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Page:Stanwood Pier--The ancient grudge.djvu/330

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LAST WORDS

noys me sometimes—a little, not much; nothing could annoy me much. It seems to me that when a man's dying, he's entitled to have everybody agree with him on everything—for once in his life. Instead of being disputed so obstinately on one or two minor points. You don't dispute me—that's why I get you in here so often and bore you."

"Oh, you don't bore me," Floyd said, with a laugh. "It's so calm and restful sitting here with you that I like it. In fact I think I like you sick better than well, Grandfather."

"I believe I agree with you; I like myself better," Colonel Halket said.

"We never used to be able to sit together idly this way," Floyd continued. "We were always too much preoccupied and bothered, and we had too many details to discuss—and differ about. But taking things easy and sort of dreaming along together—yes, I think you improve quite a lot on acquaintance."

"It's dying that does it," Colonel Halket replied philosophically. "I feel better myself—morally, that is—better pleased with myself. I've got so docile and submissive; and when you have n't been that way for years and years, it makes you feel virtuous. And another thing that makes you feel virtuous is knowing that your condition is bringing out the best in the people round you—I mean sympathy and compassion and all that sort of thing; and that gives you a human kind of pleasure, too. It seems to me that dying is just a gradual refining away of a man; there's less and less left of him every day, but what there is grows infinitely contented."

"Of course," said Floyd, "if it's good to live, it must also be good to die. For if it were n't, there would be a hideous, universal cruelty in the scheme of things that one simply can't believe."

"There's no cruelty," Colonel Halket answered. "It's all good. It's good if you fail—for then you give your-