A Poor Wise Man
It was not until a week had passed after Louis Akers' visit to the house that Lily's
family learned of it.
Lily's state of mind during that week had been an unhappy one. She magnified
the incident until her nerves were on edge, and Grace, finding her alternating
between almost demonstrative affection and strange aloofness, was bewildered
and hurt. Mademoiselle watched her secretly, shook her head, and set herself to
work to find out what was wrong. It was, in the end, Mademoiselle who
precipitated the crisis.
Lily had not intended to make a secret of the visit, but as time went on she found
it increasingly difficult to tell about it. She should, she knew, have spoken at
once, and it would be hard to explain why she had delayed.
She meant to go to her father with it. It was he who had forbidden her to see
Akers, for one thing. And she felt nearer to her father than to her mother, always.
Since her return she had developed an almost passionate admiration for Howard,
founded perhaps on her grandfather's attitude toward him. She was strongly
partizan. and she watched her father, day after day, fighting his eternal battles
with Anthony, sometimes winning, often losing, but standing for a principle like a
rock while the seas of old Anthony's wrath washed over and often engulfed him.
She was rather wistful those days, struggling with her own perplexities, and
blindly reaching out for a hand to help her. But she could not bring herself to
confession. She would wander into her father's dressing-room before she went to
bed, and, sitting on the arm of his deep chair, would try indirectly to get him to
solve the problems that were troubling her. But he was inarticulate and rather shy
with her. He had difficulty, sometimes, after her long absence at school and
camp, in realizing her as the little girl who had once begged for his neckties to
make into doll frocks.
Once she said:
"Could you love a person you didn't entirely respect, father?"
"Love is founded on respect, Lily."
She pondered that. She felt that he was wrong.
"But it does happen, doesn't it?" she had persisted.