Johnny bid farewell to Nahimena. “Mairi, could you please come with me,” he
said, taking her hand.
“But I’ve got to…”
“Never mind. It can wait. I need to discuss something with you.” He opened
the door and pulled her outside.
They walked into the woods. “Where are we going, Johnny?” Mairi turned to
look back at the cottage.
“Trust me.” Johnny led her into a clearing. The grass shimmered emerald
green. A fairy ring of mushrooms grew in the center. Tall pines encircled
the area, yet a ray of sunlight had found its way through the deep green
needles and shone down on them. Johnny took Mairi’s hand in his.
“What’s going on, Johnny? You’re being very mysterious.” Mairi felt her
“Mairi, I made a decision today. I am not going back to Burill. I’m staying
here, with you.” Johnny gulped with nervousness. “I want to fix up the
castle, the house in Inverdrochit and…”
“And what, Johnny?”
“I want to ask you to marry me.” He gazed into her eyes, watching as they
filled with tears. “Have I upset you? Why are you crying?”
“I’m not crying,” Mairi said, wiping the tears away. “I’m not crying because
I’m said. I’m happy. Of course I will marry you, Johnny. Nothing would make
Johnny laughed out loud. “I want us to be married in Castle Athdara. I want
to live in Inverdrochit, in the house you grew up in.”
“Yes, of course. We’ve got a lot of work to do then and we’ll need a lot of
help.” Mairi threw her arms around his neck.
“Fiona will be happy, won’t she?” Johnny’s face turned more serious.
“Fiona loves you. Of course she’ll be happy.” Mairi kissed him on the lips.
“Let’s go and tell everyone.” She took Johnny’s hand and turned to run.
“Wait. I have an engagement ring for you.” He reached into his pocket and
pulled out a ring.
“Johnny! It’s beautiful. It looks ancient.”
“It is. It is Queen Sarmantha’s wedding ring. After I found the bodies, I
took their jewels and put them in a secret, hidden room in the castle.”
“Hidden? Secret? You mean nobody knew about it, but you?” Mairi chuckled.
“Not many people knew about it. I went to the room, rummaged through
everything and found this. I know she’d want you to have it.” Johnny slipped
it on her finger.
“It’s beautiful. Look at it. What is it?”
“It’s pure gold and Norwegian Thulite. Don’t you love the pink stone?”
Johnny pulled her hand up to look.
“I’ve never heard of that stone before,” Mairi said.
“That ring was handed down for generations and given to Queen Sarmantha by
her mother, Queen Finna. They were both born in Norway and are descendants
of Norwegian kings that go back centuries.”
“I’ll treasure it always,” Mairi said. “Thank you. It’s so pretty.”
“Now we can go and tell everyone,” Johnny said. He let go of her hand and
ran. “I’ll beat you there.”
“Oh no you don’t,” Mairi said and ran after him.
* * *
Johnny won the race, bursting into Angus’s croft with Mairi right behind.
“Mum! What are you two doing? Mum, what’s on your finger. Is it what I think
it is?” Fiona ran over to see.
Mairi giggled. She couldn’t contain her joy. “It is. Johnny asked me to
marry him. This is my engagement ring.”
“It’s beautiful, Mum. Come and see, Elspet.” The three women stood at the
door gawking at the ring.
“It used to belong to Queen Sarmantha. In fact it was her wedding ring,”
“That means that Johnny is staying here. Are we going to live in Castle
Athdara?” Fiona jumped for joy.
“We’ll live in my old house at Inverdrochit.”
“That’s even better. Johnny, you’re going to be my stepfather.” Fiona threw
her arms around his neck and squeezed hard. “I love you, Johnny. Thanks for
marrying my mum.”
“When is the wedding going to be?” Elspet patted Mairi’s hand.
“As soon as the castle is fixed up. We want to get married there,” Mairi
“Cool. I’ll take photos of your wedding,” Elspet said.
“I know this is an exciting time for you all, but we really need to have
Fiona, Callum and Elspet leave. They’ve got to get that twelfth jewel in the
orb.” Jimmy patted Johnny on the back. “You’ve decided to stay then, have
“Yes. I can’t leave Mairi and Fiona. I belong here now.”
“I understand, Johnny. We’ll talk later.” Jimmy went to see Mairi’s ring.
Fiona filled her pack with everything they usually took, including more
film, food, torch and water. She made sure Callum and Elspet took their
coats. “We’re going to Mongolia. It’s autumn there too, so it’s probably
freezing by now. Since we’re not sure what part of Mongolia we’re going to,
we’d better be prepared for the worst.”
Callum and Elspet hugged everyone and said their goodbyes. “We’re off now.
Remember that Nahimena told us our traps will be the most dangerous of all
and we should be careful. Mum, I’m happy for you and you too, Johnny. Take
care of Mum for me.” Fiona kissed Johnny’s cheek and her mother’s too.
“Daleth shapish yam.”
Fiona, Callum and Elspet disappeared, leaving a room full of worried people