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An Orkney Maid by Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr

Snackoll got praise for his daring


"Thou

poor unloved laddie!" she said. "If thou had gone wrong, it would have been little wonder and little blame to thyself. I think thou did all that could be done, with neither love nor wisdom to help thee. Rahal does not blame thee. Rahal pities and loves thee. Thou hast been cowed and frightened and punished for nothing, all the days of thy sad life. Poor lad! Poor, disappointed laddie! With all my heart and soul I pity thee!"

For a few moments there was not a word spoken and the sound of Ian's bitter weeping filled the room. Ian had been flogged many a time when but a youth, and had then disdained to utter a cry, but no child in its first great sorrow, ever wept so heart-brokenly as Ian now wept in Rahal's arms. And a man weeping is a fearsome, pitiful sound. It goes to a woman's heart like a sword, and Thora rose and went to her lover and drew him to the sofa and sat down at his side and, with promises wet with tears, tried to comfort him. A strange silence that the weeping did not disturb was in the house and room, and in the kitchen the servants paused in their work and looked at each other with faces full of pity.

"The Wise One has put trouble on their heads," said a woman who was dressing a goose to roast for dinner and her helper answered, "And there is no use striving against it. What must be, is sure to happen. That is Right."

"All that we have done, is no good. Fate

rules in this thing. I see that."

"The trouble came on them unawares. And if Death is at the beginning, no course that can be taken is any good."

"What is the Master's will? For in the end, that will orders all things."

"The mistress said the marriage would be put off for a year. The young man goes to the war."

"No wonder then he cries out. It is surely a great disappointment."

"Tom Snackoll had the same ill luck. He made no crying about it. He hoisted sail at midnight and stole his wife Vestein out of her window, and when her father caught them, they were man and wife. And Snackoll went out to speak to his father-in-law and he said to him, 'My wife can not see thee today, for she is weary and I think it best for her to be still and quiet'; and home the father went and no good of his journey. Snackoll got praise for his daring."

"Well then," said a young man who had just entered, "it is well known that Vestein and her father and mother were all fully willing. The girl could as easily have gone out of the door as the window. Snackoll is a boaster. He is as great in his talk as a fox in his tail."

Thus the household of Ragnor talked in the kitchen, and in the parlour Rahal comforted the lovers, and cheered and encouraged Ian so greatly that she was finally able to say to them:

"The wedding day was not lucky. Let it pass. There is another, only a year away, that will bring lasting joy. Now we have wept over our mischance, we will bury it and look to the future. We will go and wash away sorrow and put on fresh clothes, and look forward to the far better marriage a year hence."

And her voice and manner were so persuasive, that they willingly obeyed her advice and, as they passed her, she kissed them both and told Ian to put his head in cold water and get rid of its aching fever, for she said, "The Bishop will want thee to sing some of thy Collects and Hymns and thou wilt like to please him. He is thy good friend."


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