Page:Stanwood Pier--The ancient grudge.djvu/319

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now, once for all, that there will be no scaling down of the efficiency of these mills."

"Colonel Halket, I protest on behalf of the men that believe as I do and are afraid to speak," cried Farrell, with vehemence, and he went on rapidly, though Tustin had risen and was whispering in Colonel Halket's ear. "They're sitting in this room now—more of them than anybody knows—afraid to speak for fear they'll be persecuted by the union and lose their jobs. They feel as I do about the present and they're afraid of the future. Especially if—"

"You are right, Mr. Tustin," Colonel Halket cut in peremptorily in a voice directed at Farrell. He held out a stern and silencing hand. "The gentleman has spoken long enough; others must be given an opportunity. I have answered your question, sir; kindly sit down."

Farrell bowed and obeyed; there was a convulsive start of applause, whether to celebrate Farrell's effort or his summary suppression Floyd was uncertain. He was himself divided between sympathy for Hugh and anxiety for bis grandfather. For all Colonel Halket's boldly dominating attitude and majestic, rebuking voice, Floyd detected an unwonted and disturbing excitement in the old man's face; he was near enough to see the uncontrollable tremor of his outstretched hand. Colonel Halket had been roused to passionate indignation against an individual workman who had dared to question and oppose his views; his stern, majestic indignation was fortified by a sense that the men behind him on the platform and the mass of the audience were as indignant as he, and as fervent as he in holding to his beliefs. Floyd feared the effect of the imminent disclosure of the truth.

Tustin nodded to one of the committee, a short, bow-legged man with immensely broad, sloping shoulders and a broad head, to which the ears were attached at such an angle that they accentuated the breadth; his face was red and above it grew a stiff standing crop of red hair.