Echoes From The Past – Episode 43


Mirin’s voice stuck in her throat as the men disappeared, back to the safety of the castle. She would have wished them well, too, but she was still shocked by Giles’s morsel of news. She was sure that Thomas would not have told them of his love, but they had seen it for themselves, and had kept quiet about it.

They might well be the enemy, but they were good men, which made a nonsense of the battle now raging at the Bannock burn. There were going to be good men on both sides, led by kings and barons and politicians. And everywhere there would be grieving women.

*  *  *  *

Etta scuttled from the kitchen and round the side of the Cockerel building. From there she started running, dodging the crowds, making for the church. She must find the priest. She must confess. The soldiers could arrive at any time.

She didn’t see Friar Petrus until she ran directly into him, at which point the Dominican grabbed her by her shoulders and stared at her with his coal black eyes.

“What’s the matter? Has something happened?”

“I have to get to the church. I have to confess, Friar Petrus. I must find the priest.”

Petrus gave a harsh laugh.

“Then you will be a fortunate woman. The priest has run away. He seeks the safety of Cambuskenneth Abbey. He’s a true shepherd of his flock, is he not?”

Etta stared, understanding only that her mission had failed.

“Then I will confess to you,” she persisted.

Petrus let her go suddenly, and pushed his hands into his sleeves.

“I’m a friar, girl. Not a priest. I canna hear your confession.”

“You are a man of God,” Etta said with a strange persistence. “You will hear me, sir.”

The crowd streamed round the pair like water round a pillar, while Petrus listened with exasperated horror to what the girl was saying. His attention was distracted, however, by the arrival of several horse-drawn carts bearing men wounded on the battlefield.

He rushed to help them, and once they had been taken to the herbalists and medics who might be prevailed upon to look after them, Petrus ran back to the carts, now turning round and setting off back to the Bannock burn.

****

Holly clicked her tongue in annoyance.

“I’m going to have to go back to Dunskillen Castle,” she said. “I haven’t taken enough photographs. I mean, they liked the design they saw, but the detail has to be right.”

Bea looked up from her perusal of the ‘Stirling Observer’.

“It’s not that much of a trail to go back, is it? Get the detail right, girl. You don’t want to look casual.”

“Not to mention unprofessional.” Holly sighed. Part of her did want to go back to Dunskillen, though she didn’t want to dwell on the reason. But she was annoyed with herself for not taking enough care the first time.

“Right,” she said decisively. “I won’t be long, I promise.”

“Take your time.” Bea smiled. “I’m getting better by the minute. I’ll be fine. Go and take your photos. It’s a lovely morning for it.”

It was the day after the incident in the precinct, which Holly was intent on putting out of her mind. She had far more immediate things to concentrate on, like the Dunskillen commission and the Harris drawings.

As she left the house, Holly automatically looked up and down for the anonymous grey saloon car that had hung around a couple of weeks ago. She hadn’t seen it for some time, so perhaps she had imagined its significance. She shrugged, and dismissed it from her mind.

Arriving at Dunskillen Castle, Holly was surprised to find the parking area pretty well filled up with cars and vans, some of them unusually large. There was no sign of life in the driveway, so she parked inconspicuously in a corner and went to look for a family member.

She went first to Daniel’s office, but no-one responded to her knock and the door appeared to be locked. She then tried the back door of the castle, but no-one answered her there, either, though the door was standing slightly open. She stuck her head into the kitchen and called, but was met with a deafening silence.

“I’ll just take the photos, then,” she said aloud, and backed away.

She probably took far more than she needed, but the day was fine and the colours of the old building and the beech tree and the outbuildings all cried out to be recorded. So she clicked her way round the castle.

 

lucycrichton

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 150 years of 'Friend' fiction!