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An Orkney Maid by Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr

Ragnor went downstairs with her


the preparations for Thora's marriage went on, but the spirit that animated their first beginnings had cooled down into that calm necessity, which always has to attend to all "finishings off." Early in December, Thora's future home was quite finished, and this last word expresses its beauty and completeness. Then Ragnor kissed his daughter, and put into her hand the key of the house and the deed of gift which made it her own forever. And in this same hour they decided that the first day of the New Year should be the wedding day; for Bishop Hedley would then be in Kirkwall and who else could marry the little Thora whom he had baptised and confirmed and welcomed into the fold of the church.

Nothing is more remarkable than the variety of moods in which women take the solemn initiatory rite ushering them into their real life and their great and honourable duties. Thora was joyful as a bird in spring and never weary of examining the lovely home, the perfect wardrobe, and the great variety of beautiful presents that had been given her.

Very soon it was the twentieth of December, and Ian was expected on the twenty-third. Christmas preparations had now taken the place of marriage preparations for every item was ready for the latter event. There had been a little anxiety about the dress and veil, but they arrived on the morning of the twentieth and were beautiful and fitting in every respect. The dress was of the orthodox

white satin and the veil fell from a wreath of orange flowers and myrtle leaves. And oh, how proud and happy Thora was in their possession. Several times that wonderful day she had run secretly to her room to examine and admire them.

On the morning of the twenty-first she reminded herself that in two days Ian would be with her and that in nine days she would be his wife. She was genuine and happy about the event. She made no pretences or reluctances. She loved Ian with all her heart, she was glad she was going to be always with him. Life would then be full and she would be the happiest woman in the world. She asked her father at the breakfast table to send her, at once, any letters that might come for her in his mail. "I am sure there will be one from Ian," she said, "and, dear Father, it hurts me to keep it waiting."

About ten o'clock, Mrs. Beaton called and brought Thora a very handsome ring from Maximus Grant and a bracelet from herself. She stayed to lunch with the Ragnors and after the meal was over, they went upstairs to look at the wedding dress. "I want to see it on you, Thora," said Mrs. Beaton, "I shall have a wedding dress to buy for my niece soon and I would like to know what kind of a fit Mrs. Scott achieves." So Thora put on the dress, and Mrs. Beaton admitted that it "fit like a glove" and that she should insist on her niece Helen going to Mrs. Scott.

With many scattering, delaying remarks and good wishes, the lady finally bid Thora good-bye and Mrs. Ragnor went downstairs with her. Then Thora eagerly lifted two letters that had come in her father's mail and been sent home to her. One was from Ian. "The last he will write to Thora Ragnor," she said with a smile. "I will put it with his first letter and keep them all my life long. So loving is he, so good, so handsome! There is no one like my Ian." Twice over she read his loving letter and then laid it down and lifted the one which had come with it.

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