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Kilmeny of the Orchard

XV. An Old, Unhappy, Far-Off Thing
The next day Eric sought Kilmeny again and renewed his pleadings, but again in vain.
Nothing he could say, no argument which he could advance, was of any avail against
her sad determination. When he was finally compelled to realize that her resolution was
not to be shaken, he went in his despair to Janet Gordon. Janet listened to his story with
concern and disappointment plainly visible on her face. When he had finished she
shook her head.
"I'm sorry, Master. I can't tell you how sorry I am. I had hoped for something very
different. HOPED! I have PRAYED for it. Thomas and I are getting old and it has
weighed on my mind for years--what was to become of Kilmeny when we would be
gone. Since you came I had hoped she would have a protector in you. But if Kilmeny
says she will not marry you I am afraid she'll stick to it."
"But she loves me," cried the young man, "and if you and her uncle speak to her--urge
her--perhaps you can influence her--"
"No, Master, it wouldn't be any use. Oh, we will, of course, but it will not be any use.
Kilmeny is as determined as her mother when once she makes up her mind. She has
always been good and obedient for the most part, but once or twice we have found out
that there is no moving her if she does resolve upon anything. When her mother died
Thomas and I wanted to take her to church. We could not prevail on her to go. We did
not know why then, but now I suppose it was because she believed she was so very
ugly. It is because she thinks so much of you that she will not marry you. She is afraid
you would come to repent having married a dumb girl. Maybe she is right--maybe she is
right."
"I cannot give her up," said Eric stubbornly. "Something must be done. Perhaps her
defect can be remedied even yet. Have you ever thought of that? You have never had
her examined by a doctor qualified to pronounce on her case, have you?"
"No, Master, we never took her to anyone. When we first began to fear that she was
never going to talk Thomas wanted to take her to Charlottetown and have her looked to.
He thought so much of the child and he felt terrible about it. But her mother wouldn't
hear of it being done. There was no use trying to argue with her. She said that it would
be no use--that it was her sin that was visited on her child and it could never be taken
away."
"And did you give in meekly to a morbid whim like that?" asked Eric impatiently.
"Master, you didn't know my sister. We HAD to give in--nobody could hold out against
her. She was a strange woman--and a terrible woman in many ways--after her trouble.
We were afraid to cross her for fear she would go out of her mind."
 
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