A Poor Wise Man HTML version
On clear Sundays Anthony Cardew played golf all day. He kept his religious
observances for bad weather, but at such times as he attended service he did it
with the decorum and dignity of a Cardew, who bowed to his God but to nothing
else. He made the responses properly and with a certain unction, and sat during
the sermon with a vigilant eye on the choir boys, who wriggled. Now and then,
however, the eye wandered to the great stained glass window which was a
memorial to his wife. It said beneath: "In memoriam, Lilian Lethbridge Cardew."
He thought there was too much yellow in John the Baptist. On the Sunday
afternoon following her ride into the city with Louis Akers, Lily found herself
alone. Anthony was golfing and Grace and Howard had motored out of town for
luncheon. In a small office near the rear of the hall the second man dozed,
waiting for the doorbell. There would be people in for tea later, as always on
Sunday afternoons; girls and men, walking through the park or motoring up in
smart cars, the men a trifle bored because they were not golfing or riding, the
girls chattering about the small inessentials which somehow they made so
Lily was wretchedly unhappy. For one thing, she had begun to feel that
Mademoiselle was exercising over her a sort of gentle espionage, and she
thought her grandfather was behind it. Out of sheer rebellion she had gone again
to the house on Cardew Way, to find Elinor out and Jim Doyle writing at his desk.
He had received her cordially, and had talked to her as an equal. His deferential
attitude had soothed her wounded pride, and she had told him something - very
little - of the situation at home.
"Then you are still forbidden to come here?"
"Yes. As if what happened years ago matters now, Mr. Doyle."
He eyed her.
"Don't let them break your spirit, Lily," he had said. "Success can make people
very hard. I don't know myself what success would do to me. Plenty, probably."
He smiled. "It isn't the past your people won't forgive me, Lily. It's my failure to
succeed in what they call success."
"It isn't that," she had said hastily. "It is - they say you are inflammatory. Of
course they don't understand. I have tried to tell them, but - "
"There are fires that purify," he had said, smilingly.