Page:Stanwood Pier--The ancient grudge.djvu/393

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his actions as trustee for the Rebecca Halket Hospitals. There was in Floyd a ruthless, unscrupulous hardness of character, an insensitiveness of disposition, a view of other men, even friends and dependents, as merely impersonal agents to be used and cast aside, a disregard of all the claims to which a man of sympathy and kindness would be most responsive. The men of New Rome were suffering now at Floyd's hands as Stewart himself had suffered—locked out, deprived of their rights, hampered and cramped in their effort, denied the recognition for which they had striven and to which, no doubt, they were entitled.

The triumphant clear-headedness of this analysis brought Stewart into sudden contemplation of a course of action. The impulse with which he had painted the pictures of Labor was revived, the sympathy which Floyd so reprehensibly lacked grew once more incandescent in his soul. Here in Avalon, where the sinister influences of pride and avarice and lust of power prevailed in detestable completeness, there was a noble work for a man who had wealth and education and the high purpose of a gentleman, and who dared for the right to demolish the idols of his friends.

In the excitement of the thought Stewart paced up and down his room, and at last threw open the window and, leaning out, looked across his lawn on which shone the soft September moon. The cool night air, instead of chilling his enthusiasm, seemed to give it calmness and confidence, the lights of the city throbbing in the distance were responsive to the throbbing eagerness in his breast. He leaned upon the window-sill and thought quite gloriously. To throw himself into this contest would compel renunciation of old ambitions and friendships. The men who had been his clients would turn from an architect who had gone outside of his profession to fight for freedom. What was chivalrous they would regard as unsafe, unbalanced, possibly even criminal. In the further practice of his profession he would be doomed. He could not even retire