Highland Echoes:Fated Hearts 02(5)

By: Ceci Giltenan


“Then it’s settled,” said Lachie. “Gather what ye can carry. We will leave on the high tide tomorrow morning.”

Grace was horrified. “Must I go right away? After all, the laird agreed to let me live on here, at least through the summer.”

Hamish shook his head. “Nay, Grace, Lachie is right. There is no telling what Fearchar is likely to do to get what he wants. In fact, I don’t think ye and Kristen should remain in this cottage one more night. When ye are packed, ye’ll come and stay with me and my wife.”

The assembled men all nodded or murmured their agreement.

“Aye, that’s a good plan, Hamish,” said Lachie. “If he comes looking for ye tonight, lass, he won’t find ye, and ye’ll be gone before daylight.”

Tears welled in Grace’s eyes and her throat constricted. She knew they were right. Leaving was the only answer, but that didn’t lessen the pain. This was her home. The memories of her parents and her husband were steeped into the very walls. Still, unless she wished to be Fearchar’s leman, she had no other choice. She bit her lips and blinked to keep from crying. Finally, she nodded saying, “Aye, well, if we are leaving at first light, I must get ready.”

The men took her cue and rose to leave. Sheila hugged her. “I’ll send one of the lads up later to help ye carry yer things.”

*

It didn’t take Grace long to pack. Her most valuable possession, the loom which had been her mother’s, was too large and would have to stay. She did have a small ribbon loom that she could take along with a fair amount of linen thread that she had already spun and dyed. She also packed her wool combs, cards, distaff, and drop spindle. If she couldn’t weave, she could certainly spin and perhaps sell the yarn. Thankfully, she hadn’t purchased her new wool yet. She also packed her father’s knives and several small hand tools. Other than their clothes and some household linens, she and Kristen had few belongings.

Of course there was the box.

She walked to the hearth and removed a stone, behind which was a small cavity containing the box. Without bothering to replace the stone, she sat with the small finely carved wooden box which held their few valuable belongings on her lap. She traced her fingers reverently over the gorse flowers and rooster carved into the lid while she gave in to her tears for a moment.

Finally she opened it and looked at each precious item within. There was her father’s silver filigree brooch, a gold pendant set with a pearl, and gold brooch resembling a ring of bog myrtle, both of which were her mother’s. She had never seen them wear these bits of finery. There was also a single gold coin bearing the image of a fleur-de-lis on one side and a man on the other, who, based on his halo and animal hair cloak, she assumed to be St. John the Baptist. The only other coins she had ever seen were the pennies, half-pennies, and farthings used in every-day commerce. Grace had no idea what the gold coin was worth, but she knew it was valuable.

Ah, and the letter was in the box too. She turned it over in her hand, remembering the afternoon her mother had told her about it. The letter was to Tristan’s mother. It looked as if Grace would be able to deliver it now.

The sound of the bedroom door opening drew Grace from her memories. She swiped the tears from her eyes, replaced the box’s contents, and tucked it in with the rest of their belongings.

Kristen padded across the room to her, rubbing her eyes sleepily. She crawled up in Grace’s lap for a cuddle. “Is the bad man gone?”

“Aye, sweetling, he is.”

“I don’t wike him.”

“We don’t have to worry about him anymore.”

“What if he comes back?”

“Well, my precious, if he comes back he won’t find us here.”

“Why? Wiww we hide?”

“We are going on an adventure, pet. Tonight we will stay with Hamish’s family and then tomorrow we are going on a boat.”

“A boat? Wike Da’s boat?”

“A bigger boat. We will go across the water to Scotland on Lachie’s boat.”

“I wike Wachie.”

Grace laughed. “I like him too.”

*

When Lachie’s youngest son arrived, he frowned at Grace’s bundle of belongings. “Is that all?”

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