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A Poor Wise Man

She tried to free her arm, but he held her, his face angry and suspicious.
"You are lying to me," he snarled. "She gave you a reason. What was it?"
Elinor was frightened, but she had not lost her head. She was thinking rapidly.
"She had a visitor this afternoon, a young man. He must have told her something
about last night. She came up and told me she was going."
"You know he told her something, don't you?"
"Yes." Elinor had cowered against the wall. "Jim, don't look like that. You frighten
me. I couldn't keep her here. I - "
"What did he tell her?"
"He accused you."
He was eyeing her coldly, calculatingly. All his suspicions of the past weeks
suddenly crystallized. "And you let her go, after that," he said slowly. "You were
glad to have her go. You didn't deny what she said. You let her run back home,
with what she had guessed and what you told her to-day. You - "
He struck her then. The blow was as remorseless as his voice, as deliberate.
She fell down the staircase headlong, and lay there, not moving.
The elderly maid came running from the kitchen, and found him half-way down
the stairs, his eyes still calculating, but his body shaking.
"She fell," he said, still staring down. But the servant faced him, her eyes full of
hate.
"You devil!" she said. "If she's dead, I'll see you hang for it."
But Elinor was not dead. Doctor Smalley, making rounds in a nearby hospital and
answering the emergency call, found her lying on her bed, fully conscious and in
great pain, while her husband bent over her in seeming agony of mind. She had
broken her leg. He sent Doyle out during the setting. It was a principle of his to
keep agonized husbands out of the room.
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