A Poor Wise Man (Chapter 4)

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Chapter 4 : Page 1 of 7

While Grace rested that afternoon of Lily's return, Lily ranged over the house. In twenty odd years the neighborhood had changed, and only a handful of the old families remained. Many of the other large houses were prostituted to base uses. Dingy curtains hung at their windows, dingy because of the smoke from the great furnaces and railroads. The old Osgood residence, nearby, had been turned into apartments, with bottles of milk and paper bags on its fire-escapes, and a pharmacy on the street floor. The Methodist Church, following its congregation to the vicinity of old Anthony's farm, which was now cut up into city lots, had abandoned the building, and it had become a garage. The penitentiary had been moved outside the city limits, and near its old site was a small cement-lined lake, the cheerful rendezvous in summer of bathing children and thirsty dogs.

Lily was idle, for the first time in months. She wandered about, even penetrating to those upper rooms sacred to her grandfather, to which he had retired on Howard's marriage. How strangely commonplace they were now, in the full light of day, and yet, when he was in them, the doors closed and only Burton, his valet, in attendance, how mysterious they became!

Increasingly, in later years, Lily had felt and resented the domination of the old man. She resented her father's acquiescence in that domination, her mother's good-humored tolerance of it. She herself had accepted it, although unwillingly, but she knew, rather vaguely, that the Lily Cardew who had gone away to the camp and the Lily Cardew who stood that day before her grandfather's throne-like chair under its lamp, were two entirely different people.


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