A Poor Wise Man
"Not under the conditions. But she must come back, father. To let her stay on
there, in that house, after last night - "
She had never called him "father" before. It seemed to touch him.
"You're a good woman, Grace," he said, still heavily. "We Cardews all marry
good women, but we don't know how to treat them. Even Howard - " His voice
trailed off. "No, she can't stay there," he said, after a pause.
"But - I must tell you - she refuses to give up that man."
"You are a woman, Grace. You ought to know something about girls. Does she
actually care for him, or is it because he offers the liberty she thinks we fail to
give her? Or" - he smiled faintly - "is it Cardew pig-headedness?"
Grace made a little gesture of despair.
"I don't know. She wanted to come home. She begged - it was dreadful." Grace
hesitated. "Even that couldn't be as bad as this, father," she said. "We have all
lived our own lives, you and Howard and myself, and now we won't let her do it."
"And a pretty mess we have made of them!" His tone was grim. "No, I can't say
that we offer her any felicitous examples. But the fellow's plan is transparent
enough. He is ambitious. He sees himself installed here, one of us. Mark my
words, Grace, he may love the child, but his real actuating motive is that. He's a
Radical, because since he can't climb up, he'll pull down. But once let him get his
foot on the Cardew ladder, and he'll climb, over her, over all of us."
He sat after that, his head dropped on his chest, his hands resting on the arms of
his chair, in a brooding reverie. Grace waited.
"Better bring her home," he said finally. "Tell her I surrender. I want her here. Let
her bring that fellow here, too, if she has to see him. But for God's sake, Grace,"
he added, with a flash of his old fire, "show her some real men, too."
Suddenly Grace bent over and kissed him. He put up his hand, and patted her on
"A good woman, Grace," he said, "and a good daughter to me. I'm sorry. I'll try to
As Grace straightened she heard the door close below, and Howard's voice.
Almost immediately she heard him coming up the staircase, and going out into
the hall she called softly to him.
"Where are you?" he asked, looking up. "Is father there?"