“Well? How is it looking out there?” Morag tried not to let the worry show on her face.
Donald shook his head wearily.
“Not good at all.” He pulled off his boots and sank on to the settle by the empty grate. Innes, who had only just started crawling, crowed with delight as his father picked him up from the floor, temporarily diverted by his son’s beaming face.
Morag smiled tenderly at the pair. After his rocky start in life, Innes had grown into a lusty wee boy who adored his dad and, just like Donald, was curious about everything. Or just like Donald used to be. These days, all her husband seemed to do was worry, and with good cause.
She poured him a glass of milk, and sat down opposite him.
“Can we save any of the crop?”
“I don’t know.” Donald sighed heavily. “The truth is, Morag, I don’t know enough about it. Until we came to Canada, we’d neither of us even seen an ear of corn, so what was I thinking, turning the whole of our land over to growing it . . .”
“It wasn’t just you, Donald. We decided together. ‘We should embrace our new country,’ we said, remember? ‘No point in growing a wee bit of oats and a wee bit of barley and kale like we did back on Heronsay. We’re in Canada now, we should be growing what all the other farmers grow,’ we said. Both of us.”
“Aye.” Donald tried to smile, but he could not meet his wife’s eyes. “Only we didn’t count on the worst drought in living memory.”
“It didn’t just affect us, though. All of our neighbours are in the same boat.”
Donald kissed the top of his son’s head and placed him back on to the floor of the farmhouse.
“They’ve the advantage of a few good years behind them to tide them over, Morag.”
But she and Donald had invested all of their savings to fund the buying of the farm. There was nothing left for a rainy day. A rainy day! That was rich, she thought bitterly. It would be funny if it wasn’t so tragic.
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.