“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?”
Donald nodded, pulling Euan’s letter from his pocket.
“Reading between the lines, which you have to do with Euan, for he’s modest to a fault, it seems to me that giving Fraser his croft back was probably one of the conditions of his taking on the role of factor. I’m betting there would be a few more.” He grinned. “It strikes me there will be a turning of the tide on Heronsay with Euan in charge. I’m pleased for the islanders. What does your sister have to say?”
Morag opened Isabel’s letter, scanning it quickly.
“More or less the same. And oh! Now that is a surprise. Louisa Thingy went back to Edinburgh just before Christmas.”
“And who on earth is Louisa Thingy?”
“You know, the girl Euan was walking out with. Honestly, Donald, I told you all about her,” Morag said with mock impatience. “The posh lassie who’s godmother to the laird’s grandson. The wee boy Euan rescued, for goodness’ sake. Isabel says that it seemed certain that she and Euan were to marry.”
“Then more than likely she’ll be back,” Donald said.
Morag shook her head.
“Isabel says that she asked Euan, and he confirmed that she wouldn’t be returning. He wouldn’t say why. You know Euan.”
“And I know your sister. Poor man, she likely put him through the wringer trying to get the truth out of him.”
Ignoring this remark, Morag pursed her lips.
“Fiona Matheson was on Heronsay last November. I wonder if her being there had anything to do with Euan changing his mind. He always did carry a torch for her.”
“More likely that Louisa couldn’t face life on the island,” Donald said. “It’s not for everyone. And did you not say that Fiona was walking out with a doctor?”
“She did not mention him in her last letter. Though, to be fair, she was much taken up with the death of that poor man she nursed when first she went to Glasgow.” Morag put her letter aside, and heaved herself to her feet. “I fancy a cup of tea.”
Donald rushed to help her.
“Here, let me do that,” he said, taking the kettle from her. “It’s too heavy for you to be lifting in your condition. If you don’t mind my saying so, my love, you’re some size! There’s a fine lusty bairn in there, and no mistake.”
Morag rubbed the small of her back.
“I don’t think so,” she said with a teasing smile. “Elizabeth drove over in the pony and trap while you and Jacob were in town. She confirmed my own thoughts on the matter.”
Donald set the teapot on to the hearth to brew.
“What are you looking so secretive about?”
“Not one big lusty bairn, but two smaller ones,” Morag said. “What do you think about that, Donald Macleod?”