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THE FORBIDDEN ISLAND

Sara Seale

Holidaying in Scotland with David - the man she had always heroworshipped, her cousin, guardian and now the man she was going to marry - Lisa could hardly believe it when she found herself virtually the prisoner of the dark, remote chieftain of a Highland Clan. It was, it seemed, an act of revenge on Charles Kintyre's part, for David had wronged his young ward Catrina, and Lisa's captivity - until David redeemed himself - was the price. Lisa was justly furious; but it was a gentle captivity, and on the little mist-encircled island of Culoran she found the opportunity to gain knowledge of herself and her own heart

CHAPTER ONE MIST still clung to the water, blotting out the horizon and what might lie between. The scent of honey mixed with a tang of the sea was strong and familiar. Flat on her back in the heather, Lisa was reminded of that day in high summer when David had arrived so unexpectedly at the school in Devonshire and brought her the news of Uncle Toby's death. They had sat in the heather then, on the cliffs beyond the school gates, and she had smelt the honey and salt water while he told her that she was now his responsibility instead of Uncle Toby's. She raised startled eyes to his, blinking apprehensively. David had disclaimed responsibility for her or any of his cousins for as long as she could remember. 'What do you mean?' she asked, wishing for the hundredth time that she was older and was of consequence to him like the smart, assured young women he sometimes brought home for the week-end. His face was grave, then his blue eyes suddenly twinkled. 'I've inherited you, darling, along with Dad's quite considerable fortune,' he said. 'Are you prepared from now on to love, honour and obey me?' 'That's for a husband,' she replied seriously. 'So it is. But it's the right of parents and guardians, too, so don't you forget it.' Some strange quality in the young, unaware face lifted to his made him touch her with awkward tenderness.

'I'd thought you were fond of me, Lisa,' he said gently. 'I'd thought you wouldn't mind the new relationship.' With thoughtless abandon she flung her thin young arms about him and knew for the first time the unfamiliar attraction of a man's hard body as she cried: 'Oh, I don't. It's the most wonderful thing that could happen. Now I'm something more than just a cousin... He was not embarrassed, but he released himself with a swift twist and got to his feet. 'Dear me!' he laughed gently. 'Are all schoolgirls so forthcoming with their devotion? I'm flattered, my dear child.' She sat in the heather at his feet, the fine, pale hair hiding her face. She felt the sun warm on her bare neck and the colour hot on her cheeks. Never had she been led into such a demonstration with Cousin David before. He regarded her thoughtfully, aware that he had hurt her in some fashion. The child was growing-up, he thought. In another year or so the slender, coltish limbs would have a grace of their own, and such spontaneous expressions of affection could prove dangerous. 'I'd better take you back,' he said. 'The headmistress said on no account must you be late for prayers.' She scrambled to her feet and thrust a sprig of heather through his buttonhole. 'For luck,' she said. 'I - I'm sorry if I embarrassed you.' 'It takes more than that to embarrass me, I assure you,' he grinned. 'And now that you're growing up I think I'll stop being Cousin David.' He took the fair, sharply moulded face between his hands and kissed her lightly on the nose. 'That's my seal of office. Remember

your duties in future, my child. I shall expect respect, devotion and instant obedience. Come along. I should hate to keep the whole school waiting for prayers.' They walked back in the evening sunlight and Lisa thought she would always remember this day when she belonged to David more surely than by the accident of cousinship. For Uncle Toby she had felt affection and gratitude, but David she had loved in the shy, unexpressed fashion of childhood, counting the years in which to catch up with his adult world. 'How soon can I leave school?' she asked suddenly. He glanced down at her with lifted eyebrows. 'Good gracious! You haven't nearly done with school,' he said. 'How old are you, anyway?' 'Nearly seventeen.' His eyes crinkled in the old remembered way. 'So old? Well, well!' 'You never did remember my age,' she said, and he laughed. 'It's never tactful to remember any woman's age,' he retorted. 'But you've hardly reached that status yet. We'll talk about leaving in another year, shall we?' She was silent and he wondered what she was thinking. 'Lisa,' he said, troubled for an instant by something he did not understand, 'don't expect too much of me, will you?'

Her eyes, clear and untroubled, met his with wide candour. For almost the first time he noticed that they were an odd smoky grey and the pupils unusually distended. 'I shall expect nothing that you don't choose to give- me,' she replied with strange sedateness, and he laughed and ruffled her hair. 'I'm not sure you're not a minx,' he said lightly. 'If you preserve those sentiments throughout your life, Abigail, you'll be a great success with the opposite sex.' She made a face at him. He had always called her Abigail when he wanted to annoy her. It was her surprising and unappreciated second name.

Lying in the heather, watching a gull circle the arc of sky above her, Lisa remembered every word of that conversation. She supposed that to David she must have seemed rather absurd. He had never, that she could remember, visited her school before, and he never came again except for her final Speech Day when he sat among the other parents looking gay and elegant and totally out of place. After that he packed her off without warning to a finishing school in Switzerland. It was nearly a year before she saw him again, a year during which she tried to acquire the graces he expected of her but only seemed to achieve a surprising fluency in the French tongue. There were too many other distractions. She preferred the mountains to the carefully selected soirees and promenades which the pupils were encouraged to attend; the fields of brilliant crocus were so much more exciting than being ogled discreetly by young men in the town's cafes, and always there was the pleasure of her own company. If she could not have David's she wanted no other.

Lisa returned to England just after her nineteenth birthday. David was waiting at London Airport, tall, elegant, just as she had so often pictured him, his hair as fair as her own and the little scar at the side of his mouth tilting it to secret amusement. 'David!' she cried on so glad a note that people turned to stare at them both. Too late she remembered she was no longer the thoughtless schoolgirl of two years ago. This was a public place and David, although no hint of embarrassment touched him, was looking at her with wry amusement. He shook his head at her. 'Switzerland hasn't done much for you, has it, Abigail?' he sighed. 'I'll have to take your education in hand myself.' They were exciting days, shopping with David, but a little alarming, too. The restaurants to which he took her were uneasy forcing grounds for conversation and his many acquaintances treated her with amused indifference. It seemed odd, Lisa thought, that she should stay in one hotel and he in another, but he explained with mild acidity that although he might be her cousin and her guardian he thought he scarcely looked old enough not to occasion talk. 'Then what,' asked Lisa simply, 'are you going to do with me?' 'I really don't know, Lisa,' he replied provocatively. 'What would you suggest?' She was silent, gazing blankly round the deserted lounge of the quiet hotel he had chosen for her. Life seemed suddenly very insecure. She had never thought to wonder where David would eventually make a home, or, indeed, if he wanted to make one at all.

'David,' she said with the unguarded suddenness of speech she had not yet learned to check, 'you aren't thinking of getting married, are you?' His eyes rested thoughtfully on her transparent face. The bones were still sharply defined, he thought idly, as if nature had not yet had time to fill up the youthful hollows, and the pupils of the smoky eyes were very large and black as she gazed at him with mute inquiry. 'No . . .' he said slowly, and lit a cigarette. 'Dad left rather an odd will, you know.' 'Did he?' She had never imagined Uncle Toby's will could concern her. 'There seemed no object in discussing such things with you while you were still at school,' he continued, 'but the money is left to us jointly. That makes you independent of me.' 'You mean I'm rich?' she asked with a simple acceptance of a delightful truth which made him smile. 'Tolerably. The Chase fortune is fairly newly acquired, I grant you, but you and I are the only two left bearing the same name.' She was not really impressed, he could see, but only tucked her feet under her with a little sigh of contentment. 'Oh, I'm glad,' she said, 'I mean I'm glad you - you haven't got to support me. Is it a lot of money?' 'Quite a lot.' 'Then - then if you wanted - say two separate establishments,' said Lisa, trying to sound sensible and adult, 'there's no reason why - I mean you wouldn't have to feel responsible for me.'

His smile was suddenly tender. 'You're trying so hard to be tactful, aren't you, darling? There's only one snag. If either one of us marries somebody else, that half-share is forfeit to the one that's left.' She frowned, trying to straighten out this odd condition. 'You mean as long as we remain single we keep our money, but if one of us' 'Unless we marry each other,' he said gently, and saw her mouth turn up in the old grin which was wholly without guile. 'Wouldn't that be just like Uncle Toby!' she exclaimed. 'Protecting us both from fortune-hunters, I suppose. It would be the simple way out, wouldn't it, David? I shall never want to marry a stranger. Ah!' She stopped abruptly, the laughter dying and the swift colour flooding her cheeks. David tossed away his cigarette and leaned forward, touching her hot cheeks with gentle fingers. 'Is this the first time you've proposed to a man?' he asked with soft amusement. She drew away from his hand, tears already filling her eyes, but he grasped her wrist in firm fingers. 'I'm teasing you,' he said; 'Perhaps you only forestalled me. Could you be happy, married to me, I wonder?' 'Of course, David, you know that,' she said simply. 'It's always been you from the time I was too small to interest you at all. Whether you're my husband or just my guardian doesn't make any difference.'

'It makes a. little,' he said dryly. 'Do you remember saying to me when you were only sixteen that you would expect nothing of me that I didn't choose to give you?' She nodded. 'Is that still true?' 'Yes,' she said. 'You've never been able to hurt me, David.' 'No?' For a moment he regarded her curiously. 'In that case we shall get on very well.' He pulled her towards him, but even now she remembered that other occasion and her hands on his shoulders were a little diffident. 'You're very young, aren't you?' he murmured, his lips on hers. 'I shall have to teach you more things than the right way to wear your clothes....' But had he? thought Lisa, waving her head impatiently, for the heather was tickling her neck, and the seagull had gone, away into the mist which was creeping towards the shore. It had been the beginning of a hot summer. David sent Lisa to stay with friends on the river or by the sea, .but he remained in London himself. 'He must stifle, poor dear,' Lisa said, cooling her long, tanned legs in the uninviting water of a fashionable swimming pool. Her hostess of the moment remarked meaningly that London had its compensations and looked rather disconcerted when, after other veiled insinuations, her young guest observed with a grin: 'I suppose you mean Mrs. Gilroy. David won't let me meet her. Is she pretty?'

David himself was never sure how Lisa had come t hear of Roma Gilroy. It was an old liaison which had lost much of its meaning now, but he was puzzled and a little piqued to be taken so lightly. 'Tell me, Lisa, aren't you jealous?' he asked her as they sat in the cool of St James's Park one Sunday morning. 'No. I never imagined that you didn't have affairs with women,' she answered tranquilly. He frowned. 'Such complacency seems a little unnatural,' he said a shade shortly, and she crinkled her nose at him. 'You can't have it both ways,' she retorted. 'I said I would never expect anything from you except what you chose to give me and you seemed to like it that way.' 'You cheeky young devil!' he exclaimed, flipping her on the knee, but she only looked surprised. 'Oh, no, I wasn't trying to tease,' she said, and added with apparent irrelevance: 'When will we have a home?' He saw how the long pale hair clung to her neck in the heat and the little smudges of tiredness under her eyes. 'You need a settled life,' he said, frowning again. 'When the summer is over we'll get married, shall we, and find a house?' 'That would be nice,' she said drowsily. 'One gets tired of staying with other people. Why can't we announce our engagement?'

'Because there isn't one as yet,' he told her with a smile. 'My friends would think I was a little precipitate if I tied you up as soon as you stepped out of school.' 'Would they?' She sounded listless and his blue eyes suddenly twinkled. 'I'm an unsatisfactory guardian, aren't I?' he said. 'Keeping you hanging about at a loose end half the summer. I'll tell you what we'll do. I've some business in the north that needs attending to. We'll take the car and do a little tour of Scotland, shall we ? When we come back we'll take ourselves seriously and announce our intentions to the world, perhaps. Would you like that?' 'Scotland!' Her apathy vanished and she sat up straight on the hard little green park chair and the pupils of her eyes dilated suddenly. 'Gould we go to Malloch?' 'Malloch?' He frowned. 'The place with the island. That place where you stayed last year.' 'No, I don't think we'll go there,' he said, but she leaned forward eagerly. 'Oh, David, please I I've never asked you for anything before. Please take me to Malloch, if only for a few days.' 'Why do you want to go there? It's very dull - just a small fishing village and pretty primitive at that.' 'That's not how you wrote to start with. Ever since your first letter came I've wanted to know more about the island with the queer name. I never did find out what it meant.'

'An t-Eilean toirmisgte,' said David slowly. 'It means the Island that is Forbidden. Isn't that enough for you?' Her eyes widened. 'It makes it more enticing still,' she said softly, and the sunlight through the trees made strange shadows on her young throat. 'Is that its real name?' David looked amused. 'It's the name the locals have given it, I imagine. The proper name is Culoran.' 'Culoran. ...' She lingered over the word lovingly, giving it the soft, long-drawn second syllable as he had done. He got to his feet, picking up her discarded hat from the grass. 'Put it right out of your mind, darling,' he said pleasantly. 'To any other part of Scotland I will take you and even endure the boredom of sight-seeing for your sweet sake, but to Malloch I will not go now, and to the forbidden island, never.' They were gone for a week before the pleasure ended. It was Lisa's first sight of Scotland and as they crossed the border and approached Edinburgh the long finger of history stretched out to her. David could not answer half her eager questions and finally he bought a guide book and told her to look up her history for herself. There was no time, Lisa thought, her hungry eyes straining for beauties only glimpsed in a flash. She would have liked to linger in the old grey towns, spend days by loch side or glen, but David had the tour planned. There was no point, he said, in wasting time over a view, or a lonely farm which had once given shelter to Charles

Edward; if Lisa wanted to see the famous beauty spots they must push on. 'Is there such a hurry?' she asked a little wistfully. 'Not particularly. But our stopping-places are planned in advance. There will be mail waiting for me.' David was a good driver and on the Highland roads with their dangerous twists and bends he seemed more concerned with his own skill and the car's performance than with the country through which they passed. Lisa grew restless. Motoring tired her and her limbs ached to stretch themselves in the heather and know the icy sting of clear burn water. The hotels in which they stayed were expensive and dull, and she wished they might stop just once at one of the tiny country inns with a river in spate at the gates and the byre adjoining the house. 'You're too young for me,' David told her. 'Your head is in the clouds and you think dirt and discomfort spell romance. Were you a lonely child, Lisa?' 'I don't know,' she said slowly. 'I don't think I thought about it much.' His hand was gentle on hers for a moment. 'We neglected you, I think, Dad and I,' he said. 'But part of you has caught up with me, or do you think fourteen years is too big a difference?' She laughed, enormously amused at such a notion. 'You've always seemed the same,' she told him. 'I've never known you as anything but grown up, and when one is only ten, twenty-four seems a far greater age than thirty-three does to nineteen.'

'Yes, I suppose so. You're rather a pet, aren't you, Abigail? I'll confess I've never thought marriage was for. me, until this last year. You've managed to change my views, which is quite an achievement.' She turned her face against his shoulder, resting there contentedly, and for once she knew no desire for the long day's motoring to end, and thought with pleasure of the years ahead when there would be leisure for other things and he would have ceased to be the Cousin David of her childhood. At Inverness he .attended to the business which had been the excuse for the holiday, and from there they followed the Caledonian Canal to the black waters of Loch Ness and so to Fort William. Lisa had never seen such brilliant colour as the heather spilling like wine over the high slopes of the hills. The very air itself seemed sharper, as if the long hot summer had scarcely touched the west. Ben Nevis, rising behind the little town like some watchful monster, had snow on the summit. 'This is real,' said Lisa with a sigh. David raised entertained eyebrows. 'Haven't you found the rest of Scotland real?' he asked. 'Y-yes. Perhaps we went too quickly. Perhaps you can't hurry so much in the west.' 'Poor sweet, have I spoilt your trip? I'm not good at leisurely sightseeing, I'm afraid. I like to get on.' He was going through his letters which the hotel clerk had handed to him and he gave a small, half-rueful smile as he folded one of them and returned it to the envelope.

'I ought to go back,' he said. Lisa looked as if she wanted to cry. 'At once? Oh, David, not before we've seen Glencoe and - and' She was tired and by now she knew that look on David's face, the look it had worn when he had refused to include Malloch in his tour. 'I'm sorry, darling, business,' he said briefly, but she had seen the writing on the envelope. At nearly every port of call there had been a letter in what she had come to recognize as Roma Gilroy's decorative writing. 'Won't she wait?' she asked, looking down at her hands. He frowned, about to return the evasive snub one would give to a child, then she raised her eyes and gave him that clear, uncritical look he had come to expect, and he smiled unwillingly. 'You're too observant, too worldly-wise for your age,' he said with the old sense of puzzlement. 'All women will wait if they have to, but well, I think I'll go and get it over with just the same.' 'Poor Mrs. Gilroy,' Lisa said softly, and saw his eyebrows lift. 'I'm never sure whether you're a very clever young woman, or whether the simple truth is your heart has never been really touched,' he said unexpectedly, but at the disappointment which she could no longer keep out of her young face, he added quickly: 'I'm sorry, Lisa. I wouldn't go, only' He left the sentence unfinished and kissed her. 'I'll tell you what we'll do. There's no need to drag you back to London - in fact I don't quite know what I'd do with you. I'll leave the car here and catch the night train down. I shall only be gone a few days, and when I come back to fetch you, we'll go south by easy stages and stop where you like to make up for this.'

'You'll go tonight?' 'I might as well. You can spend your days exploring to your heart's content. There's even a West Highland Museum here at Fort William which has, I believe, among other things, the secret portrait of Prince Charlie. You'd like that, wouldn't you?' He was, .she knew, offering her bribes as if she was still the child to whom he had brought presents when he remembered, and she smiled a little uncertainly. 'All right, if that's what you want,' she said. It was lonely after he had gone. The hotel had few visitors, for it was late in the summer, and meals were uninteresting eaten by yourself. The West Highland Museum revived for Lisa the early magic of the week, with its ancient documents, the breeches worn by Prince Charlie, a lock of his hair and the odd little curiosity that was the secret portrait. When she returned to the hotel she studied the map at the back of her guide book in search of a familiar name for a possible expedition, and as her finger travelled down the jagged line of coast from Skye to the Isle of Mull, one name leapt out at her. Malloch. ... It was not even so very far.... And now she was there, lying in the heather on the mainland, waiting for the sight of the island which for a year had teased her fancy. The wind began to strike cold on her bare legs and she got to her feet, hugging to herself the delightful, childish secret that no one, not even David, knew just where she was. A wild, unbroken solitude lay in that ragged line of coast, and only over the brow of the hill would she find the sparse habitation of the little inn and the few fishermen's cottages. She gazed out to sea, expectant as she had been these past two days, but the mist had not lifted and the island of Culoran was still hidden from her eyes.

CHAPTER TWO THE inn lay just above the tiny harbour of Malloch, whitewashed and square, with windows that opened and shut with difficulty. Lisa supposed that it was certainly primitive by David's standards, for there was no light, scanty plumbing, and the dining-room was merely a cramped corner of the saloon. But peat was piled on the hearth day and night, despite the fact that it was still summer, the feather bed was comfortable if hot, and the plain food plentiful and well served. This evening there was no place laid in the corner of the saloon for Lisa, and her landlady, Mrs. McCulIoch, informed her briefly that her supper would be served in the wee room ben the house. The customers did not care for a stranger amongst them while they took their dram. Lisa felt snubbed as she frequently had since she had come to the inn. She respected the reserve of the Highlander, but it had seemed to her that the eyes turned upon her had sometimes been unfriendly to the point of dislike. The McCullochs had smiled upon her that first evening when, after an involved and slow journey by train and bus, and finally, carrier's cart, she had asked for a room. It was not until she gave her name that McCulIoch looked at her with suspicion. 'It's late for a let,' he objected, and Lisa thought he was afraid for his money. 'I'll pay whatever you ask,' she said shyly. 'It's no' the money,' he muttered, 'though we're poor folks in these parts. I dinna care for your name.' 'I'm sorry,' said Lisa, looking surprised. 'It's a very respectable name. My - my cousin was here last summer. I think he sometimes came to your inn.'

'Aye, that's what I thought,' the landlord said, his eyes stern and unyielding. 'David Chase who took the shooting from Culoran.' 'Yes, but the shoot wasn't on the island.' 'There is no shooting on the island save what you walk up yoursel' for the pot,' he retorted scornfully. 'You say this Mr. Chase is your cousin?' 'Yes, and my guardian, too. He used to write to me about Malloch and - and Culoran.' 'We have no room for you,' he said roughly, and turned away. His wife, who had listened without speaking, watched the transparent bewilderment in the girl's face and said abruptly: 'Why is the gentleman not with you?' 'He had to go to London on on business,' Lisa replied, and added confidingly: 'I've run away.' Husband and wife exchanged a significant glance and McCulloch said bluntly: 'Run away, have ye ? For why?' 'Only for a joke,' Lisa said with quick apology. You see, he wouldn't bring me to Malloch and when he left me at Fort William I decided to come on my own, to - to pay him out a little, perhaps. When he comes back and gets the message I left for him at the hotel he'll have to come and fetch me.' 'You're a queer lassie,' McCulloch said slowly, then his voice changed. 'But ye'll no bide here, nor that cousin of yours, either, so you'll be taking your traps back to where you belong.'

The colour crept under Lisa's skin. 'Is this the Highland welcome we hear so much about in England?' she said with lifted chin, and Mrs. McCulloch moved impatiently. 'Your manners shame ye, Wull,' she said crisply. 'The young leddy will bide here if she's a mind to.' 'Have ye forgot, woman' the landlord began angrily, but his wife gave him a look which silenced him. 'I've forgot nothing,' she retorted. 'The young leddy will bide here awhile and you'll hold your wheesht and make her welcome.' Lisa herself was in two minds about the matter. The inn seemed suddenly unfriendly, and the two McCullochs a little sinister, but she was tired; it seemed unlikely that she would be able to make the return journey with any certainty of arriving before nightfall, and there was still the island. 'I'll stay the night,' she said. 'If, in the morning, you find you want my room, I'll be glad to leave.' But in the morning the landlord's manner had changed. He was not cordial, but he apologized with gruff dignity for his rudeness of the night before, then turned the whole matter over to his wife. 'Why didn't you want me here?' Lisa asked Mrs. McCulloch while she watched her polish a great copper urn which stood in the bar parlour. 'We don't take to strangers in Malloch,' the woman said without looking up. 'Yes, I see. But I'm not exactly a stranger. My guardian' 'What brought ye to Malloch?'

'The island.' For a moment the woman's dark eyes lifted and the look she gave Lisa was direct and a little suspicious. 'And what consairm you on Culoran?' Lisa's answering look was clear and faintly surprised. 'Nothing,' she replied. 'It's just - islands are romantic, somehow, and I've thought about this one for a year. An t-Eilean toirmisgte. .. 'You have the Gaelic?' asked Mrs. McCulloch dryly. Lisa smiled. 'No, and I don't suppose I pronounced it right, but I know what it means. Why was it called that, Mrs. McCulloch?' Sunlight through the open door caught the gleam of the polished copper and the paler gold of the broad wedding ring on the woman's vigorous hand. 'It was the old name, long before the maps had marked it Culoran,' she answered. 'Does anyone live there?' 'Aye, the laird.' 'He must be very old. Can you see the island from here?' Mrs. McCulloch nodded towards the open door. 'Aye,' she said again. 'If they'll let you.'

'They?' Lisa did not wait for an answer but ran to stand in the doorway. Sunlight spilled on the rough stones and the few small boats which rocked gently in the harbour, but out beyond the shining water lay a belt of mist as far as the eye could see. 'There?' said Lisa, pointing. 'But there's nothing but mist.' 'The laird is displeased,' Mrs. McCulloch said, and Lisa turned with her swift urchin's smile. 'Oh, I remember,' she said. 'When mist hides the island the laird is displeased and the old curse is working.' 'Who told you that?' 'My cousin. That's all he ever did tell me. Do you think the mist will lift, Mrs. McCulloch?' 'I canna tell,' the woman replied laconically. 'I must away to ma kitchen, mistress. Do you take a walk to the headland the morn and mebbe the clouds will break for ye.' But although for the next two days the sun shone on the mainland and the sea had no more than a gentle swell, the bank of mist still lay unbroken on the horizon. Lisa took solitary walks along the shore, watching the women fill great baskets with the seaweed which would supply the dye for their homespun wools, or lie in the heather thinking about David while she waited for the island to be revealed. No one spoke to her when she took her walks, but their eyes followed her, not with curiosity but with subtle recognition. She supposed they remembered David and accepted her presence among them for his sake, but their eyes were not passive and the men sometimes glanced at her with dark speculation.

'They don't like me, do they?' she said to Mrs. McCulloch. For a moment the woman looked at her with softened eyes. Sitting in the little room at the back of the house, waiting for her supper, Lisa had an air of desertion. Her slender body was slumped in despondency and the long, pale hair fell across her cheek in mute dejection. 'Ye can always leave,' Mrs. McCulloch said. 'There's nothing here to keep a lassie like you.' 'Not till I've seen the island,' Lisa replied, straightening up. 'I - I won't be popular with my guardian as it is. I can't go before I see Culoran.' 'A' weel,' observed the landlady, straightening the cutlery on the little table, 'foreigners have strange fancies. You'll dree your own weird, I've no doubt.' It was not a very heartening observation and Lisa was a little doubtful as to what was meant, but the longer the island evaded her the more determined she became to see it before she left Malloch, and if David came back to Fort William to find her gone it would serve him right for deserting her for Roma Gilroy. On the third day the sun was as bright as ever with mist still clinging to the sea, but now a wind troubled the waters and clouds gathered in the sky. The next day the rain came, and waking to the sound of a steady downpour, Lisa went moodily to the inn door. David should be back at Fort William any time now; it would be better if she went. She stood on the inn steps, the rain driving in her face. The harbour was grey and desolate and a little wet sheepdog loped along the waterfront and into the shelter of an empty porch.

But even as she looked, the change came. Beyond the curtain of rain which hid the mainland a shaft of sunlight struck the distant water and from the sea rose the outline of an island, blue as a grape, floating in an ever-widening circle of light. There lay Culoran, the forbidden island, and, instinctively, Lisa held out both hands to grasp the vision. In a few minutes she was running over the rough stones to the harbour. She wanted to stand on the very edged of the jetty with only the sea between her and the island. It was suddenly an occasion of such moment that she knew that for the past few days she had almost believed the island did not exist. There was no one about, only the vague figure of a man walking up from the shore. He wore an oilskin over his kilt and from under the old glengarry a pair of fierce blue eyes looked out. Lisa was too excited to remember she was a stranger. She caught him by the sleeve and cried breathlessly, pointing: ` Is that really Culoran?' He drew his arm away and replied' without troubling to follow the direction of her pointing finger: Aye, thats Culoran. She looked at him more closely. She did not think she had seen him before, but she recognized the familiar distrust in his eyes. Her gaze went past him to the launch tied up to the jetty and she said, her eyes widening: Are you from the island? Aye.'

Oh, would you - would you take me there just once before I go home? His eyes travelled over her slight body to the hair, wet from the rain, clinging in strands to her neck and shoulders, and his thin lips set obstinately. You, of all visitors, will no set foot on Culoran, he said. . Lisas temper rose. Fisherman, gillie, whatever he might be, he had no right to speak to her like that. I understand the island is open to tourists on certain days, she said stiffly. I have as much 'right to visit Culoran as anyone else. The tripper season is over - or will be in another week, he said curtly, and walked on. Discomfited, she turned back to the inn. Her pleasure in the small miracle was gone. The forbidden island no longer attracted; it only made her very angry. The man from the launch was drinking whisky in the bar parlour when she returned to the inn at lunchtime, and ignoring him, she asked Mrs. McCulloch deliberately which day tourists were allowed to visit Culoran. Wednesdays, Mrs. McCulloch replied with a glance at her customer. The day after tomorrow.' Aye, but the paddle-boat will no call at Malloch if theres only one to go. If I have to swim out Ill make it stop, returned Lisa, and slammed the door of the saloon behind her.

The McCullochs were particularly uncommunicative that evening and as Lisa lighted her candle from the oil-lamp by the till, Mrs. McCulloch said: When will you be leaving us, mistress? When Ive visited Culoran, replied Lisa, still sore from the mornings encounter. Youve seen the island now. Will ye no go back to your cousin at Fort William? Lisas mouth curved in a smile. Cant you understand, Mrs. McCulloch, that so much opposition only makes me more stubborn? she said, shading the candle with her hand so that the light shone upwards on to her face and the unwavering determination of her eyes. A bairn is stubborn betimes, the woman replied calmly. Well, Im no bairn. Who was that man I met this morning?' Andrew Frazer frae the island. 'He was very rude. Whats wrong with me - or is there something wrong with the island, perhaps? Its toirmisgte. Isna that warning enough for ye? I dont know, said Lisa slowly, and Mrs. McCulloch blew out the lamp. Away to your bed, Miss Chase] she said briskly. The morns morn no doubt youll feel more sensible. Good night to ye.

But in the morning the sun shone again and Lisa did not feel at all sensible. The day was too good to linger over breakfast and the island still lay revealed to her. She went up to the headland to get a better view and even thought she could distinguish the castle which she now knew was built upon it, but the distance was still hazy, and without field-glasses, details could not be separated. Culoran lay there, blue and secret, a mystic isle risen from the ocean's bed. Tomorrow she would take the paddle- steamer and, like any other tripper, visit the island. She stayed so long on the headland that she was late for her midday meal. Mrs. McCulloch had left cold ham and a salad on the table and while Lisa was eating it the man, Andrew Frazer, walked into the inn. 'Have ye still a mind to visit the island?' he asked without preamble. Lisa looked up, surprised. 'Yes,' she said. 'Tomorrow I shall come with the other tourists.' 'There'll be no trippers from Malloch,' he replied stubbornly. 'But if you've still a mind for it I'll take you mysel' in the launch.' 'It's not an official visiting day.' 'The laird has given permission.' 'Today?' ^ 'Aye, when you've finished your victuals.' 'Thank you,' she said politely, 'I will be pleased to come with you.' She did not see either of the McCullochs before she left, but Andrew helped himself to a dram and put his money in the till as by long habit.

Lisa thought he eyed her cotton slacks rather sourly, but all he said was: 'Best bring a coat, leddy, there's a, chill on the water.' They walked to the jetty in silence. A younger man, with the same fierce blue eyes, was already undoing the painter of the launch, and Andrew said briefly as he handed her into the boat: 'Ma brother Rab.' Lisa smiled at the younger Frazer, a little doubtful of her reception, but he smiled back with a readiness which was lacking in his brother and she said happily: 'How nice of you both to come and fetch me.' Andrew had started the motor. 'Dinna fash yoursel',' he remarked dryly. 'There's supplies to be fetched for the castle.' 'Oh,' said Lisa, feeling snubbed again. She did not think she liked the manners of the western Highlands, but in the pleasure of watching the mainland recede as the long plume of foam from their stern cut through the water, she forgot her discomfort. She turned to look towards the island and the wind whipped the hair from her eager face and against the rough jersey of Rab Frazer standing beside her. 'How long does it take?' she asked. 'An hour - mebbe less,' he answered. 'As much as that?'

'Culoran is farther than it seems.' 'Tell me about Culoran,' she said. 'Culoran ... ye mean the island?' 'Of course - what else should I mean?' 'The laird is known by that name in these parts.' 'Oh, how queer. Well, it's the island I'm coming to see.' He made no comment but only smiled with secretive amusement and she said again: 'Tell me about the island.' 'There's little to interest the tourist,' he replied indifferently. 'There's the castle of the clan Kintyre and a few crofts and farms. There's Morag if you've a taste for mountains and Loch Dhu and that's a'. We've no' the amusements of the mainland, you must understand. We make bur own lives on the island and there's no' much but marrying or burying and often that's no' easy, for in rough weather the minister canna get over from the mainland.' 'You mean you're cut off for days?' 'Mebbe weeks. When the storms sweep the west there's nought to do but bide till they drop.' Lisa shivered. 'Then are you self-supporting?' 'Aye, in a manner of speaking.'

'And how do you live? I mean what is the work of the island?' 'Sheep and fish, but Culoran looks after his own.' She supposed he was speaking of the laird this time, and said curiously: 'Would he be the Sir Charles Kintyre from whom my cousin leased a shoot last year?' 'Aye, the same,' Rab answered laconically, and gave her a quick, furtive glance. How odd, thought Lisa. She had never connected David's unknown landlord with the laird of Culoran, or perhaps David had never told her. Rab suddenly touched the strand of fair hair blowing across his jersey and said with lingering curiosity: 'It's like flax - the soft hair of a bairn. You'd no' do for the hard life of the island, I'm thinking.' She moved away from him. Already the strangeness of Culoran was upon her and these two unknown islanders seemed to stand between her and the life that was familiar. She knew an instant's panic when she would have turned back, then the island seemed suddenly to fill her mind as the details, which could not be seen from the mainland, came slowly to meet them. There rose the castle dominating the approaching shore with its battered ramparts and ruined turrets. There behind it rose the dark peak of what must be Morag, and she could see the scattered crofts and fishermen's cottages which huddled on the shores and a gleam of water from the loch. The rugged outline was still blue like the bloom on a grape, but looking back Lisa found that the mainland was hidden in mist.

She stood in the bows while the launch put in to the tiny harbour. She could see the watchful figures on the shore and the little jetty, and for a moment they seemed frozen into immobility, expectant, withdrawn. It was like coming to another land and for a moment she had the sensation of an interloper. As she stepped from the launch on to the jetty she was conscious of the castle and the mountains towering over the sun-splashed harbour, casting shadows that were black and cold and timeless. There was no street leading up from the harbour, only rough lanes bounded by loosely built walls, or the open stretches of moorland which sloped to the foot of the hills. Lisa smiled at the children staring at her so un- blinkingly, but their mothers pulled them back from any advances she might make. 'Which way should I walk?' Lisa asked Rab, who was unloading supplies from the launch. 'And what time will you take me back?' Andrew surprised her by announcing that first she was expected at the castle and she said: 'I thought tourists were never allowed inside the boundaries.' 'It's no' the day for trippers,' Andrew replied dourly. 'Ye came by the laird's favour.' 'And I must make obeisance?' she asked with her sudden urchin's grin. He shrugged his shoulders, apparently not understanding her, turning deliberately towards the distant gates of the castle, and Lisa could do no less than follow him. As she walked between Rab and Andrew they were joined by a third man with the same fierce likeness which proclaimed him kin to the

other two, and she was not surprised when Andrew, with a brief jerk of the head, muttered: 'Ma brother Angus.' They walked in silence over the flat stones which made a rough road to the castle gates, and Lisa had a momentary, fantastic impression that she was under guard. Just so would the wild clans of other days have marched their prisoners to the keep or dungeon. But as the gates swung open and they went inside, the notion faded as she saw the ruined ramparts and the moss growing on the neglected steps. The chill of roofless cloisters was only the chill of any ancient ruin, and the crumbling castle a fitting habitat for an elderly eccentric choosing to live the cramping life of a recluse. 'Will it take long - paying my respects to Sir Charles, I mean?' she inquired politely. 'There won't be much time left to explore the island.' None of the three brothers made any response, and presently they were entering the castle itself, and their footsteps rang an flagged floors and in high stone corridors, and Lisa saw the ancient weapons on the walls, and the tattered, faded banners which hung from great crossbeams. Doors stood open on deserted rooms and chill and damp pervaded the entire place. 'I think' began Lisa, shivering, but Rab placed an impelling hand on her shoulder at the same moment that his brother pushed open an old door at the end of a passage and they were in another wing of the castle. Lisa let out her breath in a little sigh. This was clearly the inhabited part of the castle and although the rooms were bare and austere, they showed signs of being lived in. Rugs or rush covered the flags and

the furniture was freshly polished. Occasional personal reminders met the eye like forgotten trespassers, a man's pipe, a woman's embroidery frame, and as they entered the small annex to a much larger room, two deerhounds ran, growling, to meet them. 'Down, Crieff, down, Craigie,' Andrew said. 'They'll not hurt you, leddy, while you're with us.' The dogs sniffed Lisa's legs, growling and bristling. She put out a timid hand to one of them, but the beast snapped, and turned to thrust its muzzle into Rab's hand. 'Are they fierce?' she asked dubiously, and he replied, much as Mrs. McCulloch had done on an earlier occasion : 'We don't take to strangers on the island.' The room in which she now found herself was long and high and very large, its several windows facing high over the battlements towards the sea. Peat burned on a great open stone hearth, but even on an afternoon of late summer, warmth did not penetrate to the far end of the room. ' She was unaware, at first, that someone was sitting half-hidden in a great high-backed chair by the fire, but the three brothers advanced down the length of the room with the familiarity of long custom. If they were servants in the castle they did not behave as such, and Rab, with the easy rough humour which distinguished him from his brothers, said: 'Take heart, Culoran, we have your hostage for you.' The man who rose slowly from his chair looked slight and indistinct in the shadows of the chimney-piece. He did not speak immediately, and Lisa, halted by the unreality of her surroundings and the

strangeness of Rab's greeting, remained where she was at the far end of the room. 'She came of her own free will?' Kintyre asked, speaking in a voice that was soft with the slow intonation of his native Highlands. 'Aye,' Andrew replied with sour disgust. 'Detairmined to come, she was, and not even the politeness to leave her breeks behind.' Lisa began to feel angry. Why, if she was to receive the same antagonistic treatment everywhere, had they troubled to bring her to the castle ? 'I'm sorry my trousers offend you, Mr. Frazer,' she observed coldly, beginning to walk towards the four men. 'I at least am not so rude as to make public remarks about your feminine petticoats.' 'You are justly rebuked, Andy,' Kintyre said gravely, and went forward to meet her. He could have been no older than David, she thought, meeting his dark eyes with defiant surprise. He was not tall, but there was strength in his sinewy leanness, and his shoulders were broad. The pronounced cheekbones of his long dark face stood out with sharp dominance as did his high-bridged, arrogant nose and his hair was as black as the three Frazers were sandy. 'Good day to you, Miss Chase,' he observed with grave courtesy. 'You know my name?' said Lisa, very conscious, suddenly, of her wind-blown hair and the slacks which had met with such displeasure. 'Naturally,' he returned a little dryly, 'or you would not be here.'

'Oh!' she said awkwardly. 'Well, it was - well, polite of you to see me, Sir Charles, but if I'm to explore your island before it's time to return to the mainland, I think I ought to be going.' Kintyre surveyed her with faint amusement. 'There's no hurry,' he said calmly. 'You will not be returning, so there are many days ahead.' 'What did you say?' asked Lisa, her eyes widening in disbelief. 'I said you would not be returning to the mainland. You are a - guest of the castle.' His eyes were a little ironic as he spoke and all at once she knew this was no jest. 'You must be mad,' she said quickly. 'You can't keep me here against my will.' 'You came of your own free will,' he pointed out gently. 'I think the McCullochs at the inn may even have tried to dissuade you.' It was true. The McCullochs had never wanted her there and would not discuss the island. 'Are these men your servants?' she asked, eyeing the three Frazers with distaste. Pride and rebuke were in his voice as he replied: 'All the islanders are my servants, but these three men are also my foster-brothers. The tie is as Strong as that of blood. They'll not take you back to the mainland without the word from me.'

'But why - why?' she cried, and as none of them made any reply she turned on Kintyre. 'You can't do this! You can't make people prisoners these days just because you happen to be lord of an island. There are laws and - and - my cousin and guardian would prosecute you.' 'For what?' he said politely, and his eyes were suddenly grim. 'Your cousin is the reason you are here. When honour is satisfied and David Chase fulfils his promise, you may leave the island. The terms are very simple.' 'I don't know what you're talking about, but you can't imagine I'm going to stay indefinitely at the castle until you have settled some imaginary wrong with my guardian.' 'You have no choice,' he said, and at the same moment Andrew clenched his big fists and exclaimed: 'Imaginary wrong, havers! When I think of the shame put on us, and on the house of Kintyre to which we are kin by ma ain mother's milk!' 'Enough, Andy,' Kintyre said, and looked curiously at Lisa. 'You'll not have heard of Catrina Frazer?' he asked gently, and when she shook her head he continued in his soft voice: 'She is my fostersister as Andrew, Rab and Angus are my brothers. Your cousin betrayed her, not knowing who she was, and enticed her to the mainland with promises of marriage. We do not repay Highland hospitality in that fashion. The wrong is done to us, it's true, but it can be set right.' Lisa stared at him. It was only too possible, she thought helplessly, that David, bored by Malloch, had amused himself with a girl he had

taken to be a villager, but one did not talk of betrayal in his sophisticated circles. 'I - I'm sorry,' she said a little awkwardly. 'If David had known -1 mean, if to him your foster-sister was just a girl from the island Well, don't you see it makes everything different?' His eyes were stern. 'What difference would you consider excusable? The difference of birth? Does class absolve a man or woman from their obligations? Your cousin would not seem to be a suitable guardian to a young woman as gullible as yourself, I'm thinking.' 'I'm not gullible,' retorted Lisa furiously. 'I've simply learnt to be civilized about such things.' 'So? And we are not civilized here in the island, you think, because we defend our honour and respect our women?' She was silent, hating him suddenly. The Frazers she could dislike, Andrew for his rudeness, Rab for his easy familiarity, but Kintyre she could hate for far more subtle and confused reasons. With a swift, primitive movement she twisted and sped the vast length of the room, seeking escape, but she had not reached the door before the dogs had outdistanced her and stood, snarling and watchful, between her and freedom. 'Don't move!' called Kintyre sharply, then called the dogs off as Rab lifted Lisa in careless but not unwilling arms and carried her back. He set her down before Kintyre and she stood there like an angry child with all pretence to adult dignity lost.

'You can't get away with this!' she shouted. 'There are laws - even in Scotland. You can't hold me here, you you - with your silly Scotch skirt and bony knees!' He was quite unmoved and merely said politely: 'You do not care for the kilt?' 'I don't care for anything about this beastly place - why should I?' 'And yet you were so anxious to come that you would not be warned.' 'Warned? Was I to know that the laird of Culoran is nothing better than a buccaneer or a - a gangster?' 'Buccaneers we have had in our history, but gangsters - no, I don't think the Scots apply the same methods. You should accept your situation with more dignity, Miss Chase. You will come to no harm here, and your cousin has only to come to terms with me and you may leave.' The room seemed very quiet suddenly. Outside Lisa could hear the sea slapping against the rocks. The light was already beginning to fade. 'What are your terms?' she said. 'Marriage for my foster-sister.' 'Marriage!' She began to laugh a little hysterically, but was silenced by Kintyre's suddenly fierce regard. 'I don't think you'll get David to agree to that. He has - other plans.' 'So? But plans alter with circumstances. Your guardian, I take it, will be anxious to have you back?'

Lisa's eyes were soft as she thought of David, of the affection he felt for her, of the future he was already planning. 'Oh, yes, he'll want me back,' she said gently, and the anger went out of her. It would be no hardship to spend a few days on Culoran. Any time now, David would be back for her, and he had enough grace and experience, she thought, to extricate them both from such an absurd predicament. 'Very well,' she said, eyeing Kintyre with a measure of defiant amusement, 'but there's one snag my guardian might not like in your arrangement. He'd scarcely care for me to remain alone with you in the castle. My reputation is important, too.' 'You will not be alone,' he told her calmly. 'My grandmother lives here.' 'Oh!' She looked discomfited and Rab, who had been watching her, observed with a laugh: 'If it were me, Culoran, I'd be of a mind to settle for the lassie. You've as much right as another to take what you fancy.' 'My fancies are more mature than yours, perhaps,' Kintyre replied mildly, and as Rab laughed, Lisa shook back her hair and exclaimed: 'Well, really!' 'Aye, a shilpit lass and sharp-tongued, too. A disappointment for you, Culoran,' Andrew remarked sourly, and Lisa glared at him. Kintyre nodded to the three brothers.

'Thanks,' he said in tones of quiet dismissal. 'There's no more you can do. I'll be out to the farm tomorrow.' They left at once, and Lisa, watching them, thought: They are part of another century with their wild ways and their swinging kilts ... the island and this castle are not of our times at all. ... Left alone with the laird of Culoran, she became acutely aware of her isolation from the things she had always known, and her wrath with Kintyre was tinged with apprehension and the knowledge that no one, not even David, knew that she was held prisoner on a small, unknown island in the Atlantic.

CHAPTER THREE THE room was very quiet after the three Frazers had gone. Charles Kintyre seemed in no hurry to speak and Lisa, eyeing him warily, and comparing him with David, disliked again what she saw. Here was no gay companion to hold lightly the reins of government and make a jest of authority. This was a man, she reflected, who would not compromise, who, if pressed, would give no quarter and expect none himself. He looked at her with an indifferent eye and behind his pride she thought there was little humour. 'May I sit down?' she asked with exaggerated politeness. 'Surely.' She sat on the edge of a wide oak settle which threatened to eclipse her and then wished she had not, for he remained standing, and she felt at an immediate disadvantage, being obliged to look up at him when he spoke. 'What is your first name?' he asked in his soft voice. 'Lisa.' 'Lisa?' 'Lisa Abigail, but that needn't concern you.' His lips twitched unexpectedly. 'Abigail was a handmaiden,' he observed with a touch of amusement, and her eyes grew angry. 'You were christened inappropriately, perhaps. You have a sharp tongue, as- Andy remarked.'

'Did you expect me to submit meekly to your notions of hospitality? You may be lord of this island, but that doesn't give you rights over me.' 'No, your cousin's action did that. The old law of an eye for an eye dies hard in these parts. My hospitality to David Chase was repaid in a way no islander will forget.' 'You make poor David's little indiscretion sound very terrible,' she said uneasily, and saw the sudden arrogance in his dark eyes. 'And do you not consider it terrible if your house is dishonoured and your trust abused?' he demanded sternly. 'Are you already so corrupt that you think nothing of despoilment and broken promises?' 'Well, really, Sir Charles!' she said a little helplessly. 'This isn't the Middle Ages and - and I'm sure my guardian would be horrified to think he had - er dishonoured your house, if that's how you look at it.' The contempt went from his eyes as he looked at her. 'Tomorrow you shall write to your cousin and explain your position,' he said. 'If he has the decency with which you credit him, he will come to terms.' Temper rose in her again. His attitude was archaic and absurd; there was no humour in him, as she had suspected, and his power in the island had warped his judgment. 'You're impossible, Culoran,' she cried, and saw his eyebrows lift as she unconsciously used his island name. 'Do you imagine David will sit down under your threats? Do you imagine he won't arrive with the law behind him and demand satisfaction for this - this outrage?'

'There has been no outrage,' he remarked gently. 'It is not unknown for the castle to receive guests, and there's none on the mainland who would raise dispute with the laird of Culoran. Do you imagine your cousin would wish to expose his own outrage in public? No, no, there's a simple way out for you both. It should be no hardship to keep faith with Catrina. She is not ill-favoured.' 'The whole thing is absurd,' she cried, and sprang to her feet, unable any longer to sit quietly through such a fantastic exchange. 'David means to marry me, so he'd scarcely agree to swop horses midstream.' His eyes held a flash of amusement. 'So?' he said gravely. 'But you are a child.' 'I'm nineteen,' she flung at him, aware that he did not believe her. 'So?' he said again on a note of surprise. 'Catrina was nineteen, too, but she at least was a woman.' His disparagement was gentle and quite unconscious, but it could not be plainer that for him, Lisa's sex need not be taken seriously. His kilt was old and faded and his tweed jacket shabby, and much patched with leather, but he looked at her as if she was wrongly attired for an occasion of formality. She disliked him intensely but, illogically, she wished she was wearing skirts instead of trousers. 'You can hardly keep me here indefinitely with nothing to wear,' she said, thrusting her hands into the pockets of her slacks and glowering at him under the strand of hair which fell across her eyes, 'and won't Mrs. McCulloch think it rather odd if I don't return to the inn tonight?'

'The McCullochs are good friends of mine,' he replied. 'I think, if you will remember, you were not entirely welcome at the inn. Your traps will be brought over tomorrow and if you will have the letter for your cousin written, it can be taken to the mainland at the same time.' She looked at him silently, tears of defeat clinging to her lashes. It was no use arguing further, for Kintyre of Culoran was on his own ground and impregnable. 'I'd like to go to my room,' she said. 'If, that is, there's one prepared for me.' He pulled at a thin length of faded tapestry, and Lisa could hear a bell clanging in the distance. It seemed a long time before footsteps sounded on the flags in the annex and a small, sandy-haired girl stood in the doorway. 'Show Miss Chase to the tapestry room, Betsy,' Kintyre said, and added with a faint smile: 'And you had better fetch her down for dinner in case she should get lost.' Lisa seemed to follow the maid down many passages and up many stairs before her room was reached and she realized that Kintyre had made no idle jest. It would be easy to get lost in the castle. The tapestry room was high and vast, and, like the room she had left, looked over the battlements and out to sea. The walls were hung with worn tapestry and the hangings of the great bed looked gloomy and medieval. It's a bedchamber in the old sense of the word, Lisa thought, looking about her with curious eyes, then she became aware of the girl, Betsy, standing by the door, eyeing her slacks with prim disapproval. 'Isn't tomorrow the day for tourists?' Lisa asked.

'Aye, but they'll no be troubling you here, mistress,' the girl replied. 'Will ye be sitting down to table in your breeks?' 'Naturally, since I haven't anything else,' Lisa said a little shortly. She was beginning to feel self-conscious of the effect her slacks were making. 'Betsy But the freckled, shuttered face raised respectfully to hers was blank and discouraging. Not among Culoran's servants would she find an ally. 'Nothing,' she said, turning away, and the girl made a little bob. 'I'll be coming for ye when her leddyship's down,' she said, and closed the door. A can of hot water stood in the basin on the old- fashioned washstand, and a brush and comb and a bottle of lavender water had been placed on the dressing-table. Lisa sat in the deep embrasure of the window while she slowly brushed her hair, looking out to the wide expanse of sea that lay below. The sun had gone and sharp shadows stretched beneath the castle walls. A light that was strange and unearthly lay on the water and, far out, the mainland was still shrouded in mist. Culoran ... thought Lisa, shivering a little. But even here in the lonely silence of her virtual prison, the magic of the island penetrated. Tomorrow she must contrive to explore her surroundings before the tourist boat arrived, making certain her escape. She would hide herself in the foothills behind the castle until it was time to leave the island, and not even Culoran himself could carry her off under the curious eyes of sightseers from the mainland. It was still light outside when Betsy brought her down again, but the rooms had a twilight air. Lamps were not yet lighted, but the shadows were deep and deceptive, and, in the high, vaulted living-room which

Betsy had told her was called the armoury, the blue haze of peat smoke mingled with the dusk. Kintyre, as before, stood with his back to the fire, a glass of sherry in his hand. He had changed into the more formal dress tartan, and above the worn velvet jacket his dark face looked austere and out of this century. He set down his glass and came forward to introduce her to the old lady who sat in the circle of firelight, very erect and motionless in her high-backed chair, her eyes already intent on the girl. Her face had the fine-drawn smoothness of parchment and her thin, blue-veined hands were clasped on the knob of an ebony cane. Under the crisp white hair, the eyes were as bright and dark as Kintyre's, and when she stood up, although she supported herself with the stick, her figure was as slender and upright as a girl's. Lisa stood there silently, acutely conscious of her crumpled slacks and dusty sandals. If Kintyre had made her feel sexless and childish, his grandmother's regard had the opposite effect. She became very conscious of her sex and the unsuitability of her attire. 'How do you do, my dear?' Lady Kintyre said gravely, inclining her head but not offering to shake hands. 'My grandson tells me you are to be our guest for a while. Pray be seated. Charles will give you a glass of sherry.' 'I'm sorry about my clothes,' Lisa said in her clear, undaunted voice. 'Had I known, of course, that I was to be a - a guest at the castle, I would have worn something more suitable.' The old lady gave her a look of faint appreciation. Charles' brief description had not held out much hope of a reasonable if unwilling captive.

'It's of no consequence,' she said politely. 'We have not adopted these modern fashions for women here in Culoran, but tomorrow you will be able to remedy that.' Lisa sat on a low stool, tucking her offending legs out of sight. 'Tomorrow I shall be leaving the island,' she said, and nerved herself for fresh argument. Lady Kintyre merely raised her arched eyebrows and observed: , 'Will you be doing your rounds of the farms in the morning, Charles? In that case I will show our guest the castle myself. I would not care for her to get mixed up with the tourists.' Lisa felt herself flushing. She took a glass of sherry from Kintyre without looking at him and said quickly: 'Lady Kintyre, this - this whim has gone far enough. You, I'm sure, will understand, even if Sir Charles won't, that you can't - kidnap people these days.' 'Did you not come to Culoran of your own wish?' 'Yes, but-' 'Then there is no more' to be said. After tomorrow you may go where you please in the island. None will hold you prisoner in the castle, but none will take you from the island either, so let us suffer each other's company with a good grace.' 'But you can't' began Lisa incredulously. 'You can't agree to this, surely! You are a woman - you'

'Catrina was a woman, too,' said the old lady bleakly. 'Your sex will be at no disadvantage here, my dear. Let us change the subject. Is this your first visit to Scotland?' Lisa was aware, of Kintyre's faint smile and shook back her hair angrily. It was no use appealing to Lady Kintyre, it was clear. She possessed the same courteous high-handedness as her grandson, but of the two she would be more difficult to argue with on account of her age and her sex. Dinner was served in an adjoining room, long and heavily raftered, the bare, polished table lit by candles. An old servant waited on them, handing dishes with hands that were gnarled and shaky with rheumatism. The food was simple and plainly cooked. 'We only use this part of the house,' Lady Kintyre told Lisa, graciously conversational. 'Tomorrow you shall see the proper banqueting hall and the state rooms, though there's little left in them now, alas. In my husband's time we were able to open most of the castle, but in these days one cannot afford the upkeep of so much. The legacy of Culoran lies heavy on the younger generation, I fear, but you, I imagine, would not be interested in such things.' 'Why not?' said Lisa, her youth resenting such arbitrary dismissal. The old lady sighed. 'Tradition matters less now, so I'm told, and unless you are bred to it it has little meaning.' The windows were still uncurtained, .but the daylight had nearly gone. Charles Kintyre had pushed his chair back into the shadows and took no part in the conversation, but his grandmother sat erect in the glow from the candles, her eyes brooding, and Lisa felt isolated in a small, shallow world of her own or David's making.

'I wasn't bred to any great tradition,' she said simply, 'but that doesn't mean I can't understand.' For a moment the old lady's eyes rested upon her thoughtfully. 'I mean no discourtesy, my dear,' Lady Kintyre said gently. 'You are, after all, not quite what I had expected.' Lisa smiled, the engaging urchin's grin which took Kintyre by surprise and made him say softly: 'You are not really alike, you and your cousin.' But at this reminder of David the old stony defiance came back into her face. 'If I thought I was anything like David, I should be very proud, Sir Charles,' she said, her chin raised. 'I happen to be very fond of him.' The warmth had gone from the brief moment. Lady Kintyre resumed her distant, rather brittle manner, and Charles, caring little for his young guest's discomfiture, crisply outlined his wishes for the morrow. 'You will keep to the castle, please,' he told Lisa when, back in the armoury with the lamps lighted and the peat fire sunk to a pile of white ash, she sat in uneasy awkwardness between them. 'As my grandmother suggested, we wouldn't want you to get mixed up with the tourists. Andrew will be back by evening with your luggage.' 'You really mean to keep me here?' she asked, and when he made no reply, she burst out: 'You'll be sorry for this till your dying day! I'll get away from this island, somehow, and when I do, I'll make it so hot for you that you'll wish - you'll wish I'm an heiress, you know,' said Lisa, who had never until now thought of herself in that light. 'You can't kidnap heiresses without people thinking funny things, and

you won't find that David will give me up so easily, either, whatever claims your half-sister may think she has on him -' She paused and looked at them both, at Lady Kintyre regarding her with polite interest, at Charles' impassive face. She made one last plea. 'If you let me go back in the tourist boat tomorrow, Sir Charles, I'll say nothing of any of this to David or - or - make trouble for you in any way.' 'You'll not make trouble for me, my dear,' he replied equably. 'The time is long past for bargaining. I'll do that with your cousin, not you, so let's make an end to this senseless chatter.' Lisa was tired. The day was an accumulation of many happenings in which suspicion and unfriendliness had been her portion, and despite it all, nothing had seemed to warn her to leave the forbidden island alone. Tears forced their way to her eyes and this time spilled over. She sat there, her knees clasped tightly by her thin arms, while her face shone wet and defeated in the lamplight. 'Weeping won't help you,' Kintyre told her coldly. 'I cannot bear a woman who uses tears as her last weapon.' 'I wouldn't waste my tears as weapons on you, Culoran, I'd think up something better and more hurtful,' she returned furiously, and surprisingly, his lips twitched in a faint smile. 'She's tired, Charlie,' said Lady Kintyre with unexpected softness. 'Ring for Betsy to take her to bed.' He complied while Lisa rubbed the tears from her eyes with her knuckles. Before the maid came, however, he delivered his parting shot.

'We will not lock you in your room,' he said, 'but should you have a notion, later, to find your way out of the castle, I must remind you that the dogs will be loose. Good night to you.' She might have replied, but Betsy was already at the door holding a small oil-lamp to light them down the passages, and, ignoring Kintyre, she bade a cool good night to his grandmother and walked stiffly from the room. 'He warned me ...' she sobbed to herself, sitting up in the great bed, and clad in one of Lady Kintyre's old-fashioned nightgowns which covered her discreetly from neck to wrist. 'David warned me to stay where I was. ,..' She fell asleep, the tears still wet on her face, resolving that never again would she run away from David in order to pay him out.

The morning sunlight streaming across her pillow woke her. All night the perpetual sound of the sea slapping against the rocks below the ramparts had been an accompaniment to her uneasy dreams, and now she could hear it with a changed note. The tide was out and the water dragged on the stony shore with a lazy rhythm. Lisa left her bed and stood at the window. Today she could see the mainland, a blurred ragged line on the horizon, and with the knowledge that here at least was visual contact with reality, her courage returned, and with it a comfortable flow of common sense. They could not keep her in the castle, short of locking her up, and on so small an island it was ludicrous to suppose that she could not join the visiting tourists unmolested. She sang as she flung on her clothes with rapid haste. The day promised adventure of a different kind.

She met no one in the chilly corridors, and several times she took the wrong turning and got lost, finding unexpected rooms and winding stairs which seemed to lead nowhere until at last she emerged suddenly in the dining-room through a little door she had not known existed. Someone had breakfasted already, but there was no one in the room but the old man who had waited on them the night before, and he looked at Lisa with surprise. 'You're early, mistress,' he remarked with faint disapproval. 'The leddies keep to their rooms the morn, and Betsy's no' taken up the water cans.' 'It doesn't matter,' Lisa said cheerfully, 'I washed in cold. Is - is Sir Charles about?' 'The laird is away to the farms. I'll fetch the porridge,' he replied. 'No, thank you. I don't like it much, I'm afraid,' she said. 'Tell me, what does "shilpit" mean?' 'Why, everyone knows that. It means' He moved his shaky hands in vague gestures. 'Shilpit... well, look you, mistress, when a collie bitch is thin and ill-favoured you would say it was shilpit, do you understand?' 'Yes,' said Lisa, choking suddenly over a piece of toast as she remembered Andrew Frazer's disparaging comment and the look in Kintyre's eyes. 'Yes, I understand very well. What's your name?' 'Dougal.' 'And have you lived here all your life?'

'Aye. Island born and bred. In sairvice to the lairds of Culoran since a wee lad and my fayther before me and his fayther before him.' Lisa sighed. 'Then you wouldn't be telling me of a way to leave the island?' she said, and was not surprised when he gave her a look of pitying amazement and left the room. When she had finished her breakfast, she wandered into the armoury and out through one of the long windows on to the scarred battlements. Here the sun spilled warmly on the crumbling stone, and moss and small creeping plants filled the crevices and made cushions for the deep embrasures of the crenelles. Lisa leaned from one of them, sniffing the sea and the soft mountain air of the island. If she leaned out still farther she could just see the shoulder of Morag rising from a cluster of little foothills in the heather and the old nostalgia for Culoran came again upon her. She was a prisoner here in the. forbidden island and she had seen none of it. She began to find her way through the castle. It was too early for the paddle-steamer which would bring the tourists, but it was as well to find the right exits and remember where they led. No outer doors were bolted, so she found, but they opened only into enclosed courtyards and the ruined cloisters through which she had walked yesterday. The main doors were barred as if they were seldom used, but the side door through which she had entered brought her to the castle's forecourt and within sight of the gates. She ran, conscious of her utter isolation in the sunlight. The gates were closed and the wall which marked the boundaries was high and thick, despite its crumbling appearance, but there was no one about. She reached the little postern through which they had entered, but as it swung back to her touch, a voice beyond demanded sharply:

'Who goes there?' The harbour lay before her, deserted now, except for an occasional figure lounging on the quay. Little fishing smacks rode peacefully at anchor and a couple of motor launches, unguarded and ready for use, lay at the jetty. Lisa walked boldly through the gate and a lean, kilted figure fell into step beside her. 'Might you be wanting something, mistress?' he asked in his soft, Highland voice. He was young and pleasant looking, and might have been a shepherd with his tall crook and the plaid swinging from his shoulder. Lisa smiled at him. 'Are the launches going to the mainland?' she said. 'Aye, one o' them. Andy Frazer's away on the. laird's business.' 'Oh! Can you tell me where I'd get a - a glass of milk?' 'Milk, is it? Any of the island folk would be glad to oblige you should you knock on their doors. Will I try Mrs. Cameron for ye?' He smiled at her cheerfully, but she did not care for the look in his eye. 'No, don't bother,' she said quickly, 'I think I'll go for a walk. Which way is Loch Dhu?' 'Too far for such as you, mistress,' he replied, and stood in her path. 'Will you no' be returning to the castle? When the trippers come it'll no' be fit for you to be abroad.' Lisa raised her eyes to his, which were blue and smiling, but there was no getting past him. If Kintyre had set him at guard on the gates he had known his man.

'When the trippers come' she began helplessly, then Andrew Frazer joined them and she knew she was defeated. 'Good morning to you,' he said, the courtesy of the address lost in the bleakness of his eyes. 'You have a letter for me, I'm thinking.' 'A letter?' For the moment Lisa had forgotten the letter she was to write to David. 'I - I haven't written it. No one reminded me.' 'Then you had better away to the castle and do it. I wish to leave in a half-hour,' he said. 'Can't one send telegrams from the island?' 'Telegrams? Nay, there's no way of speaking to the mainland, only this system of radio-telephone for emergencies, and then only Jock Macgregor understands it and he's away to the sheep.' 'There'll be no need for letters,' said Lisa, looking at him with dislike. 'My cousin is probably already at the inn, waiting for me. Tell him tell him that the laird of Culoran has mistaken ideas of hospitality and - and bring him back with you.' He looked as though he would make some retort, but thinking better of it, turned on his heel and went down to the jetty. Conscious of the young shepherd's vigilance, Lisa ran back ,through the postern gate and slammed it behind her. And now the day continued to its ignominious close. Lisa wore herself out climbing walls, crawling through ruined ramparts until her slacks were torn and her hands scratched and bleeding, but there was no way out. It was evening before, from one of the castle turrets, she watched the paddle-steamer leave without her. She wanted to scream, to beat her bruised hands against the stone walls in helpless rage. She

had not eaten all day, her limbs ached and she knew that with the steamer went her last hope of escape for another week. Below her the cliff dropped steeply into the sea. The tide was up and the water beyond the rocks was a miracle of blues and greens. In a little while the tourist boat would round the point and pass close to the shore through that liquid pool of jade, the evening sun catching her funnels and the bright flash of her rail. In a moment Lisa was darting down the spiral staircase, slipping and sliding on the damp steps until out on the deserted cliffs she began a headlong descent to the rocks below. She could swim a little, but she did not stop to consider that distance to the eye might be deceptive. Once she was in the water they would be bound to see her, and no one could leave her there and let her drown. The boat was in sight as she reached the rocks, turning in a leisurely sweep to embrace the shore before putting out to the mainland. Lisa waved and shouted, then stumbled down towards the lower level. She shouted again, aware how her voice echoed back from the cliffs, but at the last flat overhang of rock, she found she had reached her limit. There was no way down to the shore that she could, see and the water beneath her still looked farther than she would care to jump. The steamer was cutting across the path of sunlight now. In a little while she would be out of reach. Lisa could see the blur of faces at the rail and hear the steady chugging of the engine. She was afraid, but desperation lent her courage. It was not much higher than jumps she had made as a child, she told herself. Once the water closed over her the worst would be over. She had only to swim a little and keep afloat. She poised for a moment on the very edge of the rock, swaying a little in the light breeze, then, as she shut her eyes tight for the plunge, she felt her body caught and lifted in powerful hands and she was swept backwards against the face of the cliff.

No one had called and she had heard nothing but the sound of the sea and her own fast-beating heart, but it was no surprise to find Kintyre's dark face bent over her, and in that moment of reaction her limbs weakened and she leaned against him for one brief moment of thankfulness. 'Are you mad?' he demanded harshly. 'Did you think that by jumping you'd do anything else but dash yourself against submerged rocks?' She shivered. 'It looked clear,' she said. 'It looked very clear and empty - only rather too high.' 'Yet you'd have done it had I not heard you shout. There's courage in you, you daft female, I'll say that for you. Is Culoran so distasteful to you that you'd risk your life rather than stay here with me?' His eyes were bright with a new expression and his crisp black hair, disordered in the wind, gave him the fierce, primitive look of his kinsmen. 'All day,' she cried indignantly, 'your servants and your dogs have harried me. The tourist boat was my last hope.' 'What did you expect?' he said calmly. 'I gave you my orders last night. If you choose to disobey them you shouldn't be surprised at the consequences. No one laid a hand on you, did they? Not Rab?' 'Rab? I haven't seen him. Everyone was very polite, thank you, except, perhaps, Mr. Andrew Frazer, but he plainly can't help it.' She was regaining her composure and became aware now that he still held her in a hard impersonal grip.

'Andy's always been one to speak his mind,' he said carelessly, 'but he's a good fellow just the same.' He held her away from him and as he saw the condition of her slacks and the dirt and scratches on her hands and face he smiled a little grimly. 'You've not been idle, I see,' he observed. 'It's as well, perhaps, that your traps will be waiting for you at the castle. Come, we'd best be getting back.' He guided her to the shore down a rough path which had escaped her notice, offering an indifferent hand when he thought she needed it and pausing at the bottom to remark that she looked a little pale. 'I feel pale!' she said aggressively. 'I'm hungry.' Indeed she was feeling faint from lack of food and the emotions of the day. 'Have you not eaten?' he asked, frowning. 'Not since breakfast. I was too busy trying to escape.' 'Just the sort of feckless behaviour I would expect from a flibbertygibbet that looks as if the wind would blow her away,' he replied unfeelingly, and she remarked with gentle malice: 'You prefer your women to be heavyweights, do you, Sir Charles? Curves in the right places and as many of them as possible?' 'No,' he said, as if he was seriously considering the matter, 'I wouldn't go as far as to say that, but then I don't meet many women here on the island. Come, catch hold of my cromach. We've a way to go yet and the path is rough.' She grasped the handle of his rough crook reluctantly, knowing he thought her a town-bred weakling, but she was glad of his help over

the rocks. She was tired and hungry and it was a relief to know that at the castle clean clothes awaited her, and the small, personal things that were familiar and part of her. She was glad, she thought, that there would be scent to wear tonight ... scent and skirts and highheeled shoes. ... As she dragged herself wearily behind Kintyre over the last stony track which led to the castle gates, she thought with surprise that David, for all his efforts, had never managed to make her so conscious of appearances as did the unsophisticated dwellers on Culoran.

CHAPTER FOUR IT was the beginning of partial surrender for Lisa. It seemed useless to storm and threaten until contact with David had been established and, owing to her omission over the writing of the letter, a day and possibly more had been lost, for Andrew returning from the mainland with Lisa's luggage had brought also a short note from her guardian. He had, he said, returned to Fort William where he had expected to find her, but if she imagined he was going to chase after her to Malloch where he had expressly refused to take her, she could think again. If your idea was to score off me for deserting you, it was a childish trick, he wrote. Pack your bags and come back to Fort William at once. I won't wait indefinitely.... He sounded curt and a little annoyed and she knew that if she failed to return by the time he was ready to go south again, he was quite capable of leaving without her. 'How long is he staying north?' Kintyre had asked, watching her discomfited face as she read the letter. 'I don't know. I thought he would be sure to come to Malloch for me,' she said rather disconsolately. 'Did you? But you know now why Malloch doesn't attract him. It's a pity you didn't send your letter as I bade you. The mail launch doesn't go across for another couple of days.' She had not argued with him. Indeed her behaviour all day seemed a little foolish now. She might have known that David would not be waiting for her at the inn. David would not be coerced into anything which he had set his mind against. At dinner that evening she asked questions about the island until sleep threatened her eyelids. There was, she learnt, a general store

which sold most necessities: there was an improvised school-house for the children, and a tiny kirk with a visiting minister. There were no cars on Culoran, Lisa was told, the roads were too bad and the distances not great. If transport was needed there were the rough Highland ponies, but most people walked on their own two feet, for the island was not large. The few small farmsteads got a living from the mountain sheep, the rest of the sparse population fished and traded with the mainland. 'Does it all sound very dull and primitive?' Kintyre asked, watching Lisa's eyes stretch wide with wonder. 'Not dull,' she said quickly. 'Strange - and primitive, perhaps. Are there many such islands?' 'Oh, yes, but few as small and roughly self-contained as Culoran. Skye, of course, has its town, and in the Hebrides there's steady trade between the isles. In the old days Culoran was a Jacobite refuge and the people were fierce and violent, and before that, too, when the clans rose and there was treachery afoot, the island was a refuge of a different kind.' 'Is that how it got its name?' 'Culoran?' 'No - an t-Eilean toirmisgte.' Lisa stumbled over the difficult Gaelic pronunciation and Charles Kintyre glanced at her with faint surprise. 'So you know the old name?' he said. 'Do you also know what it means?' 'The Island that is Forbidden,' she replied, and he laughed a little grimly. .

'That should have been a warning to you,' he said, but she smiled. 'Oh, no, it made it more exciting,' she said, and Lady Kintyre smiled. 'You are a Pandora, I think,' she observed. 'Take care you do not release too many secrets from the box.' Lisa turned a startled face to her, but already she was having to blink back drowsiness and the old lady nodded her head reassuringly. 'I was not speaking in parables,' she said. 'Feminine curiosity is the same all the world over, and I, too, once had curiosity for the island. Go to bed, my child, your eyes are dropping with sleep.' Kintyre rang the bell for Betsy and while they waited he said once more to Lisa: 'You will write that letter in the morning?' 'Very well,' she replied, but her voice was cold. After such a flight from reality it was chilling to be faced with unpleasant facts again. When she had gone, he turned back to the fire and laughed a little shortly as he searched for a pipe. 'How do they bring them up these days?' he asked. 'It's nothing but a child, this obstinate little hostage of mine.' 'You talk like an old man, Charlie,' his grandmother admonished him, smiling. 'Women are what men make them. Haven't you learnt that? A child, you said? Not entirely, Culoran. A young girl with the making of - I don't quite know what.' He had his pipe going now and looked across at her with affectionate surprise.

'You like her, then?' 'Yes - yes, I think I do, but she's a mixture at the moment, and I don't feel that David Chase What do you really imagine will be the outcome of this ultimatum of yours, Charles? We cannot keep the girl here indefinitely - Mr. Chase will know that. Strange things can happen on Culoran.' 'Chase will come to terms. What else can he do if he's fond of his ward?' said Charles grimly, then his lips twitched in a ruminative smile. 'Imagine a wee bit of a girl ready to jump without a thought off Shag Rock just to get away from me. That needed courage.' 'I should never have said Miss Chase lacked courage,' said Lady Kintyre with amusement. 'And have you thought that the notion of getting back to her cousin might have been stronger even than the desire to get away from you?' He lazily blew a cloud of smoke and watched it curl up the great chimney as the draught took it. 'You don't seriously believe in this tale of a marriage between them, do you?' he said tolerantly. 'It was clear the girl invented the story to protect her cousin.' His grandmother rose to her feet and stood leaning for a moment on the long black cane. 'You may be right,' she said, 'but there's a fondness there, all the same. It would be a pity, Charlie, if you were to hurt three people in order to be avenged for one. I will ask Catrina up to the house soon. The girls should meet.' Upstairs, Lisa sat propped up in the vast bed, writing to David by candlelight. The wind was rising and the sound of the sea held a

rougher note. The heavy tapestries stirred gently in the draught and the four corners of the room were lost in shadow. Darling David ... Lisa chewed the top of her pen and stared, frowning,' before her. It was difficult to confess that by disobeying him she had placed him in an awkward position, and more difficult still to put veracity into such a story. A most absurd thing has happened. I came to the island and now I'm a prisoner in the castle because. ... How could she write bluntly of Kin tyre's accusation? David had never directly admitted his affairs with other women, and she had always been so careful to take such matters for granted and not embarrass him. Because there seems to have been some girl last summer, only she turned out to be the laird's foster-sister, as, of course, you couldn't know, and Highlanders seem rather biblical in their ideas and talk about corruption and revenge and an eye for an eye... The letter was getting out of hand and, fighting back sleep, Lisa began again. Anyway, the laird, who is frightfully feudal and rather uncomfortable, seems to think you ought to marry her. I told him about us, but I don't think he believed me, but if you come and explain it will be all right. ... The candle was guttering badly and the letters danced deceptively across the page. I'm terribly sorry to be a nuisance, but I'm not sorry I've seen Culoran at last. The castle is rather spooky because so much of it is empty and falling to bits, and there are two dogs which aren't at all pleasant, like the laird. All the same it has its points and at this moment I'm sitting up in a huge four-poster bed like the princess who slept on all the mattresses on top of a pea and the walls are hung with tapestries and you could imagine that any minute a fierce clansman might pop out from behind the arras and plunge a dirk into you. ... Lisa cast a look of faint apprehension at the swaying tapestry as she wrote the last sentence. It was not difficult to imagine such things on Culoran with the wind rising and the waves beating with faint

menace on the rocks. The letter, she thought, was rather incoherent and she decided to make an end to it. Darling David, I'm afraid you'll have to come and fetch me after all because they won't let me go. Your very loving Lisa. She sealed the envelope and addressed it to the hotel in Fort William, then, blowing out the candle with a sigh of relief, she sank instantly into sleep.

Lisa awoke to a complete change of weather. The wind had risen almost to gale force in the early hours of the morning, and rain lashed the sea to a grey fury. Lisa left her bed again before Betsy had called her and met the disapproval in Dougal's eyes and the faint surprise in Kintyre's as he rose from his half-finished breakfast. 'Good morning,' he said. 'Betsy would have brought you a tray in your room.' 'I'm not used to tray in my room,' replied Lisa coldly, 'but if you prefer to breakfast alone, Sir Charles, I can take mine somewhere else.' 'Not at all,' Kintyre said blandly, 'I entirely approve of early rising for young persons of both sexes. It is Dougal who thinks ladies are not equal to the early morning light. You will take porridge?' Lisa dared not disobey while Kintyre stood over her and looked as if he would like to spoon it down her throat himself. It took her a long time and, when she had finished, she had no stomach for egg or sausage.

'You have a poor appetite,' Charles observed, 'or is it that you have the fashionable craze for slimming?' Lisa glowered at him. 'I don't need to slim,' she returned. 'You or your rude foster-brother have already said I was shilpit.' His mouth twitched, but he made no reply and Lisa slapped her letter to David down beside his plate. 'I would be obliged if you will get this off as soon as possible,' she said. 'From both our points of view, the sooner I leave the castle, the better.' 'You should have written it yesterday as I suggested,' Kintyre said calmly. 'The launch will not be crossing to the mainland until the storm drops.' 'But that might be days!' 'It might, but we're used to that here.' 'But my cousin won't stop at Fort William indefinitely. He's already written to tell me to join him at once as he wants to go south soon.' 'But he'd not leave without you, surely. He is your guardian and responsible for you,' Charles said gently, and she was silent. David, indeed, was quite capable of leaving without her. He would consider a dull train journey alone to be a salutary lesson if she continued to ignore his wishes. She stirred her coffee and stared disconsolately out of the window. Even through the great thickness of the castle walls the storm could be heard whipping along the battlements, driving rivulets of water before it. It was as though

summer had never been and the sunny quiet of yesterday a forgotten interlude. Kintyre was already asking permission to be excused. He had, he said, a great deal of paper work to be got through before luncheon. Lisa might go where she pleased in the castle. He went out of the room, followed by his dogs, and left her sitting there contemplating the storm and the depressing possibility that her letter to David might not reach him for days. The morning stretched emptily before her. She did not think she would seek out Lady Kintyre for she, like her grandson, was little more than a gaoler, but nevertheless, later in the morning a summons came for her, and Lisa could do no other than follow the silent Dougal down strange corridors to the west tower. The room in which she found herself was small and octagonal and, at first, seemed as full of personal knick-knacks as the other rooms were bare of them. Photographs hung on the walls, and little water colours, and framed programmes, yellow with age, of state balls of long ago. The bookshelves were filled with French authors and poets, and the furniture was elegant and sometimes frivolous, a mixture of Louis Quatorze and rococo. 'My room surprises you, yes?' asked Lady Kintyre's dry voice. She sat in one of the deep embrasures of the long turret windows, an embroidery frame in her hands, and an elderly foreign-looking woman rose from behind a little sewing-machine at Lisa's entrance. 'It is surprising, I suppose,' Lisa admitted, staring about her. 'The other rooms in the castle are so bare.' 'They are very much bigger, and the sober Scottish taste does not embrace the fripperies of the Second Empire as a rule,' the old lady

retorted, and added in rapid French to her companion: 'This is the English demoiselle of whom I spoke. A pity, is it not, that her charms are not more to my grandson's taste, for the situation has piquancy.' 'Your grandson's charms are no more to my taste, madame,' said Lisa quickly in the same tongue. Lady Kintyre was not at all disconcerted. 'You know French?' she observed with pleased surprise. 'Oh, yes, I have a little education even if I lack feminine appeal for the Scots. I was finished in Switzerland at my guardian's wish,' Lisa replied. 'That, then, accounts for the accent. It has always been a mystery to me why English parents send their girls to Switzerland and expect them to return with a French accent. You take yourself too seriously, my child. You should not be insulted that you have no interest for Charles, for it is the good-looking cousin who holds your affections, is it not?' Lisa looked at the old lady and caught, for the first time, a roguish tremor behind the grave facade of Scottish pawkiness. Here in her tower room, surrounded by her personal treasures, she seemed different, as if she did not wholly belong to the island and the castle, and Lisa remembered the rare little foreign gestures she sometimes made with her quiet, thin hands. 'Are you French, Lady Kintyre?' the girl asked suddenly. Lady Kintyre threw a smile to the woman still standing silently behind the sewing-machine. 'No, no, I am a good Scot, a Cameron on one side and a Gordon on the other, but by adoption, a little, perhaps, eh, Louise? I spent my

girlhood in Provence and one day I hope I will return there. Sit down, Louise, mademoiselle will excuse you. Louise came with me from France when I married Charles' grandfather, so we are old friends, you see. You slept well, Miss Chase? The storm did not keep you awake, I trust.' At the return to formal pleasantry, and the reminder that David might remain in ignorance of her whereabouts for days, Lisa's grievance was renewed. 'I've written to my cousin, but Sir Charles tells me the letter can't reach the mainland till the storm drops,' she said. 'Don't you think in the circumstances it's most unreasonable to keep me here?' 'But if the letter cannot reach the mainland neither can you,' said Lady Kintyre mildly. 'When it blows on Culoran such matters are out of our hands.' 'It doesn't seem to occur to anyone that David may be worrying.' Lady Kintyre's arched eyebrows rose as she applied herself to her embroidery. 'If your cousin worries he will surely come to the inn for you,' she said. 'The McCullochs know where you are and will tell him in that case, but I understood that Mr. Chase refused to come to Malloch, That would not seem to point to the fact that he will worry about you for a few days.' The old servant, Louise, had resumed her work and the busy sound of the machine fell with irritation on Lisa's ears. 'You don't care, do you - either of you?' she cried. 'You are quite prepared to sacrifice me as well as David to Sir Charles's feudal notions.'

Louise's snapping black eyes looked up for a moment, but she said nothing, and Lady Kintyre replied with thoughtful calm: 'I am yet to be persuaded of the depth of your feeling for your cousin, or his for you, but that is neither here nor there. Do not fret yourself into a state of indignation, my child. These late summer storms do not last long.' Lisa felt rebuked. Although, she told herself, she had every reason for a state of indignation, Lady Kintyre could make her feel gauche and ill-mannered. 'Louise - some hot chocolate, perhaps? It is a long time, yet, until luncheon.' While Louise busied herself with the chocolate, Lisa turned to admire a cabinet which held an assortment of charming but worthless bric-abrac. The contents were not interesting except as mementoes, but the cabinet itself was fine and elegant, mounted in bronze-gilt. 'I brought these things with me from France when I married,' said Lady Kintyre. 'Most of them are worthless, except the cabinet and that armoire over there which is said to be by Boulle, but they remind me of my girlhood and keep Louise contented on a remote Scottish island.' Lisa's eyes were bright with inquiry and a dawning comprehension, but the old lady laughed and shook her head. 'No, no, I am not homesick. Culoran is a part of me as it must be of all Kintyre women, but one day, when my job is done, I will go back.' 'Your job?' Lisa took the cup of chocolate the Frenchwoman handed her and sat in the opposite window embrasure looking from the great height of the west tower to the ramparts below, and below them again, to the waves spewing on the rocks.

'When Charles marries and no longer needs me. He must marry, you know, and get an heir.' 'Oh!' The thought of Charles Kintyre bringing a wife to the island rather as he was forcing Lisa to be his guest because, in his eyes, both acts were essential to the pride of Culoran, filled her with hostility. She became aware that Lady Kintyre was looking at her with dry amusement. 'You do not think there are many who would be glad to marry my grandson?' she said gently. 'Charles, my dear, is very attractive to women.'

The day wore slowly away. Lunch was a silent meal with Kintyre abstracted and anxious to return to the business which kept him shut away in another room of the castle, and Lady Kintyre, although she made the customary small talk for the sake of her guest, soon tired of the girl's lack of response and left her alone. Lisa, because the solitary rooms were beginning to oppress her, fetched a coat and went out into the storm. In the comparative shelter afforded by the rampart, she could walk with little effort, but when she climbed on to the old bastion, with its crumbling face of earth and stone, she found that she could barely stand. The wind lashed at her savagely and the rain blinded her vision. She stood there, gasping for breath and, for a moment, she was afraid with the sudden unreasoning fear that solitude and the battering elements can bring. With careful manoeuvring, Lisa slid inelegantly down the face of the bastion on her bottom and sat for a moment amidst the little heap of

loose stone which had fallen with her. A rough path flanked the foot of the wall and along it a young girl was swinging, the wind at her back blowing forward her tartan skirt so that each generous line of her figure was revealed. She came to a stop when she saw Lisa and exclaimed with alarm: 'Havers! Are you hurt?' Lisa scrambled to her feet, laughing. 'Of course not. I just slid down rather too fast. Is there a way back into the castle down this path?' 'Aye. I'm going there myself.' The girl did not immediately walk on but stood looking at Lisa, her fine blue eyes curious, her full lips parted as if to ask questions. She was tall and firmly built and her skin had a smooth, golden warmth. She wore a plaid over her dark hair and her bare legs were thrust into gumboots. She had a strange kind of beauty, Lisa thought, conscious of her own wet, unsuitable clothes and the hair clinging to her face in damp disorder. 'Perhaps you'll walk with me,' she said, glad of the company of a stranger who did not regard her with the familiar suspicion. 'I'm - I'm staying at the castle.' 'I know well who you are,' the girl replied, not moving. 'Now that I've seen you, I'll not need to come up to the castle. Perhaps you'll be taking my message for me?' 'Yes, of Course. Who is it for?' 'Culoran. My brother sent a note. I'll give it to you.'

Really, reflected Lisa crossly, the men of the island had no consideration for their women. 'Your brother might have come himself instead of sending you out in a storm like this,' she remarked tartly. 'Och! This is nothing of a storm,' the girl said. 'When it blows as it can you could not stand up there on the bastion. Andy would have come, but I wanted a peek at you myself.' 'Andy?' Lisa looked at her quickly. 'Are you, by any chance, Catrina Frazer?' 'Aye. My brothers told me about you. A shilpit wee thing, they said, with little sense and trews instead of skirts, but Rab thought you pretty, so I wanted to see for myself.' Lisa felt a touch of embarrassment, not at the frankness of Catrina's remarks, but at the knowledge that this girl from the island had been betrayed by promises that were little less than lies. Until this moment, Catrina, like Roma Gilroy and others, had been nebulous, unreal, but now, within sound, within touch, she was a living challenge. Had her heart broken when David gaily left her, or was she, like her stiff-necked kinsman, only seeking revenge? But the regard of the rather blank blue eyes held nothing deeper than curiosity and a faint surprise, and if Catrina was jealous, or even heartbroken, there was nothing in her face to show it. 'Have you have you far to walk home?' Lisa asked, for want of something to say. 'A mile or two. The farm's above Loch Dhu. You must visit us some time.'

'Thank you,' said Lisa politely, 'but I don't expect to be here much longer.' 'Well, that will be for Culoran to say, but I'd like fine to know you better. The island is so small and' Catrina did not finish, but spread her strong hands vaguely, then she took a crumpled letter from the pocket of her skirt and thrusting it into Lisa's hands, turned and strode away into the wind. Lisa walked slowly in the opposite direction, her mind filled with uneasy speculation. It had been a strange encounter, and for the first time, she had doubts of herself and her power to hold David's affections. Could he give to her what he must have given to Catrina if only for a fleeting moment? Had she really considered what she wanted from marriage when she had slipped so naturally into that new relationship with her childhood's idol? The wind was dropping with the approach of evening, but she did not notice it as she found a door in the wall and was back again in the castle grounds. She was hardly aware of her surroundings at all, so confused were her thoughts, and she started violently and began to struggle when a hand fell on her shoulder. 'Is there no keeping you indoors even in weather like this?' Kintyre's voice asked with exasperation. She had not seen him in the dimness of the cloister she had entered, but at the sound of his voice she became suddenly passive. 'I'm sorry,' she said. 'You startled me. I've only been for a walk.' 'You should have borrowed a mackintosh and gum- boots,' he said. 'Have you no sense at all ?' He sounded cross and she looked at him in surprise.

'It can't possibly matter to you if I ruin my clothes or catch pneumonia,' she said with a return to her old hostility. 'I have a note for you from Mr. Andrew Frazer.' 'Andy? You've not been all the way to the farm, have you?' Lisa marched on ahead of him, 'her shoulders hunched. 'I've scarcely had an opportunity of finding my way about the island yet,' she said. 'I met your foster-sister coming here with the note. She asked me if I would take it to you.' 'So you've met Catrina,' he said slowly. 'And what did you think of her?' He had caught up with her and she thought he glanced at her with grave inquiry. 'I thought she was rather beautiful,' she replied quietly, and they walked on in silence. She was aware of Kintyre's unwelcome presence beside her as they entered the castle and said quickly, to avoid more personal conclusions : 'Is that the banqueting hall - the room with the shields and things?' 'Oh, no, that was used for family occasions. This is the banqueting hall.' Charles sounded amused and threw open another door. Lisa stood on the threshold, looking with wide eyes. The long hall could have held a hundred guests with comfort. A minstrel's gallery was built at one end of it and two enormous stone chimney-pieces flanked each side. Dusty coats of arms still graced the walls and a carved oaken table stretched down the centre of the floor, but

otherwise the room was empty. A chill dampness made the place seem like a vault and Lisa shivered. 'Was it ever used in your time?' she asked Kintyre. 'No, nor in my father's,' he replied, absently observing her wondering face. 'My grandmother remembers state occasions when banquets were given here, but at the beginning of the century the family fell on bad times. Piece by piece the stuff was sold, and neither my father nor myself found the traditional heiress to help restore our fortunes.' She looked at him sharply, Wondering if he was serious. 'Would you marry for money?' she inquired curiously, and his dark eyes rested on her gravely. 'There are worse reasons when the affections are not engaged,' he said. 'Heirs are essential to us, but a wife with a dowry is better than a wife without.' 'How hateful!' exclaimed Lisa, looking at him with dislike. 'I should have thought it was enough to ask a woman to share this - this desolation with you without expecting her to preserve it as well.' 'You are probably right,' he returned calmly. 'In any case, heiresses seldom find their way to Culoran.' 'I did,' she said, looking him straight in the eye, but he only laughed. 'So you did. What a pity you are not more to the Kintyre taste, but fortune is ever perverse in her favours, is she not?' 'You're insufferable!' said Lisa, her colour rising. 'You, I feel sure, would have difficulty in finding a woman with or without money who would be willing to marry you.'

'So?' His eyebrows lifted, but his glance was tolerant and impersonal. 'That is a child's retort, but you are not much more, are you? Your rudeness is not to be taken seriously.' 'Well! If you're speaking of rudeness!' 'Let us not wrangle over something so trivial. Come, I will show you the other state rooms.' She followed him, inwardly fuming, watching the swing of his kilt, the easy movement of his broad shoulders under the leather-patched tweed of his coat. More than anyone she had met he could reduce her to adolescent fury as surely as David could offer balm to flowering sensibilities. She wondered why Kintyre disliked her so much, then realized, listening to his soft voice explaining the use and history of each of the empty, derelict rooms, that he was not sufficiently interested in her to have such a definite emotion. For him she was simply a means to an end. If he could succeed in forcing David's hand by holding her here, he would, when the time came, be as relieved to see the back of her as she to go. Despite her resentment she found she was becoming interested in the history of the castle. Charles talked well and although to him the facts and legends were a commonplace, she could understand how the long family connection with the island would breed a pride and sense of obligation which could shut the rest of the world outside. 'It seems sad that so much should be wasted,' she said. 'There must be so many historical places falling into ruin when they should be preserved for posterity.' He glanced at her with amusement. 'True, but the castle was never very important historically, you know,' he replied. 'It was a Jacobite refuge in Charles Edward's time and he

himself hid here, but beyond that we claim little share in history. This part of the castle will crumble and fall into ruin like the cloisters, and even the tourist will cease to be interested and my heirs will live in peace.' They were back in the inhabited wing of the castle now and Lisa became aware that the wind had dropped altogether and the rain had ceased. 'The storm is over,' she said, her spirits lifting, and he smiled a little sardonically. 'Yes. Tomorrow your letter can go,' he said. 'Explore Culoran while you may, Miss Chase, you are not likely to visit it again.'

CHAPTER FIVE THE next day it was as if the storm had never been. The island had returned to late summer. The morning sunlight sparkled on a sea which was smooth and unbroken and incredibly blue, and the gulls had returned to the battlements, seeking what food they might find from the castle. Lisa put on a cotton frock and went downstairs, late for breakfast. Kintyre had already finished, but Dougal was waiting with a bowl of porridge which he set firmly before her. 'Go where you please on the island,' Charles told her courteously. 'I have business on the mainland and will be away all day.' He saw the gleam of anticipation in her eyes and added gently: 'You will not find anyone to take you off Culoran, so spare yourself embarrassment with my people. I'm taking your letter with me, so you should not have long to wait for an answer.' He left the room, the dogs at his heels, and Lisa stared distastefully at the porridge, then pushed it away. He was impossible, she thought angrily, impossible and highhanded, and much too sure of his little kingdom. But it was difficult to remain angry with the day stretching invitingly before her and all the delights of the island as yet untasted. She met no one as she found her way out of the castle. Old Lady Kintyre seemed to remain in her tower for the greater part of the morning, and Louise, presumably, with her. Lisa took the rough track down which Catrina had come the day before, and followed the winding path up the shoulder of the mountain. From here she could see the island spread below her, the little harbour with its huddle of cottages, and the wild moorland stretching away to the foothills, the gleam of loch water which marked the site of the Frazers' farm, and the vivid colours of the

pools among the rocks. Here on the scarred shoulder of Morag, with the warm wind carrying the scents of sea and wild thyme, and the sharp fragrance of hill and heather, Lisa could understand Kintyre's pride of possession. From north to south Culoran was his heritage, and from east to west. His boundaries were the sea alone; the island was a kingdom and none might enter it or leave without permission. David would laugh at her, she thought, turning to search for an easy way up the mountain. He would laugh and tease her for her impracticable, romantic notions. To be lord of an island might sound very well, he would say, but where would it get you, cut off from the mainland for half the year, sheep and a few fisher folk your sole companions? Lisa slipped on some loose scree and a voice observed with an unexpectedness that made her jump: 'Ye'll no reach the summit of Morag that way.' Startled, she looked about her and saw Rab Frazer leaning against a boulder which had been hidden in the shadow of the mountain's face. He must have been watching her for some time and she experienced the brief discomfort of being taken unawares. 'Oh, good morning,' she said lamely. 'Is there a recognized path up the mountain?' 'Aye - sheep tracks, but you'd no find them by yoursel'. For why do you want to climb Morag?' 'To get to the top,' she replied reasonably, and he laughed. 'That would be a reason,' he admitted, and added with a grin: 'I hear you've met Catrina. She thought you were bonny, even though the rain had made rats' tails of your hair. Would you care to come back to the farm? Andy's away with Culoran in the launch.'

She hesitated. She was grateful for Rab's friendliness, but in view of the circumstances, she was a little shy of Frazer hospitality. 'Will your sister be there?' she asked, and his eyes were suddenly merry as if he suspected that she was being prudish. 'Aye. She'll likely give you a bite,' he said, and she began to walk towards him, glad of his unexpected company. 'Ye'll no' find it too far?' 'Of course not. I like walking.' 'Then I'll take you by the peat bogs and show you Prince Charlie's cave.' By the time they reached Loch Dhu she-felt quite at home with him. He had none of the churlishness of his two brothers and he seemed pleased to be her escort, helping her gallantly over rough ground, sometimes swinging her up in his strong arms to protect her shoes in the bog patches. 'Your bones are so little you'd wonder they wouldna break,' he said, setting her down with care, and touched with curiosity a strand of her hair, as he had done in the launch when he had brought her to the island. 'Like a bairn's,' he said again, and she laughed. 'You're funny, Rab,' she said, and added quickly: 'Do you mind if I call you Rab?' 'No, if I may call you Lisa. It's a pretty name.' They were walking along the shores of the little loch and here they were sheltered by the hills, and the castle and the sea were hidden from them. The farm lay almost at the water's edge, and sheep grazed

on the shore and in the rough pastures divided by loosely built stone walls. Catrina came to the door and regarded them silently, but she smiled at Lisa and brought her into a long low kitchen, redolent with peat smoke and the smell of baking. 'I'll set another place,' she said. 'You'll not mind your food in the kitchen, Miss Chase?' 'I adore eating in other people's kitchens,' Lisa said with truth, and indeed she began to feel ravenously hungry. The strong mountain air and the long walk had already made her regret the bowl of porridge which she had refused to eat at breakfast. Angus, when he came in from the shieling, did not look very pleased to see her, but he was polite, if monosyllabic, and in the absence of the more forthright Andrew, Lisa could forget that although she was their guest she was still Kintyre's captive. Catrina's mutton stew was excellent, Rab was obliging in answering questions about the island, and his sister, though she spoke little, had the gift of putting a stranger at ease. Lisa helped her wash up, and in the domestic intimacy of homely tasks performed together, asked curiously: 'Is Sir Charles really your foster-brother?' 'Aye,' said Catrina with a touch of surprise. 'Did you not know Culoran's mother died when he was born?' 'No, I didn't. That was sad for him.' 'I was not born myself then, of course, but our mother was nursing Andy and she took the two of them. Culoran would have died, else, I've been told, for he was a weak bairn, born too early. She always loved him like her own.' 'I see. Did his grandmother bring him up, then?'

'After the old laird died, but that was much later. Poor lady - she went back to France when Culoran's father took a wife, but afterwards she had to return.' Lisa was silent remembering the old lady's affection for her beloved Provence. Twice, then, had she been summoned to the island to take up the reins of government, and at nearly eighty, she still hoped to return one day to the land of her girlhood. 'She must be a very remarkable old lady,' she said softly, and Catrina glanced at her with surprise. 'The Kintyre women have to be up to the weight of their men or they'd not survive,' she said simply. 'Culoran's mother was a delicate girl, so they say. She was not happy on the island.' 'And you; Catrina - are you happy here?' asked Lisa impulsively. It was still strange to her that the girl had made no mention of David. Catrina finished drying a dish with careful thoroughness, but the colour came into her cheeks. 'I'd not have stayed, but for' she began a little fiercely, then the smooth, full lids hid her fine eyes and she finished with calm resignation: 'I follow Culoran's wishes. He will decide what is best.' Lisa moved away, stacking crockery on the dresser to cover her awkwardness. She wondered what Catrina had been going to say and how deep her seemingly indifferent submission really went. Catrina puzzled her altogether. She was better spoken than her brothers and, although she had the countrywomen's shyness and simplicity, Lisa did not feel that she was entirely ignorant of life beyond the island. 'Do you' she began, but the girl had stretched out a hand to touch Lisa's frock and only a naive interest was in her eyes.

'That's a bonny dress you're wearing,' she said. 'Was it awfu' dear?' Lisa laughed. The frock was a hand-printed cotton of David's fastidious choosing, but she supposed that by Catrina's standards it had been quite expensive. 'Cottons cost almost as much as silks these days, don't they?' she said evasively, but Catrina merely looked a little pitying. 'You'd not know the difference, probably,' she said kindly. 'They say you're very rich.' Lisa was relieved to see Rab coming to look for her. Catrina had a disconcerting way with her at times. 'You'll ride the pony back,' Rab told her. 'It will tire you less than walking.' She looked with some doubt at the stocky little Highland pony tethered outside the door, but he only laughed. 'He'll no' toss you off,' he assured her, 'but there are no motor-cars on Culoran. The roads are too bad.' He swung her into the saddle, and taking the pony's bridle, led it away. It was a pleasant way of travelling, Lisa found. The rough coat was warm and soft beneath her bare legs and the unshod hooves rang companionably on the loose stones. Rab, turning every so often to laugh up into her face, was a friend by now, and she was glad on this peaceful afternoon of late summer that she must stay a little longer on the island. 'Was your sister educated on the island?' she asked idly, but he shook his head, smiling. 'Oh, no. Culoran had her sent to the mainland when she was fourteen. Andy was no' best pleased at the time, for you'll ken by now he hasna

much opinion of women, but Culoran wished it because it would have pleased Mother, and he's no' forgotten that he spent most of his early boyhood with us.' 'Before his father died?' 'Aye, the old laird had no time for a laddie after his wife died. Culoran spent more time at the farm than the castle and ran wild with the rest of us. It was old Lady Kintyre gave him his education when she came back and fitted him for his father's position, and when it was Catrina's turn, Culoran did the same for her.' Lisa wrinkled her forehead. 'But was that very wise?' she asked. 'I mean, it might have only unsettled her when she had to return to the island.' 'Aye, and that's what it did,' replied Rab with a sudden frown. 'But you've no' forgotten, have you, mistress, that wrongs may be set right and Culoran is no' the man to forget a wrong.' His return to the more formal mode of address was a sharp reminder of her own position on the island, and suddenly her pleasure in the day's simple happenings was gone. 'You don't need to come any farther,' she said stiffly, reining in the pony. They had rounded the shoulder of the mountain and already the castle was in sight and, far out to sea, a small boat was moving towards the shore. 'I can walk from here,' Lisa said, swinging her leg over the pony's head so that she sat sideways looking down into Rab's amused face. He reached up at once to lift her down, and held her between his hands for a moment.

'You dinna like to be reminded of your cousin's mistakes?' he said softly. 'A wee madam you become when you remember you're an heiress and forget you're just a sonsy lassie like any other.' She felt foolish and a little uneasy under his bright glance. She thought he liked her, despite her relationship to David, but she remembered that he was an islander and might have misunderstood her friendly advances, even though he could still gently taunt her. 'I'm sorry, Rab,' she said awkwardly. 'I find it difficult to know where I am with all of you; you and Catrina and - and Culoran.' 'Do you so? Well, that's Culoran coming back in the launch. Maybe he'll have news for you.' 'Perhaps he will.' Lisa drew away from him, leaning against the pony and staring out to sea. She knew a sudden longing for David, for the familiar affectionate banter which took the seriousness out of awkward situations, reminding her that if there was a decision to make it would always be his. Even now he might be in the launch, coming with Kintyre and Andrew to fetch her home. 'If I run, I'll meet them when they berth,' she cried, believing immediately in the miracle, and before Rab could reply, she had turned from him and gone leaping down the mountain path to join the rough track to the harbour. She was there as the launch rounded the point, standing alone on the end of the jetty, her pale hair streaming behind her as she shielded her eyes against the evening sun, while the gulls circled, screaming, above her. But there were only two figures in the launch and her hands fell to her sides with unreasoning disappointment. Charles had seen her at once and, for a brief moment, he got a new perspective of her. There was something eager and delicately fragile

about the slender waiting figure and, as her hands dropped to her sides, such an air of desolation, that he found himself answering sharply when Andrew observed with a grunt: 'They're all alike - acting and posing about when there's any mon tae see.' She watched them disembark, disappointment still clouding her eyes. Kintyre's tan had deepened, she thought, with his trip across the water and his bonnet had made a deep line across his forehead. His eyes were speculative and a little amused as he stepped on to the jetty beside her and remarked politely: 'Were you expecting somebody?' 'I thought for a moment you might have brought my cousin with you,' she replied coldly. 'It was a silly idea, naturally.' 'A little optimistic, perhaps, but you never can tell. I posted your letter from Malloch,' he said. Andrew took no notice of her and began unloading provisions from the launch, and Charles slung a bulging mailbag over his shoulder and turned to go. 'Will you walk with me?' he said. Lisa thought it a silly question, calculated mainly to annoy. It was scarcely sensible to suppose that she would follow him at a distance. She walked at his side without replying and he became aware of the lightness with which she moved and the sturdy freedom of her limbs which, to him, accorded so surprisingly with the town- bred delicacy of her build. 'Did you find any amusement at the harbour?' he asked, wondering how she had spent her day. 'There are picture postcards to be bought

at the store, and magazines, I believe, but Culoran has little else to offer the tourist.' Her annoyance was replaced with curiosity. 'You really do think that I and people like me can only be happy with shops and man-made amusements, don't you, Culoran?' she said. 'You must have become very insular here in your island.' 'I beg your pardon,' he said with unexpected charm. 'It was, perhaps, rude to class you with the tourists when you are, in fact, my guest. How did you spend your day? I'm interested to know.' How easily he could charm, she thought, her dislike vanishing as she observed that the high Scottish cheekbones and dominant features could be attractive as well as arrogant, and the dark eyes could hold apology instead of censure. 'I wanted to climb Morag,' she said, 'but I didn't get farther than the shoulder today. Are there eagles up there, Sir Charles? Would I ever see a golden eagle?' He smiled sympathetically. 'Eagles have been known on Culoran,' he replied. 'I saw one myself as a boy, but they're rare now. Morag's a stiff climb, you know. It wouldn't have been very wise to venture alone.' 'Because of the sheep tracks? Rab said I'd never find them by myself.' 'Rab?' He had opened the door in the castle wall and the dogs ran to greet him. Lisa saw him frown as he bent over Crieff.

'I met him on the shoulder,' she said. 'He took me back to the farm and Catrina gave me lunch.' 'A long walk,' he remarked a little dryly. 'You aren't built for our Highland landscape.' She began to grow angry again. 'Because I'm not what I'm sure you'd call a fine figure of a woman is no reason to suppose I lack stamina,' she said severely. 'The Swiss Alps are much more formidable than your little Scottish hills and I did plenty of scrambling there.' His firm lips twitched. 'Did you, so?' he observed gravely. 'I have misjudged you. I apologize.' They were in the dimness of the cloisters now and she could not see whether he was laughing at her or was merely rather bored by the conversation. 'Your foster-brother is better company than you, and has better manners, too,' she said rather rudely. 'He brought me back on the pony, and at least was concerned with my enjoyment.' Charles paused to regard her quickly and now there was no mistaking his expression. His face wore the haughty mask of the laird of Culoran and distaste looked out of his eyes. 'Rab can be soft-spoken when he pleases, but you'll not bribe him,' he said. 'Your cousin made the mistake of thinking a girl from the island easy meat. Don't you do the same.' She felt herself flushing under his stern regard.

'You're really very insufferable, aren't you?' she said quietly. 'I scarcely have that sort of interest in your foster-brother. You forget I'm to marry my cousin, however much you may despise him.' He shifted the heavy mailbag to his other shoulder. 'I did not suppose that your interest in Rab would be other than diplomatic,' he said calmly. 'I was only trying to warn you that you might bite off more than you could chew. As to your cousin - well, the promptness and nature of his reply to your letter will answer the other question, will it not?' He crossed the main hall without further speech, the dogs at his heels, and Lisa stood for a moment staring up at the tattered banners above her head. Oh, David, David, she cried in her heart, come soon and show them they're wrong ... come soon and take me back to reality and the certain future. ... For already she could doubt herself and her unquestioning acceptance of what he had to offer, so that in her own eyes, as well as in Kintyre's, she seemed a child pretending to a truth which held no substance.

For all Lisa's impatience for David's reply, the weekend passed pleasantly enough. On the Friday evening when the three of them met for dinner, Kintyre seemed to have forgotten his earlier insults, if thus they were intended, and Lady Kintyre made polite inquiries for the Frazer family as if Lisa had been paying a social call at her express wish. It was difficult to remain stiff and unresponsive when the old lady made such a point of table small talk. She came of a generation who had been taught early to school their private emotions behind a facade of social triviality, and Lisa, used to more contemporary manners, could not help admitting that the system had its points. Even. Charles, not talkative by nature, made graceful contributions to the evening when called upon, and listening to them

exchanging small items of island news, Lisa was aware of a rhythm in the life of Culoran, a graciousness left over from more spacious days and glimpsed only rarely by her own generation. ; Charles gave his grandmother the French mode of address and it suited her, with her straight figure and piled-up hair. Her hands were always busy with her embroidery and, watching her, Lisa tried to count up the number of years she must have sat there, chatelaine first to her husband, then to her son, and now to her grandson, dreaming perhaps of Provence, but living perforce for the house of Kintyre and the island. 'You are thoughtful, my child,' she said at that moment. 'Are you thinking we are a dull pair shut away on Culoran? I seldom leave the island now, but Charles goes twice a year to Edinburgh to look up old friends and keep abreast with the times. Even London - only your true Highlander is reluctant to cross the border unless he has to.' Charles was looking at Lisa with a lifted eyebrow and he observed softly: 'That would fit in with our guest's opinion of me, Grand'mere. She told 'me only today that Rab had better manners and was better company, too.' 'Indeed? Rab can be soft-spoken when it suits him.' 'So I told Lisa.' Lady Kintyre's own eyebrows lifted as he used the name and he smiled. 'I'm sorry,' he said. 'It seems more natural to call you by your first name.'

'Please do,' said Lisa, looking surprised. 'I'm not at all used to being called Miss Chase yet.' 'After all,' pursued Kintyre, suddenly grinning, 'you addressed me as Culoran the first time we met.' 'That was different,' replied Lisa, 'it's a sort of title, isn't; it?' But she was embarrassed, knowing that she had used the name more as a taunt than a mark of courtesy, and his eyes proclaimed that he was aware of this, too. 'You are being provocative, Charlie,' his grandmother said with faint disapproval. 'Lisa, if you would care to go to bed, do not wait up for politeness' sake. I will ring for Betsy when you wish.' It might have been a gracious offer of escape or merely dismissal. Lisa got to her feet, thankful suddenly that for her the evening had ended. 'I think I will,' she said. 'Your island air makes me sleepy. But don't trouble Betsy - I can find my own way now.' 'In that case light her lamp for her, Charles.' He rose and lighted one of the three little oil-lamps which stood in readiness by the door and handed it to Lisa gravely. 'Shall I light you up?' he asked, but she replied equally gravely. 'No, thank you, I can find my way perfectly now. Good night.' 'Am I making war on children?' Charles asked his grandmother as he resumed his chair. 'If you will persist in treating her like a child you will get only what you deserve,' she retorted, folding up her work.

'O-ho! The harmless spittings of one of the island wild cats?'. 'She will be very good for you. She has a mind of her own. Has she a fancy for Rab?' 'I shouldn't think so. She probably thinks he might be useful.' He sounded short and uncommunicative and Lady Kintyre gave him a shrewd glance but said nothing. It was perhaps curious that David's name was not mentioned between them. Lady Kintyre had made no inquiries as to her grandson's activities on the mainland, and he had made no comment on the letter he had posted for Lisa in Malloch. 'Will the weather hold awhile?' the old lady asked as she rose to bid him good night. 'For the week-end, surely, but the summer's nearly finished.' 'Yes,' she said, and sighed. The winters on Culoran were getting longer, she thought, or perhaps she was growing too old. 'Louise will grumble if the autumn gales start too soon.' His eyes were gentle and perceptive as he bent to kiss her. 'You should go back to Provence, my dear,' he said. 'You have given more than enough to Culoran.' She straightened her back and her glance was as bright as a girl's. 'In due course, cheri, in due course,' she said. 'I cannot leave until you are settled. You are thirty-four, Charles, it is time you thought seriously of an heir.' 'How very French you are, sometimes,' he said with a smile. 'Edinburgh has failed me so far, I'm afraid, and the little house parties that produce eligible young women. Am I too fastidious?'

'Perhaps. I think more possibly you are a romantic. There are many good Scottish families from whom you could have chosen a wife these last ten years.' 'I don't want,' he retorted with sudden sternness, 'to repeat my father's mistake.' 'To marry without' love? Ah, that is a matter of the woman's temperament. Your mother, Charlie, was not fitted for Culoran. Cities had sapped her and - love was important to her.' 'Isn't it important to all women?' 'It's a matter of temperament,' she said again, 'but for life here on the island with its isolation, its dependence on mutual sympathy, I think love might be important. I know I could not have done without it.' 'Then I must wait,' he said with gentle amusement. 'But you shall not wait, Grand'mere. You must go when it pleases you, you and Louise.' But she only answered: 'We shall see,' and patted his cheek with her thin hand. Lisa slept later than usual, for the long day out of doors had drugged her. Dougal had already expressed the hope to Kintyre that the young leddy had taken the hint and remained in her room, and his offering of the usual bowl of porridge was almost in the nature of an ultimatum. The morning ritual was becoming tedious, Lisa thought, pushing the bowl away politely, but Charles said with a disapproving air: 'You should learn to like porridge. Your stomach will be sustained for many more hours if it's well lined in the first place with oatmeal.'

'I haven't got a Scotch stomach and it doesn't need sustaining for hours,' she retorted, exasperated by this national fetish, and Charles smiled. 'You'll come to it if you stay here long enough,' he said, and she gave him a cool stare. 'A week-end is hardly long enough to achieve a liking for porridge,' she said. 'David will have got my letter by now. He will probably come right away. I suppose one can hire a boat from the other side?' 'From the mainland? Oh, yes. Do you expect your cousin today, then, Miss Chase?' 'Of course. What would be the point in writing if he can settle the thing at once, and in person?' 'True, that would appear logical. Well, we must wait upon events.' She did not like the hint of complacency in his voice or the knowledge that he did not take David's intentions seriously, but, belatedly, it seemed unwise to start the day by bickering. 'Now that we know each other a little better,' she said, trying to sound reasonable, 'even you must see that it's not possible to be engaged to two people at once.' 'Are you engaged, then?' 'Well, not exactly, but David's only waiting for the right moment.' 'That has rather a chilly sound. I shouldn't have thought, on the small acquaintance we have, that you would be content to wait upon a man's convenience.' She swallowed her irritation, and said, hoping to sound conciliatory:

'I'm afraid I've been rather rude to you at times, but it's different, somehow, waiting on - on your convenience to David's.' 'So? He must handle you better, then.' 'He doesn't handle me at all,' said Lisa scornfully, forgetting how long David's wishes had been law, and her own acquiescence the natural outcome of childhood's acceptance of adult ideas. 'David's never made me angry, and he's never made me want to be rude to him.' 'There is a saying, you know, that it is natural for lovers to quarrel,' he said, and she flushed. 'David wouldn't think that,' she said. 'He hates women who make scenes.' 'So? Well, he's a fortunate man if he can avoid it and still have what he wants,' he replied dryly. 'Would you care to come and look at the sheep with me? It is my day for visiting the farms.' 'Thank you, I'd sooner stay near the harbour,' she said, and added with satisfaction: 'If you are going to be busy inspecting sheep it will be quite easy to step straight into David's launch, when it arrives, and go back to the mainland with him.' His dark eyes expressed only polite interest. 'You think so? You will find, I'm afraid, that you are not permitted to leave until your cousin has been up to the castle.' Lisa's eyes opened wide. 'Even your islanders would scarcely use force in front of witnesses from the mainland,' she said, but he only smiled.

'Oh, they'll not mind starting a bit of a fight if necessary. In any case the boatmen from Malloch are in sympathy with Culoran. They'd not go against the laird,' he said, and went out of the room.

CHAPTER SIX THE day passed slowly, but David did not come. At first it was fun poking about in the rock-pools on the shore and exploring the little caves that ran like a linked chain along the cliffs, but as the morning ended and no boat appeared on the horizon, Lisa became impatient. She had been so sure that as soon as David got her letter he would waste no time in coming to her rescue that, already, she was beginning to doubt. She walked dispiritedly back to the castle for lunch, unwilling to meet the mockery in Kintyre's eyes, but he was not there, and in the solitary company of Lady Kintyre, Lisa was forced to observe the commitments of a guest and curb her impatience. When she returned to the shore she could laugh at her own doubts. David would have had to motor from Fort William; it was not possible that he should reach the island before the afternoon. She wandered into the little shop that sold necessities for the island, and bought picture postcards of Culoran to take home. However disconcerting, her visit had been an adventure, and she would like to keep some record of the island which had appealed so much to her imagination. Perhaps one day she would come back and climb Morag, and visit the little kirk on the headland, and even call at the castle, for old times' sake, and discover whether the laird had acquired a wife and an heir and the old lady realized her dream of Provence. Presently she climbed on to Shag Rock to watch the horizon, unobserved. She could see, now, the submerged rocks on to which she had so nearly jumped and, in the summer peace of the quiet afternoon, she shivered to think how nearly she had gone to destruction. She remembered Kintyre's fierce grip as he lifted and carried her back to the cliff's face, and remembered, too, the fierceness of the dark face bent above her, and the hard bright look in

his eyes as he said: 'There's courage in you, you daft female!' Never, she thought, had she met anyone who roused such anger in her or made her feel so foolish, and she laughed aloud, trying to imagine the elegant David in a like situation. The afternoon wore away and with it her eager hopes. The tide was out now and the fishermen were mending their nets, and the little boats beached for the night. Men were already drifting towards the back room of the store where liquor was sold and a rough bar set up against one wall, and Lisa, defeated for the day, went back to the castle. She wished now that she had gone with Kintyre to inspect his farms. The long day had been solitary and fruitless and had ended in disappointment. 'He'll come tomorrow,' she said to Charles, courteously offering her a glass of sherry before dinner. He had made no mention of David's failure to arrive, but she thought she detected the light of complacence in his eyes. 'Tomorrow is the sabbath,' Lady Kintyre observed gently. 'There will be no boats plying for hire that day.' 'Oh!' said Lisa blankly, and Charles said, as if to soften a child's disappointment: 'We will try to make the day pleasant for you. After kirk the minister comes up to lunch, of course, but in the afternoon I will take you up Morag, if you like.' Lisa was wakened in the morning by a sound that made her leap up in bed in fright, so alarming was it. Her room was dim with the heavy tapestry hangings still shutting out the light, and in the bemused state of one waking from a dreamless sleep, it seemed to her that all the murdered spirits of Scottish history were let loose in the castle. It was not until a mournful air emerged from the skirlings and wailings of

sound that she could bring herself to jump out of bed to draw the curtains. Below, in the courtyard, a solitary piper was pacing up and down,, and the music of his bagpipes was strange and unearthly in the early morning silence. Lisa listened, appalled, to what David would have called this final touch of local colour, then she stuffed her fingers in her ears and shut the window with a bang. She wondered as she dressed if she was expected to accompany the family to kirk, but when she came down for breakfast it was plain that Sunday at the castle was no ordinary day for any of them. Lady Kintyre was up and already dressed in her outdoor clothes, Dougal wore the formal black uniform of service, and Kintyre's kilt was not the faded, shabby garment of every day. 'We shall be leaving in half an hour,' the old lady said to Lisa. 'You will join us, of course?' She drove with Lady Kintyre and Louise in an old- fashioned open carriage which needed repainting, and a strange sense of fitness suddenly possessed her. It was right to be driving to church on a bright summer's morning, with the minister coming back afterwards for luncheon. The men in their Sunday blacks and the women in their shawls were reminiscent of the Swiss peasants of her schooldays, and even the little grey kirk, perched on the headland, had the same point of focus as the wooden chapel at the foot of the mountains. To attend church in a small community was not only a duty but a fitting climax to the week's happenings. 'You have not attended a Scottish service before, cherie?' said Lady Kintyre, watching her. 'No? Well, you will find it a little tedious, perhaps, at first, but I think you are not so modern that you will be lacking in faith and reverence.' It was a curious observation, Lisa thought, surprised that she should feel grateful for the suggestion of approval, and, indeed, with the sun

warm on her face and the sound of a little cracked bell from the kirk mingling with the horses' steady hoof-beats, she felt the stirrings of a forgotten desire to worship, and regretted the barren Sundays since she had returned to England when David had smilingly refused to emerge from his room until the aperitif hour. She sat between Charles and his grandmother in the rough, uncomfortable pew reserved for the castle, conscious of many eyes upon her and, as the old lady had suggested, she found the service tedious at first, with the endless psalms and dry Presbyterian hymns, but when Kintyre got up to read the lesson she was touched by more than solemnity, and listened curiously to his soft Highland voice, and watched the clear, hard planes of his face in the dusty rays of sunlight. ' "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen...."', Beautiful words, thought Lisa, beautiful and fitting, too. Evidence of things not seen. ... David's way of life seemed false and a little empty in retrospect, then Charles stopped reading and sat down beside her, and she gave herself a little shake. How could she, for a moment, find herself in sympathy with such puritantical stubbornness? What was Kintyre but an enemy holding her to ransom in. order to salve his own stiff-necked pride? An eye for an eye, he had said, but no one lived like that, these days; there must be give and take and an understanding of human frailty. Who, indeed, was Charles Kintyre to sit in judgment on another man and exact such terms? He glanced down at her suddenly and his eyebrows lifted at the expression on her face, then he smiled faintly, as if he knew what she was thinking, and looked away again. She was glad when the service ended and they came out again into the sunshine. Lady Kintyre was already talking to the minister who would drive back with them, and Lisa's eyes gleamed with sudden

excitement. It had not occurred to her before that here was her opportunity. The minister was from the mainland; the castle launch would take him back and the Kintyres could scarcely refuse to allow her to accompany him if she made it plain to the old man that she was being held' on the island against her will. 'Will you walk back with me?' Charles asked her, observing the brightness of her eyes. 'There will not be much room in the carriage.' She could not very well refuse, for the curious eyes of the small congregation were upon her and the distance from the kirk to the castle was not sufficient to plead tiredness, but if Charles thought he would thus prevent her having a word in private with the minister, he was only postponing matters. They must meet at the luncheon table and Charles must know by now that Lisa would not hesitate to state her case in front of them all. The carriage moved away and she found herself walking down the hill beside Kintyre who paused every so often to speak to one of the islanders or joke with the children. 'You do it very well,' she said, giving him her sudden gamine grin. 'Do what?' 'The lord of the island. You read the lesson well, too. Do you enjoy being the kingpin in this small community?' His answering grin was unexpected and quite unruffled. 'I detect a grain of ridicule in that remark,' he observed without resentment. 'Do tradition and respect mean nothing to you?' She felt foolish, and a little indignant, too. How dared he think that she had no feeling for the things that mattered?

'Of course - in their proper places,' she said. 'You understand, don't you, Sir Charles, that I mean to go back to the mainland with the minister after church?' 'Do you?' He merely sounded amused and she said quickly: 'Neither you nor your grandmother can make that ridiculous story sound sensible to a stranger, and a minister at that.' 'Will Wallace is scarcely a stranger,' he said mildly. 'He has served the island for thirty years. He is not a man of great imagination or much knowledge of worldly matters. He would not care to offend my grandmother.' 'Oh!' Lisa exclaimed, outraged that she could be deceived by such a simple trick. 'So that's why you didn't want me to ride back to the castle! Your grandmother is busy priming the old gentleman at this very moment! Very well, Culoran, I'll make such a scene at lunch that he'll find himself between the devil and the deep sea, and I hardly think a minister of the Scottish church would lend himself to buccaneering ways, whatever the provocation.' She walked the rest of the way in silence, planning what she would say to the minister, aware, suddenly, that the whole situation was utterly absurd.

It became more absurd as the day progressed. Old Mr. Wallace was a man of little speech and plainly very dull. His accent was, at times, so broad that Lisa could not understand him, and he appeared to have the same difficulty when she addressed him. For all her brave talk -of making a scene, Lisa found that in Lady Kintyre's presence this was difficult. The minister, torn between his excellent lunch and the respect due to his host and hostess, paid little attention to her

announcement that she hoped to accompany him to the mainland and, if she grew persistent, he glanced at Charles and laughed, and informed Lisa that young girls did not know their own minds, whereupon he exchanged a timid look with Lady Kintyre, and observed that it was time Culoran's affairs were settled, and a bonny lassie, added to a substantial dowry, was a consideration. Lisa was scandalized. Whatever Lady Kintyre had said on the drive home, she had clearly given Mr. Wallace the impression that her visit to the castle was expected to end in a betrothal. There had been so much talk of a wife and an heir for Culoran, that it was not surprising the old man should accept the obvious. With impotent rage, Lisa watched him go, accepting his well-meant good wishes because, without making herself ridiculous, she could do no less. When he had gone, and Lady Kintyre had retired to her rooms in the tower, she turned furiously on Charles. 'Were you a party to this?' she demanded, and he looked at her with slight surprise. 'To what are you referring?' he asked gently. 'To - to' she began, then fell suddenly silent. It was impossible to put forward such a preposterous notion under that cool, rather haughty stare. Kintyre, himself, had contributed nothing to the general impression. If he was aware of his grandmother's strategy he had not openly countenanced it, indeed his attitude throughout the meal had been one of indifferent tolerance towards a child. She became aware of the angry tears of defeat stinging her eyelids and looked away from him. 'If you would care to change your clothes I will take you up Morag as I promised,' he said, but she turned her back on him.

'No,' she replied, walking to the door,.'I wouldn't care to. I'm going to my room.' She passed the rest of the afternoon in unwilling solitude, aware that, despite her anger with him, she would have liked to climb Morag with Charles. At dinner, Lady Kintyre remarked graciously: 'I'm afraid you were bored with Mr. Wallace, Lisa, but he is a good man. He was pleased to find we had a young guest at the castle for a change. He thinks it time that my grandson evinced more interest in the younger generation.' Lisa gave her a suspicious look, but the old lady only smiled and observed that most of the castle guests were inclined to be of her own generation and she, for one, enjoyed young society. Had Charles taken her up Morag? No? Well, there was time enough, and no doubt the unfamiliar Scottish sabbath had tried her. Lisa felt she had been found wanting and, for a moment, her resentment against Lady Kintyre was as deep as that against her grandson. She was a clever old devil, Lisa thought angrily, and far more dangerous than Charles, for she had the advantage of her age and her sex and it was impossible to be rude to her. 'Does the mail boat come in tomorrow?' she asked, and it was Charles who replied: 'Yes, about noon. You should be hearing from your cousin, I think.' He brought her the letter himself the next day, and would have left her to read it alone but she told him with pleased anticipation to stop. 'I shall enjoy reading it to you,' she said. 'David will have a few caustic remarks that should be good for you to hear.'

He waited politely while she slit the envelope. She was sitting in one of the crenelles on the battlements, enjoying the sun before lunch, and he noticed the delicate blue shadow which her hair made across her face as she bent eagerly over the letter. It was not a long letter, but it took her some time to read and, as she read, her expression changed from eagerness to one of dumbfounded bewilderment. If this was one of her tricks, David wrote, it was too corny for him to swallow. If she had ferreted out that old affair of last year, by going to Malloch against his wishes, that did not give her the right to concoct such a yarn. Her biblical quotations and talk of revenge were childish in the extreme, and he was sorry if his friendship with Mrs. Gilroy, which she had always declared could not make her jealous, had provoked such a flight of fancy. He could not believe that she was really unable to leave the island if she wanted to, and if she was enjoying her visit to the castle and the Kintyres were willing to keep her for a time, he had no objection. In either case if she was not back in Fort William by the end of the week, he would leave without her. It wouldn't in the least surprise me, he finished, to hear that you find the laird of Culoran attractive, but you won't catch me by such an old gag. Get it out of your system, darling, and then come back to your patient, but by no means gullible, guardian.... Kintyre was leaning against the moss-grown stones, watching her. 'The letter is not quite what you expected, perhaps?' he said at last, and she raised such bewildered eyes to his that he knew that, for the moment, she had forgotten her enmity for him. 'He doesn't believe me,' she said slowly. 'He thinks I've invented the whole thing to pay him out for - for' 'Yes?'

'It doesn't matter. Anyway, he doesn't take your threats seriously, and if I'm not back in Fort William by the end of the week he'll leave without me, so now what are you going to do ?' 'May I see the letter?' he asked, and after a moment's hesitation she handed it over. At least let him judge for himself that his threats were useless. 'Your own letter, perhaps, was not very explicit,' he observed when he had finished reading. She considered, remembering how she had written to David by the light of a candle, with the storm rising, and the hangings of her room swaying to give colour to her ridiculous hints of hidden clansmen waiting their chance of dark deeds. It had been an incoherent letter, wavering between her desire to save him embarrassment, and to make light of her own situation. Perhaps, on the second night of her captivity on Culoran, she had not really believed that Kintyre would stand by his decision. 'Perhaps it wasn't,' she said slowly. 'But I thought he would come. I thought he would know I wouldn't invent such things.' 'Had you quarrelled with your guardian about this Mrs. Gilroy?' he asked curiously, but Lisa shook her head and her eyes for the moment were clear and untroubled. 'Of course not. David dashed back to London to see her, which is why I came to Malloch on my own, perhaps, but he's not my affair. I've never even met her.' His regard was steady and a little pitying. 'A man who cannot make you jealous also cannot make you love,' he said in his soft voice, and for some reason she flushed.

'That's nonsense,' she said sharply. 'If you trust a person you have no need to be jealous.' Even as she spoke Lisa remembered that David had made no mention of their own relationship in his letter and at the same moment Charles said: 'He does not write like a man who means to marry you, this cousin of yours.' 'There was no occasion to remind me,' she said stiffly. 'David knows I understand the position.' Kintyre moved with sudden impatience. 'You stubborn, foolish child!' he exclaimed. 'Do you think you can still put doubts in my head with that tale? You'll not divert me from my intention that way, and your cousin, at least, is too much a man of the world to try.' To his surprise her lashes were Suddenly wet and her voice when she next spoke was not angry or rude but only hurt. 'It's true all the same,' she said. 'There's a will, you see. If David marries someone else I get his money and' She had been going, to add that a like clause in the will applied to herself, but he turned to look at her in such a strange way that the rest of' the sentence died on her lips. 'Are you trying to tell me that you're willing to be married for your money?' he asked sternly. 'Of course not. It's only well, you yourself would take a wife with a dowry rather than one without, wouldn't you?' His mouth tightened and his dark eyes regarded her with coldness.

'My grandmother sometimes talks a great deal of nonsense, like most women,' he said, and she thought that after all he had not been so unaware of the minister's embarrassing hints as he had appeared. 'I'm glad you understand that,' she retorted tartly. 'Now, perhaps, you'll allow me to leave the castle and forget your crazy notions and, just to turn the other cheek, I'll forget them too and not make trouble when I get back to the mainland.' He smiled with unexpected charm, as if he found her amusing and rather touching. 'Oh, no,' he said gently. 'If necessary we'll get your cousin here by other methods. I have no personal grudge against you, you must remember, but Catrina's wrong must be set right. We will send a message by radio telephone this afternoon. If I add my persuasions to yours, perhaps Mr. Chase may change his opinions.' She went down with him to the store to send her message to David. Charles wrote out a message of his own and passed it to Jock Macgregor without showing it to her, and she stood listening while the old man's fingers tapped out a call to the mainland, feeling now in sober truth that she was indeed Kintyre's prisoner. The older women bobbed as they left the store, but Lisa knew the courtesy was only for Culoran. To every one of the islanders she was a hostage, and until such time as the island's honour was righted, none would help her.

There was no message from David for several days and in that time the weather began to change. Rain swept in from the sea and the warmth of the summer days was gone, this time for good, Dougal said. In another week the autumn gales might start. After this

Wednesday no more tourist boats would come to the island; by the end of the month they would start penning cattle for the winter, and lay in fresh stores of oil and tallow against the days when the island should be cut off from supplies. Lisa knew her first taste of panic. If the gales should come before David made a move, she might be stranded for weeks, forced into intimacy with Charles and his grandmother, driven into a forgetfulness of all that had been familiar in life. Already the memory of David had receded a little, so strong were the unseen ties of Culoran, and she knew that she must get away from the island or be lost. She tried to bribe the fishermen to take her to the mainland, recklessly lavishing what money she had brought on any who would accept it, with the promise of vast reward once she was with her guardian again. But in the evenings Kintyre handed back the money with an expressionless face, merely observing: 'Your money is a temptation, but my people are loyal. TO be an heiress on Culoran means very little.' 'Does it mean very little to the castle, too?' she demanded, humiliated and wanting to wound. 'Even you, Culoran, could benefit by being generous. I could settle a very large sum on you - enough to restore a good deal of the decay here.' For a moment such anger darkened his face that she was afraid, then he said quite quietly: 'Do you seriously think you can buy me?' 'David says one can buy anything or anyone if the price is high enough,' she said with more assurance than she felt.

'Does he so? It is the attitude of many who are new to wealth, I believe. You will not buy Culoran, Lisa - neither myself nor the island. The decay you speak of is the decay of history. We don't mind it.' She felt snubbed and put in her place, but she was not going to let him have the last word. 'Your grandmother doesn't agree with you,' she said coolly. 'She had plainly discussed my prospects with the minister and given him a very odd impression.' 'So odd,' retorted Charles with dour amusement, 'that had he not been anxious, as usual, to humour my grandmother, he would have known well that a spoilt child was scarcely to my taste.' 'Thank you,' said Lisa with bitter politeness, wanting to hit him, and he smiled at her with that unexpected, exasperating charm. 'You have spirit, I'll say that for you,' he said as if he was conferring a favour. 'It's a pity you have not yet learnt to become a woman.' At such times she hated him passionately, but there were occasions when she could forget her enmity, seeing his gentleness with his grandmother and his thought for the people of the island. He was a courteous host always and, only when she provoked him, spoke his mind with Scottish bluntness, but as the days passed and no word came from David, Lisa grew anxious on another score. Already it seemed as if the island and its intimate little community were sapping her will to return. Even the castle with its dusty deserted rooms had become familiar, and the dark shoulder of Morag and the distant foothills tugged at something strange in her heart. It was time, she thought, to get back to David and the familiarity of hotels and city life, to find the home he had spoken of and find, as well, roots from which to grow.

The last tourist boat came and went and, as before, Lisa found herself guarded, this time by Kintyre himself, who proposed the promised climb to the summit of Morag and only smiled when at first she refused. The day was one of rain and sunshine, and as they climbed the little mountain it seemed to Lisa that never had she seen colours so vivid. The pools arid inlets in the cliffs changed from blue to green, the colour of jade, and the heather, already turning, had bronze in the purple which stretched to the shadow of the hills. Birds, strange to her, cried with plaintive notes, and once a skein of wild geese flew below them uttering their sad, honking call. It was not a difficult climb with a guide who knew the maze of sheep tracks. The rock face was broken, affording easy footholds, and in the few places which needed care and judgement there was Charles' strong hand to pull her up beside him in one effortless movement. When she stood on the summit, where traces of snow still lay like the thinly frosted branches of a Christmas tree, she looked down at the castle so far below them, at the tiny harbour, at the broken coastline which nearly surrounded them. 'You can see almost the whole island,' she said in wonder. 'Do you come here often, Culoran, and survey your kingdom?' He laughed. 'My kingdom, as you can see, is very small. You have feudal ideas, I think, Lisa.' 'Haven't you?' 'Only from obligation. My responsibilities to the island's life are greater than my pride of possession, I think.'

'Perhaps your pride is of a different kind.' 'I have the Scottish pride,' he replied simply. 'The honour of my house, the well-being of my people, and the pride every man should have in his own integrity.' 'And yet that is not the same, is it? "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." ' He looked at her with raised eyebrows. 'You remembered the lesson, then?' he asked. ' 'Yes, I remembered. You read it very beautifully, and the words were somehow apt. You know, Culoran, if you had talked of the honour of your house and pride in your own integrity anywhere else but on top of a mountain, it would have sounded horribly smug.' 'Would it? Well, come down to the shelter of that overhang and we'll eat our lunch.' Lisa fell upon her food with enjoyment and Charles said, watching her for a moment: 'You know, you puzzle me. You adapt yourself to life on Culoran so naturally, yet you have the strangest ideas about things that seem natural to most men.' 'Have I? But sometimes what seems natural to you, Sir Charles, seems very archaic to me.' 'If you've given up addressing me as Culoran, then call me Charles,' he said with a smile. 'Perhaps we are archaic here. No one lives in a castle these days, and a few prefer the solitude of island life to the petty demands of the world. That breeds a. pride of race that is probably fustian.'

'No,' said Lisa very quickly, 'not fustian. What you have here is real somehow more real than the rest of the world.' He shared the same quality, she thought with surprise. In his faded kilt and the old, shabby jacket, patched with leather, he was more real than the men she had known in the cities, more real, even, than David, who placed such importance upon dress. He observed her with quickened interest. Her slight body was relaxed against the rock which supported it, and her eyes, shadowed with thought, gazed out beyond him to the sea. 'You have curious eyes,' he remarked irrelevantly. 'They are the colour of peat smoke.' It was so unusual for him to comment on her appearance that she looked at him in surprise. 'That could be a very pretty compliment if I didn't know that for you I have little charm,' she said, and he began to repack the rucksack with unhurried deliberation. 'But you know very little about me, my dear,' he said, quite unperturbed, 'and about yourself, too, I'm beginning to think.' She watched him warily, mistrusting this strange indifference which seemed to deny her sex. 'What do you mean?' 'What I say. Do you expect to understand yourself at nineteen?' 'I hadn't thought about it.' She frowned. 'If you mean David, I don't need to understand. I've known him all my life-'

'so there's no need to think,' he finished for her, then laughed. 'You give a lot away sometimes, my child. It's a pity you have so much money and a guardian who takes his duties so lightly.' This reminder brought home the fact that there was still no word from David and Lisa's resentment passed to him for putting her in such an invidious position with Kintyre. 'David has his own methods,' she said coldly. 'They are not yours but are none the worse for that.' He had slung the rucksack on to his shoulders and he now got to his feet and held out a hand to pull her up. 'Your loyalty is very touching,' he said pleasantly, 'but rather wasted, I fear. If I'd had the raising of you, Miss Lisa Chase, I'd have got the daftness out of you by now.' As she took his hand, the desire to hit him rose up in her so violently, that she could no longer restrain herself. 'Even on the top of a mountain there are some things that can't be called anything else but smug!' she cried and, her hands being otherwise engaged, she kicked him hard and savagely on the shins. He let go of her so abruptly that she staggered back to the edge of the ledge and would have been over it had he not caught her roughly back. 'You daft little wild cat, you can't play tricks like that in the mountains!' he exclaimed and before she was aware of his intention, he had dropped on one knee, thrown her across the other, and spanked her twice, very hard. 'Perhaps that will teach you a lesson,' he said, releasing her. 'Someone should have done it for you long ago.'

The descent was accomplished in grim silence. Speechless at first with fury, and a little afraid, Lisa was forced to follow where he led, and this time he did not consider her as he had done making the ascent, but took his own speed, only waiting with impatience when she seemed to lag behind. A squall of rain lashed the mountain as they reached the shoulder, and through it she could see the tourist boat putting out from the harbour, the last of the season. Lisa stood and watched it, tears mingling with the rain on her face, and her desolation was complete. She was alone now on the island with this stranger who made his own laws and his own punishments. She was alone until David, too, understood the strength of Culoran and came to rescue her. He was standing just behind her, watching the old paddle-steamer through the rain. 'The last of them till next year, thank the Lord,' he said, and his voice was no longer angry but tolerant with relief from a minor nuisance. 'There'll never be another boat,' she cried a little wildly, 'I'll be marooned for years and years.' His hands rested for a moment on her shoulders, and his voice was soft as he spoke. 'You're tired. Such foolish fancies are only for children.' She turned, and he saw the rain on her face and the tears on her lashes. 'I'm sorry for what happened up there,' he said gently. 'You are too old for a man to treat like a child. I'm sorry.'

Her anger had gone in the desolation of being left behind, and now he seemed less of a stranger and more of an elder brother who had resorted to nursery measures as a matter of instinct. 'I shouldn't have kicked you,' she admitted. 'It wasn't very - very dignified, was it? But I've wanted to hit you ever since I came here.' Both his eyes and his slow smile were suddenly quizzical. 'Have you, now? That's very interesting,' he said. 'We'd best be getting back to the castle out of the wet. When we get in I'll tell Betsy to draw you a bath:'

CHAPTER SEVEN THAT night Lisa wrote again to David, a brief but rather desperate little note begging him not to underrate Kintyre's intentions. Whatever you decide about Catrina, she wrote, setting aside her own claims for the moment, you must come and make the position clear. I don't want to be left here any longer with Charles Kintyre. He is polite and picturesque and quite infuriating. His grandmother says he needs a wife and an heir, but don't let that worry you because he thinks I'm a spoilt child and has no interest, but dear, dear David, come and fetch me away. Already I'm beginning to forget what you look like, or to believe, any more than Charles, that you want to marry me. ... She gave the letter to Kintyre the next morning and he pocketed it without comment, except to remark that the mail boat was due to leave today, but Lady Kintyre observed with lifted brows that in her young days a pretty girl would not have had to appeal more than once to a young man who was not only her cousin and her guardian, but who was reputed to be thinking of making her his wife as well. Lisa wandered off to explore the island on her own. Her feelings were beginning to be sore and bewildered by David's failure to come for her, or even to write. She did not desire to spend another day in Charles' company and it was with relief that she met Rab returning from the harbour with a creel of fish slung over his pony's withers. 'I'd heard you were still here,' he told her with a grin. 'The island suits you, I'm thinking. There's colour in your pale cheeks and a sparkle in your eye that I'd like fine to think was for me.' She looked at him with surprise. He had always been the friendliest of the three Frazers, and even complimentary in his rough fashion, but he greeted her now with the easy familiarity of long acquaintance

and, although Kintyre had warned her that Rab could not be bribed, she was woman enough to know that a man had his weaknesses. 'Perhaps the sparkle is for you,' she replied demurely. 'You are the one man on this island who looks at me with favour.' 'O-ho! Have ye had the rough side of Culoran's tongue?' he laughed. 'The laird is no' a man to be softened with pretty speeches. You'll be wasting your time with Culoran, and 'he set to make a marriage with a sensible body who'll give him bairns and not ask too much.' 'I've tried no pretty speeches on Culoran,' she said with distaste. 'He's welcome to his sensible body if he can find her.' 'Och, he'll find her once he has a mind to. They say the laird attracts the women despite his dour ways. Would you be coming to the farm for a wee bit of company?' 'I don't find your brothers very good company,' she replied, and he slid off his pony. 'Och, they're away to the sheep and Catrina'll not trouble us. Up with you on the pony, if you're not too proud to ride with the fish.' She hesitated, some deep hidden instinct not altogether liking his manner, but at the mockery which showed for an instant in his bright blue eyes she climbed astride the pony. 'I'm not proud at all,' she said, then wrinkled her nose. 'Golly, the fish smells very fishy!' Laughing together, they set off for Loch Dhu, past the last of the crofts and the doctor's little house with 'surgery' written hopefully over the door of the lean-to byre. As she watched Rab's sturdy figure striding along beside the pony, Lisa knew a small glow of excitement. He liked her and he thought she was pretty. If she bided

her time and handled him cleverly she might yet make her escape from the island. The farm looked very different from her last visit. Then, the last of the summer days had laid warmth and beauty on byres and buildings, the loch had been smooth with the shining clarity of glass, and the sheep drowsy in their pastures. But today there was a greyness over the island, the waters of the loch were broken by the first cold winds of autumn, and the house had a bleak air of exposure. 'How different everything looks without the sun,' she said, and he replied carelessly: 'Aye. Winter comes early to Loch Dhu. It hasna the shelter of the castle. Come away in and we'll find Catrina.' But Catrina was not about. A pot swung from a chain over the kitchen fire and Rab found a note propped on the dresser. 'She's away to the far shieling. Angus needs help with a sick ewe,' he said. 'We'll have to spier for oursels in the pot and chance what's there.' It was fun, Lisa thought, stirring the pot with a great iron ladle and serving what came out. There was game in Catrina's stew, and barley and rough oatmeal to thicken the gravy. Lisa burnt her tongue, being hungry and in too much of a hurry, and Rab laughed at her and called her greedy. It was very pleasant sitting in the dim kitchen while the day grew greyer outside, and every so often Rab would kick the peat into flame and the glow would flatter his features and give an added brightness to his eyes.

'Rab,' Lisa said suddenly, 'how much do you like me?' He gave her a speculative look. 'You know well I like you fine,' he said, his eyes on the slender lines of her throat and breast. 'Enough to help me if I asked you?' 'To help you? If it's leaving the island you're thinking of you know Culoran's wishes.' 'Are they more important than mine?' she-asked, leaning forward to touch his hand. His fingers closed over hers experimentally. 'That's making it difficult,' he said, smiling. 'Culoran's a man and you're a woman. I always had an eye for a sonsy lass, ye ken.' She drew her hand away and after a moment he let it go. 'Rab, I I know your sister's honour must be as important to you as it is to Guloran, but - but it wasn't my fault. Do you think it's fair to hold me here? Do you think it's fair, if it comes to that, to try and force my cousin to marry a girl he doesn't love? David was wrong, I suppose, but I don't think Catrina can have been unwilling.' He looked her up and down with slow deliberation. 'No lassie's unwilling,' he said calmly, 'but Culoran doesna understand these things. He'd no take to bed a woman he wouldna marry.'

'That's all very fine,' she said a little angrily, 'but we're ' not all made in such a noble mould. The laird of Culoran must be a bit of a prig as well as other things.' 'You've no' much love for our foster-brother, I'm thinking,' he said with a grin. 'Well, there are times when he riles me, too. What would you be willing to pay to get off the island?' The question was so unexpected that she was taken aback. Was it to be as simple as this? she wondered. 'Culoran said you could not be bribed,' she replied, watching him under her lashes. 'There's other things in the world than money,' he said and, as her eyes flew open widely, he laughed. 'You're a bairn after all,' he mocked. 'There's no' a man on the island who hasna heard the tale of the heiress and her money.' 'It's true,' said Lisa. 'Aye, it's true enough, but Rab Frazer's wooed more easily than that.' She looked at him uncertainly, but his eyes were smiling and suddenly soft with a fondness for her, and her lips parted in childlike gratitude. 'Oh, Rab, dear Rab, if you'd only help me,' she said, 'I'd - I'd do anything in reason.' 'We'll think of it,' he returned. 'For now I'll just look at you and take my fill of your bonny face.' The door to the yard opened abruptly and Lisa looked round with a faint feeling of guilt, expecting to see Catrina, but it was Kintyre who

stood on the threshold and her heart sank at the untimeliness of his visit. 'Welcome, Culoran,' Rab said, getting to his feet. 'Have you had a bite?' 'Not yet. Where's Catrina?' 'Away to the far shieling with Angus. Mistress Lisa has had to forage in the pot like the rest of us. She burnt her tongue.' Lisa thought Charles looked at her with disapproval, but he made no comment and fetched a plate and went to help himself from the pot. He took little notice of her but talked to his foster- brother of sheep and his plans for the coming winter. When Catrina came in a little later he greeted her with affection and Lisa was surprised to see the pleasure in the girl's eyes. Whatever view he had taken in the first place, it was clear that neither held displeasure for the other now. 'Losh me!' Catrina exclaimed when she saw Lisa, 'I did not think to see you today and I away to the shieling and nothing prepared. Has she had a bite from the pot, Rab?' 'It was wonderful,' Lisa said gently. 'I've never met anything like your stews, Catrina. You'll have to give me lessons before I go home.' 'Can you not cook?' asked Catrina innocently, and Charles smiled. 'Lisa is an heiress,' he said softly. 'They don't have to cook, you see.' Lisa flushed but said nothing. On the island heiresses seemed to be a good joke. Kintyre said he must be going and added that Lisa might as well come with him. She did not relish the long walk to the castle in his

company after yesterday's events, but there seemed no reason to stay longer, so she said good-bye to the two Frazers and went out through the door he held open for her. It must have grown later than she realized, for the light had failed considerably and a thin mist rose from the loch, touching the lonely shores with sadness. Charles did not say very much as they walked home and it was not until they were in sight of the castle that he asked suddenly : 'Did you go to the farm unasked?' 'Certainly not,' she snapped, mistaking his question for a reflection on her own good manners, 'I met Rab going home with the fish. He asked me to join him:' 'I see. Did he tell you Catrina was not there?' 'He didn't know, but even if he had there was no great harm in it, was there?' His eyes rested reflectively on her for a moment, then he said gravely: 'I was not questioning your good taste, only your wisdom. Be careful of Rab, Lisa. He's a good fellow, but, as I told you before, he can be soft-spoken when it suits him.' 'And that,' retorted Lisa with a certain relish, 'is no mean thing to be. It was very pleasant, let me tell you, to sit in that nice kitchen and be treated as an adult person after being bossed around for days and and spanked!' His face softened in an unwilling smile.

'Have you not forgiven me for that?' he said. 'The man who marries you, Lisa, is going to have his hands full.' 'The man who marries me will first have to treat me as a woman,' she said coldly. 'And doesn't he?' inquired Charles politely. 'Who?' 'The man you say you're going to marry,' he replied, and furious that he had caught her out with such a trick she gave an angry exclamation and ran on ahead of him to the castle gates. She saw Rab again the next morning, but Catrina was with him, and she could do no more than pass the time of day with them and watch for any sign that the young man wanted to meet her alone. But in the brief moment when his sister stopped to speak to a woman who had come out of one of the cottages, he said quickly: 'Do you ken the old powder magazine in the east wall of the castle?' 'I think so. You mean that queer vault place that still has an ancient cannon in it?' 'That's the place. I'll meet you there at dusk, if you can slip out without Culoran spiering you.' There was no time for further explanation for Catrina rejoined them and, with a lifting heart, Lisa went back to the castle. Now, she thought, now at last she had an ally, and all the rest of the day she was gay with her secret so .that Lady Kintyre smiled at the change in her and Charles glanced at her gravely and looked a little puzzled. In the afternoon she walked round the ramparts with the dogs to make quite sure where the powder magazine lay. The dogs accepted

her now and would follow her in the confines of the castle walls. She had even made friends with Craigie who would nuzzle her hand, but Crieff would not let her touch him. He would stand apart, watchful and suspicious, looking, Lisa thought with a giggle, rather like Charles, with his long face and dark, disapproving eyes. 'Craigie's false to you,' she told Kintyre at tea time. 'When you're here he pretends he has no use for me, but when you're out of sight he makes up to me and even lets me kiss him.' Charles smiled, but Lady Kintyre said a little dryly: 'That beast is fickle like some others in the island. Do not trust someone, Lisa, who is soft-spoken out of his master's hearing.' Lisa looked at her under her lashes, wondering if she could be referring to Rab, and as the light began to fade and they still sat over the tea table, she began to fear that it would not be possible to slip out of the castle unobserved. But presently Charles went to his study to do some work and Lady Kintyre, her hands idle for once, dropped to sleep by the fire. Lisa, tiptoeing across the flags, made her escape from the room. She was young enough to feel slightly wicked, stealing away to a secret assignation, but by the time she had found the meeting place and waited there for nearly an hour in the damp and gloom of the old powder magazine, her spirit of adventure was rather quenched. Supposing Rab did not come? Supposing he had just been raising her hopes for his own amusement and, unlike the faithless Craigie, had no intention of going against his master's wishes? At that moment she heard a low whistle and he slipped inside the musty room and closed the door. 'Are you there', Lisa?' he called softly, not seeing her at first in the sudden darkness.

'Here, by the cannon,' she answered. 'I've been waiting for hours and it's cold.' His hands felt for her and she was aware of the warmth of his breath and the faint peaty smell of his rough jacket. 'Aye, you are cold, you wee shilpit creature,' he murmured. 'Give me your hands to warm.' She put her hands in his and, already used to the dim light, could make out the brightness of his eyes and the smooth tanned skin of his face. He was a little like David, she thought with surprise and, remembering David, she said quickly: 'Have you thought of a way, Rab? Have you thought of a way to take me off the island ?' 'Och, stop blethering about that,' he said. 'There's time and enough to plan a flitting. Put your head on my shoulder so that I can feel your hair. So like a bairn's it is - like flax.' She began to feel awkward. A few kisses were little enough to pay for escape, but she was used to David's more sophisticated approaches and had never learned to handle passion. He did not kiss her as she half expected he would, but only stroked her hair which had always seemed to attract him and she said timidly: 'There's not much time. If I'm late for dinner they will ask questions.' 'I was kept,' he answered absently, 'or I'd have been here sooner.' A bell clanged somewhere in the castle and she started. 'Quick, what have you planned?' she asked, then because she felt something was expected of her, she reached up and kissed him swiftly on the cheek.

For a moment his hands were on her shoulders, rough and compelling, then he let her go with a little laugh. 'Aye, and the first kiss came from you,' he said as if the fact surprised him. 'There's lassies I've wooed for a favour many a time, but none so bold as that. You'd best be going. That bell was the dinner warning for the laird. He's likely about in the cloisters or the state rooms.' 'Can we meet here again?' she asked with a sensation of anti-climax. 'We've arranged nothing and the days are passing.' 'I'll be here tomorrow,' he said. 'But if you've a mind to walk as far as .Prince Charlie's Cave at noon you might find me waiting. Do you mind the way?' 'Yes... yes. ...' 'Then away with you, and run.' She ran back along the ramparts in the evening dusk, the fine mist settling on her hair. The state rooms were empty and so were the long passages and echoing stairways. She reached her room unseen, but had only time to wash her hands before going downstairs for dinner. Charles looked a little curiously at her flushed face and damp hair. 'You've been out?' he asked, handing her the usual glass of sherry. 'Yes,' she said, and wondered if Lady Kintyre's raised eyebrows betokened more than polite surprise. Lisa could not keep the appointment at Prince Charlie's Cave, for the old lady requested her presence in the tower room for most of the morning and, without being rude and occasioning comment, she could not very well refuse.

As it was, she had an idea that Lady Kintyre was not entirely ignorant of the new undercurrent in their affairs. Her observations as they drank Louise's chocolate could quite often hold a double meaning, and Lisa became uncomfortable under the old lady's polite probing. 'You have no news as yet of your cousin, I understand,' she said. 'You must be patient, my child. There is much for the young man to consider before he takes action, is there not?' 'David didn't take my first letter very seriously,' Lisa replied. 'I'm afraid he thought I was inventing most of it. After all, one isn't held to ransom these days - not in this country.' 'You are in Scotland, Lisa, on a remote, forgotten island. The clans still rule here.' 'But David wouldn't understand that, and neither, I should have thought, would the law.' 'But your cousin has not summoned the law to his aid. Does that not strike you as strange?' Lisa supposed it was strange. She herself had had every conviction that David would arrive on Culoran with a launch filled with police. 'Your cousin is in an awkward predicament,' said Lady Kintyre, observing her silence. 'He, naturally, does not wish to advertise his own peccadilloes, and in this part of Scotland the name of Kintyre holds much respect.' 'Lady Kintyre,' said Lisa urgently, 'whatever the rights and wrongs of the business, do you think Catrina would be happy married to David when he doesn't want her?' 'I do not think,' said the old lady severely, 'that any woman would be happy married to your cousin, but Charles has a pride in these

matters and, after all, many a marriage of convenience has turned out very well.' 'But they'd never mix, they'd never want the same things.' 'And you, Lisa, do you want the things your cousin can give you?' 'Yes,' said Lisa instantly, 'of course. I've know David so long that we'd never be in each other's way.' 'And you do not mind the money, being such an attraction?' Lisa flushed. Until she had come to Culoran she had not thought about the money. 'It seems very sensible, and what Uncle Toby would have wished,' she replied stiffly, and Lady Kintyre smiled. 'You, too, are very sensible,' she said. 'In France they regard such matters from the same angle. Your cousin is fortunate in finding a young girl so complacent to his whims.' Lisa had no reply to make to that, but for the first time she wondered if David thought the same thing. He had never desired marriage, she knew, but it had seemed so natural, when she returned from Switzerland, to fall in with anything he might suggest, that the idea of a marriage between them was the obvious and perfect end to their old relationship. 'You like it here?' Lady Kintyre asked suddenly. 'It is understood that you are in a hurry to leave, but - you like Culoran?' 'Yes,' said Lisa, thinking of the island and its odd attraction, even of Charles and his dogs and his strange right to rule. 'Yes, I like it here.' Louise, so often silent, observed:

'The island chooses its subjects, mademoiselle, you cannot leave until she releases you.' 'It's true,' Lady Kintyre said. 'Louise and I both sigh for Provence, but as long as Culoran needs us we must stay.' 'Is the matter of finding your grandson a wife so difficult?' Lisa asked, stung to bluntness, but the old lady only smiled. 'No,' she said, 'but for Charles the marriage of convenience would not be so successful. He is romantic at heart and, unlike his father, not content to produce heirs and have nothing himself.' It was an odd light on Kintyre, Lisa thought, as she spent the remainder of the day restlessly until the evening. There had been so much talk of a suitable marriage and an heir that she had supposed he was willing, because of his position, to take the wife that was chosen for him. Well, whoever she was, reflected Lisa stormily, she hoped she would lead him a pretty dance and knock some of the complacency out of him. Rab was first at the powder magazine this time. As Lisa slipped in through the door he caught her to him and kissed her boldly. 'You didna come to the cave,' he said. 'Are you thinking twice on your wish to leave the island?' 'I couldn't get away,' she said, hoping that he would not kiss her again. 'Have you decided, Rab? Have you thought how you can get me away?' 'There's the launch,' he said slowly. 'After dark it's no' difficult to leave the harbour.' 'When will you take me?'

'Tomorrow perhaps, or the next night. We must wait on the weather. But first - first I need paying.' 'Paying?' 'Like this - and like this' His lips were suddenly hard on hers, but she stopped herself from shrinking. 'Yes, Rab, yes ...' she said, trying not to stiffen under the pressure of his arm. 'Och, you're a babby!' he exclaimed. 'No man's yet taught you to love. I'm wasting my time.' 'Rab . . . please . . .' she said, and in the dim light he saw, the pleading in her face, the bewildered shyness in her eyes. 'Tomorrow, then,' he said roughly, 'at ten o'clock here. The boat will be ready.' 'Can't I meet you there ?' 'No. I'll fetch you here, for if a storm blows up we canna go.' She did not think to doubt him. She had little experience of the ways of men and none at all of a Highland shepherd. 'I'll be here,' she said. 'And, Rab - if there's any - any present you'd like, I'll have it sent.' 'Och!' he said, grinning. 'The heiress and her money again! I'll take what I want before you leave, my lassie, and for all your ignorance I doubt you'll no' be stingy.' That night the wind got up and Lisa lay awake, dreading the failure of her plans. To Rab's hopes, or was it threats, she paid scant heed.

Her desire was so strong now to get away from Culoran that she had ceased to count the cost. Once safe again with David she could forget the whole sorry business, and the castle and Charles and the strange pull of the island would only be part of a dream.

She woke to a rough morning. The gulls screamed shrilly, beating their wings on the windows; the rain still held off, but the wind howled round the castle and the waves on the shore below beat high against the rocks. 'Is it too rough for a boat?' she asked Kintyre when they met at breakfast, then could have bitten her tongue for divulging so much. 'The mail boat will come in before evening,' he said, mistaking her anxiety, 'but it looks as if a storm will blow up before morning.' She was nervous as the day progressed and even Charles noticed and told her to stop looking at the weather. The mail launch had come through heavier seas than this, he said. -Perhaps it's not the' mail launch the child is worried about,' Lady Kintyre observed tranquilly, and Charles turned to regard Lisa thoughtfully. 'It would be a pity,' he remarked, 'if she had more - extravagant ideas.' She was relieved to hear that Kintyre would be out for the evening. It was not easy to deceive the old lady, but she went early to bed. By ten o'clock it should be possible to escape unobserved from the castle. All day the wind blew and the windows in their old,, insecure frames rattled violently. Before dinner Lisa packed a small, easily handled

case with a night's necessities and hid it behind a suit of armour in the banqueting hall. When Lady Kintyre had retired, all she would have to do would be to fetch a coat and a torch from her room. It seemed odd without Charles sitting at the head of the table at dinner. Lady Kintyre was in an absent mood and Lisa, listening to the wind, could not eat. The evening appeared endless, watching the old lady at her embroidery and answering the sudden questions that she would put. The fire and the sound of the wind made her sleepy, despite her desire to keep awake, and when at a quarter to ten the old lady bade her sharply to go to bed, she said good night and made her escape. Her bed was turned down for the night, and a small fire of peat lent the big room comfort. Lisa did not fancy her journey to the mainland in the teeth of the wind and for a moment she looked at the room with regret. It had become familiar, even in this short time, familiar and part of her, and she realized with surprise that since she had left school a year ago, the only refuge she had known had been hotel bedrooms with their impersonal welcomes and their perpetual air of impermanence. David's life, she thought, David's life ever since his father had died and the money had made him independent of the ties of a home. With an impatient, admonitory shake of the shoulders, she closed the door and stole softly down the stairs. Once past the living-rooms there was little chance of meeting Lady Kintyre on her way to bed, for the west tower was in the opposite wing. The wind in her face was a merciful reminder that she was free, as she let herself out of the castle, but it snatched the door from her hand, slamming it with a crash that made her heart beat fast with alarm. She dared not use her torch for fear someone might have heard the door, and by the time she reached the powder magazine she had

tripped over stones and unremembered objects, bruising her knees and tearing her stockings. The door was open and Rab was already there, an oilskin slung about his shoulders. To begin with she was glad of his arms' about her, a reassurance of protection and the comfort of a human body, but after a little she grew impatient to be gone and she did not like his soft laughter as he imprisoned her between his hands. 'Let be,' he said. 'Are your promises like your cousin's, made to be broken?' 'What do you want?' she asked, suddenly afraid. 'The wind is getting stronger - we should be going.' 'The wind and the tide will wait,' he said, 'and it's you I want, my bonny - didna ye know that?' 'No, Rab, no ...' she cried, aware for the first time of his desire, and as he bent her head back with a roughness he had never shown her before, she could not restrain herself from kicking out at him. 'You would, would you!' he exclaimed, pulling her against him. 'I like fine spirit in a woman, but you'll no' escape me by fighting. I might ha' known you fancy ones are all alike - tease a body and give nought in return. A' weel, ma leddy, ye've met your master this time.' Fiercely she fought him, her desire to leave the island lost in the struggle for preservation. The two dark shapes that suddenly bounded, snarling, through the doorway, seemed only part of the nightmare, then Kintyre's voice cut ominously across the wind. 'Rab! Lisa!' He stood there just inside the doorway, a hurricane lamp held above his head, and in the wavering light his face was stern and rather

terrible. Slowly Rab let her go and she turned to Craigie who was nuzzling her hand, bowing her face over his rough head. ' 'Are you mad?' she heard Charles ask, but whether of her or of Rab it was hard to say. 'Och, bad luck to ye, Culoran!' Rab answered sheepishly. 'Canna ye mind your own affairs?' 'This happens to be very much my affair,' Kintyre replied stonily. 'You're a muckle-headed fool to try your tricks on a guest of mine.' 'An unwilling guest, Culoran, and ready with any promises to be shot of you.' 'Not the promise of her body, I think.' Kintyre's voice was icy. 'Och, let be,' retorted Rab sulkily. 'I was only going to take what's been stolen from Catrina. Isna there justice in that?' 'You forget,' said Kintyre haughtily, 'as laird of Culoran that privilege is mine.' Lisa shrank back against the old cannon at his words. He gave her a brief glance and added deliberately: 'But I'd not choose the chance hideout of a servant or a thieving trespasser. Get off my land, Rab Frazer, before I set the dogs on you.' Rab went like a dark shadow into the night, and left alone with Kintyre, Lisa knew a great desire to weep. Her own foolishness mocked her as greatly as the contempt in his eyes and she had nothing to say to him at all. Charles stood there looking at her silently; then he lowered the lantern and the light fell on her suitcase.

'Did you really think Rab would have kept his promise?' he said. 'He'd have taken what he came for and left you. Have you no wits at all, you thoughtless child?' She tried to rally her lost courage. 'I thought the keeping of promises was such a point of honour on Culoran,' she said, her head going up. 'Rab's allegiance is to me, not to the cousin of a man who robbed his sister. In his own way he was only taking something he thought he had a right to,' he said. . 'So you defend him?' 'I defend no man who steals from me. You are my guest and while you are here you are also my prisoner. Had I wanted what Rab wanted of you I'd have taken you before now.' Her anger returned. 'You have an insulting way with you, Culoran,' she said. 'You'd take nothing from me that I wasn't prepared to give.' He set the lantern on the floor and came slowly towards her. As his face became shadowed she saw an expression there that was entirely new, the fierce predatory look of the three Frazers. 'Do you think you're very wise to try and provoke the manhood in me?' he asked softly. 'For all your childish, feckless ways, you're still a woman. Remember that.' 'It's you who forget it,' she answered with a boldness that vanished as his strong hands suddenly closed on her shoulders.

'Is this what you're asking of me?' he said, and kissed her with such savage indifference that she cried out. 'Is it another lesson you're wanting?' he demanded, and when she thought he was going to kiss her again he shook her hard instead. 'You're a silly, ignorant girl with the bravado of a child,' he told her, and, like a child, she bowed her head suddenly on his breast and wept. As he held her weeping against him the bitter anger went out of him. Her slender body was warm and sweet in his arms, and the comfort she sought flowed strangely from him. The soft fine hair touched his lips for a moment and he said in gentle tones: 'Don't cry. I'm sorry, Lisa - don't cry.' She looked up into his dark face. 'Your lessons are so very s-salutory, Culoran - first a spanking and and now this,' she said, and he smiled. 'And now this - for forgiveness,' he countered, and kissed her very gently on the mouth. Her lips moved beneath his, tentatively at first, then with generous reciprocation, and she said: 'Am I forgiving you or are you forgiving me?' 'That depends,' he replied gravely. 'But the next time you try to run away I don't doubt I shall take sterner measures. Come back to the house, my dear. This is no place for such midnight cantrips.' He picked up her suitcase in one hand and the hurricane lamp in the other, and together they went out into the wind, the dogs following like shadows behind them.

CHAPTER EIGHT A TELEGRAM had come with the mail for Kintyre, but no letter for Lisa. Charles handed her the telegram the next morning, remarking that after the day's events he had thought it best to let her have her night's sleep before reading it, and she opened it with alarm. David had simply said: Have had to go south on business and cannot take Lisa. Fully appreciate your problem. Will write. Fully appreciate your problem. ... That was clever of David, she thought, and thoroughly ambiguous. It could apply to Catrina or it could apply to the fact that he had virtually thrust his ward upon strangers. She glanced up at Charles and was aware that he was looking at her curiously. 'And there was nothing for me?' she asked quietly. 'Nothing.' 'Then I'm afraid it looks as if you're stuck with me, unless you feel it would be less trouble to call the whole thing off and send me home.' 'Home?' he repeated gently, and she lowered her lashes. 'No, I don't think I'll do that. Your guardian must come to terms some time, and for the present it might be better to resign yourself to Culoran rather than hanker after strange hotels and a cousin who has no place for you.' If he had meant that to sound cruel he succeeded. Lisa winced and her eyes met his unhappily. Had there never been any real place for her in David's life? Was even this proposed marriage only his way of solving a difficulty and keeping the money as well?

'I'm sorry that you seem to be having me on your hands indefinitely,' she said, trying to muster dignity. 'There appears to be little choice for either of us at the moment.' 'I'm very pleased to have you as a guest,' he said courteously, and Lisa smiled. 'A guest?' 'Will you give me your promise to try no more escapes?' 'Oh, yes. I realize now that you will always have the last word in the island.' 'In that case will you please consider yourself a guest, and not a prisoner?' She examined his long dark face with its sharp planes and contours. He was attractive in a dour, unexpected fashion, she supposed, and not unlike the portraits of that other Charles who had been called merry when his looks had been melancholy. Since last night she had lost her wish to fight him. 'Thank you,' she said, 'I'll try to remember.' 'Rab will not trouble you again,' he told her. 'He knows his limitations.' She coloured a little. 'I suppose you're thinking I didn't know mine,' she said, the strain of this forced politeness suddenly leaving her. 'You see, Charles, I knew he liked me in a sort of pastoral fashion, and I thought - I thought a few kisses were a cheap enough road to escape.' His lips twitched.

'An island off the west coast of Scotland is not Chelsea, you know. A shepherd's notion of flirtation and yours would tend to be different. You're a curious mixture, Lisa. You like to think you know all the answers, but in many ways you've grown up so little.' 'One tends, with someone like David, to acquire a veneer of what he would seem to expect,' she tried to explain. 'When I first came back from school in Switzerland I was terribly conscious of being young and - and dewy-eyed. I was given to flinging my arms round him at the wrong moment and never took the right interest in clothes. He was very sweet but, as he said himself, too young for the job, so when he suggested that we married it - it seemed the right solution to everything. David, you see, has been my very special person ever since I can remember.' It was a long speech and Lisa's first conscious putting into words of all she had felt since she had left school. Charles listened attentively and at the end she saw him frown. 'You spoke the truth when you said you were engaged to your guardian, then?' he asked slowly. 'It hadn't got as far as an engagement,' she replied, 'but that was what David wanted eventually.' 'I'd thought you were spinning a yarn to relieve him of a previous commitment.' 'I know you did. Sometimes I almost believed it myself. He's not not reacted at all as I thought he would.' 'You don't love him, you know,' he said calmly, and shook his head at her as a protest sprang to her lips. 'Do you remember my telling you that a man who could not make you jealous could not make you

love? It's true all the world over. What you've felt for your guardian has been an old schoolgirl hero-worship.' 'How do you know?' 'Because, my dear, you've not learnt anything about love. When you returned my kiss last night there was more in your innocent reciprocation than I'll warrant you've ever shown your cousin.' This time the colour came strongly into her face, flooding up under her eyes and rendering her speechless. 'Oh!' she exclaimed at last. 'You have the most extraordinary ideas, Culoran! Your kiss - at any rate your first kiss was hardly a compliment to me!' 'Wasn't it? Yet you did reciprocate.' 'You can't compare such different moods. David has certainly never kissed me like that.' 'I'm sure he hasn't,' said Charles with an unexpected grin. 'Colour becomes you, Lisa, but stop looking so indignant. Last night - like the spanking - shall be forgotten between us.' Her eyes dropped before his and she said nothing, but she did not think that last night would be forgotten by either of them. They had both learnt something; she, that for all her brave defiance there was a quality in Kintyre that would not be tried too highly, he perhaps,- that she could draw tenderness from him as well as anger. Lisa decided to change the subject. 'Tell me about your boyhood,' she said. 'Did you really regard the Frazers as brothers?'

'In a manner of speaking we were. Andy and Angus and I were of an age and Mrs. Frazer treated us all alike, down to well-deserved tannings all round. Rab, of course, was younger, and a horse of a different colour.' 'And Catrina?' His eyes were reminiscent. 'I was fourteen years old when Catrina was born and in my first term at my public school,' he said. 'As my own mother had done when I was born, Mrs. Frazer died. I think it was that which gave me a special feeling for Catrina and, later, made me insist on a better education for her.' Lisa was silent, remembering the signs of mutual affection when the two had met at the farm and the way the girl had looked at him, a little shyly, as if she alone of the others had recognized he was different, despite his claim to kinship, had Catrina turned to David for a brief moment because she loved Kintyre and the two men had shared the accident of gentle birth? Would Charles, but for that mischance, have married her and raised her to his own level? As these thoughts crowded upon her, Lisa knew her first resentment of David, and knew, too, the stirrings of some fresh .emotion which she could not name. Charles was looking at her, his own face reflecting the unconscious doubts in hers. 'I was wrong, I now think,' he said, 'to send her away from the island. It gave her a taste for the mainland and a life she imagined was fuller and more worth while.' 'More worth while than Culoran?' she asked with such natural amazement that he smiled while he lifted his eyebrows.

'You say that after a bare week on the island?' he said. 'Yes,' she replied instantly. 'If I'd had Catrina's background I would never have wanted to go. Towns and smart people have little reality compared with this.' 'You'd best tell that to Catrina,' he remarked a little dryly. 'Coming from you she might believe it, however much you are deceiving yourself.' So he wanted Catrina to stay. His insistence on righting a wrong could spring as much from his desire to give the girl the life she wanted as to satisfy the honour of his house. The thought disturbed her unreasonably and for a moment she envied the young Catrina reared to better things for the sake of an old memory, her good name guarded by a man who might yet come to love her. Charles watched Lisa's withdrawn face and thought how strange it was that in one short week she should change so much. She was the same little wild cat who had nearly jumped to her death off Shag Rock and kicked his shins sooner than listen to home truths, but the change was there, or perhaps, after yesterday, he was seeing her for the first time. Seeing and understanding for the first time the sensitiveness which lay beneath the half-grown mind and the odd flashes of a maturity which had never been fostered except on the surface. Yet, looking back, he had understood even in those first days that she was putting on a front for him, that he had known a fondness for her even when she most exasperated him, and that he would like her to stay for an indefinite time at the castle and forget this David who used her so lightly. 'Can we not be friends for the short time that is left?' he asked a little shyly.

'Friends?' Her thoughts were still funning in the same channels and she sounded vague. 'Well, shall we say enemies who have called a truce?' 'Are you my enemy, Charles?' 'No, but you have done your best to make me one.' She sighed. 'You can't blame me, but you would be a good friend, I think, Culoran, just as you would be a good enemy.' 'The Scot is usually built like that,' he replied. 'Well, have me for a friend, instead, Lisa.' 'All right,' she said, 'but I don't promise never to kick you on the shins again.' 'And if you do you know just what will happen,' he retorted with a certain grimness, and she laughed, suddenly liking him very much.

The days slipped by almost imperceptibly. Lisa grew accustomed to the piper waking her on the sabbath, and to the undertones of the sea at night which warned her to expect rough weather or fair; she even grew accustomed to porridge and the continued aloofness of the deerhound, Crieff. 'You take easily to our ways,' Lady Kintyre observed. 'Culoran does not welcome many strangers.' 'Do you mean the island or your grandson?' Lisa asked with a smile.

'I was speaking of the island, but I think you have a little more kindness for Charles now, have you not?' 'Perhaps - not that he would care one way or the other.' The old lady smiled, then looked severe. 'That is the observation of a child,' she remarked, and Lisa felt rebuked. It was true that her feelings for Charles had suffered a change, true, also, that unless she reminded him of her status at the castle, he treated her with the grave consideration of a courteous host. He took her with him on his rounds of the farms and fishermen's cottages, and the islanders themselves ceased to regard her with suspicion. She learnt with surprise how versed Kintyre was with the varied demands of a small community. He could set a broken limb as well as he could diagnose the trouble with a stricken ewe; he would take over a shepherd's or fisherman's task if a man fell sick; mend a child's toy and rescue Mrs. Macgregor's washing from the rain, or Mrs. Campbell's bread from the oven,, with the ease of long habit. 'You are rather remarkable,' Lisa told him. 'Do they always treat you as one of themselves and take these things for granted?' 'Not always,' he said and, indeed, when he was settling a dispute or administering his own rigid justice he was at once the laird of Culoran with the weight of his forebears behind him, the ruling voice against which there was no appeal in the island. Lisa would listen while he spoke to the children or the old shepherd, Macray, who had only the Gaelic, and observe the gentleness which lay beneath his rather stern manner. Watching his way with the

children she wondered why he had never married when it was so clearly a state that was expected of him. 'You're fond of children, aren't you?' she asked him one morning as they walked back to the castle. 'Aren't you?' he replied, raising a quizzical eyebrow. 'Yes, I think I am.' 'And this cousin of yours - does he wish to raise a family as well as to share your fortune?' She did not care for the ironical tone of his soft voice or the neat way he had turned the conversation away from his affairs to her own. She had never thought of David as the potential father of her children and for some reason the idea made her feel a little uncomfortable. 'I imagine so,' she said rather shortly. 'Most men want heirs, don't they?' 'It depends. Children sometimes bring unwanted responsibilities.' 'Why should you assume that David is any more irresponsible than the next man?' 'Did I ? He doesn't take his obligation to his ward very seriously, does he?' 'You've put him in an impossible position.' 'So? But should he not be anxious as to your position if he means to marry you? He is not to know in what manner I may decide to take my satisfaction.'

It was absurd, thought Lisa, to feel chilled by such idle threats on a fine autumn morning, walking prosaically home to lunch, having bought a bag of bull's-eyes and a pair of shoe-laces from Mrs. Macgregor at the store. 'I don't suppose it would occur to my cousin that you would abuse your own hospitality,' she Said, trying to sound indifferent. He gave her a dark, quick glance. 'No? A man usually judges others by himself and your cousin is not particular over affairs of hospitality,' he said softly, and saw the colour stain her cheekbones. 'That, I suppose, I asked for,' she answered. 'But I don't imagine that even you, Culoran, would take a woman who doesn't attract you simply to wipe out an old score.' They had reached the castle, and as she spoke, Lisa stood with her back to the postern gate as if defying him to enter. His eyes travelled over the slender body, softening as they rested on the delicate face and throat. 'You do not understand the primitive pleasure of an eye for an eye, evidently,' he said. 'And you might come to attract me, Lisa. When the gales break and there's no choice of company for days at a time a man may change his tastes.' He moved back quickly as she kicked out at him, and unexpectedly laughed. 'You take teasing too seriously,' he said, pushing her gently aside and opening the door. 'Go on ahead of me, please, and tell my grandmother I will not be long. I want a word with the gillie.'

Teasing ... thought Lisa, feeling a little foolish as she went alone into the castle ... but it was difficult to know when Culoran was teasing. She did not associate him with humour and there was often a glint in his eye that she mistrusted. For a moment his words had presented a picture that was alarmingly possible. It could be true that on a small island cut off from the rest of the world a man's tastes might change. It was difficult to know which was the more infuriating, the threat to her honour or the fact that behind it he scarcely considered her adult. It was these and like occasions which revived her old hostility and she was relieved when later in the day he tossed a letter into her lap, remarking that he, also, had heard from David Chase at last. Lisa took her letter to the window. It was growing dusk and the lamps had not yet been lighted. As she turned the letter over in her hands she experienced a wave of homesickness for David and the familiar pattern of her life. Here in this old castle with the wind rising with the evening tide, and shadows already heavy in the far corners of a room more like a church than a living-room, she was acutely conscious of the life David stood for; the luxurious hotels, the gay restaurants, the promise of the delights that money could buy; the way in which he had started to educate her. She did not really want that sort of life, but she wanted David and the assurance that he still needed her as she once had needed him. She was aware that Charles was watching her from the shadows of his chair and, as she slit the envelope, she wondered what had been in his own letter. As she read the sheets of familiar, neat, rather decorative writing, she could almost hear David's voice and see the little scar at the side of his mouth which lent it such attraction, and as she read, she knew that despite her own imaginings of a very different approach, this was exactly the way he would react. I'm surprised you should adopt such a novelettish view of the situation, darling, he wrote. If Kintyre attracts you, then enjoy yourself while you may. I'm not selfish and for that other affair I

suppose I owe him amends, so string him along until I can sort things out. I've written to him explaining the position and will get to you as soon as I can. In the meantime you might consider whether the laird of a romantic island might not be more to your taste than a guardian who is not really cut out for the job. Dear little Lisa - I've a great fondness for you, but you've known very few men. Are you sure you still want me for a husband? Kintyre will know by now that you spoke the truth when you told him of our proposed marriage, but he will know, too, that for all his poor opinion of me, I would not stand in your way if you change your mind. ... She was so still standing by the window that Charles thought she had forgotten he was in the room. In view of his own letter he was a little curious to know what was in hers and, for the first time, he realized that he minded if she should be hurt. Catrina and the whole impulsive project receded when faced with this girl's disillusionment. 'Well?' he questioned gently. When she spoke her voice was clear and unhurried. She folded the letter deliberately and put it back in its envelope, but she stayed by the window, as far away from him as possible. Dear David ... she thought, with a surge of longing for him, dear, silly David, wanting to do the best for her but treading so clumsily the path that should have been so clear to him...: 'He will get here as soon as he can,' she said expressionlessly. 'He says he supposes he owes you some amends, but he's written to you explaining the position.' 'Yes,' Kintyre said carefully. 'He mentioned the will. He seemed to .think I might change my views if by marrying Catrina he lost the money. He suggested a cash settlement in lieu of marriage. He even hinted that'

'That you might trade me for Catrina? But didn't he explain' Lisa paused, remembering that she had never told him the other clause in the will. 'Didn't he explain what?' 'Nothing.' She was too confused by David's letter to suppose the omission would make any difference. If she was still only a child in Culoran's eyes, at least she could borrow the importance of being an heiress. 'Didn't he explain that you had already agreed to marry him, I suppose you were going to say,' Charles finished for her, and she was silent. Dougal brought in the lamps, a welcome interruption to a moment that was becoming unbearable. As he turned up the last wick he remarked to no one in particular: 'Storm's coming up. Gulls are flocking inland. The gales will be early this year. It's a good thing, I'm thinking, that the mail boat brought an extra drum of oil.' When he had gone, Charles turned to look at Lisa in the more brilliant light. 'Would you like to leave tomorrow if the weather holds?' he asked suddenly and a little roughly. It was so unexpected, so utterly out of character that her eyes widened with surprise, and now that release was actually within her grasp she wondered why she should feel such little elation that she could now assure David that she would not change her mind. 'Do you mean that?' she asked.

'We'll wait upon the weather,' he said a little grimly, and she sighed. 'The weather, like everything else on Culoran, is probably in league with you,' she replied, having little faith in such an unlooked-for change of heart.

And indeed when morning came the whole face of the island had changed. The gale battered against the castle walls and the sea was an angry cauldron spewing up spray as high as the ramparts. 'I said the weather was in league with you. I think you must be a kind of Prospero,' Lisa said when she met Charles at breakfast. 'Do you?' he replied, looking at her a little curiously. 'Well, whether my offer was serious or not, I can't risk lives in a sea like this.' 'You can hardly have meant it seriously. You knew this would happen, didn't you?' 'It was a possibility, of course. You like to think the worst of me, don't you?' She smiled at him unexpectedly. 'Perhaps we're apt to think the worst of each other. How long do these gales last?' 'Days or sometimes weeks. You'll be careful, please, if you venture out of doors. It's no weather to be climbing Morag or exploring the shore.' 'I'll be careful,' she said. 'Catrina promised she would take me to hear the surf echo in Prince Charlie's Cave if the rough weather came. She says it's a freak of nature and sounds like a battle charge of old.'

He gave her another curious glance, a little puzzled by her apparent indifference to being cut off indefinitely by the storm, but he only said: 'You're safe with Catrina so long as you follow where she leads. I'll send a message to the farm on my way to the harbour.' Later in the morning, Lisa went, as was considered the custom for the castle guests, to visit Lady Kintyre in her turret rooms. She found the old lady still in bed and Louise dressing her hair with practised skill. 'So you cannot leave the island yet, after all,' Lady Kintyre observed. 'A disappointment, I fear, but the weather in this part of Scotland is unpredictable.' 'Charles knew perfectly well this would happen when he offered me my freedom, so it's hardly a disappointment,' said Lisa, and the old lady gave her a sidelong glance. 'You think he might have changed his mind again? Well, one cannot blame the weather. October is often the worst month, here.' 'Is it October already?' 'The fifth day. One loses count of time on Culoran. You have been here nearly a month, my child.' 'Have I?' exclaimed Lisa with surprise, and immediately felt that David needed some excuse for his apparent dilatoriness. 'My guardian was tied up with - with business. He's coming as soon as he can manage it.' 'Ah, yes, Charles heard from him yesterday, and you, too, I understand.'

Lisa looked away. She wondered what else had been in Charles's letter and whether his grandmother had read it. 'My cousin doesn't express himself very directly,' she said. 'Sometimes it's hard to know what he's driving at.' 'Indeed? On the contrary, I should have said your cousin expressed himself with the most simple directness,' Lady Kintyre said dryly, and Lisa knew she had read the letter and, from the tone of her voice, had probably misunderstood it. She had been inclined to misunderstand her own letter until upon a later reading she had decided that it was only David's ambiguous way of not committing himself. 'It is as well, perhaps, that the storm has come when it has. It will give you more time for reflection,' Lady Kintyre added, and Lisa smiled a little wryly. 'It isn't I who need to reflect,' she answered. 'I was brought here in the first place as a hostage.' 'So? But now that it is largely the weather that keeps you here you can look on us all a little differently, perhaps.' Lisa watched her under her lashes. She was aware that the old lady's strategies were much more subtle than her grandson's. Was it possible, she wondered, that the astute old lady was willing to accept her in another capacity for the sake of the dowry and heir she craved so much for her grandson? 'You are very gracious,' she said formally, 'but perhaps the island will not be cut off for long.' Lady Kintyre gave her a quick look.

'Well, for me, bad weather means stiffened joints and a sensitiveness to draughts,' she said, smiling. 'Louise will tell you that if the gale continues I do not leave my own rooms for the ones downstairs. It will be pleasant to know that you are company for Charles.' The wind shrieked round the tower with sudden ferocity and Lisa shivered, remembering Kintyre's words, of yesterday: When the gales break and there's no choice of company for days at a time a man may change his tastes. ... But he had been teasing and, perhaps, provoking her a little. It did not do to think of long evenings alone with him when the nerves might stretch and imagination play tricks. 'You are cold, my child?' Lady Kintyre asked, watching her, and Lisa laughed a little self-consciously. 'No, it was a goose walking over my grave. You will come down this evening, won't you, Lady Kintyre?' 'Yes, yes. I promised to play piquet with Charlie. But tomorrow my bones must decide. Next winter, who knows ? We may be back in Provence, Louise and I, where one does not notice the draughts. Leave me now, Lisa, I will rest until luncheon.' Catrina came to the castle early in the afternoon and she and Lisa set out for Prince Charlie's Cave, wrapped warmly against the weather. Away from the castle and Kintyre, Lisa felt a mounting exhilaration. The wind lifted her spirit to wild delight so that Catrina observed her with surprise. 'I would not have thought you would stand our island weather,' she said. 'You canna do this sort of thing in London.' 'No, you can't, more's the pity,' answered Lisa. 'The island and the wind, and the sea dashing against the rocks are far more exciting than any city.'

'Ah, well, it's what you're used to, I expect,' Catrina replied indifferently. 'For me the island is an awfu' small piece of earth, and there's none on it that minds a thing but sheep and fish.' Lisa glanced at her curiously. She looked what she was, a fine, comely young woman born and bred to the island, and matching its beauty and wildness with her free, springy stride and .the careless grace with which she swung her faded kilt. Yet Culoran did not content her and she would sooner give to a stranger what many a young man on the island must have desired from her. How different we all are, Lisa thought with a sigh. Charles would call Catrina a woman because her body was mature and her sex proclaimed itself in every movement, but her mind was a child's mind, and the education which should have given her perception had served only to make her discontented with the life she was made for. 'Do you really want to leave the island and live in cities?' Lisa asked. 'Oh, aye, but I'll not manage it. Culoran will not let me go to the mainland after - after last time.' 'Catrina,' Lisa said shyly, 'you've never once mentioned him, but were you fond of .my cousin?' Catrina slipped the plaid from her head and stood there, her eyes unfocused and a little blank. 'Mr. Chase?' she said, startling Lisa by such a formal reference to David. 'He promised to - he promised marriage.' 'And you were fond of him?' asked Lisa gently, but Catrina smiled with the disarming innocence of a child. 'He was like Culoran - in his ways, I mean,' she said. 'There's no man on the island with Culoran's ways - not even Jamie.'

'Jamie? Who's he?' . 'Jamie Grant that has the farm over the loch from ours. He had a mind to marry me, too.' Lisa felt suddenly impatient. 'You must know, surely, that Culoran means to marry you to my cousin. I don't think you'd be happy with David, Catrina.' The girl observed her reflectively, her hands fingering the fine silk of Lisa's scarf. 'No,' she said, 'but Culoran's aye stubborn when he takes a notion to remember he's the laird. That's awfu' pretty, Lisa.' 'Would you like to have it?' Lisa asked. 'I've got lots more at home.' 'Oh, yes!' Catrina cried with pure delight, and tied the handkerchief with respectful care over her hair. 'Does it favour me?' 'Very much, though I think your plaid's more picturesque.' 'Och! Wear it if you've a fancy for it. It was my mother's and not her best at that,' Catrina said scornfully, then giggled. 'We'll see what Jamie has to say to this.' 'If you told Culoran that you didn't want to marry David, he'd not persuade you, would he?' asked Lisa, returning to the subject uppermost in her mind and wondering, as she had once before, if the girl was not already half in love with her foster-brother. 'Culoran was good to me. I must do what he tells me, for Andy says I brought shame to his house,' Catrina replied as if repeating a lesson, then she caught Lisa by the hand. 'You've not heard the surf echo and that is why we came. We must climb to the chimney at the back of the cave and put our ears to the rock. Culoran always says that if the

tourist boat could get across in bad weather, the trippers would get more for their money in the cave than by visiting the castle.' It was slippery balancing in the narrow footholds the chimney provided, and the rock face against their cheeks was wet and cold. As Lisa heard the curious sound beginning to break she shivered superstitiously. The odd break of acoustics which caused an echo to reverberate from another cave, far away, was. indeed like a battle charge of long ago. She could almost hear the jingle of bits and armour above the galloping hooves, and as the sound died she felt afraid of the island, of Culoran himself, and of her own mixed notions of Catrina's place in his life. 'You're awfu' pale,' Catrina said, peering up at her. 'Was the climb too much for you?' 'Of course not,' replied Lisa impatiently. 'It was just - well, it's a most uncanny noise, isn't it?' 'Och, that!' Catrina laughed, relieved. 'You'd not be believing the old tales and you from the cities? Wait now, while I guide your feet, for if you slip and hurt yourself Culoran will skelp me.'

CHAPTER NINE THAT evening Lisa was restless. The force of the gale was an everpresent reminder that the island was cut off from civilization and it was irksome to watch Lady Kintyre and her grandson playing piquet as if nothing mattered. In her corner by the fire, Lisa thought of David and the untroubled pattern of his life. It was convenient for him, she thought, to leave his ward in safe hands while he, himself, pursued his daily rounds, and she wondered for the first time whether, had it not been for the matter of the will, he would have been so ready to marry her. She realized that David for her had been right because she had known and loved him all her life, but she saw, too, that for him she might be a necessary evil. Marriage had not been in his itinerary, but it was, perhaps, no more difficult to shoulder the responsibilities of a husband than those of a guardian. She knew a desire for reassurance that the future he had so lightly planned for her was one that would bring fulfilment for them both. 'You are bored, dear child?' asked Lady Kintyre, making her jump. 'No ...' said Lisa apologetically. 'I was thinking.' She thought Charles gave her a passing glance of inquiry, but they seemed intent on their game, sitting over a card table before the fire with the shadows of the big room gathered behind them. When the game was finished and Dougal had brought in the bedtime nightcaps, the old lady said: 'I doubt you will see me down here tomorrow, my dear. Charles will amuse you with better things than piquet. Did Catrina take you to Prince Charlie's Cave?' 'Yes,' said Lisa. 'It was very queer and - and out of this world.'

'Culoran is out of this world at times like this,' Lady Kintyre said with a smile. 'Perhaps you hanker for the mainland and the life you've always known.' Lisa was aware that the old lady was mocking her with gentle malice, but she said, with equally gentle simplicity : 'You forget I only left school at the beginning of the summer. I haven't much knowledge of the life I'm expected to lead.' Lady Kintyre stood up, leaning on her long stick with a sudden straightening of her body. 'Women lead the lives of their men in most cases,' she said, looking into the fire. 'Be sure you choose the right man, Lisa, and the right life.' Lisa watched Charles escort his grandmother to the door and saw the expression on her cold face as she lifted it for his good night kiss and for a moment there was a unity in their affection, a unity which she had shared with no one, not even David. She was aware that Charles had come back to the fire and was standing there looking down at her. 'My grandmother is fond of you,' he said. 'Don't take what she says amiss.' 'Your grandmother, I think, plays a game of her own,' she said, and his eyebrows went up. 'Do you think- the Kintyres are in league against you - like the weather?' he asked with faint amusement. She drew her slim legs up to her chin, looking at him over her knees.

'I don't imagine I'm of any importance to the Kintyres except as a - a hostage,' she said. 'But you are no longer a hostage,' he observed, his eyes on her slender ankles. 'Had it not been for the weather you might have been away from the island by now and journeying to London.' 'That's easily said, now. Anyway, does it make things different?' 'Shouldn't it?' She rested her chin on her knees, conscious of loneliness and a sudden doubt in human relationships. 'I don't know,' she said. 'One grows up in strange ways. Life on the island is somehow more real than life in London. Perhaps the storm has given me time to reflect, as your grandmother suggested.' He smiled. 'But you don't need to reflect, Lisa. Your course is set, or so you'd have me believe.' 'Yes,' she said, and sighed, 'I suppose it is. What will you do about Catrina? She doesn't want to marry my cousin, you know.' For a moment his face was hard. 'Catrina will do what I tell her,' he said, and she looked at him gravely. 'Probably. Catrina is a child - far more so than I am,' she said, and saw his dark gaze travel over her.

'Oh, Charles!' she cried with an unexplained impulse to assert her own personality. 'Can't you see that a person may have developed in their body but not in their mind? Do you really think that Catrina, for all her femininity, is more mature in herself than me?' The look he gave her held surprise and a fleeting tenderness. 'You and Catrina are very different,' he said. 'You, I fancy, have a Capacity for giving much more than that guardian of yours expects, or wants.' She looked away, resentful, even then, of his criticism of David; resentful, too, that he should place Catrina's happiness above hers. 'David and I are the same sort,' she said coldly. 'Are you?' 'Just as much as you and Catrina are.' 'Perhaps,' he said absently, then pulled her to her feet with a swift gesture. 'You should be in bed, my dear. If this gale persists you will find that you get strange notions into your head. Sleep while you may and be ready for the morrow.' In the morning the wind still blew with gale force and Lisa, waking early, pulled on her slacks and, arriving first for breakfast, was tempted to balance her way along the battlements while she was waiting. The wind tore at her body, choking the very breath out of her, and she stretched out her hands to steady herself. Kintyre's arms snatched her suddenly from her precarious perch and for a moment she laughed up at him before he swept her indoors. 'You are surprising,' he said. 'I believe you have something of the island's wildness in you.'

'The shilpit ones are tougher than you think,' she said. 'If you're a fine figure of a woman you aren't built for balancing on battlements.' His eyes were a little amused. 'There are other things to be built for besides balancing on battlements,' he observed. 'Go easy with your animal spirits, Lisa. After a few days of this you may find your mood has changed.' 'The stretched nerves and tricks of imagination Louise predicted?' she asked. 'Did she? Louise is a wise old bird and has spent nearly forty years on the island. My grandmother, incidentally, won't be joining us until the gale has dropped.' 'Oh!' The bravado went out of her as she thought of the solitary evenings alone with Charles. The gale might last for days and days, and short of going to bed as soon as dinner was over, she could not be rid of his company. But when evening came and they sat down alone after dinner to spend the solitary hours before bedtime, he did not read or busy himself with the small matters which .often occupied him while Lady Kintyre sat at her embroidery, but lay back in his chair, his pipe alight and his eyes on his young guest already showing signs of awkwardness. 'What is it about me that makes you uneasy?' he asked, and she put out a nervous hand to Craigie lying beside her. 'I'm not uneasy - I just don't know you very well,' she said. 'After nearly a month? I haven't the right social gifts, perhaps.'

He did not speak as if he had any grave doubts as to his abilities to entertain a guest, and Lisa sat listening to the wind and wondering what he would be like if she was older, and conformed more generally to his ideas of womanhood. 'You are ready enough with your tongue, Lisa, when you are angry with me,' he said at last, and for a moment her old assurance returned. 'You are used, I think, to people who never answer back, Culoran,' she retorted with asperity, and he observed her with amusement. 'Well, that can't be laid at your door. Do you treat your guardian to sharpness when he gives you an order?' 'David doesn't give orders,' she replied coldly. 'He's not the bossy kind. Besides, it's always been natural for me to fall in with anything he wants.' 'Really? Tell me what it is that gives this cousin of yours such effortless authority over you?' But she did not want to talk of David. She did not want to reveal to Charles the easy capture of her early adolescence. 'David's my guardian,' she said briefly. 'I've known him all my life.' 'How long has he been responsible for you?' 'Uncle Toby died when I was sixteen.' 'And when you left school - you found a young guardian who was also the god of your childhood?' She moved a little restlessly, conscious of his gentle mockery.

'I didn't see much of him until the beginning of this summer,' she reminded him. 'You forget I spent a year in Switzerland.' 'Of' course - being finished. And the guardian was satisfied enough with the result to suggest a closer relationship?' 'Yes,' said Lisa, looking him straight in the eye. 'Strange as it may seem to you, David presumably considered me grown up and a woman.' The wind soared with a burst of fury and the first squall of rain beat on the windows. 'It isn't strange to me that a man should find you desirable,' he said in his soft voice. 'You have an odd notion of my reactions, Lisa.' She looked at him under her lashes. 'Desirable...' she repeated doubtfully. 'Well, I suppose even if I'm not your type, you can concede me attraction of a sort.' He looked at her sitting at his feet in the firelight, with her slender waist rising like a supple wand from the spreading folds of her skirts, the dog's grey head quiescent under her protective hand, and, as he knocked out his pipe with an abrupt gesture, he said, with rather formal grace: 'You make a charming picture, you and Craigie, with the firelight on your pale hair and the blue of your dress.' Coming from Charles the compliment made her shy, and she said quickly, to hide her gaucheness: 'I've got a scarlet one just like it. I'll wear it for you tomorrow. David says it has more invitation than the blue.'

'Indeed?' His eyebrows went up. 'To what are you proposing to invite me, Lisa, and why?' The ease she had felt in his companionship for the last half-hour vanished, and she felt angry with herself for having spoken so lightly, angry with Charles, for putting her back in the place where he thought she belonged. She stood up. 'Is it too early for me to go to bed, without appearing rude?' she said coldly. 'You are a guest here,' he replied smoothly. 'You may, naturally, retire when you wish. Shall I send Betsy up with a hot drink?' 'No, thank you.' Charles would talk of retiring, she thought, trying to move with dignity down the long room. Perhaps if you lived in a castle, where going to bed was a minor expedition to alien territory, no other definition was possible. The next day it was too wet to venture out of doors without necessity. The storm was too violent to make walking a pleasure or even reasonably possible, and Lisa, accompanied by the dogs, wandered round the deserted part of the castle.' Then she went back to the inhabited wing to visit Lady Kintyre and Louise. The old lady was embroidering by the fire in her octagonal sitting-room, and she smiled as she observed the dust on Lisa's hands and the threads of cobweb clinging to her hair. 'You have been exploring again?' she inquired while Louise pulled forward a chair, then went back to her machining in the window. 'I haven't found the dungeons yet,' Lisa said as she sat down and held her cold hands to the blaze.

'They are no longer very safe,' Lady Kintyre said. 'The old doors are heavy and rusted with time. If you once got inside, you would not get out in a hurry. Charles' grandfather used to store potatoes there until rats and disuse made it impracticable.' 'And the powder magazine - was it really an arsenal in the old days?' 'Oh, yes, though I do not think Culoran knew much battle. It's a place best avoided, too.' The old lady did not raise her eyes from her embroidery, but Lisa had the impression that she knew to what use the place had recently been put. There was very little, she thought uncomfortably, that Charles' grandmother would not know or guess without being told., 'It is a pity the weather must keep you indoors,' Lady Kintyre observed. 'Did you have a pleasant evening with my grandson?' When she referred to Charles formally, Lisa thought she usually had an ulterior motive. 'Yes,' she replied politely, 'though I'm afraid your grandson was a little bored with such a badly informed guest on his hands.' 'So? You underrate yourself, my child. You do not possess the usual unformed mind of a girl fresh from school. You have the makings of a very delightful woman.' 'Charles doesn't seem to think so. I think he looks on me as just a schoolgirl.' 'Charles does?' Lady Kintyre sent an amused glance to Louise who was smiling over her work, then she leaned across and tapped Lisa's averted cheek. 'Charles is thirty- four, my dear. You must remember that to him nineteen would not seem any great age.'

'Catrina's only a year older than I am,' said Lisa, with apparent irrelevance, 'but she's far younger mentally.' 'Naturally. She has not had your advantages. Do you not always understand when Charles is teasing?' 'He wasn't teasing the first day I met him. He and Andrew Frazer were very rude about my trousers, and my shilpit figure, and my general lack of womanly charm.' The old lady looked at her with mild reproof. 'And why should you mind what my grandson thinks?' she asked gently. 'You have told us that in the eyes of your cousin you are none of those things, and it is he to whom you will be returning in a little while.' Lisa looked away. Yes, she would be returning to David, but with an added maturity which would not, perhaps, permit her to slip back so easily into the old unquestioning loyalty. That evening Lisa wore her scarlet frock as she had promised, then wondered, too late, if Charles, remembering her careless words, would think the gesture deliberate. Well, let him think what he liked, she reflected defiantly. He was snubbing and puritanical and merited no consideration from her. But he seemed less disposed to make, uncomfortable remarks tonight, and before the evening was over she had forgotten her own hostility and had even invited his opinion on the frock, turning and twisting in the centre of the big room, pointing her little red shoes as if her feet itched to dance.

'You should dance a reel well. You have neat, light movements,' he said, and she tossed the long hair over her shoulders, executing a few half-remembered steps to the accompaniment of the storm outside. 'Teach me,' she begged. 'Show me the figures, Charles, I'll soon pick it up.' He shook his head, watching her in her scarlet frock, aware that she was light and vivid in some especial way, and that the wind and the rain and the deeper roar of the sea' isolated them in a strange, uneasy intimacy. 'We need the music,' he said. 'If the storm continues, I'll have the piper up one evening to relieve your monotony.' 'In here!' she cried, laughing. 'Can you stand that terrible noise indoors?' 'Louise, too, shares your lack of appreciation, but you'll get used to it,' he replied calmly. 'The old Scots airs are never so heart-stirring as when played on the pipes.' 'Are you sentimental after all, Culoran?' she asked, coming to sit on a low stool at his feet. He observed the heightened colour in her cheeks, the brilliance of her smoky eyes, and knew she was, consciously or not, trying to provoke him. 'Most Scots are that,' he said lazily, 'or perhaps I should say we have a feeling for the things of heart and home that the average Sassenach lacks.' 'If you ask me,' she said with a flash of her old disapproval, 'the Scots are a smug, self-satisfied race who think they are vastly superior to any other.'

'And so we are,' he retorted with a grin, 'superior to any other, I mean. It's not a bad thing, Lisa, to have a good .conceit of one's country.' 'Perhaps,' she said demurely, 'all conquered countries feel like that to bolster up their defeated spirit, I mean.' 'Scotland's spirit has never been conquered,' he replied without impatience. 'You cannot defeat a country - or a person - unless you defeat their spirit.' She looked down at her hands. 'Yes, I suppose that's true,' she said seriously, and raised her eyes suddenly to his. 'Charles - do you think money's important?' 'Very,' he said. 'Then you hold the French view, like your grandmother?' 'It depends to what that's applied. The Scots have a certain sympathy with the French, you know. Poor Mary Stuart forged a bond.' 'And Charles Edward fled to France. But you're sidetracking, Charles. I think money's important, too.' 'Do you?' His regard was a little cynical. 'But you haven't had it very long, have you?' She jumped up quickly and wandered over to the line of portraits. 'Such splendour!' she said, trying to speak lightly. 'Money was important to them, too. Without it their jewels and fine clothes and fine servants wouldn't have been possible. Don't you ever wish the castle was as it used to be?'

When he did not answer she held out a hand to him. 'Come here,' she said with unconscious imperiousness. 'I want to compare.' He rose courteously and came and stood beneath the portrait of his grandfather and Lisa thought there was the same arrogance in the long face, the same air of melancholy and slight disdain in the dark eyes. Her gaze travelled to the younger portrait of himself. The velvet doublet, and jabot and ruffles of Highland full dress took the portrait out of this age, and linked it with those other, earlier periods, and in all of them was the strong Kintyre heritage proclaiming not only their pride of race but the unalterable call of blood. 'Whoever you marry,' she said slowly, 'the type is stamped. Charles would you dress up for me just once? I should like to see you in the full regalia of the portrait.' 'I don't think so. It only comes out for Highland balls - or weddings.' 'Will you wear it at your own wedding?' 'Perhaps. I think we had better get Catrina up one evening. She will have to stop the night in this weather, but she would be company for you.' Was that a deliberate rebuff, she wondered? She did not want Catrina here. She did not want to feel shut out from an intimacy she could not share, nor did she wish to be reminded that her presence to both of them could only be in the nature of an accident. 'That's, of course, as you wish,' she said, turning away. 'You have a difficult way with you, Culoran.' 'And you,' he replied unexpectedly and with rather chilling severity, 'have too much money.'

The storm showed no signs of abating its violence. Lisa's solitary days were now merely a preparation for the evenings when she would have the company of Charles again. As she listened to the wind and watched the rain lash the sea to fury, strange fancies chased through her mind and as evening approached she was aware of a restless excitement. While she was apprehensive of Charles' mood and, indeed, her own, she looked forward to the intimacy of the long, lamplit hours when the peat fire played tricks with the expressions on his face and she knew that he watched her but would not reveal what he thought. One evening the piper came to play for them, and as she listened to the old Scottish airs, she understood what Charles had meant, and the sound of the pipes brought tears to her eyes and she knew that never again would she hear a lament played with such unearthly, such heartbreaking dignity. When the piper had been sent away, Lisa still turned and twisted round the room. She sang snatches of the old songs and when Charles, suddenly silent, moved towards his chair by the fire, she caught him by the hand and pulled him after her. As he placed his hands on her waist, holding her still with a pressure that was none too gentle, she knew his mood had changed. 'Aren't you afraid, Lisa?' he asked softly. She looked up at him, experiencing, if not fear, uneasiness at the expression in his eyes. 'Of the storm?' she answered, because she must. 'No, I'm used to it.' 'If you were used to it you would not be behaving in this fashion.'

'You brought the piper here. You made him play those crazy tunes that no one can sit still to.' 'I was not speaking of tonight only. Evening after evening you've tried your tricks, putting on your scarlet dress, thinking to tease or sulk if your tongue was not quick enough to get what you wanted. Do you deliberately court danger in your ignorance, or is it just feminine vanity that cannot resist demanding admiration, even from an enemy?' She was very still under his hands, and her bright colour had faded a little. 'I'm scarcely in any danger,' she said boldly, 'for to you I have never been a woman.' 'You have forgotten, perhaps, that I warned you a man's tastes might change. You don't heed warnings, do you? I must teach you a lesson, I think. You should learn not to trade upon the chivalry of my sex.' 'Let me go,' she cried, beginning to struggle. 'You want things both ways, Culoran. At least Rab was honest and didn't pretend to ignore my sex.' 'So you think I ignored your sex, do you? Then I must show you where you're wrong and, perhaps, make you wiser for the future,' he said, and as he pulled her roughly closer, she instinctively kicked out at him. His mouth, though grim, was twisting in a hard smile. 'I told you what would happen if you ever did that again,' he said gently, and, with a swift gesture, caught her up in his arms and carried her to the settle by the fire.

'Oh, no,' he said, as he flung her down on the cushions. 'You have taught me that you are too old for spanking. There are other methods more suited to your notion of your femininity.' She lay back against the cushions feeling extremely frightened, and he sat close to her on the side of the settle, his arm across her body, holding her there. 'All right,' she said, looking up into his dark face with a last flash of courage, 'I admit you provoked me to - to find out if you were so - so indifferent as you seemed. I've asked for it and I - I'm ready to pay, but - not in violence, Charles - not with casualness and mutual distrust. ...' He sat there looking down at her for a long time while the harshness went out of his face, then he relaxed his grip on her and clasped his hands between his knees. 'You've grown up, after all,' he said. 'Or perhaps you are more honest than most of your sex. I always said you had courage.' She moved cautiously against the cushions, pushing the hair from her eyes with a tired gesture. 'I was never dishonest with you,' she said. 'I - I just haven't much experience of men.' She stretched out a hand to him because she needed assurance; assurance that he understood that David had given her little indication of a man's needs. Whether he understood or not, he took her hand and turned it palm upwards, tracing the lines with a finger, observing how young and smooth was the skin, a hand that did not yet know its own powers. 'You should go to bed,' he said. 'Any day now the storm will drop.'

'Didn't you mean it?' she asked. 'Don't you want to - take revenge for Catrina?' 'That's not my way,' he replied, an amused tenderness in his voice. 'Did you really think, Lisa, that if I wanted you it would only be to pay off old scores?' She was suddenly weeping and, as once before, she found that she was resting her head against his breast while he held her to him with a familiar comfort. 'Oh, Charles,' she wept, 'I'm so muddled ... so muddled and insecure ... If I hadn't come to Culoran I'd never have known ...' 'Known what, my dear?' 'I don't know. When the storm drops and I can go back to the mainland, perhaps it will be different.' 'Do you want to go back?' he asked strangely, but she would not answer. David ... dear David ... her heart cried, because with her cheek against the soft velvet of Charles' coat, she felt disloyalty to an old allegiance. But in this great vaulted room, with the lamplight flickering on claymore and tattered battle banner, and the savage sounds of the storm which held her prisoner, David seemed brittle, a cardboard figure, the ghost of a love which she had imagined. 'Go to bed,' Charles said again. 'Tomorrow will bring clearer reasoning to both of us.' 'But you don't need it,' she said, getting to her feet obediently. 'No? We both need it, my child - I, perhaps more than you.' 'Do you?' she asked, but she was already swaying on her feet and her eyes were dulled with weariness.

'I think so,' he said, and kissed her very gently on the forehead. The next day the rain had stopped. The wind seemed as high as ever to Lisa, but Dougal said it had dropped a little in the night. 'Another day - mebbe two, and the supply launch can run again,' he told her. 'The doctor will be taking it, I'm thinking.' 'Dr. Dowe? But the mainland has doctors, surely.' 'Oh, aye. But our ain supplies of drugs and the like are getting low. Jeanie Campbell's child is sick. The laird's away to it, the noo.' She was used by now to Charles in the role of physician, when the need arose, but she thought he looked worried when he returned at lunchtime. 'How is the child?' she asked, and he answered shortly: 'Not good. Robbie Dowe is anxious.' 'Could I help?' she inquired shyly, and he gave her a brief, comprehensive glance. 'You might,' he said. 'The children like you and you're a fresh face.' She went with him down to the harbour, battling against the wind and the spray which drenched them both as they neared the shore. The harbour was deserted, but outside the Campbells' cottage a small knot of islanders had gathered and stood in the shelter of the stone walls, their faces turned mutely towards the door. The child seemed quieter while Lisa was in the room, but his eyes were sick and sometimes vacant, and she could feel the hot dryness of his skin as she held his hands and tried to make him smile. Dr. Dowe, his hands shaky after the excess of whisky which the storm

had provoked, shook his head at Charles and gave a little hopeless shrug of his bent shoulders. 'What is wrong with the child?' whispered Lisa, but they did not answer, and she sat with her cool fingers smoothing the boy's forehead until he slept, then slipped away to the kitchen to speak to the mother. Mrs. Campbell showed only the stoicism of the Highlander as she lifted kettles and brewed tea. Even in these moments of her anxiety she saw that scones were on the table for tea and apologized that only one gingerbread cake had been baked this week. Charles and the doctor came when they were called, and while Mrs. Campbell went back to her child, they sat at the plain, scrubbed table, and took their tea with the familiarity of long habit. 'Is the boy very ill?' Lisa asked. 'I'm afraid so. Meningitis, as we feared this morning.' Lisa's eyes widened with alarm. 'But that's serious, isn't it?' she said. 'Aye,' said Robbie Dowe crossly, 'so serious that without penicillin we'll not save him.' 'I'll go,' said Charles quietly, and the old man shot him a keen look from under his bushy eyebrows. 'In this weather? No boat would live.' 'The gale has lessened since yesterday. It will be better when the tide turns.' Charles spoke indifferently and Lisa looked at him with sudden comprehension.

'You surely aren't proposing to take a boat to the mainland in a sea like this?' she exclaimed, and his eyes were calm and dispassionate as they rested on her dismayed face. 'I've weathered worse when necessity arose,' he said. 'We can't afford to wait until tomorrow.' 'But, Charles' All at once her heart was pounding in her ears, pounding like the sea outside, and the emotions and bewilderments of the past weeks were crystallized for one moment into a terrifying clarity. 'Can't one of the fishermen go? After all, the sea is .their trade and if anyone can reach the mainland' 'I wouldn't ask any of my men to take a risk I'm not prepared to share myself,' Charles said. 'Andy will come with me. We know each other's ways.' Lisa stared at him, her lips parted, then became aware that old Dr. Dowe was looking at her with a strange expression. 'Can't you reason with him?' she asked desperately, but the doctor only shrugged and turned away. 'There's no reasoning with death,' he said brusquely. 'Without the right drug that boy will be dead by morning-' 'What's a child's life compared with yours?' she demanded passionately of Charles, and the long look he gave her was both surprised and compassionate. 'A child has as much right to survival as I have - perhaps more so,' he said gently, and in the tiny kitchen with its rough walls blackened with the peat smoke of generations, his words had an unanswerable ring.

Mrs. Campbell stood in the doorway, watching them. Her face held only the dignity of grief, and the native pride of endurance that was her heritage. 'You'll no' risk your life for me, Culoran,' she said, and his eyes rested on her with dark authority. 'It's not for you,' he said quietly. 'Who's to know what a young life may eventually mean? Your boy has more claim to survival than many. Don't fash yourself, Jeanie; am I not put here to look after the island and its people?' 'Oh, aye,' she said, accepting his right because, for generations, the people of Culoran had looked to the laird. 'I'll find Andy,' Kintyre said, reaching for his plaid. 'In an hour the tide will have turned.' Lisa followed him to the door. 'Charles...' she said, 'you'll come back?' 'If I don't,' he replied, the old astringency back in his voice, 'you'll be free to leave the first fine day. Go back to the castle, Lisa - it will be hours before we can make the return trip.'

CHAPTER TEN BUT Lisa did not go back to the castle. She remained instead in the Campbells' cottage, watching the afternoon light fade and listening to the menacing note of the sea. She had watched the launch put out and seen the waves break over the two figures who manned her. It did not seem possible that the boat would not be swamped before she left harbour, but she battled out to sea, the noise of her engine drowned in the roar of the wind. Lisa and Mrs. Campbell watched the child, and the old doctor, drinking whisky by the fire, watched them both with eyes that were already bloodshot and a little glazed. 'Will he be fit to deal with an emergency?' Lisa whispered to the woman. 'Och! The doctor is used to it,' Mrs. Campbell replied. 'In a wee while he'll sleep and when the laird returns he'll be himself again. Will you no' go back to the castle, mistress? There's many an hour yet to wait and there's little you can do.' 'I'd rather wait,' Lisa said, 'if I'm not in your way, that is.' 'No, you're not in my way,' the woman said gently and sighed. 'It's aye a lassie's lot to wait on a man, I'm thinking. Sit you by the fire, mistress, and mind the kettle for me.' It seemed to Lisa that she lifted many kettles from the hob and filled them again while the doctor dozed stertorously, and the child cried fretfully from the next room. Twilight came and then darkness, and old Robbie Dowe awoke and, frowning at his watch, went out into the night to scan the water.

The child was sleeping again, and watching the woman's face, Lisa was aware that her fears and those of the mother's were the same, making them one. She became intensely alive to the suffering of women down the ages and of the fortitude which must be helpless. 'Won't you go and look again?' she asked Dr. Dowe, but the old man grunted impatiently. 'We'll be called,' he said. 'There's men watching in the harbour. Get poor Jeanie to rest if you want to be useful. She's a long night before her.' But Mrs. Campbell would not leave the child and, as the hours passed, her face wore a look of quiet resignation, as if already she knew that Kintyre's life was forfeit and with it the boy's. 'No!' cried Lisa, every instinct in her revolting against such cruelty, and as the doctor turned impatiently to say something sharp to her, a fisherman put his- head round the door. 'The boat is sighted,' he said laconically. 'Is the boy alive?' 'Aye, alive and safe now,' said Robbie Dowe, and smiled at Mrs. Campbell. 'Now, Jeanie, a drop of strong black, tea to steady ma old hands. A lumbar injection is a tricky matter.' Lisa slipped away. They did not need her, and, indeed, she knew now that she had stayed for her own comfort rather than for that of the child's mother. She went out into the tearing wind and the darkness and joined the little knot of men with their hurricane lamps on the jetty. She could not see the lights of the launch, but the men were pointing and their voices rose excitedly above the noise of the sea. They were unaware of her, and- she waited silently, her ears straining to catch the first sound of the engine. The launch came into harbour almost unnoticed save for a cheer from the men. Her starboard bow

light was out of commission, glass was smashed in the wheelhouse, and she .carried a heavy list. Charles and Andrew Frazer stepped on shore as willing hands took over, but it was difficult to distinguish which was which in their glistening oilskins. Lisa waited while they hurried over the rough cobbles, then the light from a window fell across their faces and she recognized Kintyre and ran towards him. 'Charles ... oh, Charles ...' she said, and he halted abruptly. The strain of that rough passage showed in his wet, dark face, and for a moment there was another expression in. his tired eyes as he looked at her. 'You haven't been waiting here all this time, have you?' he asked slowly. 'I stayed at the cottage. I had to wait until I knew you were safe.' He touched her face with his cold fingers, but he did not speak at once and she said timidly: 'Was it bad?' 'Bad enough this past half-hour. Our engine got flooded. And the boy - is there any change?' 'No. Dr. Dowe says he will be safe now that you've made it.' 'Thank God! You'd best come with me since you're here and, when I can, I'll take you home.' She sat in the kitchen while the old doctor made the preparations he needed and when he and Charles and the boy's mother were shut away in the other room she turned humbly to Andrew Frazer who waited too, and asked:

'Is it often like this on Culoran?' He glanced at her white face and for the first time since she had known him there was a softness in his eyes for her. 'It isna often too much is asked of a body,' he said gently. 'There's a strength and purpose in the laird that comes through most things. Jeanie Campbell knew that.' 'Did she?' said Lisa, remembering Mrs. Campbell's hopeless face of designation as the hours passed. 'Was it Culoran you feared for?' he asked, and when she was silent he gave her a dour smile. 'A' weel, you'll not be leaving the island as brash as when you came.' The clock ticked away the minutes between them and presently the doctor came back into the kitchen, rolling down his sleeves. 'Take me home, Andy,' he said in a tired but satisfied voice. 'The whisky's kept ma heart up and given me the confidence of a young man, but now it's gone to ma legs and the wind is strong. Take me home.' 'That's what I'm waiting for,' Andrew said with the patience of long custom, and Charles came out of the child's room, shutting the door softly behind him. 'Will - will everything be all right, now?' Lisa asked, aware at last how desperately tired she was. 'Oh aye,' the old man said, struggling into his coat. 'You'd best do your own prescribing for the lassie, Culoran, I'm too tired. A cat on hot bricks she's been all evening and she not used to the harsh ways of the island. Good night to ye both.'

The clock sounded very loud after they had gone and Lisa was aware that Charles was looking at her with a strange expression. 'Were you really afraid for me?' he asked, and tears clung for a moment to her lashes as she tried to answer casually: 'I'm not without common humanity, Culoran, even though you think me a spoilt child.' His smile was tender as he stood over her and gently lifted up her chin. 'I believe you'd spare hostility for me with your dying breath,' he said, but to speak of dying now when he must have been so close to death took away her last defences. 'Oh, Charles ...' she whispered. 'Oh, Charles ...' She shut her eyes because he was still forcing her to look up at him and she could no longer restrain the tears which she would have hidden from him. He took his hand from beneath her chin then, and she felt him press her head against his breast with sudden roughness. 'You are worn out,' he said with a certain hardness. 'As Robbie says, you are not used to the harsh ways of the island. When you've left Culoran, Lisa, you'll remember this night as an ugly dream, no more.' 'Even this,' she murmured, 'will be something I don't wish to forget;' 'Like other unexpected lessons?' There was irony in his soft voice and she pulled away from him. 'There are so many things I don't understand about you, Culoran,' she said, 'or about myself either.'

'No? Well, we can't spend half the night in Jeanie Campbell's kitchen talking ethics,' he said. 'Come, I'll take you home.' Home, thought Lisa wearily, is where the heart is, but that was with David and the chance resting places of his choosing. Did Charles, she wondered, walking beside him through the storm, not know that her world was changing? She should have been warned long ago, as David and even Charles had warned her. She should not have come to Culoran which was called an t-Eilean toirmisgte .., the Island that is Forbidden....

Lisa slept so late the next morning that she found Betsy standing by her bed with a tray long after the usual hour for breakfast. 'The laird thought it best you rested,' she said. 'He tells to stay in your bed the morn and make up for the sleep ye've missed.' It was unusual for Charles to show concern for her. 'Has he made up his own sleep?' Lisa asked, taking the tray. 'Och! He's away to the Campbells' long sin',' said Betsy. 'Nay, mistress, the bairn is no worse, but the laird would aye be the first to inquire.' Lisa was still sitting propped against her pillows, with her breakfast untasted and cold, when someone knocked on the door and Louise came into the room. It was so unusual to see her away from the west tower that Lisa said with quick alarm: 'Lady Kintyre - is she ill?'

'No, no, mademoiselle, milady sent me only to inquire for you,' Louise replied. 'You were distressed, I think, last night. Sir Charles spoke to milady before he went out this morning.' 'Oh!' said Lisa, wondering what he had said. 'I was distressed, of course - for Mrs. Campbell.' 'Ah, yes, for Mrs. Campbell, without doubt.' The Frenchwoman's smile was amused, but her .eyes were veiled beneath the smooth lids. 'Helas, mademoiselle, you have eaten nothing, and even the coffee untasted! That is not good while the wind still blows and the nerves need soothing, and the imagination also.' 'My nerves are excellent and I have no imagination,' said Lisa coldly. 'The island can't remain cut off much longer, anyway. The wind doesn't sound so violent today.' 'It has dropped a little, but not enough to allow passage to the mainland without risk. It is good your nerves are excellent, mademoiselle, you have nothing to fear until you may leave. When you are rested, if you will come to milady's rooms, I will make you some chocolate.' Lisa was made uneasy by the small exchange. Louise, though she spoke so little, always had the air of one who knew much. Had it not been she who had said the island could do strange things to you, that when the wind blew for days on end the nerves stretched and the imagination played tricks? The tapestry hangings on the wall beside the windows moved in the draught as if a hand had plucked them, and with an impatient exclamation, Lisa pushed the tray aside and jumped out of bed. When she visited Lady Kintyre later in the morning,. she experienced a strange nostalgia as she entered the familiar octagonal room. Lady Kintyre would probably die here, her hope of returning to Provence

unfulfilled, and Charles would shut up the tower rooms and, too late, find a wife to share his solitude. 'What is it, my child?' the old lady asked, and Lisa was aware that she had been standing there staring, without even bidding her hostess good morning. 'I felt sad and - and sentimental, I suppose,' she said. 'Louise will tell you it is the nerves stretching and the imagination playing tricks at last.' 'But you yourself informed me that your nerves were excellent and you had no imagination, mademoiselle,'' smiled Louise, already busying herself with the chocolate. 'Tiens, Louise, you should not tease,' Lady Kintyre said quickly. 'Everyone has imagination and mademoiselle more than most, I should say. Come, sit beside me, child, and tell me what makes you sad - and sentimental.' Lisa sat on the little beaded footstool which was her usual choice when she visited Charles' grandmother and suddenly explanation was easy. She need not guard her tongue or take refuge in rudeness as she must with Charles. With this old lady, surrounded by the forgotten treasures of her girlhood, there was no reason to be afraid of sentiment. 'When I first met you I found you a little alarming,' she said, 'but now' 'Yes - and now?' 'I think you have much understanding. I think had I known you in my school days There's never been a woman, you see only David and Uncle Toby.'

'That makes a difference, of course. Well, Lisa, when I first met you I found you alarming in another way, but also rather touching.' 'You mean you were sorry for me!' Lisa's voice expressed such amazement that Lady Kintyre smiled and tapped her lightly on the shoulder. 'I was sorry your affections seemed to be given to the wrong man. You had not, I thought, learnt enough of life to agree so readily to marry the first man who asked you. Your cousin was the first, was he not?' 'Well, naturally. I didn't know any other men - I'd only just left school.' 'So you are the dutiful ward and agree because of the money.' 'No, not because of the money!' Lisa cried. 'I'd always loved David. It seemed only natural to want to remain with him always.' There was a little pause and in her own ears her protest sounded foolish. 'And now? Does it still seem natural, or have you a little doubt that what you felt was not love at all but an adolescent infatuation for a childhood's hero?' So strong was the habit of years that denial sprang to Lisa's lips, but she saw the old lady's eyes upon her, with a quizzical tenderness reminiscent of her grandson, and said instead: 'I'll know when I see him.' 'Then it may be too late,' said Lady Kintyre, and took her cup of chocolate from Louise.

Lisa's own eyes were guarded. 'No,' she said. 'David has written that he wouldn't stand in my way if I changed my mind. Whatever you may think of him, Lady Kintyre, he wouldn't try to persuade me because of the money.' 'So? And do you know what he wrote to Charles?' 'He explained the position, I understand. I didn't see the letter.' 'You should ask Charles to show it to you, sometime,' said Lady Kintyre, and an uneasy silence followed her words. Lisa sipped her chocolate, aware of Louise's quiet presence in the room and aware, too, that no mention had been made of Charles' gallant action of the night before. 'Were you afraid last night?' she asked, remembering her own fear and the unwanted lesson the long hours had taught her. 'For Charles? Not, perhaps, as you were, my child.' 'I?' The old lady put down her empty cup, looking suddenly tired. 'You are, in your fashion, as stubborn as my grandson,' she said. 'Louise, draw the curtains. I am weary of the wind and of the island.' Charles did not return at lunch time, but Catrina came, wrapped in an old tweed cape of her brother's, with Lisa's scarf tied round her head. 'Culoran thought you might be lonely, so he bade me keep you company for dinner,' she said.

Lisa was glad to see her. It was a relief, when she had been expecting Charles, to sit down to luncheon with another girl, but she found that entertaining Catrina was rather like selecting conversation to amuse a child. It was not, thought Lisa, that the girl was stupid, but she seemed to have no interest in the affairs of the world or even of the island. She sat there with her fine figure and her blank, beautiful eyes a fitting tribute to young womanhood, and chattered of things of such small importance that Lisa became impatient. 'But, Catrina, don't you mind what happens on the island?' she asked at last. 'Doesn't it move you when, like yesterday, a child is so ill that two men risk their lives to fetch the drug that will save him?' Catrina looked surprised. 'Things like that often happen here,' she said simply, and Lisa felt ashamed. Had she dramatized the incident because, in her own sheltered life, such events called for an endurance that was natural on Culoran? 'Yes,' she said gently, 'you live closer to reality and - and simple bravery than the rest of the world. But - one man was your brother, Catrina, and the other was Culoran.' 'Why should that fash me?' Catrina replied. 'Both Andy and Culoran are handy with a boat. Would that jersey you're wearing be cashmere or plain wool like we have in the island ?' Lisa answered absently, for her thoughts were bewildered. Was this what Charles wanted? Was the body of a woman and the mind of a child or serf all that was required for life on Culoran? 'Catrina,' she said when they were back in the armoury, 'when this storm drops and David can get to the island, what do you want to do?'

'What Culoran wishes,' Catrina replied with her old air of submission. 'But do you want to marry David?' Catrina considered. 'No,' she said, then: 'If I must take a husband, Jamie Grant is more to my liking, but I would like to leave the island and go to live in the cities.' The more she listened to Catrina, the more Lisa was sure that David, with his sophisticated tastes, could never have seriously proposed marriage to this girl. 'Culoran's wishes are based on his conception of broken promises,' she said. 'Did my cousin promise to marry you?' Catrina was fingering the big suede handbag which Lisa had left on a chair. 'Och, no!' she said. 'He promised to find me work in the cities so that I could buy pretty things like this.' 'But you told Culoran that David had promised to marry you.' 'And what else could I tell him, and my brothers, too?' demanded Catrina, opening the bag to look inside. 'If I'd said I'd had a tumble with a stranger as a means to getting away from the island, what do you think they would have done with me?' Lisa felt violently angry. Was Charles with his puritanical cant so easily deceived? Did she herself, and David, merit such disapprobation because Catrina Frazer, like many before her, had traded her virtue for such ill-considered reason?

'Don't you realize that Culoran thinks you were were - that his house was betrayed with false promises? Don't you understand that in all this business he's been thinking of your happiness?' she cried, and Catrina looked at her curiously. 'You have a fondness for Culoran, perhaps?' ,she said with one of her strange flashes of simplicity. 'I had a fondness for him myself, but it would not do, of course. Lisa you'll not tell how things really happened?' To Lisa it was a weapon put into her hand. She must get away from Culoran, she must get away from Charles who thought so little of her. 'I'll not tell if you help me,' she said. 'Help you?' 'To get away from the island. You're as good with a boat as your brothers. When the wind drops, if you take me to the mainland, I'll help you find work or whatever it is you want. Will you do it, Catrina?' Doubt and a strange reluctance clouded the girl's fine eyes. 'I don't know if I want to leave, now,' she said. 'Jamie Grant is for selling his farm and going to Inverness.' 'And would Jamie like it if he knew that you had gone off with a stranger only to buy your freedom?' asked Lisa shrewdly. 'No, he wouldna like it,' Catrina said, reverting to her native burr. 'Would you be paying for the trip, Lisa?' 'Oh, yes,' said Lisa coldly. 'I'll pay. Just name your price.'

'My!' said Catrina, her eyes round. 'It's a bonny thing to be an heiress!'

There seemed little more to say after that. The wind kept up its continual howling, but it did not rain, and when Catrina said she must be going, Lisa, to get free of the castle, offered to accompany her some of the way. 'Will you tell me when the time has come?' she asked as they walked through the corridors and empty rooms. 'Oh, aye,' Catrina said. 'And you won't fail me, like Rab did?' For a moment Catrina's eyes were mocking. 'You should not have trusted Rab,' she said. 'He's aye had an eye for a lassie.' In the courtyard the wind met them strongly. The dogs had followed them but, as a door banged violently, they slunk back into the shelter of the cloisters. 'Where are the dungeons?' Lisa asked, not because she really wanted to know any longer, but because, between them, ordinary conversation seemed at an end. 'Beyond the powder magazine,' replied Catrina vaguely. 'You'd not be wanting to go there, would you? There are rats and if you shouted no one would hear you in this wind. Do you want a peek at the chains which used to hold the prisoners?'

'If you like,' said Lisa indifferently. She would not, she thought, accompany Catrina farther than the castle gates. She knew a faint distaste for Rab and his sister and the latest plan to escape from the island, and as they passed the powder magazine she was reminded uncomfortably of the part the place had played in her relations with Charles. Catrina led her down some broken steps to a little enclosed alley-way which she had not discovered before. Here, in the dampness and ruin of long decay, stood a line of doors in the castle wall, their iron grids thick with rust, slimy ooze seeping over their thresholds. 'It's horrid,' said Lisa, shivering, and Catrina eyed her with the enjoyment of a mischievous child. 'Och! It's only the outside,' she said. 'This one's open enough to squeeze round. Take a speir at the quarters the enemies of Culoran had in olden times.' Lisa did not want to become any further acquainted with the dungeons but, to oblige Catrina, she squeezed round one of the doors which stood ajar and looked with sudden shrinking at the broken rings in the slimy walls, the chains and other evidence of the cruelty of medieval times. 'Lisa' - Catrina's voice outside the aperture sounded anxious - 'you'll not tell Culoran - promise?' 'Not so long as you keep your word and help me to escape from the island,' said Lisa. 'Let me out now, Catrina. I don't like this place.' A gust of wind howled down the steps and Catrina suddenly laughed.

'No!' she cried wildly. 'I'll not let you out! I'll leave you here and then you won't tell for all your money, and tomorrow or the next day I'll come back to take you to the mainland.' As she spoke she flung all the weight of her strong young body against the door and slammed it shut. Lisa's hands gripped the bars of the grid, but she was not tall enough to look out. 'Catrina! Don't be a fool!' she shouted. 'Let me out of here at once!' 'I couldna if I wanted,' the girl's voice came back, a - little frightened, 'the lock is rusty and I havena the strength to pull.' 'Then go and get help,' yelled Lisa, but Catrina's voice, sounding fainter and fainter as she ran away, called: 'I durst not... Culoran would skelp me....' Lisa began to beat against the door, but only the wind replied, shrieking down the alley-way, drowning all other sounds, and presently reason told her that she was wasting her energy, and the endurance she might be called upon to use. She did not believe that Catrina would really leave her there, but as she looked round her dim prison and saw the rank ooze running down the walls she knew the beginnings of panic. She could shout, as Catrina had said, and no one would hear her, and her strength was not sufficient to move the heavy door an inch. Later it would grow dark and the rats would come to bear her company, and if Catrina did not tell them, nobody would think of looking for her here. Lisa took a deep breath and tried to control her thoughts. It was ridiculous to be afraid. In half an hour, an hour, perhaps, Catrina would regain her reason and send help. She wandered round the reeking cell, touching the fetters which had chained prisoners long dead, finding even a metal drinking vessel behind a loose stone, and

the small sad skeleton of a bird. She tried to laugh away her fears by imagining David's scepticism, could he but know of her plight. If he had been hard to convince of her detention on the island, how much less would he believe that she was, in fact, imprisoned in the castle dungeon. For a little time she was distracted from her surroundings while she made the discovery that always David would believe what he wanted. He had not treated her letters seriously because he had not yet decided what course was wisest to take. She had, she thought, been innocently blind not to realize from his last communication that he was discreetly offering her an alternative to marriage with himself, leaving the door open in case his notion should misfire. In either event he would get the money. 'Oh, David, David ...' she wept in her final disillusionment, 'do you care so little that you'd force me on a stranger who does not want me?' But presently she forgot him in the growing horror of her predicament. She could only guess at the time, but it seemed to her that she had already been hours in the cell, imagining the light beyond the grid was beginning to fail. She started to beat against the door again and shout against all hope of being heard, until, exhausted, she sat down on the filthy floor to rest. She must have slept or lost consciousness for a time, for when she next looked up at the grid it was as dark as the rest of her cell, and a sinister scurry in the far corner brought her hastily to her feet. She nearly fell with the excruciating pain of sudden cramp in her legs and as she wondered, with the passing curiosity of conscious thought, how long it took to go mad, she heard a man's voice shouting above the wind. She began to cry again hysterically and beat her bruised hands on the door, and when at last she recognized Charles' voice calling her name, she thought she must be dreaming or light-headed.

'Where are you?' he shouted, and she answered wildly: 'In here ... in one of the cells ... but the door's jammed and you'll never get it open ... never, never, never. ...' 'Hold on! I'll have you out in a moment,' he said and, after the first fruitless attempt, he had wrenched open the door and let in the clean rough wind from the sea. 'Oh, Charles ... Charles ...' she sobbed, laughing a little at the same time, and felt his arms go round her and knew that she was back again to sanity and the exquisite comfort of this man's painful grip. 'This is one trick that might have proved too many for you,' he told her grimly. 'If you want to give me a scare another time, don't choose such a chancy method. No one would think of looking for you in the dungeon.' 'I didn't want to scare you. What's the time?' she said weakly. 'After seven o'clock. How long have you been here?' 'Hours and hours. Didn't Catrina tell you?' 'I haven't seen her. I imagined you had gone back to the farm with her after lunch and Andy would be bringing you home.' 'Then how did you find me?' 'The dogs found you,' he said slowly, and she became aware, then, that the curious damp warmth on her legs which had been puzzling her was being caused by the deerhounds' tongues. 'I remember now, they followed us,' she said. 'You and Catrina?'

'Yes ... she shut me in.' He became aware then that she was very near to hysteria and, picking her up in his arms, carried her back to the castle without another word. As he carried her down the empty corridors, his firm footsteps ringing on the stone floors, she tucked her head into his shoulder and drifted into a state of semi-consciousness. The dim oil sconces cast strange shadows on the walls and it seemed to Lisa that she was being carried through a dream world that had no reality. ... Charles shouted for Betsy as he entered his own wing of the castle and as he held Lisa closer, while he pushed open the heavy door of the armoury, he felt her soft hair brush his lips. He laid her gently on the settle where only a few nights before he had thrown her so roughly, and stood looking down at her, seeing in the lamplight the strain and the dirt and the broken, bleeding nails. 'Well, you are in a state,' he observed mildly. She smiled but kept her eyes closed and he crossed to one of the cabinets to fetch some brandy. Betsy had come running and Louise, too. Charles explained what had happened while he slipped an arm round Lisa's shoulders and held a glass to her lips. 'Och, the poor wee lassie!' said Betsy, while Louise threw up her hands and exclaimed: 'Mon Dieu! Milady will be prostrated!' 'Grand'mere is never prostrated, as well you know,' Charles said dryly. 'Go and reassure her, Louise, and Betsy, get hot bottles in Miss Chase's bed and make the fire up. She's shocked and very cold.'

The two women went, Louise becoming voluble and very French as she expressed her opinion of this uncivilized country to the phlegmatic Scots girl, and left alone with Charles, Lisa opened her eyes and looked at him with those strangely extended pupils which, dilated now to their full extent, made her eyes appear almost black. 'I'm sorry,' she said, 'I seem to cause a lot of trouble, but this time it wasn't my fault. How clever your dogs are, Charles.' She held out a hand to the deerhounds, and even Crieff, the unfriendly, stretched out his long neck to lick her fingers. 'You have vanquished even the aloof Crieff,' said Charles with an odd inflection. 'Have you a magic, after all, to bring even your captors to heel?' The brandy had put strength into her again and she struggled to sit up against his supporting arm. 'I've no magic,' she said a little sadly. 'The magic lies here in Culoran.' 'The island?' 'Of course the island. Whatever your own magic, Charles, you would never let it work the way you didn't want.' 'I wonder what you mean by that.' She sighed. 'This is Prospero's island, I think. You make things happen as you wish.' He took his arm carefully away.

'I can make things happen as you wish, too,' he told her with gentleness. 'When the weather is fit, I'll send you back to your cousin.' 'And not hold him to his promise?' 'No.' 'He never made it,' she said. 'I expect that's why he wouldn't come.'

CHAPTER ELEVEN CHARLES turned away from her to throw more peat on the fire. 'I think you had better tell me how this happened,' he said, and she began rather disjointedly to explain the sequence of events from lunch time onwards. 'But I cannot understand why Catrina should play such a cruel trick on you,' he said, frowning. 'She's a simple creature and given to childish pranks sometimes, but I can't imagine her leaving you there all those hours without letting someone know.' 'She said it was so that I couldn't tell you about David.' 'What weren't you to tell me?' 'That he had never promised to marry her as you thought. He had only promised to help her find work in the towns. She told you and her brothers the other story because she thought it would sound better. She was afraid, Charles, what you and they would do to her if you thought she had - as she expressed it herself - had a tumble with a stranger just to get away from the island.' 'Catrina said that?' 'Yes, she said it. You can't blame David, can you, for taking something that was so freely offered? Catrina thought no more of her lapse than she would of buying a railway ticket to the place where she wanted to go.' He stood with his back to the fire looking across the room with eyes that were a little bitter. 'You'd defend your cousin to the end, wouldn't you?' he said.

She did not look at him. 'Well, even you must own this has rather a different complexion,' she said a little wearily. 'Perhaps,' he answered, and there was a sudden quietness in his voice. 'It was I who found Catrina, hiding up at one of the Malloch farms while your cousin lorded it over the shoot he had leased from me. I brought her back. When I demanded an explanation from my tenant he packed up and went back to London.' Yes, Lisa remembered that, and the sudden cessation of all mention of Culoran. 'You could hardly blame him for taking fright,' she said a little tartly. 'Catrina, for all her good looks and feminine appeal, would scarcely have made him a very suitable wife.' 'No,' he said with bitter hardness, 'the Chases and the people of this island don't mix very happily.' His words hurt her, for she thought she discerned in them the old faculty for putting her in her place. 'That shouldn't trouble you, Culoran,' she said with coldness. 'Neither David nor I had the urge to mix, as you put it.' He looked at her then, defying him even now, with her white, exhausted face, and the dirt and the damp making ruin of her smart, expensive clothes. 'And why,' he asked with misleading gentleness, 'should Catrina shut you in the dungeon to prevent you from telling? She could hardly suppose, could she, that you could remain there indefinitely?'

She was aware now that her own part in the day's events could not be explained so easily. 'She was going to - to take me off the island, if I, too, would help her find work,' she said, avoiding his eyes. 'I think she thought, in her queer childish way, she could keep me shut up in the dungeon until she was ready to go.' She was aware that he was looking at her again with an altered expression, and glancing up at him she saw that his face wore a proud mask of hardness. 'You gave me your promise not to try to leave the island,' he said sternly. 'Have you been at your tricks again, Lisa, trying to seduce my people, and bribing poor Catrina with promises of freedom?' 'Poor Catrina was very ready to take a bribe of more concrete value in fact she demanded it,' said Lisa with a flash of anger. 'Why do you despise money so much, Culoran? You, yourself, could use a little of it here.' 'Money ...' he said slowly. 'You think it unlocks all doors, don't you, Lisa? You'll even let yourself be married for your money if a man will take you on those terms.' She seemed to shrink into herself and grow very small in the corner of the big settle, and as he would have spoken again with a swift change of manner, Louise came into the room. 'Ma foi, as I thought!' she said. 'Milady say to me "Go and rescue that pauvre enfant, for my grandson will ride his hobby horse until she is exhaust." You should be ashamed, monsieur, the room is prepared long ago, and this child has a temperature, by all appearances.'

He had already seen the sudden exhaustion in Lisa's face and the bright flush which stained her cheeks. 'Louise is right,' he said with a gentleness that was both protective and a little wry. 'This was no time for one of our wordy battles. You should have sent me about my business.' She took the hand he held out to her and struggled to her feet. 'You aren't easily sent about your business, Culoran,' she said shakily, and he smiled, touching her bruised fingers with tenderness. 'Well, I'm sending you about yours. When you're in bed I'll come up and prescribe.' 'A tisane is what she needs and a rest from the tongue of a stubborn man,' Louise said. 'Charles' Lisa hesitated before she followed the Frenchwoman out of the room. 'You won't be angry with Catrina about today - or about that other time, will you? She doesn't mean any harm and - and she's fond of you in a sad, rather humble sort of way.' 'I know,' he said gently. 'It was foolish of me to try to make her different from her brothers. No, Lisa, I won't be angry with her. The fault is as much mine as hers, perhaps. Go with Louise, now. I should have sent you to bed long ago.' But in her own room, submitting to Louise's deft hands, while the firelight distorted the pictures in the tapestries to a semblance of life, Lisa lost the coherency of thought which had sustained her with Charles. Her teeth chattered and she was seized with violent fits of shivering and, when Charles came up an hour later, he stood looking down at her with a grave expression.

'Mostly shock and exhaustion, I think,' he said to Louise, 'but she's got a bad chill, I'm afraid. Call me in the night if I'm needed. You or Betsy had better look in from time to time.' 'You will not be needed, monsieur,' said Louise firmly. 'And now will you go to milady, please. She is asking for you.' Lisa ran a temperature and slept for most of the twenty-four hours that followed. She was aware of Charles standing sometimes by her bed, but she was apt to confuse him with David. In her dreams the dungeon cell, the piper playing reels which had ended for her disastrously, the launch putting out in a sea that spelt no return, mingled together in confusing fragments, the fragments that had made up life on Culoran, the forbidden island. When she awoke on the second morning it was to a queer sense of loss. Something familiar was missing, and as she sat up in bed while Betsy drew the curtains she exclaimed incredulously: 'The storm's gone! Betsy, it's not blowing any more!' 'Aye, the wind dropped last night,' the girl answered, carrying the breakfast tray over to the bed. 'There, now, you're looking better, mistress. With a still day and the sun shining again you'll be away out of your bed as good as new.' 'I feel wonderful,' said Lisa. 'The aches have gone and I'm terribly hungry.' 'Then eat your parridge,' said freckled Betsy with a grin. 'Dougal will be keeking at the pot when it comes down to be sure there's none left. Upset he's been that only slops and physic were the orders yesterday.' 'Dr. Dowe hasn't been, has he?' asked Lisa, her recollections of yesterday still hazy.

'Losh me! What would we want with that old tippler and the laird to hand all the time?' said Betsy disrespectfully. Louise came with messages of inquiry from Lady Kintyre, and presently Charles, who stood looking at her with a wry expression. 'You talk a lot of nonsense when you're light-headed,' he remarked. 'I understand your temperature is back to normal today.' 'Yes,' she said, 'and I feel fine. Can I get up?' 'Another day in bed wouldn't do you any harm, I think,' he replied. 'It will be a couple more, anyway, before your guardian can reach us.' 'David?' 'I've wired him you were ill. I also said there would be no reprisals. The combination of the two, I imagine, ought to bring him.' 'Oh!' she said, and looked away. 'Have you seen Catrina?' 'No, but Andy came over the same evening. Catrina apparently got frightened and confessed. Andy was in quite a taking.' 'I'm glad,' said Lisa comfortably, 'that she didn't mean to leave me in the dungeon all night. It sounds queer without the gale blowing. Has it done much damage?' 'The flocks suffer if the shepherds leave them in the hills, but this storm has done a different sort of damage, I fancy. Still, there's no need, now, for you to plan another escape from the island, and we're not likely to get a return of bad weather before you leave.' He was still disappointed in her, she thought, for being willing to break her promise, but she could not explain that this time she must

run from him because if she did not, her pride and her personal dignity must crumble away. 'Will you still think of me as just a tiresome child when I've gone, Culoran?' she asked a little wistfully, but he only smiled. 'I'll send up some books and magazines from downstairs,' he said evasively, and went away. He did not come back again for the rest of the day, but after tea Lady Kintyre paid her a visit and, knowing the draughty corridors and dark, uneven stairways she must circumvent from the tower on the other side of the castle, Lisa found herself apologizing for causing so much trouble. 'A chill is the least of the troubles you have caused,' the old lady retorted somewhat severely, and sat down in a high-backed chair by the fire. 'But I suppose we cannot blame you. You did not seek to visit Culoran in quite these circumstances, did you?' 'No,' said Lisa humbly, 'I didn't, but Charles has perhaps told you, now, that the circumstances weren't quite as you both had imagined.' 'Yes, he told me. The female of the species is always tricky when she's caught out. Even you, Lisa, are not honest with Charles.' 'I'm honest with myself,' said Lisa proudly. 'That should be all that matters.' Lady Kintyre smiled, resting her hands delicately on the knob of her long cane. 'Perhaps,' she said. 'And will you be honest with your cousin when he comes for you?'

Lisa moved in the bed restlessly. She and the shrewd old lady might fence to the bitter end, but they did not deceive one another. 'I've always been honest with David,' she said. 'It will be for him to decide what he wants to make of both our lives.' 'Very accommodating of you. Do you know, yet, what he wrote to my grandson?' 'No.' 'I will tell you, then, since I don't suppose Charles will ever show you the letter. Among other things, your guardian said: "If you have a fancy for Lisa yourself, don't think I'd be selfish enough to stand in your way on account of the money. From her letters I've rather gathered that she find both you and the island to her liking, so should you have succumbed to the simple charms of our little heiress, don't hesitate to tell her so. She has a predilection for islands and romantic castles." You see I have remembered that passage verbatim,.' The hot colour flared in Lisa's pale face and she felt her very toes contract with shame. 'Oh, how could he!' she cried. 'Throwing me at a man for whom I have no interest... making out J. had written like an infatuated schoolgirl caught by a bit of fustian glamour!' 'Dear me!' said Lady Kintyre mildly, 'I would not have described Culoran as fustian. I did not quote the letter, my dear, in order to give you a wrong impression of my grandson, or to provoke such sweeping statements on your part.' 'Why did you tell me at all, then, if it wasn't to make' me feel even smaller than I did already?' demanded Lisa, hating the old lady as once she had hated Charles.

Lady Kintyre got to her feet slowly and stood for a minute, leaning on her cane and gazing into the fire as Lisa had seen her do many times before. 'I miscalculated,' she said then. 'I had thought your mind-was older than your body and you would, understand what lies behind Charles' stubbornness.' 'I don't wonder he was stubborn, and all the other things he appeared to be, if he thought that David and I, between us, had designs on him. My own - foolishness didn't help the trouble, either,' said Lisa with bitterness, remembering those evenings when she had tried to assert her femininity and been so mercilessly snubbed. 'It was not your foolishness that was the trouble,' replied Lady Kintyre, and crossed to the bed to lay cool fingers for a moment on the girl's hot cheek. 'I have only made more confusion, I'm afraid. Perhaps I'm just a meddling old woman, but I'm fond of you, Lisa, and want to see you happy. Your cousin, though he may have charm, has an eye to the main chance, but Charles is very proud. Perhaps you are not clever enough, or feminine enough to break down a man's pride. I will say good night now and I'm sorry if I have upset you.' After she had gone, Lisa lay back on her pillows and let the weak tears trickle through her fingers. She did not understand half of what the old lady had been hinting at, but she did at last understand the machinations of David's mind. When she had realized, trapped in the dungeon, that David all this time had been leaving the door open for himself, she had thought that Charles knew, too. Charles is very proud, his grandmother had said. Did she really suppose that Lisa, or any girl, was either clever enough, or feminine enough, to throw herself at a man who did not desire her? Lisa turned on her pillows and wept for shame at the memory of her innocent pleas to Culoran to acknowledge her sex. ...

She came down as usual the next day, greeting Charles with a reserve that would, she hoped, leave no doubt in his mind that for the rest of her visit she did not intend to encroach on his time or his obligations as a host, but he disconcerted her by saying that as she was to leave so soon, he would like her to come with him round the island and take the usual hospitality at croft and farm. The Macgregors and Mrs. Campbell especially wanted to see her, and old Dr. Dowe wished to thank her for her help the night the Campbell boy was so ill. 'But I didn't do anything,' protested Lisa in surprise. 'In fact I thought the doctor found me rather in the way.' 'He probably did,' replied Charles calmly, 'but we are a polite race, whatever your first opinion of us. The islanders may not have welcomed you to Culoran, but they wouldn't dream of letting you go without wishing you God speed.' 'Oh, I see. The same principle as speeding the unwelcome guest with false regrets.' 'Not quite. Oddly enough you've made good friends despite your opinion of them.' Lisa said nothing. Now that she was leaving she knew that she would miss the familiar faces which had regarded her with such reserve. How often it happens, she thought, that only when you are leaving a place do you appreciate the quality of its people. She thought of these things as she walked with Charles from croft to cottage in the cold, bright October sunlight. The sea was calm and very blue, as on the day when she had first come to Culoran, and behind the castle, Morag and the smaller foothills rose in quiet sombreness, mist clinging to their peaks. The island was very

peaceful after its days of storm and violence and, in the harbour, gulls circled again with lazy freedom. 'I shall miss it all,' Lisa said to Robbie Dowe as he stood at his gate bidding her farewell. 'Och! You'll come back, no doubt,' he told her carelessly. 'No, I won't come back,' said Lisa soberly, aware of Charles walking up from the store where he had called while Lisa took cherry brandy with the doctor. - He sighed and glanced at her with passing inquisitiveness. 'A' weel, I had other notions. You'll doubtless be marrying some gay young sprig with as much money as yoursel'. A pity - it would ha' done good here.' Lisa could only laugh, but she turned with something of relief to Charles as he joined them at the gate. 'I won't be able to eat any lunch after all the tea and milk and cherry brandy I've drunk all the morning,' she said. 'Oughtn't we to be going back?' 'Yes, but it's as well you did the rounds today. There's been a message from the mainland,' he said. 'Oh.' Lisa sounded rather blank and Dr. Dowe cocked an eyebrow at her. 'Your cousin expects to reach the inn at Mallech tomorrow morning.' 'But tomorrow's Sunday,' she said with such unconscious protest that both men smiled.

'Your cousin will scarcely arrive in time for kirk,' Charles observed with mild irony. 'When the minister returns after lunch the launch can bring him back. Come along, we'd best be going.' 'Good-bye, Dr. Dowe,' said Lisa a little forlornly, and the old man nodded and patted her shoulder. 'Good-bye, my dear. Get more flesh on your bones. Our island fisher girls put you to shame.' 'Even he,' said Lisa, walking beside Charles over the rough stones, 'shares your opinion of what a woman ought to look like.' 'I wouldn't have you any other way,' said Charles unexpectedly. 'You have a very charming grace, Lisa.' 'Oh!' she said, disconcerted. 'But I thought-' 'You thought I regarded a woman as I would regard a brood mare, didn't you?' She felt herself flushing. 'Well, there was rather a lot of talk of the necessity of a suitable wife who would breed heirs,' she said, and he gave her one of his-dark, arrogant glances. 'Too much talk altogether,' he said. 'When I choose a wife, Lisa, it will not be for reasons of future posterity - or for money.' 'If that was meant to be a snub or a - a warning, you needn't have troubled,'. she said, angry and curiously ashamed. 'Your grandmother told me what David had written to you. He, like you, must have been misled by some foolishness on my part.'

'Don't be bitter, Lisa,' he said gently. 'It's the foolishness of others that does most of the harm.' They had reached the little junction where the rough tracks met, one from the hills from which they had come, one leading down to the harbour and one to the castle. Charles and Lisa paused for a moment to allow some sheep to cross the tracks to their grazing grounds in the heather, and Charles said: 'That night when Andy and I went to the mainland - was that just foolishness, or were you really afraid for me?' 'Naturally I was afraid for you,' she answered, looking at her feet. 'I I' She broke away from him suddenly, and ran ahead, not waiting for him to catch up with her, intent only on getting away from him, to reach the sanctuary of the castle where Lady Kintyre, and even Dougal, would supply social barriers for the next hour or so. The rest of the day passed like any other. When luncheon was over, Charles went about his affairs and his grandmother to her own rooms, and Lisa repaired to the tapestry room to pack. It was time she took fresh stock of herself, she thought, keeping her mind resolutely on the future, while she folded garments and stuffed them carelessly into suitcases. After dinner, Charles and his grandmother played piquet while Lisa sat and let her eyes rove round the room, memorizing its details. The line of portraits, the claymores and targes, the fragile, faded banners would, in a few days, seem part of a dream. The dogs, sleeping in the circle of firelight, would neither know nor care that she had gone, and one day, when Charles had found what he wanted, old Lady Kintyre would go back to Provence, and a new generation would be born to the castle.

'You are tired, my child?' the old lady asked with the disconcerting obliqueness with which she had always broken in on Lisa's thoughts. 'No,' said Lisa. 'Perhaps the quiet after so much storm is making me sleepy.' 'Very likely. You will come to kirk tomorrow?' 'Yes,' Lisa replied, and remembered that first Sunday and the lesson Charles had read. Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. ... 'I think I will go to bed,' she said, suddenly wanting to weep, and Lady Kintyre smiled and nodded her head. 'Very wise. Breakfast is at eight on Sundays, remember. Last week, when the minister could not get here, was an exception. Good night.' It was heartbreakingly casual, as if tonight were like any other and not the last Lisa would spend with them. Charles lighted a lamp- for her and held the door as he always did, but when she paused to say good night to him he took a clean handkerchief from his pocket and gently wiped her rouged lips. 'Not till tomorrow,' he said, smiling, 'I like you as the island knows you. Good night.' She was awakened by the piper as usual, only this Sunday he played the familiar airs she liked best, the 'Skye Boat Song', 'The Dashing White Sergeant', and that most moving lament of all, 'The Flowers of the Forest'. He was playing for her, Lisa thought, tears springing to her eyes. He was playing for her, because next Sunday she would be gone, and he would not be here under her window in the grey morning light.

As she sat between Charles and his grandmother in the little kirk the next morning, it seemed to Lisa a curious repetition of that other time, only now the eyes of the congregation behind her were no longer suspicious.' It was all familiar and fitting, and something to which she belonged, thought Lisa until Charles got up to read the lesson, then, as she listened to his soft, slow voice, and watched the dark face which his people were watching, too, secure in their knowledge of his understanding and protection, she knew that she could never belong. Only by sharing in that same knowledge could she hope for a place in their lives, and this he had denied her because, for him, she had nothing to give. She was glad to get out of the kirk and stand in the cold, waiting for the minister. She saw Catrina with her brothers and smiled at her, and the girl, after a slight moment of hesitation, crossed over to speak to her. 'Weren't you going to come and say good-bye to me?' Lisa asked. 'I'm going away today.' 'I know. I wanted to come, but I thought you'd not want to be friends with me after the way I treated you.' 'Are we friends, Catrina?' asked Lisa, amused, and Catrina flashed her an unconcerned smile. 'Oh, I like you fine, but I was afraid. When I told Andy he was in such a taking I thought he'd take a strap to me like he used to when I was younger. Lisa - I didna mean to scare you so badly and give you a chill.' 'You might very well,' said Lisa with sudden asperity, 'have driven me mad.'

'Och!' exclaimed Catrina, clapping a hand to her mouth, her eyes round. 'I might at that. I'm sorry, truly I am. Culoran will not forgive me.' 'I should think he will. Culoran has no great affection for me.' Catrina looked a little puzzled but said nothing, and Lisa asked curiously: 'What will you do now? I can still help you find work when I get back to London, if your brothers will let you go.' 'I've changed my notions,' Catrina said with airy calmness. 'I've a mind to stay on the island and marry Jamie Grant, then if he sells his farm I'll go with him.' 'And you think you'd be happy, married to Jamie?' 'Oh, aye. I'd be happy married to any man with a home of my own, and Jamie's a good lad. Good morning, Culoran, will you be speaking to me, now?' 'Good morning, Catrina,' Charles replied as he joined them. 'You're a young woman who requires a spanking, but- that can be your brothers' privilege, not mine. Lisa, I think my grandmother is ready to go.' This time he did not ask Lisa to walk home with him and, with a brief good-bye to Catrina, she joined Lady Kintyre and the minister in the carriage. Mr. Wallace looked at her gravely and, remembering that he might still retain his first erroneous impressions of her position at the castle, she said quickly to Lady Kintyre :

'Catrina tells me that she is going to stop on the island and marry Jamie Grant. Do you suppose she's serious? I always thought her one idea was to get away.' 'An excellent plan,' the old lady replied calmly. 'A need for the right sort of husband is all that's ever been wrong with Catrina. It's all that's wrong with most young girls, if it comes to that.' Lisa was silent, not liking the inquiring look the minister suddenly gave her, but Lady Kintyre, with her invaluable gift for impersonal small talk, turned the conversation into other channels, and Lisa, bumping along in the stuffy closed brougham which was used in colder weather, knew a passionate longing for the day to be over.

It was just after three o'clock when Charles came to tell Lisa the launch was returning. He thought her face whitened a little, but when he asked her if she would care to go down to the harbour and meet her guardian she answered firmly enough: 'Of course. Are you coming, too?' 'I think not,' he replied. 'I wouldn't want to be an embarrassment on your meeting. By the time you get back to the castle you will be at ease with one another.' 'You think of everything, don't you?' said Lisa coldly. 'You wouldn't embarrass me, Culoran, and David and I have known each other far too long not to be at ease.' 'So?' He surveyed her thoughtfully, then suddenly smiled. 'Must we bicker to the very end, Lisa? Can we not part, at least, on terms of mutual liking?'

'Oh, Charles ...' she said, her defences too weak for her to do more than stand there looking at him. 'My liking means so little to you....' 'Do you think so? Had things been different ... Well, in spite of everything, your cousin still holds a special place in your heart, doesn't he? Go along and meet him.' He turned away as he spoke, and Lisa, her head high, walked stiffly from the room. Charles went out on to the battlements and watched her run across the courtyard with that light, supple movement which had become so familiar, her long pale hair flying behind her. She ran with urgency and an eager air of release, pulling at the postern door with impatient hands until she was through it, shutting herself out from his vision as she slammed it behind her. He came back into the armoury and closed the window carefully. Lisa was thankful he had not come with her, but she had forgotten the curiosity of the islanders. A knot Of silent people had already gathered on the shore, men in their Sunday clothes, looking stiff and unfamiliar, women with plaids thrown hastily over their-black dresses. They parted respectfully to allow Lisa to walk to the jetty, but she was conscious of their eyes upon her and the slow shaking of heads. For them, as for her, it was an occasion of moment, and not one to which they brought approval. She stood on the end of the jetty in the wind and watched the launch round the point. Andy Frazer, she knew, was handling the boat and presently another figure emerged from the wheelhouse and stood in the bows, waving to her. For a strange moment she was conscious of some trick. So many times she had watched for David's coming and imagined a moment such as this, that now the dream was reality, she felt no part in it. Not until Andrew had brought the launch alongside and was steadying her for David to disembark did she make any sign,

and, motionless, she watched him step a little awkwardly on to the jetty and heard his familiar voice say: 'Well, my sweet, I've come a long way and spent some uncomfortable hours. Have you no welcome for me?' He was just as she remembered him, tall and elegant, and fair, with the little scar at the side of his mouth giving his smile a quizzical quirk, the rakish angle of his hat throwing a shadow across the vivid blue of his eyes. 'Hullo!' said Lisa, embarrassed, now, by the eyes watching them and by Andrew's listening ears and dour expression. 'Do we kiss or disappoint our Scotch audience with a British handshake?' he said, amusement in his voice, and she reached up quickly and gave him a hasty peck on the cheek. 'Not your usual style of greeting, darling, if I may be personal,' he said. 'But perhaps you've learnt restraint among the other lessons the stern Caledonian has taught you. Where do we go from here?' 'The castle. It's only a short walk beyond the harbour.' 'I see. We must have audience before we leave, must we?' 'Charles is expecting you. In any case it will only be polite to add your thanks to mine. You left me here a long time.' 'Do I detect a note of censure in that remark, Abigail?' he said, taking her arm. 'You must admit the whole situation was a little delicate. In this day and age one doesn't expect to have one's nearest and dearest held to ransom for one's past failings.'

They had left the jetty and were walking over the rough stones of the harbour to the track which led to the castle. The islanders were already dispersing and going to their homes. 'Part of it was a misunderstanding,' Lisa said. 'Everyone thought you had promised to marry Catrina, you see. But you should have come, David - you should have come when I first begged you to. Now it's too late.' Her voice had taken on a distracted note that was quite new to him, and he glanced at her with interest. 'That has rather a sinister sound,' he said. 'Are you trying to tell me that you've suffered a fate worse than death at the hands of the picturesque laird?' 'Of course not. But - well, it doesn't matter now.' 'Have you fallen for him?' 'Of course not,' she said again, and released her arm from his lightly detaining hand. 'I'm not so sure,' he said. 'My reception was distinctly cool. You looked as if you were prepared to repel invaders, standing on the jetty with that grim bunch of natives behind you. Let me look at you. I was told you were ill, but you don't look very ill. A little pale, perhaps, and your nails are in a revolting state. What have you been doing to them?' 'I had a chill,' she said briefly. 'I'm all right now.' He raised an eyebrow at her. 'You've changed, darling. I think, perhaps, it may be my turn to talk terms with the laird.'

She flashed him a look which had none of the old desire to please him. 'I wouldn't advise it,' she said in a clear, dispassionate voice. 'It was thoughtful of you to offer me to Charles to help restore his fortunes, but the idea didn't appeal to him.' 'So he showed you my letter, did he? How very tactless.' 'No, but his grandmother told me, and Charles himself has made it very plain I'm not his idea of a wife - or even a woman.' They had reached the spot where the three tracks met, where, only yesterday, she had broken away from Charles' dangerous questioning and run back to the castle. David stopped and turned her gently round to face him. 'It sounds to me, my sweet, as if you at any rate have been allowing your emotions to become involved.' 'Isn't that what you wanted?' she demanded. 'Isn't that the real reason you left me here so long? If you could foist me on to someone else you'd get the money without having to marry me.' He regarded her with affectionate indulgence. 'So I'm the villain of the piece, now, am I?' he said. 'Any hint I may have dropped to Kintyre was purely altruistic. I had the impression that you rather fancied being mistress of a Scottish castle. Darling, I never made any secret of the fact that I wasn't the marrying type, but I've a fondness for you and; if you still want me, I'm very ready to stand by the old arrangement.' 'I don't think I do, David,' she replied, gently because he was still the idol of her childhood, and it could hurt a little to give up even a second-best affection. 'We can enjoy our respective shares of Uncle

Toby's money without that, and in another two years you won't have to be responsible for me any longer.' 'Once you're twenty-one you can- blue the lot, I suppose you mean.' 'Yes, I can, can't I? Have you already blown most of yours?' His eyes were suddenly shrewd and a little irritable. 'Why should you think that?' he asked quickly. She started to walk on. 'Well, you don't work, and I expect you spend a lot on women and comfortable living,' she said, and he laughed rather shortly. 'My dear child, the way I live my life is hardly your concern.' 'No, but it would be if I married you,' she said. 'Well, now,' said David softly, 'I think Sir Charles Kintyre has probably got quite a bit to answer to me for - quite a bit. We must certainly have that straight talk he's been anxious for for so long.' They had arrived at the castle and the deerhounds came to meet them, keeping close to Lisa but ignoring David. They walked in silence through the deserted halls and corridors, and David sighed with relief when they reached the inhabited wing. 'Rather you than me, darling,' he murmured. 'It would take a pretty fortune to put this morgue in order.' She made no reply, but took him into the armoury where Charles was waiting.

For Lisa it was a difficult moment, but neither man seemed disconcerted. Charles was standing with his back to the fire, but he made no move to come forward. 'You have quite a place, Kintyre, but a bit chilly in winter, isn't it?' said David easily, and crossed the room with his graceful, leisurely stride. Charles did not shake hands, but he greeted his guest courteously and bade him be seated. 'I'm sorry,' said David, taking one of the deep chairs near the fire, 'there was that - misunderstanding about your foster-sister. I had no idea, of course, she had any connection with you, but in my own defence, my dear fellow, I must tell you that I was met more than half-way. You can't altogether blame me, can you? She is a very handsome girl.' 'The matter of my foster-sister no longer arises. Her future is settled,' said Charles gravely. 'I would have sent your ward back sooner if it had not been for the storm. We were cut off for nearly a week.' 'So I understand, but that, of course, has its points. I'm sure your intentions were strictly honourable, but after all, I am Lisa's guardian, and I think I'm entitled to a little explanation, don't you?' 'I'll leave you both,' said Lisa, hot with embarrassment. 'When you're ready to go, David, I'll be in my room.' 'No, no, Abigail, stay where you are. I'm sure you'd be interested in anything Sir Charles has to say; besides, you told me that it was only polite for me to add my thanks to yours for your rather protracted visit on the island.'

'It is a little late,' said Charles, as if neither of them had spoken, 'to assert your rights as a guardian. Had you been really concerned with Lisa's welfare, you surely would have come to demand explanations six weeks ago.' 'Do you think so? But, unlike you, I had trust in you then, besides the whole thing sounded just like one of the silly child's romantic bids for importance. I had hurt her feelings, you see. I thought she was just trying to pay me out with a good story.' 'Yes?' said Charles gently. 'But I also understood that you wished to marry her.' 'Yes, that was true,' David answered frankly. 'But nothing was official, and I confess I sometimes had doubts as to whether I was being altogether fair. Lisa has met very few men so far. I thought it mightn't be a bad plan to leave her here for a little and give her time to adjust her ideas. I'm sorry if either of us have trespassed on your hospitality.' Lisa listened with the curious impression that they were not discussing her at all. She viewed them both with new eyes, seeing each, perhaps, for the first time. Beside Charles' faded kilt and shabby jacket, David's impeccable tweeds looked too correct, too elegant, and his manner was too easy and confident. He did not recognize, as she did, that warning spark behind the misleading gentleness of Culoran's dark regard, or hear the iron inflection in his soft voice. 'And now?' Charles asked. 'You will take her away and marry her for the sake of the money?' Something in his voice stung David at last and he moved restlessly.

'Spare the poor child's blushes,' he said with an attempt at lightness. 'If it's of any interest to you, Lisa has just informed me that she no longer has any desire to marry me, and perhaps I have you to thank for that.' Lisa was aware that Charles gave her a swift, shrewd glance, and she went over to, one of the windows and stood with her back to the room, not wishing to be part any longer of this impossible conversation. The mainland was visible on the horizon, and she wondered idly if the island appeared in mist. 'You have, I imagine, yourself to thank, Mr. Chase,' said Charles with- odd formality. 'The acquiring of a fortune is hardly the most flattering reason for a marriage.' 'Do I detect a grain of envy in that remark?' drawled David, beginning to lose his temper. 'I understand that you yourself had the need for a wife with a good dowry. I'll wager you weren't so disinterested until you knew the truth.' 'The truth of what?' David smiled with a mixture of malice and exasperation. 'Well, I imagine that when things were looking hopeful, our innocent heiress had to blurt out the truth about the money, in her own trusting fashion.' Lisa turned from the window and opened her mouth to shout the first unconsidered words that came into her head, then was silent. Charles' long, dark face wore a new expression and his lean, still body seemed to stiffen.

'She told me, only, that if you married another woman your half of the fortune went to her,' he said slowly, and David made a wry little grimace at Lisa. 'So you were playing my game after all, were you, my sweet?' he observed. 'You must have had a poor estimation of your own powers of attraction not to have told him that you lost the money, too, but you were evidently right. Well, we must both remain single, or marry each other. We'd better be making the return journey to the mainland, now.' The room was suddenly very quiet. The firelight deepened the shadows already encroaching on the fading afternoon light, and the portraits and the old weapons, and the gently moving banners, were points of focus in the stillness. 'Is that the truth at last?' Charles' voice was stern but vibrant with a new note. 'Does Lisa lose her money if she marries someone else?' 'Yes, I'm afraid she does. My father had a ridiculous notion that he could play Cupid after he was dead, so he tied the money up and left this crazy will. A little hard on both of us, don't you think?' 'But you, Mr. Chase, will not, I'm sure, be put out of countenance by a foolish will,' said Lady Kintyre's voice from the doorway. 'May I have the pleasure of showing you the castle before you leave?' David sprang to his feet, disconcerted by the unexpected interruption, and looked distrustfully at the tall, slender old lady standing at the end of the room with her hands resting on the long stick. 'Thank you,' he said uncertainly, 'but is it quite the moment' 'I, as you, Mr. Chase, fit the moment to my purpose,' she said with a crooked smile. 'I am Charles' grandmother, should you wonder at this

intrusion. Perhaps you will accompany me now? The launch must return to the mainland in less than an hour.' David hesitated, puzzled by her insistence. He looked at Charles who had neither moved nor spoken, and at Lisa still standing by the window, her face, with the light behind her, too dim to read, but something in both their still attitudes made him smile and slowly raise his fair eyebrows. 'Is it possible I've misjudged you, Kintyre?' he said softly and, with a small, mocking bow to the old lady, went unhurriedly to join her. Lisa moved then and darted across the room, murmuring something incoherent about finishing her packing, But Charles caught her as she passed him. 'Later,' he said, and the door closed softly behind his grandmother and David.

Lisa stood there helplessly, her wrist still held in his strong grip. 'Why didn't you tell me?' he asked. He was so close to her now that she could see the sudden harsh demand in his eyes. 'I was going to tell you that time we - we talked about David,' she replied, trying to remember why she had deliberately misled him, 'but you said or did something that distracted me. .:. I don't remember.... Later, it didn't seem important. ...' 'And yet you talked a great deal about your money, reminding me frequently that you were an heiress. Is it possible that, as your cousin suggested, you thought that fact would tempt me?'

'I suppose I did,' she said, forced into honesty, but unable to meet his eyes. 'You see, you had made it so plain that you only regarded me as a - spoilt child. But it doesn't matter now, Charles.' Both his hands were suddenly on her shoulders and he shook her hard. 'You little fool!' he exclaimed. 'You were so imbued with your cousin's view of such things that I suppose it never occurred to you that your money could be a barrier.' 'Was it?' she asked with such innocent wonder that he shook her again. 'You foolish, ignorant child,' he cried with exasperation. 'Have you no conception of the workings of a man's mind? Don't you realize that my only defence was to treat you like a child? Did you think all men were like David Chase - to be wooed with a promise of ease and security?' His demands beat upon her with merciless clarity and all at once she was weeping, her hands against his breast, too tired and confused to fight him any longer. But there was no tenderness in the hard embrace of his arms. 'Stop crying. We haven't much time,' he said impatiently. 'Tell me, Lisa, are you daft enough to throw away a fortune, or did I only imagine I was beginning to take your cousin's place in your heart?', 'No, Charles, you didn't imagine it,' she said, her face still hidden. 'David was never real, as you are.' His arms were suddenly gentle about her, but he continued with the same merciless deliberation:

'Half the winter months we are cut off from the mainland; there's little money to spare beyond the needs of my people, and except for rare guests to the castle there will be no company for you on the island Other than my own. Is that any sort of exchange for gaiety and the loss of a fortune?' She tried to smile through her tears. 'You aren't offering very much, are you, Culoran?' she said. 'David, too, never said he loved me.' He took her face between his hands and his eyes for the first time were humble. 'My love is all I have to offer,' he told her. 'A love that was too proud to be bought and too great to stand in your way had you wanted another. Would that be enough for you as the years go by and you remember what you've given up to marry me?' It was so strange to see him a suppliant that Lisa touched his dark face with tender, uncertain fingers. 'More than enough,' she said simply. 'I'll be giving up nothing that matters to me - nothing that's brought me any real happiness. Charles - you do think of me as a - a woman, after all, don't you?' He drew her closer against him and this time his mouth was warm and reassuring on hers. 'You've always been a woman for me, Lisa even when you kicked my shins,' he told her with great tenderness. 'Don't be sorry that you are a child, too, for I think I'll always love the child the best. The tide has turned, sweetheart; the launch will be leaving soon.' 'Oh!' Dismay was in her voice as she pulled away from him. 'I'd forgotten about the launch - and David.'

He pulled her back to him and above her head his face was hard with determination. 'You're not leaving,' he said, and she was reminded of the first time she had met him, and the tone of his soft voice as he had said those same words to her. 'Am I your prisoner again?' she asked, and he replied with the old adamance: 'If you like to call it that. I'll not risk losing you in the distraction of the city. You'll stay here until Will Wallace marries us in the little kirk on the hill.' 'David may not agree,' she said provocatively, but he retorted with his last deliberate intention to administer a snub: 'Don't flatter yourself, my dearest. The quicker you're married to me the quicker he gets his hands on your money. I think Mr. David Chase will be more than ready to discuss terms, after all.' Lisa was too happy to be hurt by David's willing fulfilment of this prophecy, but later, as she stood beside Charles on the jetty, watching the launch put out from harbour in the sunset, she knew her last little twist of pain. 'How odd to - to lose him so easily,' she said, watching the boat cross the path of the sinking sun leaving a furrow of rosy spray in her wake. Charles' arm was about her shoulders. 'He was never yours,' he told her with gentleness. 'Don't grieve far the disenchantment of childhood. The real things are here on Culoran.'

She smiled up at him, thinking how odd it was that the one time she could have left the island without restraint she had chosen to stay behind. 'I've burnt my boats this time, haven't I?' she said. 'Yes, you've burnt your boats. Have you regrets?' She did not answer but turned against his shoulder to look back at the island. A strange beauty lay upon Culoran. Morag rose with the dark richness of claret against the brilliant sunset, and mist was creeping from the hills to meet the distant fiery waters of Loch Dhu. The scent of peat fires mingled with the first sharp tang of frost, and the battered walls of the castle had a rosy softness in the evening light. Lisa turned back again to the sea, but the boat and David and the last brief link with the mainland had gone. She stood quite alone with Charles on the jetty, gazing at the emptiness of sea and sky. No man or woman or child had left their homes to watch with them. They knew with unfailing instinct that the island's affairs were settled. But somewhere in the stillness rose the music of the pipes, familiar yet infinitely strange in the solitude. Lisa listened, her blood beginning to tingle. It was an air which eluded her, possessing a sad, lilting spriteliness. 'What is he playing?' she asked Charles, and he smiled, that rare smile of unexpected charm, as he replied: 'Don't you know? It's "The Bonnie Bride O' Charlie." '