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Page:Stanwood Pier--The ancient grudge.djvu/94

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BEGINS AT THE BOTTOM

"To think," Shelton observed, again mainly to himself, "of me using some of his mixture! Boardin' out here, are you? The Widow Bell's? Good folks they are, too.—Here, Bill! here, Tom!" and he called to two of the workmen who, having finished their lunch, were going outside to pitch quoits; "let me make you acquainted with the new helper, Mr. Floyd Halket. Grandson of the old man."

They shook hands with Floyd silently, staring at him with steady, prejudiced eyes. They were heavy and surly looking young men, with none of Shelton's geniality. "I'll bet you and me could lick 'em at that game," Shelton said to Floyd. "Come along." As they passed out, Floyd heard Tom say to Bill, "Let's lick the hell out of 'em," and he gathered that the impression he had made had not been favorable.

Tom and Bill and Shelton were experts at pitching quoits; Floyd, with his blistered and sore fingers, was by no means their equal. When they saw after a few minutes that his hand was bleeding and that he continued to pitch without paying attention to his hurt, they showed less indifference, and unbent so far as to utter an objurgation when one of their throws went wild. Once Tom stooped to pick up his quoits and claim the point, and Floyd stopped him peremptorily and demanded that the distance be measured. The measurement showed Tom's claim to have been good, and Floyd said good-naturedly, "Your eye is better than mine." A few moments later Tom suggested to him that he might tie a rag round his hand; the suggestion was made grudgingly, with embarrassment. Floyd replied that he could pitch better just as he was. By the end of the game Tom and Bill, whose surliness had principally been shyness, were not unfriendly to the new helper.

In the course of ten days Floyd had accustomed himself to the work; his hands had toughened, and his muscles did not ache when he went home at night or when he awoke in the morning. He went to bed at half-past eight