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An Orkney Maid by Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr

Sunna was not yet inclined to sleep


"This

day the dinner was an accidental gathering. Rahal knows well that I have no will to dine with Mistress Brodie. Dost thou want her here, as thy stepmother?"

"If Mistress Brodie is not tired of an easy life, she will turn her feet away from this house. If Sunna cannot please thee, thou art in danger of worse happening. Yes, many are guessing who it is thou wilt marry."

"And which way runs the guessing?"

"Not all one way. For thee, that is not a respectable thing. Thou should not be named with so many old women."

"I am of thy opinion. An old woman is little to my mind. If I trust marriage again, I will choose a young girl for my wife--such an one as Treddie Fae, or Thora Ragnor."

"Thora Ragnor! Dreaming thou art! I am sure Barbara Brodie has brought this young man here for Thora's approval. Can thou stand against a young man?"

"Yes. Adam Vedder and fifty thousand pounds can hand any young man his hat and gloves. Thy father's father is not for thee to make a jest about. So here our talk shall come to an end on this subject. Go to thy bed! Sleep, and the Good Being bless thee!"

Sunna was not yet inclined to sleep. She sat down before her mirror, uncoiled her plentiful hair, and carefully brushed and braided it for the night, as she considered

the news that had come to her.

"This beautiful young man, this singing man, is one of Barbara Brodie's 'finds.' Not much do I think of any of them! That handsome scholar she brought here turned out an unbearable encumbrance. I believe she paid him to go back to Edinburgh. That Aberdeen man, who wanted to invest money in Kirkwall had to borrow two pounds from grandfather to take him back to where he came from. That witty, good-looking Irishman left a big bill at the Castle Hotel for some one to pay; and the woman who wanted to begin a dressmaking business, on the good will of people like Barbara Brodie, knew nothing about dressmaking. This beautiful young man, I'll warrant, is a fish out of the same net. As for the Bishop being taken with his beauty, that is nothing! The poorer a man is, the better Bishop Hedley will like him. So it goes! I wish I knew where Boris Ragnor is--I wish----

"Pshaw! I wonder what kind of a dress Mistress Barbara Brodie brought Thora. Not much taste in either men or clothes has she! Too large will the pattern be, or too strong the colours, and too heavy, or too light, will be the material. I know! And it will not fit her. Too big, or too little it is sure to be! With my own dress I am satisfied. And if grandfather asks no questions about it, I shall count it a lucky dress and save it till Boris comes home. I am going to forgive him when he comes home--perhaps----Now I will put the hopes and worries of this world under my pillow and be off to the Land of Dreams----Tomorrow is Sunday, Easter Sunday--I shall sing the solo in my new dress--that is good, I like a religious feeling in a new dress--I think I am rather a religious girl."

Alas for the hopes of all who wanted to dress for Easter. It was an uncompromising, wet day. It was oil skin and rubber for the men; it was cloaks and pattens and umbrellas for the women. Yet, aside from the rain, it was a day full of good things. The cathedral was crowded, there was full cathedral service, and the Bishop preached a transfiguring sermon. The music was good, the home choir did well, and Sunna's solo was effectively sung; but after she had heard Ian Macrae's "Gloria," she was sorry she had sung at all.


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