A Poor Wise Man HTML version
Dominant family traits have a way of skipping one generation and appearing in
the next. Lily Cardew at that stage of her life had a considerable amount of old
Anthony's obstinacy and determination, although it was softened by a long line of
Cardew women behind her, women who had loved, and suffered dominance
because they loved. Her very infatuation for Louis Akers, like Elinor's for Doyle,
was possibly an inheritance from her fore-mothers, who had been wont to
overlook the evil in a man for the strength in him. Only Lily mistook physical
strength for moral fibre, insolence and effrontery for courage.
In both her virtues and her faults, however, irrespective of heredity, Lily
represented very fully the girl of her position and period. With no traditions to
follow, setting her course by no compass, taught to think but not how to think,
resentful of tyranny but unused to freedom, she moved ahead along the path she
had elected to follow, blindly and obstinately, yet unhappy and suffering.
Her infatuation for Louis Akers had come to a new phase of its rapid
development. She had reached that point where a woman realizes that the man
she loves is, not a god of strength and wisdom, but a great child who needs her.
It is at that point that one of two things happens: the weak woman abandons him,
and follows her dream elsewhere. The woman of character, her maternal instinct
roused, marries him, bears him children, is both wife and mother to him, and
finds in their united weaknesses such strength as she can.
In her youth and self-sufficiency Lily stood ready to give, rather than to receive.
She felt now that he needed her more than she needed him. There was
something unconsciously patronizing those days in her attitude toward him, and if
he recognized it he did not resent it. Women had always been "easy" for him. Her
very aloofness, her faint condescension, her air of a young grande dame, were a
part of her attraction for him.
Love sees clearly, and seeing, loves on. But infatuation is blind; when it gains
sight, it dies. Already Lily was seeing him with the critical eyes of youth, his loud
voice, his over-fastidious dress, his occasional grossnesses. To offset these she
placed vast importance on his promise to leave his old associates when she
The time was very close now. She could not hold him off much longer, and she
began to feel, too, that she must soon leave the house on Cardew Way. Doyle's
attitude to her was increasingly suspicious and ungracious. She knew that he
had no knowledge of Louis's promise, but he began to feel that she was working
against him, and showed it.