DISCLAIMER: I do not own any of these characters except Lewis Burns. They belong to L. M. M.

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14. Days of Mirth

"There you go," said Rose with a satisfied smile, giving a last twist to one of Una's locks in a desperate effort to make it wave and turned her around to look at the mirror.

Una wore her best dress, a new one. It was a very pale green colour, the colour of young ferns. It consisted simply of a chiffon overdress over a light green satin slip with cream coloured rosebuds strewn all over, so tiny one could hardly make out the kind of flower. Rose had lent her a cream coloured belt which went exactly with her slippers. Her hair had been done up very low, with a few locks left open to frame her oval face. The dark hair made a splendid contrast to her creamy complexion and brilliant blue eyes, which were alight like stars of the morning.

Una turned around experimentally. Her dress was a little long and trailed on the ground slightly but that certainly did not take away from her appearance, quite the contrary, in fact. Of course, Una reflected with a sigh, cleaning out the hem the next day would not be an easy job. Never mind, she intended to look her best for this dance.

Rose added the last touch by adding a half-blown rose – a deep shade of cream, to Una's hair. She herself looked stunning in wine red, but now, looking at Una, she felt rather showy beside this fresh, limpid young woman. She thought it a pity that Una should be so diffident about her looks. Really, there were times when Una bloomed into such a beauty she made everybody look overdone by contrast.

Walter apparently shared Rose's opinion. When he saw Una descend the stairs that evening, he had to catch himself before he could gasp out loud. It was so seldom that she dressed up that it always gave him a shock to see her in such finery.

"You look lovely, Una," Jack smiled at her.

"Thank you," she murmured softly, looking up at Walter for approval. He smiled but he did not say anything.

They were at the Murray's within ten minutes. Rose was right. Elise Murray never did things by halves. The trees in the garden had been strung with little fairy lights; towards one side a four piece orchestra was playing; a large dance stage made of wood had been set up near them.

There were quite a few people gathered already. Rose introduced them to Walter and Una. They had met many at least once before, when they came to Iris Lodge to meet Rose after her return. But a few, including a young man called Lewis Burns, were new acquaintances. Una was much amused at the confusion Rose felt when Lewis's appeared. The confident, self-assured Rose was actually nervous of this tall man with the pleasant, good, natural face and the reddish coloured hair. He shook her hand in a friendly fashion.

"Rose has written me a great deal about you. I hear you are the new genius at R.A.M.A. after Felix Moore."

"I wouldn't say quite that. Rose has greatly exaggerated my abilities." Una replied, modestly.

Una and Walter were separated into different groups during the conversation that ensued until everybody showed and the dance really began. There were one or two couples on the stage but most had not joined in as yet.

A few minutes later Jack walked up to Una. "As your host, it is my privilege to claim you for the first dance. Will you oblige me, my lady?" he asked, rather marring this impressive speech by a mischievous wink. And before she could even protest he had led her off.

Much to her own surprise, Una enjoyed dancing. It was quite easy and it did not take her five minutes to figure out the steps. Una, who had believed that she would have no partners was surprised to be besieged by boys and was obliged to turn down a few. It was quite a while before Walter got a chance.

She gave a deep sigh as they finished their dance. "I'm tired, can I sit down?"

He led her to a quiet corner of the garden, where a stone bench sat unoccupied. It was a rather dark corner, light spilling over from one of the living room windows being the only illumination it offered.

"You seem to be enjoying your first party." he smiled.

"I myself was surprised. Dancing is quite easy actually. I never thought I would get so many partners."

Walter shook his head slightly at his sweetheart's modesty. Then he changed the conversation.

"It has been a beautiful week, hasn't it? But, I will be glad to go home. Inverness is lovely, but it isn't home. And it does not have any place half as enchanting as Rainbow Valley."

"Although, it is rather hard to get Rainbow Valley to oneself nowadays. Both Jerry and Nan and Jem and Faith prefer to spend their time there than anywhere else. Is Ken going to be at the Glen this summer?"

"Yes," nodded Walter. "Rilla will be very pleased, won't she?" A mischievous smile lit up his face.

"It seems strange to think of Rilla as engaged. She is so young. And to think Mary Vance is actually getting married this summer."

"You are going to be her bridesmaid, aren't you?"

"Yes. I…" Una broke off as Rose appeared.

"It's time for supper, you two. I have been searching all over the garden for you. Come on in."

Three days later, Una and Rose were sitting beside the stream which ran by their garden, talking, their legs submerged up to mid calf in the sparkling water. Suddenly, Walter came running out of the house.

"Una, I have some bad news for you. Nothing very serious," he added hastily, at the sight of her white face. "It's just that Bruce has broken his right arm. But, Mother writes that he is quite excited about the distinction of a broken arm and not to worry. He is going to be fine."

Una gave a shaky laugh. "This is becoming quite a tradition, isn't it? One of us breaking bones every vacation. Maybe, I should go home now, instead of waiting till the week is out. Mother Rosemary will be busy with Bruce and Faith is not

"This isn't my first party," she replied reproachfully. "It's just the first one I've danced at."

"Well, you enjoyed that." very good at housework," she ended.

In the end, Walter and Una returned the next day. Rosemary was not happy with this. She thought Una had deserved two weeks of blissful holiday with her friends, but she was also grateful for Una's prompt return as it did take a great load of her shoulders. Faith meant well but she was not really handy at housework. Besides, Una was an excellent and patient nurse and kept Bruce entertained when Rosemary was otherwise occupied.

Mary Vance too was glad to see Una three days ahead of schedule as she needed help with the wedding preparations and needed to fit up Una's dress for her. Despite Bruce's injury, it was a happy two weeks till the wedding although Mary did get on their nerves a little by putting on maternal, wifely airs, even before becoming a wife.