Chapter four


It is six years later, in 1919.

At the standing stones once again, Chris is reflecting on the tumultuous 'harvests' of the war and her marriage. Ewan comes running to her, but immediately there is reference to her pity for that Ewan whose hand lay far from hers.

The reader realises that this must be her son. The rest of the chapter details the sad decline of her marriage, her pregnancy and the birth of the young Ewan, as well as the gradual destruction of the community by war.

Chris is pregnant with her first child when Chae Strachan brings news of the war with Germany. This seems a distant and irrelevant event, as Chris and Ewan are wrapped up in their own lives, the growing baby and the developing harvest, two natural processes growing in parallel – a mother with his child he was, the corn his as this seed of his hers.

After young Ewan is born, much of the chapter is concerned with the effects of the war on Kinraddie. Chae joins the army, Reverend Gibbon preaches fiery anti-German sermons, Long Rob refuses to join up in spite of the conscription laws and is eventually sent home by the authorities, a broken man.

Some farmers make money out of the war, and the landscape changes as a result of trees being cut down to sell as timber. Reverend Gibbon goes away to be an army chaplain and Ewan disappears one day, without telling Chris that he had joined up. Similarly, Will returns from Argentina to fight for his country.

In Ewan's absence, Chris is assisted with the farm work by an old man named John Brigson. When Ewan comes home on leave he has changed, going out drinking and abusing Chris. At the end of his leave they do not say goodbye to each other and never meet again, as Ewan is shot as a deserter.

Throughout this distressing time, Chris takes refuge in farm work. She is briefly attracted to Long Rob who, in spite of his pacifism, now decides to join up and is killed. Chae, meanwhile, returns on leave and Chris takes comfort from his account of Ewan's last days where he regretted his mistreatment of his wife.

The chapter ends at the standing stones, where Chis is reflecting on the loss of Ewan. She has a vision where Ewan joins her at the standing stones and they are reunited once again:

Oh lassie, I’ve come home! He said, and went into the heart that was his forever."