A Kiss for a Highlander

A Kiss for a Highlander by Jane Godman Read Free Book Online

Book: A Kiss for a Highlander by Jane Godman Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jane Godman
Tags: romance;historical;highlander;Scottish;1745 rising
England, he will cross the border and follow the Jacobites deep into Scotland with the goal of re-establishing the king’s supremacy over that land. It is a battle of wills now between the two men.”
    “And yet they are kinsmen, these two who would meet on the battlefield and do each other to death,” Martha said.
    “Yes, indeed. Cumberland is the prince’s distant cousin and the two are of a similar age. In other circumstances they might even have been friends. But their loyalties lie in very different directions. The prince, of course, is sworn to fight for the true bloodline of the Stuarts through the Scottish crown. Cumberland is the youngest son of the current king and must defend the Hanoverian cause.”
    “I confess I am at a loss to comprehend why the highlanders are on the side of the prince,” Rosie said.
    “It has become as much a Scottish civil war as a fight between England and Scotland. It’s no wonder you cannot keep up with it all. I doubt the prince himself would be able to unravel the intricacies of his own support.” Tom shook his head over the vagaries of the warring sides.
    “The man upstairs does not look like a highlander.” A soft blush touched Rosie’s cheeks. Martha and Tom exchanged a look laden with foreboding.
    “He may be an English or Irish nobleman loyal to the Stuart cause, even possibly one of the French nobility who form part of the prince’s retinue. The Jacobites are a diverse group, as are the king’s supporters. Whatever he may turn out to be, perhaps I had best go and check on him?”
    He rose from the table and Rosie went with him. She turned back at the door. “Will you be joining us, Martha?”
    “No, I have something I need to attend to in the cellar.” Was it guilt that drew her eyes constantly back to the closed door? The persistent memory of the brief touch of the Scotsman’s lips against her own had left her emotions in turmoil. Restlessness and confusion were new emotions for Martha, and she wasn’t sure she liked them.
    “Again?” Rosie bit her lip as though catching the next words before they could escape her mouth. “You will be careful, won’t you?”
    “Certainly I will,” Martha said, her unruffled manner disguising the heavy thud of her heart. “It may be very cluttered down there, Rosie, but I wouldn’t describe it as hazardous.”
    “I am being foolish, of course…” Rosie cast a glance up at Tom’s increasingly bewildered countenance. With a little laugh and a shrug, she made her way out of the room and up the stairs.
    “Proof indeed, if such a thing were needed, that a handsome invalid can do much to disorder a maiden’s mind,” Tom said to Martha, before he followed her.
    Martha began to clear the table as she pondered the matter of how to get the highlander in the cellar out of the house—alive or dead—without alerting Tom, or anyone else, to his presence. She was still considering the matter when a sound like a hunting horn startled her so much that she almost dropped the jug she was holding. Master Harry Delacourt burst into the kitchen with his devoted retriever, Beau, close on his heels. Harry had recently attained his twelfth summer and was a sturdy, athletic young gentleman who had something of his sister’s countenance, but none of her grace. The recent incursion by Jacobite troops into the county had fired his imagination, and he wore a wooden sword and an expression of importance.
    “What’s going on, Cousin Martha?” he asked, while stuffing apples into his pockets.
    “Whatever do you mean?”
    “Why is Rosie staying here with you, instead of at home?”
    “I asked her to keep me company following the invasion,” Martha improvised rapidly.
    Harry’s eyes lit up. “I will take Rosie’s place. I can protect you,” he exclaimed, brandishing his sword with enthusiasm. “You will need a guard to keep you safe from these desperate brigands.”
    “I do not need protection, thank you, only a companion,”

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