Contrary Mary (Chapter 6, page 1 of 6)


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Chapter 6

On Christmas Eve, Mary and Susan Jenks brought up to Roger a little
tree. It was just a fir plume, but it was gay with tinsel and spicy
with the fragrance of the woods, and it was topped by a wee wax angel.

In vain Mary and Barry and even Aunt Isabelle had urged Roger to join
their merrymaking downstairs. Aunt Frances, having delayed her trip
abroad until January, was coming; and except for Leila and General Dick
and Porter Bigelow, it was to be strictly a family affair.

But Roger had refused. "I'm not one of you," he had told Mary. "I'm a
bee, not a butterfly, and I shouldn't have joined you on Thanksgiving
night. When you're alone, if I may, I'll come down--but please--not
with your guests."

He had not joined them often, however, and he had never again shown the
mood which had possessed him when his voice had charmed them. Hence
they grew, as the days went on, to know him as quiet, self-contained
man, whose eyes burned now and then, when some subject was broached
which moved him, but who, for the most part, showed at least an outward
serenity.

They grew to like him, too, and to depend upon him. Even Aunt Isabelle
went to him for advice. He had such an attentive manner, and when he
spoke, he gave his opinion with an air of comforting authority.

But always he avoided Porter Bigelow, he avoided Leila, and most of
all, he avoided Delilah Jeliffe, although that persistent young person
would have invaded the Tower Rooms, if Mary had not warned her away.

"He is very busy, Lilah," she said, "and when he isn't, he comes down
here."

"Don't you ever go up?" Delilah's tone was curious.

"No," said Mary, "Why should I?"

Delilah shrugged. "If a man," she said, "had looked at me as he
looked at you on Thanksgiving night, I should be, to say the
least--interested----"

Mary's head was held high. "I like Roger Poole," she said, "and he's a
gentleman. But I'm not thinking about the look in his eyes."

Yet she did think of it, after all, for such seed does the Delilah-type
of woman sow. She thought of him, but only with a little wonder--for
Mary was as yet unawakened--Porter's passionate pleading, the magic of
Roger Poole's voice--these had not touched the heart which still waited.

"Since Mahomet wouldn't come to the mountain," Mary remarked to her
lodger as Susan deposited her burden, "the mountain had to come to
Mahomet. And here's a bit of mistletoe for your door, and of holly for
your window."

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