A Poor Wise Man (Chapter 18, page 1 of 16)

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Chapter 18

Willy Cameron came home from a night class in metallurgy the evening after the day Lily had made her declaration of independence, and let himself in with his night key. There was a light in the little parlor, and Mrs. Boyd's fragile silhouette against the window shade.

He was not surprised at that. She had developed a maternal affection for him stronger than any she showed for either Edith or Dan. She revealed it in rather touching ways, too, keeping accounts when he accused her of gross extravagance, for she spent Dan's swollen wages wastefully; making him coffee late at night, and forcing him to drink it, although it kept him awake for hours; and never going to bed until he was safely closeted in his room at the top of the stairs.

He came in as early as possible, therefore, for he had had Doctor Smalley in to see her, and the result had been unsatisfactory.

"Heart's bad," said the doctor, when they had retired to Willy's room. "Leaks like a sieve. And there may be an aneurism. Looks like it, anyhow."

"What is there to do?" Willy asked, feeling helpless and extremely shocked. "We might send her somewhere."

"Nothing to do. Don't send her away; she'd die of loneliness. Keep her quiet and keep her happy. Don't let her worry. She only has a short time, I should say, and you can't lengthen it. It could be shortened, of course, if she had a shock, or anything like that."

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