Contrary Mary (Chapter 3, page 2 of 9)


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Chapter 3

The two women were in the dining-room. The table had been set for
three, but Barry had not come.

The dinner had been a simple affair--an unfashionably nourishing soup,
a broiled fish, a salad and now the coffee. Thus did Mary and Susan
Jenks make income and expenses meet. Susan's good cooking,
supplementing Mary's gastronomic discrimination, made a feast of the
simple fare.

"What's his business, my dear?"

"Mr. Poole's? He's in the Treasury. But I think he's studying
something. He seemed to be so eager for the books----"

"Your father's books?"

"Yes. I left them all up there. I even left father's old Bible.
Somehow I felt that if any one was tired or lonely that the old Bible
would open at the right page."

"Your father was often lonely?"

"Yes. After mother's death. And he worked too hard, and things went
wrong with his business. I used to slip up to his bedroom sometimes in
the last days, and there he'd be with the old Bible on his knee, and
mother's picture in his hand." Mary's eyes were wet.

"He loved your mother and missed her."

"It was more than that. He was afraid of the future for Constance and
me. He was afraid of the future for--Barry----"

Susan Jenks, carrying a mahogany tray on which was a slender silver
coffee-pot flanked by a dish of cheese and toasted biscuit, asked as
she went through the room: "Shall I save any dinner for Mr. Barry?"

"He'll be here," Mary said. "Porter Bigelow is taking us to the
theater, and Barry's to make the fourth."

Barry was often late, but to-night it was half-past seven when he came
rushing in.

"I don't want anything to eat," he said, stopping at the door of the
dining-room where Mary and Aunt Isabelle still waited. "I had tea
down-town with General Dick and Leila's crowd. And we danced. There
was a girl from New York, and she was a little queen."

Mary smiled at him. To Aunt Isabella's quick eyes it seemed to be a
smile of relief. "Oh, then you were with the General and Leila," she
said.

"Yes. Where did you think I was?"

"Nowhere," flushing.

He started up-stairs and then came back. "I wish you'd give me credit
for being able to keep a promise, Mary. You know what I told Con----"

"It wasn't that I didn't believe----" Mary crossed the dining-room and
stood in the door.

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