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Page:Stanwood Pier--The ancient grudge.djvu/339

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XXI

THE GREAT OPPORTUNITY

Stewart Lee had received a fresh impetus toward architecture; it seemed to him that at last his decisive opportunity had come. For a week there had been industrious activity among the draughtsmen in his office, and two evenings he had kept them working there with him until after eleven o'clock, an almost unprecedented happening. One of these evenings he took them to dine with him at the club and the other at the hotel, and he paid them well for their time besides; they responded with an honest zeal to their employer's sudden animation. Stewart himself was working with a mysterious energy. He had spent a morning walking over the wide open lots that lay opposite the entrance to the Halket Park of Avalon. There were thirty acres reaching up to the summit of the low hill, the bare ridge of which marked for one passing in the street the nearest horizon line. Standing on this ridge, one might look over a slant of little houses down upon the Yolin River and its fringe of furnaces. Facing the opposite way, one saw spread out in all the green luxuriance of midsummer the great park, with its gardens and hedges and fountains; its winding drives and avenues of trees. This vacant stretch of thirty acres lay between two populous sections of the city; on one side of it was a schoolhouse; on the other it adjoined a wealthy merchant's estate. Although the taxes on it had in the last few years been heavily increased, no advertisement of it for sale had ever been displayed and no improvement of it had even been attempted. For some time people had been wondering why Colonel Halket clung to it without making an