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An Orkney Maid by Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr

As she held them out to Vedder


thee I brought them," she said, as she held them out to Vedder. "I heard thy voice, and I was sure thy feet would be wet. See, then, I have brought thee my father's slippers. He would like thee to wear them--so would I."

"I will not wear them, Thora. I will not stand in any man's shoes but my own. It is an unchancy, unlucky thing to do. Thanks be to thee, but I will keep my own standing, wet or dry. Look to that rule for thyself, and remember what I say. Let me see if thou art well shod."

Thora laughed, stood straight up, and drew her dress taut, and put forward two small feet, trigly protected by high-laced boots. Then, looking at her mother, she asked: "Are the boots sufficient, or shall I wear over them my French clogs?"

Vedder answered her question. "The clogs are not necessary," he said. "The rain runs off as fast as it falls. Thy boots are all such trifling feet can carry. What can women do on this hard world-road with such impediments as French clogs over English boots?"

"Mr. Vedder, they will do whatever they want to do; and they will go wherever they want to go; and they will walk in their own shoes, and work in their own shoes, and be well satisfied with them."

"Thora, I am sorry I was born in the last century. If I had waited for about fifty years I would have been in proper time to marry thee."

style="text-align: justify;">"Perhaps."

"Yes; for I would not have let a woman so fair and good as thou art go out of my family. We should have been man and wife. That would certainly have happened."

"If two had been willing, it might have been. Now our talk must end; the Archdeacon likes not a late comer;" and with this remark, and a beaming smile, she went away.

Then there was a silence, full of words longing to be spoken; but Rahal Ragnor was a prudent woman, and she sighed and sewed and left Vedder to open the conversation. He looked at her a little impatiently for a few moments, then he asked:

"To what port has thy son Boris sailed?"

"Boris intends to go to Leith, if wind and water let him do so."

"Boris is not asking wind and water about his affairs. There is a question I know not how to answer. I am wanting thy help."

"If that be so, speak thy mind to me."

"I want a few words of advice about a woman."

"Is that woman thy granddaughter, Sunna?"

"A right guess thou hast made."

"Then I would rather not speak of her."

"Thy reason? What is it?"

"She is too clever for a simple woman like me. I have not two faces. I cannot make the same words mean two distinct and separate things. Sunna has all thy self-wisdom, but she has not thy true heart and thy wise tongue."

"Listen to me! Things have come to this--Boris has made love to Sunna in the face of all Kirkwall. He has done this for more than a year. Then for two weeks before he left for Leith he came not near my house, and if he met Sunna in any friend's house he was no longer her lover. What is the meaning of this? My girl is unhappy and angry, and I myself am far from being satisfied; thou tell, what is wrong between them?"

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