Dawn On A Distant Shore Page 190

She had once made the trip to Paradise full of dreams and visions of herself as a teacher. Now she made it again, and some of those same dreams were still with her, and within her grasp. The Lord has been generous, she whispered to herself. A prayer of acknowledgment and thanksgiving, the only one that would come to her now in spite of the dangers that lay ahead.

It turned out that Nathaniel was awake after all, coming up silently behind her to put a hand on her shoulder. She was shivering, and he slipped his arms around her.

’’Goodness,’’ she said softly. ’’Tomorrow you must get us all onto a ship in spite of the Breadalbanes, and here you stand. You need your rest.’’

’’Ah, Boots. The bed's no good to me without you in it.’’

He felt her smile as she rocked back against him.

’’So what are you looking at?’’

’’The first light of dawn,’’ she said, pointing. ’’I imagine I can see all the way home.’’

It was a rare gift she had, this ability to look ahead, through the loss and heartache, beyond the hardship, to see so clearly the possibilities that waited for them. If they could be strong, if they could persevere.

’’Listen,’’ she whispered. ’’Do you hear the sea? Tomorrow there will be a good strong wind to take us home.’’

Epilogue

Miss Hannah Bonner

Lake in the Clouds

Paradise, New-York State

Dear Squirrel,

Now that your half brother and his mother have settled in at Carryckcastle, I suppose it's time I keep my promise and write and tell what there is to say. Truth be tolt, tis no an easy task. Ye'll want to hear guid tidings, and there's little comfort in the tale I've got to tell.

He's a slink mannie, is Luke. Tall and braw and bonnie, and slee as a fox. Cook calls him luvey, and bakes him tarts wi the last o the pippins. The Earl bought him a mare the likes o which ye'll no see in all Scotland, as black as the devil and that smart, too. The lasses come up the brae for no guid reason but to sneiter and bat their eyelashes at him, and then run awa when Giselle catches sight o them. Even my mother smiles at Luke for all she looks daggers at me and makes me wear shoes. And what does it matter that I'm eleven years? I fear it has to do wi marriage, for it is first since she stood up wi the Earl that she's turned so unreasonable. My only hope for a peaceful life is Luke's mother, wha seems a reasonable woman (for all her lace and silk, she doesna mind what others wear on their feet or heids, either, and she is generous wi her stories o how she outfoxed the Pirate). They've become great friends, his mother and mine, and they sit tegither in the evening. If I'm aye chancie, some o Giselle will rub off and my mother will leave me be.

I must be fair and report that Luke is a hard worker and there's naught mean-spirited in him, but he's an awfu tease and worse luck he's guid at it, in Scots and English both. I'll admit that he's no so donnert as he first seems, for all his quiet ways. It would suit me much better were he witless, for my father has decided that since my guid cousin kens French and Latin (taught to him by his grandmother in Canada, he says, and what grandmother teaches Latin, I want to know?), I must learn them, too, never mind that I speak Scots and English and some of the old language, too, having learned it from Mairead the dairymaid. But the Earl would no listen and so I sit every afternoon wi Luke, no matter how fine the weather. And just this morn I heard some talk o mathematics and philosophy, to make my misery complete.

He's aye hard to please, is Luke, but when he's satisfied wi my progress, he'll talk o Lake in the Clouds, and then it seems to me that he misses the place, in spite o the fact that he spent so little time wi ye there. And he tells outrageous stories o trees as far as a man can see and hidden gold and wolves that guard the mountain and young Daniel catching a rabbit wi his bare hands, and then I ken that he's a true Scott o Carryck, for wha else could tell such tales and keep a straight face all the while? But my revenge is this: I wear a bear's tooth on a string around my neck, and he has nothing but the scapular my father gave him when first he came and took the name Scott.

I'm sorry to say that I canna like your brother near as much as I like you. But tell me this, as you're as much my cousin as is Luke, do ye no think it's time for me to visit ye in Paradise? Perhaps the Earl would let me come, if your grandfather were to ask him.

My mother sends her greetings, and bids me write that the pear tree she had planted ower Isabel's grave has borne its first fruit this summer.

Your cousin and true friend,

Jennet Scott of Carryckcastle

First day of September in the Year of

Our Lord 1795


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