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THE ANCIENT GRUDGE

some little delicacy of feeling in mind, that yon ought n't immediately, you know, it would be more respectful to wait—that sort of sentiment, maybe. I hope you won't be influenced by that. I never have believed much in holding up the business—or even the amusements—of the world out of respect to the dead—and when it comes to delaying such a thing as marriage—it should n't be allowed; married life is always too short, anyway. I hope, Floyd, you'll respect my wishes, my sentiment, in this rather than a convention."

"I shall try to do that always," said Floyd, "whenever I am confronted with such a choice."

This ambiguous assurance seemed to satisfy Colonel Halket, who now turned his head away and looked silently out of the window.

"It's curious," he said after a while, "how interested one is in the affairs of life up to within a few hours of the moment when one passes into eternal ignorance—or"—he added faintly—"or—knowledge."

"That," Floyd said gently, "shows the nobility and courage of the man."

Colonel Halket did not seem to hear; by and by he began murmuring fragments of verse to himself—"'So sad, so fresh—That sinks with all we love below the verge—' How does it go?" he asked. "Those lines—Ah, wait: this is the part," and he repeated in a low voice, almost drowsily,—


"'As in dark summer dawns
The earliest pipe of half-awakened birds
To dying ears, when unto dying eyes
The casement slowly grows a glimmering square—'


Ah, yes—dawn is the time—and let death come to me so!"

He lay for a long time quiet, with his face turned towards the window; he lay so still that at last Floyd thought he must be asleep. Floyd rose to tip-toe out of