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Authors: Temple Hogan

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The Laird's Daughter

BOOK: The Laird's Daughter
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Table of Contents

Title Page

The Laird’s Daughter Copyright © 2013 Temple Hogan

Dedication

Prologue

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

About the Author

Also Available from Resplendence

www.resplendencepublishing.com

 

The Laird’s Daughter

 

 

A
Scottish Love Songs
Story

 

 

By Temple Hogan

Resplendence Publishing, LLC

http://www.resplendencepublishing.com

The Laird’s Daughter
Copyright © 2013 Temple Hogan
Edited by Delaney Sullivan and Cait Green

Cover Art by Adrian Nicholas

Published by Resplendence Publishing, LLC
2665 N Atlantic Avenue, #349
Daytona Beach, FL 32118

Electronic format ISBN: 978-1-60735-656-1

Warning: All rights reserved. The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.

Electronic Release: May 2013

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and occurrences are a product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, places or occurrences, is purely coincidental.

As always to my wonderful husband Steve, who tolerates my erratic writing schedules and dust on the furniture, to the terrific people in my writers group whose encouragement and support is a lifeline and to my wonderful editor, Delaney Sullivan, whom I’ve never met but love anyway.

Prologue

 

 

“What is this travesty?”

Father Cowan glared at his hapless pupils as if they had brought about the bedlam erupting beyond the chapel doors. Gray beard trembling, black robes flapping, he hurried to the stout, front portals and peered out.

“What is it, Father?” asked Anna MacDougall for she knew she was bolder than the rest.

The priest turned his head to glare at her, but she refused to be intimidated. He had never liked her, as well she knew. He’d made it clear that as the laird's daughter, she was spoiled by an overly indulgent father and had no manners. Furthermore, he accused her of hurrying through her prayers for no other reason than that her knees hurt from kneeling so long on the stone floor. In short, he found her wanting in every way.

Now the good father’s usual disapproving scowl seemed not to be directed at her at all. Screams came from the courtyard, and his expression crumbled in horror.

“’Tis the Campbells. Hide, children, quickly,” he called, but they stood huddled and silent.

Anna stared at the old priest, remembering all the things he’d told them. For weeks, sanctioned by the newly crowned Robert the Bruce, the Campbells had laid siege to Dunollie, the stronghold of Ewan MacDougall, one of the king’s bitterest enemies. The laird and his men had fought bravely to repel the Campbells, but on this bitter day, even the beloved stone walls of Dunollie Castle had given way to their superior forces. Now, the old priest’s eyes filled with tears. Anna rushed to the door and peered out in time to see Campbell men pour into the bailey, their swords flashing with death and MacDougall blood. Her father, it seemed, would pay well this day for his rebellion against the king.

The frightened children began to weep, but the old priest ignored them. Through the cracked door, she could see into the courtyard where a woman screamed and a man fell beneath a blade. Sounds came to them, cold and deadly. Steel clanged against steel. Men died with curses on their lips. Father Cowan shuddered and crossed himself, and his old body shook as with the ague. He held out a trembling hand as if to give a benediction then let it fall ineffectually against his thin chest.

The weeping children caught his attention, and he turned to them. Anna looked at him with a growing sense of terror. She knew he’d brought them to the chapel at her father’s request, ostensibly to lead them in prayer and drill them on the teaching of the church, but she’d guessed it was to hide them. Her father must have feared the castle would fall this day. Suddenly, the urgency of what was happening washed over her.

“Run, children,” Father Cowan cried urgently. “Run and hide.”

Anna made no move to do as he bid. Neither did she cry out as the others had done. Father Cowan’s eyes held a flash of approval then it was quickly gone.

“Go, Anna.”

“Father?” She tried to run out the door into the courtyard, but the priest’s old arms stopped her.

“No child, you must hide.”

“I want my papa,” she gasped, twisting in his hold.

“Not now, little one.” His voice was strangely gentle, not at all the rough, impatient tone he normally used. He tried to turn her head away so she wouldn’t see the bloody massacre taking place beyond the heavy oaken door.

The castle gate gave way and Campbell men poured into the bailey. Guards and servants alike were mowed down with mighty thrusts of enemy claymores. Fierce looking men garbed in Campbell plaids were slaughtering the helpless villagers who had sought refuge within the castle walls. Young women were thrown to the ground, their clothes ripped from their bodies, their struggles stilled by hammer like fists as men took what they wanted, careless of the injury they caused.

Anna couldn’t breathe. Small animal sounds emitted from her mouth, but her eyes never turned away from the carnage she witnessed beyond the chapel door.

Suddenly, a plump woman with a snow-white apron tied around her ample waist, ran across the bailey. The ends of her kerchief
,
which framed her face, flew behind like the wings of a sea gull. She gasped from her exertions but didn’t hesitate to push her way through the mayhem. Blood stained her plain cogs and the hem of her woolen skirts.

“Lady Anna,” she screamed as she clambered up the steps to the chapel, her eyes rolling with fear and apprehension for her charge.

“Sophia,” Anna cried, straining to free herself from the hateful clergyman, but he held tight.

Sophia’s face brightened when she heard Anna’s voice, a grin curving her generous lips, but her eyes darkened in pain and surprise even as she gazed at Anna. Anna saw the love in Sophia’s eyes and cried out again. Slowly, the nursemaid fell face down on the stone steps. An enemy claymore had cleaved her head half off her body. Blood gushed down the stairs and stained the white apron red.

“Sophia!” Anna screamed.

Strong arms lifted her, though she was tall for her eight years. Dimly, she perceived she was being carried through the church, her thin screams echoing against the walls, wilder and keener than the highest bell.

“Hush, child, hush,” Father Cowan whispered.

He shoved her to the floor behind the altar then slid back a panel. Anna stopped screaming, although helpless whimpers escaped her clenched lips. Her anguished gaze fixed on his face

“Get inside, child. You must hide. If you don’t, they’ll kill you too, for no other reason than that you be the Laird’s daughter.”

She only stared at him, struck dumb by all she’d seen, but she didn’t resist when he pushed her shivering body into the small wooden space.

“Don’t make a sound,” he admonished. “Don’t say a word.”

His bushy eyebrows drew together in a fierce line, and his blue eyes crackled with anger. She knew she must obey. She nodded and scooted deeper into the cavity. He slid the panel closed, and she was shut away in darkness. She smelled the incense and thought this must be how it felt to be entombed. The thought brought no more terror than what she’d already seen. She clasped her hands over her mouth and closed her eyes.

At first she lay quiet and trembling, trying her best to hold back the occasional hiccupping sob that escaped. But then she heard sounds and turned in the darkness. Through tiny slits in the altar, she could see the front of the chapel. A man had entered, his sword drawn, his stance wary. He looked around, his head swinging from side to side.

“Anna!” His deep rich voice rang in the smoky air.

“Papa.” She wriggled, trying to escape the tight space, but she was stuck fast. She saw his tall, broad figure and his handsome face with his dark hair falling across his brow.

“Anna, lass, where are you?” he called urgently and her fear passed.

“Here! I’m here, papa.” She beat feebly against the wood panel, but he seemed not to hear her.

Someone else had entered the chapel, a warrior armed with shield and claymore and covered with blood. His black hair stood out around his face in wild disarray, and the light in his eyes was that of madness. He reminded her of the drawings of the ancient Picts come from Ireland to take Scotland as their own. She drew back in fear, feeling the wood panel against her back. She hadn’t cried earlier, but she did now as a black fear washed over her.

“Please, not my papa,” she whispered without taking her gaze from the tableau beyond the altar screen. “I’ll always say my prayers no matter how long, and I won’t complain how hard the floor is.” She crossed herself and held her breath.

“Ewan MacDougall.” The man moved warily toward her father, his blade at the ready. He was at least as tall and broad as the laird. “We meet at last.” He tipped his claymore mockingly.

“God rot your soul, Campbell,” MacDougall cried hoarsely.

He launched himself forward, his claymore gripped in both hands. Campbell dodged the killing blow and pivoted, his own claymore cutting through the air with a mighty roar. Anna screamed, but the sound was lost in the clang of steel blades.

The battle was evenhanded with both men well versed in the use of their weapons. They parried and thrust with fury. Campbell’s arm dropped, and Ewan seized the opening. His blade flashed, plucking out the eye of his adversary. Campbell screamed and clamped his hand to his face. Blood gushed from behind his thick fingers.

The sound of fighting had brought forth another enemy who ran into the chapel with a drawn sword. Believing Campbell disabled, Ewan MacDougall spun around, his attention momentarily diverted. Campbell took full advantage, stepping forward with all the weight behind his thrust, and drove his blade into Ewan’s back. Anna screamed again as her father slid to the floor. Campbell didn’t turn toward the weak sound, apparently oblivious to it. He let out a victorious roar and bent to sever Ewan’s head from his shoulders. Holding the bloody prize aloft with one hand and his claymore with the other, he staggered out of the room to the chapel steps.

“Ewan MacDougall is no more. Dunollie is ours,” he bellowed, so even Anna heard him in her cramped space. “Kill every MacDougall you find. Hang his head on the castle wall, so all may see what happens to those who oppose King Robert the Bruce and Archibald Campbell.”

Hidden behind the altar tapestry, Father Cowan bit his tongue not to cry out when Laird MacDougall fell. Now he heard Campbell’s decree and thought of the girl hidden beneath the altar.

“Lie still, child,” he prayed silently. If need be, he’d leave his hiding place to protect the laird’s daughter. For now, he held his breath and waited, knowing that to reveal himself in this moment of bloodlust would be certain death. Cautiously, he peered from behind the tapestry.

Two of Campbell’s men had entered and paced around the chapel, using their bloodied weapons to push over statues and send candles tumbling from their niches. When they reached the altar, one of them swung his mighty blade, using both hands, to clear the gold, gem-encrusted chalice and crucifix from their Holy place. The old priest shuddered at the barbaric act and gripped the drapery fold, ready to fling it aside and confront the looters, but the men turned toward the door, and the good father breathed a relieved prayer and made the sign of the cross.

Quick as a sly cat, one of the men turned and drove his blade through the open slat work of the altar. Horror and disbelief left the priest speechless. The man withdrew his claymore and plunged it into the altar yet again.

No sound came from behind the panel. Had the girl gotten away when he wasn’t looking, the priest wondered and prayed it was so.

Satisfied, the men left the chapel. From his hiding place, the priest observed the wanton destruction in the chapel. The smell of death hung heavy on the air.

He remained hidden until long after dark. Beyond the broken door, he could see the shadowy figures of the drunken revelers staggering about in the light of their bonfires. Now and then a captured woman screamed piteously as a blood-crazed marauder spent his lust on her against her will.

BOOK: The Laird's Daughter
13.56Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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