Echoes From The Past – Episode 32

“I’ll go myself, Sir Philip.”

His superior nodded, expecting nothing less. William carried on.

“I’ll take a man with me – someone who knows the lie of the land well. We may not manage back, but we will certainly get there.”

Sir Philip nodded.

“Very well. I know I don’t have to tell you to be watchful. You are far too valuable a knight to have your freedom, or even your life, thrown away.”

William smiled confidently.

“I’ll be careful.”

Thus it was that a quarter of an hour later, Sir William and his squire Thomas Forester left the castle by an inconspicuous route, and made their way on foot through the busy streets to the town gates. They wore capes over their armour, not wishing to attract the attention of Scottish citizens who seemed to have a new confidence about them.

Thomas’s cape was fastened with the brooch Mirin had given him, a sizeable piece of silver with a distinct old Scottish design on it. Thomas tried not to think of Mirin, or of what might happen in the next few days. He could not bear to contemplate that he might never see her again, but he was on his way to join the English army while she stayed on in Stirling. He swallowed down his misgivings, and tried to convince himself of a positive outcome.

On the way to the town gate, it was Thomas who led the way, and when they reached the gate itself, it was Thomas who negotiated their exit.

The Provost’s officers who manned the gate looked at them with glowering suspicion. These men might look Scottish on the outside, but the officers sensed they were somehow out of place.

“Open up, man,” Thomas said, with the accent he had picked up from his frequent visits to the Black Cockerel.

“If you go out, you’ll likely not get back in,” one man, a stout fellow with robust legs that stretched his hose out of shape, said. “Understand, gentlemen?” he added with a grim smile.

“Aye, we understand all right, officer. We’ll take our chances.”

After a couple more exchanges, where William had to restrain himself from telling these Scottish peasants that they trifled with them at their peril, they were allowed to pass through the gate, the officer’s dire warnings ringing in their ears. Once out of earshot, William moved up alongside his squire.

“You’ve done well, Thomas. You appear to have mastered their barbarous tongue.”

“Not barbarous, sir. Just different. If anything, it’s a little softer. And now,” he stopped and looked about him, “we make for the ferry over towards Cambuskenneth.”

“To the abbey? Surely not.”

Thomas shook his head.

“We should leave the monks out of this. They have nothing to offer us, and we don’t want to antagonise them. As soon as we cross the river, we turn south till we have to cross the river again.” He glanced at his master. “The river winds about in a demonic fashion, sir.”

“Yes, I know it does, Thomas,” William said testily.

“This is the safest route, Sir William. This way we should avoid the devices set by the Scots to trap the English.”

“Hmph,” his master said. “Just make sure we get to King Edward before the sun sets.”

Thomas grinned.

“Yes, sir.”



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!