With a creak, the door opened to reveal a young teenage boy of about sixteen years. Duncan stepped aside with a small bow and Ian stepped forward with a smile on his face.
My lady, you look considerably better after freshening yourself. Do sit down, he offered, pointing to a chair opposite Malcolm, who sat with arms crossed over his chest, staring.
Heavens, Malcolm thought, she was lovely, and the scent of her! The perfume of roses from her bath wafted through the room over the usual stale odor that permeated the air. No wonder men were distracted by women! The blue dress deepened the color of her eyes to the blue of the sea. Her chin was lifted in a gesture of defiance. Obstinate sort of woman, headstrong, they could all see that. Malcolm fleetingly wondered about her smooth, soft lips and pouting mouth; would they taste as good as they looked? Her hair! It tumbled down her back like a copper waterfall. And her breasts! Heavens, he could see their outline through her dress. She was the bonniest lass he had seen in years.
With a start, Malcolm shook his head. Women were trouble, and the faster he dealt with this one, the better.
My lady, said Angus softly. Rebecca turned to study him. Gnarled hands in lap, swollen joints, and contracted fingers. The poor man must be in terrible pain, the sympathetic nurse in her taking over. Briefly, she wished she could examine the deformed fingers.
We welcome you to Glenelg, he continued, with a regal acknowledgment, bowing his head.
Thank you, she whispered graciously to the frail man.
Ahem, interrupted Malcolm. You have been well looked after? he inquired.
Now then, continued the laird, there remains the puzzle of who and what you are?
Oh, please, weve been through this already today, and I truly am so tired, I just want to go home.
The men all looked at each other.
Rebecca, said Ian, kneeling beside her, youve told us home is down the road, but there is no Rockport, nor anyplace a few miles down the road. Perhaps we should start by you telling us a bit about yourself, what is your full name, for instance.
Rebecca Elizabeth Gould, answered Rebecca calmly, feeling as if she were in a court of law, and being sworn to give testimony.
Thats fine, said Ian, continuing in the same quiet, almost hypnotic voice. And when were you born?
Oh I get it, theyre trying to see if Im oriented to time and place because of the head injury.
December 19, 1972, she replied without hesitation. There, now theyll see I know who I am and all the other personal details. A triumphant smile crossed her face. The three men again all looked at each other; Duncans jaw dropped.
Born in December, Angus mumbled, stubborn, headstrong, reckless. Those born under the elder tree are impetuous, but excellent healers, he added for the benefit of the others. Malcolm however, was not interested in Celtic astrological information and intended to deal with Rebecca directly.
Who was Neil Armstrong? asked Malcolm gruffly.
The first man on the moon. Easy questions, Ill be home anytime.
Old Angus nodded in satisfaction. The Armstrongs always were clever, tis no small wonder. Lassie, what are the golden arches?
For a second, Rebecca was puzzled. Realization suddenly dawned as the answer came to her mind.
Oh, you mean McDonalds? she replied. Again the three men looked at her and at each other.
Duncan looked on interested, but still uncertain of exactly what the fairy was talking about.
Once again, Angus spoke. Who would believe Nialls descendants would open eating taverns and become wealthy enough to erect arches of gold? he marvelled.
Ian pulled up a chair and took Rebeccas hand in his. Malcolm stood nearby, his face ghostly pale.
Whatever can be wrong with them, thought Rebecca, I know I answered correctly.
Rebecca, Ian spoke in a whisper, what year is it?
1999! Halloween 1999. What on earth is the matter with them all? They all look so peculiar!
Nay, Rebecca, Malcolm said, tis not 1999. It is 1312 in the year of our L-rd.
Rebecca stared at him. Are you all mad? Do you allow him to go on thinking such nonsense? Where are the doctors in this institution? Who does he think he is?—MacBeth?
Tis not nonsense, my lady, and I am not MacBeth. The MacBeths are all at Cawdor Castle, their family seat, while you are among the Macleod clan, Malcolm whispered. Try to listen. We have some experience in these matters. We dont know how it happens, but you left your own time and came to be in ours. Twas exactly the same with Crawford; he had no understanding of how it happens either.
It had been a very long day. Rebecca had all she could stand. She couldnt bear any more of their delusional rantings. She neither knew nor cared who Crawford was. Rising from the chair, she was about to stride out the door and walk right out of this loony bin. All four men watched her intently, but made no move to stop her. Except for Duncan, who still was confused, they all knew she had nowhere to go. With a sweeping look around the room, Rebecca fought off the undeniable fact this was no movie set; no sequel to Braveheart.
Mel Gibson was not about to exit a dressing room. Gene Kelly and a chorus line of dancers and singers were not bursting into a lively rendition of Brigadoon. No make-up and costume people hovering nearby, no camera or director pointing at them. The clothes, the furniture, the castle were all too realistic for props. The most convincing evidence of all was the people; the smells of unwashed bodies, the revolting hall floor. Foul, rotting teeth in many of the smiling mouths, the matted, dirty hair all pointed to one absurd conclusion.
Could it be true? Could this be the explanation? It sounded crazy!
Turning around and facing the men, Rebecca took the only course of action left at the end of the worst day of her life—she proceeded to swoon.