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A Poor Wise Man

stormed. He considered Elinor's infatuation indecent. She was not a Cardew. The
Cardew women had some pride. And Howard, his handsome figure draped
negligently against the library mantel, would puzzle over it, too.
"I'm blessed if I understand it," he would say.
Elinor's child had been a boy, and old Anthony found some balm in Gilead. Jim
Doyle had not raised a finger to beckon, and if he knew of his son, he made no
sign. Anthony still ignored Elinor, but he saw in her child the third generation of
Cardews. Lily he had never counted. He took steps to give the child the Cardew
name, and the fact was announced in the newspapers. Then one day Elinor went
out, and did not come back. It was something Anthony Cardew had not counted
on, that a woman could love a man more than her child.
"I simply had to do it, father," she wrote. "You won't understand, of course. I love
him, father. Terribly. And he loves me in his way, even when he is unfaithful to
me. I know he has been that. Perhaps if you had wanted me at home it would
have been different. But it kills me to leave the baby. The only reason I can bring
myself to do it is that, the way things are, I cannot give him the things he ought to
have. And Jim does not seem to want him. He has never seen him, for one thing.
Besides - I am being honest - I don't think the atmosphere of the way we live
would be good for a boy."
There was a letter to Grace, too, a wild hysterical document, filled with
instructions for the baby's care. A wet nurse, for one thing. Grace read it with
tears in her eyes, but Anthony saw in it only the ravings of a weak and
unbalanced woman.
He never forgave Elinor, and once more the little grocer's curse thwarted his
ambitions. For, deprived of its mother's milk, the baby died. Old Anthony
sometimes wondered if that, too, had been calculated, a part of the Doyle
revenge.
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