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An Orkney Maid by Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr

Sunna went away with the air of a happy


"Well,

then, for heroics there is no present need! I surely thought Boris loved his business and would not leave his money-making."

"Could thou tell me what incalculable sum of money a man would take for his honour and patriotism?" asked Thora.

"What has honour to do with it?"

"Everything; a man without honour is not a man--he is just 'a body'; he has no soul. Robert Burns told Andrew Horner how such men were made!" replied Thora.

"How was that? Tell me! A Burns' anecdote will put grandfather in his finest temper, and I want him in that condition for I have a great favour to ask from him."

"The tale tells that when Burns was beginning to write, he had a rival in a man called Andrew Horner. One day they met at the same club dinner, and they were challenged to each write a verse within five minutes. The gentlemen guests took out their watches, the poets were furnished with pencils and paper. When time was up Andrew Horner had not written the first line but Burns handed to the chairman his verse complete."

"Tell me. If you know it, tell me, Thora!"

"Yes, I know it. If you hear it once you do not forget it."

"Well then?"

"It runs thus:

"'Once

on a time The Deil gat stuff to mak' a swine And put it in a corner; But afterward he changed his plan And made it summat like a man, And ca'ed it Andrew Horner.'"

"That is good! It will delight grandfather."

"No doubt he already knows it."

"No, I should have heard it a thousand times, if he knew it."

"Well, then, I believe it has been suppressed. Many think it too ill-natured for Burns to have written; but my father says it has the true Burns ring and is Robert Burns' writing without doubt."

"It will give grandfather a nice long job of investigation. That is one of his favourite amusements, and all Sunna has to do is to be sure he is right and everybody else wrong. Now I will go home."

"Stay with me today."

"No. Macrae will be here soon."

"Uncertain is that."

"Every hair on thy head, Thora, every article of thy dress, from the lace at thy throat to the sandals on thy feet, say to me that this is a time when my absence will be better than my company."

"Well, then, do as thou art minded."

"It is best I do so. A happy morning to thee! What more is in my heart shall lie quiet at this time."

Sunna went away with the air of a happy, careless girl, but she said many angry words to herself as she hasted on the homeward road. "Most of the tales tell how women are made to suffer by the men they love--but no tale shall be made about Sunna Vedder! _No!_ _No!_ It is Boris Ragnor I shall turn into laughter--he has mocked my very heart--I will never forgive him--that is the foolish way all women take--all but Sunna Vedder--she will neither forgive nor forget--she will follow up this affair--yes!"

By such promises to herself she gradually regained her usual reasonable poise, and with a smiling face sought her grandfather. She found him in his own little room sitting at a table covered with papers. He looked up as she entered and, in spite of his intention, answered her smile and greeting with an equal plentitude of good will and good temper.


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