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An Orkney Maid by Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr

So the Finlays went without me


Rahal

and Thora were sobbing. Ragnor looked in the youth's face with shining eyes and asked, almost in a whisper, "What did thou do?"

"I had been struck often enough before to have made me indifferent, but at this moment some new strength and feeling sprang up in my heart. I seized his arms and the whip fell to the floor. I lifted it and said, 'Sir, if you ever again use a whip in place of decent words to me, I will see you no more until we meet for the judgment of God. Then I will pity you for the life-long mistake you have made.' My father looked at me with eyes I shall never forget, no, not in all eternity! He burst into agonizing prayer and weeping and I went and told mother to go to him. I left the house there and then. I had not a halfpenny, and I was hungry and cold and sick with an intolerable sense of wrong."

"Father!" said Thora, in a voice broken with weeping. "Is not this enough?" And Ragnor leaned forward and took Thora's hand but he did not speak. Neither did he answer Rahal's look of entreaty. On the contrary he asked:

"Then, Ian? Then, what did thou do?"

"I felt so ill I went to see Dr. Finlay, our family physician. He knew the family trouble, because he had often attended mother when she was ill in consequence of it. I did not need to make a complaint. He saw my condition and took me to his wife and told her to feed and comfort

me. I remained in her care four days, and then he offered to take me into his office and set me to reading medical text books, while I did the office work."

"What was this work?"

"I was taught how to prepare ordinary medicines, to see callers when the doctor was out, and make notes of, and on, their cases. I helped the doctor in operations, I took the prescriptions to patients and explained their use, etc. In three years I became very useful and helpful and I was quite happy. Then Dr. Finlay was appointed to some exceptionally fine post in India, private physician to some great Rajah, and the Finlay family hastily prepared for their journey to Delhi. I longed to go with them but I had not the money requisite. With Dr. Finlay I had had a home but only money enough to clothe me decently. I had not a pound left and mother could not help me, and Uncle Ian was in the Madeira Isles with his sick wife. So the Finlays went without me; and I can feel yet the sense of loneliness and poverty that assailed me, when I shut their door behind me and walked into the cold street and knew not what to do or where to go."

"How old were you then, Ian?" asked Ragnor.

"I was twenty years old within a few days, and I had one pound, sixteen shillings in my pocket. Five pounds from an Episcopal church would be due in two weeks for my solo and part singing in their services; but they were never very prompt in their payment and that was nothing to rely on in my present need. I took to answering advertisements, and did some of the weariest tramping looking for work that poor humanity can do. When I met Kenneth McLeod, I had broken my last shilling. I was like a hungry, lost child, and the thought of my mother came to me and I felt as if my heart would break.

"The next moment I saw Kenneth McLeod coming up Prince's Street. It was nearly four years since we had seen each other, but he knew me at once and called me in his old kind way. Then he looked keenly at me, and asked: 'What is the matter, Ian? The old trouble?'


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