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.He was Park Ranger before me, remember? He told me about them.According to him, they’ve always lived in Arthur’s Seat.”“You’ve known about them all along, Dad?” Clara sat up, her eyes accusing.“And you never told us!”“Well, I didn’t know that you had anything to do with them, did I? And if I’d started talking about faeries living in Arthur’s Seat, you’d probably have thought I’d gone crazy!”“What happened, Dad?” asked Neil curiously.“They saved my life, that’s what happened.I slipped and fell down a cliff when I was bringing in some sheep.It was pitch black and there was a blizzard.I more or less knocked myself out when I fell and I’d have died in a snow drift if they hadn’t rescued me.I only came round when I was half way home and after what my father had said … well, I just knew it was them.Your mother thought I’d made my own way back but the truth is that they carried me.”“You should have told me, John,” his wife said sharply.“When I opened the door that night I thought I saw some people on the road outside.They had sheepskin jackets on, I remember, but I was so upset at finding you the way I did that all I could think of was getting you to the hospital.”“They must have been MacArthurs, then,” Clara nodded.“That’s what they wear — sheepskin jackets over leggings and tunics.”“All this, though,” interrupted her father, “doesn’t explain why you had to leave the house tonight and go up to the well!”“It was my fault, Dad.Clara didn’t want to come.”“But why, Neil? Why go in the first place?”“I told you.It was because of the MacArthurs.They’ve stopped coming out onto the hill and … well, I don’t know how to explain it, but there’s a strange atmosphere up there just now.”His father nodded.“I’ve noticed it too,” he admitted.“The animals are jumpy, the geese and swans have left the lochs and now there are those weird noises …”“Not only from the well,” asserted Neil, “but from other places too.Something’s going on inside the hill, Dad, and I’m worried about them.”“I don’t know whether to believe you or not,” muttered his mother, running her hands through her hair.“I’m sure they’re in trouble, Mum.I thought they might be coming out of the hill in the dark instead of the daylight.That’s why we went to the well!”“Tell me about the bird now,” said his father.“It was a horrible thing, Dad,” interrupted Clara.“It was as big as an eagle and had a beak like an eagle, but it was more like a vulture with horrible droopy feathers.And its claws!” she shuddered.“It would have attacked me if Neil hadn’t grabbed it!”“I think,” interrupted Neil, “that it got as much of a fright as we did.I don’t think it expected to see anyone at the well and it wanted to scare us off!”“It was a bird, Neil! You’re talking about it as though it were a person!”“I know,” agreed Neil.“But there was something about its eyes.I wonder if it really was a bird.”“You can never can tell with the MacArthurs,” Clara said, nodding seriously.“And on that note,” her mother said firmly, “I think we should all go to bed for what is left of the night!”4.The Great Whisky RobberyThe following morning, the mist still crept, thick and heavy, through the streets of Edinburgh, chilling its inhabitants as it billowed in from the sea.In the middle of town the solid bulk of Edinburgh Castle, perched on its massive rock, might well not have been there for all that could be seen of it.Despite the mist, the castle that morning was a hive of activity as preparations were in full swing for the most important event in its calendar: the Edinburgh Military Tattoo.In a rich, panelled room inside the castle itself, a committee meeting was just breaking up.“Well, gentlemen,” remarked its chairman, Lord Harris, slipping a pile of papers into his briefcase, “I think we can congratulate ourselves this year.We’re well ahead of schedule and apart from the moving walkways that the French are insisting upon, there doesn’t really seem to be much that’s problematic!” He looked round the table appreciatively.“I must thank you all for your hard work, gentlemen.It’s because of your individual skills and expertise that we’ve made such a good team.I’m sure that Sir James will agree with me.”Sir James Erskine who, as commentator for the Tattoo, had been invited to sit in on the meeting, nodded his head in agreement, as they packed up and moved towards the door.“Good heavens!” exclaimed one of the committee.“The mist is still hanging around! Let’s hope the weather is a bit better when the performances begin!”“Early days yet, Cameron,” replied Sir James.“Whatever the weather,” interrupted Lord Harris, “I’m sure you’ll sail through it all magnificently, James.Isn’t this your fifth year of giving the commentary? It must be pretty nerve-wracking for you up there in the commentary box.”“Yes,” agreed Sir James, “I enjoy it, but I must admit that there are times when I wonder why I ever volunteered for the job.If anything goes wrong it can be a nightmare! I always have a fund of stories ready in case I have to fill in any gaps.”“Where are these moving walkways for the French horsemen going to be installed?” Lord Harris asked as they reached their cars.“For the Spahis? Round about here,” Cameron indicated, “one on either side of the esplanade.Just a few yards from the audience.”“Is that wise having the horses so close to the crowds?”“The problem is space.Customs and Excise have a team of precision marchers and their leader … what’s his name …?”“Dougal MacLeod, isn’t it?” frowned Lord Harris.“That’s it, Dougal MacLeod.Yes, well, he said that they wouldn’t have enough room if the walkways were any closer.”Sir James smiled wryly.“He and Colonel Jamieson almost came to blows about it, I understand.MacLeod’s always been a bit of a stickler.Actually he’s due at the distillery today to make one of his inspections so I’ll be seeing him later.I’ll mention it to him, but he isn’t the most co-operative of people [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]