A Poor Wise Man
He had been accustomed to her searchings for interesting abstractions for years.
She used to talk about religion in the same way. So he smiled and said:
"There is a sort of infatuation that is based on something quite different."
But he had rather floundered there. He could not discuss physical attraction with
"We're getting rather deep for eleven o'clock at night, aren't we?"
After a short silence:
"Do you mind speaking about Aunt Elinor, father?"
"No, dear. Although it is rather a painful subject."
"But if she is happy, why is it painful?"
"Well, because Doyle is the sort of man he is."
"You mean-because he is unfaithful to her? Or was?"
He was very uncomfortable.
"That is one reason for it, of course. There are others."
"But if he is faithful to her now, father? Don't you think, whatever a man has
been, if he really cares for a woman it makes him over?"
"Sometimes, not always." The subject was painful to him. He did not want his
daughter to know the sordid things of life. But he added, gallantly: "Of course a
good woman can do almost anything she wants with a man, if he cares for her."
She lay awake almost all night, thinking that over.
On the Sunday following Louis Akers' call Mademoiselle learned of it, by the
devious route of the servants' hall, and she went to Lily at once, yearning and
anxious, and in her best lace collar. She needed courage, and to be dressed in
her best gave her moral strength.
"It is not," she said, "that they wish to curtail your liberty, Lily. But to have that
man come here, when he knows he is not wanted, to force himself on you - "
"I need not have seen him. I wanted to see him."