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A Poor Wise Man

She had gone home, discontented with her family's lack of vision, and with
herself.
She was in a curious frame of mind. The thought of Louis Akers repelled her, but
she thought of him constantly. She analyzed him clearly enough; he was not fine
and not sensitive. He was not even kind. Indeed, she felt that he could be both
cruel and ruthless. And if she was the first good woman he had ever known, then
he must have had a hateful past.
The thought that he had kissed her turned her hot with anger and shame at such
times, but the thought recurred.
Had she had occupation perhaps she might have been saved, but she had
nothing to do. The house went on with its disciplined service; Lent had made its
small demands as to church services, and was over. The weather was bad, and
the golf links still soggy with the spring rains. Her wardrobe was long ago
replenished, and that small interest gone.
And somehow there had opened a breach between herself and the little intimate
group that had been hers before the war. She wondered sometimes what they
would think of Louis Akers. They would admire him, at first, for his opulent good
looks, but very soon they would recognize what she knew so well - the gulf
between him and the men of their own world, so hard a distinction to divine, yet
so real for all that. They would know instinctively that under his veneer of good
manners was something coarse and crude, as she did, and they would politely
snub him. She had no name and no knowledge for the urge in the man that she
vaguely recognized and resented. But she had a full knowledge of the obsession
he was becoming in her mind.
"If I could see him here," she reflected, more than once, "I'd get over thinking
about him. It's because they forbid me to see him. It's sheer contrariness."
But it was not, and she knew it. She had never heard of his theory about the
mark on a woman.
She was hating herself very vigorously on that Sunday afternoon. Mademoiselle
and she had lunched alone in Lily's sitting-room, and Mademoiselle had dozed
off in her chair afterwards, a novel on her knee. Lily was wandering about
downstairs when the telephone rang, and she had a quick conviction that it was
Louis Akers. It was only Willy Cameron, however, asking her if she cared to go
for a walk.
"I've promised Jinx one all day," he explained, "and we might as well combine, if
you are not busy."
She smiled at that.
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