Open main menu

Page:Stanwood Pier--The ancient grudge.djvu/202

This page needs to be proofread.
191
CALLED HOME

affection between the two had been so intimate, the sympathy uniting them so understanding and acute, that now in her loss he felt as if something vital to his own character had been withdrawn. Who would supply him now and fortify him with her humor and imagination, her appreciative praise and blame, her courageous, hopeful spirit? Yet at least he had a dear and very vivid memory that should shine for him always as his star. It was something she could never have known or dreamed—that her waving him at the steamer that bright and brave farewell should always be an incentive toward nobility.

And then, less selfish, his thought turned to his grandfather. Poor old man, with what pride of restraint he had written unemotional statements! What a week it must have been for him! Colonel Halket had never, to Floyd's mind, shown any subtle understanding of his wife; sometimes, even, his obtuseness had engendered in Floyd a sense of resentment; yet he had loved her with constancy and devotion for half a century, and to Floyd his dependence on her had been even more marked than her dependence on him. Floyd suddenly began to appreciate what a cruel thing it must be to be old and alone; in comparison with that, the pathos of being young and alone, on which in his black moments he had sometimes dwelt, was indeed trivial.

It was the middle of a gray November morning when Floyd drove up to his grandfather's house; Colonel Halket had been sitting by a window awaiting him and met him in the hall. He took Floyd's hand silently and holding it walked with him into his study, off the library, and closed the door.

"I'm glad you are here at last, my boy," he said; there was an unaccustomed softness in his voice; his lean brown face, surmounted by the waving plume of white hair, youthful still with its dashing white mustache and imperial, seemed to Floyd only the more handsome and dignified in its expression of grief, and betrayed no evidence of a man