The Return of the Sailor Highlander – Olivia Kerr

Hannah knew that today was going to be a special day. Today was the day that she would be taken from the nunnery, where she had spent many years. She would go to live in a real house with a real family. Hannah did not remember the last time she lived in a real house with a real family. She was told that once she had, although the house was little more than a shack, and the family was just her mother. She had been told that her mother died, her father had never been around, and that she had been found on the nunnery’s doorstep. The nuns who ran the orphanage were not cruel, but she did not feel a kinship to any of them. She did, however, feel a kinship to the family she had not met. She had barely slept because she was so excited about what she might find. She was told that the family had three children and only one of them was a girl, so they would like another one to even out the family, and that they were kind and lived in a grand manor in the North. I cannot wait! she thought. “Hannah,” Sister Mary said, as she came into her room, “you are already dressed, my goodness!” “Yes,” Hannah said. “I am ready to go. Shall we leave right away?” Sister Mary laughed at that. “We won’t leave for an hour or two.

We must have breakfast and say our prayers first.” “Are you sure we can’t skip that?” Hannah asked, and the nun gave her a look. “Of course we cannot,” she said. “Breaking our fast feeds our body and prayer feeds our soul. We need to do each of these in order to be ready for the day.” “I am already ready,” Hannah said, but she followed the sister down the hall anyways. “Do you think they will marry me off right away?” “My goodness, Hannah,” the sister said, “you are only seven. I do not think they will marry you off quite yet.” “Good, because I want to choose my own husband. I want to marry a pirate!” The nun turned to her in shock.

Hannah did not understand why she was being looked at with surprise. “Hannah, that is not something that you should talk about,” the nun said. “But, you always said to say what is inside my heart,” she replied. Sister Mary rolled her eyes. “Yes, but you say what is in your heart to God.” “I thought God knew what was in my heart,” Hannah said. Sister Mary did not answer that, and Hannah was left to wonder. As the morning progressed, she packed the very few things she had, and then said goodbye to those she had been friendly with. She and Sister Mary got into the carriage that was waiting outside the nunnery, and Hannah folded her hands in her lap, trying to give the impression that she was patient and quiet. “You have been told about the family, haven’t you?” Sister Mary asked, as the carriage started to roll down the street.

“I have only been told that they are kind, and they have three children, one of whom is a girl,” Hannah said. “I suppose I shall have a sister. That is very exciting.” “They have three children,” Sister Mary confirmed. “The oldest boy, Archibald, will become the laird. His sister is a twin; her name is Anna. The other boy is Reginald. You are in between the twins and Reginald in age, and the family has a manor house and several smaller properties. You are very… lucky, Hannah.” “What if they don’t like me?” Sister Mary gave her a smile.

“They will like you as long as you do not talk about pirates anymore.” Hannah looked down at her hands. “Hannah, you are going to be the ward of a noble family,” Sister Mary said. “You will marry a nobleman!” she added with excitement. “Oh,” Hannah said. The carriage continued to roll along. Hannah did not dare ask how long the journey would be, because she knew she would perhaps be scolded for it. Instead, she amused herself by looking out the window and daydreaming of her new life. She was certain that the manor house would be a bright color, for some reason. She did not reveal to Sister Mary that she had spent so long dreaming about this moment that it almost seemed like an actual memory.

Sister Mary was silent. She knew that Hannah’s fate was very rare. The man that came to the nunnery and asked for Hannah had told her that she had a family bond with her. But he specifically asked Sister Mary not to tell Hannah about it. For all Hannah knew, her new family took her in for no specific reason. But sister Mary knew that was far from the truth. When the house finally came into view, Hannah gasped. She thought she was dreaming, for she had fallen asleep for parts of the journey. The large manor house looked exactly like she imagined. It seemed that it had exactly the number of windows and doors she thought it would.

It was even a dull pinkish color, made that way by the stones on the outside. “We are here,” Sister Mary said, and turned to her. “Remember to stay quiet. What do we tell you in the nunnery?” “That children should not speak unless spoken to,” Hannah replied. “That is correct. Do you think you can remember that?” “For the rest of my life?” Hannah asked, as they exited the carriage. “Until you are no longer a child,” Sister Mary said, as they walked up the front steps. Sister Mary banged on the front door with the knocker and Hannah felt her little heartbeat increase. The door eventually opened and a tall man dressed in dark colors stood there. “Hello, may I help you?” he asked.

“This is Hannah,” Sister Mary said, as if everything was explained. The man looked down on her and then nodded. “I see,” he said. “I shall inform the laird. Please, come in.” Hannah drew her shawl closer around her and stepped inside. She could not believe how grand and beautiful the house was. Gold was literally built into the wall. There was a large staircase, and the hallway seemed to go on forever. While they waited in the hallway, Hannah heard laughter from up the stairs.

She turned her head up and saw three other children looking down at her. They looked remarkably similar, with blue eyes and strawberry-blond hair. She had been worried that they would be unkind, but all of them were smiling at her. “Hello,” she said, softly to them. Sister Mary turned to her, about to remind her to hush, but she saw that Hannah’s gaze was looking upwards. She looked to the children and then pushed Hannah forward. “Shall you come to meet your new sister?” she asked. The three of them looked at each other and then began to move down the stairs at a quick pace. Hannah stepped back for a moment. She knew other children at the nunnery, of course, but they weren’t like these three, who seemed exotic and different than anyone she had ever met.

They were wearing very fine clothes and there was something about the way they held themselves that made her feel her etiquette was not quite on par. “Hello,” said one of the boys. She smiled. “Hello,” she said, shyly. “My name is Archibald, and I am going to be the laird here. This is Anna and Reginald.” “It is nice to meet you all,” she said, curtsying. Anna giggled. “You don’t have to curtsy to him.” Hannah felt embarrassed.

“I apologize. He is going to be a laird and…” “That is true,” Anna said, with a smile, “but you are going to be our sister, and we don’t do that with each other.” “Oh,” Hannah said, in surprise. “What a lovely thing to say,” Sister Mary said to them. “Why don’t you children show Hannah around while I speak to your father?” Anna held her hand out and Hannah took it right away. Any hesitation that she had quickly melted away as she followed them upstairs to the next floor of the grand house. “Wow,” she said, as she looked around at the beautiful house. “I cannot believe that you are all so lucky.” “Oh,” Anna said, as she looked at the portraits that hung on the wall, as well as the beautiful ceilings and many doors. “It’s just home.

And now you live here and we’ll be sisters. I always wanted a sister.” “This is so kind of you,” Hannah said, as she had been taught to say. “Thank you for taking me in.” “Of course,” Archibald replied, with a smile. “We like to help. Do you want to see your room?” It took Hannah a moment to realize what they were saying to her. “Wait…are you saying that I get my own room?” All three of them looked at her in confusion. “Of course you get your own room,” Anna said. “I’ve…never had my own room before,” Hannah replied.

“Never?” Reginald asked. “Never,” Hannah said. She was surprised to find that she was practically shaking in shock. She couldn’t wait and yet she was also afraid. What if I am not good enough for this family? What if they simply decide that they do not want me and toss me out? What if I— All the thoughts left her head when she saw the room. It was bigger than her room at the nunnery and bigger than what she remembered of her house before that. It was full of fluffy pink pillows, and the bed was high, with four posts and a canopy. The view was of the garden, and she could see the labyrinth below. “This is all mine?” she asked. “I do not have to share with anyone?” “No,” Anna said.

“But I want to show you something else.” She pushed on the wall and a panel opened. Hannah gasped as she saw another room through the hole. “What is it?” she asked. Anna smiled. “It is my room! If we are truly sisters, we should be sneaking in between them.” “Yes,” Hannah said. She could not believe her luck. She was so happy, and God was finally smiling down on her. “And we shall live here until we get married,” Anna said.

“And then we will have houses of our own.” “Can I tell you all a secret?” Hannah asked, and they all nodded. “I want to marry a pirate.” The three of them laughed, but Hannah did not feel like they were making fun of her. She felt like they were laughing with her rather than at her. “That is exciting,” Anna said. “I want to marry a pirate too!” “I want to be a pirate!” Archibald cried and Reginald agreed. They continued on their tour of the house, and Hannah couldn’t help but send a prayer up to the heavens. She was so grateful for everything that was happening, and so grateful to God for blessing her. Thank you, God, she thought, as they headed out into the maze.

They ran through the maze, giggling and laughing. Hannah knew she would be happy here forever with her new siblings. At least, happy until I get to marry a pirate. If I am able to live in this beautiful house, then anything is possible! “L 1 AND HO!” “We’ve been able to see land for nearly an hour.” Harold glared at his friend, and Archibald couldn’t help but chuckle. “Yes, you are right. However, I wasn’t sure if you saw it because you were so lost in thought.” “I wasn’t lost in thought,” Harold argued. “I was just half asleep.” “Yes, I suppose it’s early for you.

” “Some of us enjoy sleeping,” Harold fired back. Dathers came up behind them, shaking his head. Nearly two decades older than the two lieutenants, he had served with them since they both joined up as young lads. Although Dathers remained on the lower ranks, both of the boys had risen to the rank of lieutenant, with Harold slightly senior to Archibald. The two of them were polar opposites; Archibald was playful but Harold was serious, and it seemed they complimented each other perfectly despite their constant arguments. “You lads are in a festive mood,” he said, and Archibald smiled. “Dathers, I was trying to find you earlier,” he said. “I had something to ask you.” “Was it how much sleep I got?” Dathers chuckled. “Because if I had to choose, I’d say I lean on the side of Lieutenant Fox’s view of at least trying to sleep a few hours.

” “It is not,” Archibald said, with a smile. “But thank you for taking his side. I was going to ask where you planned to room while we were docked.” “I imagine that Lyles and I will just find rooms wherever available. Half our pay, while we are docked for the winter, leaves little room for choice.” Lyles was his closet colleague, a burly man who fit the stereotypical description one imagined when they thought of a man who gave his life to the sea. “Why don’t you come with us?” Archibald asked. “There is plenty of room in the manor house and the port we are docking in is only half an hour’s carriage ride away, so we thought we’d spend the leave time there.” “I wouldn’t want to impose, sir,” Dathers said, even though he had been there many times before. The four of them were as close as family, and Archibald knew he and Lyles would accept.

“Will there be anyone else?” “I was thinking of asking Jacob, actually,” Archibald said. He was prepared for the look that everyone gave him when he said that. “I do not think he has family, and he mentioned similar plans to yours, Dathers.” “I do not know what he will say,” Harold said. “He is hard to read.” “He is,” Archibald said. “But I think he will be happy to come along. He has not made many friends on the ship, it seems.” “If he spent more time perhaps discussing things with others rather than with his nose in the papers—” Harold started, and Archibald elbowed him in the ribs. “I have nothing against expanding your mind, obviously.

I am in favor of it, in fact. But he…takes it too far, sometimes.” “And yet he is rising from the ranks, which is almost unheard of, in order to become a lieutenant before his second year of service,” Archibald pointed out. “I am impressed.” “I think there is nothing wrong with asking the lad,” Dathers said. “The worst he can say is no.” “No to what?” Jacob was behind them before any of them had a chance to turn around. He cut a tall and imposing figure, and his normally quiet nature only seemed to add to the fact that he could sneak up behind folks so well. His dark hair and dark eyes contrasted against his pale skin, and the scruff of a beard made him even more imposing. Archibald smiled.

“Did you want to stay with us, at my manor house, while we dock?” he asked. “Rather than get a room at a boarding house? There is plenty of room.” Jacob looked between the three of them. “I would not want to be a bother, sir,” he said. “You wouldn’t be,” Archibald assured him. “There’s plenty of room, as I said, and I would appreciate the company of someone who may very well have read half my father’s library.” Jacob was quiet for a long moment, and then he nodded. “Yes, I think I would like that. May I inquire as to the location of your manor house?” “It’s on the north side of Loch McBride,” Archibald said, and Jacob froze. “The north side?” “Yes,” Archibald replied.

“Just outside of the town. Is that a problem?” “No,” Jacob said. “I suppose not if we are having a quiet season.” It was an odd thing to say, but he often said odd things, and so no one questioned him on the matter. The conversation turned elsewhere, and Jacob tried to recall the geography of the land that Archibald spoke about. He hadn’t been there in many years, but he knew that it was close enough to his father’s house that he should be slightly worried.

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