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Page:Stanwood Pier--The ancient grudge.djvu/263

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burning wonder and disgust. Nineteen men, who had for years been reasonably honest, single-minded producers of useful materials, were being transformed before his eyes into as many chaffering hucksters whose only aim was to find for what multiple of its worth they might sell their property to the ignorant and gullible. His grandfather and the banker had evidently arranged even small details of the scheme; it was hardly the fault of the other men that they should exhibit such eagerness to profit by it. The power of the two leaders was great enough to compel submission, even had there been no temptation. The breadth and scope of his grandfather's plan, which had been worked out so quietly and patiently, with the assistance of but one man, the one man in the country whose cooperation at this stage was essential, left Floyd aghast with unwilling admiration. There was something both superb and revolting in this insatiate greed for power on the part of an old man who was approaching his eightieth year.

When the guests had all departed, Colonel Halket returned from the hall where he had hospitably been bidding the last of them good-by, and found his grandson sitting on the corner of the big table, swinging one leg and gazing at the floor moodily.

"Have another cigar, Floyd," said Colonel Halket, pushing the box toward him. "Sit down properly and be comfortable; I want to talk with you."

Floyd took a cigar and bit off the end of it, although his grandfather was offering him his cigar-cutter. The small crudeness of this preference annoyed Colonel Halket; occasionally Floyd did something of about this quality which led his grandfather to think that he had not fully profited by his advantages.

"I'm comfortable enough," said, Floyd. "I'll walk round; I'm tired of sitting down."

"No," said Colonel Halket, with a slight asperity. "I'm tired of sitting down. I want to talk to you—and walk