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- What's Mine's Mine V1 - 30/30 -


along with so little of another!"

"What is the story about?" asked Mercy.

"What I may call the canvas of it, speaking as if it were a picture, is the idea that the whole of space is full of life; that, as the smallest drop of water is crowded with monsters of hideous forms and dispositions, so is what we call space full of living creatures,--"

"How horrible!"

"--not all monsters, however. There are among them creatures not altogether differing from us, but differing much from each other,--"

"As much as you and I?"

"--some of them lovely and friendly, others frightful in their beauty and malignity,--"

"What nonsense!"

"Why do you call it nonsense?"

"How could anything beautiful be frightful?"

"I ought not to have said BEAUTIFUL. But the frightfullest face I ever saw ought to have been the finest. When the lady that owned it spoke to me, I shivered."

"But anyhow the whole thing is nonsense!"

"How is it nonsense?"

"Because there are no such creatures."

"How do you know that? Another may have seen them though you and I never did!"

"You are making game of me! You think to make me believe anything you choose!"

"Will you tell me something you do believe?"

"That you may prove immediately that I do not believe it!" she retorted, with more insight than he had expected. "--You are not very entertaining!"

"Would you like me to tell you a story then?"

"Will it be nonsense?"

"No."

"I should like a little nonsense."

"You are an angel of goodness, and as wise as you are lovely!" said Ian.

She turned upon him, and opened wide at him her great black eyes, in which were mingled defiance and question.

"Your reasoning is worthy of your intellect. When you dance," he went on, looking very solemn, "your foot would not bend the neck of a daisy asleep in its rosy crown. The west wind of May haunts you with its twilight-odours; and when you waltz, so have I seen the waterspout gyrate on the blue floor of the Mediterranean. Your voice is as the harp of Selma; and when you look out of your welkin eyes-- no! there I am wrong! Allow me!--ah, I thought so!--dark as Erebus!--But what!"

For Mercy, perceiving at last that he was treating her like the silliest of small girls, lost her patience, and burst into tears.

"You are dreadfully rude!" she sobbed.

Ian was vexed with himself.

"You asked me to talk nonsense to you, Miss Mercy! I attempted to obey you, and have done it stupidly. But at least it was absolute nonsense! Shall I make up for it by telling you a pretty story?"

"Anything to put away that!" answered Mercy, trying to smile.

He began at once, and told her a wonderful tale--told first after this fashion by Bob of the Angels, at a winter-night gathering of the women, as they carded and spun their wool, and reeled their yarn together. It was one well-known in the country, but Rob had filled it after his fancy with imaginative turns and spiritual hints, unappreciable by the tall child of seventeen walking by Ian's side. There was not among the maidens of the poor village one who would not have understood it better than she. It took her fancy notwithstanding, partly, perhaps, from its unlikeness to any story she had ever heard before. Her childhood had been starved on the husks of new fairy-tales, all invention and no imagination, than which more unnourishing food was never offered to God's children.

The story Ian told her under that skyful of stars, was as Rob of the Angels had dressed it for the clan matrons and maidens, only altered a very little for the ears of the lowland girl.

END OF VOL. I.


What's Mine's Mine V1 - 30/30

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