Author Topic: EL LOBO DEL MAR  (Read 3359374 times)

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Offline Welsh Wench

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« Reply #360 on: April 19, 2017, 07:21:39 PM »
Honour woke up to the sound of Jack getting dressed.
Sleepily, she asked, "Jack, it is barely sunrise. What are you doing?"
He pulled his breeches up and slipped his shirt on.
"I have to meet Flannery and Rafferty. We have to see about a skid to take the Stone back on when we find it."
"IF you find it."
"WHEN we find it."

She sat up, a worried frown on her face.
"We need to talk."
He looked under the bed for his boots. "I thought for sure I kicked them under here..."
He looked up at her. His usually docile wife never used a tone like that with him.
"Alright. Let's talk."
He sat on the edge of the bed.

She looked down, casually twisting the coverlet. Her eyes met his, filled with concern.
"I know how you get."
She held her hand up. "Please don't interrupt. You need to hear me out. I've gone along with a few of your schemes. I now have a greater appreciation for Briggs and what you must have put him through. Dragging me through the jungle in search of those scrolls....I went along with that. Why? Because I loved you and wanted to be with you. But this is different. We have a child to consider."
"Zara is never far from my mind,.You know that."
"I do. But what that child needs is stability. Not having her parents drag her off to any place her father takes a mind to go."
"So..what does this mean?"

"I am going along with the adventure looking for the Stone. Because I want to be there if you find it. But this is not going to be our life's ambition. If we don't find the Stone in a reasonable framework of time, then so be it. We go back to our home in Barbados. We have already been gone longer than I thought."
"Define 'reasonable.'"
"A week."
"Impossible. I need a month."
"Ten days."
"Three weeks."
"Two weeks."

Jack didn't say anything.
"I don't think two weeks is being unreasonable, do you? I've never given you an ultimatum before. But I want to go home. Your daughter wants to go home."
"Two weeks isn't a very long time."
Honour laid her hand on Jack's arm.
"I don't ask for much," she said quietly.
"I gave up the sea for you."
"Are you throwing that up at me?"
"No, I just am trying to point out that I am not the selfish, single-minded bastard you make me out to be."
"I never called you a bastard. At least not lately."

He took her hands in his and looked into her imploring eyes.
"Alright. Two weeks. If we don't find it in two weeks, we will have to leave the Stone wherever it may be and hope no one ever--EVER--finds it."
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Offline Welsh Wench

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« Reply #361 on: April 25, 2017, 11:02:44 AM »
Jack turned around for Honour to admire.
"What do you think of these?"
"What you are wearing? I think it is hideous."
"They are old trousers. Suitable for fishing.
"Oh, fishing you call it? More like an opportunity to get together with your cousins and drink and tell tall tales."
"Just a little bit of fun with for the lads, sweetheart." He looked hopeful at Honour.
"So you don't mind me going?"
She laughed. "Of course not. This trip is as much as a vacation for you and a time to reconnect with your kin."
"Kin. You are picking up a bit of a Scottish accent, love."
Jack reached over in Aggie's mudroom under a bench.
"What, pray tell, are those?"
"Waders. They were Tommy's but fit perfectly.
"Why would you need waders? You don't mean to tell me you are getting in the water with the fish!"
"Of course. We are fly fishing."
A puzzled look crossed Honour's face. :" Fishing for---"
"No. Don't say it. We are fishing for trout. And to do that, you have to go where the trout are. They don't exactly leap into your basket."
"I suppose not."
"Honour, if the land could speak, what tales would they tell of clan wars, treachery, cowardice and bravery? The days of William Wallace....the days when the Stone was ours. So if we decide to conquer a few trout, who am I to---"
She pushed Jack out the door.
"Go. Stop expounding and bring back a trout for dinner."
Honour reached under the mattress and pulled out her bag. She ran her hand over the cover of Kyla's diary and started to open the pages.
"Mama! Mama! Wanna go fishing with Da."
"No, Zara. I am not having you fall in the water."
The famous Wolfe pout crossed the little girl's features.
Honour sighed. 'So like her father. Heaven help us all....'
She slipped the diary in her pocket.
"Come. Let's see if Gran needs any help in the kitchen."
"I think the treacle tarts are ready for baking."
Zara was licking the spoon that Aggie had given her.
"Honour, dear, why don't you rest up a bit? You worked really hard helping me with the baking for the church."
Honour pushed a stray hair loose with the heel of her hand.
"I'm fine, Aggie. But this sure is alot of baking!"
"Wednesdays are my turn. So I do the baking for the family and the church on the same day."
Honour hung her apron on a hook.
"Come, Zara. Mama will read to you."
Zara shook her head and stuck her lip out.
"NO! Wanna stay with Gwan."
Aggie laughed. " 'Gwan.' Never been called that before!"
Honour smiled. "Typical two year old talk."
"Go. Take some time for yourself. Zara, you can help me roll out the biscuits, aye?"
"Aye!" Zara said proudly. "Oi! Dropped it!"
Aggie raised an eyebrow. "Oi'?"
Honour sighed.
"At least she didn't say 'bollocks!'"
Honour settled in under the tree in Aggie's yard. She looked around to make sure no one was watching and then proceeded to open the diary.
June 2,1617
I shall start a new diary as a new chapter of my life is to start. The previous diary has been burned. It was the idealistic musings of a young girl on the verge of entering womanhood.
She doesn't exist anymore.
My father is a tenant farmer leasing his lands from Ellair Drummond. I have only seen him riding in the woods off to a hunt. A handsome man, to be sure....but there is something about him that frightens me.
My father had fallen behind on his payments to Laird Drummond. Mama has not been well since the winter and Da has tried to take care of us the best way he knows how. But Mama needed medicine and some of the money had gone to make sure Mama got what she needed.
Last week, Laird Drummond summoned my father and demanded payment. We did not have it. He threatened to put us out or worse.
Send Da to debtor's prison.
June 5, 1617
Da had a serious talk with me. All about family duty and doing what we must to survive. I was concerned but willing to do all I could to help us. Perhaps go into town and be a tweeny or take in mending or laundry for the Drummonds. I imagine there is much to do since Lady Drummond passed away last fall. The children need tending. Maybe I shall work my way up to governess for them.
As my mind was trying to work out a plan for employment, that is when Da informed me of the arrangement.
Laird Drummond was willing to forgo the debts on one condition. That I was to become his bride. God in heaven, have mercy on me.
I am only sixteen and I am to be wed to a man who is old enough to be my father.
I have never spoken to Laird Drummond and now I am to share a bed with him?
Da looked so sad when he told me the plans. He said he always hoped I would find happiness and was sure that Laird Drummond would take care of me.
Mama cried when she heard of the plans. I am numb with shock.
The banns are to be read in church next Sunday and three weeks from that I am to be wed.
The only ceremony will be standing in front of Father Donovan and repeating whatever words he says.
Da said when children are born, it will esconce my position as mistress of the manor. Children! All I want to do is write poetry and dream of a man that I will fall in love with. Not be sold off like a broodmare.
Yet I must do what I have to. I must keep my family together. By leaving them.
Is that not ironic?
Please, God, find another way out for us.

"Honour! Check this out!"
She hastily shut the book and shoved it into her pocket.
Jack and his cousins were crossing the lawn with several strings of fish.
"Aren't they beauties?" Rafferty said.
Flannery was holding up his string of fish. "Practically leaped out of the water and into the basket too."
Honour stood up and smoothed down the back of her dress.
"So, where is yours, darling? You had no success? I suppose since you don't know the lochs here..."
"Oh,  I wouldn't say that...."
Jack reached into his basket and pulled out a string of eight trout.
"Just beggin' to be fried!"
She reached out to kiss him and then drew back.
"Ewww. Someone needs a bath."
Jack whispered in her ear and she smacked him playfully on the chest.
"I stand by what I said. Someone needs a bath first."
Rafferty and Flannery laughed.
"Aye, well, the twins say the same thing," Flannery said cheerfully.
"Come over tonight, we will have a fish fry. Bring Aggie and Zara too. After all, we won't have Jack with us forever."
The cousins waved goodbye as they headed home. Looking back, they heard, "No, Jack. I do NOT make love to someone who stood in fish urine."
They laughed and shook their heads.
"She has as colourful language as Maura and Laura."
Whistling, they slung their baskets over their shoulders and headed through the glen.
« Last Edit: April 25, 2017, 11:03:16 AM by Welsh Wench »
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Offline Captain Jack Wolfe

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« Reply #362 on: May 09, 2017, 01:24:02 PM »
"I never knew you were such a fisherman," said Honour.
"Aboard ship, there was plenty of opportunities when we lay at anchor," said Jack.  "I'd leave it to the crew on most occasions so they could run their own fishing derby. Good for morale, and it kept wages more or less evenly distributed."
"I suppose it would be bad for morale for the captain to win such a derby?"
"It would be bad for morale for the crew to know what a poor fisherman their captain really is."
"You could fool me by that string of fish."
"It's mating season for them. These blokes would bite on a ship's anchor right now. But as you noted, I have a string. The blind squirrel lucked upon a few nuts. For me, this is a victory."
"Then that is how we'll treat it!"
Jack smiled appreciatively. "Where would I be without you to humour me?"
"Still on the sea and reluctant to fish?" she laughed. "What decisions did you make about the expedition?"
"No, no preview. Rafferty and Flannery are every bit a part of this as I am. We have things sorted out. But Aggie needs to hear it as well. We'll tell you what we know at the fish fry. Once Aggie's through making fun of my catch."
"She wouldn't do that."
"Oh, just you watch."
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Offline Welsh Wench

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« Reply #363 on: May 09, 2017, 08:14:51 PM »
"There you are!"
Rafferty was tending to a fire pit he had made of bricks. The fish were already frying.
Aggie set down her basket.
"Inside there are vegetables to be roasted and baked apples doused in the finest whiskey." A nod towards the children. "And of course in cream and sugar for the wee ones!"
Flannery was moving their outdoor tables in a row.
"The bairns can sit on the blankets. All of them love a picnic!"
Maura and Laura were serving up heather ale.
"Rafferty will not say a word on the Stone plans, " Maura complained. "Unless Flannery told Laura."
"Which one are you married to, again?" asked Laura.
Maura was deep in thought. "I'm not sure.Do you want to hazard a guess?"
Laura scratched her head. "Flannery?"
"You think you are right?"
Laura shrugged. "I guess so. I've been warming his bed for twelve years now."
They both broke out in laughter. It didn't take Honour long to realize this was an ongoing banter between the two women. Rafferty was totally Maura's and Laura claimed stakes on Flannery. The men always just laughed.
Aggie rolled her eyes but they sparkled with affection. "Go on, you two. Someday the priest will haul you into confession to try to wonder just want is going on here."
Maura shouted out, "Come on, a bhobains! Ye wee rascals need to come eat. Plenty of time to search for fireflys later. Come!"
Dishes were passed from hand to hand, right to left. Honour smiled at all of them, realizing that with Jack, she had a family that accepted her.
Rafferty poured butter over his trout.
"Alright. So this is what our brainstorming amounted to."
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Offline Captain Jack Wolfe

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« Reply #364 on: June 11, 2017, 08:56:46 PM »
He hefted a large bite of fish and paused. "That is, unless Jack would like to do the honours."
Jack shook his head. "Oh, no. It's your house, so you tell the tale. Besides, if something ends up sounding outlandishly wrong, I can blame it on you."
"Well, who brought the flask? It wasn't me!"
"Aye, it was my flask," said Flannery around a mouthful of fish. "But it was the two of you what emptied it!"
"That's enough out of you lot," said Maura. "Rafferty, once again you have a captive audience. So out with it, if you'd be so kind."
"Right, down to business," said Rafferty. "Jack's done a fine bit of research with the maps on hand, and we've decided that our starting point is just east of Carlisle."
"Past Carlisle?" said Laura. "It will take you two days at least to get there, maybe three."
"We don't have a choice," said Jack. "The Riddle spoke of the 'shield of Rome'. The only thing that fits the description is Hadrian's Wall, or what's left of it. Just east of Carlisle, it takes a sharp turn to the south, then pushes north again. That's the only spot that matches up."
Laura and Maura shared a scowl of misgiving.
"From there we'll travel fourteen miles. By Jack's reckoning, we'll find the broken tower and the Stone."
"And if you're wrong?" asked Maura?
Rafferty took another bite of fish and washed it down with some ale. "Then we're just another band of bloody idiots who took a stab at finding the Stone and failed. But Jack's convinced me it's worth the try."

"I suppose you'll be taking our wagon?" said Laura.
Flannery shook his head. "I've got an idea for a sledge to carry it back on, provided the ground permits it. No sense taking a wagon and a full hitch if we're not sure we need it."
"Just how heavy is the Stone supposed to be, anyway?" asked Honour. "Remember, I'm hearing these legends for the first time."
Jack pushed a bit of fish around his plate. "According to various accounts, it's... sizable. One of the more interesting ones said it has almost a metallic quality."
"Why do I have the feeling you won't be carrying the thing back on your shoulder?"
"Some put it at upwards of twenty-eight stone."
"Wait, that's..."
"Roughly five hundred pounds. Give or take."
"Five hundred!" Fiona exclaimed. "How do you plan on picking it up once you find it?"
Flannery replied, "Well, once we find it...if it is overhead, we take our chances and drop it. If it is buried below us, we attach ropes and hoist it up.
"Hoist it up." Fiona snorted. "The three of you?"
"We can wrap the ropes around any nearby tree for leverage, " Rafferty said.
"You are forgetting. You have four."
"Five, " Honour replied.
Aggie frowned, "I don't like the idea of the womenfolk hoisting up a stone. I mean, you two are of childbearing age and I will not have you damaging yourself."
The women looked at Aggie and burst out laughing.
Fiona laughed, "Gran, I have had five children. All boys. A little stone is not going to dismantle the equipment."
Honour added, "And I had no problems with Zara. Everything went right back where it was supposed to."
Jack opened his mouth and Honour shot him a 'don't even say a word' look.
"Alright, now about the trip. We take the horses and rolled up packs for sleeping. Honour knows I can make a shelter out of a three-foot pole, a few stakes and a piece of sailcloth. We each take a horse and if anything happens to one that they can't carry their load, Honour can ride double with me."
"When do you plan on leaving, Jack?" Aggie asked.
"I think we can get all the provisions in about a week."
"What about food?" Aggie asked.
"When we reach Carlisle, we will load up on perishable food. When we camp we will try to stay near water so we can fish."
Honour looked a little green. "Fish? Every night?"
Jack looked over at Honour, concern reflected in his eyes. "Honour? Would you rather stay here with Gran?"
She shook her head."There is no way I will let you go without me. Aggie, are you sure Zara will be no trouble?"
"Absolutely no trouble at all."
Fiona added, "And my mother in law is staying with the brood to help Donnell. Camping and searching for the Stone will be child's play compared to raising those five hellions!"
"That has the food sorted out, more or less," said Rafferty. "Don't worry, Honour. I'm sure we'll spy a rabbit or two along the way. I think we would all appreciate a bit of variety."
Honour gave him a small smile in return. Rabbit sounded better, but not by much.
"What other supplies do you think we'll need, Jack?" Rafferty continued.
"I think we all can agree that finding the Stone is only part the battle," said Jack. "Moving it will be a bigger challenge. We'll need rope, and a block and tackle. I'll go down to the waterfront tomorrow and procure that, along with a couple iron rods for getting it on to Flannery's sledge. Speaking of that, Flannery, we'll need to go over your plans and get to building it."
"Aye," said Rafferty. "We'll only have a few days to build it and try it out."

"Laura, Maura, and I will get the bedrolls made and dry food packed," said Fiona. "Honour, we'd love to have your help. We can't bet letting the lads have all the fun."
"I would love to," said Honour. "And Zara—"
"Zara will be helping me make wheat cakes for you to take along on your adventure," said Aggie. "There. Everyone has something to keep their hands busy, as it should be."
"I thought that's what a pint is for!" laughed Flannery.
Maura shook her head and chuckled. "Spoken like a MacGregor man."
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Offline Welsh Wench

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« Reply #365 on: June 20, 2017, 07:28:24 PM »
"Zara, come on. It is time for your nap."
"No! Don't wanna nap. Wanna stay wif Gwan."
"You need a nap or else you will get cranky when Da gets back. And we don't want that."
Zara's mouth started in the infamous Wolfe pout.
Aggie spoke up, "Darlin', it won't do to argue with your mama. Best you go upstairs and at least lie down. Then we can maybe go look for butterflies out on the heath."

Zara reluctantly took Honour's hand.
"Come on, sweetheart. You don't have to fall asleep. Let's just have a little time for the two of us, alright?"
As they walked upstairs, Aggie heard, "Mama? Can I keep the butterflies?"
"We'll see, Zara. We'll see."

Honour took Zara's shoes off.
"No! I want to look for butterflies."
"Later, sweetheart. Mama will lie down with you too. I'll tell you what I will do."

Honour reached in a chest and pulled out a sketchpad and charcoal.
"I will draw you a picture and you tell me who it is."
Zara looked intrigued.
Honour quickly sketched a young girl about six years old.
Zara looked and said proudly, "Morwenna!"
"Very good! Now who is that?"
"Maybe I am better at this than I thought, Zara. You got them right."
"Now who is this?"
"Aunt Megan."
"And this?"
"Uncle Daffyd."
"Who is this woman?"
Zara looked thoughtful and then smiled, "Mrs. Avewy."
"Alright, this is a bit harder now."
Honour sketched a boy's face. "Take your time," she said.
Zara studied the features and then said proudly, "That is Phiwwip. He gave me a cookie."
"That's right, he did."
She took the paper and studied it. "He's nice. He calls me Cookie sometimes."
Her little finger traced his mouth.
"I like him."
"I do too, Zara. You can keep the pictures and show them to Da."
Zara put the pictures in a stack next to her and yawned.
"Why don't you cover up, Zara. I'll snuggle with you."
Zara smiled sleepily and nodded.
"Phiwwip lives with Auntie Renee and Uncle Josie. Uncle Josie calls me scalawag. Is that a nice name, Mama?"
She tucked the covers under Zara's chin.
"If Uncle Josie calls you that, then yes, it is a very nice name, Zara."
She nodded, her eyelids starting to close. Before she did, she took the picture of Phillip and smiled.
"Yes. He's nice."
She fell asleep holding Phillip's picture. Honour gently took it out of her child's hand.
"Well, you seem smitten, child. No telling what is to become of you."

Honour looked at the clock.
'Jack won't be home for another two hours. Some business he wanted to talk over with Rafferty and Flannery. Can any good come of that?"
She reached under her side of the bed and pulled out the bound book in pink watered silk.
Honour moved the ribbon marking the place aside and began to read where she had left off.

June 23, 1617

I'm sorry, diary, that I haven't written anything. There hasn't been much to say. I was fitted for a wedding gown. Very simple, very...plain. The way I feel inside. Plain. No life. I am sure there will be no more ceilidhs for me. At least not the way I want them to be!
Ceilidhs were for dancing and flirting. I did slip away to the ceilidh last Saturday when I was supposed to be sleeping.
I had a good time but inside I was weeping.

The Campbell boys were there as usual. And making a ruckus. They ended up mixing it up with the MacGregors. There was one MacGregor that caught my eye. I don't know his name but he had the sweetest smile. Red hair and hazel eyes...but he didn't seem to notice me. Until the announcement 'Please take your partners' and the boys would dash across the dance floor. The MacGregor boy sought me out and asked me the legendary question they all ask, 'Are ye dancing?' and the reply is always expected 'are ye askin?'
We danced but I never did talk much to him.

By this time next week I will be Lady Drummond. No more more more fun with my friends and baking shortbread with my mama.

I shall miss Edythe. I suppose once I am married I won't see much of her. How I will miss my best friend. I asked her about the MacGregor boy and she said he was a cousin of a cousin. She didn't quite know how they were related but he did bear a resemblance to Angus.
Last fall, Edythe and I pared an apple so the skin came off in one length. As the clock struck midnight, we swung it round our heads and then threw it over our left shoulders. When it landed, it was supposed to form the first letter of the name of the boy we were destined to marry.
Edythe's formed the letter C. Mine formed what looked like the letter R. Then we each threw two nuts in the fire. Hers burnt quietly but mine exploded. She will find true love and mine will be difficult to find. 
I am closing now, diary. There is just too much sadness in my heart.

"Honour? Honour, wake up!"
"Hmmm...? What...? What time is it?"
"A little past four."
"Oh...I must have dozed off."
"What's this?"
He started for the book. Honour took it and slid it under the pillow.
"Just...a recipe book. Nothing that would interest you."

Jack looked over at his daughter who had blankets swirling around her but her little feet were sticking out."
Jack reached towards her feet and Honour grabbed him by the hand.
"Don't you dare wake her up! It was hard enough getting her to sleep."
He looked at the pictures and picked them up.
"I didn't know you could draw, sweetheart."
"And I didn't know you could fish. So I would say we are even."
Jack thumbed through the pictures. "Very good likeness."
"You daughter seemed partial to one."
"Well, Mrs Avery does make the best scones."
She took the pictures and held one up.
"No. It's this one."
"Phillip? Phillip Briggs?"
Honour put them down. "She seemed fascinated. Maybe it is the way I drew his mouth."
Jack put the picture down.
"Or maybe he is an endless supply of cookies to her. Now, let me tell you what happened this afternoon?"
Honour stood up and sat down quickly. "I am still getting used to these Highlands."
"Not enough oxygen, darling? It happened to the best of us."
"Ever happen to you?"
"No. Never."

Jack laughed. "We have all those chests of guilders no one knows about, right?"
"Pretty much no one. I think Josiah may be the only one."
"Nevertheless, I have been thinking about it. Rafferty and Flannery have the know how. They just lack the funds to get it going."
"Get what going?"
"Oh. I am jumping ahead again, am I?"
"Yes, you are."
"Well, the three of us--me, Rafferty and Flannery--were down at the warehouses talking to Fiona's husband Donnell has some property he will rent us at next to nothing especially when I told him we would cut him in for ten percent. But we are going to wait till we get the Stone business out of the way."

Honour put her finger to Jack's lips and said, "Slow down. You always do this when you get a notion. Now, tell me what this is about."
Jack said proudly, "We are going into the heather ale and whiskey making business!"
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Offline Welsh Wench

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« Reply #366 on: July 22, 2017, 08:59:54 PM »
"Come on, mama! I know we will see one!"
Honour laughed as her little daughter pulled her by the hand.
"You won't be happy until you see a selkie, will you?"
"Gwan said they are out there. You have to sit quietly and watch. Oh, mama! I want to see one!"

Honour carried their picnic lunch in a basket. She treasured moments like this when it was just her and her little girl. She marveled at how much Zara had grown since they left Barbados.

Honour spread a blanket down on the clliff overlooking  the sea.Zara grabbed her hand as she sat down.
"Careful, Zara! I almost lost my balance."
Zara shaded her eyes and scanned the horizon.
"We wait now, mama." She primly folded her hands on her lap, her eyes never leaving the water.
Honour opened her basket and pulled out some cheese and fruit.
"Maybe we should eat. Here's some raspberries. And mind you don't get the juice all over your dress."
Zara popped a raspberry in her mouth and tucked a few in her pocket.
"Zara, what did I say about the juice?"
"I'm saving it for the selkie, mama."
They sat on the blanket together. Honour knew that Zara would not let it go until she saw one.
Suddenly two seals appeared on the rocks below the cliffs.
Zara jumped up and ran towards them.
Honour scrambled up after her and caught her as she got towards the edge.
"No, Zara! NO!"
"But mama, I wanna see the selkie!"
She knelt next to Zara and whispered, "Zara, selkies are very shy. We have to be very quiet if we don't want them to swim away."

They moved their blanket closer to the cliff and watched the seals play in the water.
"Gwan says selkies play with children sometimes."
"Well, for now, we let the selkies alone."
Zara gazed up at the clouds as she laid her head in Honour's lap.
"Look, mama! I see a horse in the clouds!"
Honour looked up and pointed to the cloud over the cliff.
"That one looks like a chimney. See how the smoke comes out of it?"
"And that one looks like a fairy, mama. Do you think the fairies are watching me now?"
"I don't think so. They hide when people are around."
Zara yawned. "If I had a fairy, I would take care of her and keep her in a jar."
"But that wouldn't be fair to the fairy, would it? You like to run and play. The fairy does too."

Zara pointed up at the sky again.
"That cloud looks like Evie and Puddin."
"Yes, they do."
"I miss them, mama."
"I know, darling."
"I want to go home."
"Soon, sweetheart. I want to go home too."

Zara soon fell asleep, her head in Honour's lap. She gently stroked her daughter's curls and thought back to everything that had happened in Scotland. While she loved Jack's family, she was anxious to get back to Barbados and start another chapter in their life.
She sighed and reached into her basket, pulling out the watered silk book.
Opening to where she left off, she continued her reading.

July 15, 1617

Today is my wedding day. I met with Laird Drummond in the parlor. I am guessing it is a 'getting to know you' meeting before I sign my life away. Speaking of signing, Da had Laird Drummond sign a release of debt. He is a sharp one, my da. For protection, he said.
Laird Drummond seemed nice enough to me but there is something.....just something I can't put my finger on.

September 22, 1619

I found it. Two years later and I have found it! I was sorting through my bookcase and it would not meet the wall when I pushed it back. As I peered behind it, there was my diary.
I thought I had lost it when I moved from my parents' house. So now I can record my thoughts for myself alone.
Life has been as I thought it would be. Day in and day out, the same thing. I have stepped into the role of mistress of the manor. Most of the servants are older than me, and it feels odd to be giving them what amounts to orders.
Ellair has been kind but he does what he wants when he wants to. Sometimes he goes to Edinburgh on legal business. Being a barrister, he is sometimes called to judge on cases in Edinburgh. One time he left for two weeks. He has a trial coming up that will necessitate him being away for a month or two.
This will give me time to renovate the sitting room off my bedroom. Ellair hates messes so the only time I get things accomplished is when he goes away. I think I will see about getting a rug in pinks and lavenders. The oak furniture was purchased six months ago. It arrived on a ship that was almost wrecked on the rocks. It is an English ship and has been drydocked for repairs. The captain was selling off some cargo and Ellair surprised me with it. The ship will be here for at least two months.

To make up for leaving me, Ellair bought me a harpsichord. It is beautiful with a pastoral scene painted inside it. I have had Mr. Eddington in to teach me how to play it. He is a teacher at the local school and was willing to pick up a few extra shillings.
I have always wanted to play but we could never afford the instrument let alone the lessons.

October 17, 1619

I spent the day with Edythe. We went to call on a few friends. She is always so much fun to be with but she has been distracted lately. I asked her about it and she just smiled. It is like she is holding a secret she isn't ready to share. It's not like her to not confide in me. Lord knows I have told her things I have told no one.
I suppose in due time she will tell me.

October 19, 1619

Edythe finally confided in me. The ship that was damaged on the shoals last month? A shipbuilder happened to be on that crew and Edythe has struck up a friendship with him. I daresay it is more than that. Edythe has always had her pick of the lads in the shire and now she has fallen in love with....dare I say? An Englishman!

If her mother ever finds out, she will lock Edythe away till she is an old lady. The MacGregors especially have always burned a hatred for the English. My father said it goes back to the time of the invasion by Edward I. It seems a stone that was used to crown the kings disappeared around that time. But I remember how Edythe's father would go on and on about taking back what rightfully belongs to Scotland. Most of the time we paid him no never minds because everyone knew that when Tommy MacGregor gets into the whisky, he talks big and although he is amusing, we know it is just talk.

November 1, 1619

I can't believe it. Edythe came over...and she is a bride! She and the shipbuilder got married yesterday. Edythe went home afterwards like nothing was changed. I know she and Charles--that is the man's name--plan to present a united front and inform her ma and da that they had eloped.
Edythe and her beau went to Father Donovan and she told him if he didn't marry them right then and there, she was going to commit a sin by nightfall.
Still Father Donovan hesitated. I think he was more afraid of Agnes MacGregor than God.

Charles Wolfe--that's her new last name--was waiting by the gate when Edythe came up to tell me. I insisted she bring him up so I could meet him.
I liked him. He smiles readily and Edythe is beaming with happiness. He is very good looking. I wish them the best. She will need it when she presents him to her mother. Mrs MacGregor has been known to be a crackerjack shot with a flintlock.
Not to mention a whip.

November 13, 1619

Edythe stopped by this morning. She and Charles are moving to Hampshire, England. He has a contract with a shipbuilder there and an opportunity to become a partner. Edythe said some day he wants to own his own business. Her eyes light up every time she mentions his name.

The news of their marriage did not go over so well with Agnes MacGregor. Charles and Edythe sat down with the we-have-some-news and Edythe said Agnes listened calmly. When they were done and expected congratulatory happiness, Agnes got up, went to the fireplace and without a word, pointed the musket right at Charles' chest.
'I'd rather see you a widow than have you in the bed of an Englishman,' Edythe said her mother stated, in a deadly calm voice.

Just then Tommy MacGregor came in, roared at Edythe to put that firearm down or he would break her arm doing it. Agnes snapped out of whatever notion she had. Tommy sat her down in a chair and gave her a tot--a LARGE tot--of whiskey and then took Edythe and Charles outside. He explained to Charles it was nothing personal--and he was sure he was a fine, upstanding young man even though he was English.
He shook Charles' hand and gave Edythe a kiss and a hug and gave her twenty pounds to have a wonderful wedding holiday. He assured them by the time they came back, Agnes would not be threatening the new bridegroom.

Honour closed the diary. She didn't expect to read about Jack's parents and their courtship.

She looked down at Zara's sleeping face and gently stroked her cheek.
'Oh, my child, what tempestuous blood runs through your veins. No wonder you are so determined and headstrong.'
She smiled to herself as she thought about Edythe and wished she could have known her mother in law.
'She would have loved you, Zara.'

Zara woke up and smiled sleepily at her mother.
"Did the selkies go away, mama?"
"I don't know. Let's go see."
She led Zara by the hand to the cliff and shaded her eyes. "Yes, Zara. They left. But look!"
Honour bent down and picked up a large shell.
"They left this here for you."
Zara picked it up, her eyes shining. "They did! They left it for me! I can't wait to show Gwan!"

Honour took her little girl's hand as they walked down the path to Aggie's.
She smiled to herself.
Life was good.
No, it was perfect.
« Last Edit: July 22, 2017, 09:01:23 PM by Welsh Wench »
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« Reply #367 on: August 29, 2017, 08:16:58 PM »
"Aggie, are you sure it is alright?"
"Of course it is alright. I love having Zara with me. And we are going to clean out that patch by the stone wall and plant some flowers. Aren't we, my dear heart?"
Zara nodded. Aggie had put a sunbonnet on Zara's head and tied it under her chin.
"This is so she doesn't get burned. Fair Scots skin but she looks to have the skin that doesn't burn. Perhaps your family came to Wales by way of the Mediterranean?"

Honour looked up to see a big grin on Aggie's face.
"Not that there is anything wrong with that, Honour."
"As long as you don't mind her tagging behind you..."
"Nonsense! Sometimes I think the wee lass is my Edythe come back to visit me."
Aggie looked out towards the sea and sighed.
She then shook her head as if to clear it.
"Go! Spend an afternoon doing what you wish."
Honour kissed Aggie's weathered cheek.
"I shall. I think I will go over to the meadow and just read."

Honour came downstairs with a blanket and a basket. Inside was a light meal and Kyla's diary.
Aggie followed her as she went out the gate and quietly said to her, "Have I ever told you how happy I am that you married my grandson?"
Honour felt her eyes start to mist up.
She impulsively gave Aggie a hug and went off.
Aggie turned to Zara, "Your mum...she's a bit of alright! Come on, Zara. Take that pail with you and let's get some gardening done!"

Honour gazed out over the heather and spread her blanket under a large tree. She settled in to read the rest of the diary.

April 22, 1620

It's been about six months since Edythe has been gone and I miss her more than I ever thought possible.
Agnes MacGregor has been very quiet. She goes to church every morning, much to Tommy MacGregor's dismay. He says her piety is sucking all the fun out of life. He said if it weren't for whiskey, he'd have no fun at all.
Which I don't think is all true, as Tommy MacGregor had always had a wandering eye and there are plenty of widows here.
I have heard that once Agnes threw a frying pan at Tommy when he came home smelling of elderberry pie. And everyone knew that the Widow MacMillan specialized in it.
I am sure Agnes misses Edythe. And she worries. So she will be throwing herself into helping the indigent in the parish.

Tomorrow looks to be beautiful so I will take Wenda out for a ride. The meadows are blooming with flowers. I need something to brighten my life. It's not that Ellair is unkind. He's just---I don't know how to put it. But something is missing in my life.

I visited with Mama the other day and she cupped my face and said God has a way of making things work out. She looked worried for me. Mama always knew what was going on inside my head even when I don't say a word.

Ellair is leaving for Edinburgh at the end of the month. He will be gone for six weeks. Some magistrate thing he has to do.
I shall try to take more lessons on the harpsichord to pass time. Between that and needlepoint with the occasional poetry written, how much more excitement can a woman take?

Did I mention I miss Edythe terribly?

April 23, 1620

The most incredible thing has happened!

 I was riding Wenda like I have been doing for the past six months through the meadows and out to the woods beyond.
All of a sudden I hear someone singing--then a pause. Followed by someone using very colourful language.

I made my way cautiously to peer through the trees. And that is when I saw him. It was a young man examining his traps.

'Fooled again,' he muttered. I had to smile to myself as I was the one who triggered the traps.I had rescued a small rabbit last month. I wrapped him in my cloak and let him go in my garden where he would be safe.

He stood there scratching his head when he looked up.
" 'allo," he said.
"Sir, this is Drummond land and you are not to be poaching on it."
And then it hit me like a thunderbolt.

I couldn't catch my breath. I felt my heart beating for the first time in years.

"YOU!" we both exclaimed at the same time.
Standing before me was the young man I had met at the ceilidh with Edyth in what seemed like ages ago.
He held out his hand and asked the same question he did at the ceilidh.
"Are ye dancin'?"
To which I replied, "Are ye askin'?"
I took his hand and we danced with only trees as our silent partners.
As it ended, we collapsed on the ground in a fit of laughter.
I had not laughed so much in what seems like an eternity.

Fate must have played a hand in it. Because I have found my Rory again.
« Last Edit: August 29, 2017, 08:21:15 PM by Welsh Wench »
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« Reply #368 on: September 28, 2017, 08:13:47 PM »
There was no ending. Nothing at all to indicate what happened after Kyla saw Rory again.
Honour was left with a feeling of sadness.
It was the futility of it all. Memories of Rhys came flooding back to her. She thought it was buried deep but once again, the wound was ripped open.
Because Kyla didn't get her happily ever after.
Unlike Honour who did because of Jack.
Her true soulmate.

Her life could have turned like Kyla. Madoc could have killed her.
She covered her eyes with her hands and wept.

After her tears were spent, she sighed deeply and wiped her face with the blanket.
'Time I should get back.'
She gathered her belongings and headed back to Aggie's cottage.

As she opened the gate, Zara ran up to her.
"Look, Mama! Gwan and I planted flowers!"
She took Honour by the hand and pulled her towards the garden where Aggie was tending the flower bed. She got up and stretched her back.
"Aye, we planted. I couldn't have done it without Zara."
Zara smiled and grabbed her grandmother's hand.

Aggie looked at Honour's tear-stained face.
"Child, what is it?" with faint alarm.
"It--it's nothing."
"Now don't you be tellling me it's nothing when you look like your world came crashing down."
Honour sighed and said, "It's about time I told you the truth about that night we spent at the inn, Aggie."
Aggie nodded slowly. "Alright then."
"We didn't spend it at the inn. We spent it at Caelibourne House."
Honour hurriedly replied, "We didn't intend to.We were heading towards the inn and got caught in that storm from a few weeks ago."
Aggie nodded. "A real bucketing-down it were."
"We barely made it to the mansion. We had no choice."
"Well, ye did what ye needed to do."

Aggie turned with Zara to resume their gardening. Clearly Aggie didn't want to talk about the manor.
Honour touched her sleeve.
"Aggie? Please. Tell me about Kyla. What do you know?"
"Know? What's to know? She died in a fire"
"How did it happen?"
"Honour, dear. Let it go. It was a long time ago."
"I have to know!" Honour said almost frantically.

Aggie looked at the distress in Honour's face.
"What has happened to upset you so, lass?"
Honour pulled the diary out of her bag.
Aggie took it reluctantly and thumbed through it.
"I see."
"Aggie, I didn't steal it."
Aggie just looked at her.
"Not steal in sense you think. I found it hidden in the bricks. Curiosity got the better of me. Jack doesn't know I have it. I had rather he didn't. It seems so...personal. And something only a woman would understand."
"I don't know what I could tell you."
"She was Edythe's friend. Surely you must know. Is she really a ghost come back to haunt?"
"Where did you get an idea like that?"
"Jack told me. He said it was a story Rafferty and Flannery told him when they were lads."
"It figures."
"I also have something else. I'll be right back."

Honour ran upstairs and took the brooch out of her drawer, wrapped in a linen handkerchief.
When she went outside, she saw Aggie reading in the diary, her lips in a thin line.
"Seems to be quite a bit here I am not the wretched mother I am made out to be."
"Did you actually take a rifle to Charles?"
Aggie smiled. "Yes, I guess I did. But alot of this was a bit of an exaggeration. I did respect Charles. In spite of the fact he was a Protestant and English, I would say I even liked him. He was good to Edythe, provided well and gave me three wonderful grandchildren. And through him, I got my wee Zara."

"I also need to show you this."
She handed the linen handkerchief over to Aggie. Gently unwrapping it, Aggie said quietly, "A luckenbooth brooch."
"Look at the inscription."
"Of earthly joys, thou art my choice.'
"It is romantic so I am thinking, after reading the diary, that it is from Rory and not her husband. Since it was pretty much an arranged marriage."

Aggie turned the brooch over in her hand.
"Jack and I were hoping you could shed some light on it and if that would really be Kyla's. We figured with Kyla being dead and it IS jewelry...and lying around going unappreciated..."
Honour's voice trailed off.
"This sounds really bad, doesn't it. Like I am a grave robber. The thought crossed my mind that we could eventually give it to Zara as a wedding present...and no. By the look on your face, I can see you disapprove of me. And our little plan."

Aggie touched Honour's cheek. "It is not for me to judge, dear. But I think these need to go back."
Honour nodded. "Alright. The diary was found behind a loose brick."
"I saw several bottles of cognac Jack tried to sneak past me when you came back."
"Jack paid for them."
Aggie raised her eyebrow.
Honour quickly replied, "He left money. He said the ghosts could spend it as they see fit."

Aggie put the brooch in her pocket and laid the diary by the front door.
"I will see they get put back where they belong. I must say I am surprised, Honour."
Honour hung her head down.
"Yes, ma'am."
She felt like she had let down Aggie and was being scolded like a child..
Aggie gave her a hug.
"Don't fret, dear. We have all done things we regret,. Things when we think them out in the light of day, we wish we hadn't."
"I'm not sorry I took the diary. It proved to be a nice diversion to Jack's obsession with the Stone."
"You don't hold to the notion of going after it?"
Honour sat down on the bench.
"It's not that I resent it. I understand. Only too well. Jack gets a notion and he becomes consumed by it. Sometimes to the point where he will have blinders on and not see things that are going all around him. That being said, if he doesn't find the Stone within a month, I want him to let it go. I want to get back to Barbados before the winter sets in. Zara misses her cats and her cousins. And I would just feel better being back."
"You aren't ill, are you?"
Honour leaned over and touched the older woman's hand.
"No. I am fine. I just...No. I need the security of my own home."
Aggie cupped Honour's face and looked her deeply in the eyes.
"I understand, dear. More than you think I do."

Honour felt herself ready to cry, moved by the gentleness of the older woman.
"I shall deeply miss all of you. But we shall keep in touch by correspondence and we shall come back to visit."
She looked towards Zara. "After all, how am I to deny her Gran the pleasure of her little 'Edythe'?"

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« Reply #369 on: December 03, 2017, 08:08:02 PM »
"Do you think it sounds reasonable?"
"It's the only way, Fiona. I am sorry I didn't think of it first. But it makes so much sense."
Fiona looked back at the cottage and laughed. "I hope Gran is up to watching Allan and Alistair. They can be a handful."
Honour sat her basket of summer fruit down and stretched her back.
"I think Zara is going to look under a rock or two for fairies. The boys were more excited about seeing the two lambs that were born this week."

As they neared Rafferty's house, they spied Jack standing with his cousins amid ship material as Jack drew a sketch. They looked up as the two women approached.
"Jack, what is all of this?"
"This, my dear, is material to make the sled. A couple ships will be delayed leaving port. But---"
"Money talks and Jack walks away with a few essential items, is it?"
"I know nothing, Honour. Neither do you."

"Oh, but it was a thing of beauty!" said Flannery.
"Really?" said Fiona. "Now you have to tell us, Jack."
Honour smiled sweetly. "Yes, Jack! You must tell us now."
"All right, fine," sighed Jack. "Flannery and I took his cart to the waterfront, where we paid the shipwright a visit. I explained to him that my ship had gotten damaged in a squall north of here and needed a few basic items to get underway again."
"Jack told him I was his boat son," smiled Flannery.
"Boatswain," Jack said quickly. "Bo'-sun. Nautical term. Just run it all together."
"I liked it better his way," said Fiona with a snicker.
"I'm sure Josiah will be pleased to hear he's been replaced," teased Honour.
"Getting back to the story," said Jack, "The shipwright took a bit of convincing—"
"He didn't want to sell us anything," Flannery interrupted. "Not without a ship in their docks. Go ahead, tell them!"
Honour covered her mouth to keep from laughing.
Jack cleared his throat. "As Flannery said, the gentleman wasn't open at first to selling us the parts. But after some negotiations—"
"Jack paid him triple. And a bit extra to forget our names. I've never had anyone be paid to forget my name before!" Flannery gushed.
"I'll forget it for free if you don't shut your yap and let Jack tell us what happened," said Rafferty.
"Question is, how much is Jack willing to pay for us to forget you're his boat son?" Fiona giggled. That was enough to make Honour finally lose her composure and burst out laughing.
"Flannery already hit the high points, relatively speaking," said Jack. "That's the end of story time."
"Not so fast, Mister Smith," said Honour. "That is the name you used again, yes? John Smith?"
"Captain John Smith. Force of habit," said Jack sheepishly.
"Well, Captain Smith... what did you catch in your net today for triple the price?"

Jack went to the back of the cart to show off his purchases. First, he lifted up a tackle block. "Two gun tackles with plenty of rope..."
"For lifting cannons out of the hold," said Honour. "Perfect for moving the Stone."
"A dozen chainplates..."
"They help secure the lines that hold the masts in place so they don't move on their own. Are they for the base of the sledge?"
"That they are," smiled Jack. "I'll make a sailor out of you yet. Next, a quantity of bobstay chain."
"That's for keeping the little sail at the front of the ship - the bobsprit?"
"... the bowsprit sail from waggling."
"And lastly, hanks."
"Rings for the ropes to go through," she said with pride. "Not bad. A few planks and we could sail it home."
"Good heavens!" said Fiona. "You know what all those are for?"
"It comes with the territory. Whatever normal name a thing has, they have a 'nautical term' for it. I think they're just making it up as they go."

"You'd make a fine captain's wife, Mrs Wolfe," said Jack.
"And you'd make a fine cabin boy," she replied with a wink. "There's another matter of business we need to discuss, though."
"Oh? And what might that be?"
Honour looked to Fiona and nodded.

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« Reply #370 on: December 24, 2017, 08:43:36 AM »
Fiona sat on a bench that was under the oak tree.
"Honour and I have been talking..."
"...about something that you men did not consider, seeing you are so wrapped up in finding the Stone," Honour added.
Fiona picked up the conversation. "We think it will be pretty risky for three men traveling with two women. What with gypsies and highwaymen and the trouble between clans..."
"...and we came up with an idea."

Fiona and Honour looked at each other and Honour nodded to her.
Fiona took a deep breath.
"While we are not afraid to travel with you, we think we should make it so we don't look too obvious."
"Blending in, if you will..."
Jack drew a deep breath. "You two have been hanging around each other quite a bit. You are starting to finish each other's sentences."
Flannery added, "Just like Maura and Laura."
He then said in a falsetto voice, 'I don't know, what do you think?' 'Is that you or me that came up with that idea?' 'I thought it was you.' 'You think?' 'It's possible.'
And then Flannery imitated a feminine giggle.
Rafferty doubled over. "You sounded just like them, God love 'em!'

But Jack knew when Honour was serious by looking at her face.
"Alright, sweetheart. What did you and Fiona come up with?"
"Fiona brought it up so I will let her tell you."

Fiona began, "We decided that three men and two women will  now become five men."
Flannery and Rafferty looked at each other. "What? We aren't bringing in any more men. Too risky."
Honour retorted, "As opposed to traveling with two women?"
Fiona picked up again. "We gave this some thought. Honour and I will dress as men. I can see if Gran has any men's clothing. She is always mending for the church."
Honour said, "I can wear one of Jack's shirts and I do have a pair of breeches from when we were on the ship"
Fiona added, "We intend to rub charcoal on our faces--or dirt if we have to."
Honour said, "We could pass ourselves off as tinkers. Carry a few cheap tin items. We will look like we don't have anything worth robbing."
"And if we did and we DID get attacked, I am a crackerjack shot with a flintlock."
"And Jack knows I can wield a sword and dagger with the best of them."
Jack muttered, "Don't I know it!"

Flannery and Rafferty looked at each other. "What...?"
Jack sighed. "We had an argument a while back on the ship. She hurled her sgian dubh at me and nailed my shirt to the mast."
Rafferty shrugged, "That's not so bad."
"I was wearing the shirt at the time."
"Oh. That's a different story then."

Fiona continued the plan.
"I can dig up some old pots and pans and a few things of tin for windowdressing. We can hang a few things from the saddle. Just in case we run into any undesirables."

Honour walked over to Jack and put her hand on his shoulder. "I know you men have a sled to design. It's all very ingenious. But will it be done in time? We planned to leave in three day's time."
Jack looked through all his supplies. "I think we can have this finished by tomorrow afternoon. The bedrolls are already to go, and the cloth for our shelters will be rolled up. Fiona, are you sure you don't mind sharing a tent with Rafferty and Flannery? We all agreed that it wouldn't do for you to have your own. You need the protection of the men."
She opened up her mouth to comment but Jack held his hand up.
"I am only thinking of what is best."
Fiona nodded. "I used to camp out with those two when we were younger, I don't see a difference now."
"Honour and I will be in the tent right next to you all. Safety in numbers."

Fiona grabbed Honour's arm. "Let's go see what Gran has in her junk pile."

« Last Edit: December 24, 2017, 08:46:00 AM by Welsh Wench »
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« Reply #371 on: January 16, 2018, 06:36:52 PM »
"Hello? Gran?" Fiona called out.
"I guess they went over to the field a bit ahead of schedule."
Honour picked up Zara's stuffed rabbit and sighed. "I think Bun-Bun has been put on hold for a while. That child is so infatuated with Gran's ethereal world. I think it will be hard to bring her back to reality."
Fiona lugged a big basket and set it on the table. "Gran is over the moon to be having a great granddaughter. She never did get over losing Edythe."
"Edythe sounds like a wonderful person."
Fiona sighed. "She was. We all loved Aunt Edythe. So full of life. And she passed it on to her son. Jack was always one of a kind. We loved him from the start."
She gave Honour a quick hug. "And now there is just more of his family to love."
Honour inexplicably found herself misting up.
"The MacGregors are such a loving family. And I am glad you all embraced me like you did."

Fiona held up a linen shirt. It had a stain on the front.
"This was destined for Gran's rag bin. I think it will fit nicely. And I can always grab a pair of pants from Flannery. He's tall and thin."
Honour looked through the pile too. "I forgot some of my clothes were still on the ship. Do you think this will do?"
She held up an old shirt.
Fiona held it out. "Yes. Just the right amount of grunge."
Honour whispered, "But lots of secrets underneath!"

They both giggled.
"I think this will be an adventure we will talk about for years to come."
Fiona grew silent and then said, "I'm going to miss you, Honour, when you all go back. I love Maura and Laura to death but sometimes....well, it can be a bit much."
Honour looked at her. " 'You think?' 'Possibly.' 'I think I will miss you more.' 'I think I will miss you more too. Is that you or me doing the wistful thinking?' "Me?' 'I guess so.' "
They both dissolved into laughter.

"Something needs to be done about our hair," Fiona said. She ran her fingers through her auburn mane. Honour took Fiona's hair in her hands.
"Well, we braid it like this....and then we pin it to the top of our heads and put on wide brimmed hats. To hide our features. There is no mistaking us for men, no matter how much coal and soot we rub on our faces."
"What about our voices?"
Honour lowered her voice. "You mean like this?"
They both laughed again.
"I'm glad I am making this journey with you, Fiona."
"No one else I would rather be with, too. And looking at the old clock above the fireplace, I had better get moving. Alistair and Allan are staying overnight. I'd better see to dinner for the rest of the clan. If I don't see you tomorrow, I will see you in a few days when we start out on our adventure of a lifetime!"

Honour watched as Fiona skipped down the path towards her own home.
She sighed. "I will miss her when I leave."
She picked up her raggedy clothes and climbed the stairs.
'So much to do and so much to talk to Jack about.....'
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« Reply #372 on: January 16, 2018, 06:38:12 PM »

Honour walked out to where Jack sat on the back wall of Aggie's house.
He lit his pipe.
"Aggie won't let you smoke in the house, will she?"
"No. But I feel like taking the night air. Zara in bed?"
Honour shook her head.
"No, she and 'Gwan' are discussing what brownies are. Come listen!"
She took Jack's hand and they walked over to the open window.

From inside, they heard Zara's voice.

"But, Gwan, what do they look like? Like fairies?"
"No, my little love, they are small people. Oh, about so high."
Aggie put her fingers together to about four inches.
"They are wrinkled and have short, curly brown hair. They wear a brown coat and a hood."
"Why can't I see them?"
"They live in the house and only come out at night. Sometimes they dust the furniture, sometimes they do the dishes or sweep the floor. See that little bowl over there?"
"I put porridge and honey into it for them to eat. It is their favorite food."
"Where do they live, Gwan?"
"See that space over there?"
Zara walked over and peered into it.
"It's a hole, Gwan."
"It is the entrance to their home. Sometimes I put a mat out there for them to wipe their feet. They are very tidy. See that wee chair there?"
Zara nodded.
"That is the brownie's chair. It is close by the fire so they can warm themselves in the foggy weather. Brownies don't like to be cold."
"Me too!"
"And if you churn milk, you sprinkle a bit in the corners for the brownies. Did you see a small stone over at Uncle Rafferty's fireplace?"
"Yes. Allan told me not to touch it."
"That's because when Uncle Rafferty makes his ale, he pours a bit into it for the 'brownie's  stane'/ Also a bit of corn which we call 'Brownie's Stacks.. The brownies must put some sort of spell on it because the greatest storm of wind never blows the straw away."
"Did you ever talk to your brownie, Gwan?"
Aggie shook her head.
"No, never. Brownies never talk to people. But they talk to each other. Sometimes they have a brownie ceilidh. I think the brownies dance and drink heather ale."
"Doe Uncle Flannery give it to them."
"He probably does. Sometimes the brownies like to be alone. When we bring in a harvest,the brownie seems to show up more. They like to go to the barn and stables because they like milk and butter so much."
"Have you ever seen your brownie, Gwan?"
Aggie shook her head no.
"No, I never have. And you, my wee one, need to get to bed."
Zara yawned. "I don't want to make your brownie mad, Gwan."
"Good lassie!"
She reached her hand out. "Come, my sweet one, let's get you tucked in."

From the stairs was heard, "Can I have a brownie when I get older, Gwan?"
"I'm sure you will, Zara..."
Aggie's voice faded as they walked up the stairs.

Honour and Jack laughed softly. They put their arms around  each other's waist and headed back towards the wall.
"That was quite the tale Aggie told Zara."
Honour walked over to the apple tree.
"And I am quite sure Zara believed every word. She is such a little dreamer."
Jack nodded. "She has quite the imagination. I am sure she will think a brownie is on the ship."
She picked an apple off the tree and gave one to Jack.
"Tell me about this swing, Jack."
There was a plank with two ropes knotted and holding it to a large branch.
"That, my love, is a swing that Tommy built for his daughter. My mother."
Honour sat down on it. "It has held up well over the years. I wonder what dreams Edythe had while she swung on this. Dreams of her future, waiting for her prince to come?"

Jack started to push her on the swing. "You are in a fanciful mood tonight, Mrs. Wolfe. What brought all this on?"
She shrugged. "I don't know. Family, I guess. Your family is wonderful, Jack. I love them all. But I think we need to get back to our own lives."
"I know.  As soon as the Stone is settled--whether we find it or not--we will make plans to go back to Barbados."
He stopped the swing and looked at Honour.
"I swear, I have been in love with that little girl I met oh so many years ago on that dock in Beaumaris. I was just waiting for her to grow up."
He took her by the hands and kissed her.
The candle upstairs in Zara's room blew out.

"She's down for the night, Jack."
"And I see no reason to go in just yet. The night is warm, the moon is full...and I don't think the brownies will mind if we walk over to the woods for a bit....after all, who are we to interrupt their housework?"

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Offline Welsh Wench

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« Reply #373 on: January 16, 2018, 06:38:56 PM »
Aggie wrapped her shawl around her as she came out the door and crossed over to the far side of her yard.
"Jack, what on earth are you doing out here so late?"
He looked up.
"Oh...hello, Gran. Just tightening up the supplies for tomorrow. We want to leave at dawn." "Do you really think you should be dragging the womenfolk with you? I know I originally thought it would be a good idea. Now....I'm not so sure."

Jack paused and stretched his back. "Why? Did something happen?"
Aggie absentmindedly played with the fringe on the bottom of her wrap.
"I just have a..."
"What? A premonition?"
"Not so much that. Just that I wonder if this will all be worth it. After all, is really finding the Stone worth someone getting hurt? Or worse?"
"Aggie, this isn't like you. I thought Viva Scotia was above all else in the MacGregor creed."
"Not so much the MacGregors....but the trepidation comes from my side. The Armstrongs."

She touched Jack's sleeve, a gesture she hardly reserved for her adult children.
"Jack, please. Let's have a talk. There are things you need to know. Things that have been spoken in hushed whispers for over one hundred years. Where is Honour?"
"She's upstairs putting Zara to bed."
"Then sit with me over on the stone wall."
"So if you run into trouble, Jack, you are to shout, 'Invictus Maneo'."
"I remain unvanquised?"
Aggie smiled. "You know your Latin. If you shout that, the reply will be shouted back, 'Corvus oculum corvi non eruit.'"
"I am a bit rusty on this one, Gran."
"It means,' A crow will not pull the eye out of another crow.' It's essentially the same as 'honour among thieves. A solidarity amongst a group of like-minded people regardless of the consequences."
"Or the condemnation."
"The Armstrong tradition is that if you shout the motto, it means you want to discuss the situation and you are oath bound to not draw your weapon. I am telling you this because you are crossing the Marches and Armstrong territory. The Armstrongs are notorious for their hatred of the English."

Jack became quiet. All that was heard was the sound of the night frogs and crickets.
He looked off in the distance and then cleared his throat.
"Is that why you hated my father so much? That you were willing to shoot him?"
Aggie looked down.
"The way I acted is not something I am proud of. But maybe when I get done,
you will understand. A hundred years ago, the most numerous and celebrated were we Armstrongs. Since we lived very largely at the expense of our English neighbors whom we plundered and intimidated from, oh, around 1585 onwards, we were naturally opposed both to peace with England and to the impending union of the English and Scottish crowns.  Peace and a strong government would threaten our chief means of livelihood and if the union was to take place, the two realms would combine against the Border reivers.
The Armstrongs' constant policy was to 'shake loose the Border' so we could continue to exist by ruining the chance for a separate English kingdom.
But not withstanding our hatred of England, we cannot be regarded as Scottish nationalists. It was to our clan alone that we owed our allegiance. The Armstrongs openly declared they had no intention of obeying the commands of the Stuart monarchs. I suppose they would be considered anarchists since they thumbed their nose at any form of royal authority.

They plundered their countrymen too, riding with “loose reins” in Ettriek Forest, Tweeddale and Lauderdale and in the King’s park of Stirling, or terrorizing the Edinburgh shopkeepers, and were as eager to steal King James’s horses about Falkland Palace as they were to drive off the Bishop of Carlisle’s cattle during the hours of Divine Service."

"What does my father have to do with it? This was almost a century ago.
"I am afraid I let clan loyalty get in the way of seeing what a fine man your father really was."
"Too late for that now, Gran."
"Not really. When you were here to visit about twenty-five years ago, your father and I walked to the heathers so we could have a chat in private. I told him how sorry I was, that I could see how he made my Edythe happy and he gave me three fine grandchildren. The blood of Charles Wolfe flows through that little lassie in there and for that I am grateful. We made amends and he took my hand and kissed it. Then he kissed me on the cheek. While I will never forgive the English on the whole, I respected your father a great deal. My saving grace is that he knew it before he died. So did your mother."

Aggie took out her handkerchief and dabbed her eyes with it.

"Do Rafferty and Flannery know this story?"
"No. But I suppose they should know it. I am trusting you men to look out for Fiona and Honour."
"We will, Gran. But you should see the way Honour can wield a sword. Pity the man who runs into her when she is armed."

"Before you go off looking for the Stone, I want you to promise me one thing."
"What's that, Gran?"
"That you won't put the Stone ahead of the needs of your wife."
He looked at her questioningly.
"What is that supposed to mean? Honour's needs are always on my mind."
"Maybe so....but there may come a day when she will need you more than you think."
"Gran, do you know something I don't? Honour is not ill, is she?"

Aggie shook her head.
"Not that I know of, dear. I just know how men are. Treat her with tenderness and kindness. The rewards for this are always greater than you anticipate."
He gave her a puzzled look. "Alright...but you are sure she is alright?"
"Yes, Jack, she is alright. She just may be a bit more....needy on some days. Will you do that for her?"
"Yes, Gran. I promise."

« Last Edit: January 16, 2018, 06:55:53 PM by Welsh Wench »
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Offline Captain Jack Wolfe

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« Reply #374 on: March 18, 2018, 07:59:19 PM »
First night on the road....
Honour listened to the sound of night creatures dining and loving in the warm night.
"Are you asleep?"
"I just answered, didn't I, love?"
"What will you do if you can't find the Stone? I mean, how upset will you be?"
"What do you mean?"
"I know how this has consumed you the past few weeks. We haven' know. You seem to be living and breathing the Stone. Was it like this when you went after that ship? The one you captured a few nights before you met me?"
Silence filled the tent.
"Yeah. Pretty much, I guess."
Quietly she said, "Then I am glad you took the ship before that night. Otherwise, I may have been just another warm body that night and you would have gone back to your obsession."
"Never, Honour. What is bringing this on?"
"I don't know. I don't want this journey to end up a futile search. I really don't. But I don't want it to be a defining moment for you. I want you to do this for Scotland and not for the glory of Jack Wolfe."
"Is that what you think?"
"Yes. No. I don't know, Jack!" she said in frustration.
He touched her cheek gently and said, "In two weeks. love. I will keep that promise to you. If we don't find it by then, we turn around and go home."
"Will the others understand?"
"Rafferty and Flannery have a business to get back to. Fiona left her boys with her sister in law and will be missing them in three days' tops. We all agreed on the two weeks."
"I don't want to be the fly in the ointment, Jack. I just miss Barbados."
He yawned. "I know. Two weeks and we wrap this up/"
"Jack, we need to talk."
But all she got in response was a soft snore.
She sighed. "Eventually you will have to talk to me.....before no words are necessary any more."
Yo ho ho! Or does nobody actually say that?


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