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Page:Stanwood Pier--The ancient grudge.djvu/213

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practical detail and my general knowledge and experience, Bennett & Durant can snap their fingers at all the amateurs and dilettanti that ever left Paris."

By such persuasion Durant was convinced; and a month later a new shingle was hung on the door of Bennett's office. Within the next half-year Stewart lost two more competent men; one, having inherited some money, "set up" for himself; the other went to New York. Affairs in Stewart's office were muddled; he was not a good organizer, and what with trying both to get effective results from his office force and to do all the creative work himself, and what with his lack of practical experience, he made a poor showing. His clients first murmured and then expressed outright dissatisfaction; they said he promised but did not perform, was careless and expensive, could make plans that were attractive, but was unable to build a house that fulfilled the promise of the plans. His contracts were never executed on time. There came a slack season in which he succeeded in gathering together the loose ends of his work; and because he knew that it was a slack season in all the offices, he did not appreciate how widely disappointment over what he had done was simmering.

Lydia was more sensitive to intimations of this, which somehow reached her. She asked Stewart if he was not too rushed with work, and said she wished he would take a partner and so relieve himself of some of the worry and responsibility. But Stewart would not listen to this advice. He had an odd personal vanity on just that point; he wished to stand alone. When his reward and reputation were established, there should be no one to share and diminish the credit. "Stewart Lee, Architect," was to remain his sign until the end; he had started in with a mind definitely, obstinately made up to that. He was conscious of his deficiencies, but belittled them, as those which inferior men were created to supply. He tried hard enough to secure the right kind of inferior