Living By The Land – Episode 73

living by the land

“THIS is Callum Turner, Dad. He would like to speak with you.”

“If that would suit you, sir?”

Samuel looked from one to the other of them and a broad smile stretched across his face.

“That would suit very well. Right now?”

Callum looked down the road. More hoof sounds indicated that Frances was approaching and he hesitated.

“Now!” Louisa squeaked and Samuel’s smile broadened even further.

“Come on, then, lad.”

Samuel and Callum retired to the far side of a gravestone as all around the crowd surged towards the lych gate to welcome the bride. Frances was in an open-topped carriage looking radiant in a pale yellow gown and bonnet. Her son, a tall boy of fifteen, sat at her side, rigidly straight but smiling fit to burst, and the whole crowd cheered delightedly as they drew to a halt outside.

Vicar Merryweather stepped forward, white hair wisping in the spring breeze and prayer book open, ready to join the pair as man and wife before the whole village.

Louisa looked around, taking note of all the people who now felt as if they had been her friends for ever. Only one was missing.

Unable to afford bail, Amelia was awaiting trial in jail. She had written to Louisa, a short, laboured letter expressing remorse and begging her friend not to think too ill of her. Louisa had replied assuring her of her love and prayers in the difficult times ahead and had told her that Ambrose had already accepted Matthew as his apprentice.

Indeed, the boy was amongst the crowd now, looking pale but proud. Louisa was convinced he would make the most of this chance to make a new life for himself and thanked God every day that she would be here at Lower Meadow to see him do so.

She glanced anxiously over her shoulder and saw Samuel and Callum coming back to her, talking away together. They were full of smiles and as they drew close Samuel swept her into his arms.

“You said yes?” Louisa choked out.

“Of course. It’s clear as day how happy he makes you, and he seems a good young man. Your mother would have been proud, Louisa.”

Louisa felt a lump gather in her throat.

“I wish she was here,” she whispered and glanced to the sky. A single puff of white cloud hung above them, like a wisp of an angel, and it made her smile.

“When you lose someone, you’ve got to do extra living to make up,” Betsy had told her, and Louisa was determined to do just that.

She hugged her father again.

“I’ve brought you her chair,” Samuel said, “as a betrothal gift.”

“Dad! You didn’t even know.”

His eyes twinkled.

“I had a notion, but I tell you one thing, lass – I’m glad you’re not going all the way to Northumbria.”

“Me, too,” Louisa agreed. “I love it at Lower Meadow.”

She pulled gently away and reached for Callum’s hand. She was so lucky to have found such a husband and such a home and she intended to make the very most of it. She’d be able to make her cheeses with Martha and see Xander through an apprenticeship, and maybe find Betsy a position . . .

Vicar Merryweather stepped forward, pulling Louisa’s mind away from the joys of the future to those of the present day.

“We are gathered here today in God’s sight,” he started, and Louisa felt Callum’s fingers tighten around hers.

“Looks like the vicar might get one more wedding in before he retires,” he whispered, pulling her close.

She beamed up at him, hardly able to believe she was so blessed, and together they watched the beautiful ceremony that would soon join them not only to each other, but also to all the dear people of Lower Meadow, now safe from harm. The place that they would one day, amazingly, call their own.

The End.

Alison Cook