On Distant Shores – Episode 53

It had been nearly a month since Maggie and Seamus had first kissed right there on the street in Boston’s Murder District – a month of waiting and wondering, fearing that Seamus regretted their sole indiscretion. Occasionally Maggie found a reason to speak to him at school, or steal a moment with him when she stepped outside the building for water or a breath of fresh air, yet during these hasty conversations he seemed reluctant to speak with her, and he never spoke of that kiss in the street.

Even so, Maggie knew she loved him. And despite his obvious reticence at being with her, she believed he might love her back.

They had not been alone together long enough to have a conversation about it, or any possible future they might share. Maggie was afraid to ask; she knew Seamus didn’t like disobeying her aunt, and he still felt the difference in their stations even if she did not. But if those could be overcome . . . Maggie hardly dared to hope, and yet she did not think she could take much more uncertainty.

Now that her uncle Henry was back from China, her parents would expect her to return to Prince Edward Island. Aunt Margaret had written to inform them of his return, and as the days slid into weeks Maggie knew she could expect a letter with her return fare at any moment. And then what would she do? How could she leave Seamus?

An opportunity to talk to him came unexpectedly when Maggie came down to the dining-room one morning for breakfast to find her aunt dressed for visiting rather than wearing one of the plain, serviceable gowns she chose for her work at the school.

“I’m afraid you’ll have to teach alone today, Maggie,” she said briskly. “I have an invitation to tea with Rose Forbes that I wish to accept.”

“I see,” Maggie said, a little surprised by her aunt’s decision, since she did very little social visiting during school hours. Still, she was hardly going to question it, not when it provided her with an opportunity to speak with Seamus.

“I trust,” Margaret continued rather severely, “that you will behave with a decorum that befits your station.”

Her station, Maggie thought wryly, was that of a simple farmer’s daughter.

“Of course, Aunt Margaret,” she answered, lowering her gaze.

Maggie’s heart seemed to be beating double-time as she entered the First School that morning. She busied herself with starting the coal stove and setting out primers and slates, all the while keeping an eye out for Seamus.

What if he didn’t come today? Occasionally he missed a day of school, because of work or family obligations. If he didn’t attend today, Maggie would miss her opportunity.

She paused, a primer clutched to her chest, as she considered just what she intended to say to Seamus. Could she be so bold as to tell him she loved him? Ladies never declared themselves first, but she knew instinctively that Seamus would not go against her aunt’s wishes, even though he’d already kissed her. She would have to be the one to speak first, even if it appeared shameless. Her heart thudded harder at the thought.

She had no more time to think on it as the first pupils were arriving and she was soon busy with settling the young ones and beginning lessons.

She had just instructed the youngest group to open their primers when the door to the school creaked open, and Seamus came in, his cap jammed low on his head. He slid into his seat, lifting his gaze to meet hers for one quick look that still made Maggie tremble. She would tell him she loved him, she vowed. Today might be her only opportunity.

Yet the hours passed and that opportunity did not arrive. Maggie was kept busy with all of the other pupils, and during the lunch hour Seamus left before she could so much as bid him a greeting.

“Where has Seamus gone?” she asked his sister, deliberately keeping his voice light.

“Mam’s been a bit poorly,” Aisling answered. “Seamus said he’d check on her. He’ll be back for lessons.”

“Oh, I’m sorry to hear she’s ill,” Maggie answered sincerely, though she felt a rush of relief that he would return. “I hope she fares better soon.”

Alan Spink

Alan is a member of the “Friend” Fiction Team. He enjoys working closely with writers and being part of the creative process, which sees storytelling ideas come to fruition. A keen reader, he also writes fiction and enjoys watching football and movies in his spare time. His one tip to new writers is “write from your imagination”.