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Page:Stanwood Pier--The ancient grudge.djvu/54

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43
THE PARTING

but might come round all right in time. I—I told her it was all my fault, Floyd."

"Oh, it was n't!" Floyd cried, his reserve quite broken down. "If I'd known how to do things tactfully— Stewart, I've always liked you better than any fellow I ever knew!"

He poured out this declaration with an uncontrolled haste unlike his usual deliberateness and with an impulsive yet gentle outward gesture of his hand. Stewart seized it.

"I'm sorry," he said.

Indeed, he had a facile, amiable impulse to show a feeling that would please his old room-mate. And while he continued winding and unwinding the grass stems about his finger, he said,—

"You're the first person we've told, Floyd, outside of our families; Lydia as well as I wanted you to know it long before any one else should. She and I are engaged."

Floyd's dark eyes flashed a question and then a message of delight, even before his lips could frame it. He took Stewart's hand again in his slow, warm grip, murmuring, "Good work, Stewart! good work!" Then, feeling that this was inadequate, he patted him on the back, yet a little awkwardly, saying, "It's fine; it's the finest thing I've heard. I'm awfully glad."

"It's the best thing that ever happened to me—or that ever will happen," said Stewart.

"Yes, and to her, too," Floyd insisted, as sincerely as if his own alliance with Stewart had been the happiest arrangement in the world. "I want to write to her—and tell her what I think of you—what I've always thought. How does it feel, Stewart, to be so happy—so fixed—so—" Ideas even for questions failed him.

"Like this hillside and the sun and the river down there—warm all the time," said Stewart, with a laugh. "Of course," he went on, "it does make a difference in a fellow; it's got to. I've led a pretty wild life here at