Contrary Mary (Chapter 9, page 1 of 7)


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Chapter 9

In the weeks which followed the trip to Fort Myer, Mary found an
astonishing change in her brother. For the first time in his life he
seemed to be taking things seriously. He stayed at home at night and
studied. He gave up Jerry Tuckerman and the other radiant musketeers.
She did not know the reason for the change but it brought her hope and
happiness.

Barry saw Leila often, but, as yet, no one but Delilah Jeliffe knew of
the tie between them.

"I ought to tell Dad," Leila had said, timidly; "he'd be very happy.
It is what he has always wanted, Barry."

"I must prove myself a man first," Barry told her, "I've squandered
some of my opportunities, but now that I have you to work for, I feel
as strong as a lion."

They were alone in the General's library. "It is because you trust me,
dear one," Barry went on, "that I am strong."

She slipped her little hand into his. "Barry--it seems so queer to
think that I shall ever be--your wife."

"You had to be. It was meant from the--beginning."

"Was it, Barry?"

"Yes."

"And it will be to the end. Oh, I shall always love you, dearly,
dearly----"

It was idyllic, their little love affair--their big love affair, if one
judged by their measure. It was tender, sweet, and because it was
their secret, because there was no word of doubt or of distrust from
those who were older and wiser, they brought to it all the beauty of
youth and high hope.

Thus the spring came, and the early summer, and Barry passed his
examinations triumphantly, and came home one night and told Mary that
he was going to marry Leila Dick. As he told her his blue eyes
beseeched her, and loving him, and hating to hurt him, Mary withheld
the expression of her fears, and kissed him and cried a little on his
shoulder, and Barry patted her cheek, and said awkwardly: "I know you
think I'm not worthy of her, Mary. But she will make a man of me."

Alone, afterward, Mary wondered if she had been wise to acquiesce--yet
surely, surely, love was strong enough to lift a man up to a woman's
ideal--and Leila was such a--darling.

She put the question to Roger Poole that night. In these warmer days
she and Roger had slipped almost unconsciously into close intimacy. He
read to her for an hour after dinner, when she had no other
engagements, and often they sat in the old garden, she with her
note-book on the arm of the stone bench--he at the other end of the
bench, under a bush of roses of a hundred leaves. Sometimes Aunt
Isabelle was with them, with her fancy work, sometimes they were alone;
but always when the hour was over, he would close his book and ascend
to his tower, lest he might meet those who came later. There were many
nights that he thus escaped Porter Bigelow--nights when in the
moonlight he heard the murmur of voices, mingled with the splash of the
fountain; and there were other nights when gay groups danced upon the
lawn to the music played by Mary just within the open window.

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