A Poor Wise Man
He had made renewed efforts to get a servant after that, but the invalid herself
balked him. When he found an applicant Mrs. Boyd would sit, very much the
grande dame, and question her, although she always ended by sending her
"She looked like the sort that would be running out at nights," she would say. Or:
"She wouldn't take telling, and I know the way you like your things, Willy. I could
see by looking at her that she couldn't cook at all."
She cherished the delusion that he was improving and gaining flesh under her
ministrations, and there was a sort of jealousy in her care for him. She wanted to
yield to no one the right to sit proudly behind one of her heavy, tasteless pies,
"Now I made this for you, Willy, because I know country boys like pies. Just see if
that crust isn't nice."
"You don't mean to say you made it!"
"I certainly did." And to please her he would clear his plate. He rather ran to
digestive tablets those days, and Edith, surprising him with one at the kitchen
sink one evening, accused him roundly of hypocrisy.
"I don't know why you stay anyhow," she said, staring into the yard where Jinx
was burying a bone in the heliotrope bed. "The food's awful. I'm used to it, but
"You don't eat anything, Edith."
"I'm not hungry. Willy, I wish you'd go away. What right we got to tie you up with
us, anyhow? We're a poor lot. You're not comfortable and you know it. D'you
know where she is now?"
"She" in the vernacular of the house, was always Mrs. Boyd.
"She forgot to make your bed, and she's doing it now."
He ran up the stairs, and forcibly putting Mrs. Boyd in a chair, made up his own
bed, awkwardly and with an eye on her chest, which rose and fell alarmingly. It
was after that that he warned Edith.
"She's not strong," he said. "She needs care and - well, to be happy. That's up to
the three of us. For one thing, she must not have a shock. I'm going to warn Dan
against exploding paper bags; she goes white every time."