For weeks Morag had been lying awake in the sweltering heat, worrying about just this eventuality. For weeks, she had been fighting the growing conviction that they should sell up, give up on this bad lot, and return home. But Donald was too proud, and she had convinced herself that even to bring the subject up would be disloyal.
Now, though, things had changed. Morag placed the flat of her palm over her stomach. It was too early, she knew, but she was convinced she felt an answering flutter. Another mouth to feed, with little to put into it.
“Donald,” she said, taking a deep breath. “Don’t you think it’s time we went home?”
The hurt on his face pierced her heart. The way he jumped to his feet, brushing past her, hurt her even more.
“There’s no going back. I will not admit defeat. I have faith, even if you don’t. This is our home now, do you hear me, Morag? Forget Heronsay. We’re Canadians now, and that’s that. We’ve made our bed and now we must lie in it.”
Morag touched his shoulder gently.
“I’m your wife, Donald. We’re in this together and we’ll face whatever comes together, do you hear me?”
Donald stroked her hair.
“Aye, lass. And together nothing can defeat us.”
I hope you’re right, she thought fervently, as she felt a very definite flutter in her tummy. I so hope you’re right.
* * * *
Fiona sat on the bench in Kelvingrove Park, enjoying the late summer sunshine. Behind her, the gracious mansions of the West End looked so clean and bright compared to the dark, dingy tenement closes of Govan she’d become used to. The air on this side of the river was so much cleaner, too, and the park so very green.
She lifted her face to the sun, closed her eyes and breathed deeply. Much as she loved the hospital, the frantic bustle, the constant demands for her to do everything from change beds, scrub down operating theatres, dress wounds, comb out lice, apply salves, administer medicines, or just to sit quietly by the bed of a dying patient, there were times when she would give anything for a bit of solace, a bit of respite.
She’d spent her day off just walking aimlessly, and now she should be getting back, but her feet simply didn’t want to move and the very thought of getting on that horrible underground tram made her shudder.
“Fiona? Fiona Matheson? Is that really you?”
“Eilidh?” Startled, Fiona jumped to her feet and embraced her friend. “My goodness, what a lovely surprise! What on earth are you doing here?”
“I’ve an interview for a job with a domestic agency.”
“Here in Glasgow? You mean you’re leaving Heronsay? But what about you and Colin? The croft – I thought . . .”
Eilidh grimaced as she sat down on the bench.
“Changed times, Fiona. The new laird has put the rent up so high that Colin can barely make ends meet for himself and his mother, let alone take on a wife. We considered following Morag and Donald out to Canada, but – have you heard from Morag recently?”
“She sent me a letter about a month or so ago. She didn’t say so, she’s far too loyal, but I got the impression that things weren’t going so well for them over there.”
“Aye, her heart was never in it the way Donald’s was. Canada is so far away from Heronsay. Glasgow is far enough for me. At least if we settle here, I’ll be able to go home for visits every year.”
“So you still intend to get married?” Fiona asked.
“Colin has landed a job with a shipbuilders on the Clyde. We’re not the only ones leaving, Fiona. Ever since Fraser McGowan’s eviction – you’ll have heard about that?”