Contrary Mary (Chapter 8, page 1 of 7)


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Chapter 8

Whatever Delilah Jeliffe might lack, it was not originality. The
apartment which she chose for her winter in Washington was like any
other apartment when she went into it, but the changes which she
made--the things which she added and the things which she took away,
stamped it at once with her own individuality.

The peacock screen before the fireplace, the cushions of sapphire and
emerald and old gold on the couch, the mantel swept of all ornament
except a seven-branched candlestick; these created the first
impression. Then one's eyes went to an antique table on which a
crystal ball, upborne by three bronze monkeys, seemed to gather to
itself mysteriously all the glow of firelight and candlelight and rich
color. At the other end of the table was a low bowl, filled always
with small saffron-hued roses.

In this room, one morning, late in Lent, Leila Dick sat, looking as out
of place as an English daisy in a tropical jungle.

Leila did not like the drawn curtains and the dimness. Outside the sun
was shining, gloriously, and the sky was a deep and lovely blue.

She was glad when Lilah sent for her.

"You are to come right to her room," the maid announced.

"Heavens, child," said the Delilah-beauty, who was combing her hair, "I
didn't promise to be up with the birds."

"The birds were up long ago," Leila perched herself on an old English
love-seat. "We're to have lunch before we go to Fort Myer, and it is
almost one now."

Lilah yawned, "Is it?" and went on combing her hair with the air of one
who has hours before her. She wore a silken négligée of flamingo red
which matched her surroundings, for this room was as flaming as the
other was subdued. Yet the effect was not that of crude color; it was,
rather, that of color intensified deliberately to produce a contrast.
Delilah's bedroom was high noon under a blazing sun, the sitting-room
was midnight under the stars.

With her black hair at last twisted into wonderful coils, Delilah
surveyed her face reflectively in the mirror, and having decided that
she needed no further aid from the small jars on her dressing table,
she turned to her friend.

"What shall I wear, Leila?"

"If I told you," was the calm response, "you wouldn't wear it."

Delilah laughed. "No, I wouldn't. I simply have to think such things
out for myself. But I meant what kind of clothes--dress up or motor
things?"

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