A Poor Wise Man
Thanksgiving of the year of our Lord 1919 saw many changes. It saw, slowly
emerging from the chaos of war, new nations, like children, taking their first
feeble steps. It saw a socialism which, born at full term might have thrived,
prematurely and forcibly delivered, and making a valiant but losing fight for life. It
saw that war is never good, but always evil; that war takes everything and gives
nothing, save that sometimes a man may lose the whole world and gain his own
It saw old Anthony Cardew gone to his fathers, into the vast democracy of
heaven, and Louis Akers passed through the Traitors' Gate of eternity to be
judged and perhaps reprieved. For a man is many men, good and bad, and the
Judge of the Tower of Heaven is a just Judge.
It saw Jim Doyle a fugitive, Woslosky dead, and the Russian, Ross, bland,
cunning and eternally plotting, in New England under another name. And Mr.
Hendricks ordering a new suit for the day of taking office. And Doctor Smalley
tying a bunch of chrysanthemums on Annabelle, against a football game, and
taking a pretty nurse to see it.
It saw Ellen roasting a turkey, and a strange young man in the Eagle Pharmacy,
a young man who did not smoke a pipe, and allowed no visitors in the back
room. And it saw Willy Cameron in the laboratory of the reopened Cardew Mills,
dealing in tons instead of grains and drams, and learning to touch any piece of
metal in the mill with a moistened fore-finger before he sat down upon it.
* * * * *
But it saw more than that.
On the evening of Thanksgiving Day there was an air of repressed excitement
about the Cardew house. Mademoiselle, in a new silk dress, ran about the lower
floor, followed by an agitated Grayson with a cloth, for Mademoiselle was shifting
ceaselessly and with trembling hands vases of flowers, and spilling water at each
shift. At six o'clock had arrived a large square white box, which the footman had
carried to the rear and there exhibited, allowing a palpitating cook, scullery maid
and divers other excitable and emotional women to peep within.
After which he tied it up again and carried it upstairs.