A Poor Wise Man HTML version

Chapter 5
Mr. William Wallace Cameron, that evening of Lily's return, took a walk. From his
boarding house near the Eagle Pharmacy to the Cardew residence was a half-
hour's walk. There were a number of things he had meant to do that evening,
with a view to improving his mind, but instead he took a walk. He had made up a
schedule for those evenings when he was off duty, thinking it out very carefully
on the train to the city. And the schedule ran something like this:
Monday: 8-11. Read History.
Wednesday: 8-11. Read Politics and Economics.
Friday: 8-9:30. Travel. 9:30-11. French.
Sunday: Hear various prominent divines.
He had cut down on the travel rather severely, because travel was with him an
indulgence rather than a study. The longest journey he had ever taken in his life
was to Washington. That was early in the war, when it did not seem possible that
his country would not use him, a boy who could tramp incredible miles in spite of
his lameness and who could shoot a frightened rabbit at almost any distance, by
allowing for a slight deflection to the right in the barrel of his old rifle.
But they had refused him.
"They won't use me, mother," he had said when he got home, home being a
small neat house on a tidy street of a little country town. "I tried every branch, but
the only training I've had - well, some smart kid said they weren't planning to
serve soda water to the army. They didn't want cripples, you see."
"I wish you wouldn't, Willy."
He had been frightfully sorry then and had comforted her at some length, but the
fact remained.
"And you the very best they've ever had for mixing prescriptions!" she had said at
last. "And a graduate in chemistry!"
"Well," he said, "that's that, and we won't worry about it. There's more than one
way of killing a cat."
"What do you mean, Willy? More than one way?"
There was no light of prophecy in William Wallace Cameron's gray eyes,
however, when he replied: "More than one way of serving my country. Don't you
worry. I'll find something."