Just Beyond Tomorrow
With his father dead and his mother in France, Patrick Leslie, Duke of Glenkirk, discovers the obligations of the estate and its people are now his alone. But during a day of hunting, a chance meeting ensures that he will not be alone much longer, for to obtain the deserted castle and lands adjoining his, Patrick must agree to take something else, as well--a bride.
Flanna Brodie, heiress to Brae, is as vibrant and beautiful as the Scottish countryside, and just as wild. She wants no man--only her freedom. But the passions Patrick awakens in her run deeper than those of the flesh. The independent Flanna is determined to champion the royal Stuarts' cause, and restore Charles II to his throne despite her husband's objections. Patrick knows the dangers of such political intrigues; that the Stuarts have always brought misfortune to the Leslies of Glenkirk, and that a roguish king will ask far more of the naïve duchess than a simple vow of fealty--forcing Patrick and Flanna to choose between the threat of wounded pride, and the promise of a lasting love both secretly yearn for. . .
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Scotland, 1650 Late summer and autumn
She remembered the argument well as she sat by the early afternoon fire, assailed by her memories. "Have you lost your wits entirely, old man?" the Duchess of Glenkirk demanded of her husband of thirty-five years. Jasmine Leslie could not remember ever having been so angry. Her turquoise blue eyes flashed with her indignation as she confronted James Leslie. "What the hell have we to do with the royal Stuarts? I cannot believe you would even consider such a venture as you now tell me you are planning."
"The young king needs the help of all loyal Scotsmen," the duke replied stubbornly, but in truth she knew his conscience had troubled him over the matter.
"We do not even know this king," Jasmine recalled saying in an attempt to regain a firm grip over her emotions. Drawing her husband to the settle by the fireplace, she had sat beside him and affectionately ruffled his snow-white hair fondly. "Jemmie, be reasonable. It has been over thirty years since we had anything to do with the royal Stuarts or their court. King James ruled us then. There was peace. Then he died, and ever since poor Charles Stuart has made one mistake after another. He has plunged not only England, but Scotland as well, into wasteful fighting. How many innocent lives have been sacrificed in this battle over religion? If it could be settled, then perhaps it would have been worth it, but it will never be resolved. The Anglicans want it all their way. The Presbyterians want it all their way, and God save us from the more fanatical Covenanters among them! No one will win in this matter! Is it not better to follow the cardinal rule of the Leslies of Glenkirk, to not get involved? The survival of this clan is paramount. You are responsible for your people."
"But our parliament in Edinburgh has taken King Charles II as their own," the duke told his wife.
"Hah!" Jasmine said. "Listen to me, Jemmie Leslie, we knew King James well, both of us. You, since your birth. He was well named the wisest fool in Christendom, for he was a canny, clever man who knew how to play the various factions around him against one another and thereby guarantee his own comfort and survival. His son, our late King Charles, we have not seen since he was a young and untried youth, but I remember him well as a boy, standing in his older brother Henry's shadow. That Charles was stubborn, stiff-necked, impressed with his own importance, and absolutely certain of his own rightness. This is the man who brought us to civil war."
"The Covenanters could nae compromise either," James Leslie reminded his wife. "They were just as difficult as the king."
"Agreed," Jasmine replied, "but it was up to the king to show them a way to compromise, but no, he would not. The Divine Right of the royal Stuarts once again overshadowed all common sense of the common good."
"But this king is a different Charles Stuart," the duke said.
"Aye, yet he is the first Charles's son, with a French princess for a mother. I know that after the Duke of Buckingham's death, the late king and his wife became quite a love match. Their devotion to each other has set a fine example for the kingdom, but the queen has not been noted for her intellect, or her cleverness, Jemmie. This second Charles is the child of their love, but I question his character."
"Why?" the duke asked.
"Because he has signed the Covenant, and we both know he damned well has no intention of honoring that shameful document," Jasmine said bluntly. "He wants a power base from which to reconquer England and thinks to get it in Scotland. He will not. Not now in this time. Not ever!"
"But now," the duke replied, "the English prepare to invade the sacred soil of Scotland. All loyal Scots are called upon to aid our king and country. God's blood, Jasmine! I hae been called by my distant cousins to raise a troop of both cavalry and foot soldiers. How can I refuse them? It would bring dishonor upon the Leslies of Glenkirk, and that I willna do."
"Your distant cousins? Now, would that be Alexander Leslie, the Earl of Leven, and his brother, David? Those Leslies who turned King Charles I over to the English when he fled home to Scotland a few years back? 'Twas shamefully done, and you know it! Why would you even listen to such men? Besides, Glenkirk's earldom is far older than Leven's. If you seek an excuse, my lord, plead your years. You are, after all, seventy-two."
"Alexander Leslie is but two years my junior. Besides, he willnae lead the armies of the Covenant. It will be his brother, the lieutenant general, and David Leslie isnae much younger."
"You are mad!" she accused him. "Do you think I have not heard the rumors that the fanatics who hold sway in this land, who call themselves the Kirk Party, are purging the army of those they deem ungodly? They interfere with military affairs and weaken our defenses, all the while claiming it is in the name of God. Had they any sense they would put the ungodly in the front lines and rid themselves of them for all time, but no! They will have a godly army go to war. What nonsense! You cannot, must not, be a part of this, Jemmie Leslie. You are a white-haired old man, and I do not want to lose you, damnit!"
"Do ye think my years hae rendered me incapable, madame?" he demanded, suddenly angry. "Ye didna think so last night in our bed!"
The duchess flushed then, but she pressed onward with her case. "We have had no dealings with the royal Stuarts in years. We owe them nothing. This foolishness over religion is ridiculous. Bigotry only breeds more intolerance, my lord, and well you know it."
"The king is the king, and he hae asked for our help," James Leslie answered his wife. "Yer own father would hae nae put up with such disrespect, and disloyalty, from his subjects."
"My father," she replied evenly, "knew enough not to endanger himself or his family. May I remind you, my lord, that your first wife, her two sons, and her unborn child died at the hands of the Covenanters when they raided the convent she was visiting? They raped, tortured, murdered, and finally fired the buildings, killing all those innocent women and your children. And now, all these years later, you would pick up the Glenkirk banner and march out to war for them?"
"It is nae for them. It is for Charles Stuart. The king is my kinsman," the duke answered his wife implacably. "What of yer own Stuart son? Will he desert his cousin's cause? I dinna think so, madame. We must all rally about the king so those men who are attempting to institute this socalled Commonwealth will see that we dinna want it. These rude republicans must be taught to gie way to their betters, darling Jasmine. Besides, here at Glenkirk we hae accepted the Covenant for expediency's sake. Let me show the government that the Leslies of Glenkirk are loyal. Then they will continue to leave us in peace. They will probably decide I am ungodly and send me home anyways," he finished with a chuckle.
"Don't you darling Jasmine me, Jemmie Leslie," she told him. "The king is a royal Stuart, not a Leslie of Glenkirk. You owe him naught! If you go, however, you go alone. I will not let you take Patrick to a certain death! Thank God Adam and Duncan are in Ireland, safe from this madness!"
"Ireland is scarcely a place of great safety right now," the duke remarked dryly. "Besides, both Adam and Duncan sincerely accepted the Covenant, although I will wager they are yet loyal to the king."
Jasmine shook her head wearily. There would be no dissuading her husband from his foolish course, she suspected. "Do you not remember," she began in a final attempt to turn her husband's heart, "that every time the Leslies of Glenkirk have become involved with the royal Stuarts disaster ensues?" Her eyes went to the portrait above the fireplace. It was a very beautiful young girl with red-gold hair. "Janet Leslie was lost to her family when her father was in the service of a Stuart king. Her father returned home to mourn her his whole life."
"Yet that Patrick Leslie gained us the earldom in service to King James IV," the duke replied. "And when Janet Leslie returned home many years later, she obtained the Earldom of Sithean for her son."
"Her brother, his heir, and that same son along with many other members of the family, and the clan, died at Solway Moss in service of James V," Jasmine answered him promptly. "The family would have been lost had not that same Janet lived into old age to protect them all. And what of your own mother? Driven from Scotland by a Stuart king's lust! Never able to return, dying in Italy with little family about her. And have you forgotten the debacle the king made in our lives when, having betrothed me to you, he then promised me to his current favorite, Piers St. Denis? I did not enjoy having to hide my children from that madman and to keep on the run for months after Patrick was born. None of it would have happened but for a Stuart king's meddling!" she concluded heatedly.
"Yet when the king saw St. Denis's treachery, he rewarded me with a dukedom," James Leslie countered.
"As I remember," Jasmine retorted, "he said at the time it cost him naught as you already had wealth and lands. It was an empty title and nothing more. Do not make generosity out of nothing, my lord."
They had argued into the night, but Jasmine could make no headway with her stubborn husband. In the end she had reluctantly accepted his decision, but she could not reconcile herself to it. She knew he was going headlong into disaster. She was angry that she could not stop him short of killing him herself. The duke raised fifty horsemen and a hundred foot soldiers. His wife kissed him lovingly, knowing with a sure instinct that it was the last time she would ever see him alive again. Remembering it now on this chill October night, Jasmine wept.
What had happened next had been related to her by her own personal captain, Red Hugh, who had gone with the duke. James Leslie, first Duke and fifth Earl of Glenkirk, had marched south in the service of his God, his country, and his king. He was not, however, sent away as one of the ungodly, for little was known of him by the men who now controlled Scotland. They knew what they needed to know. He had accepted the Covenant when it had been first offered him. He was faithful to his wife, there was no evil gossip about him, and he had raised a family of God-fearing sons and daughters.
He then presented himself to his distant cousin, the lieutenant general of Scotland, Sir David Leslie.
"I dinna know if ye would come," David Leslie said. "Yer the oldest Leslie of us all now, and ye hae nae come out of yer hills for many years, my lord. Yer older than my brother, are ye nae?"
"Aye, I am. I will be seventy-three my next natal day," the duke answered him. "I didna bring my heir. He is nae wed yet, and my wife would nae hae it."
David Leslie nodded. "'Twas wise, and 'tis nae shame, my lord. Come, and meet the king. The parliament dinna want him here; but he came anyway, and the commons love him for it."
The Duke of Glenkirk bowed low to his king, but looking at him he did not see a Stuart. Charles's great height was his only Scots feature. His eyes were black as currants as his mother's were. His hair was black. His face was very saturnine and French. He looked like his grandfather, King Henry IV, not at all like a Stuart. There was nothing at all familiar about him, Red Hugh told his mistress. Visibly troubled, James Leslie had a second qualm of conscience. Why had he come? he now wondered. Was it out of sentiment? Duty? He had ignored the cardinal tenet in his family, not to become associated with the royal Stuarts. Jasmine had been right, he told Red Hugh, that every time the Leslies of Glenkirk became involved with the royal Stuarts, difficulties abounded. When the king spoke, however, even Red Hugh's fears vanished. He was mesmerizing.
"My lord duke," Charles II said in a deep, rich, and smooth voice, "your loyalty does not go unnoticed, though we have not met before today. You have not come to court in many years, but my cousin, the Duke of Lundy, speaks of you and his mother often and lovingly. Please convey my felicitations to your duchess."
"I am grieved for your father, Your Majesty," James Leslie answered. "I knew him from his birth and pray for his good soul."
"In the manner prescribed by the kirk, I hope," the king said, but there was just the faintest twitch of a smile on his lips.
"Indeed, Your Majesty," the Duke of Glenkirk replied, bowing, his green eyes twinkling with their shared conspiracy.
During the month of August the English sought in vain to breach the Scottish defenses. David Leslie made certain that his troops held the stronger defensive position, and the English were finally forced to retire to the coast to restock their dwindling provisions. Hunger and illness plagued them. Their numbers fell to eleven thousand while the Scots had grown in strength to twenty-three thousand fighting men. Cromwell retreated to Dunbar to find more supplies. The Scots followed, trapping them.
On the second of September the Scots departed their position of strength on the hills surrounding Dunbar, camping boldly before the English that same night on Dunbar Plain. Their plan was to attack their enemy on the morrow, but instead the English attacked earlier, and first. The Scots Covenanter army of Charles II was ensnared on impossible terrain and badly defeated. Fourteen thousand men were killed that day, among them James Leslie, the first Duke and fifth Earl of Glenkirk.
Jasmine Leslie was stony-faced on their return. She buried her beloved husband dry-eyed, though she personally saw his body was lovingly washed and dressed in his finest clothing. It was placed in its coffin, candles burning about it. The Reverend Mr. Edie came from the village kirk to preach the long and extemporaneous service. When he had gone away, Jasmine brought forth the Anglican priest who had once had a comfortable living at Glenkirk. Upon imposition of the National Covenant, he had been forcibly retired for his own safety and theirs. Father Kenneth now interred James Leslie in the family tomb with the beautiful words from the King James prayer book and the elegance of the Anglican sacrament.
Jasmine closed herself off from her family for the next few days. "I wish to mourn in private," she told her son, but she went one day to BrocCairn to see her seventy-seven-year-old mother.
"Now we are both widowed," said Velvet Gordon.
"I came to say farewell," Jasmine told her quietly. "I can no longer bear to remain at Glenkirk. Perhaps I will return one day, but I do not want to be there now."
"Will you desert your son?" her mother demanded. "Patrick needs you now. He must find a wife, marry her, and settle down. The line must be secured, Jasmine. It is your duty to remain by his side."
"Patrick is thirty-four, Mama, and quite capable of finding his own wife. He does not need me, or heed me, but I must escape Glenkirk lest I die of sorrow. In every room, and every corner, there are memories of my Jemmie, and I cannot bear it! I have to go! You have had your five sons and your many grandchildren about you. They helped you to overcome your sorrow when Alex died five years ago. I have only Patrick here. My other children are scattered to the four winds. Patrick does not need me. He needs a wife and heir, but he will not find them if I remain to keep him in comfort. I intend to take Adali, Rohana, and Toramalli with me."
"Patrick should have been married long since," the Dowager Countess of BrocCairn said irritably. "You and Jemmie spoilt him and allowed him to run wild. What will happen when you are gone, I do not know, but I do not think you should run off, Jasmine."
Jasmine bid her mother, her half-brothers, and their families farewell. Then she returned to Glenkirk, having firmly made her decision. She called the servants who had been with her her entire life and told them of her resolve to depart Glenkirk. "I want you with me."
"Where else would we go if not with you, my princess," her steward, Adali, said. He was very old now, but still very active and in complete charge of the household as he had been since coming to Glenkirk. "We have been yours since your birth. We will remain with you until the great God separates us from one another."
Jasmine blinked back the mist she felt rising in her eyes. It was the first true emotion she had shown since her husband had died. "Thank you, Adali," she said softly. Then she turned to her two maidservants, who were equally ancient. "What of you, my dearest Rohana and Toramalli?" The twin sisters chorused as one, "We will go with you, lady. Like Adali, we are yours till death."
Rohana had remained a maiden all her long life, but her twin had married a Leslie man-at-arms. They had no children, but had raised a niece.
"Toramalli," her mistress asked, "are you certain? Fergus may not want to come with me. He has scarcely left Glenkirk lands all of his life. You must consult with him before you give me your answer."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Just Beyond Tomorrow"
Copyright © 2002 Bertrice Small.
Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Also by Bertrice Small:,
Prologue - GREAT BRITAIN, 1642-1650,
Part One - The Heiress of Brae,
Part Two - The Do-Naught Duchess,
Part Three - Flaming Flanna,
Epilogue - Queen's Malvern, Late Summer 1663,