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A Poor Wise Man

been able to meet her, but she knew quite well that Grace Cardew had stopped
at the florist's on her way downtown and bought them.
A little surge of affection for her mother warmed the girl's eyes. The small
attentions which in the Cardew household took the place of loving
demonstrations had always touched her. As a family the Cardews were rather
loosely knitted together, but there was something very lovable about her mother.
Grace Cardew kissed her, and then held her off and looked at her.
"Mercy, Lily!" she said, "you look as old as I do."
"Older, I hope," Lily retorted. "What a marvel you are, Grace dear." Now and then
she called her mother "Grace." It was by way of being a small joke between
them, but limited to their moments alone. Once old Anthony, her grandfather, had
overheard her, and there had been rather a row about it.
"I feel horribly old, but I didn't think I looked it."
They got into the car and Grace held out the box to her. "From your father, dear.
He wanted so to come, but things are dreadful at the mill. I suppose you've seen
the papers." Lily opened the box, and smiled at her mother.
"Yes, I know. But why the subterfuge about the flowers, mother dear? Honestly,
did he send them, or did you get them? But never mind about that; I know he's
worried, and you're sweet to do it. Have you broken the news to grandfather that
the last of the Cardews is coming home?"
"He sent you, all sorts of messages, and he'll see you at dinner."
Lily laughed out at that.
"You darling!" she said. "You know perfectly well that I am nothing in
grandfather's young life, but the Cardew women all have what he likes to call
savoir faire. What would they do, father and grandfather, if you didn't go through
life smoothing things for them?"
Grace looked rather stiffly ahead. This young daughter of hers, with her
directness and her smiling ignoring of the small subterfuges of life, rather
frightened her. The terrible honesty of youth! All these years of ironing the
wrinkles out of life, of smoothing the difficulties between old Anthony and
Howard, and now a third generation to contend with. A pitilessly frank and
unconsciously cruel generation. She turned and eyed Lily uneasily.
"You look tired," she said, "and you need attention. I wish you had let me send
Castle to you."
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