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An Orkney Maid by Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr

McLeod took out his watch You have twenty minutes


"Why,

Kenneth, I would like first of all to see the inside of your grand cathedral. I would say, it must be very ancient."

"Began in A. D., 1138. Is that old?"

"Seven hundred years! That will do for age. They were good builders then. I have a strange love for these old shrines where multitudes have prayed for centuries. They are full of _Presence_ to me."

"_Presence._ What do you mean?"

"Souls."

"You are a creepy kind of mortal. I think, Ian, if you were not such a godless man, you might have been a saint."

Macrae drew his lips tight, and then said in detached words--"My father is--sure--I--was--born--at--the--other--end--of--the--measure."

Then they were in the interior of the cathedral. The light was dim, the silence intense, and both men were profoundly affected by influences unknown and unseen. As they moved slowly forward into the nave, the altar became visible, and in this sacred place of Communion Thora was moving slowly about, leaving beauty and sweetness wherever she lingered.

Her appearance gave both men a shock and both expressed it by a spasmodic breath. They spoke not; they watched her slim, white figure pass to-and-fro with soft and reverent steps, arranging violets and white hyacinths with green

moss in the exquisite white Wedgewood. Then with a face full of innocent joy she placed it upon the altar, and for a few moments stood with clasped hands, looking at it.

As she did so, the organist began to practice his Easter music, and she turned her face towards the organ. Then they saw fully a beautiful, almost childlike face transfigured with celestial emotions.

"Let us get out of this," whispered McLeod. "What business have we here? It is a kind of sacrilege." And Ian bowed his head and followed him. But it was some minutes ere the every-day world became present to their senses. McLeod was the first to speak:--

"What an experience!" he sighed. "I should not dare to try it often. It would send me into a monastery."

"Are you a Roman Catholic?"

"What else would I be? When I was a lad, I used to dream of being a monk. It was power I wanted. I thought then, that priests had more power than any other men; as I grew older I found out that it was money that owned the earth."

"Not so!" said Ian sharply, "'the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof.' I promised to be at Mistress Brodie's for dinner at one o'clock. What is the time?"

McLeod took out his watch:--"You have twenty minutes," he said. "I was just going to tell you that the girl we saw in the cathedral is her niece."


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