The Mystery of Mary (Chapter 5, page 1 of 5)

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Chapter 5

Beginning with the awful moment when she first realized her danger and the necessity for immediate flight, she lived over every perilous instant, her nerves straining, her breath bated as if she were experiencing it all once more. The horror of it! Her own hopeless, helpless condition! But finally, because her trouble was new and her body and mind, though worn with excitement, were healthy and young, she sank into a deep sleep, without having decided at all what she should do.

At last she woke from a terrible dream, in which the hand of her pursuer was upon her, and her preserver was in the dark distance. With that strange insistence which torments the victim of such dreams, she was obliged to lie still and imagine it out, again and again, until the face and voice of the young man grew very real in the darkness, and she longed inexpressibly for the comfort of his presence once more.

At length she shook off these pursuing thoughts and deliberately roused herself to plan her future.

The first necessity, she decided, was to change her appearance so far as possible, so that if news of her escape, with full description, had been telegraphed, she might evade notice. To that end, she arose in the early dawning of a gray and misty morning, and arranged her hair as she had never worn it before, in two braids and wound closely about her head. It was neat, and appropriate to the vocation which she had decided upon, and it made more difference in her appearance than any other thing she could have done. All the soft, fluffy fulness of rippling hair that had framed her face was drawn close to her head, and the smooth bands gave her the simplicity and severity of a saint in some old picture. She pinned up her gown until it did not show below the long black coat, and folded a white linen handkerchief about her throat over the delicate lace and garniture of the modish waist. Then she looked dubiously at the hat.

With a girl's instinct, her first thought was for her borrowed plumage. A fine mist was slanting down and had fretted the window-pane until there was nothing visible but dull gray shadows of a world that flew monotonously by. With sudden remembrance, she opened the suit-case and took out the folded black hat, shook it into shape, and put it on. It was mannish, of course, but girls often wore such hats.

As she surveyed herself in the long mirror of her door, the slow color stole into her cheeks. Yet the costume was not unbecoming, nor unusual. She looked like a simple schoolgirl, or a young business woman going to her day's work.

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