A Poor Wise Man HTML version
The discovery that Lily had left his house threw Jim Doyle into a frenzy. The very
manner of her going filled him with dark suspicion. Either she had heard more
that morning than he had thought, or - In his cunning mind for weeks there had
been growing a smoldering suspicion of his wife. She was too quiet, too
acquiescent. In the beginning, when Woslosky had brought the scheme to him,
and had promised it financial support from Europe, he had taken a cruel and
savage delight in outlining it to her, in seeing her cringe and go pale.
He had not feared her then. She had borne with so much, endured, tolerated,
accepted, that he had not realized that she might have a breaking point.
The plan had appealed to his cynical soul from the first. It was the apotheosis of
cynicism, this reducing of a world to its lowest level. And it had amused him to
see his wife, a gentlewoman born, bewildered before the chaos he depicted.
"But-it is German!" she had said.
"I bow before intelligence. It is German. Also it is Russian. Also it is of all nations.
All this talk now, of a League of Nations, a few dull diplomats acting as God over
the peoples of the earth!" His eyes blazed. "While the true league, of the workers
of the world, is already in effect!"
But he watched her after that, not that he was afraid of her, but because her re-
action as a woman was important. He feared women in the movement. It had its
disciples, fervent and eloquent, paid and unpaid women agitators, but he did not
trust them. They were invariably women without home ties, women with nothing
to protect, women with everything to gain and nothing to lose. The woman in the
home was a natural anti-radical. Not the police, not even the army, but the
woman in the home was the deadly enemy of the great plan.
He began to hate Elinor, not so much for herself, as for the women she
represented. She became the embodiment of possible failure. She stood in his
path, passively resistant, stubbornly brave.
She was not a clever woman, and she was slow in gathering the full significance
of a nation-wide general strike, that with an end of all production the non-
producing world would be beaten to its knees. And then she waited for a world
movement, forgetting that a flame must start somewhere and then spread. But
she listened and learned. There was a great deal of talk about class and mass.
She learned that the mass, for instance, was hungry for a change. It would
welcome any change. Woslosky had been in Russia when the Kerensky regime