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Authors: Gian Bordin

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BOOK: Summer of Love
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"And are you sure that there’s no danger for you? I don’t want to get
you into trouble."

    
"No, sir, this’ll be child’s play—"

    
"Really," chuckled Andrew.

    
"—but we should put cloth around the horse’s hooves to muffle the
sound. Just to be on the safe side."

    
"Good idea, Owen," exclaimed Rose, "I get old sacks."

 

 * * *

 

Andrew rode the stallion, with Owen in front. The lad had never been on
a horse and was rather apprehensive. But it was probably more a
reflection of not being in control of the situation and having to rely
entirely on Andrew.

    
When they reached the ramp of the bridge, he made Andrew stop and
slid off the horse. After scanning the adjoining streets and the bridge, he
darted across on foot, checked once more, and then waved to Andrew to
follow. He ran ahead to the inn.

    
Andrew reined the horse in front of the stables and Owen quickly
checked the tavern, just in case. He soon returned with an oil lamp and
reported that the five were still asleep around the table. It took Andrew
a few minutes to figure out which horse belonged to Fergus, but in the
end was pretty certain that he had picked the right one. He attached the
letter easily visible to the saddle knob of the stallion with a piece of
twine.

    
The two conspirators now separated. While the boy went to the
tolbooth by narrow alleys, Andrew rode Fergus’ horse back to the White
Heron, its hooves again wrapped in sack cloth.

    
Helen awaited him in the yard, anxiously. When she heard the muffled
sounds of the hooves, she quickly opened the gate.

    
"I was so nervous that something might go wrong," she said, as she
hugged him. "I don’t want to be separated from you again."

    
Andrew kissed her. "Neither do I."

    
They joined Rose at the kitchen table.

    
"All done? Owen off to the tolbooth?" she asked, yawning unashamedly.

    
Andrew nodded.

    
"What time is it then?"

    
He consulted his pocket watch: "It’s already half past two. Time flies
fast. When are we supposed to be on the boat?"

    
"Around five o’clock… I guess I won’t go to sleep anymore tonight.
Would you young ones like to have a cup of strong coffee too?"

    
They said "yes" in unison, and then smiled at each other. Helen’s lips
brushed Andrew’s cheek. "I love your smooth skin when you’re clean
shaven," she murmured.

    
He put an arm around her shoulder and pulled her closer. "I would like
to eat you slowly, my love bird," he whispered huskily, nibbling her
earlobe.

    
She moved away teasingly and replied mockingly: "Oh no, there’s no
time for that now."

    
"Now, now!" exclaimed Rose. "Is this all you’ve in mind at a time of
crisis?" And then she added with a light chuckle: "But then you got
cheated out of your wedding night, young man, didn’t you?"

    
The two young people blushed, and hid their faces behind their mugs.

    
"So, I’ve two horses to sell, legitimate ones," said Rose with a big
yawn, "now that the offending animal has been disposed of so neatly.
This brings in more than you owe me for Joe’s supply of liquor and the
ten-pound gift to Owen."

    
"You keep the rest for your own trouble," said Helen.

    
"And what does your husband say to this?"

    
"I trust Helen to decide wisely."

    
Rose looked at them for a while, a warm glow in her eyes. Suddenly,
she got up and disappeared in her private quarters. She returned a minute
later with a gold medallion on a fine filigree chain.

    
"Helen, I want you to have this heirloom of mine. My mother gave it
to me when I left for Glasgow. I can’t really wear it here, … and have no
children to pass it on."

    
She put the medallion around Helen’s neck. Andrew instantly
recognized its fine Italian craftsmanship. Helen opened the tiny lid.
Inside was an ivory carving of a Madonna.

    
"Look Andrew, how beautiful," and turning to Rose, she murmured:
"Rose, I can’t take this. Really. It’s too precious. You must keep this for
yourself."

    
She raised her hands to take it off, but Rose prevented her. "I want you
to have it, Helen. To remember me. You’ve become very dear to me, like
a daughter of my own." Her usually boisterous voice trembled, and her
eyes had a watery sheen.

    
"Oh Rose," exclaimed Helen, hugging the chubby motherly figure.
"How can I thank you?" she cried, wiping her tears. "I love you also…
And I owe you so much."

    
"It makes me happy to see you happy," whispered Rose.

    
Helen turned to Andrew: "May I keep it?"

    
"Helen, you’re your own master. But if you ask me, I would like you
to wear it always so that I’m reminded of a true friend when we needed
one."

    
Rose grabbed him spontaneously and gave his a hearty hug. "You’re
all right, young man. She’s in good hands."

 

 * * *

 

Shortly after three, Owen returned, beaming broadly. He did not wait for
Rose to ask him why, but began spouting out the news. "I waited around
the tolbooth. It only took a few minutes, and one of the jailers ran straight
over to the chief constable’s office with the letter, and raised the alarm,
and soon afterward three constables went at the double down Saltmarket
and into Bridgegate. I followed them at a safe distance and then sneaked
around to the Golden Eagle from the back. And sure, they had found the
stallion already. Two of them went into the tavern and tried to wake the
Highlanders. It must have taken five minutes before they managed to
rouse the old man."

    
"That’s what he calls your father," Andrew whispered with a chuckle.

    
"He wouldn’t be pleased to hear that," she answered smiling.

    
"And then?" questioned Rose.

    
"Then … nothing. I left. I thought you all wanted to know!"

    
Rose stared at him with her mouth open. "This is so unlike you to
leave when things start hotting up."

    
"As I said, nothing happened. Each time a constable got one of the
guys awake and then tried to rouse the one next to him, the first one
would simply slump back on the table. I wouldn’t be surprised if they
were still at it."

    
Helen giggled. "I would have liked to see this. But mind you, once
they are awake, three constables will hardly contain them."

    
"Two constables," Owen corrected her, "the third was guarding the
horse. But now, I want to turn in. So master Andrew, and lady, it was a
pleasure to be of service to you and I wish you a good journey to
America. I may want to make that journey too, one of these days."

    
"May I hug you, Owen," asked Helen. Her eyes got moist again. After
a short hesitation, he came over to her and allowed her to hold him
briefly.

    
"Bye now, lady, sir." He looked first at Helen, then at Andrew, bent
forward slightly, and with a "Bye, Rose" he walked out of the kitchen.

    
"That one’s a character," exclaimed Rose with a motherly chuckle
after the door had closed behind him.

    
"I will miss him," replied Helen, drying her eyes.

 

19

Shortly before five o’clock Rose reminded Andrew and Helen that it was
time to go to the boat which would take them to Greenock. The young
couple fetched their few belongings from Helen’s little room and waited
in the courtyard. A low, murky cloud cover diffused the early morning
light to a dull, depressing grey. The sharp westerly went right through
their clothing, chilling them to the bones. Helen shivered, crossing her
arms tightly over her bosom. She didn’t know whether it was the cold
wind, or her lack of sleep, or her anxiety, or all three of them.

    
Andrew plucked a delicate rose from her favorite bush, stuck it into
her hair, and kissed her.

    
"I love you. You’re so beautiful," he whispered.

    
She answered with a smile, trying to suppress her shivers. It still
surprised her how often and freely he told her that he loved her, that he
found her pretty. She couldn’t remember hearing her father ever say that
to her mother, nor had Robert ever used the word love. He had said "I
fancy you" a couple of times, "I want you" more often, but never "I love
you".

    
Andrew put his arms around her, shielding her from the wind. She
buried her head under his chin, drawing warmth and energy from him.

    
"Don’t let me disturb you, my love birds," Rose chuckled as she came
into the yard. "I go reconnoiter first, to make sure no policemen are
about."

    
She left the yard and returned a few minutes later. "All’s clear.
Ready?"

    
"Yes," replied Helen, with a weary smile.

    
Andrew hoisted the saddle bags onto his left shoulder and followed the
two women. Before they entered the wharf, Rose again checked if
everything was clear. In fact, except for the four people busy on one boat,
the wharf looked deserted, all the boats still asleep.

    
"There’s your boat! The Clyde!" Rose pointed to the one farthest
downstream, the one with the sailors on its deck. It rode high as the tide
filled the river. "Captain McGeorge is her owner."

    
She hugged Helen again, and both women fought their tears, finding
it hard to say farewell to each other forever. Finally, Rose tore herself
away, gave Andrew a quick kiss on the cheek, whispering: "Look well
after her," and rushed off.

    
Andrew and Helen walked briskly to the Clyde and climbed up a
narrow plank to its deck. The captain welcomed them in a hushed voice,
briefly scanned the wharf, and ushered them below deck into the small
cargo hold full of crates and bales of wool. Its ceiling was so low that
Andrew had to stoop.

    
"I want you to hide here until we’ve left the wharf. Just to be on the
safe side, you know! Make yourselves comfortable, nobody will disturb
you for a while," he said with a leering grin.

    
Helen was glad that the darkness concealed her blushing. Once they
were alone, Andrew pulled her to him, searching her lips.

    
"No, Andrew. Not here! Not with four men up there!" she whispered.

    
"No, love. But I want to kiss you while we wait. I missed you so
much," he murmured and began to nibble her earlobes. She folded her
arms around his neck. They kissed, their tongues meeting, pressing their
bodies together for warmth. His right hand cupped her breast, and
squeezed it gently, found its hardening nipple, rubbing it lightly through
the cloth. Their kissing rose in urgency. He pushed a leg between her
thighs.

    
"No, Andrew, you promised," she cried out, trying to keep her voice
low.

    
"I did, my love, and I meant it… Let’s just savor being alone."

    
He kissed her again. Riding on his leg, she felt the swelling of his
manhood. He lifted her up by her buttocks, rubbing her crotch against his
thigh. She sensed her quickening arousal and responded to his kisses with
barely suppressed passion. His index finger found her center of pleasure
and lightly circled it. She sucked in her breath, her own irrepressible
response taking her by surprise.

BOOK: Summer of Love
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