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Page:Stanwood Pier--The ancient grudge.djvu/240

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running the mills at a loss, the threat of a strike, had it been made, would have had no terrors.

During this period depression overcame Colonel Halket. It was midsummer, and his great house in Canada remained closed. "I dread going to it somehow," he said to Floyd. "I can live on here—but to go back there and have all the memories of last summer recalled—it would make me feel too lonely and forlorn. I have got now to be with people."

In the end he chartered a steam yacht and sailed restlessly up and down the coast, stopping here and there, now for a day, now for a week. Floyd and the Dunbars and Stewart and Lydia Lee were with him for a time, and when they left him he secured other friends to keep him company, aged business men and lawyers from Avalon who were often seasick, talked tediously of the money and stock markets, and when they were more than a day at sea felt the lack of their newspaper. He sat with them at interminable games of cards and smoked too many cigars, and after a time the aimlessness of this vacation weighed on his spirits. When he had rid himself of the last of his guests, he finished his cruise and went home, though his charter of the yacht had still a month to run.

He was himself at a loss to account for the dejection which often now oppressed him. He felt perhaps that after issuing so gloriously into sudden national prominence he had ceased to make headway. How indeed was he to proceed? That was the question which confronted him. He could not write another autobiography, and the completion of that work had left him in a sense without an occupation, without an intimate personal interest, had left him more acutely conscious than before of his loneliness, his bereavement, his age. And from this weary consciousness he would start hopefully at any sign of public interest or favor, any invitation to speak at a banquet or to address a meeting; his appointment as chairman of the State Board of Arbitration gratified him, and the news-