A Poor Wise Man (Chapter 16, page 1 of 15)

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Chapter 16

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.

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