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Page:Stanwood Pier--The ancient grudge.djvu/399

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join the group. Floyd finished in haste what he was saying, turning his back upon Stewart as he did so; then without a glance at either side he walked swiftly away and out of the door. The two men sitting in the armchairs were the manufacturers with whom Stewart had had the discussion a few nights before; one of them now raised a newspaper and began to read, and the other smoked a cigar, apparently lost in reverie. Stewart stood by the mantel-piece for a few moments, that they might have an opportunity to recognize his presence, but as they did not choose to avail themselves of it he finally turned and strolled away without a word. In another part of the room Bennett was sitting, and as Stewart passed near him he looked up and said with the furtive smile that Stewart disliked,—

"That was quite a strong letter of yours in the paper, Lee. But are n't you pretty reckless, doing a thing like that at just this time?"

"I suppose it is to be a fairly adjudged competition," Stewart replied coldly. "And even if I did not suppose so—it may surprise you to know, Mr. Bennett, that I don't always stop to count the cost."

"Ah," said Bennett, dropping his eyes again to his magazine, "that's a bit of wisdom that you will learn with age."

In the dining-room Stewart sat down alone at a table by the window. Two or three of his acquaintances entered within the next few minutes, but none of them seemed to notice his signal inviting them to join him; they went blundering round to lonely and remote tables. Then Bob Dunbar appeared, and Stewart, who detested a solitary meal, beckoned to him in a manner that could not be ignored. Dunbar came up reluctantly with a solemn face.

"Sit down, Bob," said Stewart.

Dunbar hesitated. "I will—for a moment. No, I won't order lunch." He waved the waiter aside and sat