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Page:Stanwood Pier--The ancient grudge.djvu/452

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NEW ROME AND AVALON

been in disrepute among the men; he hired them to make a bluff at going in and starting to work—knowing perfectly well that they would do it in such a way as to mean violence. And violence was what he wanted, the one thing he desired to precipitate; for it's always the case, with the first exhibition of violence the public sympathy swings away from the union, turns to the employer. It was a perfectly obvious play on Floyd's part; in other words, to attain his own personal ends he is willing to stir up riot and strife, willing to provoke men to bloodshed, perhaps even to murder."

Lydia rose from her chair.

"I cannot sit any longer with you to-night, Stewart," she said, speaking slowly, while she looked down at him with steady eyes. "You are imputing to Floyd motives and thoughts that he never had,—motives and thoughts that stain your own soul."

"If you mean that I am animated by such motives—" he began hotly, flinging the magazine upon the table.

"I mean that when you impute them to Floyd, it is a reproach to yourself," she answered in an inexorable voice.

She turned and moved away from him with the soft rustle of her trailing skirt—the pleasant sound that he had many times heard joyously when he had been sitting long alone, the pleasant sound that intimated to him from afar his Lydia's gentle grace. He listened to it now as it grew faint and fainter on the stairs; he listened to it with a wild wish that it were coming toward him instead of going away. But he was too proud to follow it, and too angry; he was only regretful because he had said so much; he was not penitent. He picked up again the magazine which he had twice put down.

"Ah, well," he thought, with an indulgence which was as much for himself as for Lydia, "by to-morrow morning she will be all right."

But Lydia had gone into the room where her baby lay