A Poor Wise Man
Willy Cameron came home from a night class in metallurgy the evening after the
day Lily had made her declaration of independence, and let himself in with his
night key. There was a light in the little parlor, and Mrs. Boyd's fragile silhouette
against the window shade.
He was not surprised at that. She had developed a maternal affection for him
stronger than any she showed for either Edith or Dan. She revealed it in rather
touching ways, too, keeping accounts when he accused her of gross
extravagance, for she spent Dan's swollen wages wastefully; making him coffee
late at night, and forcing him to drink it, although it kept him awake for hours; and
never going to bed until he was safely closeted in his room at the top of the
He came in as early as possible, therefore, for he had had Doctor Smalley in to
see her, and the result had been unsatisfactory.
"Heart's bad," said the doctor, when they had retired to Willy's room. "Leaks like
a sieve. And there may be an aneurism. Looks like it, anyhow."
"What is there to do?" Willy asked, feeling helpless and extremely shocked. "We
might send her somewhere."
"Nothing to do. Don't send her away; she'd die of loneliness. Keep her quiet and
keep her happy. Don't let her worry. She only has a short time, I should say, and
you can't lengthen it. It could be shortened, of course, if she had a shock, or
anything like that."
"Shall I tell the family?"
"What's the use?" asked Doctor Smalley, philosophically. "If they fuss over her
she'll suspect something."
As he went down the stairs he looked about him. The hall was fresh with new
paper and white paint, and in the yard at the rear, visible through an open door,
the border of annuals was putting out its first blossoms.
"Nice little place you've got here," he observed. "I think I see the fine hand of
Miss Edith, eh?"
"Yes," said Willy Cameron, gravely.