the rest of us—yet," said Bennett, who felt irritated because Stewart had spirited away his best draughtsman. Floyd protested he was sure that Stewart had not knowingly transgressed the bounds of professional etiquette. "Oh, I don't mind," Bennett said with a cynical tolerance. "I know the boy's young. Let him make his splurge." It wounded Floyd to think that anybody could take such a disparaging view of Stewart.

Hugh Farrell was prospering. He had two babies and he was earning two thousand dollars a year. Five thousand dollars he and Mrs. Bell had saved up between them; now they had decided to leave the little house they had been living in, buy land farther back from the town, and build a dwelling-place commensurate with the increase in their family and fortunes. The remoteness of the site was, as Hugh explained to Floyd, an important consideration; he and Letty wished to have the children grow up with open fields around them. So Floyd sent Hugh—in whom ever since leaving the works he had taken a close and friendly interest—with a note to Stewart Lee. And for Hugh, explaining that he had three thousand dollars with which he wished to build a house, Stewart, with sympathetic imagination, described exactly the house that he wished to build. He took the few definite points that Hugh gave him, improved on them, elaborated them, sketched a house with more and larger rooms, a bigger porch, a handsomer front, and finer materials than any that Hugh had dared to dream of—and said, "That's the sort of house you want? Very well; put everything entirely in my hands, leave everything to me, and I'll build you such a house for three thousand dollars." Hugh signed the contract on the spot and went home in delight to tell Letty of their good fortune.

As for Stewart, he was quite pleased with this opportunity; he did not by any means despise it—even while