No Great Mischief
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In 1779, driven out of his home, Calum MacDonald sets sail from the Scottish Highlands with his extensive family. After a long, terrible journey he settles his family in 'the land of trees', and eventually they become a separate Nova Scotian clan: red-haired and black-eyed, with its own identity, its own history. It is the 1980s by the time our narrator, Alexander MacDonald, tells the story of his family, a thrilling and passionate story that intersects with history: with Culloden, where the clans died, and with the 1759 battle at Quebec that was won when General Wolfe sent in the fierce Highlanders because it was 'no great mischief if they fall'.
the spoons and knives and forks from each other with a supply of pennies from a jar Grandma kept in her lower cupboard for emergencies. “The light is still not moving,” said Grandpa and he began hurriedly to pull on his winter clothes and boots, even as the phone began ringing. “The light is not moving. The light is not moving,” the voices said. “They’re in trouble out on the ice.” And then the voices spoke in the hurriedness of exchange: “Take a rope.” “Take some ice poles.” “Take a blanket
practise the more basic forms of dentistry. Others have sought me out from considerable distances in the hope that I might give them what they want and think they need. There are some who would wish to alter their jawlines so that they might look more like current pop stars. Sometimes they bring pictures of what they would hope to be along with them. Shyly they bring the pictures forth from within their purses or from the inside pockets of their expensive jackets. “You really do not need this,”
Grandfather, who had hesitated only momentarily, “I think of their thoughts in a different manner. Coming back the way they or their fathers had come some forty years before. They and their fathers coming back in 1645 over the mountains. Fighting then for the Royalist cause or their own individuality. Led by Montrose and the poet Iain Lom across the high corries in late January and early February. Licking the oatmeal out of their palms, lapping the blood and gnawing the raw meat of the
almost like a painting. We were in the kitchen and had just finished eating when my oldest brother went to the window, “Look,” he said excitedly, “the blackfish, the pilot whales.” Out of the stillness of the calm, blue ocean, they rose and rolled in glistening elegance. One after the other their black, arching backs broke the flatness of the sea, sending geysers of white water before them as they shattered the glass-like surface, the still, blue water being transformed into jets and fountains
And now it is dusk turning towards darkness as my car moves deeper southward. Not far away, across the river the United States – that country born of revolution – sends its towers thrusting to the sky. On Monday in my office I will offer solace and change and perhaps hopeful improvement to those who seek me out. We will talk about retrusion and occlusion and the problems caused by overbite. “Don’t bite off more than you can chew,” Grandma used to say. When I first started practising dentistry,