tiistai 19. tammikuuta 2016

Chapter Eighteen: The Captain Comes Home

“Well, didn’t I tell you”, said Mrs Macaulay satisfiedly to Louisa at the shop on a good-smelling, rain-fresh day. “Now your Aunty’s engaged and goes to Glasgow — my, you must have a great economic help from her becoming husband!”

“Aunty’s not going anywhere”, said Louisa calmly and put five bottles of lemonade to her willow basket.

“Not going? Don’t you lie to me, lass.”

“I don’t lie. Ferguson stays here, they’ll live in the old Ferguson place.”

“Here!” cried Mrs Macaulay. ”You don’t mean that. Isn’t he a fine businessman — how he can leave his work in Glasgow?”

“He won’t leave it, but he can do it from here.”

“Have anybody heard of that kind of nonsense before! And why you are buying those lemonade bottles?”

“That is my own business.” Louisa turned on her heels and stepped out.

”Proud as a queen!” hissed Muriel Henderson, who was waiting for her turn.

That night was very solemn at Five Cherry Trees. The veranda was decorated with colourful paper lanterns and flower garlands, and the most finest china was set on the table. It wasn’t raining, but evening was cloudy and dim and full of birches’ smell.

“Oh, isn’t that wonderful!” whispered little Ethel, because she was too excited to speak aloud.

Louisa nodded and straightened tenderly the blue silk rosette on sister’s head. Everybody had their best clothes on, and Aunt Maggie looked so pretty and young in her marble-coloured dress that Douglas Ferguson could not take his eyes off from her.

“Why we can’t have engagement parties every day?” asked Myra, when Laura gave everybody a glassfull of red lemonade.

“Because you’d tear your best dress”, said Tom, laughing. He tried to be glad, though the end of August was haunting in his mind with separating from the MacDonalds.

Louisa had made a delicious supper with Laura — Aunt Maggie was not allowed to step into the kitchen. They ate new potatoes and cool sallad, beef roasted in cream, and soft, good-smelling pumpkin pie as a dessert.

When everybody couldn’t eat a bit anymore, Douglas made a speech. He thanked Laura for hospitality and Louisa for her story, and then described his becoming marriage with Maggie in such a fun way that the children almost dropped from their chairs with laughter.

Tom, as the man of the family, answered and suggested a toast for the engaged couple.

They had just drunk it, when Ethel suddenly cried,

“Somebody’s coming!”

Everybody turned to look to the road. Indeed, somebody was walking up it, a tall, firm man, as far as they could see in the thickening darkness of August.

Then Laura exclaimed, hopped, and rushed over the yard as a school-girl.

“It’s Daddy!” gasped Myra. ”Oh, it’s Daddy!”

It really was Angus MacDonald. When the girls entered him, he was pressing Laura against his breast and kissing her; and then the girls were pressed and kissed, till they were almost breathless. Then it was Maggie’s turn, and then Tom was introduced — but not kissed.

“Do you have a fest?” asked Angus, when he was taken to the veranda.

“You never guess!” said Ethel. “Oh, Daddy, you can never guess!”

“I think I do.” Angus lent his hand to Douglas, who had been waiting on the veranda. “Laura wrote me you’ve come back, and I’m sure I dropped just in middle of your engagement  party. Congratulations!”

“You never can know what adults have in their mind”, said Louisa to Tom afterwards.

“Best gift I could ever have get”, muttered Maggie and dried her tears to Douglas’s handkerchief. ”Louisa, get another plate for your Daddy from the kitchen — and a glass. Hurry up!”

“Nobody goes anywhere”, said Angus and sat down. ”I won’t let my girls run away just when I’ve seen them. Sit down, all of you. And here’s a place for you.” He drew Laura to his knee. “Now, tell me everything!”

He was told everything. And not until the clock in the hall hit ten times Laura noticed that the children were still awake.

“Time to go to sleep”, she said tenderly. ”You’ll meet Daddy tomorrow again.”

“When you must leave?” asked Myra while kissing her father. She was used to say good-bye almost same time as welcome.

“That’s the best, lassie. Caledonia must be repaired, and we can’t set sail until October — and that ts too late, because winter storms begin. So it’ll stay home until spring, over the whole winter.”

Captain MacDonald s family was quiet for a while, then Louisa whispered,

‘You mean that, Daddy?”

“Of course I do.”

Little Ethel sighed for delight.

“In that case I can go to to sleep now”, she said, kissed tenderly father’s cheek and tripped to the hall.

When the children had gone, Douglas and Maggie left for a walk, and so did Angus and Laura.

“Have you had hard time here, love?” asked Angus, when they sat down to the banks of the pond. ”I wish I could send more money.”

“Oh, no.” Laura leaned her head against his shoulder. I’ve worked and prayed — and the girls are already a great help.”

“That about Tom?”

“He’s a good lad. When Cristen wrote me of his arrival I thought he’d be a spoiled baby, but he really is a man. Oh, Angus, I’m afraid I will be the baby and cry when he leaves!”

“Woman’s tears are like pearls”, muttered Angus quietly and kissed Laura’s brown curlies. “How I’ve missed you!”

“So am I. And now you’ll be home the whole winter! It’s almost too good to be true.”

“Fairytales sometimes come true. I think I could have job at the shop — something quiet and peaceful makes me good after the journey.”

“Was it hard?”

“As usual. Now your pretty dress is getting wet — shall we go back? l’d be delighted to have now the supper which Maggie offered me hours ago.”

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