The Bairn of Brianag (Chapter One, page 1 of 22)


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Spring, 1766

In the quiet of the evening, when everyone at Gillean had gone to bed, I paced the floor of my room in my night dress, waiting for my brother Kevin to come home. The night was chilly and the windows were closed; I looked through the glass every few minutes, hoping to see him in the moonlight, coming up the driveway. I opened the window to listen for the sound of his horse's feet, then drew it closed again. At last I heard him, and then saw him; throwing a shawl about my shoulders, I crept from my room and down the stairs. I softly opened the front door and slipped out onto the porch, closing it silently behind me.

Kevin had dismounted and the horse was being led away. He saw me as he started up the steps.

"Jessie!" he said. "What on earth are you doing out of bed, bairn? You'll catch your death!"

"I'm not cold," I said, my teeth chattering lightly. "I must speak with you, Kevin."

He held out his hand to me as he sat in a chair on the porch, drawing me onto his knee. I pulled my feet up under my nightdress. "What is it, lass?"

"Kevin," I said, and felt for a moment as if I might faint; the shivering grew until it became a knot in my middle, and Kevin drew me into his embrace. I pressed my face against his shoulder.

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