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Page:Stanwood Pier--The ancient grudge.djvu/316

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"Not only has there been this just and generous provision made; I may go further and state to you here and as it were privately that you iron-workers of New Rome are to be the favored people in this new combination.

"I hope, as your employer, to lead you into the promised land of labor, into Canaan—or, as I may say, recalling the name of the first iron-worker and venturing upon a pun, into the land of Tubal Cainaan." This jeu d" esprit met with no favor whatever. But Colonel Halket, in spite of the discouraging dullness of his audience, continued bravely, "You are, as I have said, to form the nucleus. These works are now, as you all know, the most important of their kind in the country, and in combination with other mills they must always hold a position of leadership. This position is one in which the workmen will inevitably share. This means that the advantages of opportunity will all lie with you. There is no reason why your advancement should not be rapid and sure; there is no reason why any faithful and competent workman among you should not end his days as mill foreman or better. I do not want you to feel that because I am devoting my energies to a larger, a national problem, I shall cease to regard you with the particular interest which I have always felt in your welfare. You will always be to me 'mine own people,' and I trust I shall ever prove myself to you what I have earnestly striven to be all my life—your true and loyal friend.

"If any one among you has any questions to ask, I shall be most happy to answer them."

As he sat down, there was a thin, perfunctory flutter of applause which expired quickly.

Tustin rose and came forward to the edge of the platform.

"Colonel Halket will answer questions," he stated. "Any questions from the floor?"

He stood looking round inquiringly. Floyd resented his assumption of control over the meeting. It was impu-