Border Fire

Border Fire by Amanda Scott Page B

Book: Border Fire by Amanda Scott Read Free Book Online
Authors: Amanda Scott
Tags: Romance
will bide with me.”
    “Bide with you? If you think for one minute, reiver, that you are going to—”
    “Nay, I did not mean that as a threat, lass. Your honor is safe with me.”
    “I doubt that.”
    “Aye, well, you’ve the right to doubt, and in truth, since I’ve not yet seen you in full light, mayhap I did promise too lightly. We were speaking of the devil before, however. We ought to finish one subject before we begin another.”
    He seemed so calm, so certain that they were safe and that he could protect her, that his confidence was contagious. She felt herself relax.
    Curiously, she said, “Are you saying that you do think Hugh will believe we have both been carried off by the devil?”
    He chuckled again. “Nay, lassie, much as I’d like to believe it. Your brother is not a simpleton. He might waste a moment or two scratching his head, but once he learns that you are gone and that I have escaped, he will put the facts together and most likely arrive at the correct conclusion. All we have gained by my little trick is time, but time is ever a friendly ally. With luck we’ll be across the line before he knows we’re gone, which is more than I’d have expected.”
    “But what if he declares a hot trod? He has only to call out his men, tie a bit of burning turf to a lance, and ride across the border after us.”
    “Aye, he might do that. For twenty-four hours he has the right to declare himself in hot pursuit of any escaped felon, even to cross the line and demand that the first citizen of Scotland he claps eyes on should go for the march warden, report that he’s in pursuit, and demand his help. But I do not think that he will do that, or that it would avail him much if he did.”
    “Why not?”
    “Well, you see, he would first have to determine which march we entered.”
    “But is not the Laird of Buccleuch acting warden for both the western and middle marches? I am certain that Hugh said he was.”
    “Aye, and keeper of Liddesdale, as well; but the law is the law, and Sir Hugh cannot insist on searching two marches for us. Any road, Buccleuch is likely to tell him to go to the devil.”
    “He cannot do that! By law he must honor a legitimate request.”
    “Not if he claims that he does not know Rabbie Redcloak and doubts that he would find anyone in his marches or in all of Liddesdale who would admit to knowing any knave as scurrilous as your brother is like to describe me.”
    Seated sideways as she was, Janet was able to look into his face, and her eyes had adjusted to the darkness enough so that she could make out his general features and shape, but she could not read his expression. She could still detect the ever-present note of amusement in his voice, however.
    “I do not know how you can so easily mock the law,” she said. “Do you not fear hanging?”
    “Bless you, lass, every man fears death, for we are but a moment away from it at any time. However, those who spend their living hours thinking of naught else waste their lives. I enjoy mine, and never more so than when I am risking death.”
    “Men,” she muttered.
    “Aye, we’re a sorry lot,” he agreed.
    “I do wish you would stop mocking everything I say.”
    “Then you must say something sensible,” he said. “Do you really believe that all men are alike?”
    “Not in every way,” she said, “but in many ways. They like their comforts and expect women to provide them. They are brutal and cruel when it suits them to be and care not for what havoc their behavior wreaks in the lives of others. I have yet to meet one who is not selfish and stubborn and—”
    “Enough,” he said, laughing again. “I know I asked the question, but it seems to me that you have met a sorry lot of men. The ones I know are merry, even when they struggle to find food for their tables. They look after one another—aye, and after their families and friends, too. If they do expect their women to provide them with those comforts you mention,

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