A Poor Wise Man HTML version

Chapter 51
OLD Anthony's body had been brought home, and lay in state in his great bed.
There had been a bad hour; death seems so strangely to erase faults and leave
virtues. Something strong and vital had gone from the house, and the servants
moved about with cautious, noiseless steps. In Grace's boudoir, Howard was
sitting, his arms around his wife, telling her the story of the day. At dawn he had
notified her by telephone of Akers' murder.
"Shall I tell Lily?" she had asked, trembling.
"Do you want to wait until I get back?"
"I don't know how she will take it, Howard. I wish you could be here, anyhow."
But then had come the battle and his father's death, and in the end it was Willy
Cameron who told her. He had brought back all that was mortal of Anthony
Cardew, and, having seen the melancholy procession up the stairs, had stood in
the hall, hating to intrude but hoping to be useful. Howard found him there, a
strange, disheveled figure, bearing the scars of battle, and held out his hand.
"It's hard to thank you, Cameron," he said; "you seem to be always about when
we need help. And" he paused. "We seem to have needed it considerably lately."
Willy Cameron flushed.
"I feel rather like a meddler, sir."
"Better go up and wash," Howard said. "I'll go up with you."
It happened, therefore, that it was in Howard Cardew's opulent dressing-room
that Howard first spoke to Willy Cameron of Akers' death, pacing the floor as he
did so.
"I haven't told her, Cameron." He was anxious and puzzled. "She'll have to be
told soon, of course. I don't know anything about women. I don't know how she'll
take it."
"She has a great deal of courage. It will be a shock, but not a grief. But I have
been thinking - " Willy Cameron hesitated. "She must not feel any remorse," he
went on. "She must not feel that she contributed to it in any way. If you can make
that clear to her - "