Okay, so this is the story/world I have for my dream created historical. I wanted to share it with all of you, as true to the original books we all love as I could, and flesh out the story in my head as well, so, if it's okay with everyone I'll keep posting bits and pieces as I write them...
Isobel Urquhart: A determined girl who dreams of a place where she can put down roots and call home.
Mum: Mhairi, Isobel's practical, hard-working mother whose cheerful songs and unwavering loyalty keep her family on course.
Da: Ian, Isobel's ambitious, dreaming father who is constantly searching for a better life.
James: Isobel's seven year-old brother, who loves animals.
Flora: Isobel's one-year-old sister, who cries a lot.
Uncle Angus: Da's brother, who smells of molassas and whisky.
Chapter One: A Visit and News
Isobel Urquhart looked up in surprise from where she had been helping Mum do the laundry in their small apartment. Mrs. Turner wasn't supposed to pick up her laundry until tommorrow. Her small hands stilled on the washboard, as she watched Mum dry her hands off on her gray apron.
"Keep scrubbing, Isobel." Mum admonished. "The laundry won't do itself."
Isobel nodded. "Yes, Mum." She agreed, and began scrubbing again, though her attention was on the door and not on Mrs. Turner's best Sunday bodice. Usually, Isobel liked laundry, listening to the rhythm of Mum's voice as they scrubbed their clothes and linens in hot water. She always felt awfully grown up, helping Mum do the laundry. Ever since Mum had started taking in laundry from other women, though, the chore seemed never-ending. When she was doing other people's laundry, she just couldn't seem to feel the same kind of pride about getting a mustard stain out of Mrs. Turner's bodice that she did about getting Jamie's grease stains out of their best white tablecloth.
Her musings about stains ended when Mum opened the door to reveal the broad-shouldered frame of none other than... "Uncle Angus!" Isobel chirped excitedly, hands flying out of the soapy water and splashing her work apron.
"Isobel, really!" Mum chuckled, shaking her head, amused despite herself. "Go put your apron to dry, and dry your hands."
"Yes, Mum." Isobel said quickly, pushing the heavy laundry tub across the one-room apartment with all her might, and drying her hands on her apron, before hanging it on one of the many lines strung across the apartment, where laundry hung, fluttering about like so many butterfly wings. Isobel could get away with drying her hands on a wet apron, because Mum had turned away from her to find some of the tea that they saved for guests and put on the kettle.
Uncle Angus winked at her, and held out his arms. "Come here, you ickle lamb, and give your uncle a hug." He quickly wrapped Isobel up in a tight, warm hug and lifted her off the ground, as if she weighed nothing.
Isobel loved Uncle Angus, his warm greatcoat, his prickly moustache, and the way he smelled of molassas and whisky. She liked to think she could find Uncle Angus in a room, even if it was too dark to see. He didn't visit very often, living far away, but when he did, it was always great fun. "I've missed you, Uncle Angus."
"I've missed the lot of you." Uncle Angus replied, as he put her back down on solid ground, and hugged Mum. "But I've brought news!"
"Sit down, Angus, have some tea." Mum said, clucking her tongue at him. "I'm sorry I don't have anything more to offer you, we weren't expecting you." Isobel watched as Mum looked in the pantry and cabinents for something she could offer Uncle Angus other than tea. "Woud you like some bread and honey?" She said finally, and Isobel's eyes widened at the offer. Mum had been saving the honey for weeks, using only the littlest bits and watering it down.
"Nah, Mhari. A cuppa will suit me fine." Angus replied. "Come, sit down. I've news from Ian."
Isobel's ears pricked at that. Ian was her Da, who had been away for months, working on the railroad, and before that, as a carpenter, flitting from job to job to make whatever money he could. Usually the family went with him, but this time Mum had put her foot down, declaring that a railroad camp was no place to raise a family, and she with a baby to nurse. So, Da had headed west with the railroad, promising to send for them when he had found a proper home. He had sent money home when he could, but even with that, times were hard.
"Oh, aye?" Mum asked, as she poured the tea. "Has he finally found a place for us, then?"
"That he has." Uncle Angus replied, digging into the pocket of his worn greatcoat, and pulling out a piece of paper. "The government is giving away free land out west, to anyone who wants it. A hundred and sixty acres each, and all you need to do is sign some papers for it, and work it for five years."
"This sounds a bit too good to be true." Mum said, suspicious, as she read the creased, dog-eared piece of paper that Angus had brought out of his pocket. "Too easy."
Uncle Angus laughed at that, a rich, full belly laugh that reminded Isobel of her Da. "The getting is easy enough, it's the keeping that will be work, Mhairi. Ian's already signed the papers, and bought your tickets on the train oout to Montana Territory with the last of his railroad pay. The man misses the bones of you."
"I like that!" Mum said, banging her spoon on the table. "Without so much as a 'and what do you think, m'dear?' That's Ian for you."
Angus shrugged his shoulders. "You followed him three thousand miles on that godforsaken boat from home, I imagine he thought a few thousand more on a modern train wouldn't be a hardship." He sighed. "I'll travel with you and the children, to keep you safe, and by the time we get there, Ian will have finished a cabin all your own. No rent to pay to anyone, no clogged city streets, all the food you can raise, this is the dream."
"Aye, and dreams take work." Mum replied, shaking her head. "But it's better work, by the sounds of it." She sat quietly, holding her teacup thoughtfully, without drinking. "We'll do it."
Isobel wasn't entirely sure how big an acre was, but she imagined a hundred and six of their little apartment, stacked end to end, and it seemed very large indeed. She was nervous about travelling such a long way, but consoled herself that she was very practiced at traveling by now. She couldn't remember much of the trip from Scotland, having been little at the time, but she remembered five moves very clearly. How different could one more be? Maybe this time Da had found somewhere they could stay, together, as a family. Five years was a long time, and that sounded nice, but what she wanted more than anything was a forever home, instead of a 'for-now' home.