In her house, she found her father, her beloved dad of 78 ears old.
“Hello, dad,” she said.
“Och, lassie, hello,” he replied gruffly. “Sit doon, ah’ve goat tae talk tae ye.”
Michaela obediently took a seat opposite the old man.
“Since ma wife died, that’s yer mother, ye know, I’ve been a widower. And you’re my only child. But I won’t be here forever,” said Mr. McMahon, slowly choosing his words carefully. “So I’ve decided it’s time for thee to wed.”
“Get married, you mean, sir?” said Michaela incredulously. “With someone with whom I can build a life together and be happy? Who will I marry.”
“whom,” her father gently interposed with a raised finger, a careful look on his old wise face, wizened by long years of intense, self-taught erudition.”
“Oh Daddy, forget grammatical accuracy just once and tell me. Will I build a life, a future, a wonderful future with this man?”
“May be, may be,” said her father. “I don’t know if you’ll be building anything cos the chap I’ve got in mind already has built a little empire for himself. You’ll just take over. And when he goes, it’ll be all yours, ma bonnie wee lassie. Yer auld faither is looking oot for ye. I’ll not be here forever, you know.”
“Who is he, dad?”
“Jock MacGregor, the baker.”
Michaela sprung to her feet in shock and awe! “No! He’s too old for me!” she cried, her hand on her chest and her other arm striking a dramatic pose like a Shakesperian actor doing Hamlet. “He must be over sixty and I’m only twenty-four, that’s a forty-six year age difference at least!”
“Fifty-four,” her father corrected her calmly. “Old Jock, well, old to you, to me he’s a whippersnapper since I’m ten years older than him, but yes, he’s a bit older. But when he goes it’s all yours. His bakery, his house and any money left over in the bank once his funeral has been paid for and any outstanding debts, of course. You have to do right by the dead, lassie. But be that as it may, be that as it may, a nice little nest egg, ma bonnie wee lassie. Think it over. The wedding is a month from today. Father McConnolly is coming over from Fair Isle to conduct the ceremony in our cosy little church nearby.”
“But…” Michaela began to protest.
“Now, get a couple of bowels o’ porridge on the table, there’s a good wee bonny lass. Ye must be hungry after traipsing up and down them hills all day. And I’m feeling a wee bit peckish myself. And set out a bottle of beer for me, ye know I like a beer in the evening, especially in front of the hearth with the telly turned down low. A small Guiness will suffice.”
“Yes, dad,” said Michaela reluctantly. Oh dear, she thought! How am I going to get out of this? I owe my father all my loyalty and endearment, but oh to be free! A tear darted down her cheek but she sniffed it back into her widened nostril and brushed her hair over her head with a sweeping gesture of her hand as she went to put her bowels on the table to fill with porridge. They were the bowels her mother had left her when she’d died fifteen years before. Not for the first time did she think to herself how good it would be to have her mom her with her now. when she missed her mommy, she felt her heart retch inside her chest and thump in her bosom. Oh, why did you leave us! She asked, not for the first time.