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Jan Vedder's Wife   By: (1831-1919)

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New York: Dodd, Mead & Company Publishers.

Copyright, 1885 by Dodd, Mead & Company


Chapter I. Jan's Wedding. 1 Chapter II. A Little Cloud in the Sky. 17 Chapter III. Jan's Opportunity. 36 Chapter IV. The Desolated Home. 54 Chapter V. Shipwreck. 74 Chapter VI. Margaret's Heart. 94 Chapter VII. The Man at Death's Door. 116 Chapter VIII. Death and Change. 140 Chapter IX. Jan at His Post. 167 Chapter X. Sweet Home. 193 Chapter XI. Snorro Is Wanted. 228 Chapter XII. Snorro and Jan. 252 Chapter XIII. Little Jan's Triumph. 275 Chapter XIV. Jan's Return. 297 Chapter XV. Labor and Rest. 317



"Eastward, afar, the coasts of men were seen Dim, shadowy, and spectral; like a still Broad land of spirits lay the vacant sea Beneath the silent heavens here and there, Perchance, a vessel skimmed the watery waste, Like a white winged sea bird, but it moved Too pale and small beneath the vail of space. There, too, went forth the sun Like a white angel, going down to visit The silent, ice washed cloisters of the Pole."


More than fifty years ago this thing happened: Jan Vedder was betrothed to Margaret Fae. It was at the beginning of the Shetland summer, that short interval of inexpressible beauty, when the amber sunshine lingers low in the violet skies from week to week; and the throstle and the lark sing at midnight, and the whole land has an air of enchantment, mystic, wonderful, and far off.

In the town of Lerwick all was still, though it was but nine o'clock; for the men were at the ling fishing, and the narrow flagged street and small quays were quite deserted. Only at the public fountain there was a little crowd of women and girls, and they sat around its broad margin, with their water pitchers and their knitting, laughing and chatting in the dreamlike light.

"Well, and so Margaret Fae marries at last; she, too, marries, like the rest of the world."

"Yes, and why not?"

"As every one knows, it is easier to begin that coil than to end it; and no one has ever thought that Margaret would marry Jan he that is so often at the dance, and so seldom at the kirk."

"Yes, and it is said that he is not much of a man. Magnus Yool can wag him here; and Nicol Sinclair send him there, and if Suneva Torr but cast her nixie eyes on him, he leaves all to walk by her side. It is little mind of his own he hath; besides that, he is hard to deal with, and obstinate."

"That is what we all think, Gisla; thou alone hast uttered it. But we will say no more of Jan, for oft ill comes of women's talk."

The speakers were middle aged women who had husbands and sons in the fishing fleet, and they cast an anxious glance toward it, as they lifted their water pitchers to their heads, and walked slowly home together, knitting as they went. Lerwick had then only one street of importance, but it was of considerable length, extending in the form of an amphitheater along the shore, and having numberless little lanes or closes, intersected by stairs, running backward to an eminence above the town. The houses were generally large and comfortable, but they were built without the least regard to order. Some faced the sea, and some the land, and the gable ends projected on every side, and at every conceivable angle... Continue reading book >>

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