A Poor Wise Man HTML version
"All right," she acceded indifferently. "If you're going to eat it you'd better cook it.
We're rotten housekeepers here."
"I should think, if you're going to keep boarders, somebody would learn to cook.
Mr. Cameron's mother is the best housekeeper in town, and he was raised on
good food and plenty of it."
Her tone was truculent. Ellen's world, the world of short hours and easy service,
of the decorum of the Cardew servants' hall, of luxury and dignity and good pay,
had suddenly gone to pieces about her. She was feeling very bitter, especially
toward a certain chauffeur who had prophesied the end of all service. He had
made the statement that before long all people would be equal. There would be
no above and below-stairs, no servants' hall.
"They'll drive their own cars, then, damn them," he had said once, "if they can get
any to drive. And answer their own bells, if they've got any to ring. And get up
and cook their own breakfasts."
"Which you won't have any to cook," Grayson had said irritably, from the head of
the long table. "Just a word, my man. That sort of talk is forbidden here. One
word more and I go to Mr. Cardew."
The chauffeur had not sulked, however. "All right, Mr. Grayson," he said affably.
"But I can go on thinking, I daresay. And some of these days you'll be wishing
you'd climbed on the band wagon before it's too late."
Ellen, turning the ham carefully, was conscious that her revolt had been only
partially on Lily's account. It was not so much Lily's plight as the abuse of power,
although she did not put it that way, that had driven her out. Ellen then had
carried out her own small revolution, and where had it put her? She had lost a
good home, and what could she do? All she knew was service.
Edith poured herself a cup of coffee, and taking a piece of toast from the oven,
stood nibbling it. The crumbs fell on the not over-clean floor.
"Why don't you go into the dining-room to eat?" Ellen demanded.
"Got out of the wrong side of the bed, didn't you?" Edith asked. "Willy's bed, I
suppose. I'm not hungry, and I always eat breakfast like this. I wish he would
hurry. We'll be late."
Ellen stared. It was her first knowledge that this girl, this painted hussy, worked in
Willy's pharmacy, and her suspicions increased. She had a quick vision, as she
had once had of Lily, of Edith in the Cameron house; Edith reading or
embroidering on the front porch while Willy's mother slaved for her; Edith on the
same porch in the evening, with all the boys in town around her. She knew the