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An Orkney Maid by Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr

Fearful expression that Thora could not help noticing


"What

was that problem?"

"First, whether I should marry John just as he was, and trust the consequences to my influence over him; or whether I should refuse him altogether and forever; or whether I should wait and see what he can do with my father and the good Bishop, to help and strengthen him." And as Thora talked, Rahal's face grew light and sweet as she listened, and she answered--"Yes, my dear one, that is the wonderful way! Some soul that loved thee long, long ago, knew that thou wert in great trouble. Some woman's soul, perhaps, that had lived and died for love. The kinship of our souls far exceeds that of our bodies, and their help is swift and sure. Be patient with Ian. That is what I say."

"But why that prayer? I never heard it before."

"How little thou knowest of what thou hast heard before! Two hundred years ago, all sorrowful, unhappy women went to Mary with their troubles."

"They should not have done so. They could have gone to Christ."

"They thought Mary had suffered just what they were suffering, and they thought that Christ had never known any of the griefs that break a woman's heart. Mary knew them, had felt them, had wept and prayed over them. When my little lad Eric died, I thought of Mary. My family have only been one hundred years Protestants. All of them must have loved thee well enough to

come and pray for thee. Thou had a great honour, as well as a great comfort."

"At any rate I did no wrong! I am glad, Mother."

"Wrong! Thou wilt see the Bishop today. Ask him. He will tell thee that the English Church and the English women gave up very reluctantly their homage to Mary. Are not their grand churches called after Peter and Paul and other male saints? Dost thou think that Christ loved Peter and Paul more than his mother? I know better. Please God thou wilt know better some day."

"Churches are often called after Mary, as well as the saints."

"Not in Scotland."

"There is one in Glasgow. Vedder told me he used to hear Bishop Hedley preach there."

"It is an Episcopal Church. Ask him about thy dream. No, I mean thy soul's experience."

"Thou said _dream_, Mother. It was not a dream. I saw no one. I only heard a voice. It is what we see in dreams that is important."

"Now wilt thou come to thy breakfast?"

"Is _he_ downstairs yet?"

"I will go and call him."

Rahal, however, came to the table alone. She said, "Ian asked that he might lie still and sleep an hour or two. He has not slept all night long, I think," she added. "His voice sounded full of trouble."

So the two women ate their breakfast alone for Ragnor did not return in time to join them. And Rahal's hopefulness left her, and she was silent and her face had a grey, fearful expression that Thora could not help noticing. "You look ill, Mother!" she said, "and you were looking so well when we came downstairs. What is it?"


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