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Page:Stanwood Pier--The ancient grudge.djvu/74

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63
HALKET AND COMPANY

as they descended the stairs, she remarked to him, "That peach was ripe."

"Yes," her mother said, turning round, "Letty told me you were the young man that got it for her. And it was a nice peach; I enjoyed it."

"That peach-tree and the grapevines and the garden were why I came here," Floyd said. "Not because I hope to eat up your fruit—but your place looked so much prettier than the others."

At this the girl gave him a most friendly smile. "Mother does most of the tending to it," she said.

"Now, Letty!" her mother cried protestingly. And then she broke off into a startling and independent speech. "She's giving me a birthday supper—I guess maybe you saw the cake. We'd be happy, so long as you're soon to be one of the family, so to speak, if you'd stay to it."

Letty failed to second the invitation, and Floyd suspected from her expression that she did not approve of it. He regretted that he had to go to Avalon, and then he said that he would just sign the lease and be off, Mrs.—Mrs.—?

"Bell—Mrs. Edward Bell. Oh, we won't bother with no lease. Just so long as you say you'll take it for a year and you've paid a month in advance, why, that's all right. Just you leave your name, and I'll see the room is read up for you."

A few minutes before, Floyd was wandering the streets, melancholy and oppressed by the responsibilities to which he was heir; now he delivered up the card bearing his name with a secret pleasure and pride. Had he not at such a moment enjoyed these sensations, he would surely have had none of his grandfather in him.

Mrs. Bell's demonstration at reading the name was gratifyingly melodramatic. She fell back against the wall of the cramped hallway. "Mr. Floyd Halket!" she exclaimed. "Read it, Letty! Oh, my goodness!