The Heart Goes On
“So thrilling and gripping. It completely tugs at your heart strings!... It gave me all of the feels… I truly felt that the storytelling was brilliant. This is the kind of book that stays with you.” 5 starsGoodreads Reviewer
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He drew in a deep breath. “I know it’s too much to ask, but I ask it anyway… Will you wait for me, Harriet?”
1819, Isle of Mull, Scotland: As Harriet Campbell looks out at the stormy Atlantic Ocean on the eve of Allan MacDougall ’s departure to the New World, she expects a tearful goodbye. But instead her childhood sweetheart begs her to wait for him, promising one day he will come back for her.
As months and eventually years pass—waiting for just one love letter to arrive —Harriet begins to regret the promise she made. Not realising his letters have gone astray, Allan is devastated to not hear back from Harriet; his heart quietly breaking as he battles for his independence and ultimately his life, in the wild and brutal new settlements.
Then, Harriet’s fragile family fortunes take a turn for the worse, and when an immoral neighbour makes her an offer she isn’t sure she can refuse, she’s left with an impossible choice—stay faithful to the man she loves… or save her family and their farm from destitution?
Can fate bring Harriet and Allan back together again? Or will time and the ocean that has separated them, keep them apart forever?
An absolutely heart-wrenching, powerful, epic story about love, courage and betrayal for fans of Diana Gabaldon and Poldark.
Previously published as Far Horizons.
Release date: August 10, 2020
Print pages: 344
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The Heart Goes On
The sea was calm tonight. Harriet Campbell stared across its flat gray surface and wondered how far The Economy of Aberdeen had travelled in one day. There wasn’t much wind. Perhaps it was still close to shore, nestled among the green curves of the Inner Hebrides, waiting for the wind to pick up and take her to the New World, the New Scotland.
Only that morning, The Economy had set sail from Tobermory, on Harriet’s home island of Mull, and it had taken her heart with it.
She sighed, and a slight breeze ruffled the ribbons of her bonnet. It wasn’t as if the voyage had come as a surprise. The MacDougalls had been planning to emigrate for several years now. Harriet had known this day would come. What she hadn’t known was what Allan would ask of her the day before he sailed.
“Care for one last stroll?” he’d said as he poked his head round the door of the Campbells’ kitchen late yesterday morning. Harriet had been in the midst of the weekly ironing, and the kitchen was full of drying sheets, flapping like the sails of the ship Allan would be travelling on the very next day.
“Allan!” A rush of sweet sorrow swept over her at the sight of his dear face. Whenever Allan had business on Mull, he made sure to stop at Achlic Farm, and that usually meant staying for tea as well as taking a walk with Harriet. She loved the times when they simply walked together in easy companionship, needing no words between them.
Since they were tiny children, she and Allan had been close. Kindred spirits, her mother used to say, formed at the cradle. The Campbell and MacDougall families had always enjoyed a close friendship, ever since Harriet’s grandmother had married Allan’s great-uncle. That made them kin, no matter how distant, yet a bond far dearer than that existed between Allan and Harriet.
She couldn’t really remember a time without him. One of her first memories was when she was four years old, and lost out in the rain. They’d gone to a kirk meeting up on the hillside, since the first Riddell baronet wouldn’t build them a church, even though he owned nearly all the land from here to Fort William. The service had been long, and she had wandered away. It had started to drizzle and she’d felt cold and frightened until Allan had found her, huddled among the rocks at Duart Castle. How she’d managed at that age to walk all that way, Harriet had no idea, but she could still recall the relief of seeing seven-year-old Allan coming to fetch her, mixed with a childish pique that it had taken him so long. She also remembered the reassuring warmth of his hand as he’d led her back home.
Although the MacDougalls lived on the mainland, they managed to visit Mull at least once a month, and each time Allan and Harriet remained by the other’s side, as if they’d been stitched together.
“I’d think it strange,” Betty MacDougall, Allan’s mother, had once said, “if it didn’t seem so right.”
And it did feel right… they’d never run out of things to talk about, even when they were silent. They’d delighted in the same books and ideas, laughed at the same private jokes, shared the same dreams.
Over the years they’d exchanged letters, full of ideas and laughter, of faint and distant hopes as yet unrealized, never making mention of what Harriet now burned to know.
Did Allan love her? Love her, not as a cousin or friend, but as a woman he wanted to spend his life with? She knew him like the back of her own hand or even her own heart, but she still didn’t know the answer to that question.
“Can you free yourself from all these sheets?” he asked, lifting up his hands in wry defense from the flapping linen.
Harriet laughed, even though she could not quite rid herself of a certain wariness. She didn’t know if she could face a final farewell, not when all that she’d hoped for had been left unsaid, at this late date.
“Get away with you.” Eleanor, Harriet’s eleven-year-old sister, smiled and shook her head. “There’s nothing here that can’t wait. I’ll make the pastry for tonight’s pie, and you can have all the time in the world.” Her hazel eyes sparkled with kind mischief. “Or as much of it as you can before tomorrow’s sailing.”
Harriet nodded in grateful acceptance. It would be rude and foolish to refuse Allan now, and she knew she didn’t really want to. She wondered if she could refuse him anything.
Besides, farewells had to be said at some point, whether at the kitchen door or somewhere more private. “Thank you, Eleanor. You’re a good lass, and a help to me.” Harriet patted her sister’s shoulder before taking Allan’s arm and walking out into the summery sunshine.
It was a perfect July morning, breezy yet with the sun still warm on her face, a few cottony clouds scudding along the horizon. The air was scented with peat and heather and sunshine, and Harriet wondered if Allan would miss it when he left. The smell of home; the only home either of them had known.
Neither of them spoke for a few minutes as they walked along the rolling hills and meadows that stretched out from the Campbells’ farm in the center of Mull all the way to the eastern shore. David Campbell was one of the last small landowners in this part of Western Scotland; he owned two hundred acres and he clung to them with tenacious pride.
Allan and Harriet followed the tumbled rocks of an old dry stone wall until they reached the old ruins of Duart Castle. Over a hundred years ago the castle had been the magnificent stronghold of the clan Maclean, and then afterwards an army garrison. Now it lay abandoned, grass growing in the main hall, the roof gaping with holes and the walls crumbled to broken stones.
With a pang of dread, Harriet wondered if her own dreams were likely to follow a similar path. At this moment, with Allan having never said a word to her about his intentions, it seemed far too likely. She’d tried to reconcile herself to such knowledge over the months, but now, the stark reality of it was impossible to ignore. He was leaving tomorrow, with no declaration of his intentions. The only reason for that could be because he didn’t have any.
She glanced at Allan, his expression preoccupied, a frown line etched faintly between his brows. His dark hair was ruffled by the wind, and the brown eyes Harriet knew so well were now shadowed with concern. He caught her glance and smiled ruefully, but there seemed little cause now for real joy or even the easy companionship of former days. All there was really left to say, Harriet thought with another cold pang, was farewell and Godspeed.
“Remember when I found you here?” Allan asked, interrupting her dark thoughts. “You were curled up among the rocks, looking for all the world as if you were just waiting for someone to come along.”
“So I was.” Harriet turned to him, smiling in memory. “It seems a long time ago, now.” Allan nodded, and she ventured, “everything’s ready, I suppose.”
Allan nodded. “We’ll spend the night at the inn in Tobermory before boarding ship. One hundred and eighty-five passengers… you’ve never seen so many people there.”
Harriet nodded. A sailing to America was always a major event in this remote corner of Scotland. Tobermory itself was no more than a few fishing cottages huddled against a rocky shore; it had been formed only thirty years ago as a planned settlement in order to encourage the herring trade, but few farmers had the knack for fishing. They wanted land of their own to sow and reap, and too much of it already was being taken over by grazing pasture for the far more profitable sheep.
Harriet swallowed past the lump in her throat as she imagined all of the MacDougalls’ worldly belongings on board that boat, and Allan and his family with them. Foolishly, it felt sudden. It wasn’t as if his departure had caught her by surprise. They’d both known it would happen. Allan’s father, Alexander MacDougall, had talked of nothing else since the clearances had begun.
“Land for the taking… fish fair jump into your hand. And you can be your own man there, no dancing to another’s tune.” Sandy MacDougall’s face would harden at this point, for the only reason his family lived at Mingarry Farm was because his wife’s distant kin said it could be so.
Sir James Miles Riddell, the Second Baronet of Ardnamurchan, owned forty miles of land on the western shores of Scotland and the isle of Mull. He’d appointed Alexander as one of his tacksmen, to collect his tenants’ rents and hand them over, which was as unpopular a job as one could ever imagine, made even more so by Riddell’s recent intent to turn farmland into grazing pasture—and tenants out of their crofts and cottages.
“No more than a jumped-up tradesman,” Sandy had said on more than one occasion, for the Riddells came from merchants in Edinburgh and had only bought the baronetcy a generation ago. They spent most of their time in Berwick, although they lined their pockets with farmers’ rents all year long. “Asks me to do his dirty work while he scuttles out of the way,” Sandy would say with a shake of his head. So far, the Enclosure Acts hadn’t affected this remote part of Scotland as badly as other parts of the Highlands, but Harriet knew it was only a matter of time. Sandy did too, which was why he’d been so eager to emigrate.
“Everyone is his own man in the New Scotland,” he’d announce at nearly every family gathering. “Imagine such a thing!”
Harriet had heard these fervent proclamations for years. At one point, Sandy had tried to convince Harriet’s father, David, to emigrate with them, but he wouldn’t budge. “The Campbells have lived on this farm for fifty years,” David said grimly. “My father bought the deed free and clear, when there was still land for the taking. And we won’t be moved out by a bunch of sheep, I can tell you that.”
“It might not be that simple,” Sandy warned, but Harriet’s father had just shaken his head. Harriet suspected her family did not have the resources to emigrate, certainly not in the style the MacDougalls anticipated. The MacDougalls had already picked out their parcel of land on the Platte River on Prince Edward Island, five hundred acres they could call their own.
Three months ago, Allan had taken her aside, on a walk much like this one except a hard frost covered the ground and the sky was pewter gray. He’d held her hands lightly in his and told her they were emigrating.
“July, I expect. Father’s arranging the passage.”
“And what will you do?” Harriet had struggled between an even, practical tone and giving into the terrible numbness that threatened to overwhelm her. Allan… gone. An ocean and a lifetime away.
Allan had been silent for a moment. He kicked at the stony ground with the toe of his boot. “Help Father with the farm, I suppose,” he said after a moment. “Although like him, I have dreams.”
“Do you?” Harriet lifted her chin, but did not dare ask what kind of dreams he had, and whether she was included in them, despite the unspoken hope that still kindled her heart.
“Ah, Harriet.” He opened his mouth to speak, then closed it. Yet there was a look of longing and even hunger in his eyes that Harriet instinctively responded to. She took a step forward, their hands still clasped.
She did not have the courage then to ask him what he wanted to say. If Allan were to propose, surely now was the time, and yet when she raised her eyebrows in expectation and more than a little hope, he simply shook his head and looked away.
Harriet had slid her cold hands from his. The moment had passed, and in desolation she wondered if she would ever know if Allan thought of her as just a friend, or if, like her, he saw their friendship as something sweeter and deeper.
In the long, dark months since then, Allan had not given her one word of encouragement. Not one word of hope that she might be included one day in these far-off plans and dreams.
Even though they had continued to exchange letters and visit, their conversations always skirted the subject of the MacDougalls’ departure, or any deeper feelings either of them might possess. Harriet began to wonder if she’d imagined the years of tenderness and affection between them. The easy companionship that she had always felt with Allan, that she had always depended on, began to feel strained and awkward, their conversations littered with all that remained unspoken, and that loss grieved her as much as his actual departure.
Now, knowing this would be the last time she’d see him in who knew how long—perhaps, her heart whispered, forever—she longed for at least that familiar friendship to be restored. If she couldn’t be Allan’s wife, then she still wished to be his friend.
“It’s a grand thing you’re facing,” she said as they stood by the bluff, looking out to a placid, slate-colored sea. She plucked a sprig of heather and held it to her cheek. “All that adventure.” She inhaled the clean scent of the heather. If she closed her eyes, she didn’t have to look at Allan’s face, see the uncertainty reflected there.
“Ah, Harriet.” Harriet opened her eyes and Allan gave her a smile twisted with bittersweet hope and regret. “You know adventure isn’t my calling, not like it is Archie’s.”
Harriet knew Allan’s younger brother as a lovable scamp, someone who managed to get in and out of scrapes with ease, always insouciant, even in his recklessness. “Still, I imagine you’ll enjoy it,” she said a bit stiffly. “You’ve wanted to be your own man, same as your father, Allan. You’ll welcome the change, I’m sure.”
“Aye, I will.” Allan gazed out at the sea, his eyes as dark and fathomless as its calm surface. “I hope I’ll have the chance to make my way in the new world.”
“So you should.”
There was a moment of silence, as awkward and tense as had ever been between them. Allan forced a smile that didn’t reach his eyes. “Father had been talking about emigrating for so long. I wouldn’t wonder if half of Kilchoan thought we’d never leave.”
“They’ll believe it now,” Harriet replied. “What with Mingarry Farm let out and all of you gone, there won’t be a single MacDougall on the mainland.” Her voice was brittle, and she fought a rising sense of despair. How could they talk as if this leaving wasn’t rending at least one of them in two?
She turned away, wrapping her arms around herself to ward off the chilly breeze from the sea.
“Harriet…” Allan began, but she spoke over him, afraid of the note of apology in his tone.
“I think Rupert and Margaret will get on at Achlic,” she said with false brightness. “I’m sure I’ll appreciate the company.”
Allan’s younger brother and sister were staying in Scotland, at Achlic; Rupert to finish his education and Margaret to keep him company and help Harriet. Rupert would take lessons with Harriet’s brother Ian in Tobermory.
“Ian and Rupert get along so well as it is—” she continued, stopping suddenly when Allan took her by the shoulders.
“It’s not them I want to talk about,” he said, his voice sounding rusty until he cleared his throat with unaccustomed nervousness. “It’s you… and me. I’ve just been working up the courage to say it.”
Harriet’s heart fluttered so she felt almost breathless, even dizzy with both trepidation and excitement. “You’ve no need of courage with me, Allan MacDougall,” she said, but her voice sounded strange to her own ears. She could hardly believe that Allan was only finding the courage now—now, when he was to sail with the dawn—to speak his mind, and perhaps his heart. “We’ve always had plain words between us.” She met his gaze squarely.
“I know.” Allan grasped her hands in his own. “And it’s plain words I’ll use. I love you, Harriet Campbell, and I always have, since the day I found you here, hiding among the rocks. It was meant to be, between us. I’ve always known it.”
“Oh, you have?” The note of cold skepticism in her voice took them both by surprise. These words were ones she’d longed to hear, but not now. Not now, when it was surely too late.
Allan frowned. “Surely you’ve known it.”
“If I did, it wasn’t because of your many words on the subject!” Harriet retorted, and Allan smiled wryly.
“I didn’t want to bind you…”
“Why not?” Her demand came out harsh, and she pulled away, her back to him. She couldn’t face him, face the useless promises he was making now, when he left on the morrow.
She’d imagined this conversation so many times, had expected to feel joy, not pain. Not anger, and certainly not despair.
“Harriet…” Allan began. He sounded lost, as lost as she’d been all those years ago, curled up among the stones of Duart Castle. Her anger drained away and she closed her eyes, summoned a silent prayer for strength.
Straightening, she turned around. “What is it you want to say to me, Allan?”
He drew in a deep breath. “I know it’s much to ask. I ask it anyway, for love of you and believing the love you have for me. Will you wait for me, Harriet? Wait for me to come back to this land when I’ve made my fortune and bring you home to the New Scotland with me?”
Harriet was silent. She struggled with the bitterness and resentment that surged up inside her at his presumption to ask such a thing of her, and so late! “You’ve known you were leaving for months,” she finally said when she trusted her voice to be even. “Why ask me now? If you loved me…?”
“I told you, I didn’t want to bind you…” Allan’s gaze was steady upon her but Harriet still sensed he was not speaking the whole truth.
“Bind me?” She shook her head, her words nearly carried away on the wind that was now rising, ruffling the surface of the sea. “What are you doing now, Allan, but binding me? Binding me to an empty promise, for you’re sailing on the morrow!” She felt tears sting her eyes and she blinked hard.
Anger flashed in his dark eyes. “My promises are not empty!”
Harriet was too furious, too raw with this new grief, to apologize. “If you’d asked me months ago, Allan MacDougall, we could have been married by now! I could’ve been sailing on The Economy with you, looking forward to our new life together, perhaps a bairn in my arms already!” Her heart raced at her own audacity, but now she couldn’t keep back the flood of regret and confusion. “Why?” she whispered.
Allan looked away, his expression wretched. “I… couldn’t. Perhaps I shouldn’t even ask you now, with my prospects so uncertain.”
“And leave me here, thinking you didn’t care? Have you any heart at all?”
Allan drew himself up. “Aye, I do, and more honor.”
“I’m not seeing that from here.”
Allan turned away, raking a hand through his dark hair. His whole body seemed to quiver with tension. “Ah, Harriet, don’t make me do this!”
“What am I forcing you to do?” Harriet cried. “You’re the one asking for promises!”
Allan sat on a mossy rock, his fists in his hair, an expression of such ferocity on his face that Harriet nearly quelled her tide of angry questions. She’d never seen him look so frustrated, so angry. When he spoke, however, his voice was calm and even. “When I tell you that I love you, do you believe me?”
Harriet swallowed. Despite the raw grief that threatened to tear her in two, of that she was sure. “Yes.”
“When I tell you I’ll come back as soon as I can, do you believe me?”
She scrubbed at her now-wet cheeks with her fists. “Yes.”
“Will you wait for me, then, Harriet? Can I take that promise with me? I wouldn’t ask if I didn’t intend to honor it with my very life, my own soul.” He stood up, his expression fierce in its sincerity. He touched her cheek with his fingers, brushing away the damp tracks of her tears. “I know you don’t understand, and if I could explain, I would. It’s my own honor that keeps me from doing so.”
“I don’t understand why you cannot explain,” she cried and Allan smiled sadly.
“So,” Harriet said slowly as she searched his face, “I am supposed to understand something kept you from declaring yourself to me months ago? And you cannot tell me what it was?”
“I would rather not.”
She held up one hand. Her fingers trembled with the force of her own emotion. “Answer me this. If you could have asked me to marry you, would you have done so? When you first learned you were emigrating?”
Allan rubbed a hand over his face, the answer drawn from him reluctantly. “Yes.”
Harriet stared at the strewn stones of Duart Castle, once a mighty fortress, now little more than mossy rock. It didn’t take much to ruin lives, she thought, only time. She raised her gaze to meet his own troubled one. He looked so tired—and so worried. She was used to seeing those dark eyes glinting with humor, not shadowed with concern and sorrow. And as she looked at him, as if to memorize every line of his dear face, she realized. “You did ask,” she said slowly. “Didn’t you?”
Allan pressed his lips together. “Harriet—”
“Tell me,” she implored. “Please, Allan. Surely it would not tarnish your honor to do so. How am I to go on not knowing? Not understanding?”
Allan managed a small, rueful smile, although his eyes were still dark with pain. “You seem to have grasped the nettle already.”
Harriet nodded. The new knowledge weighed heavily inside her, like a stone in her stomach. “You asked my father,” she said flatly, “and he said no.”
“I’m a man of little prospects at the moment, Harriet. Crossing the sea is a dangerous voyage, and who knows what waits on the other side? I must appreciate his position.”
“You’re the tacksman’s son! You’re richer than we are!” She spun away, her temper rising to the fore once more. She’d always been too given to high emotions, and no more so than now when it looked as if everything she’d ever wanted was to be denied her—and all because of her own father and his contrary nature.
“We don’t own our land,” Allan said quietly, “the way your father does.”
“But you will in the New Scotland. Five hundred acres—”
“It’s an uncertain proposition, though. Life will be hard there. I don’t even know how hard, but I’ve heard tales of how harsh the land is. Snow three feet deep all winter long, storms like nothing we’ve seen here.”
She closed her eyes, her hands curled into fists at her sides, and willed her temper to recede. Anger achieved nothing now. “What did he say to you, then?”
Allan was silent for a moment. “He told me to wait till I’d established myself, had my own land. Actually…” There was a wry thread of humor in Allan’s voice now as he continued. “He told me that when I was no longer hanging on my father’s coattails, he might consider my suit for you.”
“How dare he say such a thing!”
“He is your father, cridhe. You must respect him, as I did.” Allan reached for her wrist, stroking the soft skin on the inside with a movement so tender it made Harriet’s insides seem to dissolve and everything in her turn to yearning. “Besides, he’s right in this matter, as much as it pains me to admit it. You deserve more than what I can offer you now. And in any case, you can’t leave Eleanor and Ian while they’re still so young, nor can you leave Achlic. Not yet. Could you? If you had to choose?”
Harriet closed her eyes. She could still feel Allan’s fingers on her wrist, the gentlest and most thrilling touch she’d ever experienced. “I wasn’t given the choice.”
“I had to respect your father’s wishes.”
“He didn’t want you to speak to me at all,” Harriet guessed, and turned to see the flicker of acknowledgment on Allan’s face. “Then why,” she asked, her voice an ache, “are you now asking me to wait?”
“Because I’m weak.” Allan’s voice was rough with emotion. “Because I love you, and though honor bid me not speak, I couldn’t bear you not knowing. I couldn’t bear the thought of losing you.”
He cupped her cheek in his hand, and Harriet leaned into his palm. “I don’t know what brand of honor it is, that keeps men from speaking from their hearts.”
“Harriet.” He lifted her chin with his fingers, their lips a breath apart. “I love you. Do you love me?”
“Yes.” She could say nothing else; the truth was too strong in her heart. “There was never any question of that, not all these years. Not for a moment.”
Allan drew her to him, and Harriet closed her eyes, savoring the feel of his roughened cheek against hers.
“I’ll come back,” he said in a hoarse whisper. “I promise you. As soon as I can. If you’ll wait for me—”
Harriet nodded in mute acceptance. So much could change, in both their lives. Who even knew what waited for him, on that distant shore? Or even what waited for her? Illness, misfortune, perhaps even death. There were so many terrible possibilities.
Providence would see them through. She had to believe that, longed to cling to it. By God’s grace they would, in time, be reunited. All she had to do was wait… and keep the faith. She lifted one hand to touch his cheek, the gesture one of farewell.
“Yes,” she said, “I’ll wait.”
Allan returned to Tobermory with a lighter heart, although worry and sorrow still picked at him. He hated seeing Harriet look so despondent. He wanted to remember her with laughing eyes, her red hair glinting in the sunlight as she teased or talked with him. He wished he had told her his intentions earlier, even though David Campbell had asked him not to, claiming his silence on the matter was fairer to Harriet. Yet David Campbell was a hard man, and Allan didn’t think he understood the strength of the bond he and Harriet had always shared.
Even so, guilt and regret added their weight to his heart’s burden. Should he have said anything to Harriet at all? If her father had had his way, Allan would have sailed without a word or even whisper of his intentions. And yet surely such silence would have been far greater a grief for Harriet to bear than waiting. At least now she knew how he felt, and that his promise was his word and his honor. He would do whatever it took to make his way back to her, a man of prospects and possibility.
Allan made his way along the harbor, seagulls wheeling over the choppy gray waters, their cries lost on the wind. Tobermory’s one inn was heaving with people on the eve of sailing, for over two hundred Scots would be descending into the dark hold of The Economy tomorrow morning. Allan was grateful his father had, with his influence as local tacksman, been able to secure two rooms at the inn for his family’s comfort. Many families would be sleeping in back rooms or barns that chilly night, if not out on the heath with nothing to shelter them.
Despite the cheerful fire blazing in the hearth of one of the rooms, and the rich mutton stew that Betty had brought from home and heated over the flames, the mood was somber. They all had their own thoughts and cares, Allan knew. He wasn’t the only one with a fond farewell to make.
His mother had said goodbye that morning to her sister, Ann Rankin, an aging widow who would stay at Mingarry after they’d left, at least until James Riddell appointed a new tacksman. After that Ann would have to board with Rankin relatives, either in Kilchoan or further afield. Considering their age, Allan knew it was doubtful the sisters would ever see each other again.
And what of Margaret and Rupert, staying behind? Allan glanced at his younger sister and brother, a sudden, fierce pang of sorrow assailing him. He had a special affection for sixteen-year-old Margaret, with her black eyes and hair, and her quick, sharp wit. And who could fail to love Rupert, scampish and lovable in his puppyish way?
He might never see them again. Sandy planned to bring them over in two years, when Rupert’s education was complete, but Allan knew there were no certainties in this life. Two years was a long time, and only God knew whether they would even survive this first journey. His stomach clenched at the thought of all that lay ahead—and all he couldn’t know.
Allan glanced at his father, sitting at the head of the table with a benevolent and satisfied look on his face. Of all the family, Alexander MacDougall was the most eager to leave. Allan could still remember when he’d first broached the topic of emigration, five years ago.
“There’s space in New Scotland,” he told Allan one evening after the others had gone to bed. “Space to be your own man.”
“There’s space here,” Allan protested. “You’re one of the most respected men in the county, Father, with one of the most prosperous farms.”
“Bah!” Sandy shook his head in disgusted dismissal. “Respected only because of James Riddell, and the power of his fist.”
James Miles Riddell was the second Baronet of Ardnamurchan; he’d come into his title when he was only a boy of ten. Now a man of some forty years, he was taking a greater interest in the profits of his rents and the lucrative possibility of grazing sheep rather than sowing crops. As tacksman Sandy was the one who had to deliver the news to the crofters who were being displaced.
“There’s a debt I owe to James Riddell,” Sandy said quietly, “that I mean to owe to no man. In the New World, Allan, we’ll be free. Our house may not be as grand, or our farm so large, but it’ll be a better place for
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