The Mystery of Mary (Chapter 5, page 2 of 5)

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Chapter 5

But she looked at the fashionable proportions of the other hat with something like alarm. How could she protect it? She did not for a moment think of abandoning it, for it was her earnest desire to return it at once, unharmed, to its kind purloiner.

She summoned the newsboy and purchased three thick newspapers. From these, with the aid of a few pins, she made a large package of the hat. To be sure, it did not look like a hat when it was done, but that was all the better. The feathers were upheld and packed softly about with bits of paper crushed together to make a springy cushion, and the whole built out and then covered over with paper. She reflected that girls who wore their hair wound about their heads and covered by plain felt hats would not be unlikely to carry large newspaper-wrapped packages through the city streets.

She decided to go barehanded, and put the white kid gloves in the suit-case, but she took off her beautiful rings, and hid them safely inside her dress.

When the porter came to announce that her breakfast was waiting in the dining-car, he looked at her almost with a start, but she answered his look with a pleasant, "Good morning. You see I'm fixed for a damp day."

"Yes, miss," said the man deferentially. "It's a nasty day outside. I 'spect Chicago'll be mighty wet. De wind's off de lake, and de rain's comin' from all way 'twoncet."

She sacrificed one of her precious quarters to get rid of the attentive porter, and started off with a brisk step down the long platform to the station. It was part of her plan to get out of the neighborhood as quickly as possible, so she followed the stream of people who instead of going into the waiting-room veered off to the street door and out into the great, wet, noisy world. With the same reasoning, she followed a group of people into a car, which presently brought her into the neighborhood of the large stores, as she had hoped it would. It was with relief that she recognized the name on one of the stores as being of world-wide reputation.

Well for her that she was an experienced shopper. She went straight to the millinery department and arranged to have the hat boxed and sent to the address Dunham had given her. Her gentle voice and handsome rain-coat proclaimed her a lady and commanded deference and respectful attention. As she walked away, she had an odd feeling of having communicated with her one friend and preserver.

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