Open main menu

Page:Stanwood Pier--The ancient grudge.djvu/322

This page needs to be proofread.
311
COLONEL HALKET'S ADDRESS

you foresaw for us many advantages, and that you wished to give us the benefit. But these men here are convinced that there is another side to the shield. They may be wrong—but they are so convinced that no argument of yours or any one's can move them. And so the most generous message you can bring them, the message that would be received with enthusiasm and acclaim, and that would cause the heart of every workingman here to beat high with thankfulness, would be the announcement that the Halket Mills would not enter the combination."

He bowed to Colonel Halket and sat down, and another great outburst of applause swept forward through the hall. Floyd's eyes were fixed on his grandfather with a critical sympathy. The old man suddenly turned his back on Tustin and flung out one hand towards the audience with an effective violence.

"Men," he cried, and the appealing, outstretched hand quivered like his voice, "you have followed me here—you have followed my leadership for many years. Have I been harsh with you? Have I been intolerant or unjust? I have led you onward into prosperity and happiness, I have given you liberty and liberality, I—I have not interfered with your personal freedom—you have organized, you have chosen your own guides—not always wisely, if one may judge from what has been spoken here to-night. Now I ask you—when I have laid a proposition before you, when I have asserted my leadership over you for a definite end, has it not always resulted to your advantage? Will you trust these short-sighted leaders of a day rather than me, your leader of a lifetime? Do you believe me either unable or unwilling to carry out my promises to you? I appeal to you against the speeches that have been made from this platform—I appeal to you not to let yourselves be led astray; I appeal not only to your sense of what is just and generous to me, but also to your sense of what is for your own best interests. And finally I say and I declare"—and Floyd was