Chapter XX The Heiress of the Kerrs
While Archie was speaking Marjory had sat down on a fallen tree. She had not slept the night before, and had been anxious and agitated the whole day. The excitement had kept her up; but she now felt completely worn out, and accepted without protest Archie’s decision that a halt must be made.
The men were already gathering sticks, and a bright fire soon blazed near the spot where she had seated herself. Ere long some venison steaks were broiled in the flames. At Archie’s earnest request Marjory tried to eat, but could with difficulty swallow a few morsels. A bower of green boughs was quickly made for her, and the ground thickly piled with fresh bracken, and Marjory was in a very few minutes sound asleep after the fatigue and excitement of the day.
With the first dawn of morning the men were on their feet. Fresh sticks were thrown on the fire and breakfast prepared, for the march would be a long and wearisome one.
“Breakfast is ready, Mistress Marjory,” Archie said, approaching the bower.
“And I am ready too,” the girl said blithely as she appeared at the entrance. “The sleep has done wonders for me, and I feel brave and fresh again. I fear you must have thought me a terrible coward yesterday; but it all seemed so dreadful, such a wild and wicked thing to do, that I felt quite overwhelmed. Today you will find me ready for anything.”
“I could never think you a coward,” Archie said, “after you faced the anger of that terrible uncle of yours for my sake; or rather,” he added, “for the sake of your word. And now I hope you will eat something, for we have a long march through the forest and hills before us.”
“Don’t fear that I shall tire,” she said. “I am half a mountaineer myself, and, methinks, can keep on my feet as long as any man.”
The meal was hastily eaten, and then the party started on their way.
“I have been wondering,” the girl said, as with light steps she kept pace with Archie’s longer strides, “how you came to know that I was in the convent.”
Archie looked surprised.
“How should I know, Mistress Marjory, but through your own messenger?”
“My own messenger!” Marjory exclaimed. “You are jesting, Sir Archie.”
“I am not so, fair lady,” he said. “Surely you must remember that you sent a messenger to me, with word that you were captive at St. Kenneth and needed my aid?”
The girl stopped for a moment in her walk and gazed at her companion as if to assure herself that he was in earnest. “You must be surely dreaming, Sir Archie,” she said, as she continued the walk, “for assuredly I sent you no such message.”
“But, lady,” Archie said, holding out his hand, “the messenger brought me as token that he had come from you this ring which I had given you, vowing that should you call me to your aid I would come immediately, even from a stricken field.”