Echoes From The Past – Episode 23

There was an air of hectic activity in the town as Mirin set off for the castle, holding her grandmother’s heavy brooch in the pocket of her skirt. People milled about as the news of the approaching Scots Army gave them strength and made them rethink their plans. It was the English soldiers who were now at serious risk. Mirin had no idea how to find Thomas, or even if it was possible.

But as she turned the corner to head directly up the hill, there he was, with no armour or uniform, heading down towards the Cockerel. He caught sight of her, and put his hands on her shoulders, pulling her to the side of the road.

“Mirin! I came to see – I had to know – how are you?”

He hadn’t removed his hands, and she found she liked the feel of them around her.

“I’m well, Thomas. The sheriff sent me home.”

He gave a huge gasp, as though he’d been holding his breath for hours.

“Thank goodness. Who was it who accused –?”

“I don’t know, and it doesn’t matter now. What matters is that King Robert is coming with the Army, and I’m afraid for you, Thomas. What will happen?”

“Goodness knows. But whatever happens, Mirin, I want you to know –” he hesitated as two women pushed past him “– if things were different, if I could offer you – what I mean is –”

Mirin turned up her face to him and smiled a little sadly.

“I know. But things are as they are. Men and armies take no account of people’s feelings.” She reached into her pocket. “I have something for you. I am no witch, but there is something magical about this brooch. It will keep you safe, I am sure of it.”

Thomas took the brooch and turned it over in his hands.

“Thank you. I will keep it till we meet again. And we will meet again. I am sure of that, too.”

Then he stooped and kissed her swiftly. Her heart swooped as she responded, but what could have been a moment of tenderness was interrupted by a sudden stir of activity as a horseman clattered past. The road cleared of people, the rider called to Thomas, and Thomas let her go with a blown kiss. As he raced to catch up with the rider and clamber up behind him, a leather purse fell to the ground, unnoticed by the riders. It was the kind of scrip used by messengers to carry information. By the time Mirin reached it to pick it up, the horse was halfway to the castle gate.

Only when she was on her own and safe did she open the scrip. Inside it was a letter. It was addressed to Sir Philip Mowbray, and it had fallen into the hands of one of the few women in Stirling who could read it. It was to let him know that the English Army, under King Edward the second of that name, was massing at the border at Berwick-upon-Tweed.

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!