A Poor Wise Man
The atmosphere of the Cardew house was subtly changed and very friendly.
Willy Cameron found himself received as an old friend, with no tendency to forget
the service he had rendered, or that, in their darkest hour, he had been one of
To his surprise Pink Denslow was there, and he saw at once that Pink had been
telling them of the night at the farm house. Pink was himself again, save for a
small shaved place at the back of his head, covered with plaster.
"I've told them, Cameron," he said. "If I could only tell it generally I'd be the most
popular man in the city, at dinners."
"Pair of young fools," old Anthony muttered, with his sardonic smile. But in his
hand-clasp, as in Howard's, there was warmth and a sort of envy, envy of youth
and the adventurous spirit of youth.
Lily was very quiet. The story had meant more to her than to the others. She had
more nearly understood Pink's reference to the sealed envelope Willy Cameron
had left, and the help sent by Edith Boyd. She connected that with Louis Akers,
and from that to Akers' threat against Cameron was only a step. She was
frightened and somewhat resentful, that this other girl should have saved him
from a revenge that she knew was directed at herself. That she, who had brought
this thing about, had sat quietly at home while another woman, a woman who
loved him, had saved him.
She was puzzled at her own state of mind.
Dinner was almost gay. Perhaps the gayety was somewhat forced, with Pink
keeping his eyes from Lily's face, and Howard Cardew relapsing now and then
into abstracted silence. Because of the men who served, the conversation was
carefully general. It was only in the library later, the men gathered together over
their cigars, that the real reason for Willy Cameron's summons was disclosed.
Howard Cardew was about to withdraw from the contest. "I'm late in coming to
this decision," he said. "Perhaps too late. But after a careful canvas of the
situation, I find you are right, Cameron. Unless I withdraw, Akers" - he found a
difficulty in speaking the name - "will be elected. At least it looks that way."
"And if he is," old Anthony put in, "he'll turn all the devils of hell loose on us."