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Page:Stanwood Pier--The ancient grudge.djvu/274

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"You'll think first that getting engaged is the most exciting thing you've ever done—and the best fun," he assured him. "And then you'll find that is n't anything to getting married. And now I'm finding that is n't anything to this. It's the whole of life, my boy."

"I think perhaps you're right," Floyd said gravely.

"Then cheer up and look about you." Stewart clapped him inspiritingly on the back and they parted.

Floyd went to his office and sat down at his desk, but energy carried him no further; he let the morning's mail lie unopened at his hand. Swinging round towards the window he looked out on the grimy roofs of the city and abandoned himself to idle dreams, if those dreams may be called idle which sometimes make vital moments in a man's development. Stewart was right. Floyd, looking down unconsciously upon a city block that he possessed, knew that he was missing life—the whole of life. How unsatisfactory and barren was his existence, stolid, comfortable, monotonous, diversified only by occasional poignant memories and regrets, bearing only such responsibilities as his grandfather chose to dole out to him. Stewart and other fellows of his own age had plunged in and were fulfilling their destiny; he, patiently waiting for something that could never be his, with a kind of dull fidelity to a hopeless and foolish love, was wasting his youth and narrowing the interest of his maturer years. They were not so far distant now; that morning while shaving he had noted how conspicuous the gray hairs had become among the black. It was so easy to slip on from year to year, thinking always that there was yet time and that happiness and the fuller life were just round the corner—and then at last one would suddenly realize that there was no longer time and that one had never stepped round the comer to meet the good angels. A man might be to blame, certainly he could not be happy, if he locked up his heart against the charm of women. At the thought a longing for feminine society and companionship seized