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A Poor Wise Man by Mary Roberts Rinehart

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that night, and her face hardened. Had any one told Edith that she
was beginning to care for the lame young man in the rear room, with
his exaggerated chivalry toward women, his belief in home, and his
sentimental whistling, she would have laughed. But he gave her
something that the other men she knew robbed her of, a sort of
self-respect. It was perhaps not so much that she cared for him,
as that he enabled her to care more for herself.

But he was going to dinner with Lily Cardew.

"I might, depending on what you've got to offer."

"I've got a car now, Edith. I'm not joking. There was a lot of
outside work, and the organization came over. I've been after it
for six months. We can have a ride, and supper somewhere. How's
the young man with the wooden leg?"

"If you want to know I'll call him out and let him tell you."

"Quick, aren't you?" He smiled down at where she stood, firmly
entrenched behind a show case. "Well, don't fall in love with him.
That's all. I'm a bad man when I'm jealous."

He sauntered out, leaving Edith gazing thoughtfully after him. He
did not know, nor would have cared had he known, that her acceptance
of his invitation was a complex of disgust of home, of the call of
youth, and of the fact that Willy Cameron was dining at the Cardews
that night.

CHAPTER XII

Howard Cardew was in his dressing room, sitting before the fire.
His man had put out his dinner clothes and retired, and Howard was
sifting before the fire rather listlessly.

In Grace's room, adjoining, he could hear movements and low voices.
Before Lily's return, now and then when he was tired Grace and he
had dined by the fire in her boudoir. It had been very restful.
He was still in love with his wife, although, as in most marriages,
there was one who gave more than the other. In this case it was
Grace who gave, and Howard who received. But he loved her. He
never thought of other women. Only his father had never let him
forget her weaknesses.

Sometimes he was afraid that he was looking at Grace with his
father's eyes, rather than his own.

He had put up a hard fight with his father. Not about Grace. That
was over and done with, although it had been bad while it lasted.
But his real struggle had been to preserve himself, to keep his
faiths and his ideals, and even his personality. In the inessentials
he had yielded easily, and so bought peace. Or perhaps a truce, of
a sort. But for the essentials he was standing with a sort of
dogged conviction that if he lowered his flag it would precipitate a
crisis. He was not brilliant, but he was intelligent, progressive
and kindly. He knew that his father considered him both stupid and
obstinate.

There was going to be a strike. The quarrel now was between
Anthony's curt "Let them strike," and his own conviction that a
strike at this time might lead to even worse things. 'The men's
demands were exorbitant. No business, no matter how big, could
concede them and live. But Howard was debating another phase of
the situation.

Not all the mills would go down. A careful canvass of some of the
other independent concerns had shown the men eighty, ninety, even
one hundred per cent, loyal. Those were the smaller plants, where
there had always been a reciprocal good feeling between the owners
and the men; there the men knew the owners, and the owners knew the
men, who had been with them for years.

But the Cardew Mills would go down. There had been no liaison
between the Cardews and the workmen. The very magnitude of the
business forbade that. And for many years, too, the Cardews had
shown a gross callousness to the welfare of the laborers. Long
ago he had urged on his father the progressive attitude of other
steel men, but Anthony had jeered, and when Howard had forced the
issue and gained concessions, it was too late. The old grievances
remained in too many minds. To hate the Cardews bad become a habit.
Their past sins would damn them now. The strike was wrong, a
wicked thing. It was without reason and without aim. The men were
knocking a hole in the boat that floated them. But-

There was a tap at his door, and he called "Come in." From her
babyhood Lily had had her own peculiar method of signaling that she
stood without, a delicate rapid tattoo of finger nails on the panel.
He watched smilingly for her entrance.

"Well!" she said. "Thank goodness you haven't started to dress. I
tried to get here earlier, but my hair wouldn't go up, I want to
make a good impression to-night."

"Is there a dinner on? TI didn't know it."

"Not a dinner. A young man. I came to see what you are going to
wear."

"Really! Well, I haven't a great variety. The ordinary dinner
dress of a gentleman doesn't lend itself to any extraordinary
ornamentation. If you like, I'll pin on that medal from the Iron
and Steel - Who's coming, Lily?"

"Grayson says grandfather's dining out."

"I believe so."

"What a piece of luck! I mean - you know what he'd say if I asked
him not to dress for dinner."

"Am I to gather that you are asking me?"

"You wouldn't mind, would you? He hasn't any evening clothes."

"Look here, Lily," said her father, sitting upright. "Who is coming
here to-night? And why should he upset the habits of the entire
family?"

"Willy Cameron. You know, father. And he has the queerest ideas
about us. Honestly. And I want him to like us, and it's such a
good chance, with grandfather out."

He ignored that.

"How about our liking him?"

"Oh, you'll like him. Everybody does. You will try to make a good
impression, won't you, father?"

He got up, and resting his hands on her shoulders, smiled down into
her upturned face. "I will," he said. "But I think I should tell
you that your anxiety arouses deep and black suspicions in my mind.
Am I to understand that you have fixed your young affections on
this Willy Cameron, and that you want your family to help you in
your dark designs?"

Lily laughed.

"I love him," she said. "I really do. I could listen to him for
hours. But people don't want to marry Willy Cameron. They just
love him."

There was born in Howard's mind a vision of a nice pink and white
young man, quite sexless, whom people loved but did not dream of
marrying.

"I see," he said slowly. "Like a puppy."

"Not at all like a puppy."

"I'm afraid I'm not subtle, my dear. Well, ring for Adams, and
- you think he wouldn't care for the medal?"

"I think he'd love it. He'd probably think some king gave it to
you. I'm sure he believes that you and grandfather habitually
hobnob with kings." She turned to go out. "He doesn't approve
of kings."

"You are making me extremely uneasy," was her father's shot. "I
only hope I acquit myself well."

"Hurry, then. He is sure to be exactly on the hour." Howard was
still smiling slightly to himself when, a half-hour later, he
descended the staircase. But he had some difficulty first in
reconciling his preconceived idea of Willy with the tall young man,
with the faint unevenness of step, who responded to his greeting so
calmly and so easily. "We are always glad to see any of Lily's
friends."

"It is very good of you to let me come, sir."

Why, the girl was blind. This was a man, a fine, up-standing fellow,
with a clean-cut, sensitive face, and honest, almost beautiful eyes.
How did women judge men, anyhow?

And, try as he would, Howard Cardew could find no fault with Willy
Cameron that night. He tried him out on a number of things. In
religion, for instance, he was orthodox, although he felt that the
church had not come up fully during the war.

"Religion isn't a matter only of churches any more," said Mr.
Cameron. "It has to go out into the streets, I think, sir.
It's a-well, Christ left the tabernacle, you remember."

That was all right. Howard felt that himself sometimes. He was a
vestryman at Saint Peter's, and although he felt very devout during
the service, especially during the offertory, when the music filled
the fine old building, he was often conscious that he shed his
spirituality at the door, when he glanced at the sky to see what
were the prospects for an afternoon's golf.

In politics Willy Cameron was less satisfactory.

"I haven't decided, yet," he said. "I voted for Mr. Wilson in 1916,
but although I suppose parties are necessary, I don't like to feel
that I am party-bound. Anyhow, the old party lines are gone. I
rather look - "

He stopped. That terrible speech of Edith Boyd's still rankled.

"Go on, Willy," said Lily. "I told them they'd love to you talk."

"That's really all, sir," said Willy Cameron, unhappily. "I am a
Scot, and to start a Scot on reform is fatal."

"Ah, you believe in reform?"

"We are not doing very well as we are, sir."

"I should like extremely to know how you feel about things," said
Howard, gravely.

"Only this: So long as one party is, or is considered, the
representative of capital, the vested interests, and the other of
labor, the great mass of the people who are neither the one nor
the other cannot be adequately represented."

"And the solution?"

"Perhaps a new party. Or better still, a liberalizing of the
Republican."

"Before long," said Lily suddenly, "there will be no state. There
will be enough for everybody, and nobody will have too much."

Howard smiled at her indulgently.

"How do you expect to accomplish this ideal condition?"

"That's the difficulty about it," said Lily, thoughtfully. "It
means a revolution. It would be peaceful, though. The thing to do
is to convince people that it is simple justice, and then they will
divide what they have."

"Why, Lily!" Grace's voice was anxious. "That's Socialism."

But Howard only smiled tolerantly, and changed the subject. Every
one had these attacks of idealism in youth. They were the
exaggerated altruism of adolescence; a part of its dreams and
aspirations. He changed the subject.

"I like the boy," he said to Grace, later, over the cribbage board
in the morning room. "He has character, and a queer sort of
magnetism. It mightn't be a bad thing - "

Grace was counting.

"I forgot to tell you; I think she refused Pink Denslow the other
day."

"I rather gathered, from the way she spoke of young Cameron, that
she isn't interested there either."

"Not a bit," said Grace, complacently. "You needn't worry about him."

Howard smiled. He was often conscious that after all the years of
their common life, his wife's mind and his traveled along parallel
lines that never met.

Willy Cameron was extremely happy. He had brought his pipe along,
although without much hope, but the moment they were settled by the
library fire Lily had suggested it.

"You know you can't talk unless you have it in your hand to wave
around," she said. "And I want to know such a lot of things. Where
you live, and all that."

"I live in a boarding house. More house than board, really. And
the work's all right. I'm going to study metallurgy some day.
There are night courses at the college, only I haven't many nights."

He had lighted his pipe, and kept his eyes on it mostly, or on the
fire. He was afraid to look at Lily, because there was something
he could not keep out of his eyes, but must keep from her. It had
been both better and worse than he had anticipated, seeing her in
her home. Lily herself had not changed. She was her wonderful self,
in spite of her frock and her surroundings. But the house, her
people, with their ease of wealth and position, Grace's slight
condescension, the elaborate simplicity of dining, the
matter-of-course-ness of the service. It was not that Lily was
above him. That was ridiculous. But she was far removed from him.

"There is something wrong with you, Willy," she said unexpectedly.
"You are not happy, or you are not well. Which is it? You are
awfully thin, for one thing."

"I'm all right," he said, evading her eyes.

"Are you lonely? I don't mean now, of course."

"Well, I've got a dog. That helps. He's a helpless sort of mutt.
I carry his meat home from the shop in my pocket, and I feel like
a butcher's wagon, sometimes. But he's taken a queer sort of
liking to me, and he is something to talk to."

"Why didn't you bring him along?"

Dogs were forbidden in the Cardew house, by old Anthony's order, as
were pipes, especially old and beloved ones, but Lily was entirely
reckless.

"He did follow me. He's probably sitting on the doorstep now. I
tried to send him back, but he's an obstinate little beast."

Lily got up.

"I am going to bring him in," she said. "And if you'll ring that
bell we'll get him some dinner."

"I'll get him, while you ring."

Half an hour later Anthony Cardew entered his house. He had spent
a miserable evening. Some young whipper snapper who employed a
handful of men had undertaken to show him where he, Anthony Cardew,
was a clog in the wheel of progress. Not in so many words, but he
had said: "Tempora mutantur, Mr. Cardew. And the wise employer
meets those changes half-way."

"You young fools want to go all the way."

"Not at all. We'll meet them half-way, and stop."

"Bah!" said Anthony Cardew, and had left the club in a temper. The
club was going to the dogs, along with the rest of the world. There
was only a handful of straight-thinking men like himself left in it.
Lot of young cravens, letting their men dominate them and intimidate
them.

So he slammed into his house, threw off his coat and hat, and -
sniffed. A pungent, acrid odor was floating through a partly closed
door. Anthony Cardew flung open the door and entered.

Before the fire, on a deep velvet couch, sat his granddaughter.
Beside her was a thin young man in a gray suit, and the thin young
man was waving an old pipe about, and saying:

"Tempora mutantur, Lily. The wise employer - "

"I am afraid, sir," said Anthony, in a terrible voice, "that you are
not acquainted with the rules of my house. I object to pipes. There
are cigars in the humidor behind you."

"Very sorry, Mr. Cardew," Willy Cameron explained. "I didn't know.
I'll put it away, sir."

But Anthony was not listening. His eyes had traveled from an empty
platter on the hearth-rug to a deep chair where Jinx, both warm and
fed at the same time, and extremely distended with meat, lay
sleeping. Anthony put out a hand and pressed the bell beside him.

"I want you to meet Mr. Cameron, grandfather." Lily was rather pale,
but she had the Cardew poise. "He was in the camp when I was."

Grayson entered on that, however, and Anthony pointed to Jinx.

"Put that dog out," he said, and left the room, his figure rigid
and uncompromising.

"Grayson," Lily said, white to the lips, "that dog is to remain
here. He's perfectly quiet. And, will you find Ellen and ask her
to come here?"

"Haven't I made enough trouble?" asked Willy Cameron, unhappily.
"I can see her again, you know."

"She's crazy to see you, Willy. And besides - "

Grayson had gone, after a moment's hesitation.

"Don't you see?" she said. "The others have always submitted. I
did, too. But I can't keep it up, Willy. I can't live here and
let him treat me like that. Or my friends. I know what will happen.
I'll run away, like Aunt Elinor."

"You must not do that, Lily." He was very grave.

"Why not? They think she is unhappy. She isn't. She ran away and
married a man she cared about. I may call you up some day and ask
you to marry me!" she added, less tensely. "You would be an
awfully good husband, you know."

She looked up at him, still angry, but rather amused with this new
conceit.

"Don't!"

She was startled by the look on his face.

"You see," he said painfully, "what only amuses you in that idea
is - well, it doesn't amuse me, Lily."

"I only meant - " she was very uncomfortable. "You are so real and
dependable and kind, and I - "

"I know what you mean. Like Jinx, there. I'm sorry! I didn't mean
that. But you must not talk about marrying me unless you mean it.
You see, I happen to care."

"Willy!"

"It won't hurt you to know, although I hadn't meant to tell you.
And of course, you know, I am not asking you to marry me. Only I'd
like you to feel that you can count on me, always. The one person
a woman can count on is the man who loves her."

And after a little silence:

"You see, I know you are not in love with me. I cared from the
beginning, but I always knew that."

"I wish I did." She was rather close to tears. She had not felt at
all like that with Pink. But, although she knew he was suffering,
his quietness deceived her. She had the theory of youth about love,
that it was a violent thing, tempestuous and passionate. She
thought that love demanded, not knowing that love gives first, and
then asks. She could not know how he felt about his love for her,
that it lay in a sort of cathedral shrine in his heart. There were
holy days when saints left their niches and were shown in city
streets, but until that holy day came they remained in the church.

"You will remember that, won't you?"

"I'll remember, Willy."

"I won't be a nuisance, you know. I've never had any hope, so I
won't make you unhappy. And don't be unhappy about me, Lily. I
would rather love you, even knowing I can't have you, than be
loved by anybody else."

Perhaps, had he shown more hurt, he would have made it seem more
real to her. But he was frightfully anxious not to cause her pain.

"I'm really very happy, loving you," he added, and smiled down at
her reassuringly. But he had for all that a wild primitive impulse
which almost overcame him for a moment, to pick her up in his arms
and carry her out the door and away with him. Somewhere, anywhere.
Away from that grim old house, and that despotic little man, to
liberty and happiness and - William Wallace Cameron.

Ellen came in, divided between uneasiness and delight, and inquired
painstakingly about his mother, and his uncle in California, and
the Presbyterian minister. But she was uncomfortable and uneasy
and refused to sit down, and Willy watched her furtively slipping
out again with a slight frown. It was not right, somehow, this
dividing of the world into classes, those who served and those who
were served. But he had an idea that it was those below who made
the distinction, nowadays. It was the masses who insisted on
isolating the classes. They made kings, perhaps that they might
some day reach up and pull them off their thrones. At the top of
the stairs Ellen found Mademoiselle, who fixed her with cold eyes.

"What were you doing down there," she demanded.

"Miss Lily sent for me, to see that young man I told you about."

"How dare you go down? And into the library?"

"I've just told you," said Ellen, her face setting. "She sent for
me."

"Why didn't you say you were in bed?"

"I'm no liar, Mademoiselle. Besides, I guess it's no crime to see
a boy I've known all his life, and his mother and me like sisters."

"You are a fool," said Mademoiselle, and turning clumped back in
her bedroom slippers to her room.

Ellen went up to her room. Heretofore she had given her allegiance
to Mademoiselle and Mrs. Cardew, and in a more remote fashion, to
Howard. But Ellen, crying angry tears in her small white bed that
night, sensed a new division in the family, with Mademoiselle and
Anthony and Howard and Grace on one side, and Lily standing alone,
fighting valiantly for the right to live her own life, to receive
her own friends, and the friends of her friends, even though one
of these latter might be a servant in her own house.

Yet Ellen, with the true snobbishness of the servants' hall,
disapproved of Lily's course while she admired it.

"But they're all against her," Ellen reflected. "The poor thing!
And just because of Willy Cameron. Well, I'll stand by her, if
they throw me out for it."

In her romantic head there formed strange, delightful visions.
Lily eloping with Willy Cameron, assisted by herself. Lily in the
little Cameron house, astounding the neighborhood with her clothes
and her charm, and being sponsored by Ellen. The excitement of the
village, and the visits to Ellen to learn what to wear for a first
call, and were cards necessary?

Into Ellen's not very hard-working but monotonous life had comes
its first dream of romance.

CHAPTER XIII

For three weeks Lily did not see Louis Akers, nor did she go back
to the house on Cardew Way. She hated doing clandestine or forbidden
things, and she was, too, determined to add nothing to the tenseness
she began to realize existed at home. She went through her days,
struggling to fit herself again into the old environment, reading
to her mother, lending herself with assumed enthusiasm to such small
gayeties as Lent permitted, and doing penance in a dozen ways for
that stolen afternoon with Louis Akers.

She had been forbidden to see him again. It had come about by
Grace's confession to Howard as to Lily's visit to the Doyles. He
had not objected to that.

"Unless Doyle talks his rubbish to her," he said. "She said
something the other night that didn't sound like her. Was any one
else there?"

"An attorney named Akers," she said.

And at that Howard had scowled.

"She'd better keep away altogether," he observed, curtly. "She
oughtn't to meet men like that."

"Shall I tell her?"

"I'll tell her," he said. And tell her he did, not too tactfully,
and man-like shielding her by not telling her his reasons.

"He's not the sort of man I want you to know," he finished. "That
ought to be sufficient. Have you seen him since?"

Lily flushed, but she did not like to lie.

"I had tea with him one afternoon. I often have tea with men,
father. You know that."

"You knew I wouldn't approve, or you would have mentioned it."

Because he felt that he had been rather ruthless with her, he stopped
in at the jeweler's the next morning and sent her a tiny jeweled
watch. Lily was touched and repentant. She made up her mind not to
see Louis Akers again, and found a certain relief in the decision.
She was conscious that he had a peculiar attraction for her, a purely
emotional appeal. He made her feel alive. Even when she disapproved
of him, she was conscious of him. She put him resolutely out of her
mind, to have him reappear in her dreams, not as a lover, but as some
one dominant and insistent, commanding her to do absurd,
inconsequential things.

Now and then she saw Willy Cameron, and they had gone back,
apparently, to the old friendly relationship. They walked together,
and once they went to the moving pictures, to Grace's horror. But
there were no peanuts to eat, and instead of the jingling camp piano
there was an orchestra, and it was all strangely different. Even
Willy Cameron was different. He was very silent, and on the way
home he did not once speak of the plain people.

Louis Akers had both written and telephoned her, but she made
excuses, and did not see him, and the last time he had hung up the
receiver abruptly. She felt an odd mixture of relief and regret.

Then, about the middle of April, she saw him again.

Spring was well on by that time. Before the Doyle house on Cardew
Way the two horse-chestnuts were showing great red-brown buds, ready
to fall into leaf with the first warm day, and Elinor, assisted by
Jennie, the elderly maid, was finishing her spring house-cleaning.
The Cardew mansion showed window-boxes at each window, filled by the
florist with spring flowers, to be replaced later by summer ones.
A potted primrose sat behind the plate glass of the Eagle Pharmacy,
among packets of flower seeds and spring tonics, its leaves
occasionally nibbled by the pharmacy cat, out of some atavistic
craving survived through long generations of city streets.

The children's playground near the Lily furnace was ready; Howard
Cardew himself had overseen the locations of the swings and
chute-the-chutes. And at Friendship an army of workers was
sprinkling and tamping the turf of the polo field. After two years
of war, there was to be polo again that spring and early summer.
The Cherry Hill Hunt team was still intact, although some of the
visiting outfits had been badly shot to pieces by the war. But
the war was over. It lay behind, a nightmare to be forgotten as
soon as possible. It had left its train of misery and debt, but
- spring had come.

On a pleasant Monday, Lily motored out to the field with Pink
Denslow. It had touched her that he still wanted her, and it had
offered an escape from her own worries. She was fighting a sense
of failure that day. It seemed impossible to reconcile the warring
elements at home. Old Anthony and his son were quarreling over the
strike, and Anthony was jibing constantly at Howard over the
playground. It was not so much her grandfather's irritability that
depressed her as his tyranny over the household, and his attitude
toward her mother roused her to bitter resentment.

The night before she had left the table after one of his scourging
speeches, only to have what amounted to a scene with her mother
afterward.

"But I cannot sit by while he insults you, mother."

"It is just his way. I don't mind, really. Oh, Lily, don't destroy
what I have built up so carefully. It hurts your father so."

"Sometimes," Lily said slowly, "he makes me think Aunt Elinor's
husband was right. He believes a lot of things - "

"What things?" Grace had asked, suspiciously.

Lily hesitated.

"Well, a sort of Socialism, for one thing, only it isn't exactly
that. It's individualism, really, or I think so; the sort of thing
that this house stifles." Grace was too horrified for speech.
"I don't want to hurt you, mother, but don't you see? He tyrannizes
over all of us, and it's bad for our souls. Why should he bellow
at the servants? Or talk to you the way he did to-night?" She
smiled faintly. "We're all drowning, and I want to swim, that's all.
Mr. Doyle - "

"You are talking nonsense," said Grace sharply. "You have got a lot
of ideas from that wretched house, and now you think they are your
own. Lily, I warn you, if you insist on going back to the Doyles I
shall take you abroad."

Lily turned and walked out of the room, and there was something
suggestive of old Anthony in the pitch of her shoulders. Her anger
did not last long, but her uneasiness persisted. Already she knew
that she was older in many ways than Grace; she had matured in the
past year more than her mother in twenty, and she felt rather like
a woman obeying the mandates of a child.

But on that pleasant Monday she was determined to be happy.

"Old world begins to look pretty, doesn't it?" said Pink, breaking
in on her thoughts.

"Lovely."

"It's not a bad place to live in, after all," said Pink, trying to
cheer his own rather unhappy humor. "There is always spring to
expect, when we get low in winter. And there are horses and dogs,
and - and blossoms on the trees, and all that." What he meant was,
"If there isn't love."

"You are perfectly satisfied with things just as they are, aren't
you?" Lily asked, half enviously.

"Well, I'd change some things." He stopped. He wasn't going to
go round sighing like a furnace. "But it's a pretty good sort of
place. I'm for it."

"Have you sent your ponies out?"

"Only two. I want to show you one I bought from the Government
almost for nothing. Remount man piped me off. Light in flesh,
rather, but fast. Handy, light mouth - all he needs is a bit of
training."

They had been in the open country for some time, but now they were
approaching the Cardew's Friendship plant. The furnaces had covered
the fields with a thin deposit of reddish ore dust. Such blighted
grass as grew had already lost its fresh green, and the trees showed
stunted blossoms. The one oasis of freshness was the polo field
itself, carefully irrigated by underground pipes. The field, with
its stables and grandstand, had been the gift of Anthony Cardew,
thereby promoting much discussion with his son. For Howard had
wanted the land for certain purposes of his own, to build a clubhouse
for the men at the plant, with a baseball field. Finding his father
obdurate in that, he had urged that the field be thrown open to the
men and their families, save immediately preceding and during the
polo season. But he had failed there, too. Anthony Cardew had
insisted, and with some reason, that to use the grounds for band
concerts and baseball games, for picnics and playgrounds, would ruin
the turf for its legitimate purpose.

Howard had subsequently found other land, and out of his own private
means had carried out his plans, but the location was less desirable.
And he knew what his father refused to believe, that the polo ground,
taking up space badly needed for other purposes, was a continual
grievance.

Suddenly Pink stared ahead.

"I say," he said, "have they changed the rule about that sort of
thing?"

He pointed to the field. A diamond had been roughly outlined on it
with bags of sand, and a ball-game was in progress, boys playing,
but a long line of men watching from the side lines.

"I don't know, but it doesn't hurt anything."

"Ruins the turf, that's all." He stopped the car and got out.
"Look at this sign. It says 'ball-playing or any trespassing
forbidden on these grounds.' I'll clear them off."

"I wouldn't, Pink. They may be ugly."

But he only smiled at her reassuringly, and went off. She watched
him go with many misgivings, his sturdy young figure, his careful
dress, his air of the young aristocrat, easy, domineering,
unconsciously insolent. They would resent him, she knew, those men
and boys. And after all, why should they not use the field? There
was injustice in that sign.

Yet her liking and real sympathy were with Pink.

"Pink!" she called, "Come back here. Let them alone."

He turned toward her a face slightly flushed with indignation and
set with purpose.

"Sorry. Can't do it, Lily. This sort of thing's got to be stopped."

She felt, rather hopelessly, that he was wrong, but that he was
right, too. The grounds were private property. She sat back and
watched.

Pink was angry. She could hear his voice, see his gestures. He was
shooing them off like a lot of chickens, and they were laughing.
The game had stopped, and the side lines were pressing forward.
There was a moment's debate, with raised voices, a sullen muttering
from the crowd, and the line closing into a circle. The last thing
she saw before it closed was a man lunging at Pink, and his
counter-feint. Then some one was down. If it was Pink he was not
out, for there was fighting still going on. The laborers working
on the grounds were running.

Lily stood up in the car, pale and sickened. She was only vaguely
conscious of a car that suddenly left the road, and dashed
recklessly across the priceless turf, but she did see, and recognize,
Louis Akers as he leaped from it and flinging men this way and that
disappeared into the storm center. She could hear his voice, too,
loud and angry, and see the quick dispersal of the crowd. Some of
the men, foreigners, passed quite near to her, and eyed her either
sullenly or with mocking smiles. She was quite oblivious of them.
She got out and ran with shaking knees across to where Pink lay on
the grass, his profile white and sharply chiseled, with two or three
men bending over him.

Pink was dead. Those brutes had killed him. Pink.

He was not dead. He was moving his arms.

Louis Akers straightened when he saw her and took off his hat.

"Nothing to worry about, Miss Cardew," he said. "But what sort of
idiocy - ! Hello, old man, all right now?"

Pink sat up, then rose stiffly and awkwardly. He had a cut over one
eye, and he felt for his handkerchief.

"Fouled me," he said. "Filthy lot, anyhow. Wonder they didn't walk
on me when I was down." He turned to the grounds-keeper, who had
come up. "You ought to know better than to let those fellows cut up
this turf," he said angrily. "What're you here for anyhow?"

But he was suddenly very sick. He looked at Lily, his face drawn and
blanched.

"Got me right," he muttered. "I - "

"Get into my car," said Akers, not too amiably. "I'll drive you to
the stables. I'll be back, Miss Cardew."

Lily went back to the car and sat down. She was shocked and startled,
but she was strangely excited. The crowd had beaten Pink, but it
had obeyed Louis Akers like a master. He was a man. He was a strong
man. He must be built of iron. Mentally she saw him again, driving
recklessly over the turf, throwing the men to right and left, hoarse
with anger, tall, dominant, powerful.

It was more important that a man be a man than that he be a gentleman.

After a little he drove back across the field, sending the car
forward again at reckless speed. Some vision of her grandfather,
watching the machine careening over the still soft and spongy turf
and leaving deep tracks behind it, made her smile. Akers leaped
out.

"No need to worry about our young friend," he said cheerfully. "He
is alternately being very sick at his stomach and cursing the poor
working man. But I think I'd better drive you back. He'll be poor
company, I'll say that."

He looked at her, his bold eyes challenging, belying the amiable
gentleness of his smile.

"I'd better let him know."

"I told him. He isn't strong for me. Always hate the fellow who
saves you, you know. But he didn't object."

Lily moved into his car obediently. She felt a strange inclination
to do what this man wanted. Rather, it was an inability to oppose
him. He went on, big, strong, and imperious. And he carried one
along. It was easy and queer. But she did, unconsciously, what
she had never done with Pink or any other man; she sat as far away
from him on the wide seat as she could.

He noticed that, and smiled ahead, over the wheel. He had been
infuriated over her avoidance of him, but if she was afraid of him -

"Bully engine in this car. Never have to change a gear."

"You certainly made a road through the field."

"They'll fix that, all right. Are you warm enough?"

"Yes, thank you."

"You have been treating me very badly, you know, Miss Cardew."

"I have been frightfully busy."

'That's not true, and you know it. You've been forbidden to see
me, haven't you?"

"I have been forbidden to go back to Cardew Way."

"They don't know about me, then?"

"There isn't very much to know, is there?"

"I wish you wouldn't fence with me," he said impatiently. "I told
you once I was frank. I want you to answer one question. If this
thing rested with you, would you see me again?"

"I think I would, Mr. Akers," she said honestly.

Had she ever known a man like the one beside her, she would not
have given him that opportunity. He glanced sharply around, and
then suddenly stopped the car and turned toward her.

"I'm crazy about you, and you know it," he said. And roughly,
violently, he caught her to him and kissed her again and again. Her
arms were pinned to her sides, and she was helpless. After a brief
struggle to free herself she merely shut her eyes and waited for
him to stop.

"I'm mad about you," he whispered.

Then he freed her. Lily wanted to feel angry, but she felt only
humiliated and rather soiled. There were men like that, then, men
who gave way to violent impulses, who lost control of themselves
and had to apologize afterwards. She hated him, but she was sorry
for him, too. He would have to be so humble. She was staring ahead,
white and waiting for his explanation, when he released the brake
and started the car forward slowly.

"Well?" he said, with a faint smile.

"You will have to apologize for that, Mr. Akers."

"I'm damned if I will. That man back there, Denslow - he's the sort
who would kiss a girl and then crawl about it afterwards. I won't.
I'm not sorry. A strong man can digest his own sins. I kissed you
because I wanted to. It wasn't an impulse. I meant to when we
started. And you're only doing the conventional thing and pretending
to be angry. You're not angry. Good God, girl, be yourself once in
a while."

"I'm afraid I don't understand you." Her voice was haughty. "And I
must ask you to stop the car and let me get out."

"I'll do nothing of the sort, of course. Now get this straight,
Miss Cardew. I haven't done you any harm. I may have a brutal way
of showing that I'm crazy about you, but it's my way. I'm a man,
and I'm no hand kisser."

And when she said nothing:

"You think I'm unrestrained, and I am, in a way. But if I did what
I really want to do, I'd not take you home at all. I'd steal you.
You've done something to me, God knows what."

"Then I can only say I'm sorry," Lily said slowly.

She felt strangely helpless and rather maternal. With all his
strength this sort of man needed to be protected from himself. She
felt no answering thrill whatever to his passion, but as though,
having told her he loved her, he had placed a considerable
responsibility in her hands.

"I'll be good now," he said. "Mind, I'm not sorry. But I don't
want to worry you."

He made no further overtures to her during the ride, but he was
neither sulky nor sheepish. He feigned an anxiety as to the
threatened strike, and related at great length and with extreme
cleverness of invention his own efforts to prevent it.

"I've a good bit of influence with the A.F.L.," he said. "Doyle's
in bad with them, but I'm still solid. But it's coming, sure as
shooting. And they'll win, too."

He knew women well, and he saw that she was forgiving him. But she
would not forget. He had a cynical doctrine, to the effect that a
woman's first kiss of passion left an ineradicable mark on her, and
he was quite certain that Lily had never been so kissed before.

Driving through the park he turned to her:

"Please forgive me," he said, his mellow voice contrite and
supplicating. "You've been so fine about it that you make me
ashamed."

"I would like to feel that it wouldn't happen again: That's all."

"That means you intend to see me again. But never is a long word.
I'm afraid to promise. You go to my head, Lily Cardew." They were
halted by the traffic, and it gave him a chance to say something he
had been ingeniously formulating in his mind. "I've known lots of
girls. I'm no saint. But you are different. You're a good woman.
You could do anything you wanted with me, if you cared to."

And because she was young and lovely, and because he was always the
slave of youth and beauty, he meant what he said. It was a lie, but
he was lying to himself also, and his voice held unmistakable
sincerity. But even then he was watching her, weighing the effect
of his words on her. He saw that she was touched.

He was very well pleased with himself on his way home. He left the
car at the public garage, and walked, whistling blithely, to his
small bachelor apartment. He was a self-indulgent man, and his
rooms were comfortable to the point of luxury. In the sitting room
was a desk, as clean and orderly as Doyle's was untidy. Having put
on his dressing gown he went to it, and with a sheet of paper before
him sat for some time thinking.

He found his work irksome at times. True, it had its interest. He
was the liaison between organized labor, which was conservative in
the main, and the radical element, both in and out of the
organization. He played a double game, and his work was always the
same, to fan the discontent latently smoldering in every man's soul
into a flame. And to do this he had not Doyle's fanaticism.
Personally, Louis Akers found the world a pretty good place. He
hated the rich because they had more than he had, but he scorned
the poor because they had less. And he liked the feeling of power
he had when, on the platform, men swayed to his words like wheat to
a wind.

Personal ambition was his fetish, as power was Anthony Cardew's.
Sometimes he walked past the exclusive city clubs, and he dreamed of
a time when he, too, would have the entree to them. But time was
passing. He was thirty-three years old when Jim Doyle crossed his
path, and the clubs were as far away as ever. It was Doyle who
found the weak place in his armor, and who taught him that when one
could not rise it was possible to pull others down.

But it was Woslosky, the Americanized Pole; who had put the thing
in a more appealing form.

"Our friend Doyle to the contrary," he said cynically, "we cannot
hope to contend against the inevitable. The few will always govern
the many, in the end. It will be the old cycle, autocracy, anarchy,
and then democracy; but out of this last comes always the one man
who crowns himself or is crowned. One of the people. You, or
myself, it may be."

The Pole had smiled and shrugged his shoulders.

Akers did not go to work immediately. He sat for some time, a
cigarette in his hand, his eyes slightly narrowed. He believed that
he could marry Lily Cardew. It would take time and all his skill,
but he believed he could do it. His mind wandered to Lily herself,
her youth and charm, her soft red mouth, the feel of her warm young
body in his arms. He brought himself up sharply. Where would such
a marriage take him?

He pondered the question pro and con. On the one hand the Cardews,
on the other, Doyle and a revolutionary movement. A revolution
would be interesting and exciting, and there was strong in him the
desire to pull down. But revolution was troublesome. It was violent
and bloody. Even if it succeeded it would be years before the
country would be stabilized. This other, now -

He sat low in his chair, his long legs stretched out in his favorite
position, and dreamed. He would not play the fool like Doyle. He
would conciliate the family. In the end he would be put up at the
clubs; he might even play polo. His thoughts wandered to Pink
Denslow at the polo grounds, and he grinned.

"Young fool!" he reflected. "If I can't beat his time - " He
ordered dinner to be sent up, and mixed himself a cocktail, using
the utmost care in its preparation. Drinking it, he eyed himself
complacently in the small mirror over the mantel. Yes, life was
not bad. It was damned interesting. It was a game. No, it was
a race where a man could so hedge his bets that he stood to gain,
whoever won.

When there was a knock at the door he did not turn. "Come in,"
he said.

But it was not the waiter. It was Edith Boyd. He saw her through
the mirror, and so addressed her.

"Hello, sweetie," he said. Then he turned. "You oughtn't to come
here, Edith. I've told you about that."

"I had to see you, Lou."

"Well, take a good look, then," he said. Her coming fitted in well
with the complacence of his mood. Yes, life was good, so long as
it held power, and drink, and women.

He stooped to kiss her, but although she accepted the caress, she
did not return it.

"Not mad at me, Miss Boyd, are you?"

"No. Lou, I'm frightened!"

CHAPTER XIV

On clear Sundays Anthony Cardew played golf all day. He kept his
religious observances for bad weather, but at such times as he
attended service he did it with the decorum and dignity of a Cardew,
who bowed to his God but to nothing else. He made the responses
properly and with a certain unction, and sat during the sermon with
a vigilant eye on the choir boys, who wriggled. Now and then,
however, the eye wandered to the great stained glass window which
was a memorial to his wife. It said beneath: "In memoriam, Lilian
Lethbridge Cardew."

He thought there was too much yellow in John the Baptist. On the
Sunday afternoon following her ride into the city with Louis Akers,
Lily found herself alone. Anthony was golfing and Grace and Howard
had motored out of town for luncheon. In a small office near the
rear of the hall the second man dozed, waiting for the doorbell.
There would be people in for tea later, as always on Sunday
afternoons; girls and men, walking through the park or motoring up
in smart cars, the men a trifle bored because they were not golfing
or riding, the girls chattering about the small inessentials which
somehow they made so important.

Lily was wretchedly unhappy. For one thing, she had begun to feel
that Mademoiselle was exercising over her a sort of gentle espionage,
and she thought her grandfather was behind it. Out of sheer
rebellion she had gone again to the house on Cardew Way, to find
Elinor out and Jim Doyle writing at his desk. He had received her
cordially, and had talked to her as an equal. His deferential
attitude had soothed her wounded pride, and she had told him
something - very little - of the situation at home.

"Then you are still forbidden to come here?"

"Yes. As if what happened years ago matters now, Mr. Doyle."

He eyed her.

"Don't let them break your spirit, Lily," he had said. "Success
can make people very hard. I don't know myself what success would
do to me. Plenty, probably." He smiled. "It isn't the past your
people won't forgive me, Lily. It's my failure to succeed in what
they call success."

"It isn't that," she had said hastily. "It is - they say you are
inflammatory. Of course they don't understand. I have tried to
tell them, but - "

"There are fires that purify," he had said, smilingly.

She had gone home, discontented with her family's lack of vision,
and with herself.

She was in a curious frame of mind. The thought of Louis Akers
repelled her, but she thought of him constantly. She analyzed him
clearly enough; he was not fine and not sensitive. He was not even
kind. Indeed, she felt that he could be both cruel and ruthless.
And if she was the first good woman he had ever known, then he
must have had a hateful past.

The thought that he had kissed her turned her hot with anger and
shame at such times, but the thought recurred.

Had she had occupation perhaps she might have been saved, but she
had nothing to do. The house went on with its disciplined service;
Lent had made its small demands as to church services, and was over.
The weather was bad, and the golf links still soggy with the spring
rains. Her wardrobe was long ago replenished, and that small
interest gone.

And somehow there had opened a breach between herself and the little
intimate group that had been hers before the war. She wondered
sometimes what they would think of Louis Akers. They would admire
him, at first, for his opulent good looks, but very soon they would
recognize what she knew so well - the gulf between him and the men
of their own world, so hard a distinction to divine, yet so real for
all that. They would know instinctively that under his veneer of
good manners was something coarse and crude, as she did, and they
would politely snub him. She had no name and no knowledge for the
urge in the man that she vaguely recognized and resented. But she
had a full knowledge of the obsession he was becoming in her mind.

"If I could see him here," she reflected, more than once, "I'd get
over thinking about him. It's because they forbid me to see him.
It's sheer contrariness."

But it was not, and she knew it. She had never heard of his theory
about the mark on a woman.

She was hating herself very vigorously on that Sunday afternoon.
Mademoiselle and she had lunched alone in Lily's sitting-room, and
Mademoiselle had dozed off in her chair afterwards, a novel on her
knee. Lily was wandering about downstairs when the telephone rang,
and she had a quick conviction that it was Louis Akers. It was
only Willy Cameron, however, asking her if she cared to go for a
walk.

"I've promised Jinx one all day," he explained, "and we might as
well combine, if you are not busy."

She smiled at that.

"I'd love it," she said. "In the park?"

"Wait a moment." Then: "Yes, Jinx says the park is right."

His wholesome nonsense was good for her. She drew a long breath.

"You are precisely the person I need to-day," she said. "And come
soon, because I shall have to be back at five."

When he came he was very neat indeed, and most scrupulous as to his
heels being polished. He was also slightly breathless.

"Had to sew a button on my coat," he explained. "Then I found I'd
sewed in one of my fingers and had to start all over again."

Lily was conscious of a change in him. He looked older, she thought,
and thinner. His smile, when it came, was as boyish as ever, but
he did not smile so much, and seen in full daylight he was shabby.
He seemed totally unconscious of his clothes, however.

"What do you do with yourself, Willy?" she asked. "I mean when you
are free?"

"Read and study. I want to take up metallurgy pretty soon. There's
a night course at the college."

"We use metallurgists in the mill. When you are ready I know father
would be glad to have you."

He flushed at that.

"Thanks," he said. "I'd rather get in, wherever I go, by what I
know, and not who I know."

She felt considerably snubbed, but she knew his curious pride. After
a time, while he threw a stick into the park lake and Jinx retrieved
it, he said:

"What do you do with yourself these days, Lily?"

"Nothing. I've forgotten how to work, I'm afraid. And I'm not very
happy, Willy. I ought to be, but I'm just - not."

"You've learned what it is to be useful," he observed gravely, "and
now it hardly seems worth while just to live, and nothing else. Is
that it?"

"I suppose."

"Isn't there anything you can do?"

"They won't let me work, and I hate to study."

There was a silence. Willy Cameron sat on the bench, bent and
staring ahead. Jinx brought the stick, and, receiving no attention,
insinuated a dripping body between his knees. He patted the dog's
head absently.

"I have been thinking about the night I went to dinner at your house,"
he said at last. "I had no business to say what I said then. I've
got a miserable habit of saying just what comes into my mind, and
I've been afraid, ever since, that it would end in your not wanting
to see me again. Just try to forget it happened, won't you?"

"I knew it was an impulse, but it made me very proud, Willy."

"All right," he said quietly. "And that's that. Now about your
grandfather. I've had him on my mind, too. He is an old man, and
sometimes they are peculiar. I am only sorry I upset him. And you
are to forget that, too."

In spite of herself she laughed, rather helplessly.

"Is there anything I am to remember?"

He smiled too, and straightened himself, like a man who has got
something off his chest.

"Certainly there is, Miss Cardew. Me. Myself. I want you to know
that I'm around, ready to fetch and carry like Jinx here, and about
as necessary, I suppose. We are a good bit alike, Jinx and I. We're
satisfied with a bone, and we give a lot of affection. You won't
mind a bone now and then?"

His cheerful tone reassured the girl. There was no real hurt, then.

"That's nice of you, you know."

"Well," he said slowly, "you know there are men who prefer a dream
to reality. Perhaps I'm like that. Anyhow, that's enough about me.
Do you know that there is a strike coming?"

"Yes. I ought to tell you, Willy. I think the men are right."

He stared at her incredulously.

"Right?" he said. "Why, my dear child, most of them want to strike
about as much as I want delirium tremens. I've talked to them, and
I know."

"A slave may be satisfied if he has never known freedom."

"Oh, fudge," said Willy Cameron, rudely. "Where do you get all that?
You're quoting; aren't you? The strike, any strike, is an
acknowledgment of weakness. It is a resort to the physical because
the collective mentality of labor isn't as strong as the other side.
Or labor thinks it isn't, which amounts to the same thing. And
there is a fine line between the fellow who fights for a principle
and the one who knocks people down to show how strong he is."

"This is a fight for a principle, Willy."

"Fine little Cardew you are!" he scoffed. "Don't make any mistake.
There have been fights by labor for a principle, and the principle
won, as good always wins over evil. But this is different. It's
a direct play by men who don't realize what they are doing, into the
hands of a lot of - well, we'll call them anarchists. It's
Germany's way of winning the war. By indirection."

"If by anarchists you mean men like my uncle - "

"I do," he said grimly. "That's a family accident and you can't
help it. But I do mean Doyle. Doyle and a Pole named Woslosky,
and a scoundrel of an attorney here in town, named Akers, among others."

"Mr. Akers is a friend of mine, Willy."

He stared at her.

"If they have been teaching you their dirty doctrines, Lily," he said
at last, "I can only tell you this. They can disguise it in all the
fine terms they want. It is treason, and they are traitors. I know.
I've had a talk with the Chief of Police."

"I don't believe it."

"How well do you know Louis Akers?"

"Not very well." But there were spots of vivid color flaming in her
cheeks. He drew a long breath.

"I can't retract it," he said. "I didn't know, of course. Shall we
start back?"

They were very silent as they walked. Willy Cameron was pained and
anxious. He knew Akers' type rather than the man himself, but he
knew the type well. Every village had one, the sleek handsome animal
who attracted girls by sheer impudence and good humor, who made
passionate, pagan love promiscuously, and put the responsibility for
the misery they caused on the Creator because He had made them as
they were.

He was agonized by another train of thought. For him Lily had always
been something fine, beautiful, infinitely remote. There were other
girls, girls like Edith Boyd, who were touched, some more, some less,
with the soil of life. Even when, they kept clean they saw it all
about them, and looked on it with shrewd, sophisticated eyes. But
Lily was - Lily. The very thought of Louis Akers looking at her as
he had seen him look at Edith Boyd made him cold with rage.

"Do you mind if I say something?"

"That sounds disagreeable. Is it?"

"Maybe, but I'm going to anyhow, Lily. I don't like to think of you
seeing Akers. I don't know anything against him, and I suppose if I
did I wouldn't tell you. But he is not your sort."

An impulse of honesty prevailed with her.

"I know that as well as you do. I know him better than you do. But,
he stands for something, at least," she added rather hotly. "None
of the other men I know stand for anything very much. Even you,
Willy."

"I stand for the preservation of my country," he said gravely. "I
mean, I represent a lot of people who - well, who don't believe that
change always means progress, and who do intend that the changes
Doyle and Akers and that lot want they won't get. I don't believe
- if you say you want what they want - that you know what you are
talking about."

"Perhaps I am more intelligent than you think I am."

He was, of course, utterly wretched, impressed by the futility of
arguing with her.

"Do your people know that you are seeing Louis Akers!"

"You are being rather solicitous, aren't you?"

"I am being rather anxious. I wouldn't dare, of course, if we
hadn't been such friends. But Akers is wrong, wrong every way, and
I have to tell you that, even if it means that you will never see
me again. He takes a credulous girl - "

"Thank you!"

"And talks bunk to her and possibly makes love to her - "

"Haven't we had enough of Mr. Akers?" Lily asked coldly. "If you
cannot speak of anything else, please don't talk."

The result of which was a frozen silence until they reached the
house.

"Good-by," she said primly. "It was very nice of you to call me up.
Good-by, Jinx." She went up the steps, leaving him bare-headed and
rather haggard, looking after her.

He took the dog and went out into the country on foot, tramping
through the mud without noticing it, and now and then making little
despairing gestures. He was helpless. He had cut himself off from
her like a fool. Akers. Akers and Edith Boyd. Other women.
Akers and other women. And now Lily. Good God, Lily!

Jinx was tired. He begged to be carried, planting two muddy feet
on his master's shabby trouser leg, and pleading with low whines.
Willy Cameron stooped and, gathering up the little animal, tucked
him under his arm. When it commenced to rain he put him under his
coat and plunged his head through the mud and wet toward home.

Lily had entered the house in a white fury, but a moment later she
was remorseful. For one thing, her own anger bewildered her. After
all, he had meant well, and it was like him to be honest, even if
it cost him something he valued.

She ran to the door and looked around for him, but he had
disappeared. She went in again, remorseful and unhappy. What had
come over her to treat him like that? He had looked almost stricken.

"Mr. Akers is calling, Miss Cardew," said the footman. "He is in
the drawing-room."

Lily went in slowly.

Louis Akers had been waiting for some time. He had lounged into the
drawing-room, with an ease assumed for the servant's benefit, and
had immediately lighted a cigarette. That done, and the servant
departed, he had carefully appraised his surroundings. He liked
the stiff formality of the room. He liked the servant in his dark
maroon livery. He liked the silence and decorum. Most of all, he
liked himself in these surroundings. He wandered around, touching
a bowl here, a vase there, eyeing carefully the ancient altar cloth
that lay on a table, the old needle-work tapestry on the chairs.

He saw himself fitted into this environment, a part of it; coming
down the staircase, followed by his wife, and getting into his
waiting limousine; sitting at the head of his table, while the
important men of the city listened to what he had to say. It would
come, as sure as God made little fishes. And Doyle was a fool. He,
Louis Akers, would marry Lily Cardew and block that other game. But
he would let the Cardews know who it was who had blocked it and saved
their skins. They'd have to receive him after that; they would
cringe to him.

Then, unexpectedly, he had one of the shocks of his life. He had
gone to the window and through it he saw Lily and Willy Cameron
outside. He clutched at the curtain and cursed under his breath,
apprehensively. But Willy Cameron did not come in; Akers watched
him up the street with calculating, slightly narrowed eyes. The
fact that Lily Cardew knew the clerk at the Eagle Pharmacy was an
unexpected complication. His surprise was lost in anxiety. But
Lily, entering the room a moment later, rather pale and unsmiling,
found him facing the door, his manner easy, his head well up, and
drawn to his full and rather overwhelming height. She found her
poise entirely gone, and it was he who spoke first.

"I know," he said. "You didn't ask me, but I came anyhow."

She held out her hand rather primly.

"It is very good of you to come.

"Good! I couldn't stay away."

He took her outstretched hand, smiling down at her, and suddenly
made an attempt to draw her to him.

"You know that, don't you?"

"Please!"

He let her go at once. He had not played his little game so long
without learning its fine points. There were times to woo a woman
with a strong arm, and there were other times that required other
methods.

"Right-o," he said, "I'm sorry. I've been thinking about you so
much that I daresay I have got farther in our friendship than I
should. Do you know that you haven't been out of my mind since
that ride we had together?"

"Really? Would you like some tea?"

"Thanks, yes. Do you dislike my telling you that?"

She rang the bell, and then stood Lacing him.

"I don't mind, no. But I am trying very hard to forget that ride,
and I don't want to talk about it."

"When a beautiful thing comes into a man's life he likes to
remember it."

"How can you call it beautiful?"

"Isn't it rather fine when two people, a man and a woman, suddenly
find a tremendous attraction that draws them together, in spite of
the fact that everything else is conspiring to keep them apart?"

"I don't know," she said uncertainly. "It just seemed all wrong,
somehow."

"An honest impulse is never wrong."

"I don't want to discuss it, Mr. Akers. It is over."

While he was away from her, her attraction for him loomed less than
the things she promised, of power and gratified ambition. But he
found her, with her gentle aloofness, exceedingly appealing, and
with the tact of the man who understands women he adapted himself
to her humor.

"You are making me very unhappy; Miss Lily," he said. "If you'll
only promise to let me see you now and then, I'll promise to be as
mild as dish-water. Will you promise?"

She was still struggling, still remembering Willy Cameron, still
trying to remember all the things that Louis Akers was not.

"I think I ought not to see you at all."

"Then," he said slowly, "you are going to cut me off from the one
decent influence in my life."

She was still revolving that in her mind when tea came. Akers,
having shot his bolt, watched with interest the preparation for the
little ceremony, the old Georgian teaspoons, the Crown Derby cups,
the bell-shaped Queen Anne teapot, beautifully chased, the old
pierced sugar basin. Almost his gaze was proprietary. And he
watched Lily, her casual handling of those priceless treasures, her
taking for granted of service and beauty, her acceptance of quality
because she had never known anything else, watched her with
possessive eyes.

When the servant had gone, he said:

"You are being very nice to me, in view of the fact that you did not
ask me to come. And also remembering that your family does not
happen to care about me."

"They are not at home."

"I knew that, or I should not have come. I don't want to make
trouble for you, child." His voice was infinitely caressing. "As
it happens, I know your grandfather's Sunday habits, and I met your
father and mother on the road going out of town at noon. I knew
they had not come back."

"How do you know that?"

He smiled down at her. "I have ways of knowing quite a lot of
things. Especially when they are as vital to me as this few
minutes alone with you."

He bent toward her, as he sat behind the tea table.

"You know how vital this is to me, don't you?" he said. "You're
not going to cut me off, are you?"

He stood over her, big, compelling, dominant, and put his hand
under her chin.

"I am insane about you," he whispered, and waited.

Slowly, irresistibly, she lifted her face to his kiss.

CHAPTER XV

On the first day of May, William Wallace Cameron moved his trunk,
the framed photograph of his mother, eleven books, an alarm clock
and Jinx to the Boyd house. He went for two reasons. First, after
his initial call at the dreary little house, he began to realize
that something had to be done in the Boyd family. The second
reason was his dog.

He began to realize that something had to be done in the Boyd family
as soon as he had met Mrs. Boyd.

"I don't know what's come over the children," Mrs. Boyd said,
fretfully. She sat rocking persistently in the dreary little parlor.
Her chair inched steadily along the dull carpet, and once or twice
she brought up just as she was about to make a gradual exit from the
room. "They act so queer lately."

She hitched the chair into place again. Edith had gone out. It was
her idea of an evening call to serve cakes and coffee, and a strong
and acrid odor was seeping through the doorway. "There's Dan come
home from the war, and when he gets back from the mill he just sits
and stares ahead of him. He won't even talk about the war, although
he's got a lot to tell."

"It takes some time for the men who were over to get settled down
again, you know."

"Well, there's Edith," continued the querulous voice. "You'd think
the cat had got her tongue, too. I tell you, Mr. Cameron, there are
meals here when if I didn't talk there wouldn't be a word spoken."

Mr. Cameron looked up. It had occurred to him lately, not precisely
that a cat had got away with Edith's tongue, but that something
undeniably had got away with her cheerfulness. There were entire
days in the store when she neglected to manicure her nails, and
stood looking out past the fading primrose in the window to the
street. But there were no longer any shrewd comments on the
passers-by.

"Of course, the house isn't very cheerful," sighed Mrs. Boyd. "I'm
a sick woman, Mr. Cameron. My back hurts most of the time. It just
aches and aches."

"I know," said Mr. Cameron. "My mother has that, sometimes. If you
like I'll mix you up some liniment, and Miss Edith can bring it to
you."

"Thanks. I've tried most everything. Edith wants to rent a room,
so we can keep a hired girl, but it's hard to get a girl. They want
all the money on earth, and they eat something awful. That's a nice
friendly dog of yours, Mr. Cameron."

It was perhaps Jinx who decided Willy Cameron. Jinx was at that
moment occupying the only upholstered chair, but he had developed a
strong liking for the frail little lady with the querulous voice and
the shabby black dress. He had, indeed, insisted shortly after his
entrance on leaping into her lap, and had thus sat for some time,
completely eclipsing his hostess.

"Just let him sit," Mrs. Boyd said placidly. "I like a dog. And he
can't hurt this skirt I've got on. It's on its last legs."

With which bit of unconscious humor Willy Cameron had sat down.
Something warm and kindly glowed in his heart. He felt that dogs
have a curious instinct for knowing what lies concealed in the human
heart, and that Jinx had discovered something worth while in Edith's
mother.

It was later in the evening, however, that he said, over Edith's
bakery cakes and her atrocious coffee:

"If you really mean that about a roomer, I know of one." He glanced
at Edith. "Very neat. Careful with matches. Hard to get up in the
morning, but interesting, highly intelligent, and a clever talker.
That's his one fault. When he is interested in a thing he spouts all
over the place."

"Really?" said Mrs. Boyd. "Well, talk would be a change here. He
sounds kind of pleasant. Who is he?"

"This paragon of beauty and intellect sits before you," said Willy
Cameron.

"You'll have to excuse me. I didn't recognize you by the description,"
said Mrs. Boyd, unconsciously. "Well, I don't know. I'd like to have
this dog around."

Even Edith laughed at that. She had been very silent all evening,
sitting most of the time with her hands in her lap, and her eyes on
Willy Cameron. Rather like Jinx's eyes they were, steady, unblinking,
loyal, and with something else in common with Jinx which Willy Cameron
never suspected.

"I wouldn't come, if I were you," she said, unexpectedly.

"Why, Edie, you've been thinking of asking him right along."

"We don't know how to keep a house," she persisted, to him. "We
can't even cook - you know that's rotten coffee. I'll show you the
room, if you like, but I won't feel hurt if you don't take it, I'll
be worried if you do."

Mrs. Boyd watched them perplexedly as they went out, the tall young
man with his uneven step, and Edith, who had changed so greatly in
the last few weeks, and blew hot one minute and cold the next. Now
that she had seen Willy Cameron, Mrs. Boyd wanted him to come. He
would bring new life into the little house. He was cheerful. He
was not glum like Dan or discontented like Edie. And the dog - She
got up slowly and walked over to the chair where Jinx sat, eyes
watchfully on the door.

"Nice Jinx," she said, and stroked his head with a thin and stringy
hand. "Nice doggie."

She took a cake from the plate and fed it to him, bit by bit. She
felt happier than she had for a long time, since her children were
babies and needed her.

"I meant it," said Edith, on the stairs. "You stay away. We're a
poor lot, and we're unlucky, too. Don't get mixed up with us."

"Maybe I'm going to bring you luck."

"The best luck for me would be to fall down these stairs and break
my neck."

He looked at her anxiously, and any doubts he might have had, born
of the dreariness, the odors of stale food and of the musty cellar
below, of the shabby room she proceeded to show him, died in an
impulse to somehow, some way, lift this small group of people out
of the slough of despondency which seemed to be engulfing them all.

"Why, what's the matter with the room?" he said. "Just wait until
I've got busy in it! I'm a paper hanger and a painter, and - "

"You're a dear, too," said Edith.

So on the first of May he moved in, and for some evenings Political
Economy and History and Travel and the rest gave way to anxious
cuttings and fittings of wall paper, and a pungent odor of paint.
The old house took on new life and activity, the latter sometimes
pernicious, as when Willy Cameron fell down the cellar stairs with
a pail of paint in his hand, or Dan, digging up some bricks in the
back yard for a border the seeds of which were already sprouting
in a flat box in the kitchen, ran a pickaxe into his foot.

Some changes were immediate, such as the white-washing of the cellar
and the unpainted fence in the yard, where Willy Cameron visualized,
later on, great draperies of morning glories. He papered the parlor,
and coaxed Mrs. Boyd to wash the curtains, although she protested
that, with the mill smoke, it was useless labor.

But there were some changes that he knew only time would effect.
Sometimes he went to his bed worn out both physically and spiritually,
as though the burden of lifting three life-sodden souls was too much.
Not that he thought of that, however. What he did know was that the
food was poor. No servant had been found, and years of lack of system
had left Mrs. Boyd's mind confused and erratic. She would spend hours
concocting expensive desserts, while the vegetables boiled dry and
scorched and meat turned to leather, only to bring pridefully to the
table some flavorless mixture garnished according to a picture in the
cook book, and totally unedible.

She would have ambitious cleaning days, too, starting late and leaving
off with beds unmade to prepare the evening meal. Dan, home from the
mill and newly adopting Willy Cameron's system of cleaning up for
supper, would turn sullen then, and leave the moment the meal was over.

"Hell of a way to live," he said once. "I'd get married, but how can
a fellow know whether a girl will make a home for him or give him this?
And then there would be babies, too."

The relations between Dan and Edith were not particularly cordial.
Willy Cameron found their bickering understandable enough, but he
was puzzled, sometimes, to find that Dan was surreptitiously watching
his sister. Edith was conscious of it, too, and one evening she
broke into irritated speech.

"I wish you'd quit staring at me, Dan Boyd."

"I was wondering what has come over you," said Dan, ungraciously.
"You used to be a nice kid. Now you're an angel one minute and a
devil the next."

Willy spoke to him that night when they were setting out rows of
seedlings, under the supervision of Jinx.

"I wouldn't worry her, Dan," he said; "it is the spring, probably.
It gets into people, you know. I'm that way myself. I'd give a
lot to be in the country just now."

Dan glanced at him quickly, but whatever he may have had in his mind,
he said nothing just then. However, later on he volunteered:

"She's got something on her mind. I know her. But I won't have her
talking back to mother."

A week or so after Willy Cameron had moved, Mr. Hendricks rang the
bell of the Boyd house, and then, after his amiable custom, walked in.

"Oh, Cameron!" he bawled.

"Upstairs," came Willy Cameron's voice, somewhat thickened with
carpet tacks. So Mr. Hendricks climbed part of the way, when he
found his head on a level with that of the young gentleman he sought,
who was nailing a rent in the carpet.

"Don't stop," said Mr. Hendricks. "Merely friendly call. And for
heaven's sake don't swallow a tack, son. I'm going to need you."

"Whaffor?" inquired Willy Cameron, through his nose.

"Don't know yet. Make speeches, probably. If Howard Cardew, or
any Cardew, thinks he's going to be mayor of this town, he's got to
think again."

"I don't give a tinker's dam who's mayor of this town, so long as
he gives it honest government."

"That's right," said Mr. Hendricks approvingly. "Old Cardew's been
running it for years, and you could put all the honest government
he's given us in a hollow tooth. If you'll stop that hammering,
I'd like to make a proposition to you."

Willy Cameron took an admiring squint at his handiwork.

"Sorry to refuse you, Mr. Hendricks, but I don't want to be mayor."

Mr. Hendricks chuckled, as Willy Cameron led the way to his room.
He wandered around the room while Cameron opened a window and slid
the dog off his second chair.

"Great snakes!" he said. "Spargo's Bolshevism! Political Economy,
History of -. What are you planning to be? President?"

"I haven't decided yet. It's a hard job, and mighty thankless. But
I won't be your mayor, even for you."

Mr. Hendricks sat down.

"All right," he said. "Of course if you'd wanted it!" He took two
large cigars from the row in his breast pocket and held one out, but
Willy Cameron refused it and got his pipe.

"Well?" he said.

Mr. Hendrick's face became serious and very thoughtful. "I don't
know that I have ever made it clear to you, Cameron," he said, "but
I've got a peculiar feeling for this city. I like it, the way some
people like their families. It's - well, it's home to me, for one
thing. I like to go out in the evenings and walk around, and I say
to myself: 'This is my town. And we, it and me, are sending stuff
all over the world. I like to think that somewhere, maybe in China,
they are riding on our rails and fighting with guns made from our
steel. Maybe you don't understand that."

"I think I do."

"Well, that's the way I feel about it, anyhow. And this Bolshevist
stuff gets under my skin. I've got a home and a family here. I
started in to work when I was thirteen, and all I've got I've made
and saved right here. It isn't much, but it's mine."

Willy Cameron was lighting his pipe. He nodded. Mr. Hendricks bent
forward and pointed a finger at him.

"And to govern this city, who do you think the labor element is going
to put up and probably elect? We're an industrial city, son, with a
big labor vote, and if it stands together - they're being swindled
into putting up as an honest candidate one of the dirtiest radicals
in the country. That man Akers."

He got up and closed the door.

"I don't want Edith to hear me," he said. "He's a friend of hers.
But he's a bad actor, son. He's wrong with women, for one thing,
and when I think that all he's got to oppose him is Howard Cardew - "
Mr. Hendricks got up, and took a nervous turn about the room.

"Maybe you know that Cardew has a daughter?"

"Yes."

"Well, I hear a good many things, one way and another, and my wife
likes a bit of gossip. She knows them both by sight, and she ran
into them one day in the tea room of the Saint Elmo, sitting in a
corner, and the girl had her back to the room. I don't like the
look of that, Cameron."

Willy Cameron got up and closed the window. He stood there, with
his back to the light, for a full minute. Then:

"I think there must be some mistake about that, Mr. Hendricks. I
have met her. She isn't the sort of girl who would do clandestine
things."

Mr. Hendricks looked up quickly. He had made it his business to
study men, and there was something in Willy Cameron's voice that
caught his attention, and turned his shrewd mind to speculation.

"Maybe," he conceded. "Of course, anything a Cardew does is likely
to be magnified in this town. If she's as keen as the men in her
family, she'll get wise to him pretty soon. Willy Cameron came back
then, but Mr. Hendricks kept his eyes on the tip of his cigar.

"We've got to lick Cardew," he said, "but I'm cursed if I want to
do it with Akers."

When there was no comment, he looked up. Yes, the boy had had a
blow. Mr. Hendricks was sorry. If that was the way the wind blew
it was hopeless. It was more than that; it was tragic.

"Sorry I said anything, Cameron. Didn't know you knew her."

"That's all right. Of course I don't like to think she is being
talked about."

"The Cardews are always being talked about. You couldn't drop her
a hint, I suppose?"

"She knows what I think about Louis Akers."

He made a violent effort and pulled himself together. "So it is
Akers and Howard Cardew, and one's a knave and one's a poor bet."

"Right," said Mr. Hendricks. "And one's Bolshevist, if I know
anything, and the other is capital, and has about as much chance
as a rich man to get through the eye of a needle."

Which was slightly mixed, owing to a repressed excitement now
making itself evident in Mr. Hendricks's voice.

"Why not run an independent candidate?" Willy Cameron asked quietly.
"I've been shouting about the plain people. Why shouldn't they
elect a mayor? There is a lot of them."

"That's the talk," said Mr. Hendricks, letting his excitement have
full sway. "They could. They could run this town and run it right,
if they'd take the trouble. Now look here, son, I don't usually
talk about myself, but - I'm honest. I don't say I wouldn't get
off a street-car without paying my fare if the conductor didn't lift
it! But I'm honest. I don't lie. I keep my word. And I live
clean - which you can't say for Lou Akers. Why shouldn't I run on
an independent ticket? I mightn't be elected, but I'd make a
damned good try."

He stood up, and Willy Cameron rose also and held out his hand.

"I don't know that my opinion is of any value, Mr. Hendricks. But
I hope you get it, and I think you have a good chance. If I can do
anything - "

"Do anything! What do you suppose I came here for? You're going
to elect me. You're going to make speeches and kiss babies, and
tell the ordinary folks they're worth something after all. You got
me started on this thing, and now you've got to help me out."

The future maker of mayors here stepped back in his amazement, and
Jinx emitted a piercing howl. When peace was restored the F.M. of M.
had got his breath, and he said:

"I couldn't remember my own name before an audience, Mr. Hendricks."

"You're fluent enough in that back room of yours."

"That's different."

"The people we're going after don't want oratory. They want good,
straight talk, and a fellow behind it who doesn't believe the
country's headed straight for perdition. We've had enough calamity
bowlers. You've got the way out. The plain people. The hope of
the nation. And, by God, you love your country, and not for what
you can get out of it. That's a thing a fellow's got to have inside
him. He can't pretend it and get it over."

In the end the F.M. of M. capitulated.

It was late when Mr. Hendricks left. He went away with all the
old envelopes in his pockets covered with memoranda.

"Just wait a minute, son," he would say. "I've got to make some
speeches myself. Repeat that, now. 'Sins of omission are as great,
even greater than sins of commission. The lethargic citizen
throws open the gates to revolution.' How do you spell 'lethargic'?"

But it was not Hendricks and his campaign that kept the F.M. of M.
awake until dawn. He sat in front of his soft coal fire, and when
it died to gray-white ash he still sat there, unconscious of the
chill of the spring night. Mostly he thought of Lily, and of Louis
Akers, big and handsome, of his insolent eyes and his self-indulgent
mouth. Into that curious whirlpool that is the mind came now and
then other visions: His mother asleep in her chair; the men in the
War Department who had turned him down; a girl at home who had
loved him, and made him feel desperately unhappy because he could
not love her in return. Was love always like that? If it was what
He intended, why was it so often without reciprocation?

He took to walking about the room, according to his old habit, and
obediently Jinx followed him.

It was four by his alarm clock when Edith knocked at his door. She
was in a wrapper flung over her nightgown, and with her hair flying
loose she looked childish and very small.

"I wish you would go to bed," she said, rather petulantly. "Are you
sick, or anything?"

"I was thinking, Edith. I'm sorry. I'll go at once. Why aren't
you asleep?"

"I don't sleep much lately." Their voices were cautious. "I never
go to sleep until you're settled down, anyhow."

"Why not? Am I noisy?"

"It's not that."

She went away, a drooping, listless figure that climbed the stairs
slowly and left him in the doorway, puzzled and uncomfortable.

At six that morning Dan, tip-toeing downstairs to warm his left-over
coffee and get his own breakfast, heard a voice from Willy Cameron's
room, and opened the door. Willy Cameron was sitting up in bed with
his eyes closed and his arms extended, and was concluding a speech
to a dream audience in deep and oratorical tones.

"By God, it is time the plain people know their power."

Dan grinned, and, his ideas of humor being rather primitive, he
edged his way into the room and filled the orator's sponge with
icy water from the pitcher.

"All right, old top," he said, "but it is also time the plain
people got up."

Then he flung the sponge and departed with extreme expedition.

CHAPTER XVI

It was not until a week had passed after Louis Akers' visit to the
house that Lily's family learned of it.

Lily's state of mind during that week had been an unhappy one. She
magnified the incident until her nerves were on edge, and Grace,
finding her alternating between almost demonstrative affection and
strange aloofness, was bewildered and hurt. Mademoiselle watched
her secretly, shook her head, and set herself to work to find out
what was wrong. It was, in the end, Mademoiselle who precipitated
the crisis.

Lily had not intended to make a secret of the visit, but as time
went on she found it increasingly difficult to tell about it. She
should, she knew, have spoken at once, and it would be hard to
explain why she had delayed.

She meant to go to her father with it. It was he who had forbidden
her to see Akers, for one thing. And she felt nearer to her father
than to her mother, always. Since her return she had developed an
almost passionate admiration for Howard, founded perhaps on her
grandfather's attitude toward him. She was strongly partizan. and
she watched her father, day after day, fighting his eternal battles
with Anthony, sometimes winning, often losing, but standing for a
principle like a rock while the seas of old Anthony's wrath washed
over and often engulfed him.

She was rather wistful those days, struggling with her own
perplexities, and blindly reaching out for a hand to help her. But
she could not bring herself to confession. She would wander into
her father's dressing-room before she went to bed, and, sitting on
the arm of his deep chair, would try indirectly to get him to solve
the problems that were troubling her. But he was inarticulate and
rather shy with her. He had difficulty, sometimes, after her long
absence at school and camp, in realizing her as the little girl who
had once begged for his neckties to make into doll frocks.

Once she said:

"Could you love a person you didn't entirely respect, father?"

"Love is founded on respect, Lily."

She pondered that. She felt that he was wrong.

"But it does happen, doesn't it?" she had persisted.

He had been accustomed to her searchings for interesting abstractions
for years. She used to talk about religion in the same way. So he
smiled and said:

"There is a sort of infatuation that is based on something quite
different."

"On what?"

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