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Page:Stanwood Pier--The ancient grudge.djvu/408

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397
INTERLUDE

"Yes, even them. But we'll discriminate against them to this extent, it will be understood that they return upon sufferance, and that immediate discharge will be the penalty for any further agitation. Tustin's a man of ability, and if he would take hold the right way instead of the wrong, he could make himself very useful here; I'm willing that he should have another chance."

"Well," said the superintendent who had before spoken, "I look on Tustin as a good deal of a sow's ear myself."

There was a laugh in which Floyd joined. Even so," he said tolerantly, "maybe we can sometime induce him to suffer a sea-change into something new and strange."

"The only way you can do that," retorted the superintendent, "is by putting him first at the bottom of the sea.

"You wait," said Floyd. "We'll make a leather pocket-book out of him yet."

"All right—so long as we don't fill it with bank-notes," answered the superintendent, and the conference broke up in laughter. It had leaked out that the week before a walking delegate who had threatened to call a strike at some steel works in Avalon had been bought off by the manufacturer.

Among the superintendents and heads of departments there had grown up a genuine admiration for Floyd; they liked him and had confidence in him, and after the too indulgent policy that had for so long existed in the mills, they found his firm control invigorating. They were themselves all picked men, loyal and devoted to the company's service, privileged to comment and criticise, accustomed to show a good grace if overruled. Floyd for his part usually came away from the weekly conference with them in a better humor than that in which he had gone to it.

Now, after the others had all left the room, Floyd and Gregg remained.

"There are one or two small matters that I want to arrange with you, Mr. Gregg," Floyd said. "There's the