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Beyond the Heather Hills (Little House the Martha Years)
Synopses & Reviews
The Edge of New
The carriage had two windows, and Martha could not decide which one had the better view. She was in new country now, a place she had never seen before. All her life she had wanted to know what lay beyond the moor east of her father's land, beyond Glencaraid and the Creag and Auld Mary's quiet hut. Now she was here. Beyond stretched out on either side of her: rippling hillsides thick with heather and broom, threaded here and there with faint paths that might have been made by cattle or shepherds or the fairy folk, for all Martha could tell.
She wished Father would let her sit up top beside Sim, the curly-haired driver, but of course that was so far out of the question, there was no use in asking. It was enough that he had brought her on this trip. Mum had been hesitant to let her go. Such a journey, over rough roads, for a ten-year-old lass without mother or governess to watch over her — Mum had had her doubts over the wisdom of the notion. Perth lay a great many miles east of Glencaraid.
But Grisie's letters pleaded for a visit. It was six months since she had married Kenneth MacDougal and moved away from the valley. Grisie loved her new husband and her fine house in the city; but she was homesick. Father had declared that since Grisie could not come to Glencaraid, Glencaraid should come to Grisie. Mum could not leave the Stone House at this time of year, with the wagonloads of milk and butter coming down each week from the cattle's summer pasturing grounds in the mountain glens. She must be on hand to oversee the weighing and to keep the accounts. And so —
"Martha shall go," Father had said. "I'll take her myself when I go to Perth to do the trading,and she shall come home wi' the lads in the school holidays." Mum had agreed at last, reluctantly.
"Though I dinna ken how we'll do without you," she had said, squeezing Martha close. "My last bairn, grown so big."
Martha had felt at once jubilant and alarmed — which was quite an uncomfortable way to feel. She had never been so far from home before; she had never been away from Mum for longer than a few days. Now she was to spend more than a month far from the Stone House. She would miss the wool-waulking, the cheesemaking, the games on St. Columba's day. But she would at long last see Perth — the Fair City, it was called. She would see Grisie, and Kenneth, and Mr. John Smeaton's famous bridge over the Tay. She would see things with her own eyes that some people lived their whole lives only hearing about.
Miss Crow, Martha's governess, was given a long holiday, which she planned to spend with some cousins near Loch Katrine. But first she had helped Mum make three new dresses for Martha, for a laird's daughter must not be seen in town in patched or faded frocks, with her knees showing under a hem that had been let down as far as a hem could be let. The blue-and-yellow-striped linen frock, the sheer white muslin, and the shimmering golden silk were folded carefully in Martha's trunk, beneath her light woolen shawl (blue plaid), her new bonnet (straw, with a sky-blue ribbon), and her new linen collar (lace trimmed, with cherries embroidered upon it). Martha had never had so many new clothes all at once. She heartily wished she could give some of them away, particularly the silk, which had a row of buttons up its back so long that Martha feared she would miss breakfast everytime she had to wear it. Still, an excess of buttons was a small price to pay for a journey such as this. She was going to Perth! Her brothers had been attending school there for years; now, at last, Martha was to see it for herself.
The carriage rattled past a flock of sheep, their coats shorn close for the summer. The shepherd, a tall, lean boy in dingy breeches, stood leaning on his staff, watching the carriage go by. Martha stared back through the small square window, wondering who he was. It was strange to see a stranger. She knew every soul on her father's estate and in the village across Loch Caraid. This boy was someone unknown. The shepherd caught Martha's eye and respectfully lifted his battered felt hat, his face impassive and wind reddened. She waved at him without thinking, just as the carriage was leaving him behind, and in her last bumpy glimpse of him, she saw how he broke into a grin and waved back. Then Martha jumped and drew back against the carriage seat. She stole a glance at Father to see if he was watching.
He was, with reproving eyes. Martha felt the color coming to her cheeks, and her hand went out to straighten her skirts. She did not want Father to think she was being childish. He was the one who had insisted that Martha was old enough to make such a journey when Mum had had doubts. This was utterly unlike the usual way of things. Father was much more apt to say Mum gave Martha too much liberty; Martha must learn to behave in accordance with her station in life. She was a laird's daughter and must comport herself like one. She was ten years old now, a wee 'un no longer. Great girls of ten must not wave at strange shepherds in passing fields.
Tobreak the uncomfortable silence, she said, "Whose land is this, Father?" Father looked out the window. "This whole region, from Lochearnhead to Crieff, was once the holdings o' the Drummond clan — your mother's people. The chief kept a castle at Crieff. 'Twas said he could muster a thousand men at the blowing o' a horn. But that was long ago.
< P> < b> In this fourth book in the Martha Years series, ten& ndash; year& ndash; old Martha journeys to the bustling city of Perth to visit her newly married sister Grisie.< /b> < /P> < P> This is Martha's first time beyond the familiar heather hills and this city on the River Tay is more exciting than she could have ever imagined < /P> < P> Ages 8& ndash; 12 < /P> < P> < /b> < /b> < /P>
In this fourth book in the Martha Years series, ten-year-old Martha journeys to the bustling city of Perth to visit her newly married sister Grisie.
This is Martha′s first time beyond the familiar heather hills and this city on the River Tay is more exciting than she could have ever imagined!
About the Author
Melissa Wiley, the author of the Charlotte Years and the Martha Years series, has done extensive research on early-nineteenth-century New England life. She lives in Virginia with her husband, Scott, and her daughters, Kate, Erin, and Eileen.
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