The Bairn of Brianag (Chapter Six, page 1 of 10)


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I did not dare take a horse. The sound would surely wake my parents if they were asleep; and I felt certain that sleep was unlikely to visit any of us that night. I slipped silently from the house as I had done so often before, and started toward Brianag.

I walked, like a servant, taking nothing with me but the clothes on my back, a piece of bread and a piece of cheese. The moon lit the road so brightly that I could see the way clearly.

As I walked, my heart grew stronger at the thought that I would see Robbie soon; soon he would know of his child. I nibbled the bread and cheese, and my stomach was steady. I was Scot. My ancestors were rugged Highlanders; I was made of the same stuff. A short walk down a dusty road on a summer evening would not harm me, or the child in me.

It was ten miles to Brianag. The moon was high in the sky when I arrived. I went up the driveway slowly. I remembered belatedly that Mr. and Mrs. Randall were at Grant's Hill with Cathy. My fervent hope that Robbie would be there collapsed beneath the terrifying uncertainty of what I should do if he was not. I lifted the knocker and struck it three times, and then struck it three times again.

I sank onto a chair and waited. Finally I heard shuffling feet coming toward the door, and Polo called, "Who dat?"

I got to my feet. "It is Miss Jessie, Polo. Please may I come in?"

I heard the key turn in the lock, and the door opened. Polo held a candle; his face looked strange in the flickering light.

"Miss Jessie! What the matter is? Is you sick? Is the family sick?"

"Hello, Polo," I said. "Is Master Robbie at home?"

"Yes, miss, he come home this evening at suppertime!"

I almost fell down with relief. "Might I come in, Polo?"

"Yes, miss, please, come in, miss," he said, and opened the door. I stepped inside. He closed the door, then stood there, holding the candle.

"Go wake Mr. Robbie, Polo, and tell him that I am here."

"Yes, miss, yes, miss," he said, and shuffled away, taking the candle with him.

I looked around the beautiful space, lit by the moonbeams shining through the windows, the place that had been a second home to me my entire life, and that would now be my only home. I sat down on the bench in the hallway and leaned my head against the wall, breathing in the essence of Brianag. I was home. Now that I was still and quiet, the hurt places began to protest, and I breathed as deeply as I could that I might not vomit.

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