• Welcome to The Worlds of Katherine Kurtz.


Latest Shout



July 17, 2024, 12:06:58 AM
What? I missed St Swithun's day again? Dang it!
  • Total Members: 178
  • Latest: Zorro
  • Total Posts: 28,049
  • Total Topics: 2,752
  • Online today: 37
  • Online ever: 930
  • (January 20, 2020, 11:58:07 AM)
Users Online
Users: 0
Guests: 28
Total: 28
Facebook External hit (2)
Welcome to The Worlds of Katherine Kurtz. Please login.

July 18, 2024, 01:13:02 PM

Login with username, password and session length

The Secret Son -- Part Two

Started by Evie, February 01, 2022, 08:49:08 AM

Previous topic - Next topic

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.


Part Two

March 20, 1107
The McLain family solar
Culdi Castle

Yvette stole a glance at the corner where her sister and the very handsome young Lord Duncan sat, giggling together over some tale he was sharing with Maryse about a childhood prank gone horribly wrong. Maryse was practically glowing, and Yvette tried very hard not to mind. She was happy for her sister, yet in her heart of hearts maybe just a little bit envious as well. Not so jealous as to wish the two any genuine ill-will, just a twinge of regret that she'd not been the one to capture Duncan McLain's notice, for he was certainly more attractive and attentive than most of the eligible young men she grew up with in Transha, who still mostly regarded Yvette as a wean, barely out of leading strings. Though she supposed that it was too much to expect that she'd catch the eye of a highborn lord the moment she stepped over the official threshold of womanhood, and Yvette's fourteenth birthday had only very recently come and gone.

Still, it would be nice to have captured the attention of a Duke's son, even if only a second son. Yvette giggled inwardly at the thought, returning her gaze to the book she was reading as a tiny bit of sound escaped her. Hopefully they would simply think she found the story amusing, and not ask what she was thinking.

Young Duncan, despite being fifteen and the Duke's squire, was left at home rather than following his sire and the other McLain menfolk to help quell the unrest in Meara alongside the MacArdry men because he had recently revealed to his parents that he was trying to discern whether he felt a call to a religious vocation. Duke Jared had agreed to give him a year to make his choice, so Duncan had remained behind, engaged in private study and contemplation to prepare himself for seminary and eventual ordination in the Church, or so Duchess Vera had told Yvette's Ma when they'd first arrived at Culdi. Yet at this moment, there was nothing about the laughing young man's demeanor to make Yvette imagine him forever garbed in a cassock, exchanging the comforts of home and family for more scholarly pursuits or the shepherding of some parish, and perhaps – as seemed likely for a priest of high noble birth – even a bishopric someday.

Nay, if Duncan was meant to be ordained a priest, then her sister had best find another to make her confessions to! Bless me, Father, for I have sinned, and I am perilously close to drowning in your bonnie blue eyes! Can you absolve me? Yvette stifled another giggle at the thought.

On the other side of the room, the Duchess and Ma continued to exchange pleasantries over their embroidery, enjoying the chance to catch up on women's talk while their menfolk were away trying to help the King settle a fractious Meara.  Again.  Yvette considered joining the older women, but she was still a bit young to consider their topics of conversation very interesting. And if she were to join them, that might draw their attention to their other two offspring currently present, still completely absorbed in each other's attention on the other side of the room. Would the mothers mind the obvious affection springing up between the two, or would the Duchess attempt to steer her son back towards the vocation she believed him destined for? Or would she, on the other hand, be happy for them both, maybe even give a quiet sigh of relief that he had found another love besides the Church?

Yvette entertained the briefest of thoughts of joining her youngest sister, Ianna, who was with her nursemaid in the former Ducal nursery, playing at games that the Ducal children had long since outgrown. Nay, that was of even less interest to her than the prospect of being bored to tears by the chatter of older women!

Duncan's voice interrupted Yvette's thoughts. "Maman, I think it has stopped raining. With Countess Adreana's leave, would it be all right if Maryse and I step out for a stroll in the gardens?" Glancing straight at her with those bonny blue eyes and a smile that made her heart beat faster, he continued, "And Yvette too, of course, if she'd like to join us."

Yvette was under no illusions that he'd asked her along out of any personal interest, knew he was probably more focused on making sure their mothers understood his intentions towards Maryse were perfectly honorable and that he meant to see her decently chaperoned, yet she couldn't stop the silly grin from spreading across her face as she set her book down and leaped up from her bench. "Och, aye, please! Ma, may we?"

Duchess Vera favored her son with a fond maternal smile. "Oh, go on then! The three of you should enjoy the weather while it's nice, there's talk it might storm again tomorrow." Adreana also smiled at them and nodded her assent, her glance lingering on Duncan for a moment and the smile broadening almost imperceptibly before she returned her attention to her embroidery. Maybe Ma wasn't quite as oblivious to the blossoming romance between the Duke's son and her eldest daughter as Yvette had imagined.


January 3, 1108, late morning
Transha Castle Keep
Lady Maryse's bedchamber

Maryse stirred in her sleep.

In her dreams, she rode across a grassy field, the sunshine overhead peeking out from behind lingering gray clouds, lining them with silver. Duncan reined in his horse just ahead, dismounting under a small copse of trees and awaiting her arrival. Smiling up at her as she stopped beside him, he assisted her as she dismounted also, landing on the ground with a slight stumble that nearly sent her flying into him. With a lightning swift grin, he caught her, holding her close for a long moment before glancing over her shoulder towards her sister, swiftly approaching them.

Stepping slightly to one side so that her horse stood between them and Yvette's view, he ducked his head to steal a swift kiss before releasing her, his eyes twinkling with conspiratorial suppressed laughter as he took her borrowed mare to tether her beside his gelding. Maryse struggled to compose her features before Yvette arrived, hoping her blush didn't give her away. Fair skin was a right curse at times! Her cheeks felt as though they were burning.

A quiet cry woke her, and she realized it was Dhugal fussing. Maryse looked towards the tiny makeshift cot where Lannie had laid him after he'd finished suckling earlier, and was surprised to see her mother there, reaching into the cot to pick him up as she untied the drawstring of her chemise to nurse him. Maryse had a pang of heartache mingled with relief. She was so, so tired, and her head hurt fit to burst!

Adreana turned, looking startled to find her daughter awake. "Hello, poppet! How d'ye feel?" She walked over to clasp Maryse's hand, then frowned, her expression changing as she released Maryse's fingers to lay a cool hand on her daughter's brow.

"Where's Yvette?" Maryse asked through lips that felt parched.  "Might I have a wee drink?"

Adreana frowned slightly before answering her daughter. "Yvette is asleep. She's fair tired oot after helpin' Lannie wi' the twa of us, puir lass, an' I've had me a guid sleep despite wakin' every few hours wi' yer wee new sister Caldreana."  She walked towards the nearby jug and bowl, finding Maryse's mug and pouring her a drink one-handed while still cradling Dhugal in her other arm.  "Ye feel ower warm tae me, child. Mayhap I should wake Lannie tae check on ye." Her Ma's gaze was dark with concern as she brought the water to Maryse.

Maryse took a few sips, but it was too much effort to drink the entire thing, so after a few moments she pushed the mug aside. "I just want tae sleep, Ma. I'm right knackered, an' me belly is still gripin' a wee bit."

"I'm sure yer shattered after laborin' sae long. I'll see if I can hae a cup o' willow bark tisane sent up, lest ye tak a fever. Shall I take wee Dhugal off yer hands, then, sae ye can rest?"

"Aye, would ye, Ma?"

Adreana kissed her daughter's brow, her alarm growing at the heat radiating off it despite the slight wintry chill of the room that even a cheery fire on the hearth failed to dispel.  There was no sweat to dampen the young woman's brow and provide cooling relief. "Aye, I think 'tis f'r the best." She left the room, covering her nursing grandson with a corner of her arisaid, and went to wake up Lannie.


March 23, 1107, afternoon
Culdi Castle
The Ducal Library

It had rained again, but now the sun was peeking through the clouds. Yvette sat by the window, taking advantage of the light streaming through it to complete her sketch of Maryse.

Lord Duncan had been seated in close conversation with Maryse, sharing something from one of his books with her, but now he stood, stretching briefly before crossing over to where Yvette sat, peering down at the angled lap table that held her paper and, within a hinged compartment, her drawing materials. Yvette glanced up at him, her hands growing still over the paper as she wondered anxiously what he thought of her work. She knew her small skill at drawing likenesses was nothing compared to what he must have seen in artists' galleries at the King's Court or the various other grand places he'd seen, as a Duke's son, but she privately thought that, for an untutored girl, it was not entirely shabby either. She risked a peek down at what she had drawn. At least one could tell it was meant to be Maryse. Yvette thought so, anyway.

Duncan crouched beside her to take a closer look at the images her light strokes of red chalk had formed, his lips pursing in a soundless whistle. "That's very good, Yvette!" His gaze kindled with appreciation, and Yvette blushed, ducking her face from his considering study of her.

"I mean no flattery, you really have managed to capture Maryse's likeness! What are you planning to do with the sketch once you're done? Shall you have it framed?"

Yvette glanced over at Maryse, unsure how to respond, At Transha, folks regarded her "scribbles" with fond indulgence, taking no mind of them so long as she got her chores done first before playing with her bits of red chalk and burnt willow twigs, but none had suggested she go so far as put her sketches on display.

Maryse looked up from her embroidery, smiling at her tongue-tied sister, filling in the silence when it threatened to grow too long. "Yvette's ben savin' oop f'r a while tae buy hersel' a paint box, if Ma will allow it. I hope she will."

"Why wouldn't she?" Duncan asked.

"Och...." Maryse rolled her eyes. "She's afeard Da might think it a waste o' guid coin. But Yvette is a young lady th' noo, an' should ken a few graces, an' drawin' comes more natural tae her than needlework."

Yvette's blush, which had felt on the verge of receding, grew hot again. She was thankful the handsome young lord beside her had never seen her pathetic attempts at embroidery, which was her sister's particular talent.

"I think if she enjoys drawing and painting, Yvette should be allowed to pursue it!" Duncan declared, giving her shoulder a pat that was, alas, quite brotherly before returning to his seat next to Maryse. "I hope she shall, anyway. My cousin Alaric has a sister – well, a half-sister, actually – who is very talented at drawing likenesses, and I've heard that her sketches are greatly in demand at King Brion's court now. Maybe if Earl Caulay learns that fine art is quite in fashion now amongst the highborn ladies, he might allow Yvette the supplies, and perhaps even some tutelage. Who knows, with the proper training, she might eventually catch the eye of some Court noble looking for an accomplished bride." Duncan gave Yvette a supportive smile.

Privately, Yvette thought her Da would be baffled by the thought, feeling a young woman ought need nothing more than to be bonny and buxom and to possess a basic knowledge of household skills to attract a husband, and why bother aspiring to anything more? Though she could hardly admit to her sister's suitor that their father considered a good set of childbearing hips a more useful asset for any young lady than a box of pigments. That would be mortifying! But she appreciated Duncan's support nonetheless.

The thought occurred to her then, if Duncan were to wed Maryse someday, as envious as she might feel of her sister's good fortune, it would be no small thing for Yvette to gain as a brother a man who made her feel seen as more than just a future mother or a bonny bed warmer. Not that she didn't wish for such things – she hoped for a family too someday, hopefully with a decent man, someone who would look at her the way Duncan looked at Maryse. But she also wanted more than that.

Maybe someday.

Yvette smiled to herself as she continued working on Maryse's likeness. It shall be their weddin' gift, an he asks her to wed wi' him, an' I'm certain he will, she decided to herself. At least then I'll ken someone will appreciate the effort!


July 10, 1107, mid-morning
A courtyard garden
Transha Castle

Yvette uncovered the finished portrait with a wistful smile, a delicate miniature she'd painted with the set of pigments their mother had finally allowed her to purchase, holding it out for her sister's inspection. "It was meant tae be a weddin' gift. For ye an' Duncan, I mean.  I'm sorry things turned oot a' topsy-teery th' way they did. I ken ye had hopes...."

Maryse's golden-amber eyes filled with tears.

"I c'n take it back, if it pains ye tae look at it," Yvette said hastily, snatching her hand back as if to hide the portrait under her skirts, but Maryse stayed her efforts with a calming hand on her arm. "I'm sorry, I dinnae mean t' hurt ye, I only meant tae...."

"It's a'right, Yvette. It's no' tha'."  Maryse closed her eyes, exhaling in a shaky sigh. After a long moment, she opened them again, studying her sister's concerned face. "Can ye keep a secret? Promise no' tae tell a soul?"

Yvette nodded mutely. Maryse buried her face in her hands, uttering a mirthless laugh.

"It's nae likely tae be a secret f'r much longer, anyway. I cannae hide it f'rever."  Maryse looked up at her. "It's just...." She looked up at the sky with another short bark of laughter. "If tha's oor wedding gift, it's a wee bit late. Duncan an' I said oor vows thegither the night afore Da brought us back frae Culdi."

Yvette was stunned into silence. There was something more Maryse had left unsaid, Yvette was sure, though she didn't know how she knew that. She hadn't the Second Sight or some other such seelie gift. She simply knew Maryse, the way one might know one's own hand even in the dark.

Then the words flew from her mouth on their own volition. "He's no' tae be a priest, then?" Yvette clamped her fingers over her lips as soon as she heard herself, feeling her stupidity mirrored in the roll of Maryse's eyes.

"Dinnae be daft, Yvette! O' course no', he cannae wed the Kirk if he's wed tae me! Only...."

"Only wha'?"

The tears in Maryse's eyes spilled over. "We cannae tell anyone. Ye ken how wroth Da would be! He's still half crazed w' grief o'er Ardry's death, and him blamin' that McLain man f'r it, even though ye kent Ardry, there'd ne'er hae been a brawl a' all if only he'd been thinkin' wi' his heid instead o' th' wee master in his breeks!"

"Aye. But Ardry dyin', tha' wasnae Duncan's fault, nor even the fault of his Da the Duke!" Yvette protested. "Nor his ain brother's fault neither. Mayhap we should tell Ma that ye're marrit. She can find th' right words to tell Da...."

Maryse shook her head vehemently. "Nay, no' in the mood he's in! Ye heard 'im! Please, ye cannae tell Ma. Ye promised!"

Yvette squeezed her hand.  "Aye, I did. It's likely f'r the best tha' we hold off, anyway. She's in th' family way again. I heard her tell Bessie Cook jus' last e'en. It must hae happened tha' first night we got home, afore Da an' t'other menfolk went back tae Meara. Mayhap once everything's calmed doon, ye can....Maryse?"

It was Maryse's turn to look stunned. "Ma's bearin' again?"


Maryse's lips began to quiver as she fought down a sob. Yvette had to lean closer to hear her quiet whisper.

"I've nae had me flow since we cam' back frae Culdi, Yvette. Methinks I'm bearin' too."


March 18, 1107
Culdi Castle
Father Geordan's study

Duncan stood hesitantly at the doorway of his family chaplain's study until the older man looked up with a welcoming smile. "Come in, son! I didn't notice you were standing there."

He entered, feeling vaguely uncomfortable despite his long years of familiarity with the man before him, who was his tutor as well as his confessor. Father Geordan, sensing Duncan's uncharacteristic reserve, cocked an inquiring eyebrow at him.

"Shall I need my stole?" the priest asked, though no hint of censure or condemnation entered his warm voice.

"Nay," Duncan said with a short, self-conscious laugh. "That is, I've something to confess, but it's not that sort of confession."

"Ah." Father Geordan put aside the book he was reading and leaned back in his chair, smiling at the young man in the warm, fatherly way Duncan knew so well, his manner inviting any confidences Duncan might feel the need to share. "So what's on your mind, son?"

Duncan sat, his gaze dropping to the ground briefly before he looked back up, meeting his spiritual mentor's eyes. "I think...I'm beginning to have some serious doubts about my vocation."

The priest nodded. "I see." He steepled his hands on his desk, regarding Duncan sympathetically. "I'm not entirely surprised. The young lass is quite bonnie, isn't she? Maryse?"

Duncan blushed. "Well...aye. But it's not just...I mean, she's not the only reason...."

"Nay, I know she's not. Still, I was fifteen once too, and I'm not yet so close to death that I've forgotten how a comely lass makes a young man's heart quicken." He chuckled at the reminiscence. "Aye, I've had my fancies too, several in fact, but one in particular who made me question my own calling."

"But you chose the Church anyway."

"Yes, I suppose you could say that. Though I think it's more accurate to say that God chose me, and deep down, try as I might to see some other way around it that would let me have the life I thought I wanted instead, in the end I realized that in order to ever find true contentment, I needed to heed that call." The priest turned his palms upward, gesturing vaguely towards his young pupil. "But His call on your life may be different. That's between you and God to sort out; all I ask is that you keep mind and heart open to listen fully."

Duncan pondered that for a moment. "If I were to marry, would you be very disappointed in me?"

"In you? No. Not if, after thoroughly seeking God's will and being open to His answer, you had determined that's what His will for you truly is. If that's the case, I would be much more disappointed if you knowingly and willfully disobeyed Him. And in any case, God's opinion is the only one that truly matters, certainly not mine!  I would be a little disappointed that the Church had lost a very agile mind and passionate heart to some other calling rather than to the priesthood, sure, but that's my problem, not yours."  He smiled.

Duncan studied his clasped hands in his lap, worrying one thumb against the other. "Father Geordan, how did you know?"  Looking back up, he added, his voice exasperated, "I've tried praying! I've wrestled with this decision for months now, even before I ever met Maryse. I've listed all the reasons both for why I ought to be a priest, and why it would be better for me not to be, and it's fair driving me mad at times, trying to sort it all out! Why can't God just ...be louder or something?"

Father Geordan laughed. "Son, I absolutely understand your frustration. I've been there too. But tell me, have you maybe been working so hard at thinking every angle through, you've forgot to simply still your spirit and just listen?"

Duncan sighed. "I'm sure there are born contemplatives, but perhaps I'm not one of them. You're right, I've probably spent so much time overthinking, I'm forgetting to listen."

HIs confessor nodded. "It takes practice. Sometimes a lifetime's worth. So...you wanted to know how I knew?"

"Yes. Please."

"All right." Father Geordan pondered the question for a long moment. "When I was just a few years older than you, after I'd started my theological studies, but before I'd taken final vows, I met a young lass. I'd had fleeting fancies before, but this one was different. This one, I felt certain would make a loving wife for me, a wonderful mother to our children if we were blessed with any, and for the first time in my life I wanted those things. Yearned for them desperately, in fact. I was set to give up my studies and settle into learning my father's trade instead, so I could seek her father's blessing and provide for a bride."

"What made you change your mind?" Duncan asked.

"She was a good woman, Duncan. I loved her with all my heart. But deep down, when I truly listened, when I stopped telling myself what I thought I wanted and listened to what the still, small voice deep within myself was trying to tell me, I knew deep down in my soul that I was meant to follow a different road. A lonelier path, perhaps, but ultimately one I needed to continue down if I wanted to find complete fulfillment in my life's purpose. I think once I understood that, it would have been very unfair to her to continue on with my own plans rather than God's. Even if I had never told her I'd forsaken God's plan for my life to wed with her, I think eventually she would have sensed it. It would have ended up building a wall between us. I couldn't do that to her, or to myself. So I let her go.  Sometimes the deepest loves of all require a sacrifice."

"I'm sorry, I'm not sure I follow what you mean by that last statement, Father."

"I think you do, if you think about it. A poor woman, to care for her child, might set aside her own needs to see him fed. A wealthy woman might rush into her burning house at the cost of her own life, not to save her jewels, but to save her children. A freeholder who has lost all in a famine might take on years of indenture working another man's land in order to provide for his family. A knight who would rather be home with his beloved wife and children, instead spends months at a time in the field, not knowing if he might die in battle, in order to keep his family and kingdom safe. If you wish to truly love others, that sometimes requires dying to yourself. Setting aside your own desires for another's good." He smiled. "Or perhaps the greatest example of all, 'For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son.'"  Father Geordan sighed. "Whether or not you are destined for the priesthood, Duncan, one very important truth you must learn is that there is nothing at all easy about love, because at the very essence of it, it is a sacrificial thing."

"I've never really thought about it that way before." Duncan pondered Father Geordan's words in silence for a while before asking, "Whatever happened to the woman you loved? Do you know?"

"Oh, aye. She wed another man from our village, a good man who loved her very much and provided well for her. He was a far better husband for her than I would have been, because his heart was hers fully, not divided as mine would have been, and she came to understand that in time, so that healed the pain I'd caused by not breaking things off with her sooner. They were happy together for some years, until she died bearing their fifth child. A wee daughter. After four sons, she'd longed for one, so it saddens me she never had the chance to know the child, but the lass is a wee bonnie thing around your age now, who looks a fair bit like her Ma. And the youngest of her lads was ordained just this past Spring. I keep them all in my daily prayers."

Father Geordan studied his pupil with a wistful smile. "I know it's hard for you right now. But just keep listening to your heart in the stillness, son. I think if you're patient, you'll eventually discover those answers within yourself that you need. It might just take a little more time."


March 24, 1107–morning
A guest bedchamber
Culdi Castle

"Haud still, lass! I'm a'most done wi' lacin' ye oop." Adreana threaded the braided lacing through the last few holes of Maryse's gown, cinching the last three inches of the opening until the seam was entirely closed. She finished tying the laces off, tucking the extra length of them neatly into the neckline of the gown, secured between the soft rose linen overgown and the snowy white chemise Maryse worn beneath it. Turning her daughter to face her for a final inspection, she nodded her approval at what she saw. The rose color had brought out the bloom in Maryse's fair cheeks, though Adreana wondered how much of that was actually due to the gown's color suiting her complexion, and how much was due to Maryse's anticipation to go belowstairs to where Vera's attentive young son awaited their arrival.

She sighed inwardly, lightly catching Maryse's wrist when the lass turned towards the door, impatient to leave. "Nay, a young lady doesnae charge like a gallopin' horse! The laddie ain't goin' nowhere, an' 'tis unseemly tae appear too eager." Sliding her fingers down to clasp her daughter's hand, she urged her to sit beside her on the edge of the bed, which Maryse grudgingly did.

"Maryse...."  Adreana felt her way carefully through the maternal warning she felt it her duty to give, not wanting to see her lovely daughter's heart broken. "I ken the lad's right taken wi' ye, and ye wi' him. Anyone wi' eyes can see tha'. But ye must be careful wi' yer heart. Laird Duncan may fancy ye, but he's a Duke's son in th' end, an' it's no' fully his choice tae make, who he weds and who he doesnae.  An' afore ye cam along, th' lad was right convinced he was meant f'r the Church. Mayhap he is, an' mayhap he ain't, but if his call is genuine, then it's best if he gets it a' sorted oot in 'is head th' noo, afore any banns are read, than wed wi' ye an' regret it once th' passions o' heady young love start tae cool." She smiled sympathetically. "An' they will, ye ken, e'en if it's real love an' no' simply th' calf eyes sort. I'm devoted tae yer Da, ye ken tha', but love burns an' wanes an' keeps changin' through th' years, an' thank God for it! If I still burned as hot as I did as a sixteen y'r old lassie, I'd be a burnt oot auld cinder by now!" She laughed. "If Laird Duncan is th' one ye're meant tae make a life wi', then a slow an' steady flame atwixt ye will be better than a raging fire tha's soon burnt out. Ye want a husband who'll still love ye when ye're no' a wee bonnie thing nae longer, aye?"

Maryse sighed.  "Aye."

Adreana nodded. "Gie th' laddie some space tae ken his true heart. Hopefully he'll choose ye an' ken in his heart o' hearts tha' he's made th' right choice. Far better than rushin' intae things and discoverin' too late he's made th' wrong un." As another thought occurred to her, Adreana cautioned, "An' there's a danger in seemin' too eager. Ye'll no' want th' lad tae think ye a lightskirt, lest he be put off th' thought of courtin' ye as a bride. Sae let him see tha' ye welcome his attentions, but ne'er let him think ye're desperate f'r them, or worse, tha' he can hae his fun first wi'out a proper marriage atwixt ye. No' that I think Duncan would e'er mean tae tak advantage – " Adreana hastily added when Maryse eyes lit with indignant fire and she started to protest. "But even th' most honorable man c'n hae a lapse in judgment when his bluid is oop, especially if he's young yet an' hasnae had much experience in governin' his passions."

"He's no' Ardry, Ma, hopping frae wench tae wench wi' his troosers doon!"

Adreana winced. "Nay, he isnae, thank Heaven, or I'd no' hae let 'im anywhere near ye! Caulay really needs tae rein yer brother in, lest he come tae a bad end someday, thinkin' wi' his passions an' no' th' heid atop his shoulders. 'Tis no' at all seemly f'r an Earl's son tae be larkin' aboot tha' way. Ardry's th' MacArdry heir, no' th' MacArdry stud! I'll hae a word wi' him oncet they're back frae Meara."

Next chapter: https://www.rhemuthcastle.com/index.php?topic=2847.0
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

I have a vocabulary in excess of 75,000 words, and I'm not afraid to use it!


Another really moving installment. What a wise man Father Geordan is.
Just of well none of us is in danger of drowning in Duncan's bonnie blue eyes".

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
(Psalm 46 v1)


A very good installment!  I liked the bit of premonition about Ardry at the end; too bad the Countess did not talk to him sooner (though I doubt it would have made much difference.
From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night...good Lord deliver us!

 -- Old English Litany


A lovely installment. I felt for Duncan, so torn between two paths for his life. I loved the wisdom of Father Geordan and the advice he gave Duncan.  And I laughed when Duncan asked why God couldn't be louder or something. Instead of a still, small voice, he wanted a loud, definite one to give him guidance. He will have to work on his meditation skills.
"Thanks be to God there are still, as there always have been and always will be, more good men than evil in this world, and their cause will prevail." Brother Cadfael's Penance


Yay Evie's writing again!

And she's back to her specialty of ripping out our hearts with the pathos!  ;)
"If having a soul means being able to feel love, loyalty, and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans."

James Herriot (James Alfred "Alfie" Wight), when a human client asked him if animals have souls.  (I don't remember in which book the story originally appeared.)


I laughed with Maryse at her observation of her brother " Hopping frae wench tae wench..."  Siblings have better insight sometimes than their parents. I love that Yvette got her "Paint box" and has done her sister's sketch. a sketch that will be much loved for years to come.  and now Duncan has to be still and listen to his heart. Father Geordan has very good advice about the sacrifices made for true love. NICE!
Thank you Evie.
May your horses have wings and fly!