Contrary Mary (Chapter 7, page 4 of 6)


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Chapter 7

"Come on, Poole," Barry urged, "we'll motor out in Jerry's car to the
Country Club, and you can give it to us out there--about Whittington
and the little cat."

Roger declined, and Barry took quick offense. "Oh, well, if you don't
want to, you needn't," he said; "four's a crowd, anyhow--come on,
fellows."

Roger, vaguely troubled, watched him until he was lost in the crowd,
then sighed and turned his steps homeward.

As Roger ascended to his Tower, the house seemed strangely silent.
Pittiwitz was asleep beside the pot of pink hyacinths. She sat up,
yawned, and welcomed him with a little coaxing note. When he had
settled himself in his big chair, she came and curled in the corner of
his arm, and again went to sleep.

Deep in his reading, he was roused an hour later by a knock at his door.

He opened it, to find Mary on the threshold.

"May I come in?" she asked, and she seemed breathless. "It is Susan's
night out, and Aunt Isabelle is at the opera with some old friends.
Barry expected to be here with me, but he hasn't come. And I sat in
the dining-room--and waited," she shivered, "until I couldn't stand it
any more."

She tried to laugh, but he saw that she was very pale.

"Please don't think I'm a coward," she begged. "I've never been that.
But I seemed suddenly to have a sort of nervous panic, and I thought
perhaps you wouldn't mind if I sat with you--until Barry--came----"

"I'm glad he didn't come, if it is going to give me an evening with
you." He drew a chair to the fire.

They had talked of many things when she asked, suddenly, "Mr. Poole, I
wonder if you can tell me--about the examinations for stenographers in
the Departments--are they very rigid?"

"Not very. Of course they require speed and accuracy."

She sighed. "I'm accurate enough, but I wonder if I can ever acquire
speed."

He stared. "You----?"

She nodded. "I haven't mentioned it to any one. One's family is so
hampering sometimes--they'd all object--except Aunt Isabelle, but I
want to be prepared to work, if I ever need to earn my living."

"May you never need it," he said, fervently, visions rising of little
Miss Terry and her machine-made personality. What had this girl with
the fair hair and the shining eyes to do with the blank life between
office walls?

"May you never need it," he repeated. "A woman's place is in the
home--it's a man's place to fight the world."

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