A Poor Wise Man
In the Boyd house things went on much as before, but with a new heaviness.
Ellen, watching keenly, knew why the little house was so cheerless and somber.
It had been Willy Cameron who had brought to it its gayer moments, Willy
determinedly cheerful, slamming doors and whistling; Willy racing up the stairs
with something hot for Mrs. Boyd's tray; Willy at the table, making them forget the
frugality of the meals with campaign anecdotes; Willy, lamenting the lack of a
chance to fish, and subsequently eliciting a rare smile from Edith by being
discovered angling in the kitchen sink with a piece of twine on the end of his
Rather forced, some of it, but eminently good for all of them. And then suddenly it
ceased. He made an effort, but there was no spontaneity in him. He came in
quietly, never whistled, and ate very little. He began to look almost gaunt, too,
and Edith, watching him with jealous, loving eyes, gave voice at last to the
thought that was in her mind.
"I wish you'd go away," she said, "and let us fight this thing out ourselves. Dan
would have to get something to do, then, for one thing."
"But I don't want to go away, Edith."
"Then you're a fool," she observed, bitterly. "You can't help me any, and there's
no use hanging mother around your neck."
"She won't be around any one's neck very long, Edith dear."
"After that, will you go away?"
"Not if you still want me."
Dan was out, and Ellen had gone up for the invalid's tray. They were alone
together, standing in the kitchen doorway.
Suddenly Edith, beside him, ran her hand through his arm.
"If I had been a different sort of girl, Willy, do you think - could you ever have
cared for me?"