Contrary Mary (Chapter 1, page 1 of 4)

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Chapter 1

The big house, standing on a high hill which overlooked the city,
showed in the moonlight the grotesque outlines of a composite
architecture. Originally it had been a square substantial edifice of
Colonial simplicity. A later and less restrained taste had aimed at a
castellated effect, and certain peaks and turrets had been added.
Three of these turrets were excrescences stuck on, evidently, with an
idea of adornment. The fourth tower, however, rounded out and enlarged
a room on the third floor. This room was one of a suite, and the rooms
were known as the Tower Rooms, and were held by those who had occupied
them to be the most desirable in the barn-like building.

To-night the house had taken on an unwonted aspect of festivity. Its
spaciousness was checkered by golden-lighted windows. Delivery wagons
and automobiles came and went, some discharging loads of deliciousness
at the back door, others discharging loads of loveliness at the front.

Following in the wake of one of the front door loads of fluttering
femininity came a somewhat somber pedestrian. His steps lagged a
little, so that when the big door opened, he was still at the foot of
the terrace which led up to it. He waited until the door was shut
before he again advanced. In the glimpse that he thus had of the
interior, he was aware of a sort of pink effulgence, and in that
shining light, lapped by it, and borne up, as it were, by it toward the
wide stairway, he saw slender girls in faint-hued frocks--a shimmering
celestial company.

As he reached the top of the terrace the door again flew open, and he
gave a somewhat hesitating reason for his intrusion.

"I was told to ask for Miss Ballard--Miss Mary Ballard."

It seemed that he was expected, and that the guardian of the doorway
understood the difference between his business and that of the
celestial beings who had preceded him.

He was shown into a small room at the left of the entrance. It was
somewhat bare, with a few law books and a big old-fashioned desk. He
judged that the room might have been put to office uses, but to-night
the desk was heaped with open boxes, and odd pieces of furniture were
crowded together, so that there was left only a small oasis of cleared
space. On the one chair in this oasis, the somber gentleman seated

He had a fancy, as he sat there waiting, that neither he nor this room
were in accord with the things that were going on in the big house.
Outside of the closed door the radiant guests were still ascending the
stairway on shining wings of light. He could hear the music of their
laughter, and the deeper note of men's voices, rising and growing
fainter in a sort of transcendent harmony.

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