Authors: Gian Bordin
"Yes, they probably would be the more serious students… But, Helen,
you know most of what I learned, you can easily study yourself from
"Will you help me?"
"Oh, gladly. Then we can discuss it. I would love that."
"Like we talked about books that summer?"
He smiled. "Yes, like that summer."
"Do you think that such books will be available in America?"
"I guess so, at least in the cities, like Boston. Maybe we should take
a few along. We could buy them in Liverpool. Then we’ll even have
things to read on the long trip across the Atlantic."
"Yes, Andrew, let’s do that," she exclaimed excited. "You know, what
I missed most after you left were our discussions on books. I would have
talks with you in my mind. Later, I started discussing them with Betty.
She’s very much like me in this respect. She loves reading."
Her face suddenly became sad and she wrung her hands. "Poor Betty.
She’ll have nobody to talk to, now that I’m gone." Then she looked at
Andrew, a hopeful glow in her eyes. "Andrew, once we’re settled in
America, couldn’t we pay for Betty to join us. I’m certain she would
come. When she told me after the spring dance that you’re going to
America, she said that she would like to go there too… She’ll wither
away, getting married to one of my dumb cousins."
"Sure, we could do this. How old is she now?"
"Seventeen. Eighteen in three months."
"She would still need your father’s consent. Do you seriously think he
would let her go after what happened?"
"No, but once she’s twenty-one, she could come. It wouldn’t be
beyond her to run away. She asked me why I didn’t do it with you."
"And what reason did you give her?"
"I told her that mother said you were her son… She was very shocked.
Andrew, please don’t be angry. I couldn’t lie to her."
He looked at her lovingly. "I’m not angry, my love. She deserved to
know, even if it wasn’t true… You would like to have her with you very
much, wouldn’t you?"
"Yes, but it’s not just that. I know that she’ll be unhappy with the
hopeless lot of a MacGregor. Would you rather not have her with us?"
"Oh, I always liked her. I would be happy if she joined us. Mind you,
a pretty young woman like her won’t be single for long."
"I know, but she might still live close to us even if she gets married…
If she wanted to join us, how would we do it?"
"It wouldn’t be difficult. We would ask the House of Jarvis and Sons
to arrange it. They could even send an escort to Killin to bring her to
Glasgow. I think she would manage to travel alone from there on."
"I’ll write to her and propose it."
"You do that, Helen … already from Liverpool, and you can also tell
her that I’m not her brother. I’m sure she will be glad to hear that."
"Yes, you’re right. She will then not worry about what I did. But it
may be safer to tell her that you found out that your mother was a
MacDonald, just in case the letter falls into my father’s hands."
* * *
They waited in the hills above Greenock until well after nine at night
before going down into town, and entered it from the west rather than the
east. Keeping to back alleys they got to The Irish Belle as the light was
fading. While Helen waited in the stable with the horses, Andrew entered
the kitchen from the back. A small woman in her fifties immediately took
him to task for daring to invade her inner sanctum. It was hard to believe
that this small person could produce such a volume of sound.
A few seconds later, a big middle-aged woman appeared from the
tavern and asked: "Margaret, what the hell’s going on now?"
Before the small woman could answer, Andrew intervened: "I’m the
cause of it, madam. I’m Andrew Campbell. Mistress Rose of The White
Heron sent me. You are Mabel O’Brien, am I right?"
"Yes, I’m Mabel." She paused for a second. "You said Rose! Is she in
trouble? She isn’t ill? Tell me, young man!"
"Oh no, Rose is well and in good spirits. No, she told me to see you
because she thought that you might be willing to help us—I mean, me
and my wife. We’re in a spot of bother. That’s why I came in through the
"If Rose sent you, I’ll do my darnedest to help. You said you and your
wife. Where’s she?"
"With the horses in the stable."
"Then go and fetch her. You don’t leave your wife in the stable, while
you come in here!"
Andrew could not suppress a smile. Mabel matched his mental image
of how a friend of Rose would treat them. He fetched Helen and started
telling Mabel about their difficulties. She interrupted him almost
instantly with sharp questions, all addressed to Helen, rather than him.
So, it was Helen who ended up telling the story of the last six days.
Mabel relished the escape from the tolbooth and had a few nasty
comments about Helen’s father.
"Don’t you now worry about anything! If I’m not mistaken, the Irish
Rover has arrived in port. She’s bound to leave again for Belfast pretty
soon. That would be the safest bet for you to get away. She’s fast. In the
meantime, I’ll give you a little room in my own quarters."
"That’s very kind of you," answered Helen and Andrew almost like
one and then smiled at each other.
"I’ll do anything for a friend of Rose’s, and she really took a fancy for
you, or else she wouldn’t have given you her precious pendant."
Spontaneously, Helen fingered it.
"Just make sure that you never show your faces in the tavern," Mabel
continued. "You’ll eat in the kitchen."
"That’s fine with us. Do you think you could sell our horses?" asked
"My husband can sell anything. He might even buy them himself. You
mightn’t get the best price, though."
"That’s all right."
"I’ll show you to your room. I guess you still want something to eat."
She turned to the small woman. "Margaret, get food ready for these
Margaret muttered her disapproval and disappeared in the larder.
* * *
While they were eating breakfast next morning, Mabel joined them for
a cup of coffee and told them that the Irish Rover would sail early
tomorrow. Captain Callahan had agreed to take them along. He wanted
them on board at eight o’clock sharp, just before he would give the orders
to haul in the catwalk. She also said that her husband had checked the
horses and was willing to offer thirty pound sterling. This was more than
Andrew had hoped for, so he gladly accepted.
Mabel milked Helen for information about Rose and the two were
soon in an animated discussion about all sorts of things. Andrew was
content to remain a silent spectator. After more than an hour, Mabel
suddenly jumped up, exclaiming that she couldn’t afford to neglect her
duties any longer.
The young couple went back to their little room and spent the
remainder of the day talking on the bed, planning, reminiscing, making
At a quarter to eight on the following day, they took leave, carrying
their few belongings in the saddle bags and a knapsack. Mabel’s
youngest boy, a seven-year-old, full-cheeked, little fellow, led them
through back alleys to the wharf where the Irish Rover was moored. He
pointed out the ship, thanked Andrew for the penny, and ran back down
the alley again.
As Andrew and Helen entered the wharf, they almost bumped into
Robin. For a second, all three were startled. Then the lad exclaimed,
pleased: "Hello, Helen. I had given up seeing you again."
"Hello, Robin," she replied, "where’s father?"
"He’s looking for you on the other side of the harbor. You know how
he is when he sets his mind on something. He never gives up."
"And how’s Robert?" she asked, temporarily relieved that her father
"Oh, him. I guess he’s nursing his wounded pride after losing out to
a much smaller man. We left him at the inn."
"I see… Are you now going to betray your sister, or will you let her go
her own ways?" If he let them go, they might still get away.
"What can you expect? You know father would beat me to pulp if I
didn’t keep you," he answered with an embarrassed chuckle. "So you
better come with me without further fuss, sister."
Towering over Andrew, Robin displayed a careless disdain, ignoring
him completely. When the point of Andrew’s dagger suddenly pressed
into the soft flesh under his chin, the lad was taken by complete surprise.
"Trying is all you’ll get to do," said Andrew drily, an edge of superiority in his voice. "Never underestimate your opponent. Ask Robert!"
Robin shifted his weight backward, but the dagger matched his move,
and its sharp point nicked the skin.
"Don’t be stupid now!" hissed Andrew. "Turn around!" The command had a steely ring to it.
"Do as he says, brother," added Helen, recovering from her own
surprise. She still hadn’t anticipated Andrew’s swift action. "Andrew
isn’t kidding. Indeed, ask Robert."
Robin turned slowly, his expression wary. Andrew swiftly grabbed his
right wrist and twisted his arm sharply up his back. An involuntary sound
of pain escaped the big lad.
"Take it easy, man!" he begged.
The sharp point of the dagger pressed already into his ribs.
"Walk!" ordered Andrew and marched him to the Irish Rover, just
150 feet away. Helen picked up the saddlebags and hurried after them.
At the catwalk, he halted. "Helen, go up please. I’ll follow as soon as
you’re on deck."
"Goodbye, Robin. Don’t forget to tell Betty that I miss her. And tell
mother I forgive her," she called over her shoulder as she hurried up the
"Give your father my compliments, too, and tell him I regret that we
cannot share an occasional bottle of claret." Saying that, Andrew shoved
Robin forward forcefully, while at the same time blocking his feet. For
the second time within two minutes, he took the tall lad by surprise.
Robin lost his balance and fell onto the hard-packed ground. By the time
he was back to his feet, Andrew had already covered half the catwalk.
For a short moment, Robin seemed intent on going after him, but then he
grinned somewhat sheepishly, shrugged his shoulders, and waved to
Helen who was waiting at the railing. She waved back. Seconds later, the
sailors hauled in the catwalk. The captain’s orders to hoist the sails rang
over the deck, echoed back by the crew. Helen and Andrew watched
Robin hurry away along the wharf.
"We made it, love," he murmured, standing behind her, his hands on
"Yes, we did, … just barely. Robin was a fool to ignore you," she
replied, turning her face, flushed with excitement.
"I think he’s fetching father."
"They’ll be too late. Look, we’re already moving!"