“A daughter, milord?”
In the drawing room, his wife and Jocasta were questioning the young lady about her trip from Scotland. At the young woman’s insistence that she never got seasick, Marsali glanced at the door where Jamie and Fergus stood watching, flashing a quick grin at her stepfather.
“Aye,” the man who was both father and best friend said, softly.
“And she is… Milady?”
“Is her mother, though it’s harder to see.”
“No, it is not. Not for someone who knows her well. She is from before… before Culloden?”
“Aye.” The pain was in his voice- that pain that always surfaced when those days were mentioned.
Fergus knew that his father had hated the war, preferred not to remember Charles Stewart and his disastrous rise and everything that it wrought, but he knew that the pain came from the loss of his wife rather than anything else that had happened in those years.
And, it now seemed, his daughter.
“Did you know? At the battle?”
“I sent her away because of it. I… I never thought they had made it but I always prayed…”
Fergus had heard him, though he had not known what he had heard. In those horrible days just after the battle as he had lain feverish and delirious, crying out for Claire in the grip of nightmares, he had said often and often like a rosary, “Lord that she may be safe. She and the child.”
“But why would you wear breeks like a lad?” Marsali was asking.
“They’re more practical,” Brianna said in that odd accent that Fergus could not place. “Skirts are impossible to ride in, and they bunch up and trip you and… why wouldn’t I wear breeks?”
Fergus couldn’t help smiling. “Oui, she is Milady’s daughter, no doubt of that.” He clapped a hand on his father’s shoulder, “Félicitations pour la naissance de votre petite fille! We should have brandy to celebrate.”