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Page:Stanwood Pier--The ancient grudge.djvu/448

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New Rome and especially of their leaders, they needed no extenuation; they had stayed their hands; and not until two of their harmless number had been felled unconscious and others were threatened did they in self-defense lay low the leader of this murderous assault. Even then they were magnanimous; not one of the ruffians who had joined in the attack had been injured; all of them had been allowed to depart in peace. For the leader, who had not been dangerously hurt, it was difficult to feel any sympathy; he was a mercenary, hired by the president of the company to collect a ruffianly band and betray those who had been his fellow workmen.

For a document professing to embody the impartial conclusions of a judicially minded investigator, Stewart's article was rather militant in tone. He signed his name to it; the Telegram published it; and Lydia had read it by the time he reached home that evening. She did not comment on it until after they had finished dinner and had gone into the library. Stewart had lighted his cigar and was turning over the pages of a magazine when she said,—

"Stewart, I want to have a talk with you."

"That means you are going to be disagreeable," he answered, with a certain sincerity underlying the lightness of his tone.

"I am afraid you will think so. I want to talk with you about the way you are attacking Floyd—and allying yourself with the men who are attacking him."

"Very well." He paused a moment and then said ungraciously, "What do you find to object to in it?"

"The—the spirit of it, Stewart." He tossed his magazine on the table with an air of irritation. "You might champion the workingmen—when you believe in their cause—but—surely it is n't necessary to do it with such a—such an animus against Floyd. The Telegram this evening—it isn't fair, Stewart; it isn't fair. I don't see how you can have such animus."