Frank knocked on the Ferries’ door in Garden Close.
“I’ve come to call on Margaret.” It was a very familiar statement to Mrs. Ferrie.
“Ah’ve told ye afore, Frank. Margaret’s no takin’ visitors.”
Frank pulled the ring from his pocket and held it out in front of him.
“Ma’am, this time, I’ll not take no for an answer. Please send Margaret down.”
Mrs. Ferrie examined the ring and shook her head a bit, but she headed into the scullery. Frank heard voices: Mrs. Ferrie sounded determined; Margaret sounded adamant and agitated. While the words were muffled, Frank was sure that Mrs. Ferrie was determined to get her oldest daughter married, and she finally ordered Margaret out into the front room.
“Margaret, I’ve come to ask for your hand in marriage.” Frank held out the ring for her to see.
“Noo yull tak’ th’ ring an’ say aye.” Mrs. Ferrie shooed Margaret towards Frank. “Tak’ it!”
Margaret reluctantly took the ring from Frank and slipped it on her finger.
“I’ll get it engraved before the wedding – once we set a date.”
“Margaret, ye kin git a dress in a month. Nae use waitin’ past tha’.” Mrs. Ferrie was pushing hard.
“Margaret, would you walk with me?” As Frank extended his arm to Margaret, he glanced at Mrs. Ferrie, who nodded approvingly.
“Noo ye gae, lass. Gae wi’ yer laddie.”
Margaret took Frank’s arm, and the two walked out the door.
“Margaret, I start at the mine in a month. My parents and most of my family are leaving for America soon and say I can take over their house. They will be gone in six months, and then we can have the house to ourselves. My wage is sixteen shillings. I told you I would marry you when I could, and now I can.”
“Ah dinnae deserve tae wed. God punished me fer havin’ relations afore I was merriet.”
Frank stopped and turned Margaret towards him. “Margaret,” he said quite sternly, “stop talking that foolishness. Many a bairn passes in infancy. Ye ken tha’.”
Margaret hung her head in sadness and shame. “I dinnae
deserve tae be wed.”
Frank let go of her shoulders and took her arm once again. As
they walked, he said, “Well, you will be wed, deserving or no. To me. In a month. You will be Margaret Sharp, living in Wellsgreen, married to a coal miner.”
“Ah cannae show mah face thair, Frank.”
Frank lowered his voice to a whisper. “I told no one about the bairn, Margaret. Not even my parents. Nobody knows now, and they won’t – ever. We will never speak about her. Ever. Your parents never come to Wellsgreen, and even if they did, they would never discuss the bairn. You know that. You and I – we will start fresh.”
“Ye tellt nae a soul?” Margaret looked hopeful and relieved.
“Nary a one. It is our secret. And you and I – we will take it to our graves.”
The two walked in silence to the edge of Cowdenbeath.
“But now you need to meet my parents, Margaret. When can I bring you to Wellsgreen?”
“Mibbie end o’ week? Ah need tae press mah Sunday dress an’ polish mah boots.”
There was a lightness in Margaret’s step on the way back that she hadn’t experienced in several months.
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