A Poor Wise Man HTML version

Chapter 32
Life had beaten Lily Cardew. She went about the house, pathetically reminiscent
of Elinor Doyle in those days when she had sought sanctuary there; but where
Elinor had seen those days only as interludes in her stormy life, Lily was finding a
strange new peace. She was very tender, very thoughtful, insistently cheerful, as
though determined that her own ill-fortune should not affect the rest of the
But to Lily this peace was not an interlude, but an end. Life for her was over. Her
bright dreams were gone, her future settled. Without so putting it, even to herself,
she dedicated herself to service, to small kindnesses, and little thoughtful acts.
She was, daily and hourly, making reparation to them all for what she had cost
them, in hope.
That was the thing that had gone out of life. Hope. Her loathing of Louis Akers
was gone. She did not hate him. Rather she felt toward him a sort of numbed
indifference. She wished never to see him again, but the revolt that had followed
her knowledge of the conditions under which he had married her was gone. She
tried to understand his viewpoint, to make allowances for his lack of some
fundamental creed to live by. But as the days went on, with that healthy tendency
of the mind to bury pain, she found him, from a figure that bulked so large as to
shut out all the horizon of her life, receding more and more.
But always he would shut off certain things. Love, and marriage, and of course
the hope of happiness. Happiness was a thing one earned, and she had not
earned it.
After the scene at the Saint Elmo, when he had refused to let her go, and when
Willy Cameron had at last locked him in the bedroom of the suite and had taken
her away, there had followed a complete silence. She had waited for some move
or his part, perhaps an announcement of the marriage in the newspapers, but
nothing had appeared. He had commenced a whirlwind campaign for the
mayoralty and was receiving a substantial support from labor.
The months at the house on Cardew Way seemed more and more dream-like,
and that quality of remoteness was accentuated by the fact that she had not
been able to talk to Elinor. She had telephoned more than once during the week,
but a new maid had answered. Mrs. Doyle was out. Mrs. Doyle was unable to
come to the telephone. The girl was a foreigner, with something of Woslosky's
burr in her voice.