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Kilmeny of the Orchard

VII. A Rose Of Womanhood
When he emerged from the spruce wood and entered the orchard his heart gave a
sudden leap, and he felt that the blood rushed madly to his face. She was there,
bending over the bed of June lilies in the centre of the garden plot. He could only see
her profile, virginal and white.
He stopped, not wishing to startle her again. When she lifted her head he expected to
see her shrink and flee, but she did not do so; she only grew a little paler and stood
motionless, watching him intently.
Seeing this, he walked slowly towards her, and when he was so close to her that he
could hear the nervous flutter of her breath over her parted, trembling lips, he said very
gently,
"Do not be afraid of me. I am a friend, and I do not wish to disturb or annoy you in any
way."
She seemed to hesitate a moment. Then she lifted a little slate that hung at her belt,
wrote something on it rapidly, and held it out to him. He read, in a small distinctive
handwriting,
"I am not afraid of you now. Mother told me that all strange men were very wicked and
dangerous, but I do not think you can be. I have thought a great deal about you, and I
am sorry I ran away the other night."
He realized her entire innocence and simplicity. Looking earnestly into her still troubled
eyes he said,
"I would not do you any harm for the world. All men are not wicked, although it is too
true that some are so. My name is Eric Marshall and I am teaching in the Lindsay
school. You, I think, are Kilmeny Gordon. I thought your music so very lovely the other
evening that I have been wishing ever since that I might hear it again. Won't you play for
me?"
The vague fear had all gone from her eyes by this time, and suddenly she smiled--a
merry, girlish, wholly irresistible smile, which broke through the calm of her face like a
gleam of sunlight rippling over a placid sea. Then she wrote, "I am very sorry that I
cannot play this evening. I did not bring my violin with me. But I will bring it to-morrow
evening and play for you if you would like to hear me. I should like to please you."
Again that note of innocent frankness! What a child she was--what a beautiful, ignorant
child, utterly unskilled in the art of hiding her feelings! But why should she hide them?
 
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