Page:Stanwood Pier--The ancient grudge.djvu/194

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183
A CLIENT FOR STEWART

virtues, and, "Oh," the young women would cry, "it's maddening to hear that sort of thing about a man who won't look at a girl."

Stewart himself showed no aversion to the society of Avalon, nor did he occupy himself too much with the younger people. The older women liked a young man who could talk to them agreeably about books and pictures, about the French theatre and the German opera; at this time there were not many men in Avalon who were as well informed as Stewart on these subjects, and there were a good many women who had a superficial knowledge of them. Even Mrs. Halket, who scrutinized him narrowly because of his presumption in marrying the girl whom Floyd had loved, found no fault in him; she said to Floyd that in a place where all the young men received a special and technical education that killed off every particle of human interest, it was a relief to have one person of such wide cultivation as Mr. Lee. Such praise from Mrs. Halket meant a great deal for any young man, and it caused Mr. Dunbar a thrill of even more conscious pride in exhibiting his son-in-law.

Meanwhile, the houses that Stewart was building for himself and for Mr. Dunbar rose and drew attention. Outwardly they were indeed unlike most of the Avalon houses; even in their uncompleted state they had a certain winning lightness and grace; Mr. Dunbar's great villa looked down from its hilltop toward Stewart's smaller one with none of the forbidding austerity or cumbrousness of the older Avalon mansions. To be sure, Stewart was not the first to introduce a new style of architecture; Bennett and two or three others had broken away from the unimaginative variations on the "Queen Anne" type that had prevailed; but as it happened, none of them had yet had such a conspicuous opportunity as Mr. Dunbar's new house had offered. Stewart had succeeded at the outset, and on a scale which gave him not merely self-confidence, but the confidence of others. Even before the