Follow Your Heart

Katherine has everything a young woman could hope for in 1849 Scotland, except the freedom to make her own choices. The last thing she wants to do is to get married…and then she meets James Spenser.

Can there be any future together for the outspoken daughter of a railway owner and the charming young man working on the project?

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“Were it not for hope the heart would break.”  –Scottish Proverb

The Leviathan

My name is James Spenser.  Six months ago, my brother and I came to Edinburgh from Glasgow on our eastward trek across Scotland.  The journey started at our farm just west of Glasgow.  We had a lovely little place with potato fields that stretched to a river, edged with silver birch.  My father’s family had worked the land for two generations, and my brothers and I always thought we’d work the land, too. 

All that changed three years ago, when the potato famine came to Scotland.  Our fields were ruined as the blight moved quickly, destroying all our crops.  We didn’t have enough seed potatoes to try again and barely enough to eat that winter.  My father found work at a railway yard in Glasgow and my mother, my brother Andrew, and I all went with him.  My oldest brother, Ethan, decided to try his luck in America and found work on a ship bound for New York. 

Glasgow was a big change for us all.  Our mum took to it right enough, finding her way with the other ladies of the area and helping out with the sick.  Da fell in with some mates at the rail yard and started drinking a bit more than before.  It was hard losing the farm, but things didn’t seem too bad until we lost our mum.

She was out like always helping those that she could, not knowing that the winter of 1848 would bring a terrible cholera epidemic to the city.  When she came down with the illness, Andrew and I were already on our way to Edinburgh.  By the time we found out, it was too late to come home.  Da told us to stay and work hard in her memory.  Six months later, he was gone, too.  Andrew and I both thought it was just too much losing Mum.  They truly loved each other, and I don’t think he wanted to go on without her. 

So here we are in 1849, working on the world’s first railway ferry that will cross five miles of water when completed.  The passengers will be taking steamboats across from Granton just north of Edinburgh, but the goods will be transferred by rolling cars out onto tracks on the ferry, then lowered down to water level and taken to the other side.  There, the ferry is raised up again, allowing the cars to be rolled off and hooked up to an engine on the other side at Burntisland.  The whole process is supposed to take five minutes on each end and then of course, the travel over the Firth of Forth itself, which is an inlet of the North Sea.  We’re all calling it a minor miracle, but the bosses say it’s a technological wonder. 

The money men wanted a name to call attention to this wonder and with the way the water can whip up when the storms blow in, someone came up with The Leviathan.  The name stuck and now we all joke that we feed the Beast, when we go to work.  Andrew and I have been putting in as much overtime as possible.  We want the bosses to notice us and maybe get a chance at steady work once this project is finished.  Maybe even a promotion. 

At least, that was the plan until Andrew met his Rebecca two weeks ago.  She’s a sweet lass, right enough, but his head’s in the clouds these days.  If I hadn’t told him to shape up only last week, he would have fallen right into the water. Whistling and looking up at the sky, rather than watching what he was doing.  I have decided there will be no woman for me until I get that promotion.

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