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An Orkney Maid by Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr

McLeod was dancing far too often with Sunna


There

was a large company present when the Vedders reached Mrs. Brodie's--military men, a couple of naval officers, gentlemen of influence, and traders of wealth and enterprise; with a full complement of women "divinely tall and fair." Sunna made the sensation among them she expected to make. There was a sudden pause in conversation and every eye filled itself with her beauty. For just a moment, it seemed as if there was no other person present.

Then Mrs. Brodie and Colonel Belton came to meet them, and Sunna was left in the latter's charge. "Will you now dance, Miss Vedder?" he asked.

"Let us first walk about a little, Colonel. I want to find my friend, Thora Ragnor."

"I have long desired an introduction to Miss Ragnor. Is she not lovely?"

"Yes, but now only for one man. A stranger came here last week, and she was captured at once."

"How remarkable! I thought that kind of irresponsible love had gone quite out of favour and fashion."

"Not so! This youth came, saw, and conquered."

"Is it the youth I see with Ken McLeod?"

"The same. Look! There they are, together as usual."

"She is very sweet and attractive."

Sunna answered this remark by asking

Thora to honour Colonel Belton with her company for a short time, saying: "In the interval I will take care of Ian Macrae." Then Thora stood up in her innocence and loveliness and she was like some creature of more ethereal nature than goes with flesh and blood. For the eye took her in as a whole, and at first noticed neither her face nor her dress in particular. Her dress was only of white tarlatan, a thin, gauze-like material long out of fashion. It is doubtful if any woman yet remembers its airy, fairy sway, and graceful folds. The filmy robe, however, was plentifully trimmed with white satin ribbon, and the waist was entirely of satin trimmed with tarlatan. The whole effect was girlish and simple, and Thora needed no other ornament but the pink and white daisies at her belt.

However, if Sunna expected Thora's manner and conversation to match the simplicity of her dress, she was disappointed. In Love's school women learn with marvellous rapidity, and Thora astonished her by falling readily into a conversation of the most up-to-date social character. She had caught the trick from Ian, a little playful fencing round the most alluring of subjects, yet it brought out the simplicity of her character, while it also revealed its purity and intelligence.

Dancing had commenced when Mrs. Ragnor entered the room on the arm of her son Boris. Boris instantly looked around for Sunna and she was dancing with McLeod. All the evening afterwards Boris danced, but never once with Sunna, and Adam Vedder watched the young man with scorn. He was the most desirable party in the room for any girl and he quite neglected the handsome Sunna Vedder. That was not his only annoyance. McLeod was dancing far too often with Sunna, and even the beautiful youth Ian Macrae had only asked her hand once; and Adam was sure that Thora Ragnor had been the suggester of that act of politeness. Girls far inferior to Sunna in every respect had received more attention than his granddaughter. He was greatly offended, but he appeared to turn his back on the whole affair and to be entirely occupied in conversation with Conall Ragnor and Colonel Belton concerning the war with Russia.


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