“A Guid New Year Tae Yin and A'” echoed through the Hall; “Huzzah!” cried Daphne, “Magnificat,” trilled Maude, as Detective Inspector Gordon Brevity became the First Foot at Aunty Christ's Melrose Home – tall and dark and carrying a coal briquette in one hand and a bottle of the finest amber liquid in the other, somehow managing an impression of maladroit naivety which belied his superlative abilities as a juggler; “this is truly a sign that the Year of Our Lord 2016 shall be the wondrous annus mirabilis Thomas the Rhymer predicted; you are familiar with the prophecies, Gordon?” “oh, yes, Aunt Daphne, in fact I have here a gift for Aunty Christ's Library, Elizabeth Burton's The Life and Times of Thomas of Ercildoune: The Rhymer, which I noticed on my last visit was one she didn't have,” “well, that is great prescience on the part of the most brilliant detective in Edinburgh, since Mr McLevy,” said Goldy, his wife, who had just put her head round the door, “come in, me beloved, before we all die of diphtheria!”
“Aha!” said Tavish, “you have already explained, dear Bernie, that you were following Duncan Doubleday, on that particular watchnight, because your cousins Dixie and Bunty had rescued Martin Elginbrod's two Sex Slaves and were aware that Doubleday was a confederate of Elginbrod's and was himself – not in his capacity as Deputy Chief Constable, but rather as a member of the same Paedophile Ring and confederate, in the same way as his ancestor Dominic Doubleday was to his Master, Sir Parlane MacFarlane, of Elginbrod's; he may be an evil man, he is an evil man, of that there is no doubt, but he is also an experienced Police Officer, acknowledged for his probity, with a long and distinguished career, so he would be well aware that he was being followed; by, the by, my dear, did you notice that he was also being followed by two other young women, one of them a cousin of yourself and the Twins?” and Bernie looked startled, and tried to cast her mind back to that fateful day; she had been placed at the Cockburn Street exit from The City Chambers, Dixie and Bunty at other doors, for none knew which way he would come out – he had been followed into the building by one of the Shottstown Ladies Quick Draw Club, who had alerted those in the vicinity so that all possible exits were covered like a reticulate dragnet; he had crossed over to The Malt Shovel and she remembered two women, one took a seat at a table outside while the other went in and stayed in for a while, then Doubleday had emerged and she had fallen in step behind him, but had she herself been followed? she could not recall; he had entered the Station and entered the waiting passenger lift and she had followed him in – the rest was dark and she did not want to remember, but someone had found her, had known her name, and that someone's quick thinking had brought the Paramedics who saved her life and, “Oh My God!” cried Bernie, her hand to her mouth, “it was Teri – Teri Somerville!” “yes,” said Tavish softly, “I do believe that you owe Theresa for your life, and that is a debenture it is never possible to redeem save through the actions which you perform subsequently,” and Bernie turned her tear-streaked face to him and nodded: “I understand – we must discover what Doubleday wanted to keep hidden and why he tried to kill Tammy and I, and who else is in this Ring of which you spoke!”
“It was at the Spring Gaudy,” began Tavish, then remembered that life for University women might not be the same as for men, so explained: “the Gaudeamus, for Men of the College; anyway – that's when I first noticed this Doubleday; he was attached to Elginbrod, the Advocate's son, or should I say the son of the then Advocate, for the Son is now the Father, and he is now the Advocate; anyway Doubleday seemed like an appendage, an arbuscle; and I wondered if he had crept out of a wormhole, from some other time and place, for in bearing and manner he was like some Mediaeval Squire, belonging to a Knight – though don't get me wrong, he displayed great probity; never drank alcohol so far as I know, he joined the Edinburgh and Leith Police as soon as he graduated, and pounded the Beat down Leith Walk and through Salamander Street and The Docks; your boots turn white with salt there and they are a devil to buff up to the Sergeant's satisfaction, but Doubleday was nothing if not hard-working; he applied himself, earned his stripes, went into CID, made Inspector, then Onwards and Upward till he became Deputy Chief Constable, would have been CC the following year, when old Dougal MacDougal was due to retire, but then some bugger came up with the idea of a Unitary Force - and there you have Police Scotland; an outsider parachuted in and Doubleday bangs his head on the glass ceiling as DCC with not a hope in hell of getting the top job, in His Toon; ah, but it would make any man bitter, but one who's already on the Outside because of his proclivities? whose closest associate shares those proclivities and is probably the richest man in Edinburgh, though few would guess it” and when Tavish paused, Bernie seized the moment – and asked him directly: “what is the connection with us, Tavish, spit it out!”
As he let himself out of the ground level door, Sir Parlane MacFarlane emerged into a night so stelliferous that, even in the narrow close which ran down to the stews of the Cowgate, everything was exposed with a clarity unusual in the smoky town, already earning it's nickname of Auld Reekie; keeping his cloak wrapped around and half covering his face, just in case a party of The Watch with a mittimus for his arrest should catch him abroad, he turned onto The High with it's roof line having the embrittlement of carious teeth, against the brilliance of the starlight behind, and was just stepping around a puddle, from which the Moon shone up at him, when a petulant hand plucked at his sleeve: “why if it isn't my Lord MacFarlane, looking for a Doxy to warm yer loins on this cauld nicht?” and he turned towards the speaker – one of the whoors who plied her trade at night, where the Merchants' and Lawyers' wives came Marketing by day, and he smiled at the thought that Commerce kept no trading hours, only the goods for sale changed: “if it isn't Velvet MacCaroon?” he peered closer, into the shadowed face, half-hidden by a hood; yes, there were the bright eyes, the whites brilliant against her black skin, and despite the exertions of earlier and the cauld which could freeze a man's balls off, he felt the usual stirring in his cod-piece, and moved closer to her: “I'd stop for no other street whoor but you, at this hour, Velvet, but I am short of time, so let's be quick – a silver three-pence for you to swallow me,” and Velvet took his hand and drew him into the close-mooth, and to a dark room, but one he knew so well that he quickly seated himself on the edge of her bed; she unfastened his britches and his member sprang into her practised hands, and as her lips closed around it, Sir Parlane lay back to enjoy the expert fathomings of her tongue, deciding to delay his orgasm for perhaps fifteen or twenty minutes, that she might well have to earn her coin with more energy than she would have expected, but he knew that it would certainly be worth it, for both of them!
As he disengaged himself from Griselda, who simply murmured in her sated slumber. Sir Parlane MacFarlane observed the kinesics he had become so adept at reading – the flush upon her cheeks, the flutter of her eyelids as the orbs within careered from side to side, the tiny movements of her lips in silent speech and the tiny dimples at the corners of her mouth as they turned up in smile; he knelt over her, gripping his erect Paternoster – the name given it by a lascivious Mother Superior after she had enjoyed it's wing-ding exultations within her vulva before the thrust it deeply and impaled her on it – ah, he fondly recalled Sister Succubus - the aptonym of the wench; but now he must take his leave and so he pumped his member for just that last few necessary strokes and – like Christening with Holy Water, anointed her beautiful face with a stream of his milky fluid, she hardly moved, but then her tongue slid out between the lips and lapped up what it could reach and a faint smile suffused her face and he could not resist a final kiss, in which he tasted his own sperm as well as the sweet taste of her lips: “adieu, my love, I shall return, for you are now one of mine,” he whispered, before leaving the bed and, by way of the stair-heid door, made his way oot o the Hoose.
Theresa snapped into action at the sight of a Border Security Officer attempting to take the baby into custody: that was the most extreme expergefacient possible – she grabbed the Old School Bell from her Aunt Christobal's kitchen shelf and, clanging it wildly to rouse the rest of the household from their Post-Christmas slumbers, launched herself like a showboat through the kitchen door and, grabbing the baby, tumbled the Officer to the grass (well, mostly mud now, she realised) and wheeched the infant into the house, placed it in a crate full of shredded newsprint ready for recycling on the kitchen table and relaunched herself into the melee, where she was quickly joined by an assortment of Aunts and Cousins, all spending the Festive Season as guests of Aunty Christ in Melrose, in the house that had formerly been a Church of Scotland School at the start of High Cross Avenue; the Border Security Officers, both he and she, slow and abdominous, unused to the kind of favonian whirlwind now overwhelming them, were augmented by two schoolboys dressed as Police Scotland Officers but lacking the inherent authority of the undisputed WPC Isa Urquhart, even in her pyjamas, and Sergeant Goldy Brevity, in a skimpy nightie (both of whom they recognised from recent news coverage and instantly deferred to) were no match for the Ladies of the Big Hoose and quickly dispersed; the three girls who’d been chasing down sheep escaped from the farm behind the BGH were in urgent need of cocoa (fortified, of course) as were the three Historians from Edinburgh Uni following certain Ley Lines which apparently cross on the Middle Eildon, and were quick to evaluate the situation and in no time, they had helped the group of refugees into the House – the sheep into the back green and the Professors' Range Rover parked at the Bus Stop by the gate; meanwhile, the new mother and her baby were tucked up in Daphne and Maud's bed; the other three families had been given rooms in which to rest, shown where bathrooms and toilets were, and Aunty Christ herself was preparing breakfast for everyone: “at least it's not the Five Thousand today,” she quipped as she broke several dozen eggs into a large bowl preparatory to scrambling them, while Teri and June were busy slicing and buttering home baked bread and Roxy and Trixie poured mugs of tea and coffee which they took into the dining room, into which chairs of all shapes and sizes had been requisitioned; several of the Syrian boys and girls were already playing dominoes, while others had discovered a floor version of snakes and ladders; they seemed to have recovered from the unfriendly welcome which had greeted the dawning of their first morning in The Scottish Borders, and Teri realised that the bright light had been a helicopter's spotlight pointing out their location to the Border Agency Officers who were following by car, and she determined to send a strongly worded letter to The First Minister, but instead, turned to her sweet cousin, Ginger Goldfish and asked her: “did you know anything of that?” and The First Minister shook her head vehemently, a cascade of reds, russets, rusts and oranges, “fat chance, Teri, when there's ony Nasty Business afoot, blame the Nasty Pairty and you'll not go far wrang – we'll write a letter to Davie MacCaroon as soon as this lot have some hot food inside them!”
Caffeine and Nicotine were Theresa's expergefacients of choice, but even before she gulped her first mouthful of Café Noir Espresso – two spoonfuls, twa 'n' a coo (work it out, I had to: Editor) – the scene outside the window which turned her vaguely recalled dream of activity on the lawn into something approaching hard fact, and belied all her lifelong beliefs and rationality, made her almost proverbial bonhomie drain out of her feet and left her cold and numb!
Whatever the expergefacient that had awakened her from her deep Wintertide slumber, with less than twenty minutes to her deadline and no likelihood of a miracle which would slow down or stop the clock, Theresa was only too aware of the distinct lack of munificence in the number of minutes and seconds still available to her so, with barely a curious glance at the crèche which had mysteriously appeared on the lawn outside her window, nor a moment's wonder at the strange people and animals milling around it – well, what she could see of them through the drifting snow, and the dazzling light from a star in the night sky – gritted her teeth, thought “what the fuck, if needs must,” and began to type.
In the aftermath of their coupling, her body wreathed with his, he watching the merrythought of her ribs rising and falling with her breath, he felt like a jayhawker who has stolen the prize of his career, and wondered – perhaps for the first time in his long list of conquests, what it felt like to be a woman won by man, by a man such as he, whose motto was that twisting of Caesar's epithet into Vidi, Vici, Veni; for he had no loyalty to one woman – God's Blood, he had a wife at home, wenches aplenty under his command, other men's wives and daughters queued and waiting for him to impregnate, even that fiendish Nun, Sister Evadne Eglantyne, chained in his oubliette and still to be punished for her denouncement of him (oh, he would enjoy planting his seed in her and watching his bastard swell her belly and ripen her breasts – but the time was not yet ripe) and her spirit not yet broken; and yet there was something foreign to him that he felt as he nibbled the earlobe of this one in whose bed he still lay, still entwined in her legs and arms, her face asheen with the sweat and semen he had covered it with, he lips swollen and bruised, her teeth white and sharp – he recalled the nip of them in his tongue and smiled, for she had spirit this one, and his member, still deep within her stirred, he could smell her virgin's blood which had soaked into the sheet under her and made his cocks-hair sticky; he began that move which he always loved the best, that slow and sensual rhythm, so very slow, almost imperceptible, which would lead him towards the best climax of the night – the after-fuck, which needed no force, no pressure, in which her sleeping form would respond without any conscious effort on her part, and his own organ gave without need for his control, and he closed his eyes, his lips found hers, his tongue kissed her own sleeping one and it was as if two dreamers blended into one, and he tried to remember where he was to be later, which of the two daughters of Sir Angus McFadden was to be deflowered this night, and dallied with the notion of both twins in the same bed, when he might discover some otherwise hidden way of distinguishing them, and smiled as he anticipated their thirteen-year-old juice in his mouth – Doubleday may even make up a foursome, he thought, now that would put a smile on the old groaner's face, and why not?
And as he gently laid her down upon her bed, her face festooned with kisses, demonstrating his blatant, exorbitant, obsessional desire to possess her body and soul and that he was no pinchbeck libertine, no sciolist in the art and science of seduction, but rather the peak, the pinnacle, the throbbing ultimate in the pleasuring of womankind, she melted as all others before her had and the rest would follow, and while his tongue was still exploring her sweet scented and almond flavoured mouth, his fingers had deftly discovered her twin nipples and had her in thrall to their ability to send electric tingles from those swollen rosebuds right down through her abdomen to her vaginal mussels which swirled and, softly dewed, enabled his gondola's smooth passage deep into her Grand Canal where, his forward motion matching her lapping waves, she soon reached an ecstasy she had never thought possible, only to find herself taken further yet, rising upon an acqua alta of Venetian proportions until she crashed upon a silver strand and found herself, still clad in sodden garments, entangled in his limbs and impaled upon his engorged member as it pounded her into that numbed, dreamless sleep of the well and truly Fucked (editor's note: what a load of old cobblers!)!
And, just as Goldilocks had invited Doubleday to “do, if you please Sir, come again,” which he duly did, Mistress Griselda gave a little squeal and The Masked Intruder placed a fingertip to her very lips and begged her “hush! Mistress, this is no sunstead vidimus, you need fear not that I would ride rough-shod over your virtue and treat your irenic protestations as merely the cavil of a free woman lately become the property of he whose ring you wear upon your finger - pshaw! see – how easily you are liberated,” and so, in a trice, removing her Wedding Band from her finger and in the same quick movement casting it through the fortuitously open casement, where it was cleverly caught by a ragged urchin who by the greatest good fortune to himself just happened to be passing beneath and had looked up at the sound of Sir Parlane's voice, a voice he weel kent, for among the lesser classes of people in this teeming metropolis of some 8,000 souls - slightly more if you counted the slaves, and less if you discounted the newly dead – MacFarlane was revered as an alleviator of boredom and poverty and Wee Eck's boredom and poverty had both been well alleviated in the previous twa days 'n' nichts, during which he and a few others of his street-picking acquaintance, had been remunerated by Sir Parlane in order to contrive an accidental meeting between himself and The Lady Eudora, wife if a wealthy Fife Merchant who had recently purchased for himself a large and imposing Hall on The High, just two Wynds eastward and on the same side as The Maister Kilquhenny had his, and once the chance meeting had occurred as planned and the two lovers were locked in the embrace of True Lust, the three urchins had so distracted Sir Puffin Kingsman that the merchant's head was still reeling from the merry dance they had led him around and between the feet of business upon The High from morn till very late at nicht, going far above and beyond the necessary, for so much had they enjoyed their labours that they had persisted without instruction, until Sir Puffin had fallen in an apoplexy from which he did not recover, even though he was assiduously indulged, with no expense spared, as recounted in Tales of a Grandfather by Sir Walter Scott, first bearer of that illustrious name and much, much later descended from by another of that name who found his own fame and fortune made by his import, on three small and unwieldy tubs called Eshack, Meshack and Abednigo, of Nutmeg, Poppy and Ropeweed: three by-products which, when used irresponsibly, gave rise to such confushion in the heid 'n' boady that just at that moment when his wits were very much required to co-ordinate with his body he was sprawled face down in a noxious puddle from which he contracted various deadly ailments and died and has not yet been replaced, for at least two of his legitimate children are contesting this Last Will and Testament which leaves his entire estate to the child “kent as Itchy, though his true name be Archibald” currently lying through his teeth to the effect that he was not wanted, for various thefts and swindles, up and down the entire length of The High, from Holy Rood to the very gates of The Castle itself!
“Thon's a richt ticht ram-rod ye've got therr,” said Goldilocks, as Doubleday lay atop and deep within her small body, and she smiled and her honest and open features glowed with pleasure; “ye're muckle mair endowed than oor Maister, wha's but a quoz, a dry auld stick, tho' a richt rich yin, ye ken, an' nae gastronome; it's purrich, or gruel's aboot a' he sups oan, so oo dinnae fare ower better,” and Doubleday, separating her words, complete with apologetic apostrophes an English Editor might give them to make them appear mere contractions, seized on the one that had piqued his interest: “ye're a Teri, then, ma Dearie?” and she beamed, “hoo'd ye ken? whaur div 'ee cumfae?” and though he felt it rather invidious to draw attention to her dialect, lest she feel embarrassed about it, said: “you say oo, and I say we, I say you, and you say 'ee, I've always rather liked it,” and she squeezed her thighs and vaginal mussels tight around his Cock and said,”woo hoo, yoo hoo, gonnae gie's anutha doo hoo, noo hoo, “and he required no further invitation but began to fuck her properly, considering the first time as having been more of an introduction, a greeting, a howd'ee do, preparatory to a deeper and more intimate intercourse.
It was Thomas who spoke next, directing a question at Tavish: “when you used the term farrago to describe the confusing, contradictory and implausible accounts of Sir Parlane's escapades, what springs to my mind is a Gordian Knot from an apeirogon rope,” and Tavish applauded Learmonth's Geometrical wit; “'tis a shame, Master Thomas, that we have no fine Rhenish to toast Ercildoune's oenophile, but perhaps when you return home, you will make Rheims of these happenings?” and it was Bernie who simply said, “men! never happier than when they're in a punning contest, but I suppose it never Rhine’s but it pours, eh?” “touché, my dear,” acknowledged Tavish.
“First, then, Master Thomas,” said Tavish, his eyes holding Thomas Learmonth's in a steady gaze, “I must ak you if you know of Sir Parlane MacFarlane, a noble of the Scottish Court?” and the girls were surprised by Thomas' sharp intake of breath, and the strange hiss-like quality of his voice when he replied, “Master Tavish, I am not so hidebound as you may think me, but, even so, that name belongs to a man who is an abomination to The Lord and good society – though I am no Courtier myself, nor even truly pious, even I have heard of his reputation as a serial seducer who has fathered many bastards into the families of nearly every noble house in the country; how he has kept his head on his shoulders, I profess I am ignorant, save that he must have Royal Favours which protect him even unto the Kirk and the Courts of Law, but pray, what has he to do with this story of your own times?” and Tavish raised his hands as if to indicate surrender: “the story, so far as I can gather,” he said, turning to Bernie and Tammy as he spoke, “most of which I have gathered from your dear Aunts, Daphne and Maude, who are also cousins of mine, and who have cut through the farrago of lies, intrigues and misconceptions regarding him; Sir Parlane MacFarlane was an incorrigible libertine and he, and his Man, Dominic Doubleday – a direct ancestor of that Duncan Doubleday whose head you caved in, Tammy, if you will forgive the pun – were the first members of a kind of Secret Society, not connected with Witchcraft, or Satanism, nor indeed any brand of Religion, but with pleasures of the Flesh; it is true that MacFarlane specialised in the systematic seduction of noblewomen in his time, which was, is, I'm a little unsure of which tense we should use here, in this place, the same time as that of our friend master Thomas here; while Doubleday applied himself to the servant-girls of those same noblewomen; and Doubleday, whose own wife Marie was the regular bed-warmer for Sir Parlane on those nights he was at home – rather than Lady MacFarlane who was billeted in a small room among the servants' quarters, and preferred the company of her own sex anyway - had no interest in mature women, preferring his girls to be pre-pubescent and losing interest in them once they first menstruated, was part of a secret cabal which formed in the shadow of Sir Parlane, himself it's first President, and all the members, most of whom were dedicated to the same pursuits as Doubleday and which MacPherson himself had no disdain of wore that particular design of ring: I understand that there were only 12 made to the drawing of an Edinburgh Lawyer, Martin Elginbrod, a founding member of the circle, and his descendants have been in control of it right down to our own time – and Doubleday's off-spring, in Law if not necessarily by Blood have been involved ever since the start, too; there have been many prominent persons involved down through the centuries – it pre-dates the Masons and other secret societies and it's own secrets are very difficult to prise out into the open and no prosecutions of the Members have ever been successful, largely because of the eminence of many of them: these people have run Scotland for generations and have been used to having their own way, they see themselves as above the Law and it is hard to argue against that, when you know who they are; Kings, Moderators, Supreme Court Judges, Politicians, Captains of Industry, the leading Landowners, Cultural Icons – one way or another, they have always owned or managed this land and been able to crush anyone who has tried to act against them; I've been investigating them for thirty years and still don't have enough evidence which would be admissible in Court, even with Lord Justice Linkumdoddie on my side; but The Major and I have been getting very close, until Pherson, my twin brother – the bad apple in the Dalwhinnie basket – gave me a most deadly valediction, when he shot me outside the Borders General Hospital and I woke up here,” and he stopped, and seemed to be looking for a glass of Whisky to wet his whistle, but it hadn't been invented yet! and he glanced at Thomas, apologetically: “I may be telling this tale antispinward, Master Thomas; to the girls I am speaking of the Past, while to you it is the future, and I apologise for telling it 'erse furrit,' which I presume you understand,” and Thomas laughed, “och, aye, backside for'ard, it may be, Master Tavish, but clear enough for all that!”
Thomas sat back on his heels and stared at his friends: Bernie, Tammy and Tavish had recounted the events which had culminated in their arrivals in the Cavern; “I believe it is what is called a farrago,” he said, “and to be condemned to re-live it in your minds in perpetuity without understanding why these things happened is not conducive to an eudemonic existence,” and as they stared at him, he continued, “I'm sorry if I do not tiptoe around your tale, but it does seem to me that the other two patients who have come from your time hold the answers you seek, and perhaps that is why you and they are here,” he paused and looked at each of them for a moment: “I can appreciate why Tammy and Bernie should wish to kill this man, Doubleday, but don't you think that to do so without knowing why he did what he did to you would leave all your questions unanswered? and the other must be connected in some way, for they both wear an identical ring, which I have only seen once before,” and he turned to Tavish, “but you sir, I should imagine that it might signify something to you, or am I mistaken?” and Tavish looked Thomas straight in the eye and replied: “you are very astute Master Thomas, and correct; I have seen such a ring before and have an inkling of what it might be that links these two to others I have seen over the years,” and then Bernie and Tammy cried out: “tell us, tell us, you must if you can,” and Tavish dropped his gaze and stared at the dusty stone floor of the Cavern.
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