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Mary Roberts Rinehart
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 367 pages of information about A Poor Wise Man.

He opened the door and went in.

In the center of the sitting room a table was set, and on it the remains of a dinner for two.  Akers was standing by the table, his chair overturned behind him, a splintered glass at his feet, staring angrily at the window.  Even then Willy Cameron saw that he had had too much to drink, and that he was in an ugly mood.  He was in dinner clothes, but with his bruised face and scowling brows he looked a sinister imitation of a gentleman.

By the window, her back to the room, was Lily.

Neither of them glanced at the door.  Evidently the waiter had been moving in and out, and Akers considered him as little as he would a dog.

“Come and sit down,” he said angrily.  “I’ve quit drinking, I tell you.  Good God, just because I’ve had a little wine—­and I had the hell of a time getting it—­you won’t eat and won’t talk.  Come here.”

“I’m not hungry.”

“Come here.”

“Stay where you are, Lily,” said Willy Cameron, from inside the closed door.  “Or perhaps you’d better get your wraps.  I came to take you home.”

Akers had wheeled at the voice, and now stood staring incredulously.  First anger, and then a grin of triumph, showed in his face.  Drink had made him not so much drunk as reckless.  He had lost last night, but to-day he had won.

“Hello, Cameron,” he said.

Willy Cameron ignored him.

“Will you come?” he said to Lily.

“I can’t, Willy.”

“Listen, Lily dear,” he said gravely.  “Your father is searching the city for you.  Do you know what that means?  Don’t you see that you must go home at once?  You can’t dine here in a private suite, like this, and not expose yourself to all sorts of talk.”

“Go on,” said Akers, leering.  “I like to hear you.”

“Especially,” continued Willy Cameron, “with a man like this.”

Akers took a step toward him, but he was not too sure of himself, and he knew now that the other man had a swing to his right arm like the driving rod of a locomotive.  He retreated again to the table, and his hand closed over a knife there.

“Louis!” Lily said sharply.

He picked up the knife and smiled at her, his eyes cunning.  “Not going to kill him, my dear,” he said.  “Merely to give him a hint that I’m not as easy as I was last night.”

That was a slip, and he knew it.  Lily had left the window and come forward, a stricken slip of a girl, and he turned to her angrily.

“Go into the other room and close the door,” he ordered.  “When I’ve thrown this fellow out, you can come back.”

But Lily’s eyes were fixed on Willy Cameron’s face.

“It was you last night?”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

“Because,” Willy Cameron said steadily, “he had got a girl into trouble, and then insulted her.  I wouldn’t tell you, but you’ve got to know the truth before it’s too late.”

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