Chapter Twenty Seven
Chapter Twenty Seven
Robert The Bruce
Robert The Bruce not as tall as Conall, perhaps six feet, but wide in body and strong, a kind face for one redeemed as one of the greatest warriors of his time. His brown hair darker than the intense stare of brown eyes. A red beard, unusual I thought. He had scarring across his lower face and nose. Perhaps an ailment of when he was younger.
The Bruce’s face turned more startled as he looked from Conall to Dougall. “A Sassenach!”
“Aye well my lord Bruce, Lady Morgan speaks as a Sassenach but she’s all Scot, a descendant of tha Tuatha de Danann,” Conall said.
“Ah the Tuatha, I see. I ha heard aboot the Tuatha only in books mind. I ha never met one till now.” he bowed to me. “I’m happy ta make ye acquaintance my lady, an impressed by ye skill.”
A smile edged Conall’s face. “Aye the lass is indeed formidable.”
Dougall during our discussion had gone to other men untying them, giving each of them a drink from his canteen. One shouted in Gaelic. I could not understand the words he spoke but it wasn’t hard to take his meaning. The Bruce turned to introduce them.
“This here is James Douglas, Neil Campbell and Malcolm. Me bràthairs Thomas, Alexander, and Edward. The last we ken we were sleeping in the castle, next we woke in this ere cave, with these ejit shites binding us like sheep fer tha slaughter. I dinnae ken what they gave us but we spent more time sleepin’ than awake. I am forever in ye debt Conall and Dougall Sutherland, and ye too Lady Morgan. So, tell me where did ye come from?”
Conall gave Dougall a weary side glance, this was going to be difficult to explain. “My Lord I have a…device that allows me to travel.”
The Bruce gave Conall a wide-eyed stare as if Conall was perhaps someone who had lost their mind. “Aye.”
“It lets me travel from one place to the next when doorways are no present.” Conall continued.
“Are ye saying that ye used magic ta gain entrance ta this cave lad?” The Bruce asked.
The Bruce glanced at his men. “Ye ken tha ta speak o’ magic is heresy?”
I could see Conall was having a problem trying to explain how he was going to get The Bruce and his men out of the cave by means of his pendant. A Yeats quote suddenly came to mind. “My Lord is not the world full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.” The Bruce looked at me as if now I had lost my mind.
“Tis against nature ye canna move yerselves from one place ta tha next as ye say.”
Seeing as I had already opened my mouth, I continued with my pennies worth. “Aye my Lord I understand this is a difficult thing for you to take in” I held my left hand out splaying my fingers. “Is not nature like a spider’s web.” I used my right index finger to point to each digit on my left hand. The Bruce stared open mouthed at my fingers as I spoke. Both Conall and Dougall stood with arms folded and a look that said this should be good.
I continued with my animated example. “While some walk the strands of life. Would it not be possible for others to pass between them? You my Lord are a great warrior and you will become a great and wise king. Would you not allow a little magic to aid you in continuing your journey for the sake of your country and your people?”
The Bruce gasped at my words turning his eyes to James Douglas, who simply shook his head and shrugged his shoulders. Conall and Dougall looked stunned to say the least. I held my breath, worried that I may have made the situation worse. I had just spoken to the most important man in Scottish history, Robert The Bruce nonetheless, I had spoken to him as if he was an insensible child.
The Bruce’s face softened. “Right then lad how do ye propose ta get us all oot of this ere miserable cave, wi ye wee device?”
Conall let out the breath he had been holding. “I can take three of ye at a time.”
“Tell us what ye must do then lad, an lets be quick aboot it.”
Conall had The Bruce, James Douglas and Dougall stand in front of him. He took Dougall in case any Brollachans were waiting topside for them. When everyone one was above ground I noticed the wind had calmed considerably. The men all stood together while The Bruce talked in Gaelic. I moved away to allow them their discussion. When they had finished Robert The Bruce, approached me and bowed.
“Lady Morgan I want ta thank ye for ye words. I hae no bin spoken to as such by a lass afore, at least no since me màthair. I no wish ta hear ma history. History is written by those tha would hang heroes.”
I interrupted him. “You will not ha-” He put his hand up to hush my words.
“Although I think ye ha given me a glimpse of what may be, an fer that I will e’er be thankful. I just wish ta say it was a pleasure meetin” ye and ye are no one I shall soon forget.”
He took my hand. Here we go again with the hand kissing, but I didn’t mind who could say that they have had their hand kissed by the famous king of Scotland, Robert The Bruce.
“Farewell milady.” he said turning away.
“Farewell My Ki…my Lord.” he turned smiled and continued back to where the men stood. After a few more words, The Bruce, his brothers and companions all shook forearms then headed towards the castle. Conall and Dougall walked back to me.
Dougall gave me a decidedly strong hug. “Ye are a braw canny lass.” he said releasing me.
“Aye” said Conall a smile playing about his face. He also gave me a hug whispering into my hair. “Ye did well lass, the bite we wi discuss later.”
“What will happen when one of them tells someone how we got them out of the cave?” I asked ignoring what he had said, I was worried that we had made a major change to history. Conall assured me that The Bruce had promised not to speak of it, hence he be thought of as a witch. Assuring me that a witch could not become the King of Scotland.
We returned to the cabin. Conall and Dougall went to get the horses and I sought out what there was to eat. Sitting at the table I wondered whether we had changed history, if Robert The Bruce and his men would keep their promise. From what I remembered of The Bruce he was known to be a man of honour, and men of honour do not break promises.
Dougall returned with two dressed rabbits. I had thought it was somewhat quick that they had managed to catch them. Dougall said that they were sitting outside the door, not knowing how they got there, they were however fresh. I smiled, the wolf was no doubt responsible.
While I prepared a rabbit stew I was conscious that Dougall and Conall remained outside until it was ready. For two warriors, they were obviously afraid of one small lass and her vegetables, which brought another smile to my face. They certainly came quick when it was ready though.
“The words ye spoke to The Bruce, they were mighty fine did ye make them up on tha spot?” Dougall asked.
“Well not the magic ones, they were thanks to Yeats. The web bit was mine.”
Dougall raised an eyebrow and looked a little confused as to who Yeats was.
I thought I had better put him out of his misery. “A poet who lived oh, about seventy or eighty years ago in my time.”
“Do ye know more of the words. This Yeats?”
“No not really, he wasn’t really one of my favourite poets, it was just something I remembered.”
“So, who is ye favourite poet then lass?” Dougall asked as he tucked into his stew.
“I like Edgar Allan Poe, Dante, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Shakespeare.”
“Would ye be so kind as ta recite one.”
“Well I know a few poems. I am not sure what you like to hear.”
“Whate’er ye have a mind to.” Dougall said.
I recited what came to mind which just happened to be Dante.
Midway upon the journey of our life
I found myself within a forest dark,
For the straightforward pathway had been lost.
Before I went any further Conall spoke.
Ah me! How hard a thing it is to say
What was this forest savage, rough, and stern,
Which in the very thought renews the fear
I was surprised that Conall knew the poem. “Oh my Lord you know Dante?”
Conall smiled. “Aye lass I do” his face a gleam of deviltry saying he had read the works of Shakespeare, Dante and a few others during his fostering even though he was supposed to have been learning his Latin.
Dougall got up from the table. “Well I nay understand a word of what ye are both saying, so I will be off ta bed. Guid night milady.”
“Right then.” Conall stated getting up. “I’ll just help settle the horses.” Giving me some personal time and to prepare for bed. I was tired it had been an exhausting day. I was still chuffed at meeting Robert the Bruce, not that I could actually ever tell anyone, except for Ula and Sloane. I was also taken back that Conall knew the Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri.
By the time Conall returned to the cottage I was sat up in bed brushing my hair and thinking about the day’s events.
“Are ye hale lass?” came the familiar Conall, Sloane adage.
He took off his weapons and laid his plaid on the ground. Conall prepared for his floor bed
“So.” He said casting me a side glance. “About ye biting me.”
I shrugged still brushing. “I don’t know what you are talking about, maybe you were dreaming. Do you want to share the bed, there’s plenty of room and I will keep to my space?” I asked casually still brushing my hair.
“Are you sure?”
“It’s softer than the floor. I promise not to bite”
Conall stopped and looked startled at me. “I think ye ha proved ye do.”
I laughed flipping my hair behind me. I shouldn’t tease him, but he bit so quickly and easily. It was hard not to. We had all worked well together in defeating the Brollachans in the cave. We had rescued the Bruce, his companions and his brothers, a good day’s work.
The lass’s words had caught him off guard and he was still no closer to discussing the bite he had felt when they were transporting, even though she was acting as if it never happened. He had to turn to the wall quickly less his discomfiture be noticed. He had taken glances at her as she brushed her hair, black, beautiful and glossy. Of course, he wanted to share the bed with her but he would not be able to trust himself, lest she bite or not. She had bitten him though, he could still feel it on his neck, he pressed a finger to it. Sleep will be long coming this night, he thought.
Conall rose at sunrise and went to seek Dougall and water the horses. Dougall was already awake tending to them. Dougall had a wicked gleam to his eye when he spotted his brother entering the lean-to.
“How was ye night bràthair?” Dougall asked coyly.
“It was fine an none of ye business.” he snapped at him.
“Aye, so ye slept on the floor agin?”
“Dougall ye need ta remember my mission. I am Lady Morgan’s protector, no her admirer.”
Dougall shouldered Conall. “Aye as ye say, but ye love her.”
Conall swiped his hand across Dougall’s head.
They both froze when they heard Morgan screaming from the hut.