Though less distinctive (and more predictable) than The Spuddy (1976), this small tale again plucks the heart-strings--without excessive twang--through the coming-together of a stray boy and a gruff father-figure. Childless after a series of miscarriages, crofter's wife Mairi (herself a city-bred orphan) decides to bring a foster-child from the mainland to the small Hebrides isle of Corrie; ""himself,"" her taciturn but loving husband Sandy, is agreeable to the idea--until eight-year-old Thomas (at an orphanage since his Gran died three years back) turns out to be a frail, bespectacled stammerer. Still, while ""himself"" remains aloof (if never unkind), Mairi warmly, matter-of-factly helps Thomas to become outgoing, confident, secure; they're both deeply happy when Thomas starts calling Mairi ""mum."" But then Mairi, who has been clutching her heart from time to time, falls ill and dies. So what will become of ""himself"" (drowning grief in booze) and Thomas? Will Thomas have to go back to the orphanage? Will the two of them continue to share the mournful cottage with hardly a word spoken between them? Or will they be brought together--by their shared love for Mairi, by Thomas' selfless concern for ""himself,"" by Sandy's deep, unrealized yearning to hear Thomas say (without stammering) ""Dad"" . . . ? Simple and soft-hearted, perhaps, but--thanks to the stark Hebrides background and the spare, plain telling--un-goopy and modestly affecting.