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THE ANCIENT GRUDGE

Stewart loved his wife, and in spite of the disagreeable presumption that she was hastening home to rebuke him, he could not help viewing complacently the increased comfort and happiness that would be his after he had set her right with a few forbearing words. His enforced isolation had worn upon him, for his social instincts were strong and had been pampered. Consequently he was prepared to reply to Lydia's reproaches in a spirit of moderation, if not concession.

When he met her leaving the train, her behavior filled him with gratified surprise. The sweetness and radiance of the face that he stooped to kiss were unclouded by reproach; her first words, "See, Stewart, see how he's grown," as she caused him to bend over the baby in the nurse's arms, proceeded from a mind that was concerned with nothing outside of her own little family. When he asked her why she had decided to come home so abruptly, she answered,—

"I wanted to see you, Stewart; I thought it was about time you were needing me. Were n't you, really? I shall be disappointed if you say no."

He assured her of course that he was in the most desperate need of her. It was not until late that evening that Lydia touched gently upon the subject about which she had allayed suspicion. She said,—

"You've never written me about the plans; whether you got them done to your satisfaction. Friday's the last day, is n't it?"

"Yes. They've been handed in," Stewart answered. "They're done to my satisfaction;but not, I am sure, to the committee's."

"Ah, that's a pity; but we'll hope for the best anyway. Floyd seems to be having some trouble at his mills; do you suppose that will delay the award?"

"Probably not." Stewart glanced at her sharply. "He's shut his mills down; he ought to have more leisure—for all kinds of amateur dabbling."