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380
THE ANCIENT GRUDGE

was unfavorable to Floyd. It represented him as a cold-blooded and deliberate young man who looked upon his vast inheritance as a profitable field to be more thoroughly exploited. The Telegram had always railed at Colonel Halket, but now it extolled him; with all his faults he had—up to the time of his last great mistake, which was no doubt attributable to old age—held the affection of his people and striven to benefit them as well as to enrich himself. Since his death, however, the management had ceased to have such a twofold aim. It had wantonly provoked and antagonized the leaders among the men,—for the sake, perhaps, of showing that its iron hand wore no velvet glove. To invite and then to crush opposition had been its policy. And now it had cynically flung aside all pretense and revealed its ultimate purpose—to reduce its workmen to their former position of helpless dependence, to deny them the right to organize in defense of their interests and in defiance of unjust oppression. The new head of the company, with a rashness appropriate to his youth, had committed the unprecedented act of closing down the mills and declaring a lock-out when there was no vital principle at issue—at the most nothing but small differences which could be settled amicably by fair-minded discussion. He had chosen to set up an ultimatum which meant a return to mediævalism, and he was trying to starve his people into surrender.

The newspaper report and the editorial comment set Stewart aflame. There were two manufacturers dining at the club that evening; they happened to be men whose interests had been adversely affected by the union uprising at New Rome and the consequent failure of the great merger which Colonel Halket had planned. Stewart sought an opinion from them, and when they replied that it was a pretty bold move on Halket's part, but that they hoped he would win, Stewart expressed his disapproval of such sentiments. He declared that old friend as he was of Floyd's, he could not sympathize with him in this high-