Her smile became a puzzled frown as she turned her head to the window and realized that, although it was nearly dusk, hundreds of torches were lighting the bailey. "Is something wrong?" she asked, recalling the way torches had been lit the night her father had first come to Claymore.

Royce reluctantly left his son and went over to the window, then he crossed to her bed. "They're still praying," he said, looking slightly confused. "I sent your aunt down there to tell them all is well. She must have been waylaid." Ruefully he added, "Considering the way I ran from the chapel when she came to get me a few minutes ago, they aren't likely to believe her in any case."


Smiling, Jenny raised her arms to him, and Royce understood. "I don't want you getting cold," he warned, but he was already leaning down, lifting her from the bed, fur coverlet and all. A moment later, he carried her out onto the parapet.

In the bailey below, the smithy pointed to the parapet and called out. The prayerful and the tearful slowly stood up, their smiling faces turned up to Jenny, and suddenly the air was split with deafening cheers.

Lifting her hand in a reassuring wave, Jennifer Merrick Westmoreland looked down upon her people, and none of them found her wanting. They cheered louder as her husband lifted her higher and closer to him, and it was obvious to anyone watching that the duchess of Claymore was greatly loved by all whom she loved.

Jenny was crying as she smiled back at them. After all, it's not every day a woman is given a kingdom of dreams.

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