A Poor Wise Man HTML version

Chapter 20
Ellen was staying at the Boyd house. She went downstairs the morning after her
arrival, and found the bread - bakery bread-toasted and growing cold on the
table, while a slice of ham, ready to be cooked, was not yet on the fire, and Mrs.
Boyd had run out to buy some milk.
Dan had already gone, and his half-empty cup of black coffee was on the kitchen
table. Ellen sniffed it and raised her eyebrows.
She rolled up her sleeves, put the toast in the oven and the ham in the frying
pan, with much the same grimness with which she had sat the night before
listening to Mrs. Boyd's monologue. If this was the way they looked after Willy
Cameron, no wonder he was thin and pale. She threw out the coffee, which she
suspected had been made by the time-saving method of pouring water on last
night's grounds, and made a fresh pot of it. After that she inspected the tea
towels, and getting a tin dishpan, set them to boil in it on the top of the range.
"Enough to give him typhoid," she reflected.
Ellen disapproved of her surroundings; she disapproved of any woman who did
not boil her tea towels. And when Edith came down carefully dressed and
undeniably rouged she formed a disapproving opinion of that young lady, which
was that she was trying to land Willy Cameron, and that he would be better dead
than landed.
She met Edith's stare of surprise with one of thinly veiled hostility.
"Hello!" said Edith. "When did you blow in, and where from?"
"I came to see Mr. Cameron last night, and he made me stay."
"A friend of Willy's! Well, I guess you needn't pay for your breakfast by cooking it.
Mother's probably run out for something - she never has anything in the house -
and is talking somewhere. I'll take that fork."
But Ellen proceeded to turn the ham.
"I'll do it," she said. "You might spoil your hands."
But Edith showed no offense.