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THE ANCIENT GRUDGE

of a light touch in women; it was something now that he would have very much appreciated, if there had only been some one at hand who could administer it sympathetically. It occurred to him that Marion herself would have been a good comrade at such a time. Occasionally, when he had leisure to be discontented with his life, he had suggested to himself the query—would it be more tolerable at this moment if Marion were sharing it? His answer had been invariably a qualified affirmative; at just these particular moments she would probably be a help, he admitted,—but for the rest of the time—he hardly thought her necessary. The shadow of Lydia had always lurked discouragingly in the background of his thoughts. But on this evening the shadow of Lydia ceased to be a resource and lingered only as a persecution. "If it were n't for having always been in love, I suppose I could fall in love now," he sighed. " And that would be a great thing for me—if the girl was willing." But then he went to bed feeling that he was in a weak and silly mood, and having no doubt that when he awoke in the morning he would be more normal.

Somewhat to his surprise, as he sat at breakfast the idea of Marion and her light touch returned to occupy his brain. It was attractive, it began to grow exciting. In the middle of the morning he decided abruptly that he would at once make a short visit of inspection. "She need n't know what I'm up to, and if I cool right off the moment I see her she need never know," Floyd thought. "And it's about a hundred to one that's what will happen." Then he had the additional thought, "But if I only could! I believe it would be a great thing for me." He wavered between an almost ecstatic recollection of her light touch and an almost utter repugnance for her overconfident, positive point of view. Displeased by his weakness, he commanded himself to drop the subject and await the test of a meeting.

Late the following afternoon he got off the train at the