Northern Lights – Episode 47

By October, Lilias was content to sit back and watch Maggie run their business enterprise. As she’d suspected, her granddaughter was a born businesswoman.

Maggie knew to the last farthing how much was in the deed box under Lilias’s bed, and planned to increase it. This morning she’d set off for Cameron’s Store to talk to the grocer about a range of aprons being sewn by the Nunnery women.

Maggie was showing more interest in Samuel’s affairs recently, Lilias had noticed. Noah Taggart’s nose was out of joint and worryingly, his fancy had turned to Fionah Creagh.

Fortunately the dog Bodach hated Noah, growling with bared teeth at every approach to the young innocent.

As October wore on the women looked forward to Alec’s return. Lilias was supervising Fionah’s knitting when they heard a disturbance outside. Fionah went to the window to investigate.

“It iss a cailleach in a pony cart.”

Lilias now had a few words of the Gaelic. This news of an old woman in a cart sent her to the door.

She found Marion Cameron dismounting from the grocery store’s pony cart, aided by a flustered laddie.

The invalid waved her stick.

“Help me into the hoose, Lilias. Quick!”

Lilias obeyed. The laddie was ordered to wait with the pony in readiness.

Once seated, Marion smiled.

“Beatrice thinks I’m having a nap!”

“She’ll find oot,” Lilias warned.

“No, she’ll no’. I hid under the tarpaulin and paid the laddie tae keep his tongue behind his teeth. Samuel thinks he’s delivering a sack o’ tatties and haunch o’ ham Maggie’s ordered.”

Lilias frowned, puzzled.

“What in heaven’s name brought ye here?”

Marion sighed.

“The pair o’ us were no’ the best o’ mothers and our daughters suffered. Yours broke free, but mine put duty before marriage to the man she loves.”

She went on to tell of Beatrice and the smith’s broken engagement and the meeting observed between the two lovers.

Lilias listened.

“He’s offered ye a home in the smiddy?”

“Aye, he’s willing tae suffer me if he can have her.”

“Did ye agree?”

“It’s no’ sae simple. Beatrice is tied to the store because o’ a clause in my late husband’s will. Mind you, I was sweer to move to the smiddy. Then I looked around my lonely wee room and thought, why not?”

“Good for you!”

“Aye, weel, Beatrice should marry the man she loves and Samuel be free to court a young lass he has his eye upon, and install her upstairs once I’m oot.”

The two exchanged a telling look.

“It will tak’ diplomacy and tact,” Lilias warned.

“It will. Lucky ye have the Highland lass to help ye should Maggie decide tae, um, move on.”

“What aboot the clause in your man’s will?”

“Leave that tae me. I’ll sort it oot.”

The elderly conspirators shared a tight-lipped grin.

“Would ye care to sample a tassie o’ my elderflower cordial afore ye go?”

“Don’t mind if I do,” Marion accepted graciously.

*  *  *  *

In the grocery store that afternoon Maggie had clinched the sale of a batch of linen aprons.

Samuel Cameron eyed them doubtfully.

“Women’s aprons sold in a grocer’s shop?”

“Women buy groceries, Mr Cameron. I can’t think o’ a happier alliance.”

“I can, Miss Cargill.” His smile made Maggie blush.

Beatrice took pity on her.

“It’s no’ a bad idea, Samuel. The aprons are serviceable. Bonnie, too. Women will welcome something useful and bonnie to wear in wartime.”

Standing close to Maggie set Samuel’s heart hammering. He controlled the emotion with an effort.

“We should put this plan to Mother first, Beatrice. She takes an interest in sales these days.”

Beatrice agreed.

“I’ll see if she’s awake.”

At that moment some customers crowded into the shop, luckily for Marion, who was sneaking up the outside stair.

Lucy Crichton

Better known as “Fiction Editor Lucy”, I am always on the look-out for the very best short stories, poems and pocket novels. As well as sourcing enjoyable content, I enjoy working with our established contributors, encouraging new talent, and celebrating 155 years of “Friend” fiction!