Angus trudged toward home after accompanying Sam to his own gate. The moon had risen and the countryside around was a shifting panorama of shadow and light. Presently he reached his own gate and stood for a moment gazing across the fields that were his farm. It’s a shame that this land’ll likely grow up in trees when we’re gone. I regret not having a son. I have no one to leave my property to, and the fields that I stopped farming two years ago are already going back to woods. I had thought to leave it to young Donald, him being my closest relative after Ian, but I don’t know anymore, the way he’s behaving. The gate clicked shut behind him and he started down the lane, his pace quickening as he caught sight of the soft glow of candle light from his kitchen windows. He could picture Mary there, darning a sock or hemming a winter shirt for him and humming one of the old songs, and he felt warmed by it. He slipped quietly into the candle-shadowy kitchen and stood for a moment watching her work. She sensed his presence and looked up from her mending, and smiled.
“You’re home, then,” she said with satisfaction. …
Mary looked at him keenly. “What’s troubling you?”
Angus met her bright gaze. “I was just thinking about all the unhappiness that Anna’s death has caused us, and we’re no nearer to finding out who did it than the day it was done.”
“Did you see Ian this evening?” Mary picked up her work again.
“No, but I saw the work of Donald, and it wasn’t good.” The chair squeaked as Angus shifted his position. “D’you know that young rascal paid Little Rory and James tuppence each to tie up Catherine’s cats together by the tails and hang them over the clothesline?” Indignation filled his voice. “The poor beasts were that frantic by the time I got there to free them! They’ll never be the same again.”
“Oh, dear-o! And she always made such pets of them. They were like her children. She’d have them in the house and everything. She’ll be heartbroken if they were hurt. … I wonder where Donald got four pence to give away? I didn’t know Ian paid him.”
“Well, that’s just it, where did he get the money? I’m wondering myself if I should tell Ian about this. He’s got enough to contend with now. What d’you think, Mary?”
Mary considered this in silence for a few moments, her hands idle in her lap. “It’s true enough that he’s got his hands full, but he can’t remedy the situation without all the facts. I don’t think it would be a kindness to keep this from him. It may be something that needs nipping in the bud. Donald may be heading for some real trouble that perhaps could be prevented if his father knew.” She took up her mending again, and settled her glasses more firmly on the end of her nose.
Angus looked across at her as she bent her grey head to her task, her work-roughened hands always so capable, neatly hemming a patch on his trousers that would make them serve another year. A great love for his wife filled his heart and he leaned over and kissed her wrinkled cheek, a rare expression of caring from an undemonstrative man. “You’re a good and wise woman, Mary,” he said.
She smiled back at him. “And I’m married to a good man.”
Anna Gillis, the midwife and neighbour in Mattie’s Story, has been found killed. The close-knit community is deeply shaken by this eruption of violence, and neighbours come together to help one another and to discover the perpetrator. But the answer lies Anna’s secret, long guarded by Old Annie, the last of the original Selkirk Settlers, and the protagonist of An Irregular Marriage. Join the community! Read Anna’s Secret and other novels by Margaret A. Westlie.
Genre – Fiction, mystery, historical
Rating – G
More details about the author