The Bairn of Brianag (Prologue, page 1 of 1)

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November, 1765

I run down the stairs and out the door, onto the front porch of Gillean, tears of rage searing my cheeks as I watch my brothers ride away toward Brianag, their horses' feet clattering upon the stones of the driveway. I clutch the post and scream after them to wait for me, to let me go with them; but they do not look back. I sink to the steps, feeling as if my chest will crack open from the pain.

How I hate Cathy Randall in this moment! How I burn with envy of her in her happiness with her husband! I press my fists to my cheeks, weeping into my lap, wishing that John Belden would die, so that Cathy might return to Brianag to live, and I could again visit her there, as often as ever before! Then I would see Robbie as often as I always have, even every day; I would not be left behind but included as always, close to Robbie, drinking in his nearness, filling again the emptiness that grows inside me with every separation from him.

They are so stupid, all of them. They think of me as a child, the bairn of our group.

Even Cathy, who is my dearest friend in the world, believes she can manage my life and even my heart! Little does she know that I am as much in love with Robbie as I have ever been.

I belong to Robbie; he will belong to me. No matter what they all think, no matter what I must do-I will marry Robbie Stewart. I wipe my cheeks on my apron and rise to my feet, turning toward the inside of the house and the sound of my mother's beckoning.

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