Contrary Mary (Chapter 5, page 1 of 9)


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Chapter 5

Since the night of his arrival, Roger had not intruded upon the family
circle. He had read hostility in Barry's eyes as the boy had looked up
at him; and Mary, in spite of her friendliness, had forgotten that he was
in the house! Well, they had set the pace, and he would keep to it.
Here in the tower he could live alone--yet not be lonely, for the books
were there--and they brought forgetfulness.

He took long walks through the city, now awakening to social and
political activities. Back to town came the folk who had fled from the
summer heat; back came the members of House and of Senate, streaming in
from North, South, East and West for the coming Congress. Back came the
office-seekers and the pathetic patient group whose claims were waiting
for the passage of some impossible bill.

There came, too, the sightseers and trippers, sweeping from one end of
the town to the other, climbing the dome of the Capitol, walking down the
steps of the Monument, venturing into the White House, piloted through
the Bureau where the money is made, riding on "rubber-neck wagons,"
sailing about in taxis, stampeding Mt. Vernon, bombarding Fort Myer, and
doing it all gloriously under golden November skies.

And because of the sightseers and statesmen, and the folk who had been
away for the summer, the shops began to take on beauty. Up F Street and
around Fourteenth into H swept the eager procession, and all the windows
were abloom for them.

Roger walked, too, in the country. In other lands, or at least so their
poets have it, November is the month of chill and dreariness. But to the
city on the Potomac it comes with soft pink morning mists and toward
sunset, with amethystine vistas. And if, beyond the city, the fields are
frosted, it is frost of a feathery whiteness which melts in the glory of
a warmer noon. And if the trees are bare, there is yet pale yellow under
foot and pale rose, where the leaves wait for the winter winds which
shall whirl them later in a mad dance like brown butterflies. And
there's the green of the pines, and the flaming red of five-fingered
creepers.

It was on a sunny November day, therefore, as he followed Rock Creek
through the Park that Roger came to the old Mill where a little tea room
supplied afternoon refreshment.

As it was far away from car lines, its patronage came largely from those
who arrived in motors or on horseback, and a few courageous pedestrians.

Here Roger sat down to rest, ordering a rather substantial repast, for
the long walk had made him hungry.

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