The Bairn of Brianag (Chapter Four, page 2 of 8)


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"You shall come and stay with me for a week," she said. "Then there will be the Midsummer Ball! We must go to Town for new gowns."

"Dear August, you are truly kind," I said. "I shall look forward to it."

So I spent a week with August. The quiet at Shannon's Loch was maddening. Mr.

O'Reilly was away on business, and Mrs. O'Reilly was as imperturbable as August. We spent our mornings riding the plantation. August was a superb horsewoman; among us only Robbie was her equal. After dinner we spent the afternoons with embroidery and reading; the evenings we sang together and played piquet.

Once I woke in the night after a dream of Robbie and my emptiness overwhelmed me. I could not stop my tears and turned my face into the pillow to stifle my sobs. Soon August stirred; she took my shoulder and pulled me toward her, holding me in her arms, patting me, whispering soothingly. Finally the dream faded, and my tears ceased.

"Forgive me for waking you," I whispered.

"Nonsense," she said, smoothing my hair.

"I cannot stop myself loving him," I said. "I do not know what is to become of me."

"Dear Jessie. Do not despair. It will all come right in the end."

"How? How can all be right, if he will not love me?"

"We cannot know the future, Jessie," she said. "We do not know what is in store for us. We can only trust in God."

"I must pray, then, that Robbie will love me," I said. "Perhaps God shall hear and answer me, and cause Robbie to love me."

"You must pray for the will of God to be done," she said, "for only He knows what is best for you."

I thought that I knew very well what was best for me. Robbie was best because he was all. There was nothing else that could make me whole.

____________________________

The next day August and I and our mothers traveled to Charles Town for new gowns; I had not the heart for it, but endured the fittings without complaining. The heat in Town was oppressive; I yearned for the cool breezes of Brianag.

There was a ball on Midsummer's Eve every year at Brianag; I had been there every Midsummer of my life. As the day approached I was by turns elated and apprehensive.

Robbie would be there; surely he would not stay away for the ball. I was desperate to see him; but imagining myself in his presence made me faint with fear.

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