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heart will surely break."

"I will make you a fair offer," said Gem-de-Lovely. "I will be your wife. I will live here with you for seven years, if you will swear to come with me and all that’s mine, to see my own folk at the end of that time." At that, Johnny jumped out of bed, fell on his knees before her, and swore to keep the bargain.

And so they were married.

Gem-de-Lovely shivered and shook as they came to the kirk and stuffed her hair in her ears as the priest prayed. But folk soon forgot that, for a bonnier bride was never seen in Orkney. Her face was as lovely as the dawn; her dress shone with silver and gold; and every pearl in her necklace was as big as a cockle shell.

Gem-de-Lovely was a frugal, loving wife to Johnny Croy. She baked the best bread in the island and brewed the strongest ale. She was the best spinner in all the countryside and for seven years everything at Volyar was in good order. The sheep and the cattle thrived and the barns were full. All things went merry as a Yuletide from one year to the next. But all good things must end; and the seventh year drew to a close.

Then, you may believe there was a stir in making ready for a long sea voyage. Johnny said little, but he thought much.

Gem-de-Lovely was brisk and busy and wore a far-away look. By now, the pair had seven bonny bairns, all as strong and well-favoured as their parents. Each of them in turn had been weaned in Grannie Croy’s little house and now she had the youngest sleeping in her own room.

And what do you think Grannie Croy did on the eve of the day when the seven years ended?

She rose in the midnight and blew up the ashes in the fire. She made a cross of wire and heated it red-hot in the glowing embers. And then she laid the red-hot cross on the bare seat of the babe who screeched like a demon all the while.

In the morning when they were fully equipped, Gem-de-Lovely walked down to the boat. And she was a picture. Stately and splendid as a queen in her shining dress with the great pearls gleaming on her neck, she came to the beach.

There was her Goodman, Johnny Croy with her six eldest bairns.

But there also was Grannie Croy, sitting on a stone with the tear in her eye.

Gem-de-Lovely sent up the servants to Grannie Croy’s little house to bring the seventh bairn down in his cradle. Back they came, telling her that the four of them could not budge it one inch.

A cloud came over her beautiful face. She ran up to the house and tried to move the cradle - not an inch would it budge.

She flung back the blanket to lift the babe out in her arms. But the moment she touched him she felt a dreadful burning and started back with a wild scream. Down to the beach she ran, her head hanging and the tears streaming from her deep blue eyes. And all the while, Grannie Croy sat on the stone with the tears on her cheek and a half-smile on her lips.

As the boat pushed off, they heard Gem-de-Lovely lamenting sore.

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