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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 120 pages of information about Kilmeny of the Orchard.

Mrs. Williamson did not make an immediate reply.  She laid down her knitting and gazed out of the window as if pondering seriously some question in her own mind.  Finally she said, with an intonation of keen interest in her voice,

“I suppose it must have been Kilmeny Gordon, Master.”

“Kilmeny Gordon?  Do you mean the niece of Thomas Gordon of whom your husband spoke?”

“Yes.”

“I can hardly believe that the girl I saw can be a member of Thomas Gordon’s family.”

“Well, if it wasn’t Kilmeny Gordon I don’t know who it could have been.  There is no other house near that orchard and I’ve heard she plays the violin.  If it was Kilmeny you’ve seen what very few people in Lindsay have ever seen, Master.  And those few have never seen her close by.  I have never laid eyes on her myself.  It’s no wonder she ran away, poor girl.  She isn’t used to seeing strangers.”

“I’m rather glad if that was the sole reason of her flight,” said Eric.  “I admit I didn’t like to see any girl so frightened of me as she appeared to be.  She was as white as paper, and so terrified that she never uttered a word, but fled like a deer to cover.”

“Well, she couldn’t have spoken a word in any case,” said Mrs. Williamson quietly.  “Kilmeny Gordon is dumb.”

Eric sat in dismayed silence for a moment.  That beautiful creature afflicted in such a fashion—­why, it was horrible!  Mingled with his dismay was a strange pang of personal regret and disappointment.

“It couldn’t have been Kilmeny Gordon, then,” he protested at last, remembering.  “The girl I saw played on the violin exquisitely.  I never heard anything like it.  It is impossible that a deaf mute could play like that.”

“Oh, she isn’t deaf, Master,” responded Mrs. Williamson, looking at Eric keenly through her spectacles.  She picked up her knitting and fell to work again.  “That is the strange part of it, if anything about her can be stranger than another.  She can hear as well as anybody and understands everything that is said to her.  But she can’t speak a word and never could, at least, so they say.  The truth is, nobody knows much about her.  Janet and Thomas never speak of her, and Neil won’t either.  He has been well questioned, too, you can depend on that; but he won’t ever say a word about Kilmeny and he gets mad if folks persist.”

“Why isn’t she to be spoken of?” queried Eric impatiently.  “What is the mystery about her?”

“It’s a sad story, Master.  I suppose the Gordons look on her existence as a sort of disgrace.  For my own part, I think it’s terrible, the way she’s been brought up.  But the Gordons are very strange people, Mr. Marshall.  I kind of reproved father for saying so, you remember, but it is true.  They have very strange ways.  And you’ve really seen Kilmeny?  What does she look like?  I’ve heard that she was handsome.  Is it true?”

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