Living By The Land – Episode 61

SHE was right. Her employer came into the barn a little later as she and Amelia were silently milking the cows, to say he wanted to see all employees in his office, one at a time. Robert had a list of the order in which they were to be seen, and gave them strict instructions not to leave the farm, not even for church.

“He can’t do that!” Amelia protested once the farmer was out of earshot. “What about our souls?”

Louisa raised her eyebrows.

“I’ve never known you concerned about your soul before, Amelia. You certainly weren’t last night.”


“What were you and Tiernan up to in the barn?”

“None of your business.”

Her friend’s harsh tone shocked Louisa. Amelia immediately looked contrite.

“Sorry, it’s just all these questions and everyone watching each other. It’s set me on edge. And it seems like those of us who weren’t out drinking with Robert are most under suspicion. I wish I had gone to the tavern now.”

“He’s going to talk to everyone,” Louisa said, pointing to the list.
“Yes, well, he will have to. Farmer Robert likes to seem fair.”

“He is fair!”

“I wouldn’t be so sure of that.”


The girl flushed but remained defiant.

“Well, wait until he finds out I was in the barn with Tiernan. He isn’t going to be very impressed, is he?”

“I don’t think he’ll care. He’s after a killer, not a . . .”


Louisa sighed.

“Anyway, you weren’t with Tiernan, were you? Not when Farmer Robert shouted. You were in the dorm. Where was Tiernan?”

“What are you saying?”

“He didn’t come out from his rooms, Amelia. Not at all.”

“You’re not suggesting . . .?”

Louisa went to crouch next to her friend.

“What if they’re both in on a plot – Callum and Tiernan? What if their father wants to discredit Robert for his own gain?”

Amelia stared at her in horror.

“How can you think that? I thought you liked Callum!”

“I do. I really do.” Louisa grabbed her friend’s hands. “Callum asked me to marry him last night.”

A black cloud exploded across Amelia’s face, then it was gone and she kissed Louisa.

“I’m pleased for you.”

“I’m sorry, Amelia. I know you want that, too.”

“Yes, well, I don’t ever get what I want, do I?”

“I thought Tiernan called you outside last night because he loved you?”

“So did I. And he does, I’m sure of it. But it doesn’t mean he’s brave enough to do anything about it.”

“Maybe that’s because he’s, well, using the farm for his own ends?”


Amelia lashed out and caught Louisa’s shoulder, sending her stumbling back against the barn wall with a crash. She faced Louisa furiously.

“Tiernan can’t have hurt that bull. He just can’t have!”

“All right.” Louisa put her hands up, trying to placate her friend. “I’m sorry.”

Amelia groaned.

“I’m the one who’s sorry.” She took a step forward and offered a hand to help Louisa up. “I wish I could just get away from all this nastiness.”

“Away to Northumbria?”

“Just away.” She glanced back at the big barn door as if she might pick up her skirts and run off down the drive right now. Then, with a sigh, she turned back. “Never mind. Come on, Louisa, these cows aren’t going to milk themselves.”

Louisa nodded and returned to her stool. Amelia looked over at her.

“Where is Callum, anyway?”

Louisa flinched. It was a fair question. The sun was climbing over the meadow, but she had seen nothing of her supposed fiancé since he’d gone off with the angry farmer last night.

“I don’t know,” she managed, and had to stare intently at the udder before her to keep the tears at bay.

Alison Cook