The Bairn of Brianag (Chapter Four, page 1 of 8)


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That month of June, usually my favorite in the whole year, was among the most miserable of my life.

There was a dance at Gillean; all our neighbors were invited. Robbie did not come; he was still in the back country. I was obliged to dance with Alexander and Barry, and several other men I had never met; I forced myself to be pleasant. We traveled to Shannon's Loch for supper, to Brianag for a picnic; without Robbie and Cathy and Sean, I found it difficult to pretend to be happy.

"Isn't it strange how our lives are altered," said August, as we strolled arm-in-arm across the lawn at Brianag. "How sad that we must say farewell to childhood!"

August had a way of speaking what was on one's mind at the most opportune moments; yet she herself seemed unaffected by sentiment, even as she spoke of sadness.

Her constant serenity almost drove me mad at times.

"How can you remain always so untroubled?" I demanded. "My heart is breaking! I miss Sean, and Cathy, and Robbie! Oh, how I wish we were children again!"

"Dear Jessie," she said. "Wishing changes nothing. We must take each day as it comes, and make the best of it." She waved her hand, a gesture that encompassed the lawn, the swamp, the forest, all of Brianag. "All of this does not change. People may come and go, but the land will always wait for us."

I would not be comforted. "I did not want Cathy to go, nor Sean," I said. "I wish I could turn back time! Oh, I wish Robbie was here!"

"Oh, Jessie, dear! For how long will you nurture this unfortunate passion? Can you not look elsewhere to give your heart?"

"Where else? To whom would you have me look?" I demanded, and tears filled my eyes. "Truly, August! Would you have me leave the district, go far away from my home?

There is no other in all of the colony who could draw me away from him! I love him, don't you see! We are meant to be!"

We were now standing at the edge of the swamp. The sun was pleasantly hot; a breeze came down from beyond the house. August put her hand over mine. We stood there, looking out across the water into the trees, as my tears spilled down my cheeks. After a moment she took her handkerchief from her pocket and offered it to me. I took out my own, and wiped my face.

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