A Poor Wise Man
When Lily had been at home for some time, and Louis Akers had made no
attempt to see her, or to announce the marriage, the vigilance of the household
began to relax. Howard Cardew had already consulted the family lawyer about
an annulment, and that gentleman had sent a letter to Akers, which had received
Then one afternoon Grayson, whose instructions had been absolute as to
admitting Akers to the house, opened the door to Mrs. Denslow, who was calling,
and found behind that lady Louis Akers himself. He made an effort to close the
door behind the lady, but Akers was too quick for him, and a scene at the
moment was impossible.
He ushered Mrs. Denslow into the drawing room, and coming out, closed the
"My instructions, sir, are to say to you that the ladies are not at home."
But Akers held out his hat and gloves with so ugly a look that Grayson took them.
"I have come to see my wife," he said. "Tell her that, and that if she doesn't see
me here I'll go upstairs and find her."
When Grayson still hesitated he made a move toward the staircase, and the
elderly servant, astounded at the speech and the movement, put down the hat
and faced him.
"I do not recognize any one in the household by that name, sir.
"You don't, don't you? Very well. Tell Miss Cardew I am here, and that either she
will come down or I'll go up. I'll wait in the library.
He watched Grayson start up the stairs, and then went into the library. He was
very carefully dressed, and momentarily exultant over the success of his ruse,
but he was uneasy, too, and wary, and inclined to regard the house as a possible
trap. He had made a gambler's venture, risking everything on the cards he held,
and without much confidence in them. His vanity declined to believe that his old
power over Lily was gone, but he had held a purely physical dominance over so
many women that he knew both his strength and his limitations.
What he could not understand, what had kept him awake so many nights since
he had seen her, was her recoil from him on Willy Cameron's announcement.