A Poor Wise Man HTML version

Doyle stood staring at Lily angrily. He did not know how much she had heard,
how much she knew. At the moment he did not care. He had a reckless impulse
to tell her the truth, but his habitual caution prevailed. He forced a cold smile.
"Don't bother your pretty head about politics," he said.
Lily was equally cold. Her dislike of him had been growing for weeks, coupled to
a new and strange distrust.
"Politics? You seem to take your politics very hard."
"I do," he said urbanely. "Particularly when I am fighting my wife's family. May I
pour you some coffee?"
And pour it he did, eyeing her furtively the while, and brought it to her.
"May I give you a word of advice, Lily?" he said. "Don't treat your husband to
tears at breakfast - unless you want to see him romping off to some other
"If he cared to do that I shouldn't want him anyhow."
"You're a self-sufficient child, aren't you? Well, the best of us do it, sometimes."
He had successfully changed the trend of her thoughts, and he went out, carrying
the newspaper with him.
Nevertheless, he began to feel that her presence in the house was a menace.
With all her theories he knew that a word of the truth would send her flying,
breathless with outrage, out of his door. He could quite plainly visualize that
home-coming of hers. The instant steps that would be taken against him, old
Anthony on the wire appealing to the governor, Howard closeted with the Chief of
Police, an instant closing of the net. And he was not ready for the clash.
No. She must stay. If only Elinor would play the game, instead of puling and
mouthing! In the room across the hall where his desk stood he paced the floor,
first angrily, then thoughtfully, his head bent. He saw, and not far away now,
himself seated in the city hall, holding the city in the hollow of his hand. From that
his dreams ranged far. He saw himself the head, not of the nation - there would
be no nation, as such - but of the country. The very incidents of the night before,
blundering as they were, showed him the ease with which the new force could be
He was drunk with power.