A Poor Wise Man HTML version

was overthrown, and had seen that strange three days when the submerged part
of the city filled the streets, singing, smiling, endlessly walking, exalted and
without guile.
No problems troubled them. They had ceased to labor, and that was enough.
Had it not been for its leaders, the mass would have risen like a tide, and ebbed
Elinor had struggled to understand. This was not Socialism. Jim had been a
Socialist for years. He had believed that the gradual elevation of the few, the
gradual subjection of the many, would go on until the majority would drag the few
down to their own level. But this new dream was something immediate. At her
table she began to hear talk of substituting for that slow process a militant
minority. She was a long time, months, in discovering that Jim Doyle was one of
the leaders of that militant minority, and that the methods of it were unspeakably
Then had begun Elinor Doyle's long battle, at first to hold him back, and that
failing, the fight between her duty to her husband and that to her country. He had
been her one occupation and obsession too long to be easily abandoned, but
she was sturdily national, too. In the end she made her decision. She lived in his
house, mended his clothing, served his food, met his accomplices, and -
She hated herself for it. Every fine fiber of her revolted. But as time went on, and
she learned the full wickedness of the thing, her days became one long waiting.
She saw one move after another succeed, strike after strike slowing production,
and thus increasing the cost of living. She saw the growing discontent and
muttering, the vicious circle of labor striking for more money, and by its own
ceasing of activity making the very increases they asked inadequate. And behind
it all she saw the ceaseless working, the endless sowing, of a grim-faced band of
She was obliged to wait. A few men talking in secret meetings, a hidden
propaganda of crime and disorder - there was nothing to strike at. And Elinor,
while not clever, had the Cardew shrewdness. She saw that, like the crisis in a
fever, the thing would have to come, be met, and defeated.
She had no hope that the government would take hold. Government was aloof,
haughty, and secure in its own strength. Just now, too, it was objective, not
subjective. It was like a horse set to win a race, and unconscious of the fly on its
withers. But the fly was a gadfly.
Elinor knew Doyle was beginning to suspect her. Sometimes she thought he
would kill her, if he discovered what she meant to do. She did not greatly care.