Highland Echoes:Fated Hearts 02(116)

By: Ceci Giltenan


“Nay, lass, I’m not. I’m visiting. Do ye mind if I sit with ye for a spell?”

“Ye’re visiting? Are ye a Sinclair?”

“Aye, I am.”

Really, God? Didn’t we just sort this out? “I should be going. My grandmother will be expecting us back.”

“Please, don’t go yet. Ye didn’t look like someone preparing to rush home a moment ago and if ye leave now, ye’ll wake the wee lass. I would enjoy the pleasure of yer company for a few minutes. Grant an old man this boon.”

Grace didn’t wish to be rude, and he seemed pleasant enough. “Aye. Well then, please sit.”

He sat on the ground a few feet away. “Thank ye. Tell me about yerself, Grace.”

“There’s nothing to tell.”

“Oh, I expect there is. Ye said ye were a Sutherland and ye mentioned yer grandmother. Do ye live here in the village with her?”

“Aye, I do. In that cottage.” She motioned behind her.

“Have ye always lived here? Do yer parents live here too?”

“Nay, I grew up on the Isle of Lewis. I lost both my parents and my husband in the last year. I came here to my grandmother after that.”

“I am sorry to hear of yer loss, Grace.” A look of profound sadness crossed his face. “Losing someone ye love is never easy.”

Grace had the distinct impression he too had recently lost someone. “Ye seem sad. Have ye lost someone dear to ye recently?”

“Aye, I have,” he answered but he didn’t elaborate further.

“I’m sorry for yer loss as well.” They sat in silence for a few moments.

“So one of yer parents was a Sutherland?”

“Aye, my father was.”

“And yer mother? Was she from Lewis? A MacCauley or a Morrison?”

“Nay, she wasn’t.”

“If she wasn’t from the island, what took yer parents there?”

Grace looked away for a moment. “I suppose love did.”

“Love?”

“Aye. My parents were very much in love.” She smiled as images of her parents together flashed through her mind. Over the last few weeks, she had dwelt largely on the consequences of their decisions. She had almost forgotten their abiding love. “Very much in love indeed. However, my mother’s father was opposed to the marriage. The only way they could be together was to leave. So they went to Lewis. My father worked as a fisherman. My husband was a fisherman too. Their boat went down in a storm last October.”

“And yer mother?”

“She had been ill before Da died, but after we lost him, she never recovered. I’m not sure she wanted to go on without him. She died in February.”

“So when they died, ye decided to come live with ye father’s kin. Why not yer mother’s?”

Grace was becoming a little uncomfortable and she didn’t want to tell him the truth. “I just didn’t.”

“That’s not a reason. Tell me why ye didn’t seek out yer mother’s kin?”

His tone was stern, but not unkind. She felt compelled to answer. “I…I…well the truth is…I don’t know who they are.”

His brow furrowed. “How is that possible?”

Grace sighed. “I grew up thinking neither of them had any family left. I only learned about my father’s clan as my mother was dying. She refused to tell me anything about her own.”

“Why?”

“I told ye. She was afraid of her father. Even after all these years she worried about what might happen to us or even that he might seek vengeance on the Sutherlands if he found out who my da was.” Grace stroked Kristen’s head.

“Surely she didn’t believe her family would harm ye?”

“I don’t know. I guess she didn’t want to take the chance. She made me promise I would never try to find them.”

He shook his head sadly. “’Tis awful when children and parents are so at odds.”

“Aye, it is. When I first learned what my parents had done, I didn’t completely understand it. Their choice has caused others pain. My grandmother’s heart ached over the loss of her son. Surely my mother’s family felt the same.”

“Ye say that as if ye understand it now.”