Mairi gathered a few things from her garden, including a bouquet of fresh
flowers. Peach-colored iris with maize-colored centers, long stemmed pale
yellow roses, daisies with white petals and yellow centers were tied
together at the middle of the stems with a yellow, green and red tartan
ribbon. “Lovely.” She smiled as she lay them in the basket. “Let’s see, I’ve
got brussel sprouts, carrots, a few potatoes, and a nice fruit tart with
kiwis, strawberries, blueberries and peaches. They should enjoy this.” She
slipped a pale blue cardigan around her shoulders and headed for the
Fifteen minutes later she stood at the gate. “Where are those dogs?” She
looked from one side to another. “I can’t see them. They must have gone with
Malcolm.” She opened it and walked up the path to the door. She raised her
hand to knock when barking and growling noises came from around the side of
the croft heading straight for her. “Oh no. Down boys,” she said, looking at
the basket of food in her arms. The two Scottish deerhounds lumbered towards
her, paws covered with mud. “Stay there, Devlyn, Creanth. Please don’t…”
Their filthy paws pressed against her back as the two friendly, but very
tall dogs licked her legs and face. Mairi screamed. “Get off me. Get down
Creanth. No, Devlyn.”
Anne heard the noise and
opened the door. She swatted at the dogs. “Down Creanth. Go on, Devlyn.
Leave poor Mairi alone.”
The dog’s paws fell to the
ground and they stood wagging their long tails, mouths drooling over Mairi’s
basket. Devlyn shook his wiry gray coat, sending droplets of mud and water
all over Mairi’s cardigan.
“Good morning, Mairi. Come on
in and we’ll get you cleaned off. Malcolm was supposed to put those dogs
away. They’re very friendly, mind you. Now, what brings you to our home?”
“You seem surprised, Anne. I
was out in the garden this morning and I’ve got too much food for just Fiona
and me, so I put some together, hoping your family could use them.” Mairi
handed Anne the basket and attempted to brush the mud off her clothes. “Your
dogs are a bit rambunctious, aren’t they?”
“You’ll find some fresh
towels in the loo. Go and clean yourself up and I’ll make us some tea. I was
just about to sit down and have some myself.” Anne went into the kitchen to
get the kettle boiling and Mairi went to wash up.
Mairi came through a few
minutes later, satisfied that most of the dirt was off her cardigan.
Anne sat on the settee
pouring the tea into two cups.
“There’s a jar of heather
honey in the basket too. It tastes lovely when you mix it in with tea.”
Mairi licked her lips.
“Very well, we’ll try some of
your honey with our tea. I just made some raisin biscuits. Can I tempt you
to have a few?” Anne held the plate out.
“If you look in the basket,
you’ll see a fruit tart, at least there was a fruit tart. I have no idea
what it looks like now that the dogs tried to get it,” Mairi said.
Anne opened the basket.
“Everything’s still in one piece.”
“I thought you might want to
save it for supper, when Malcolm and your guest return.” Mairi hoped she
wasn’t being too obvious. Anne turned and smiled at her, a sparkle in her
chocolate brown eyes. “I mean, you do have a guest, don’t you?”
“Aye, Mairi. Johnny Thomson’s
here from London. Nice man. He’s out with Malcolm doing a spot of fishing.
What are you and Fiona doing for supper tonight? Would you like to come and
have something with us? You can meet him, as long as you don’t mind
listening to their fishing stories about the one that got away.” Anne roared
“I met Mr. Thomson, Johnny,
yesterday. He seems like a nice chap,” Mairi said. “Fiona and I were going
to have mince and tatties for supper. Would you like me to bring it over?”
Anne smiled to herself,
knowing what was in Mairi’s heart. “I’m setting a place for the two of you.
Don’t worry about bringing anything else. You’ve already done enough. Be
here around six and plan on staying for several hours. Now, sit down and
have your tea.” Anne put the full teacups down on the table, along with a
plate of warm raisin biscuits.
* * *
“Where did Elspet go?” Wee
Malcolm noticed his missing sister. “She disappeared.” The six-year-old got
up and walked over to Angus. “Can I pet your cat? What’s his name?”
Alastair, seeing his big
brother leave, went to join them. The half-chewed chocolate biscuit held in
his hand invited Marmaduke, Lily, and several other cats to have a lick.
“Watch it, laddie. The cat’s
have eaten your biscuit,” Angus said.
Alastair started crying. “I
want my biscuit. Bad cat!” He tried to hit the cat.
“The cats aren’t bad cats,
Alastair. They just wanted to taste your biscuit. I’ll get you another.”
Angus handed each of the lads another. “You can pet them if you’re gentle.”
“Where are Elspet and Fiona
and Callum?” Malcolm looked around the croft for them.
“They went on an adventure.
They’ll be back shortly. Why don’t you and Alastair and build me a castle,”
“I can build a huge castle.
Do you want to help us?” Malcolm pulled Angus’s hand, trying to get him to
“Och, all right laddies. I’ll
help you for a wee while.” He went over to the fireplace and sat down on the
floor next to Alastair. Malcolm sat next to him. “Do you see the pictures on
the blocks? I carved those all by myself.”
Malcolm looked at the
pictures. “You start. You put your block down first.” Angus shrugged his
shoulders and helped the boys build a castle.