On Distant Shores – Episode 65

Allan tried to lift his head, and Seamus stepped forward.

“I do, sir. I love your daughter very much and I look forward to taking care of her for the rest of my life, with your permission.” Seamus hesitated, but when he spoke his voice was strong and firm. “Will you allow me to marry your daughter, sir?”

Maggie gazed at her father, his smile fading as his troubled, cloudy gaze moved from her to Seamus. She knew he was, just as she was, thinking how different he wanted this to be, how different it should have been. She could imagine Seamus and Allan striding through the fields, heads bowed underneath a summer sun, two men both in the prime of their lives. Her father, after all, was only forty-six.

Slowly, with agonising effort, her father nodded. Then he smiled and lifted one hand a few scant inches from the counterpane to beckon Seamus forward.

With one hand still clasped against Maggie’s cheek, Allan placed the other over Seamus’s hand, and tears spilled freely down Maggie’s face.

* * * *

Dawn broke over the horizon, the placid surface of the sea shimmering with golden light. From the highest point on his property Ian could see the stretch of smooth sea, and in the distance the dark mound of Lady’s Rock by Duart Castle.

The wind ruffled his hair and the late summer sun was warm on his face. He’d woken early, too restless and eager to wait until a decent hour to explore the land he’d once called his own.

And it was still his own, even if he could hardly believe it. Achlic Farm was his again.

So much had happened in the last few months, not only for him, but for his whole family. Last spring Allan MacDougall had died with his family surrounding him. Maggie and Seamus had married and settled there on Prince Edward Island, with Seamus taking over the farm. Harriet stayed on with George, Anna and Archie, glad, Ian suspected, of the company and support.

Henry had returned to China, and although there had been no word yet Margaret seemed confident of his return. She continued at the First School, with more plans to expand its classes and increase its teachers. Ian had heard from Henry before he’d departed that his sister Isabel had married a missionary in Burma, of all places, and was very happy there.

Ian shook his head at the thought of his family scattered about the globe like chess pieces on an ever-increasing board. Yet, God willing, everyone had found a place, a purpose, a hope. Even him.

“Ian?” Caroline’s voice was soft behind him and Ian turned to see her pulling a shawl over her shoulders, one hand resting protectively on the swell of her bump. She had told him on the ship to Tobermory that she was expecting their child.

Ian smiled.

“I’m here, love.” He held
out his hand, lacing his fingers with his wife’s as they both surveyed their small kingdom.

The land Ian had once lost in his folly was his again, through marriage to Caroline. She’d inherited Achlic Farm upon her uncle’s death, and yet Ian had never truly considered it his until now, when he finally felt the burden of guilt and grief fall from him and he knew he was free from the folly and sin of the past. Free to pursue a future with a wife he loved.

He did not intend to stay at Achlic; as much as he loved the place, he was no farmer.
He and Caroline had discussed leasing the land to able
tenants, and he was already in the process of procuring a position at a hospital in Edinburgh.

“It’s been a long time, hasn’t it?” Caroline said softly and Ian nodded.

Twenty years since he’d fled from his home in shame, and taken up as cabin boy on Henry Moore’s ship. Twenty years of trying to suppress the anger and regret and grief, and now that it had fallen away, he felt wonderfully free, as light as air.

“Are you glad to be back?” Caroline asked.

“Yes, and I am extremely thankful to you for bringing me here.” He drew her to him and kissed her softly. As dawn light spread over and warmed the earth, he was thankful that he, and everyone else in his family, had found their place. Their calling.

“Come,” he said, and drew her away, down the hill. “Let’s go home.”


The End.

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”.