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Page:Stanwood Pier--The ancient grudge.djvu/61

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THE ANCIENT GRUDGE

"Oh," she said; "it's pretty soft. And I think mother would like it just because it's her birthday."

She broke the stem. "It will look better when it's washed. I wish I could give you half of it for helping me,—but—"

"Indeed I would n't spoil a birthday present," he answered.

"Thank you," she said; and with a nod and another demure little smile she went into the house.

Floyd loitered a moment by the fence; the sign in an upper window, "Room to Let," had caught his attention. He glanced, too, about the trim yard; the peach-tree was in the corner; in front of the door was a bed of petunias, sweetwilliams, and verbenas; at the side of the house was a small trellis covered with grapevines, and more grape-vines screened the porch. He detected now a feminine touch in the aspect of the place that gave him a pang of compassion and sympathy. What discouragement must have met all their painstaking little efforts to give it some prettiness and charm! He glanced at his hand; grasping the branch of the peach-tree had blackened it.

In the large office building at the foot of the hill and directly opposite the bridge which led over the railroad tracks into the works, Floyd found the superintendent, Mr. Gregg, a grave, deliberate man, big of body, with a massive head and an iron-gray beard, parted in the middle and combed out into two prongs. His face lighted up when he greeted Floyd, but afterwards relapsed into its usual serious gravity; the cares of his position were evidently never far from his mind. Something of Gregg's record Floyd knew; it was that of one who had entered the works as a boy, and by faithfulness, industry, and ability attained this important place.

"You're coming in with us, your grandfather tells me," he said to Floyd. "Have you any ideas about where you would like to begin?"