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Page:Stanwood Pier--The ancient grudge.djvu/313

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should deny their old employer a show of common respect.

"Friends and fellow workmen," Colonel Halket began in a deep, appealing voice, and then waited, this time not in vain. From somewhere in front spurted a vigorous sound of applause—applause rendered by two single hands, which persevered defiantly and woke thin, desultory responses in various spots about the room; and then the mighty rebuking "Sh-h!" of the audience rose and quelled it. But it had answered its purpose. Colonel Halket smiled.

"You are kind," he said, "to grant me your attention; but you are more kind to make this display of feeling for me.

At this there was some laughter, rather loud and sarcastic, in the front part of the room. Floyd stood straight and stared round at the taunting faces unflinchingly; yes, he had applauded his grandfather, and if it would help him any, he would do it again. At the same time he felt a certain sickness of heart; he had not supposed that simply because of a little clapping the old man would make such a foolish remark. Clearly it was a sentence that Colonel Halket had prepared expecting a great ovation and that he had been unwilling to sacrifice. He was proceeding, with characteristic confidence of pose and voice.

"I bring no manuscript to read to you, no oration to deliver, no carefully prepared address to recite. I have come simply to talk to you in a careless, off-hand, frank way about my business,—our business,—I have come to talk to friends."

There was opportunity here for Floyd to insert a little more applause had he dared to do so; but he began to appreciate now that in the temper of the audience a second such effort on his part might provoke a violent counter-demonstration against the speaker.

"Now, it has been reported to me," continued Colonel Halket, "that the proposed merger of the New Rome