- 47. Far From The Island – 47
- 48. Far From The Island – 48
- 49. Far From The Island – 49
- 50. Far From The Island – 50
- 51. Far From The Island – 51
- 52. Far From The Island – 52
- 53. Far From The Island – 53
“John! What are you doing home? I thought you were taking prep this evening?” Ella pushed aside the bowl of wet goo which looked nothing like the light and fluffy cake mixture her mother made, and ran to her husband’s side. “Not that I’m unhappy to see you,” she said, twining her arms around his neck.
“You have flour on your cheek,” he said, smiling lovingly down at her.
She made a face.
“I was baking you a Victoria sponge, but it doesn’t look right. What have I said? Is something wrong?”
“A queer coincidence, that’s all.” Her husband’s expression became sombre. “Queen Victoria died earlier this evening at Osborne House.”
“Oh, dear. God rest her soul,” Ella said. “Poor lady, she was so ill. We should be thankful that her suffering has ended.”
“Indeed. There will undoubtedly be a period of national mourning. I’ve no idea yet what it means in terms of classes. Ella . . .” He broke off, unable to suppress his smile. “I know it’s probably not appropriate, but the Queen was a very old lady, and I have the most marvellous news to share with you. Come sit with me.”
He sank on to his favourite chair by the fire. Ella, as she so often did these days, eschewed its partner and curled up at his feet, resting her head on his knees.
“What is this marvellous news of yours?”
“My darling, you’ll never believe it.” John beamed. “As of next term, the school is prepared to enrol female pupils.”
“Oh, John! Do you think I . . .”
Her husband shook his head.
“I don’t think – I know. The headmaster approached me today to ask if I’d object to him offering you a position.” John burst out laughing. “Object! I could have embraced him.”
Ella threw herself at her husband, almost toppling the pair of them out of the chair.
“Oh, John, do you mean it?”
“It will only be a small number of pupils, mind. And I have no idea what you’ll be teaching, except it certainly won’t be baking!”
Ella sniffed, crying and laughing at the same time.
“It is indeed the most wonderful news. Are you sure you won’t mind having a working wife?”
“What I want more than anything is a happy wife.”
“You already have that. I love you so much.”
“And I love you.”
* * * *
Did you collect the post when you were in town?” Morag asked her husband.
“One from your sister, Isabel,” Donald said, handing her the letter, “and one from Euan, which I confess I read while I was waiting for Jacob finishing his business with his attorney.”
“More patents?” Morag said with a smile, tousling her son’s curls as she handed him a glass of milk.
“And the agreement which will be signed by any new member of the co-operative. We’ve had two more farmers make enquiries. It’s been agreed that we’ll use our grain store here, since we’re at the most convenient location for everyone.”
“Who’d have thought we’d ever think this place convenient.”
“Aye, I mind when we first came here, having to travel something like the length of Heronsay just to get our mail. We thought we’d moved to the end of the world,” Donald said.
“We think like true Canadians now. Ten miles is just a short hop. Tell me, what did Jacob have to say about the crops? I noticed you were out in our fields with him before you left for town.”
“He’s pleased. It’s early days yet, but . . .” Donald broke off, shaking his head. “Honestly, Morag, would you believe that I’m growing one field of wheat bigger than every kale yard on Heronsay put together?”
“That,” Morag said, smiling, “is because you’re a modern farmer. What did Euan have to say?”
Donald went to the window to watch his son playing in the yard. Innes, now a sturdy wee lad with the beginnings of a Canadian accent, was throwing a stick for his puppy.
“The big news is that Factor Finlay Morrison has been given his jotters,” he said, turning back to Morag. “And you’ll never believe it, but Euan has taken on the job himself.”
“Euan, a factor! But what about his boat building?”
“It seems he’s taken on Fraser McGowan as an assistant.”
“But did Fraser not leave the island after he was evicted?”