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Authors: Gian Bordin

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BOOK: Summer of Love
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"Ready then?" he whispered.

    
She nodded and rose gingerly, holding on to him. Owen was already
waiting at the door with the oil lamp.

    
"Wait, my handbag," she whispered, went back to fetch it from the
table. After leaving the room, he locked the bolt again and flitted down
the stairs. Helen and Andrew followed slowly, trying to limit the
creaking of the wooden steps. When they reached the ground floor, the
boy was waiting at the bottom. Andrew put the oil lamp back on its
bracket.

    
Helen surveyed the five bodies around the table with trepidation, but
Dougal and his company were sound asleep. He and the innkeeper snored
intermittently. It was rather disconcerting, and Helen startled each time.
Owen grinned and said: "I put the key back into the old man’s coat
pocket. They won’t know how their little bird flew away."

    
Helen smiled. Spontaneously, she bent down and gave him a silent
kiss. "You called me a little bird, you cheeky fellow," she whispered in
his ear.

    
He seemed embarrassed and wiped the spot on the cheek she had
touched, but then returned her smile.

    
They left the Golden Eagle the same way they had come. Before
reaching the bridge, Owen told Andrew and Helen to wait in the shelter
of a stable while he would check out whether all was clear.

    
It was pitch black. Andrew had his arms around Helen, holding her
close, feeling her warmth. He found her lips and they kissed with barely
suppressed passion. Both were in a strange frame of mind, relieved to be
together again, stimulated by their closeness, apprehensive that her folks
might suddenly reappear, anxious about getting away from the Glasgow
police.

    
"I love you," he whispered. "I felt so rotten when I left you in the
clutches of your father."

    
"I tried to signal to you."

    
"That’s what I thought, but I wasn’t sure. It would have been stupid to
try anything then. They would have overpowered me quickly."

    
"I knew you would come and rescue me. I just didn’t expect it today.
I thought it would be safer once they took me out of the city. But I forgot
about Owen. He’s such a clever little fellow."

    
"Yes, he did it largely alone. He found out where your folks stayed,
and then Rose and I figured out a plan, and he executed it. I just tagged
along and was probably in his way," whispered Andrew.

    
"I’m glad you came along. They think that you’re still in prison and
will be deported. Father said that our marriage wasn’t valid since you
were arrested on the wedding day, … before it could be consummated."

    
Her torso, pressed hard against Andrew’s, shook lightly as she
chuckled. They kissed again, neither wanting to stop.

    
"He said he would find a minister who would annul it and then wed
Robert and me… I would have killed myself before."

    
"Don’t say things like this. I want you alive… Did Robert hurt you
when he came up to your room?"

    
"How do you know he came?"

    
"Owen saw it."

    
"No, I didn’t get hurt, just frightened. He wanted to rape me, so I
kneed him."

    
"That’s what Rose guessed."

    
"She told me how to do it." Helen chuckled again soundlessly.

    
Andrew held her closer.

    
"The jailers have discovered that I escaped, and patrols are combing
the city. This is why we have to be so careful."

    
"Are you proud of me for springing you from prison?"

    
"Yes Helen. I’m very proud of you and very grateful. This will be
something to tell our grandchildren!"

    
"Rose said that too. Oh Andrew, I love you."

    
They played with each other’s lips languorously for a while.

    
"Who’s the other young fellow?" asked Andrew.

    
"Fergus Drummond. Don’t you remember him."

    
"Ah, yes. He was the one who showed me the stallion."

    
"Robert bragged how he and Fergus had such a big laugh when they
discovered that you were going to be convicted for the crime of my
cousins."

    
At that moment, Owen called softly. They ran across the approach of
the bridge and blended again into the darkness of the buildings to the
west of Stockwell Street. While they silently retraced their steps, an idea
began to grow in Andrew’s mind. These fellows had laughed about him
getting convicted for a crime of the MacGregors of Balquhidder. How
about turning the tables on them? He would discuss this with Owen once
they were safely at The White Heron.

    
Fifteen minutes later, they sneaked into the backyard of the inn. Rose
was waiting by the kitchen door and hugged Helen heartily. "Oh, my dear
lass, am I glad to see you again. I wish you could stay. I miss you
already." She winked at Andrew and chuckled: "And that handsome
husband of yours."

    
Helen kissed both her cheeks. "I’ll miss you too. Without you, Andrew
would still be in prison."

    
"Don’t forget Owen. He was instrumental!" murmured Andrew.

    
"Oh yes. Where’s my gallant little man? Let’s settle our account with
you now." She pulled the string purse from a pocket of her skirt and took
out two gold coins. "You must let me double your fee, Owen. Here’s
your pay."

    
He fingered the coins, inspecting them carefully.

    
"They are good," remarked Andrew.

    
"I know. I just haven’t seen new ones like these," he beamed and put
them proudly in his pocket.

    
"Maybe, you should consider investing your money so that it will
grow," Andrew suggested.

    
"Oh, I’ve ways to double it easily every few months."

    
"I believe you, but it will also be much more risky. You could lose it
all… I’ve been in that business too, you know."

    
"You have, sir?" Owen sounded surprised, as if he didn’t quite believe
it. "What kind of business then, sir? You don’t look like somebody who
knows much about smuggling, if I may say so."

    
The three adults chuckled at the brashness of the little fellow.

    
"I was part of a band of brandy smugglers, first around here and then
later in the north of France. Not so long ago."

    
"Pardon me, sir, you sure could have fooled me, but you look like a
most honest fellow. You must have been successful then."

    
Rose too glanced at him sideways. "You a smuggler? I can’t believe
it… So, this innocent face of yours, is it just a front?" She slapped her
side in delight.

    
Andrew laughed, while Helen tousles Owen’s hair, sending his cap
flying on the floor, and then looked proudly at Andrew. "I would like to
take him along," she whispered into his ear.

    
"I know. He’s a delight. But he’s far too independent to be mothered,
my love. You’ll have to wait for one of our own."

    
"I guess you’re right." Her lips brushed his smooth cheek.

    
"And now, I better turn in or else I’ll be no good this morning," Owen
remarked importantly.

    
"Owen, I need to discuss another job with you if you’ll indulge me."

    
"Speak, sir."

    
"I want to exchange the black stallion with one of the horses of the
Highlanders at the Golden Eagle."

    
Helen and Rose both pricked their ears.

    
"Why," asked Helen, and then she frowned. "I see, you want to pay
them back for selling you a stolen horse… Don’t Andrew, it’s too
dangerous to venture again into the city, now that the police are searching
for you."

    
"There’s a small danger, but if I pull it off, the police will soon hold
the real thief in prison."

    
"Andrew, I’m afraid. Don’t do it! It’s not worth the risk. Let’s just
disappear now."

    
"Lady, this plan is brilliant," interjected Owen. "At this time of the
night, nobody’s on the streets anymore. I bet that even the police patrols
have given up until tomorrow morning. At least, that’s what the two
constables said that passed close by us. You remember, sir?"

    
Andrew nodded, while Helen looked at Owen in consternation, as
though she hadn’t expected to be to contradicted by her trusted helper.

    
Rose joined in the argument: "Helen, if they’ve the real thieves, then
master Andrew and you both get exonerated. Don’t you think this is
worth taking a small risk?"

    
Helen’s gaze switched from one to the other. She seemed to get more
and more uncertain.

    
"At least, hear out what master Andrew has to say," encouraged Rose.

    
"I would exchange the horses, and write two letters. The first one to
the police, telling them where to find the horse, the second to Fergus
Drummond, telling him that I return the horse since it was reported stolen
and take his own steed instead. I’ll leave this letter attached to the saddle,
so that when the constables come to the stables of The Golden Eagle
they’ll find it before Fergus does. I think that should convict him."

    
"I volunteer to deliver the letter to the tolbooth," ventured Owen.

    
Helen’s expression still betrayed her hesitation.

    
"What do you say, Helen?" asked Andrew. "Don’t you want me to do
it because he is your cousin?"

    
She nodded, feeling caught, blushing.

    
"You’re a strange one," exclaimed Rose. "He’s the reason your
husband ends up in jail, and he’s an accomplice in kidnaping you, and
you hesitate because he’s your distant cousin!"

    
"He’s so young. Getting transported may kill him."

    
"And he’ll just goes on thieving and bringing grief to other people."

    
"Don’t push her, Rose," Andrew begged. He turned to Helen: "I
understand your reasons, Helen. In fact, I share them… What gave me the
idea was you telling me how Robert bragged they had such a laugh that
I should pay for Fergus’ crime."

    
"Oh, Andrew," she rushed to him and put her arms around his neck,
"I’m sorry. I don’t know what’s the matter with me. I wasn’t thinking
straight. There he gloated about you paying for him and I wanted to spare
him? You go and do it."

    
"You’re sure?"

    
"Yes, Andrew. I am. But be careful."

    
He searched her eyes, and then kissed her forehead. Rose had already
put paper and a quill on the table.

    
"That’s a sensible girl," she said, patting Helen’s shoulder. "Here,
master Andrew, get writing."

    
He sat at the table and quickly wrote the two letters, only signing the
one addressed to Fergus.

    
"Owen, will you help me bring the stallion to the stables of The
Golden Eagle and then afterward deliver the letter to the tolbooth?"

    
"Yes, sir."

    
"How will you get it into the hands of the chief constable?"

    
"I’ll knock at the prison door, and when the turnkey opens the wicket,
I’ll throw the letter inside and disappear before he has time to open the
door. I’m sure he’ll pass it on to the chief constable right away."

BOOK: Summer of Love
10.93Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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