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An Orkney Maid by Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr

Then thou will find Rahal Ragnor among them


Looking

round the room, he was rather glad his wife was not there. She was generally cool about such attentions, and secretly offended by their familiarity. For she was not only a reader and a thinker, she was also a great observer, and she had seen and considered the slow but sure coming of that spirit of progress, which would break up their isolation and, with it, the social privileges of her class. However, she kept all her fears on this subject in her heart. Not even to Thora would she talk of them lest she might be an inciter of thoughts that would raise up a class who would degrade her own: "Few people can be trusted with a dangerous thought, and who can tell where spoken words go to." And this idea, she knit, or stitched, into every garment her fingers fashioned.

So, then, it was quite in keeping with her character to pass by Conall's little social enthusiasms with a chilling indifference, and if any wonder or complaint was made of this attitude, to reply:

"When men and women of thine own worth and station bow down to thee, Conall, then thou will find Rahal Ragnor among them; but I do not mingle my words with those of the men and women who sort goose feathers, and pack eggs and gut fish for the salting. Thy wife, Conall, looks up, and not down."

Well, then, as Rahal knew that the safe return of Boris with the _Sea Gull_ would possibly be an occasion for these friendly familiarities,

she wisely took herself out of the way of hearing anything about it. And it is a great achievement when we learn the limit of our power to please. Conall Ragnor had not quite mastered the lesson in twenty-six years. Very often, yet, he had a half-alive hope that these small triumphs of his daily life might at length awaken in his wife's breast a sympathetic pleasure. Today it was allied with the return of Boris and his ship, and he thought this event might atone for whatever was repugnant.

And yet, after all, when he saw no one but Thora present, he had a sense of relief. He told her all that had been said and done, and added such incidents of Boris and the ship as he thought would please her. She laughed and chatted with him, and listened with unabated pleasure to the very end, indeed, until he said: "Now, then, I must stop talking. I dare say there are many things to look after, for Boris told me he would be home for dinner at six o'clock. Till that hour I will take a little nap on the sofa."

"But first, my Father, thou wilt go and dress. Everything is ready for thee, and mother is dressed, and as for Thora, is she not pretty tonight?"

"Thou art the fairest of all women here, if I know anything about beauty. Wolf Baikie will be asking the first dance with thee."

"That dance is thine. Mother has given thee to me for that dance."

"To me? That is very agreeable. I am proud to be thy father."

"Then go and dress thyself. I am particular about my partners."


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