Open main menu

Page:Stanwood Pier--The ancient grudge.djvu/323

This page needs to be proofread.
312
THE ANCIENT GRUDGE

himself thrilled by the passionate intensity and power which suddenly rose and broke in his grandfather's voice—"that however you or your leaders respond to my appeal, this combination is going through."

He stood for one moment a majestic and commanding figure, but his defiant declaration drew from his audience no faintest echo of applause. He turned to leave the platform, but Tustin had risen, and with one arm outstretched prevented him.

"Colonel Halket," Tustin cried, "there is one thing more to say." He advanced slowly to the edge of the platform, and Colonel Halket, responding unconsciously, advanced with him, watching his face. "I want to say," Tustin proclaimed, lifting up his voice, "that Colonel Halket has been given every opportunity this evening. We did n't want to hurt his feelings. We let him have the chance to retire gracefully. He did n't need to lose anything by giving in. But he has rejected the opportunity. He tramples on the wishes of this audience, he spits upon the will of the people of New Rome. The time for consideration is past. Colonel Halket has given his ultimatum; he will now hear ours."

Suddenly men were on their feet, cheering and waving their arms; and in an instant their enthusiasm had spread over the whole audience; the room was in an uproar of acclamation for Tustin's dramatic defiance. Colonel Halket folded his arms, advanced one foot, and gazed upwards; but his lips were compressed and Floyd was near enough to see that the stern old jaw was quivering.

"Colonel Halket says he has given us liberty, and treated us with liberality," cried Tustin in an envenomed voice. "He dares to say this on the very night when he invites us to sell ourselves into slavery,—and to contribute from our earnings part of the purchase price. That is all that his generous provision for our buying stock in his new corporation means. Does he offer to sell us bonds? Oh, no; he holds the bonds, and all the profits