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51
HALKET AND COMPANY

"None," said Floyd. "My grandfather feels that I ought to start about where he did."

"Yes," said Gregg slowly. "Yes. That's a maxim that is much esteemed in Avalon." His hesitating tone showed that personally he questioned its wisdom; and Floyd, in spite of his respect for his grandfather's opinion, warmed toward the superintendent at this indication of an enlightened point of view. "I think," Gregg proceeded, "you might spare yourself the blast furnaces. We can put you in one of the open-hearth mills—say, Number Two."

"I should rather not be given any special advantages," Floyd said.

"Oh," Gregg answered, with a smile, tipping back in his chair and stroking first one prong of his beard and then the other, "a man that goes into this business had better not reject any good thing that's offered him. You'll find it hard enough—and different enough from college and abroad. I suppose you would like to go through the works? You'll find they have grown a little since you last went through, two years ago."

He wrote out a pass and handed it to Floyd. "Come in and see me before you go home," he said.

Then he turned seriously to his work,—a man of mild nature harassed by having to be often stern and hard.

In the little house at the entrance to the bridge, the company policeman took Floyd's pass, and reading his name upon it, touched his hat. "Keep a sharp lookout on the tracks, sir," he said. He spoke with reason; an empty sleeve was pinned across his breast.

There was a roadway from the bridge almost to the bank of the river; there it stopped at a tangle of tracks which spread and branched out on either side, running round and through the mills. Floyd walked up the tracks along the river-bank. He passed idle trains of freight cars, he looked up at the donkey engines that trundled back and forth dragging the ladles to and from the blast