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.”Maggie sighed a deep long sigh.“Aye,” she said.“Yer right, Busby.I thank ye for yer sensible nature, for I am not happy this day at all.” She turned about.“Grizel, get my cape, for I will need it in this rain.”“I’m relieved yer wearing that old black velvet gown,” Grizel said.“If it gets wet, who will care.We can burn it tonight for I doubt ye’ll want it again.” She picked up a dark silk cloak and put it about Maggie’s shoulders.“I suppose yer ready,” she said.“I am,” Maggie agreed.“Have my orders been followed, Busby? No one is to come to the church to witness this travesty.”“Everyone is in their cottage, my lady,” Busby assured her as they went from Maggie’s bedchamber.As they neared the stairs, the majordomo heard a shout from the locked room.“What was that?” Maggie asked him.“The Hay is shouting for you from the hall,” Busby said, and hurried them down the staircase.“He is surely an impatient man.” He led her quickly to the great hall.The hall was full of men, and suddenly Maggie recognized her own Kerr clansmen.They parted to make a path for her as she walked forward, and then she heard a familiar voice.“Well, madam, ye certainly took yer time coming down to welcome me home,” Fingal Stewart said.“Are ye not glad to see me?”She stared.She grew pale.Then standing on trembling legs, Mad Maggie Kerr shouted at her husband, “Where the hell have ye been, Fingal Stewart? Have ye no idea of the misery and worry ye have put me through? The danger our bairns have been in? It’s been almost a year, and not a word from ye!” And to her own horror and that of all about her, Maggie burst into tears.Seeing Mad Maggie weep was uncomfortable for all.Fingal Stewart jumped forward, enfolding his wife in his embrace.“Ah, lass, ’tis good to see ye too.’Tis a long story, and I promise to tell it to ye, but for now we have another matter to settle—that of yer betrothed husband.” He kissed the top of her head.“What are we to do with Ewan Hay, Maggie mine?” Tipping her face up, he kissed her lips with tender passion.There would be time later to slake their longings.She wept harder at the treasured and familiar endearment.The touch of his mouth on hers made her remember how much she loved this man.She tried to burrow into his chest.He let her weep until finally her tears eased, and she looked up at him, her eyelashes clumped into spikes, her eyes red.“Does Grandsire know yer home?” she asked.“Not yet.I thought it better to greet ye first.” He turned to Busby.“Go and fetch the laird, and tell him I’m home.I don’t want to shock him.”Busby hurried off.“Where is the Hay?” Maggie asked her husband.“Busby has locked him in his chamber,” Fin answered.“Then that was the shouting I heard as we came downstairs.Busby said the Hay was shouting at me from the hall.” A small watery giggle excaped her.“Can we leave him there forever, my lord?”He laughed wickedly.Her suggestion had a certain merit to it.“I’m afraid we must return him to his brother if we are to keep the peace with Clan Hay,” Fin said.Maggie continued to snuggle in his arms.“He threatened our wee bairns, Fin.He locked our lads in the cellar without food or water, and but a single candle.He said he would not let them out until I wed him.But I got them away to Netherdale.Our daughter, however, is safe in the village.Then the cur put a knife to Grandsire, and he threatened to kill him if I did not sign his damnable wedding contract.I had no choice.”“The blessing today would have made it seem all was legal,” Fin said quietly.“What did you mean to do tonight when he planned to bed you, Maggie mine?” He looked down into her face, which he now held between his two big hands.His gray eyes were serious and thoughtful.“I prepared a strong sleeping draft for his wine,” Maggie explained to her husband as she looked up at him.“Two or three sips and he would have been asleep.Then I was going to smother the life from him with a pillow.He would not have been able to fight me, and it would have appeared a natural death [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]