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A Poor Wise Man

He wished at those times that he could sing.
A pleasant cumberer of the earth, he had wrapped his talents in a napkin and
buried them by the wayside, and promptly forgotten where they were. He was to
find them later on, however, not particularly rusty, and he increased them rather
considerably before he got through.
It was this pleasant cumberer of the earth, then, who on the morning after Lily's
return, stopped his car before the Cardew house and got out. Immediately
following his descent he turned, took a square white box from the car, ascended
the steps, settled his neck in his collar and his tie around it, and rang the bell.
The second man, hastily buttoned into his coat and with a faint odor of silver
polish about him, opened the door. Pink gave him his hat, but retained the box
firmly.
"Mrs. Cardew and Miss Cardew at home?" he asked. "Yes? Then you might tell
Grayson I'm here to luncheon - unless the family is lunching out."
"Yes, sir," said the footman. "No, sir, they are lunching at home."
Pink sauntered into the library. He was not so easy as his manner indicated. One
never knew about Lily. Sometimes she was in a mood when she seemed to think
a man funny, and not to be taken seriously. And when she was serious, which
was the way he liked her - he rather lacked humor - she was never serious about
him or herself. It had been religion once, he remembered. She had wanted to
know if he believed in the thirty-nine articles, and because he had seen them in
the back of the prayer-book, where they certainly would not be if there was not
authority for them, he had said he did.
"Well, I don't," said Lily. And there had been rather a bad half-hour, because he
had felt that he had to stick to his thirty-nine guns, whatever they were. He had
finished on a rather desperate note of appeal.
"See here, Lily," he had said. "Why do you bother your head about such things,
anyhow?"
"Because I've got a head, and I want to use it."
"Life's too short."
"Eternity's pretty long. Do you believe in eternity?" And there they were, off again,
and of course old Anthony had come in after that, and had wanted to know about
his Aunt Marcia, and otherwise had shown every indication of taking root on the
hearth rug.
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