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Queed eBook

Henry Sydnor Harrison
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 413 pages of information about Queed.

“Coming to know him very well in the past year, I found that his lights stood high.”

“As high, I am sure, as the environment in which he was born and raised made possible.”

“You have a low opinion, then, of ante-bellum civilization in the South?”

“Who that knows his history could have otherwise?”

“You know history, I admit,” said Queed, lightly falling upon the side issue, “surprisingly, indeed, considering that you have not read it for so many years.”

“A man is not likely to forget truths burned into him when he is young.”

“Everything depends,” said Queed, returning to his muttons, “upon how you are going to appraise a civilization.  If the only true measure is economic efficiency, no one can question that the old Southern system was one of the worst ever conceived.”

“Can you, expert upon organized society as you are, admit any doubts upon that point?”

“I am admitting doubts upon a good many points these days.”

Nicolovius resumed his cigarette.  Talk languished.  Both men enjoyed a good silence.  Many a supper they ate through without a word.  The old man’s attitude toward the young one was charming.  He had sloughed off some of the too polished blandness of his manner, and now offered a simpler meeting ground of naturalness and kindliness.  They had shared the Duke of Gloucester Street roof-tree for a month, but Queed did not yet accept it as a matter of course.  He was decidedly more prone to be analytical than he had been a year ago.  Yet whatever could be urged against it, the little house was in one way making a subtle tug upon his regard:  it was the nearest thing to a home that he had ever had in his life, or was ever likely to have.

“And when will the Post directors meet to choose his successor?”

“I haven’t heard.  Very soon, I should think.”

“It is certain, I suppose,” said Nicolovius, “that they will name you?”

“Oh, not at all—­by no means!  I am merely receptive, that is all.”

Queed glanced at his watch and rose.  “There is half an hour before supper, I see.  I think I must turn it to account.”

Nicolovius looked regretful.  “Why not allow yourself this minute’s rest, and me the pleasure of your society?”

Queed hesitated.  “No—­I think my duty is to my work.”

He passed into the adjoining room, which was his bedroom, and shut the door.  Here at his table, he passed all of the hours that he spent in the house, except after supper, when he did his work in the sitting-room with Nicolovius.  He felt that, in honor, he owed some companionship, of the body at least, to the old man in exchange for the run of the house, and his evenings were his conscientious concession to his social duty.  But sometimes he felt the surprising and wholly irrational impulse to concede more, to give the old man a larger measure of society than he was, so to say, paying for.  He felt it now as he seated himself methodically and opened his table drawer.

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