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Elena's uncle proposes slavery to solve her problems
Any man would."
"Thank you for the kind words, Thorburn. I do appreciate them. I wish things were different as I would be lucky to be a part of your family. You're all unique, but very kind. Most folks would not take in a woman in my circumstances, nor worried over much about the people McTavish neglected. I will forever be indebted to you all and I love you more than my own family, like brothers or sisters, but I'm afraid that is all it will ever be."
"Good night, Isobel."
"Good night, Thorburn."
She left his room and as she walked past Stuart's and Ailene's room she heard them talking, a low murmur of voices filled with joy and laughter. It would be nice to share so much love and affection with another person. They must have come up while she was speaking with Thorburn. Likely, Frang was also in their room. God! How she hated that room. There were so many horrible memories associated with it. She paused before the door, sighing. Any room but this one, she thought. She knocked and waited for his "enter", then opened the door.
Frang was lying in bed, the sheet pulled over him. She looked toward the fireplace and saw a tub filled with hot water and a foot stool with her fencing clothes folded neatly on top. More surprising still, there was a large screen between the tub and the bed, allowing her a modicum of privacy to bathe and dress. She knew McTavish had nothing like it in the house and she helped monitor the loading of the Cameron wagons and knew nothing like it had come with them.
"I hope you don't mind," Frang said, "but I thought you might like a warm bath before bed. It's been a hard day filled with danger and work. I thought it might relax you."
"I'd love one, but where did you ever get this screen?" Isobel asked.
"After it was determined we'd be sharing this room. I thought you might like some privacy. I had McTeague see to the building of it. It's pretty rough. There was no time to do much more than throw some boards together. I wish it was nicer, but it should do the job for which it's intended."
"Frang, thank you. What makes it beautiful is the thought behind it. I'd love a bath and that you would have this built for me so quickly was exceedingly considerate. It's wonderful."
"Hurry, while the water is still hot. I didn't put more water to heat on the fire as you wouldn't have anyone to pour for you, unless I did it. It's clear to me you'd prefer me not doing it."
"Aye, I'll hurry."
She disappeared behind the screen and a few moments later he heard the water splash as she climbed in. There was a contented sigh as she sank into the warmth and Frang smiled. I did something right, he thought.
Isobel found some French milled soap scented with lavender beside the tub. It smelled heavenly, and was so soft against her skin. She quickly soaped and rinsed, and while the water was still hot, sank back against the back of the tub and let the weariness flow from her body. It would be so easy to fall asleep, but then the water would get cold and she'd be chilled, so she enjoyed it for no more than five minutes before climbing from the tub. She dried off, put on her fencing clothes and came to the bed. Frang was on his side facing away from her, and he appeared to be sleeping. She pulled back the covers to climb in and found his dagger on the pillow. Smiling, she set it on the floor and got into bed. She kissed the back of his head and lay back on the pillow.
The walls were horribly thin and in the next room she heard Stuart and Ailene engaged in sexual congress.