Living By The Land – Episode 70

HE pushed her towards Robert but she turned back, her hands clasped pitifully together.

“Tiernan, please! They weren’t tricks, not with you. I did love you, truly I did. I do still.”

Tiernan, however, turned away.

“It’s too late. I shall go home and I shall marry Sally, if she’ll have me. She, at least, is honest.”

Amelia crumpled to the floor, sobbing. Louisa longed to go to her but dared not, and had to watch as Farmer Robert led her out into the yard to wait for the magistrate to take her away.

“Will she hang?” she whispered fearfully to Callum.

His arms wrapped around her waist, pulling her close.

“She might,” he admitted, “but more likely she’ll be transported to the Americas. Maybe there she can make a fresh start.”

Louisa nodded, then she thought of something.

“Her brother, young Matthew. Can we at least help him? I’d hate to see him poisoned in the same bitter way as Amelia has been.”

Callum kissed her.

“You are tender-hearted, my love.”

“Is that a crime?”

“Far from it, and yes, I think we can help him. I hear Ambrose is looking for a new apprentice. I could have a word and recommend young Matthew. The blacksmith will soon knock some sense into the lad and teach him a good trade, too.”

Louisa smiled, relaxing a little for the first time since the dreadful news had broken.

“I warrant Ambrose will welcome help, with a new wife to get home to.”

“Why?” Callum teased her. “Are new wives so demanding?”

“Always!” Louisa teased back, but her heart contracted at the thought that her own new home would be very far from here.

All would be well, she told herself firmly. She would be with Callum, and that was all that truly mattered

Louisa looked around her, trying to compose herself. The cows were crushing in around them, confused by the disruption of their routine.

“I should get on with milking these poor animals,” she said to Callum.

“I’ll help you.”


“I may not look as pretty as you in a mob cap, but I can milk a cow. Now, make room.”

Louisa settled herself on her stool as Callum took Amelia’s place and began milking the first beast. A companionable silence settled between them, broken only by the squirt of milk into the pail and the gentle breathing of the cows.

Louisa laid her head against her own beast’s broad flank and let the routine soothe her. It had been a terrible morning, and she could not yet quite believe it had been Amelia committing all those crimes. But she had.

Louisa sent up a prayer of thanks that her own father had coped so admirably with her dear mother’s death, and her heart twisted again at the thought of moving so far away.

“Are you well, my love?” Callum asked suddenly. “Only you keep sighing.”

“I’m sorry. I’m very well, Callum, truly. It has just all been a shock.”

“You are thinking about Amelia.”

“A little. About my family, too.”

“Ah, yes – I must visit your father.”

He stood up and his head appeared over the back of the cow Louisa was milking. He smiled down at her and she blushed.

“I believe he is coming back next Sunday for Ambrose’s wedding. Perhaps you could talk to him then?”

“Perhaps I could. Then, my love, we can be wed.”

Louisa smiled.

“When do you – I mean we – need to be back in Northumbria?”

“Northumbria? Oh, no hurry. I suspect poor Tiernan will be going back very soon, so Father should have all the help he needs.”

“Yes, but once we are married . . .”

Callum disappeared again and his voice floated back to her between the cows.

“Let us not worry about that yet, Louisa, my love. Back to it now, or I will milk more than you!”

Alison Cook