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Page:Stanwood Pier--The ancient grudge.djvu/474

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STEWART TAKES THE FIELD

into the audience. Stewart took off his overcoat and laid it on the piano; it was perhaps his revelation of himself then in evening clothes as much as anything else which caused an outbreak of applause. There were no chairs on the platform; Tustin stood beside Stewart and held up his hand.

"Most of you know Mr. Stewart Lee," he said. "He is a good friend of ours and he has come here to-night to give us a message of importance."

Then Tustin walked over and sat down on the piano stool. The audience, after a brief applause, stood in an expectant stillness.

"Gentlemen," said Stewart, speaking slowly and with an impressive gravity, "at eight o'clock to-night I learned—it matters not how or from whom—but I learned beyond the possibility of doubt"—he drew and held up his watch—"that within two hours from this time a crushing blow would fall upon your heads. I have come to tell you what you may expect."

He paused; the silence was breathless.

"No doubt you guess the source. The same hand which struck you that foul blow one morning last week before the sun had risen is lifted now with dagger drawn in the dark; it hovers over you now while you stand here, it hovers over your homes where your wives and children await your return—I will give you time to return—to return and arm yourselves!"—Stewart flung the words with a shout—"but let me show you first some of the machinations of that unseen, hovering, grasping, and death-dealing hand.

"You know the story of David and Uriah—how David looked from the housetop and saw Uriah's wife—and Uriah was put in the forefront of the battle, where he fell. You all know the story. But has it occurred to you that here, in New Rome within a few days, this old, old story has been reënacted, with a few modem alterations, yet substantially the same? What matters it that the Uriah