There was a short interval of silence.
"You—you don't approve of the way Floyd's acting?" Lydia ventured. "I've seen the Eagle—but I did n't quite understand—"
"No, I don't approve," Stewart said warmly. "He's trying to coerce his men. What's he done? There was a fellow working there that none of the men would have anything to do with—that kind of a man—his fellow workmen would have nothing to do with him, mind you,—and Floyd, to provoke a row with the union, which he wants to put out of business, insults them by making this fellow a foreman. That seems a small affair, but it's only one of many. And when the men, whose patience was about exhausted, protested and showed signs of fight, Floyd calmly shuts down the works and announces he'll starve them out. What kind of treatment is that for a civilized employer to be giving his men?"
"It does n't seem like Floyd," Lydia said.
"Seem like him or not, that's what he's done."
"Well, even if it is—I could n't help being sorry, Stewart, that you felt it necessary to write about him as you did."
"It certainly was not a pleasure to me to write in that way. I wish with all my heart that it had been any one else but Floyd. But when you have followed the course of events and heard of them from men who have actually suffered because he has been infected with the extortionate, intolerant, rapacious greed of power that is epidemic in this town—you have to speak,—if you 're a man with a conscience. You've got to open the eyes of the people to the truth, you've got to awaken a sentiment that will prevent abuse of power. I knew what it would mean to me if I attacked Floyd. I counted the cost. It has been an expensive matter—as I expected it to be. I have lost the friendship of a great many men—I fear I have lost that of Floyd himself. If you think it took no courage and no self-sacrifice to face that result—"