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Rolfin's Orb
Book 1 - Obsidian
Chapter 10

Mairi gathered a few things from her garden, including a bouquet of fresh flowers. Peach-colored iris with maize-colored centers, long stemmed pale yellow roses, daisies with white petals and yellow centers were tied together at the middle of the stems with a yellow, green and red tartan ribbon. “Lovely.” She smiled as she lay them in the basket. “Let’s see, I’ve got brussel sprouts, carrots, a few potatoes, and a nice fruit tart with kiwis, strawberries, blueberries and peaches. They should enjoy this.” She slipped a pale blue cardigan around her shoulders and headed for the McAllister croft.

Fifteen minutes later she stood at the gate. “Where are those dogs?” She looked from one side to another. “I can’t see them. They must have gone with Malcolm.” She opened it and walked up the path to the door. She raised her hand to knock when barking and growling noises came from around the side of the croft heading straight for her. “Oh no. Down boys,” she said, looking at the basket of food in her arms. The two Scottish deerhounds lumbered towards her, paws covered with mud. “Stay there, Devlyn, Creanth. Please don’t…” Their filthy paws pressed against her back as the two friendly, but very tall dogs licked her legs and face. Mairi screamed. “Get off me. Get down Creanth. No, Devlyn.”

Anne heard the noise and opened the door. She swatted at the dogs. “Down Creanth. Go on, Devlyn. Leave poor Mairi alone.”

The dog’s paws fell to the ground and they stood wagging their long tails, mouths drooling over Mairi’s basket. Devlyn shook his wiry gray coat, sending droplets of mud and water all over Mairi’s cardigan.

“Good morning, Mairi. Come on in and we’ll get you cleaned off. Malcolm was supposed to put those dogs away. They’re very friendly, mind you. Now, what brings you to our home?”

“You seem surprised, Anne. I was out in the garden this morning and I’ve got too much food for just Fiona and me, so I put some together, hoping your family could use them.” Mairi handed Anne the basket and attempted to brush the mud off her clothes. “Your dogs are a bit rambunctious, aren’t they?”

“You’ll find some fresh towels in the loo. Go and clean yourself up and I’ll make us some tea. I was just about to sit down and have some myself.” Anne went into the kitchen to get the kettle boiling and Mairi went to wash up.

Mairi came through a few minutes later, satisfied that most of the dirt was off her cardigan.

Anne sat on the settee pouring the tea into two cups.

“There’s a jar of heather honey in the basket too. It tastes lovely when you mix it in with tea.” Mairi licked her lips.

“Very well, we’ll try some of your honey with our tea. I just made some raisin biscuits. Can I tempt you to have a few?” Anne held the plate out.

“If you look in the basket, you’ll see a fruit tart, at least there was a fruit tart. I have no idea what it looks like now that the dogs tried to get it,” Mairi said.

Anne opened the basket. “Everything’s still in one piece.”

“I thought you might want to save it for supper, when Malcolm and your guest return.” Mairi hoped she wasn’t being too obvious. Anne turned and smiled at her, a sparkle in her chocolate brown eyes. “I mean, you do have a guest, don’t you?”

“Aye, Mairi. Johnny Thomson’s here from London. Nice man. He’s out with Malcolm doing a spot of fishing. What are you and Fiona doing for supper tonight? Would you like to come and have something with us? You can meet him, as long as you don’t mind listening to their fishing stories about the one that got away.” Anne roared with laughter.

“I met Mr. Thomson, Johnny, yesterday. He seems like a nice chap,” Mairi said. “Fiona and I were going to have mince and tatties for supper. Would you like me to bring it over?”

Anne smiled to herself, knowing what was in Mairi’s heart. “I’m setting a place for the two of you. Don’t worry about bringing anything else. You’ve already done enough. Be here around six and plan on staying for several hours. Now, sit down and have your tea.” Anne put the full teacups down on the table, along with a plate of warm raisin biscuits.

* * *

“Where did Elspet go?” Wee Malcolm noticed his missing sister. “She disappeared.” The six-year-old got up and walked over to Angus. “Can I pet your cat? What’s his name?”

Alastair, seeing his big brother leave, went to join them. The half-chewed chocolate biscuit held in his hand invited Marmaduke, Lily, and several other cats to have a lick.

“Watch it, laddie. The cat’s have eaten your biscuit,” Angus said.

Alastair started crying. “I want my biscuit. Bad cat!” He tried to hit the cat.

“The cats aren’t bad cats, Alastair. They just wanted to taste your biscuit. I’ll get you another.” Angus handed each of the lads another. “You can pet them if you’re gentle.”

“Where are Elspet and Fiona and Callum?” Malcolm looked around the croft for them.

“They went on an adventure. They’ll be back shortly. Why don’t you and Alastair and build me a castle,” Angus said.

“I can build a huge castle. Do you want to help us?” Malcolm pulled Angus’s hand, trying to get him to stand up.

“Och, all right laddies. I’ll help you for a wee while.” He went over to the fireplace and sat down on the floor next to Alastair. Malcolm sat next to him. “Do you see the pictures on the blocks? I carved those all by myself.”

Malcolm looked at the pictures. “You start. You put your block down first.” Angus shrugged his shoulders and helped the boys build a castle.

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