“To cure asthma, eat field mice fried in butter. If your throat is sore, wrap dirty socks around it.”
Reading home remedies such as these used in New Brunswick in the early 1800’s gave me the idea for “Heather for a Highlander.” What about a doctor of that period as the hero; a doctor (born in the Highlands) educated at Edinburgh University who’d served as physician on a privateer ship during the War of 1812 and then settled in the backwoods of New Brunswick. This doctor would be a clever, broad minded individual willing to see the merit in local remedies that brought positive results, ready to eschew those such as the pair mentioned above, and open to the medical and spiritual practices of the local First Nations people. As a result, his practice would grow until he was in need of an assistant.
The task of finding this person he describes as having to be literate, clever, capable of doing work on his farm, ready and willing to assist him in all his medical procedures as well as cook and keep his house he assigns to his sea captain brother. After searching up and down the lengths of England for this paragon, Captain Jamie MacTavish is about to despair when he stumbles upon just such an individual. Only problem this person is a young woman, a tavern wench fleeing a murder charge.
Well, Jamie is desperate. He’s lost a wager to his brother and the only way of regaining his losses is to bring back an assistant that fits his brother’s list of requirements. So Heather Grey sets out for New Brunswick with the captain, about to become “Heather for a Highlander”.
Using my beloved homeland the valley of the Miramichi River as a backdrop together with researching medical practices of the period made this story a joy to write. Heather and Dr. William MacTavish took over early in the writing as did Captain Jamie and Heather’s devil-may-care companion Lady Julia (Jewels). These characters took the story line bit in their imaginary teeth and galloped off to tell the tale. I hated to write “The End” and am considering a sequel…the tale of Captain Jamie MacTavish and the woman who will become his notorious partner…Jewels, formerly the Lady Julia.