A Poor Wise Man
"Maybe I will," he said. "I am a rising young man, and my voice may some day be
heard in the land. Sometimes I feel the elements of greatness in me, sweet child.
You haven't happened to notice it yourself, have you?"
He had gazed at her with solemn anxiety through the smoke of his pipe, and had
grinned when she remained silent.
Lily drew a long breath. All that delightful fooling was over; the hard work was
over. The nights were gone when they would wander like children across the
parade grounds, or past the bayonet school, with its rows of tripods upholding
imitation enemies made of sacks stuffed with hay, and showing signs of mortal
injury with their greasy entrails protruding. Gone, too, were the hours when Willy
sank into the lowest abyss of depression over his failure to be a fighting man.
"But you are doing your best for your country," she would say.
"I'm not fighting for it, or getting smashed up for it. I don't want to be a hero, but
I'd like to have had one good bang at them before I quit."
Once she had found him in the hut, with his head on a table. He said he had a
Well, that was all over. She was back in her grandfather's house, and -
"He'll get me too, probably," she reflected, as she went down the stairs, "just as
he's got all the others."
Mademoiselle was in Lily's small sitting room, while Castle was unpacking under
her supervision. The sight of her uniforms made Lily suddenly restless.
"How you could wear these things!" cried Mademoiselle. "You, who have always
dressed like a princess!"
"I liked them," said Lily, briefly. "Mademoiselle, what am I going to do with myself,
"Do?" Mademoiselle smiled. "Play, as you deserve, Cherie. Dance, and meet
nice young men. You are to make your debut this fall. Then a very charming
young man, and marriage."
"Oh!" said Lily, rather blankly. "I've got to come out, have I? I'd forgotten people
did such things. Please run along and do something else, Castle. I'll unpack."
"That is very bad for discipline," Mademoiselle objected when the maid had gone.
"And it is not necessary for Mr. Anthony Cardew's granddaughter."