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Page:Stanwood Pier--The ancient grudge.djvu/400

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389
A LETTER TO A NEWSPAPER

in a grave silence. Then he began, choosing his words slowly and looking directly into Stewart's face: "That letter of yours in the Eagle this morning shocked me very much. I was in the boat that day—it's a good many years ago now—but I remember it if you do not, Stewart. And every one in this place who knows what Floyd Halket did for you that day thinks, as I do, that that letter of yours was a damned—caddish—performance. And I advise you to apologize and retract."

He thrust his chair back from the table and rose, leaving Stewart transfixed, speechless, flushed to the temples with the hot blood of anger and wounded pride. Dunbar was passing out of the dining-room door when Stewart, trailing a napkin in one hand, overtook him and seized him roughly by the arm.

"If—if you throw that day up in my face again!" he said passionately though in a low voice; his nostrils quivered and he spoke as if he had been running a long way instead of merely walking the length of the dining-room. "I've tried to square accounts—no one knows that better than Floyd. I'll have no criticism—I'll allow no reminder—of that thing. I'm answerable to my own conscience—to no one else. And let me tell you now—I will retract nothing."

Dunbar looked at him and said in an unmoved voice,—

"If you do not retract, the impression will remain—that you are a cad."

"Then," said Stewart hotly, "I am done with those who share that impression—even though they are my wife's cousins."

He turned his back on Dunbar and walked slowly to his table. In his pride and anger he could disguise the fact, but he was hard hit; he had been called a cad, and as a cad he was being avoided now by members of his own club. It was too laughable—that these upstart parvenus should apply that term to him who came of as good blood as there was in America. What a guild of greed it