Echoes From The Past – Episode 08

“Believe me, the monks know a great deal more than I do.” The dominie raised his brows and smiled. “For a start, they are masters of Latin, which I am not.”

He let the thought sink into Hector’s mind before he said anything else. After all, it was a big step to take. Hector would see a lot less of his child, if the monks agreed to take him, and who could tell what path Murdo would take from then on?

At last Hector spoke.

“I appreciate what you tell me, Maister. I know Murdo is good with words, but –”

“Believe me, sir, he’s good enough. He’s better. The monks take new boys all the time, and it is my opinion that Murdo would benefit. Do I have your permission to approach the abbot?”

As Hector was cogitating, both Mirin and Murdo appeared at the door, quite by accident. As though keen to relinquish the total responsibility for any decision, Hector waved them in.

“Come here, the pair of you. The maister here has got a proposition, and since it concerns you both one way or another, you might as well hear it.”

Not every father would have allowed his children to take part in such a discussion, but Hector was a kindly man, and would take their opinions into account when making any decision on their behalf.

As the maister’s suggestion was relayed to them, both their expressions lightened with enthusiasm. Mirin was as interested as Murdo in the idea of expanding Murdo’s education. She had been learning alongside Murdo for the last four years, after all. The boy relayed everything he had picked up as he went along. She had kept quiet about it, of course. Being a clever woman carried its own dangers.

“Well, what do you think, son?” Hector asked. “You’d have to work hard, both at your lessons and round the monastery. The monks would expect no less.”

The boy nodded.

“Aye, Faither. I’d not let you down.”

“We still have to ask the abbot, Murdo,” Maister Scoular said. “But I think you’d do well there if he takes you. And you’re not that far away. You’ll get home now and again, I should think.” The dominie gave a small smile. “I’ll be sorry to lose you out the school, mind.”

Murdo grinned.

“Will you, Maister?”

Davie Scoular laughed, as if at some private joke between the pair of them. Mirin understood it to mean that Murdo was perhaps up to more mischief than had been suspected by his family. The maister’s offer to speak to the abbot might not be entirely altruistic, though there was no doubting his genuine wish to promote the boy’s further education.

Mirin’s opinion was not sought directly, but no-one doubted her support for the project. It would mean reallocating Murdo’s chores, but it might well also mean that she, a mere girl, would get the chance to learn at least a little Latin in secret. She smiled her pleasure at the very idea.

Lucy Crichton

Fiction Editor Lucy is always on the look-out for the very best short stories, poems and pocket novels. As well as sourcing enjoyable content, she enjoys working with our established contributors, encouraging new talent, and celebrating 155 years of 'Friend' fiction!