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An Orkney Maid by Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr

But I am not minded to outdress the Torrie girls


"I

thought thou wert looking for Boris home tonight."

"Well, then, Mother, that is so. He said we must give him a little dance tonight, and I have asked the girls he likes best to come here. I thought this was known to thee. To call my words back now, will give great disappointment."

"No need is there to call any word back. Because of thy dress I feared there had been some word of delay. If likelihood rule, Maren and Helga Torrie will wear the best they have."

"That is most certain, but I am not minded to outdress the Torrie girls. Very hard it is for them to get a pretty frock, and it will make them happy to see themselves smarter than Thora Ragnor."

"Thou should think of thyself."

"Well, I am generally uppermost in my own mind. Also, in Edinburgh I was told that the hostess must not outdress her guests."

"Edinburgh and Kirkwall are not in the same latitude. Keep mind of that. Step forward and let me look at thee."

So Thora stood up before her mother, and the light from the window fell all over her, and she was beautiful from head to feet. Tall and slender, with a great quantity of soft brown hair very loosely arranged on the crown of her head; a forehead broad and white; eyebrows, plentiful and well arched; starlike blue eyes, with a large,

earnest gaze and an oval face tinted like a rose. Oh! why try to describe a girl so lovely? It is like pulling a rose to pieces. It is easier to say that she was fleshly perfect and that, being yet in her eighteenth year, she had all the bloom of opening flowers, and all their softness and sweetness.

Apparently she owed little to her dress, and yet it would have been difficult to choose anything more befitting her, for though it was only of wine-coloured cashmere, it was made with a plain picturesqueness that rendered it most effective. The short sleeves then worn gave to her white arms the dark background that made them a fascination; the high waist, cut open in front to a point, was filled in with white satin, over which it was laced together with a thin silk cord of the same colour as the dress. A small lace collar completed the toilet, and for the occasion, it was perfect; anything added to it would have made it imperfect.

This was the girl who, standing before her mother, asked for her approval. And Rahal Ragnor's eyes were filled with her beauty, and she could only say:

"Dear thing! There is no need to change! Just as thou art pleases me!"

Then with a face full of love Thora stooped and kissed her mother and anon began to set the table for the expected guests. With sandalled feet and smiling face, she walked about the room with the composure of a goddess. There was no hesitation concerning what she had to do; all had been arranged and settled in her mind previously, though now and then, the discussion of a point appeared to be pleasant and satisfying. Thus she thoughtfully said:

"Mother, there will be thyself and father and Boris, that is three, and Sunna Vedder, and Helga and Maren Torrie, that makes six, and Gath Peterson, and Wolf Baikie and his sisters Sheila and Maren make ten, and myself, eleven--that is all and it is enough."


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