Authors: Christine Dorsey
|My Seaswept Heart|
|MacQuaid Brothers |
With love for our grandson Grayson, he of the
sparkling eyes and endless questions.
And as always for Chip.
First published by ZEBRA BOOKS
Copyright 1994 and 2012 by Christine Dorsey
Digitally published by Christine Dorsey at
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The majority have the right to act and conclude the
— John Locke
Every man has a vote in affairs of moment.
— Pirate’s Articles of Agreement
Trying to stanch the overwhelming fear was
like keeping warm in the damp, vermin-infested dungeon.
James MacQuaid huddled knees to chest as
shivers of cold and terror wracked his thin frame. He would fill
out to become a brawny man, at least that’s what his stepmother had
assured him. But she was wrong. There was no time left for the
promise of broad shoulders and muscled arms to transform him.
Within a fortnight he would be dead.
Jamie let his head fall back against the
moisture-bleeding stones of his cell. It wasn’t supposed to end
like this. By now he was to be riding into London astride a mighty
stallion amid joyous huzzahs and cheering multitudes. He would be a
hero, adored by the masses for his help in restoring the rightful
king to his throne.
Closing his eyes, Jamie let the fantasy flow
through him like warm honey. The flowers strewn in his path, the
smiling faces of pretty maidens eager for a kiss from the handsome
crusader. He would be hailed as one of Prince Charles Edward
Stuart’s lieutenants. One of the intrepid souls who’d risked all to
see the rightful heir proclaimed king.
The deep echoing sound of voices outside his
cell pierced the gossamer dream. The throngs disappeared, the
cheers drifted to nothingness like the mist lifting over Culloden.
Revealing the dead and twisted bodies of his compatriots, lying on
the rain swept plain. The agonizing screams of prisoners as they
were slaughtered by the Duke of Cumberland’s soldiers.
As his cell door swung open with a groaning
protest, reality crashed over Jamie like waves over the rocks of
the Hebrides. There was no more glorious revolution. Prince Charles
was defeated, his once mighty army in ruins, the prince himself...
Rumors were rampant. He was dead, said some. Others spoke of his
escape garbed as a woman. Still others bragged that he would return
to fight again another day.
But it would be too late for Jamie. He was
captured and tried. Found guilty of the heinous crime of believing
in a lost cause. And sentenced to hang.
Lifting his arm, he squinted toward the light
shining into his dark cell. Jamie couldn’t tell who stood behind
the lantern till he spoke. Then tears of joy... of hope burned his
“Father.” His voice was rusty from
“’Tis a fine mess you’ve gotten yourself into
this time, James. A fine mess.”
Jamie scrambled to his feet, but his limbs
were as out of practice as his tongue. He waited for the light to
move closer, his shoulders drooping when it didn’t.
“I warned you of this, James. Do you
“I told you to put aside your foolish beliefs
in that pompous pretender to the throne.” There was a hesitation.
“You do remember my words, don’t you?”
“Aye.” Jamie remembered them well. His
father’s harangue. His own fevered speech in defense of his
Jamie cleared his throat. He didn’t want to
talk of this. He hadn’t seen any of his family since he left home
to join the Highland army near Manchester. “How is Margaret, and
“You’re a fine one to ask such questions.
’Tis no thanks to you that they are safe.”
“I’d never do anything to harm them,” Jamie
“You think your stepmother didn’t cry when
you left? Do you think your brother, Logan, won’t suffer for your
stupidity? But you didn’t care.”
“I cared. I care.” He loved his stepmother in
a way he never thought possible when his father first brought her
home. She formed a buffer between Jamie and his stern father that
had been missing since his own mother died. “Is she coming to see
“Are you mad? That’s it, isn’t it? You’re as
mad as your mother was. Margaret wants nothing more to do with you,
nor do I. I came to London to try and convince the authorities that
I’ve disowned you. That your foolish deeds were your own and not
mine.” He lowered the lantern so Jamie could see his scowling face,
the features almost demonic in the fractured light. “Lost causes
are for fools.”
Then he turned, punctuating his words with
the metallic clang of the cell door as it closed behind him.
“I ain’t sure ye should be goin’ in there,
“Nonsense, Israel.” Anne Cornwell chose to
ignore the burly ruffian entering the Shark’s Tooth Tavern. And the
loud, raucous laughter that spewed through the door when he opened
it. If she thought about what she was going to do for too long,
Anne would have to agree with her friend. And she didn’t have that
option. Sucking in a breath of air heavy with the smell of tar and
brine and rotting garbage Anne raised her chin. “I shall be
“Hell, I’ll go talk to the bastard. I’ve been
in enough of these dives to know me way around.”
“That’s very kind of you, Israel. However, we
decided I should plead our case with him.”
Anne didn’t take her eyes off the tavern door
to see Israel’s reaction, but she could hear him shuffling his feet
and grumbling to himself. And she could imagine him pulling on his
scraggly beard as he chewed on the pipe stem that never seemed to
leave his mouth.