A Poor Wise Man
"He has asked me. I have not given him any answer yet. I don't want to marry a
man my family will not receive. It wouldn't be fair to him."
Which speech drove old Anthony into a frenzy, and led him to a bitterness of
language that turned Lily cold and obstinate. She heard him through, with her
father vainly trying to break in and save the situation; then she said, coldly:
"I am sorry you feel that way about it," and turned and left the room.
She had made no plan, of course. She hated doing theatrical things. But shut in
her bedroom with the doors locked, Anthony's furious words came back, his
threats, his bitter sneers. She felt strangely alone, too. In all the great house she
had no one to support her. Mademoiselle, her father and mother, even the
servants, were tacitly aligned with the opposition. Except Ellen. She had felt
lately that Ellen, in her humble way, had espoused her cause.
She had sent for Ellen.
In spite of the warmth of her greeting, Lily had felt a reserve in Aunt Elinor's
welcome. It was as though she was determinedly making the best of a bad
"I had to do it, Aunt Elinor," she said, when they had gone upstairs. There was a
labor conference, Doyle had explained, being held below.
"I know," said Elinor. "I understand. I'll pin back the curtains so you can open
your windows. The night air is so smoky here."
"I am afraid mother will grieve terribly."
"I think she will," said Elinor, with her quiet gravity. "You are all she has."
"She has father. She cares more for him than for anything in the world."
"Would you like some ice-water, dear?"
Some time later Lily roused from the light sleep of emotional exhaustion. She had
thought she heard Willy Cameron's voice. But that was absurd, of course, and
she lay back to toss uneasily for hours. Out of all her thinking there emerged at
last her real self, so long overlaid with her infatuation. She would go home again,
and make what amends she could. They were wrong about Louis Akers, but they
were right, too.
Lying there, as the dawn slowly turned her windows to gray, she saw him with a
new clarity. She had a swift vision of what life with him would mean. Intervals of
passionate loving, of boyish dependence on her, and then - a new face. Never