The Little Colonel's Chum: Mary Ware by Annie Fellows Johnston


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Page 3

It was positively uncanny to the man that this stranger on whom he had
never laid eyes before should call him by name. He wondered if she were
one of these new-fangled mind-readers he had been hearing so much about.
It was also upsetting to find that he had been mistaken about her delay
in knocking. There was anything but timidity in the grand air with
which she gave him her card, saying, "Announce me to Madam Chartley,

She was a plump little body, ill adapted to stately airs and graces, but
she had been rehearsing this entrance mentally for days, and she swept
into the reception room as if she were the daughter of a duke.

hope he was properly impressed." Then catching sight of her reflection
in a long mirror opposite, she wilted into an attitude of abject
despair. A loop of milliner's wire, from which the ribbon had slipped,
stood up stiff and straight in the bow on her hat. She proceeded to put
it back in place with anxious pats and touches, exclaiming in an
anguished whisper,

"Oh, _why_ is it, that whenever I feel particularly imposing and Queen
Annish inside, I always look so dishevelled and Mary Annish outside!
Here's my hat cocked over one eye and my hair straggling out in wisps
like a crazy thing. I wonder what Hawkins thought."

Hawkins, on his way up stairs was spelling out the name on the card he
carried. "Miss Mary Ware, Phoenix, Arizona."

"Humph!" was his mental exclamation. "From one of the jumping hoff
places." Then his mind reverted to the several detective tales that made
up his knowledge of the far West. "'Ope she doesn't carry a gun 'idden
hon 'er person."

Now that the first ordeal was over and she was safely inside the doors
of Warwick Hall, the new pupil braced herself for the next one, the
meeting with Madam Chartley. She wouldn't have been quite so nervous
over it if she had been sure of a welcome, but the catalogue stated
distinctly that no pupils could be received before the fifteenth of
September, and this was only the twelfth. She had the best of reasons
for coming ahead of time, and was sure that Madam Chartley would make an
exception in her case when once the matter was properly explained. The
friends in whose care she had travelled from Phoenix had expected to
spend several days in Washington, sight-seeing, and she was to have been
their guest until the opening of school. But a telegram met them calling
them immediately to Boston. She couldn't stay alone at a strange hotel,
she knew no one in the entire city, and there was no course open to her
but to come on to school.

It was easy enough for her to see why she might not be welcome. There
was a vigorous washing of windows going on over the whole establishment,
a sound of carpenters in the background and a smell of fresh paint and
furniture polish to the fore. Everything was out of its usual orbit in
the process of getting ready for the opening day.

Lying awake the night before in the upper berth of the hot Pullman car,
Mary had carefully planned her little speech of explanation, and had
rehearsed it a dozen times since. But now her heart was beating so fast
and her throat was so dry she knew the words would stick at the very
time she needed them most. Feeling as if she were about to have a tooth
pulled, she sank into a large upholstered rocking chair to wait. It
tipped back so far that her toes could not reach the floor, and she
sprang out again in a hurry. One could never feel at ease in an
infantile position like that.

Then she tried a straight chair, imitating the pose of a majestic
gentlewoman in one of the portraits on the panelled wall. It was one of
Madam's grand ancestors she conjectured. A glance into the tell-tale
mirror made her sigh despairingly again. She was not built on majestic
lines herself. No matter how queenly and imposing she might feel in that
attitude, she only looked ridiculously stiff.

Once more she changed her seat, flouncing down on a low sofa, and
struggling for a graceful position with one elbow leaning on a huge silk
cushion. It was in all seriousness that she made these changes,
realizing that she could not appear at her best unless she felt at ease.
But the humour of the situation was not lost on her. An amused smile
dimpled her face as she gave the sofa cushion a thump and once more
changed her seat. "I'm worse than Goldilocks trying all the chairs of
the three bears, but that's too loppy!"

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Books | Photos | Paul Mutton | Fri 28th Feb 2020, 12:41