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18. The Black Sail
 Kelpie awoke from a dream in which she was trudging along beside a loch against blinding rain. She blinked a little as she remembered that she was back at Inverlochy Castle—the same place she and Mina and Bogle had spent the first night after leaving Glenfern. She shivered a little, partly at the memory of Mina and Bogle, and partly from cold. Hugging the stolen cloak and her old plaidie about her, she hurried down the tower stairs and out to the central court, where Morag Mhor and the other women were preparing breakfast.
“Slugabed!” Morag greeted her, and Kelpie grinned cheekily, knowing all about Morag’s pretended fierceness by now. There were more men than ever to feed, since the Glencoe MacDonalds and the Stewarts of Appin had joined, and Kelpie was glad that they were in friendly Cameron country, where it was safe to build fires and they
 could have hot porridge. She had got heartily tired of a diet of oatmeal mixed with cold water. She looked thoughtfully up at Ben Nevis, which looked larger and more lowering under its quilt of snow than in the green and tawny blanket of summer, and realized suddenly that she had had enough of army life.
Rab paused by the fire to sniff the oatmeal hungrily and announce that he thought he would just go out and lift some cattle for breakfast. He chucked Morag Mhor under the chin as he said it, and received a sound clout on the ear as a reward. “Ouch!” he exclaimed, making a great show of nursing his ear. “You will ever be bullying me, Morag avic, and I a poor helpless man at your mercy.”
Kelpie giggled, and Morag shook her fist at the other ear. “This is the day we go to ask Lochiel and the Camerons to join us, and you would be lifting their cattle! Amadan!”
Rab began explaining that they didn’t really need the Camerons at all, but Kelpie stopped listening, for she was thinking that this would be a good time indeed to leave the army. She had had enough of battles. Just a few miles up the Great Glen was the pass that led to Glenfern. Would she be welcome there? Surely Ian would remember that she had warned him against Alex, and so would forgive her for running away and leaving him struck down and half dead. Would he and his father join Montrose? she wondered. Or would Lochiel dare to raise his clan?
She turned to Morag Mhor, who had sent Rab, protesting, out to the river for more water, and was now vigorously stirring the porridge. “Lochiel would be daft to call out his clan,” she suggested. “With his grandson in Campbell hands, he could not dare.”
Morag thought about it for a while, her lean face still and expressionless. “There was a wise woman in our village long ago,” she said at last, “who used to say to me, ‘Always dare to do what is right,’ and I am thinking Lochiel will say the same. Would you understand that, Kelpie?”
“No!” said Kelpie forcefully and scowled. Ewen Cameron himself had used those same words. So here again were those ideas that she did not want to think about. She set her small face into a hard mask and dropped the subject. “I am thinking I have had my fill of armies and battles,” she announced. “I will stay behind when you go up the Great Glen, and perhaps go to stay with friends here in Lochaber.”
“Well, then, and a blessing on you,” said Morag. “May you find a home for your bones and your spirit—though I think you will never stay in one place for long. I’m thinking I’ll go back to Gordon country myself soon. No doubt there are orphans left by the Campbells who would be needing a mother.”
Kelpie followed the army as far as Lochiel’s home at Torcastle, curious to see whether ............
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