Contrary Mary (Chapter 6, page 2 of 6)


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Chapter 6

He took the wreaths from her. "You are like the spirit of Christmas in
your green gown."

"This?" She was wearing the green velvet--with a low collar of lace.
"Oh, I've had this for ages, but I like it----" She broke off to say,
wistfully, "It seems as if you ought to come down--as if up here you'd
be lonely."

Susan Jenks, hanging the mistletoe over the door, was out of range of
their voices.

"I am lonely," Roger said, "but now with my little tree, I shall forget
everything but your kindness."

"Don't you love Christmas?" Mary asked him. "It's such a friendly
time, with everybody thinking of everybody else. I had to hunt a lot
before I found the wax angel. It needed such a little one--but I
always want one on my tree. When I was a child, mother used to tell me
that the angel was bringing a message of peace and good will to our
house."

"If the little angel brings me your good will, I shall feel that he has
performed his mission."

"Oh, but you have it," brightly. "We are all so glad you are here.
Even Barry, and Barry hated the idea at first of our having a lodger.
But he likes you."

"And I like Barry," he said. "He is youth--incarnate."

"He's a dear," she agreed. Then a shadow came into her eyes. "But
he's such a boy, and--and he's spoiled. Everybody's too good to him.
Mother was--and father, though father tried not to be. And Leila is,
and Constance--and Aunt Isabelle excuses him, and even Susan Jenks."

Susan Jenks, having hung all the wreaths, had departed, and was not
there to hear this mention of her shortcomings.

"I see--and you?" smiling.

She drew a long breath. "I'm trying to play Big Sister--and sometimes
I'm afraid I'm more like a big brother--I haven't the--patience."

His attentive face invited further confidence. It was the face of a
man who had listened to many confidences, and instinctively she felt
that others had been helped by him.

"You see I want Barry to pass the Bar examination. All of the men of
our family have been lawyers, But Barry won't study, and he has taken a
position in the Patent Office. He's wasting these best years as a
clerk."

Then she remembered, and begged, "Forgive me----"

"There's nothing to forgive," he said. "I suppose I am wasting my
years as a clerk in the Treasury Department--but there's this
difference, your brother's life is before him--mine is behind me. His
ambitions are yet to be fulfilled. I have no--ambitions."

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