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Page:Stanwood Pier--The ancient grudge.djvu/405

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"Oh, I'm not questioning your courage, dear, or even your self-sacrifice," Lydia interrupted. "But was—was it necessary for you—could n't you have left it to some one else—and—and perhaps Floyd has his side, too—"

"It was a matter of common humanity to put the facts before the public and awaken a feeling which should make a repetition of such methods impossible," declared Stewart. "I realized this, I felt the necessity; would you have had me be a coward and shirk so great a duty for personal reasons? As to Floyd having a defense—I did nothing, I wrote nothing without first making investigation. It is not Floyd that I am condemning—it is the spirit of absolutism which is so dangerous in this place and which he exemplifies. As for myself, I did not begin the crusade rashly. It is due to my inheritance, I suppose, that I must take up public responsibility when it is placed before me. My family, as far back as I can trace it, has always been identified with some public cause. The necessity for abandoning ourselves to the occasion when the occasion arises, no matter what the cost, seems to be in our blood—and I confess I am rather proud of it."

"I—smaller things mean more to me," said Lydia, somewhat sadly. "Is this affair of Floyd's a public cause, Stewart?"

"It is a manifestation of a tendency that is publicly dangerous—a tendency against which the people need to be educated. I don't mean to stop the work of education when this one trouble has been settled. I shall keep on—writing and speaking perhaps—advocating in every way I can a freer life, a greater consideration for workingmen, a more rigid check upon employers. The very fact that I am not of the workingmen's class, that I'm identified by all my associations with the employer's class, will give strength to my arguments. A man in my position is needed to lead in such a campaign. The subject is one that I've studied a long time.—You remember how interested I was in painting those pictures to show the