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Page:Stanwood Pier--The ancient grudge.djvu/395

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His resolve was made irrevocably while he stood at the window. Already he was forecasting for himself a brilliant and useful service; he could act as advocate for the workingmen in the newspapers, he would not even shrink from going upon the platform in their behalf, he would give them the benefit of his experience, education, and counsel. Tustin, whose portrait he had once painted, and who, as Stewart had read in the newspapers, was chairman of the executive committee of the union, would of course gladly furnish him with all the specific data for argument. Stewart's imagination, grasping hastily one possibility after another, carried him far afield. He was conscious of a power to express himself in burning words, whether on paper or in speech; once let him gain the ear of the people, and they would be glad to listen. Dreaded by the benighted satraps with whom he had once consorted, beloved by the common people for whom his sympathy had always been deep and tender, though hitherto undemonstrative, ready speaker, wise thinker, public-spirited man, he might eventually be caught up in popular enthusiasm and raised to high office; the city was some time to be purged of gross corruption; if he fought ably for the people now, he might be chosen mayor to do this greater work. The incubus of despair that had lain upon him for the last two months was lifted.

He wrote and mailed that evening a brief letter to Floyd. "I have followed with unhappiness the course of affairs at New Rome. Our long intimacy and the leaning that I should naturally have to your side in the dispute cannot make me ignore what now appears the fundamental fact—that you are using compulsion to deprive American citizens of the rights of liberty and citizenship. When a man reaches such a conviction as I have now reached, it becomes his imperative duty to support those whose rights are being attacked, even though in so doing he opposes one who has long been his friend and to whom he owes much. It is his duty as an American. I have