Glennari station was as full of people as it had been three months before. Ethel hold tightly Tom’s hand, and he didn’t draw himself away. Somehow that little, plumpy, brown hand in his was comforting.
“The train’s coming”, said Aunt Maggie. ”Now, do you have everything — your ticket? The money?”
“I do”, said Tom. Angus MacDonald had stayed free-willingly home, because there was no room for all of them and Tom’s luggage in the carriage, and the situation was now just like the one when Tom had come and the women of Five Cherry Trees had been waiting for him — but now the birch leaves were of gold and blood.
“God bless you, dear”, whispered Laura and embraced him suddenly. “Tell my loves to your mother — and tell her I’ve never met a nicer boy!”
“Don’t forget us”, said Aunt Maggie at her turn.
”I like you”, whispered Louisa. “Almost as much as I like Geordie.”
“Oh, how I hate farewells!” bursted Myra.
”Come back so-o-on”, sobbed Ethel.
Then Tom climbed into the train, sat by a window and swinged his hand; the train whistled and began to move. After a moment it had disappeared behind the bend.
It was miracle that the way from Glennari to Lochdhu was not flooded with all the tears the girls shed. At last Aunt Maggie turned on the front seat and said angrily,
“If you won’t stop we’ll turn back and take you to the doctor! He isn’t dead, just gone back home!”
“I don’t think there’s much difference”, gasped Myra behind her handkerchief. ”Oh, Aunty, it’s so sweet to cry — when you cry you cannot remember the thing you’re crying for.”
That night Louisa went to the shop and waited till her father had done his work. Then they walked together over to Five Cherry Trees hand in hand.
“Douglas told me you’ve become a wonderful teller”, said Angus MacDonald, looking down to the brown curlies which were tied back to a thick plait. ”Wouldn’t you tell me a story? When I’ve put my feet on my fathers’ soil again I feel very clannish. But a happy story, please, with many marriages, because I’m afraid your tears are about to come in every minute!”
“Not anymore”, she said, “I’m almost over it. But parting is awful, as you know. Well, I shall tell you a story about Ranald MacDonald, who was out in the ‘Fifteen.
“Ranald was only twenty when the rising broke out. He was the only son of his parents, so they wouldn’t like to let him go out, but he wanted and said, ‘I’ll be ashamed rest of my life if I won’t rise my sword for the Stuart king!’ So he did. He was a very brave and gallant soldier, and when the rebels were in camp in Preston, a young English girl fell in love with him.
“One night, when Ranald was guarding the camp, the girl tiptoed to him and told him about her feelings. And because she was a very bonnie one, Ranald took her into his arms, and she didn’t leave until in the morning.
“The rebellion went on as unluckily as we know. Ranald hid himself on moors and glens for months, and his mother took food for him.
“The same time the English girl had a baby. Her parents were furious and wanted to know whose it was, and the girl told them. Then she wrote to Ranald, because she knew where he lived.
“All her family laughed and said, ‘Poor gal, that cateran has forget you as soon as you got out of his eyes. Why don’t you marry the tinker who’d been looking at you?’ But the girl didn’t want to marry the tinker, because he was a cruel, ugly man.
“The letter took much time to enter Ranald’s home. But it did arrive in the same time than Ranald came home, too. It was autumn of 1716, and he felt safe enough to stop the hiding.
“He read the letter, remembered the girl, and his heart warmed. He took one of his father’s horses and rode a long, long way to the south, all the way to Preston. There he searched the girl’s home.
“She was alone, and almost fainted when Ranald stepped in. ‘Oh, you came!’ she exclaimed. ‘Of course I came’, Ranald said, kissed her and then asked, ‘Where’s the baby?’ The girl took him to the cradle, where the little boy was sleeping. ‘You will now marry me, won’t you’, she asked worrying. ‘Why do you think I came here for, then?’ Ranald said smiling and kissed her again over the cradle.”
They had entered the gate of Five Cherry Trees. Myra and Ethel came running from the Wood, Laura swinged her hand from kitchen’s window, and Aunt Maggie just came from Clover the cow. Sun shone, the warm, poignant sun of the last of August. Angus smiled to Louisa and thought that Maggie would have almost fainted, too, if she had heard the story which was told with such an innocent voice — but Douglas would enjoy it, Louisa should be asked to tell it to him some day.
“What happened to Ranald and the girl?” the Captain asked and opened the gate.
Louisa beamed a smile.
“What does happen in all the good stories?” she asked. “They lived happily ever after!”
“Kirsikoiden” tarina päättyy tähän. Kiitos, että olit mukana, toivottavasti pidit siitä!