A Place Of Healing – 26

Eventually Donald got to the point and introduced the Skerrabost Reelers. The six girls got the show off to a lively and swirling start in a palette of colours of six different tartans. There were at least two men in the audience with a tear in their eye and a lump in their throat.

Not many would describe Andrew Shelley as sentimental, but he felt so proud of his beautiful little daughter. He was glad it was dark and he could hurriedly wipe a tear from his cheek.

The tartan Jess was wearing brought such thoughts, many so sad, to the mind of Murdo MacKenzie. Thoughts of what might have been, what should have been.

But here was a bonnie wee lassie dancing her heart out with a smile on her face, and that brought a smile to his face, too, as well as tears to his eyes.

The Skerrabost Reelers got a grand reception, then Donald Gowrie was bouncing back on stage with his wisecracks and easy charm before eventually introducing the next act, again with a strong Scottish flavour – Tom McNeil of Drumnagar, playing the pipes.

Tom had once been a champion piper and “The Piper’s Waltz” filled the hall with all the lilt and bravura that is special to the bagpipes.

The next act was also musical but quite different – four young lads in their late teens. The Apocalypse, with electric guitars, drums and amplifiers, filled the hall with booming, throbbing heavy metal in the style of Guns N’ Roses.

They were enthusiastically received by the younger members of the audience, while the older ones smiled and remembered their days and The Rolling Stones.

Donald Gowrie was still hogging the limelight and beginning to irritate Paul Bryant. Mary was biting her lip in anxiety. Donald was good, really, but . . . well, he could be a little too much at times. And this was one of those times.

After the finish of young Laura Moon with her clarinet and her version of “Stranger On The Shore” (with just the odd wrong note) it was the turn of Gideon Reed.

Donald introduced the fisherman as the “Pavarotti of Skerrabost”. Gideon advanced to the front of the stage and addressed the audience.

“Goodness me. Pavarotti? Dear me, no. To tell you the truth, I prefer Mario Lanza. Not that you’re getting him, either, you understand.”

There was a little ripple of laughter. Maura, at her keyboard, smiled at Gideon. The man could charm the birds from the trees!

Then she got a shock.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” he was saying, “I had intended to sing ‘Westering Home’. And a fine song it is, to be sure. But I’ve chosen another.”

Maura’s eyes opened wide in alarm. What? Why?

“Yes, I think I would like to sing Robbie Burns’s beautiful poem, ‘A Red, Red Rose’.”

He looked down at Maura.

“I expect you know it, Maura?”

She nodded desperately and played an introduction. Gideon’s voice did justice to the lovely words.

“O my luve is like a red, red rose,

That’s newly sprung in June:

O my luve is like the melodie

That’s sweetly play’d in tune.”

As he sang it became apparent to everyone, including Maura, that he was singing a serenade to her. In the darkness her cheeks were as red as any rose.

Of course, half the population of Skerrabost knew how Gideon Reed felt about Maura Campbell. It was said that if ever Stanecroft’s post office ran out of stamps you could always get one from Gideon!

And here, at last, he was setting out his stall. About time, too, in most people’s opinion.

“Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,

And the rocks melt wi’ the sun:

And I will luve thee still, my dear,

While the sands o’ life shall run.”

Gideon came to the end of his serenade and the hall erupted in applause. Surely the lady must look kindly on him.

As Cassie applauded she felt sure that Maura had feelings for that gentle fisherman. It would be so nice if at least one love affair could have a happy ending.



Lucy Crichton

Fiction Editor Lucy is always on the look-out for the very best short stories, poems and pocket novels. As well as sourcing enjoyable content, she enjoys working with our established contributors, encouraging new talent, and celebrating 155 years of 'Friend' fiction!