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THE ANCIENT GRUDGE

"Oh!" said Floyd, in a tone that seemed to Stewart delightfully startled. His face had lighted in an instant smile. "I'd like it better than anything else."

"I guess we can hit it off," Stewart answered. "Let's try."

He could not have helped showing a certain gracious condescension had he been making the proposal to a prince. This graciousness and poise of manner Floyd, even in the short time he had known Stewart, had come extravagantly to admire; it was part of the boy's personal charm, which had enslaved Floyd from the first. For Floyd had a humble reverence—and a morbid dread of showing it—for beauty and grace and wit, qualities which he believed Stewart possessed more than any other masculine creature. Floyd liked to watch him, observing with an equal fascination the shape of his head, the wave of his striking yellow hair, his decisive, perhaps a little arrogant nose and chin, his slim hands, and long, narrow fingers.

Turning over, Floyd lay with his elbows in the sand and his hands supporting his chin. He lifted his bare feet and dropped them gently at measured intervals, each time digging his toes into the warm sand; it was a pleasant little sensation to accompany his happiness. His biceps, big and loose as he lay resting thus, quivered at each trifling jolt when his feet struck the sand. He gazed off with a dreamy unconsciousness of his own strength, of his smoothly undulating muscles, which to Stewart in his convalescent state seemed a theme for agreeable contemplation.

"What are you thinking of?" Stewart asked.

Floyd turned his dark eyes and smiled.

"Oh, nothing. Just feeling—feeling good. I want to celebrate; I'm just busting!" Rolling over on his back, he snapped himself to his feet and then stood looking toward the water; half a dozen heads were bobbing near the raft. "Folsom thinks he can swim; watch me duck him."