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Page:Stanwood Pier--The ancient grudge.djvu/470

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459
STEWART TAKES THE FIELD

"It might be interpreted, perhaps, as a determination to fortify himself by means of violence. However, we differ so radically—we must differ so radically—on the subject of Floyd's motives that there is no use in our discussing such a matter as this."

She had failed; she leaned back in her chair despondently. Stewart was meditating and did not observe the dejected expression on her face. Finally he said,—

"Lydia, will you excuse me for a few moments? I have to telephone."

She sat waiting for him idly, indifferently. At last he returned with a brisk step and an excitement in his manner which she at once noticed.

"Sorry; I'll have to have my coffee and run," he announced. "I thought I could stay at home this evening, but it turns out I can't. A matter of business—"

He swallowed his coffee, and rose. Lydia had been watching him; his nervous eagerness to escape confirmed her suspicion. She accompanied him out into the hall where the servants should not hear, and while he was putting on his overcoat she stood before him, in front of the outer door.

"Stewart," she said, "are you going to New Rome?"

He put on his hat and dropped his hands into his overcoat pockets. There was a hint of defiance in the movement and in his voice as he answered,—

"Yes."

"To make use of the information I have given you?"

"It's a matter of life and death to those men at New Rome."

"You are willing to make use of me—to put me in the position of betraying Floyd's secrets to his enemies?"

"If you choose to look upon it in that way—if you happen to be in possession of Floyd's secrets—I must make even that sacrifice—I must ask you to make it."

"Stewart!" With one arm behind her she leaned