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15. CHAPTER XV (continued)
"We shall have a fine day to-morrow," said Christopher with complacency, and he sat himself on the floor at her feet, and leant his back against her knees, and stretched out his long stockinged legs to the fire--all signs that he felt no longer any restraint at the presence of the stranger. He was the youngest of the family, and Mary's favorite, partly because his character resembled hers, as Edward's character resembled Elizabeth's. She made her knees a comfortable rest for his head, and ran her fingers through his hair.
"I should like Mary to stroke my head like that," Ralph thought to himself suddenly, and he looked at Christopher, almost affectionately, for calling forth his sister's caresses. Instantly he thought of Katharine, the thought of her being surrounded by the spaces of night and the open air; and Mary, watching him, saw the lines upon his forehead suddenly deepen. He stretched out an arm and placed a log upon the fire, constraining himself to fit it carefully into the frail red scaffolding, and also to limit his thoughts to this one room.
Mary had ceased to stroke her brother's head; he moved it impatiently between her knees, and, much as though he were a child, she began once more to part the thick, reddish-colored locks this way and that. But a far stronger passion had taken possession of her soul than any her brother could inspire in her, and, seeing Ralph's change of expression, her hand almost automatically continued its movements, while her mind plunged desperately for some hold upon slippery banks.
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