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Page:Stanwood Pier--The ancient grudge.djvu/353

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we'd seen what the best architects of the country—the other best architects of the country," he corrected himself, with a smile—"can suggest, we could n't be sure that we had got the most suitable thing. We must have a competition, and of course it would n't do for the committee to have advance knowledge of any ompetitor's work. I hope you'll win the competition, Stewart; I'm almost sure you will, since you feel so confident yourself."

"I did n't say anything about feeling confident of winning a competition," declared Stewart testily. He was sitting with his legs crossed; now he began to swing one foot in sharp, angry excitement. "I have no use for competitions; half the time the award is a matter of chance, half the time it's the result of a compromise. The architect on your committee has a bias towards one style of building; your doctor has a personal bias about some matter of arrangement, and together they'll vote every time for an inferior set of plans if only it hits their particular prejudice. That's why I 'm anxious to have my plans considered without a competition. I know that in themselves they're so good that no mere individual prejudice could reject them—so long as they're not being compared with something of which individual prejudice may be enamoured. Do you see my point?"

"I think you overestimate the danger of prejudice," said Floyd. "I believe that generally in an architectural competition, as well as in other competitions, the best man wins. Anyway this seems to me a matter that requires a competition."

"Very well," said Stewart, and he rose from his chair with his lips compressed; his fingers trembled as they tightened upon plans which he had so vainly brought. "I shall enter your competition, and I shall doubtless have the pleasure of seeing an inferior contribution receive the award." He stood for a moment looking down on Floyd, and then his light eyes flashed with sudden anger. "I don't wish to strain our relations unnecessarily,—but