Lord of the Black Isle

Lord of the Black Isle by Elaine Coffman

Book: Lord of the Black Isle by Elaine Coffman Read Free Book Online
Authors: Elaine Coffman
priory at Beauly?”
    â€œThe earl has heard there was healer who has performed miracles with the sick at Elcho Priory.”
    â€œBut Elcho is here in Perth, not so terribly far from St. Leonard’s. Why didn’t they bring her here instead of taking her all the way to the Black Isle?”
    â€œThey didna know aboot ye at the time, and the prioress had asked to be taken back home to Aisling Castle so she could die there.”
    â€œIf the fever is advanced, there is nothing I can do. She may be dead before I arrive. I am needed here, where my presence will make a difference to those not so gravely ill.”
    â€œâ€™Tis naught I can do,” the prioress said. “The knights have their orders and they are signed by the abbot of Fearn Abbey.”
    One of the knights rode up beside her and stopped. “Come mistress. We must be on our way.”
    She nodded at the prioress. The metal bit clanked as she turned the horse and rode alongside the knight riding next to her. Did he have orders to keep pace beside her? Surely they did not think she would ride off in the dark alone. She rubbed the back of her neck. She was already tired from a long day. She did not relish an even longer moonlight ride followed by however many days it would take to reach the Black Isle, especially riding with a hardened group of knights with frozen expressions of dark pride upon their faces. They looked as if they would rather be anywhere else but here.
    Well, at least we have something in common…
    All in all, it took almost three days of hard riding to reach the place near Inverness where they would cross the firth to the Black Isle, and another half day to reach their destination. Elisabeth was exhausted by the time they arrived at Aisling Castle. Weary to the bone, she had lost all track of time, for they traveled straight through, only stopping long enough to feed and rest the horses and eat, with very few stops to take anything that even remotely resembled a nap. It was late in the afternoon when she was pulled from the saddle, and when she was grabbed under the arms from behind, her knees gave way.
    â€œYer a hardy lass, I will grant ye that,” said the knight who caught her, and she recognized by his voice that he was the stern-faced one who had ridden beside her.
    She was starting to respond when her head began to buzz and she dropped to the ground.
    ***
    Lord David Murray, the Earl of Kinloss, was staring morosely into the fire when he received word that the healer from Elcho Priory had arrived. He did not expect to see her being carried into the hall like a sack of oats tossed over a shoulder. “Has she caught the fever?” he asked.
    â€œNae, in truth we didna give the lass time to rest or provide her with naught to eat but a few oatcakes. I ken the fast pace o’ the journey withoot sleep was too much for her.”
    Lord Kinloss walked closer and stared at the dirty bit of humanity in the arms of his closest friend and cousin, Duncan Murray, and he was shocked to see the face of the woman he rescued and took to Soutra Aisle a few months ago.
    â€œIs she asleep or did ye have to cuff her to bend her to yer will?”
    Duncan chuckled. “Nae, she is no’ a defiant lass, but that may not be true when she awakes, for she has had a time o’ it and she wasna too happy to come here.” Duncan paused and looked from the girl to his cousin. “Have ye met the lass before?”
    David was hardly listening to Duncan, for he could not believe this was the same woman he had been unable to forget, and now she was here under his care. He was curious as to how she had made such a reputation for herself in such a short time. But Duncan was looking at him strangely, so he nodded and said, “Aye, I ha’ met the lass. ’Tis a long story,” he said, distracted by the long length of trim legs dangling beneath the blue garment she wore. He recalled how many nights he had

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