They couldn’t be certain of how it had happened, whether it was a clumsy beast, or an over-exuberant child or, perish the thought, a deliberate act of vandalism. The truth was that the spinning-wheel lay in pieces and she didn’t know how she could possibly carry on. Without the few pennies that she was paid for her wool, there would be no oatmeal, no tea, and no tobacco. She was a strong woman but, after all the hardships of recent years and the tragic drowning of her brother and her father as they returned from the fishing, she was broken. How was she going to tell HIM?
When John returned that night from working on the road, he was tired and hungry and looking forward to seeing his wife and the three little ones. He ducked his head as he entered the warmth of the little thatched house that he had built with the help of all the men of the township. That was the custom with newly-weds and he had helped build several more houses since then, each of which was know a family home, each of which had been affected by the changes that seemed to swirl around them nearly every day.
He saw that Chirsty was stirring the pot, Calum feeding from her as she did so, whilst Mary and Angus, who were twins, sat on the floor, plaiting pieces of straw and singing. They leapt up and ran to their father, who scooped up a child in each arm and held them to his chest, giving each a small peck on the cheek before returning them to the ground. He then turned to Chirsty, who had placed Calum into his crib, and gave her a hug. But her eyes, those pale blue eyes that normally shone with youthful joy, were sad and dim and unsmiling. He gave her a reassuring smile, and she burst into tears, and turned away from him.
It was then that he saw the sad pile of sticks and spools and snapped wheel, and understood. He stepped towards her, put his arms around her and whispered, “It’s all right, I’ll repair your wheel.” She was astonished, not by what he had said but by what he hadn’t. No questions, no how or where or when, just his quiet reassurance that all would be well.
And it was…