Chapter 4

Scarlet ran through the meadow and collapsed onto the ground. She faced the sky above her and watched the petals of the trees fly around her head. The cool spring breeze made her shiver but somehow inside she was feeling extremely warm.

She looked around her, thinking she had heard a rustle in the trees behind her. She laid back down on the grass and closed her eyes. Twas two years since the last time she had caught a glimpse of the stormy seas she remembered. She could still see his face; she could still picture the way his soft, dark hair sparkled in the sunlight. She could still feel his soft lips against hers. Even now, two years later, she knew she would ne’er feel those same lips again.

“Excuse me, me lady,” a voice interrupted her vision. Scarlet turned around and opened her eyes. She came face to face with the man of her daydreams.

“Algernon!” she exclaimed, jumping up and into his arms. Algernon was shocked by her compulsory actions but still was able to wrap his arms around her.

“Ye know me name, me lady, but I do not recall ever knowing yers,” he said.

“What? Whatever are you talking about?”

“I was wonderin’ if ye could direct me to a lass named Lily, me lady,” he said nonchalantly.

“What?! I mean, yes, Lily is me sister,” she said solemnly. “I will take you to her, sire.”

With a heavy heart, Scarlet followed the worn path through the woods to her home. As Algernon followed in close pursuit she wondered why he had not recognized her. It had only been two years since they last saw each other. What on earth could he possibly want with her sister?

“Why, you ask?” Algernon asked, stopping Scarlet dead in her tracks. For a split second she thought he had read her mind but in fact she had spoken out loud. She turned around to face the man who had once kidnapped her from her home, who had once kissed her lips.

“I am here to call upon a woman named Lily. News of her beauty traveled far and I wished to see for meself what treasures she holds.” Trying to hold back tears of sorrow, Scarlet turned away from his quirky smile.

Before they were close enough to see her homeland, Scarlet halted and turned to face him once again. His blank expression meant he still could not remember ever knowing her. She decided there was only one way to refresh his vacant memory.

“Sire,” she began politely.

“Please, call me Algernon,” he interrupted.

“Algernon,” she continued awkwardly, “I was wondering if ye may know something about this.”

She took her amulet off from around her neck and handed it to him to admire. He turned it over and over in his hand, studying every detail as closely as possible. He finally lifted his head and gave her back her charm.

“Nay, I have ne’er seen its equal. Emeralds are one of the rarest of gemstones and when they are surrounded by the purest of gold, they become even more priceless.”

He answered her truthfully, but with no sense of recollection. Emeralds were rare and he did show to have some interest and knowledge of them. Unfortunately, he showed no sign of remembering her amulet or how he had admired it before.

“Me darling, there you are!” her father exclaimed, as both her and Algernon come into a clearing.

This was Scarlet’s homeland and had been for some four and twenty years. Her father, Duncan, was the head master of all the lands of the clan McDougall, and was respected by the entire clan as if he were a Scottish king.

“Hello, Papa,” she greeted her father with a kiss on the cheek.

“Who might this young man be?” he asked.

Her father did not even recognize him as the man whom he almost killed trying to save his daughter two years past! Scarlet was hurt that even her father had lost some of his memory during that time. She cleared her throat before she continued.

“This, Papa, is Algernon. He has come to call on Lily.”

“Ah, yes! Let me go in and get me other daughter.”

Duncan went into his home and retrieved his daughter. It seemed as if Scarlet had ne’er met her sister before, she looked so different. Her luscious midnight locks were twined together with a gold-laced ribbon. Her body was tightly fitted into a bodice dress with green lace similar to that of Scarlet’s eyes. Algernon watched intently as she stepped forward into the sunlight. Scarlet watched his eyes become brighter at the sight of her in full light. At the same time, Scarlet backed into the shadows, making it harder for any of them to see her cold, saddened eyes.

“Algernon,” Duncan replied. “’Tis me daughter, Lily. Lily, this be Algernon.”

“Pleased to meet you,” Lily said, bowing with most graceful of curtsies.

“The pleasure is all mine,” Algernon said, picking up her hand and kissing it, looking deep into her eyes.

“Come,” her father interrupted, “yer just in time for the evening meal.” All four entered the fortress of McDougall, where the servants were busy preparing supper for the household.

All through the meal, Algernon shared battle stories with Duncan. This, of course, bored Scarlet immensely but oddly enough, these stories intrigued Lily. She sat, staring, as Algernon told story after story of his adventures through the mountains and across the great plains. Scarlet was about ready to excuse herself from the meal when her father stood up and raised his goblet into the air.

“A toast, to me daughter, Lily, and her new-found friend, Algernon. May ye both find friendship, companionship, and possibly love together!” Both Algernon and Lily lifted their goblets in unison. Scarlet reluctantly raised her glass so as not to seem unladylike.

After the meal was completed, Lily and Algernon excused themselves and went outside. Scarlet was left to entertain her father, which, at this point, was about the last thing she wanted to do. She crossed her arms over her chest and looked down at the floor.

“Whatever ails you, me lass?” he asked sincerely. Scarlet remained silent. Her father would never understand if she complained about this man. “I know what troubles you,” he said at last. “Yer a wee bit jealous of yer sister because someone has come to call upon her and not you. Is that it, me lass?”

“No! ‘Tis not it at all!” Scarlet said, jumping up from her seat and running upstairs to her room.

She slammed the door shut behind her and sat by the windowsill. From where her room was located, she had a perfect view of the garden below, with an apple tree in its center. Frolicking like children were Lily and Algernon. She watched how happy he seemed and a knot formed in the pit of her stomach.

She watched intently as Algernon chased Lily around the tree. Every muscle of his arms and upper torso could be seen through his dark tunic. Somehow Scarlet began daydreaming of the day she had been kidnapped and how she felt in his presence. It was Algernon who had kidnapped her but twas also him who shared a kiss with her. Had he really won her heart without her knowing it? .

 continue to chapter 5