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Even now, the extraordinary beauty of white Tyrolean winter takes her breath away.

She rests her hand absently on her middle, warm and rich with possibilities, inward secrets down the ages: how little, really, has changed since that very first Christmas.

Watching the falling snow through her window, she thinks of the cosy household beyond this room: her loving husband; her darling son; fast-growing Jo; and all the other welcome and beloved members of this family she has founded on the banks of the Tiernsee.

"Ready, darling?" A voice from the doorway.

Madge nods, smiles. "Aren't we so lucky, Jem?"




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