She sat for a moment on the end of the bench, gazing at him with a questioning, searching look which he found disconcerting. What had happened to his daughter? He little guessed the tumult in her breast. She herself could not fully understand the strange turn the conversation had taken towards the gateway of the vital things.
"It is natural for men to love power, isn't it?"
"I suppose so," said Mr. Flint, uneasily. "I don't know what you're driving at, Victoria."
"You control the lives and fortunes of a great many people."
"That's just it," answered Mr. Flint, with a dash at this opening; "my responsibilities are tremendous. I can't relinquish them."
"There is no--younger man to take your place? Not that I mean you are old, father," she continued, "but you have worked very hard all your life, and deserve a holiday the rest of it."
"I don't know of any younger man," said Mr. Flint. "I don't mean to say I'm the only person in the world who can safeguard the stockholders' interests in the Northeastern. But I know the road and its problems. I don't understand this from you, Victoria. It doesn't sound like you. And as for letting go the helm now," he added, with a short laugh tinged with bitterness, "I'd be posted all over the country as a coward."
"Why?" asked Victoria, in the same quiet way.