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An Orkney Maid by Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr

Ragnor carved and ate and talked


could be more becoming to thee."

"Nay then, I got a Sabbath Day suit that shames this one. And I bought a church hat and a soft hat that beats all, and kid gloves, and a good walking stick with a fancy knob."

"Thou art not needing a walking stick for twenty years yet."

"Well then, the English gentlemen always carries a walking stick. I think they wouldn't know the way they were going without one. At last, I went to the shoemakers, and he made me take off my 'Wellingtons.' He said no one wore them now, and he shod me, as thou sees, very comfortably. I like the change."

Then they heard Thora calling them, and Ragnor taking Rahal's hand hastened to answer the call. She was standing at the foot of the stairway, and her father kissed her and as he did so whispered--"All is well, dear one. After dinner, I will tell thee." Then he took her hand, and the three in one went together to the round table, set so pleasantly near to the comfortable fireside. Standing there, hand-clasped, the master said those few words of adoration and gratitude that turned the white-spread board into a household altar. Dinner was on the table and its delicious odours filled the room and quickly set Ragnor talking.

"I will tell you now, what I saw in London," he said. "Ian is a story good enough to keep until after dinner. I saw him sail

away from Spithead, and he went full of hope and pluck and sure of success. Then I took the first train back to London. I got lodgings in a nice little hotel in Norfolk Street, just off the Strand, and London was calling me all night long."

"Thou could not see much, Father, in one week," said Thora.

"I saw the Queen and the Houses of Parliament, and I saw the Tower of London and Westminster Abbey and the Crystal Palace. And I have heard an oratorio, with a chorus of five hundred voices and Sims Reeves as soloist. I have been to Drury Lane, and the Strand Theatres, to a big picture gallery, and a hippodrome. My dear ones, the end of one pleasure was just the beginning of another; in one week, I have lived fifty years."

Any one can understand how a new flavour was added to the food they were eating by such conversation. Not all the sauces in Christendom could have made it so piquant and appetizing. Ragnor carved and ate and talked, and Rahal and Thora listened and laughed and asked endless questions, and when the mind enters into a meal, it not only prolongs, it also sweetens and brightens it. I suppose there may be in every life two or three festivals, that stand out from all others--small, unlooked-for meetings, perhaps--where love, hope, wonder and happy looking-forward, made the food taste as if it had been cooked in Paradise. Where, at least for a few hours, a mortal might feel that man had been made only a little lower than the angels.

Now, if any of my readers have such a memory, let them close the book, shut their eyes and live it over again. It was probably a foretaste of a future existence, where we shall have faculties capable of fuller and higher pleasures; faculties that without doubt "will be satisfied." For in all hearts that have suffered, there must abide the conviction that the Future holds Compensation, not Punishment.

But without forecast or remembrance, the Ragnors that night enjoyed their highly mentalised meal, and after it was over and the table set backward, and the white hearth brushed free of ashes, they drew around the fire, and Ragnor laid down his pipe, and said:

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