Martha is frustrated because Mum has said she's too old to be playing on the moors now, and she must have a governess. First there's Miss Norrie. All she must to do is teach Martha sewing and etiquette. But Martha's high spirits are too much for her, and she leaves in a hurry. Martha thinks that's the end of that, but then another governess shows up. Her name is Miss Crow, and Martha is sure she's going to be even worse!.
Down To The Bonny Glenn is the third book in The Martha Years, an ongoing series about another spirited girl from America's most beloved pioneer family.
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The Wedding-Day Morn
On the morning of Nannie's wedding, Martha could not sit still. Nor stand still. She bobbed back and forth between the nursery table and the window so many times during breakfast that Miss Norrie, her governess, turned almost purple with dismay. Martha couldn't help it: the suspense was dreadful. Everyone in the Stone House, except perhaps for the governess, was anxious to see whether the sun would manage to break free from the heavy mantle of clouds that covered the sky.As soon as Martha had gulped down the last of her porridge, she ran downstairs to the kitchen, leaving Miss Norrie's fluttering protests behind in the nursery. Breathlessly she stationed herself at the garden door to keep watch for any glint of sunlight that might penetrate the clouds. She called out frequent reports to Cook, who stood red-faced and grim at the hearthfire, stirring her beef broth and turning the legs of mutton she had set to roast on a spit.
“'Tis a terrible shame, that's what,” Cook muttered, cranking the handle of the spit. Droplets of mutton fat hissed in the dripping-pan below. “If ivver a lass deserved a fine weddin' day, 'tis our Nannie. A kinder, more good-natured lass ye'll no find in all Scotland'nor England besides. And that Gerald's a fine, stouthearted lad. Sure and they dinna deserve such a parcel o' ill luck!”
Her voice was so fierce that Martha came inside to look at her. Cook was glaring at the mutton legs as if they were to blame for the poor weather. Martha understood exactly how she felt. Rain on Nannie's wedding day would be a terrible misfortune. Everyone said so. Cook had gone aroundfor days muttering the old rhyme,
“Happy's the bride the sun shines on;Happy's the corpse the rain falls on.”
At least it was not raining, not yet. But the sun must shine'it must, Martha said to herself, and that was all there was to it. Nannie was too dear a person not to deserve a lucky wedding day.“Why is it bad luck if the sun doesna shine?” Martha asked Cook. “I can see how rain might spoil the wedding day, but I dinna see why it's bad luck on the marriage.”
“Whisht, child, I dinna make the rules; I only mind them,” Cook scolded.
“But who did make them? Did God make them? I dinna see why He would make a silly rule like that,” Martha protested. “It doesna seem fair. 'Tis no fault o' Nannie and Gerald's if it rains on their wedding day. They canna help it one way or the other.”
Cook did not answer; she only frowned harder at her kettle of broth.“Alisdair says all this bother about omens and luck is just superstition,” Martha went on. “He says it doesna really mean a thing. He says we ought to remember that it's 1791, practically the nineteenth century, and we mustna cling to the foolish notions of the auld days.”
“Ah, yer brother says that, does he?” Cook answered sharply. “I suppose that's the sort o' tomfoolery they teach them at them fancy city schools nowadays. ‘Nearly the nineteenth century' indeed. As if the sun and the rain take any heed o' what century it is.” She gave a disdainful snort to show what she thought of what she called “high-steppin' book learnin'.”
“Och,” she added, shaking her head, “when I think o' what yer father's payin' to have that lad's head stuffed full o' nonsense . . .”
“Miss Martha dear!” Miss Norrie's voice came trilling down from the top of the stairs. “Where did you run off to? You must come and let me dress your hair!”
Martha sighed. Having to have her hair brushed seemed always to happen in the middle of the most interesting conversations. But then Miss Norrie seemed to think hair brushing was necessary some half dozen times a day. Miss Norrie said she had never in her life seen someone whose hair ran as wild as Martha's. “But I suppose it's to be expected,” she always added, “when one insists upon dashing about out-of-doors in all weathers without benefit of hat nor bonnet!”
Miss Norrie did not approve of allowing young ladies to spend too much time out-of-doors. Miss Norrie, it seemed to Martha, did not entirely approve of her. Martha had wanted very much to like Miss Norrie when she arrived last spring. Martha had never had a governess before. Her cousins, Rachel and Mary, who lived in a house called Fairlie on the other side of Loch Caraid, had a kind and gentle governess whom they liked very much. And their governess, Miss Caldwell, liked them; she was always saying so. Miss Caldwell said eight-year-old Rachel was the best-behaved young lady she had ever had the pleasure to know. She said Mary had nicer manners at age six than some girls twice her age.
During the past six months, Miss Norrie had many things to say upon the subject of Martha's manners, but none of them were comfortable to hear.
Sometimes Martha wished Miss Caldwell could be her governess instead of the cousins'. But then would come the unsettling thought that perhaps Miss Caldwell would have the same opinions about Martha that Miss Norrie did. After all, it could not be denied that Miss Norrie was herself a kind and gentle person. She was gentle and delicate as a flower'a flower trembling in a breeze. Miss Norrie did not seem to require a very strong breeze to be set a-trembling. Small things, like an overturned inkwell or muddy footprints on the nursery floor'these were enough to set off a great fluttering and hand-wringing in the thin, pale-haired governess.
“Miss Martha!” Miss Norrie called again, and Martha winced. She had not meant to stand woolgathering. Mum had told her many times she must never keep her governess waiting...