The Linnet's Wings :Take All My Loves, My Love - Page 77

The Linnet´s Wings Dreadful shooting accident, who’d have thought, well, it happens, for all that, it happens, when guns are abroad. And a boy still in mourning for his recently deceased father is maybe not such a reliable shot as he might otherwise be. Such a dreadful year for the Murrays. But there again, these things happen, don’t they? I knew it would be no more than fifteen minutes at most before the man I wanted to come into view did so. I had no intention of giving way to weak, irresolute reflections, but what then happened is something I have never really been able to categorise. Did he appear behind me, Dougal Murray in his prime, pale and shadowy like a phantom apparition? No, he didn’t. Did his voice come echoing down the hill at me, calling out like some lost spirit? No, it didn’t. The appa- ration was all in my mind, and the voice like a disembodied whisper which communicated ideas without having to articulate them in so many precisely defined words. Be aware. Stuart saved my life several times, as I saved his. Be aware. He loved your mother almost as much as I did, and he gave way because she chose me. Be aware. Once in a blue moon, harnesses fail; invisible deterioration, hitherto unrealised missing internal part, untraceable consequences of exposure to extreme climate conditions. Remember. Violence and vengeance are a downward spiral, kill or be killed, until, like the mightiest and proudest eagle, your own fall will come. Remember. The eagle’s blood is still on your hands, human blood is about to follow, and soon, inevitably, your blood will be on someone else’s hands. Remember. Your mother’s heart has been broken once; breaking it again will finish her for ever. Remember. You have almost discarded two people, your lover and your brother, who care for you deeply; you are about to break their hearts as well. Remember, Dun- can, remember. These things are true, and you know them to be so. The words, sentiments, assertions, were invisible, but they were not there in my head because of my own independent consciousness. Someone external to me put them there. I found myself looking round me, ridicu- lously, for someone, anyone, who was in my vicinity. Nothing but the air, the sky and the braying conversation of well-bred voices, growing gradually louder. I was confused and disturbed to the point of being unable to move. I heard Uncle Stuart and his companions passing, followed by volleys of shots heading over the hill. I stayed exactly where I was, frozen to total immobility. And then I fell asleep. I woke, with an awareness of having been somewhere without knowing where it was. It was cold and getting on for dark; there still, ridiculously, seemed to be a gun across my lap. I made my way back to the imposing, ex-castle of the Lessiters, feeling strangely as if I’d just been released, like a penal sentence had been served. And near the front entrance, amongst all the SUVs and jeeps, was a more modest vehicle I recognised, a bright little orange Fiat which, however gloriously out of place it looked, meant more to me than all the rest of the vehicles on show put together. Josie was there in the house, and so was my broth- er James, both of them avowed non-shooters, but both of them expressing their anxiety for me, leading them to concoct their plan to intercept me here and find out just what was going on. What followed was one of the great nights of my life. The beast had lifted from my back, and suddenly the person I was had reasserted himself. And half way through the evening, I found myself sitting next to Uncle Stuart, there in the enormous foyer of the place, when whoever he had been talking to left him to get another drink or something, at the same time as my conversation with my intriguing cousin soon to be stepsister Alison, now climbing partner to James, stopped when a friend came to talk to her. We were both well mellowed with good food and drink, and I found myself looking him straight in the eyes, re- 77