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Seven for a Secret by Mary Webb
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Seven for a Secret (1922)

by Mary Webb

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Epigraph
I saw seven magpies in a tree,
One for yuou and six for me.
One for sorrow, Two for joy, Three for a girl, Four for a boy, Five for silver, Six for gold, Seven for a secret
That's never been told.
Old Rhyme
Dedication
To the illustrious name
of
THOMAS HARDY,
whose acceptance of this dedication
has made me so happy.
First words
The Bildungsroman, a tale of growth and development of a young person, has almost exclusively told the story of a boy: David Copperfield, Ernest Pontifex, Stephen Dedalus, younr Werther, Tom Sawyer. (Introduction)
On a certain cold winter evening, in the country that lies between the dimpled lands of England and the gaunt purple steeps of Wales - half in Faery and half out of it - the old farmhouse that stood in the midst of the folds and billows of Dysgwlfas-on-the-Wild-Moors glowed with a deep gem-like lustre in its vast setting of grey and violet.
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Gillian Lovekin is just eighteen years old. She lives on her father's farm in the country between the rolling hills of England and the purple steeps of Wales. Gillian is filled romantic longings - for a golden harp, a crimson gown, and for men to lose their hearts to her. Robert Rideout is the Lovekins' shepherd. He has dark, dreamy eyes, a tousled head, and nothing of Narcissus in his soul. A gentle and kind man, he falls in love with Gillian. When the stranger Ralph Elmer comes to live at the Mermaid's Rest, his enigmatic personality disrupts these gentle moorland people, unmasking all that lies beneath their quiet ways - even "the secret that's never been told."
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