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Rolfin's Orb
Book 2 - Spinal
Chapter 11

“Fiona, look what I found on front door this morning. It seems like Anne McAllister is throwing a tea party this afternoon. You’ve only got half a day of school. Why don’t you run along, don’t be late, and when you come home we’ll go. It’s a dress up party too. I’ll get your best things out and lay them on your bed. You can change when you get home. I’ll get off work early; hopefully it will be a slow day. It sounds fun, doesn’t it?” Mairi said.

“A tea party? Dress up? I don’t think I’ve been to a tea party before. Are they fun?” Fiona ate her breakfast and put her schoolbooks in her backpack.

“Tea parties are grand. It’s just what I need to take my mind off this mess. Where’s Johnny?” Mairi looked around and didn’t see him.

“I think he went back to the McAllister’s house. I heard noises this morning and when I got up he wasn’t here,” Fiona said.

“Ah well. He’ll probably go off with Malcolm and the lads. Men don’t belong at tea parties,” Mairi said.

“I’m off, Mum. See you around noon.” Fiona grabbed a piece of wheat toast and left.

* * *

“Oh Johnny, you just missed Malcolm. Shona and I are giving a tea party for Mairi and Fiona. Malcolm took the lads out for the day, probably doing a little hunting. Will you and Jimmy be able to amuse yourselves today?” Anne chopped cucumbers and sliced lemons, limes and oranges for the ice ring for the punch.

“Thanks Anne. I’m sure my brothers and I will be able to keep ourselves busy. Where is Jimmy?” Johnny said, looking for him.

“He went to Angus’s to see Jesse. Why don’t you just run along now? I’ve got so much to do. Try to keep yourselves away from the croft until supper time,” Anne said.

Johnny waved goodbye and headed for Angus’s house.

Anne spent the entire morning preparing food, airing out her linen tablecloths and clipping flowers from her garden for the centerpieces. “The garden’s lovely at this time of year. I’ll just cut some more roses and a few sprigs of fern and white cow parsley and I’ll be all set.”

* * *

After school Fiona changed into her white dress. Tiny stitched purple flowers and olive green leaves decorated the hem and around the neck. She saw the white gloves and hat on the bed. “A hat? No way. Mum, I am not wearing a hat!”

“Fiona, come on. It’s a tea party. Put the hat and gloves on. I’m wearing mine,” Mairi said.

“But I’ll look stupid.”

“All the other girls will be wearing theirs. Come on, Fiona. Cooperate with me.”

She put the hat on and stared at herself in the mirror. “I look stupid,” she said, but left it on. The white gloves stretched up her arm. “I feel like an idiot.”

Mairi came into her room to see if she was ready, caught Fiona frowning. “Is it that bad, Fiona?”

Fiona glanced up. “Wow, Mum. You look very nice.”

“I can say the same for you. You look lovely. Are you ready for the tea party?” Mairi held her gloved arm out and Fiona slipped hers through. They walked arm in arm to the McAllisters.

* * *

Good morning, Angus. I see Jimmy and Jesse already made it here. Good morning to you all,” Johnny said.

“Come in and sit down. Your brothers,” Angus said, giving Johnny a look, “have been telling me all about the history of your homeland.”

“Ah, so you know everything. Well, fill me in,” Johnny said. “I can’t stay long. I need to get back to Mairi’s and make sure there’s no trouble while she’s at work.”

“Would you like to see the book first?” Angus pulled it out of the drawer. “Here it is. I’m sure it brings back memories.”

Johnny took the book in his hands. “My book. It’s still in one piece, after all these centuries. Amazing.” He sat down and turned the brittle pages one by one. “I remember the day I wrote this. It seems like only yesterday, yet it was in another lifetime.” All thoughts of Mairi and her house disappeared.

“You certainly had me confused. You wrote part of the book in a strange mixture of Phoenician and Arabic and then, once you came to Scotland, you switched to Gaelic,” Angus said.

“I pick languages up quickly. One of our servants was a local villager. His name was Bruce. When he was finished working, he and I would slip away to my room and he'd teach me how to speak and write Gaelic. Great man, Bruce. I miss him.”

The others left him to his memories, went outside and sat on the chairs Angus had set up under the branches of an ancient oak.

* * *

Drayton hummed as he walked down the street, heading for Mairi’s house on Cheshire Road. “Good, everyone’s gone to work,” he said, noticing no cars in the neighbor’s driveways or garages. He went around to the back of the house. The doors were locked and so were the windows, all of them. “No problem. I’ve got my handy pick here.” He unlocked the back door without any trouble and went inside. “Anyone home?” He stood ready to run if someone answered. Nobody did. “It looks like I’ve got the place to myself.”

He saw the blanket and pillow folded on the couch. “Mairi’s had a house guest last night. What’s the matter, Mairi? Afraid of the dark?” He mocked her and looked around the house. “Well, well, well. You did a good job cleaning this up. What a shame I’m going to have to make it a mess again.”

Drayton searched the cupboard under the sink. “Goldmine here.” He pulled out a can of black spray paint. He went into the living room and sprayed symbols he’d seen in the ancient book all over the walls. “I’ll not make too much mess for you this time.” He laughed out loud, spraying the bathtub, sinks, closet doors and even inside Mairi’s shoes. “That’ll do.” He dropped the can of paint in the rubbish and left.

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