The Bairn of Brianag (Chapter Two, page 2 of 18)

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The morning dragged as I sat in the drawing room with my mother. I worked on embroidery today; not as tedious as hooking the rug, but still causing my neck to ache. I could not eat at dinner time; thankfully, no one noticed. After dinner, my mother went to her room to rest as she did every day; I waited until I was sure she was undressed and settled, and then I took a hat and left the house for the stable.

I had not changed into a riding habit, but that was not unusual; I hardly ever did for rides unless I was going visiting. I wore the same linen gown I wore every day for housework, and my hat was of straw. After the horse was saddled, the groom helped me up, and I galloped away between the fields.

It was easy for me to be alone on Gillean. Six hundred acres for me to roam in, and then the roads between the adjoining plantations; Brianag joined us to the north. I skirted the fields and when out of sight of the house, started along the road, my heart thudding, knowing that soon I would see Robbie. My breath came fast, and my thoughts raced.

What should I do when I saw him? Should I speak out straight away: "Robbie, I love you, I have always loved you; please take me now"? Or should I be more subtle, more devious?

I saw him before he saw me; my heart raced unbearably, and the horse shied beneath me, and all at once I knew what to do. I reined the horse in quickly, and she reared.

I soothed her for a moment, then slid from the saddle. I led her to the edge of the road, where the new grass grew lushly, and let the reins dangle. She began immediately to graze.

I walked a few paces away, out of sight of the road, and crouched down under a maple tree.

I could hear the hoofbeats of Robbie's horse growing closer. I pulled my gown up over my ankles, and loosened the ribbons of my hat so that it dangled askew at my throat, then leaned back in the grass, moaning a little. I heard the horse slow and stop, and Robbie's voice speak quickly, an ejaculation of surprise or alarm. Then my heart leapt as he called my name.

"Jessie!" I heard him come down off his horse, his boots hitting the ground. "Jessie!

Are you here, lass?"

I moaned again, a little louder. I heard him coming quickly toward me, his boots swishing through the grasses. Then I felt him kneel beside me, and I was lifted into his arms, against his knee.

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