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225
THE AUTOBIOGRAPHER

two daughters have been employed in a laundry, and the Knights have ordered all the laundresses out on strike because of some question of wages. The Misses Tibbs declined to quit and are still working, and because of that, the Knights came down on me with the demand that I discharge the old man! They'd been to Gregg and he'd kicked them out of the office; I naturally did the same."

Colonel Halket frowned and shook his head. "The demand may have seemed unreasonable," he said. "But I hope you did not treat them rudely; there is a way of getting along with such men, and no doubt to their minds there was nothing unreasonable in what they asked."

"But, Grandfather—"

Colonel Halket raised his hand.

"Conciliation is never wasted in business. Violence in speech or act never yet served any good purpose. The policy that I have enunciated in my book should be your guide in small matters as in large."

Floyd stared in silence. The vague feeling which he occasionally had experienced, that sometimes his grandfather's moods bordered on insanity, stirred again within him.

Three days later Colonel Halket told Floyd that he had been visited by the committee of the Knights of Labor.

"They came to see me about the Tibbs case," he said.

"Did they have anything new to say?" Floyd asked, with a sinking of the heart.

"They made clear to me that they had been treated with insufficient consideration," replied his grandfather severely. "As I was inclined to suspect, there is some reason in their contention. Their aim—a very proper aim—is to harmonize labor. Unfortunately, this can only be done by weeding out the inharmonious elements. Tibbs is an irritation and must go. Otherwise, they will call a strike, and that we cannot afford."

"But the principle, Grandfather—" began Floyd.