A Poor Wise Man HTML version
him, offering much more than the land was worth. Doyle began by being
pugnacious, but in the end he took to brooding.
"He'll get me yet," he would mutter, standing among the white phlox of his little
back garden. "He'll get me. He never quits."
Anthony Cardew waited a year. Then he had the frame building condemned as
unsafe, and Doyle gave in. Anthony built his house. He put a brick stable where
the garden had been, and the night watchman for the property complained that a
little man, with wild eyes, often spent half the night standing across the street,
quite still, staring over. If Anthony gave Doyle a thought, it was that progress and
growth had their inevitable victims. But on the first night of Anthony's occupancy
of his new house Doyle shot himself beside the stable, where a few stalks of
white phlox had survived the building operations.
It never reached the newspapers, nor did a stable-boy's story of hearing the
dying man curse Anthony and all his works. But nevertheless the story of the
Doyle curse on Anthony Cardew spread. Anthony heard it, and forgot it. But two
days later he was dragged from his carriage by young Jim Doyle, returned for the
older Doyle's funeral, and beaten insensible with the stick of his own carriage
Young Doyle did not run away. He stood by, a defiant figure full of hatred,
watching Anthony on the cobbles, as though he wanted to see him revive and
"I didn't do it to revenge my father," he said at the trial. "He was nothing to me - I
did it to show old Cardew that he couldn't get away with it. I'd do it again, too."
Any sentiment in his favor died at that, and he was given five years in the
penitentiary. He was a demoralizing influence there, already a socialist with
anarchical tendencies, and with the gift of influencing men. A fluent, sneering
youth, who lashed the guards to fury with his unctuous, diabolical tongue.
The penitentiary had not been moved then. It stood in the park, a grim gray thing
of stone. Elinor Cardew, a lonely girl always, used to stand in a window of the
new house and watch the walls. Inside there were men who were shut away from
all that greenery around them. Men who could look up at the sky, or down at the
ground, but never out and across, as she could.
She was always hoping some of them would get away. She hated the sentries,
rifle on shoulder, who walked their monotonous beats, back and forward, along
the top of the wall.
Anthony's house was square and substantial, with high ceilings. It was paneled
with walnut and furnished in walnut, in those days. Its tables and bureaus were of