The white-washed croft sat on the side of the hill overlooking the glen, little puffs of gray smoke rose from the chimney jutting out of its heavily thatched roof. Inside the old man sat staring into the peat fire. He drew on his pipe and turned the page. How many times he’d read the story of the prodigal son – how many times it’d given him hope. But still he waited.
She’d left home five years ago, his beautiful little cherub, his angel. That afternoon he’d come back from the lambing to find a note on the mantle. She said she wanted to live…to have fun… to be free from the confines of his love and his stifling religion. She was gone to Glasgow and wouldn’t be back. He sat in the chair and cried as only a father with a lost daughter can. He hadn’t cried so since his beloved wife pass on some ten years ago, how he missed her. “Catrona, my heart, I’ve gone and run-off our wee darling. How I wish you were here. She needed her mother. I couldn’t give her a mother’s love. I failed our darling daughter. I failed her? But o’ my lovely, my heart is breaking awful sore. I miss our bonnie lass. Tell me what to do.”
Once again he turned to the family bible. He placed it on his lap and caressed its leather surface. His bible had been handed down from generation to generation since the great outpouring centuries before, when the Spirit of the Lord visited the island, and everyone got saved. He touched each name and prayed, “You who have gone on before us, angels in heaven, pray for us, intercede for us, help us. Keep my child safe from the devil and his wicked ones while she is in the world.” And then he read, one more time, the story of the prodigal son.
As was his bedtime habit, he got down on his knees. “Lord of all Mercy and Compassion draw my precious child back to home and hearth. Do what ever is needed to turn her back to You. For precious Lord, I could not bear to spend all eternity in heaven knowing she wails in hell. Lord hear my prayer!”
Old john McDonald and his wife Jeanie lived in the croft down aways in the glen. They were good neighbors and regularly checked on the old man up aways. So it was no surprise when the old man heard a rap on the croft door one saturday night. “Come away in John, come away in,” shouted the old man who was stirring the stew on the fire. “Ay, ye’ll hae follow’d the smell of my stew up the glen, eh?”
“Da, it’s me,” she said.
Dropping the spoon, the old man spun on his heels, “Catrona! my lass!” he cried as he rushed and fell at her feet. “”Will you forgive a foolish old man! Oh, my darling lass, my lass! Forgive me,” he pleaded, his tears and sobs overwhelming them both. She kneeled to the floor and embraced him. They sobbed and cried together.
“Da, please stop. I have nothing to forgive. I’ve been so cruel to you Da, I was too young and stupid. Please forgive me, please don’t turn me away again.”
Startled the old man suddenly pulled out of the embrace, “Where’s yer bairn, lassie?”
At that Catrona called, “Come away in now bonnie laddie, and meet yer granda.”