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An Orkney Maid by Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr

Ambleside and Windemere were quite forgotten


"Doubtful

is their gladness. Two are company, three are a crowd. Yet so it is! I must run into danger, like the rest of women."

"Is that thy Easter gown, Sunna?" asked Mistress Brodie.

"It is. Dost thou like it?"

"Who would not like it? The rumour goes abroad that thy grandfather sent to Inverness for it. Others say it came to thee from Edinburgh."

"Wrong are both stories. I am happy to say that Sunna Vedder gave herself a dress so pretty and so suitable."

With these smiling words she left the room and the elder women shrugged their shoulders and looked expressively at each other. "What can a sensible man like Boris Ragnor see in such a harum-scarum girl!" was Rahal Ragnor's question, and Barbara Brodie thought it was all Adam Vedder's fault. "He ought to have married some sensible woman who would have brought up the girl as girls ought to be brought up," she answered; adding, "We may as well remember that the management of women, at any age, is a business clean beyond Adam Vedder's capabilities."

"Adam is a clever man, Barbie."

"Book clever! What is the use of book wisdom when you have a live girl, full of her own way, to deal with?"

"Conall chose the husbands for his daughters. They were quite suitable to the

girls and they have been very happy with them."

"Thora will choose for herself."

"Perhaps, that may be so. Thora has been spoiled. Her marriage need not yet be thought of. In two or three years, we will consider it. The little one has not yet any dreams of that kind."

"Such dreams come in a moment--when you are not thinking of them."

In fact, at that very moment Thora was learning the mystery of "falling in love"; and there is hardly a more vital thing in life than this act. For it is something taking place in the subconscious self; it is a revolution, and a growth. It happened that after dinner, Conall wished to hear Ian sing again that loveliest of all metrical Collects, "Lord of All Power and Might," and Thora went with Ian to do her part as accompanist on the piano. As they sang Conall appeared to fall asleep, and no more music was asked for.

Then Ian lifted a book full of illustrations of the English lake district, and they sat down on the sofa to examine it. Ian had once been at Keswick and Ambleside, and he began to tell her about Lake Windemere and these lovely villages. He was holding Thora's hand and glancing constantly into her face, and before he recognised what he was saying, Ambleside and Windemere were quite forgotten, and he was telling Thora that he loved her with an everlasting love. He vowed that he had loved her in his past lives, and would love her, and only her, forever. And he looked so handsome and spoke in words of the sweetest tenderness, and indeed was amazed at his own passionate eloquence, but knew in his soul that every word he said was true.

And Thora, the innocent little one, was equally sure of his truth. She blushed and listened, while he drew her closer to his side calling her "his own, his very own!" and begging her to promise that she would "marry him, and no other man, in the whole earth."


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