Jamie: 1935 - 1936
Jamie turned fifteen on May 1st, 1936. He was glad when school let out. He and Connor Mackenzie had gotten into a bit of a fight right before Christmas and suddenly a bunch of girls were chasing after him, trying to get him to kiss them.
Jamie didn’t understand. He had only gotten into it with the arsehole because Connor had been bullying his own sister Laoghaire. If there was one thing Jamie detested it was bullying. So he had told Connor to knock it off and the bastard had taken a swing at him.
After the science teacher Mrs. Fitzgibbons had pulled them apart, she had led them both by the ear to the headmaster’s office. Mr. McKimmie hadn’t been at all pleased. He’d called both their Da’s.
Brian had come and gotten Jamie. Being sent home for the day was downright embarrassing, but Jamie wasn’t sorry. Not a word had been said until they got home.
Leading Jamie into his office, Brian sat down behind the desk. Ellen was already in the room, working on a pair of socks.
“Well. Let’s have the story then.” Brian said.
So Jamie explained. How he had been walking down the hall to see Connor twisting Laoghaire’s arm. How she had been crying in pain. How he had just broken the hold and told Connor to knock it off. Connor taking a swing. Jamie defending himself. Mrs. Fitz coming out of her classroom and breaking it up.
“Honestly Da. I did’na hit him. I was just trying to grab his hands so he could’na hit me. I ken how ye feel about fightin’ at school. Maybe I should’na have interfered, but the lass was crying because he was hurting her.”
Brian looked at him steadily for a long moment. “If ye had’na been at school. What would ye hae done then?”
Jamie thought a moment. “I’d have thrashed him but good. Any man that would hurt a woman deserves to ken what it feels like.” He said in disgust.
Brian and Ellen started laughing.
Jamie was confused. He hadn’t meant to be funny.
“Do ye fancy the lass then?” Ellen asked.
“Fancy the lass? No. I barely even ken her.” Now Jamie was more confused. What did that have to do with anything?
Ellen nodded. “Alright. Why don’t you go do your homework in the dining room and I’ll check it before ye go back to school in the morning.”
“Yes Mam.” Jamie stood up and gave his mother a kiss. He grabbed his bookbag and left the room. As he reached the door, his Da called his name.
“Jamie.” He turned to look at Brian.
“Sometimes it’s no the easy thing to take a stand. Ye stood up for that lass because it was the right thing. I’m proud o ye mo mac.”
Jamie blushed. “Thanks Da.”
“Yer welcome. Now go do as yer mother said.”
“Aye Da.” Jamie left and closed the door behind him.
Brian shook his head. “I’d almost rather he fancied the lass. Puir lad won’t ken what hit him come Monday.”
Ellen was still chuckling. “I ken. The lasses will be chasing after him harder now that he’s proven such a hero.”
“Aye and the wee fool wil’na even ken why.”
“Oh hush you. He kens verra well what the lasses are about. He’s just no interested in the local lasses. He’s already found another lass to fancy.”
“Who? And how d’ye ken that? He has’na said a word to me.”
“Dinna fash. I dinna think the lad kens himself. Do you remember young Claire Beauchamp? She was at Murtagh’s wedding.”
“Aye the wee lass what tis a musical prodigy. What of her?”
“Jamie sat and listened to her talk about piano with me for over two hours. Then when she said goodbye he was so tongue-tied he could’na speak. Just bowed to her like some 18th century nobleman. ‘Twas the most adorable thing I’ve ever seen in my life.”
“Why did ye no tell me this before?”
“Because he has’na said anything and it’s unlikely to come to anything anytime soon. He lives here and she lives in London. It’s possible he’ll go sing with The White Rose at some point and we’ll see what happens then. But the lad won’t even be 15 until May. Let it be until it is something. In the meantime, his infatuation with Claire will keep the lad from doing something foolish with a local girl.”
After returning to school the following day, Jamie was suddenly more popular with the girls. But they were all acting strange. Jamie wasn’t an idiot, but their flirting and simpering got on his nerves. He told Ian he preferred girls who were a bit more mature, and perhaps reserved in public. Then he told himself he was at school for an education not a romance. Besides 15 was too young to be worrying about romance.
Laoghaire was the worst. She didn’t even say anything to him, just followed him around like a puppy. Jamie was polite when he encountered her, but started to go out of his way to avoid being seen by the lass. Her staring and sighing made him very uncomfortable. Jenny had offered to talk to her, but Jamie said no. The less said the better he thought.
Jamie was glad when the Christmas holidays came. Hogmanay for 1935 was a quiet affair. Jenny had graduated early and gone to join Ian in London. He had graduated the previous May. Willie was in France with Da’s cousin. Jamie missed everyone, but appreciated having his parents to himself for once.
School was easier after Christmas. Laoghaire’s Da had pulled her out of school, and after a couple of weeks the other lasses seemed to get the message that he was’na interested in them.
Still, it was nice when school let out. Jamie spent the summer escaping to the stables as much as he could. He still practiced with his Mam faithfully every day, both voice and Bass. She said it was passing strange that he should be so tall and yet be such a high tenor.
School started again and Jamie applied himself to his studies. It was Jamie’s hope that he could graduate early and sing with his Uncles. He liked to sing, but wanted the travel just as much. Besides. He missed Ian. If he worked hard enough Da promised that he could take some tests and skip a year. Then he would graduate May 1937 instead of 38. He could sing for three years before going to university. That would allow him to save enough money to pay his own way. Da would, but Jamie wanted to do it for himself. Like Ian.
Two days after Thanksgiving, Jenny called Mam. She listened for a minute and then she looked sad. A minute more and she said “Of course we’ll be there for the funeral. When is it and at what church?”
She wrote down the information and said goodbye to Jenny.
“Mo ghràidh?” Brian asked.
“Paul Abernathy died. The funeral is in London next Thursday.”
“Do ye want to go?”
“Then we’ll go. Come here.” Brian held out his arms. Ellen went into them and cried a bit. Paul had been a friend. She hadn’t known he was ill. No one had known. Jenny said that he hadn’t told anyone until recently, not even his own son.
“Thank you love. It was cancer. Puir man.”
Brian shuddered. He wouldn’t wish that on anyone. “Will it be a Catholic funeral?” Ellen nodded.
“Yes. He received the last rites. He even planned his own Requiem Mass. Jenny told me that the men will be singing and so will Claire. Paul asked her to. She called him uncle ye ken.”
“Ach. The puir wee lass. To lose another so young.”
Ellen just nodded again.
The trip to London took two days. They took the train from Broch Morda to Glasgow which took about 6 hours, then the train from Glasgow to London which took 16 hours. They left on Monday morning since Da would’na travel on a Sunday except for emergencies. With the layover in Glasgow it was after midnight before they reached London. Murtagh was there to meet them and take them to the townhouse. Jamie had been there once when he was small, but it had been many years.
Jamie was so tired that he slept until after lunch the next day. Ian and Jenny were waiting for him downstairs. Ian grabbed Jamie and gave him a bear hug.
“a Dhia. It’s so good to see ye man.”
Jenny’s hug was a bit more restrained, but no less fierce.
“Come on, we’re takin’ ye out to lunch. We dinna have rehearsal until this evening.”
The three of them went to a local pub and had sandwiches. Then on a tour of the city to show Jamie the sights. They went back to the townhouse for supper. Uncle Murtagh asked Jamie and Ellen if they wanted to go to the rehearsal.
“We’re rehearsing the Requiem Mass o course, but also some of the pieces for the Holiday series.”
“Well Jamie? Do ye want to go?”
“Yes. Can we Mam?”
“You may. I’m going to stay home with Da. We decided to stay long enough to go to the first December performance. I’ll wait until then. But you go. You can see how they rehearse.”
“Thanks Mam.” Jamie gave his mother a kiss.
The rehearsal was interesting. Dougal ran a very professional rehearsal, even though he was related to most of the singers in some fashion. The Requiem Mass was beautiful, Jamie wished he was singing it.
The rest of the rehearsal was for the Holiday concerts and everyone sounded really good. Jamie was a little intimidated and silently vowed to work harder on his voice training.
The Mackenzie lass, Laoghaire was there. She didn’t say anything to him, just stared at him the whole night. It made Jamie uncomfortable, and he avoided catching her eye.
The next two days were quiet. Jamie didn’t go to anymore rehearsals, but he did take the opportunity to play bass with Jenny and Ian. Murtagh had borrowed one from a man in the orchestra for him to practice with. A bass was too large to bring for such a short trip.
Mary McKimmie came over with her violin Wednesday afternoon, and that was fun. Jenny said that usually they played with Claire Beauchamp, but of course she was busy with funeral things this week. Thursday Mam played the violin parts on the piano for them. It didn’t sound the same, but at least they could practice. Jenny and Ian needed it, and Jamie found it a good sight reading exercise.
The morning of the funeral, everyone got dressed. Black suits with white shirt for the men and Black dresses for the ladies. Mam and Jenny both brought a veil to wear in church instead of wearing hats, since there was a gathering with a meal after the funeral.
They arrived about half an hour before Mass, so they could pray for Paul’s soul and his family’s consolation. The whole Mass was a prayer for Paul, but it was nice to pray for the family too. Jamie sat back and looked at the church. It was bigger than the one back home, but in his opinion it wasn’t as pretty as the chapel at Lallybroch, or the church at Broch Morda.
About five minutes before the Mass was due to start, Jamie heard harp music coming from the choir loft. He recognized the piece as the Bach-Gounod Ave Maria. It was one of his mother’s favorites. He’d never heard it performed on the harp before. Then Jamie heard the singing. It was beautiful. Jenny was sitting next to him and whispered in his ear… “That’s Claire playing. Singing too. Doesn’t she have a lovely voice?”
Jamie nodded. She did. It was clear and strong, not breathy or affected the way some girls sang. The music filled the space of the church and echoed off the marble floors.
The rest of the Mass was just as beautiful. When it was over, most people went straight to the reception. Jenny wanted to go to the cemetery, to support Claire.
“She’s my friend. I want to be there.”
Murtagh offered to take Jenny if the rest of them wanted to go to the hall. Jamie asked if he could go to the cemetery too.
“I’d rather no be indoors for longer than I have to be.” was his excuse.
So Murtagh, Suzette, Jenny and Jamie all rode to the cemetery while Brian took Ellen to the reception.
Ian was still with The White Rose.
Jamie wasn’t expecting Claire to sing again, so when she chanted In Paradisum he was surprised. Her voice sounded just as strong outdoors, even without the acoustics of the church.
The committal service was brief and then everyone went on to the reception. Joe Abernathy greeted people as they came in and Claire was standing next to him. She said hello to Jamie, but he didn’t think she remembered him.
Jamie and Jenny found their parents and discovered that they were all seated at the same table. Claire’s name was at the table as well, next to Jenny’s. Jamie didn’t say anything, but he was excited. Maybe they could talk over the meal. Claire had been nice at Murtagh’s wedding and he wanted to tell her how much he enjoyed her music at the funeral.