Anne spied the ship from the window above the water pump. Her heart leapt at the sight. Would she finally be free?
Free from what? A warm home, plentiful food, happy and loving children? Her dear Robert?
Her mind raced as her thoughts collided. This was what she had prayed for, wasn’t it? It had been quite some time since she prayed to return to the sea. Her life at River Terrace was not easy, but it was pleasant. And though he didn’t know it, and probably never would, she was in love with Robert McMillan, with his whole brood.
She watched as the ship dropped anchor. A rowboat was lowered to the water just as the outside door to the kitchen flew open.
“Anne, pirates,” Evan breathed.
“Aye, I see them. Go fetch your brothers and sister and take them to the cellar.”
“No,” he protested. “I am the man of the house now. You will take them to the cellar. I’ll stay here.”
Anne saw the fear in his eyes even as he straightened his spine and tried to look like the man he was becoming.
“Evan, go fetch the others quickly. We don’t have time to squabble. I might,” she faltered and looked away. “I might know how to reason with them.”
Evan looked at her for a moment before turning to go. He hesitated and looked back. “It’s true then, aye? You were one of them?”
“There’s no time for prattle. Go, now.”
Evan nodded and hastily went to fetch the others. Anne watched the men climb from the boat onto the shore as she listened to the children hurrying into the cellar. She breathed deeply, wringing her hands, and tried to think of what she would say and do.
“Are you going with them?” Robert asked quietly from the doorway. Anne turned to face him.
“My life is here now. I do not wish to go…” She let the sentence trail off as she looked away.
“But they might insist,” he finished the sentence for her.
“The children are in the cellar. Perhaps you—”
“Don’t. I’m not hiding in my own house.”
Anne nodded before reaching for the guns above the fireplace. She handed the rifle to Robert and kept the pistol for herself.
“This one is for distance. It would be better if I held the—”
“No,” Anne said. “You keep back. I will talk to them.” She hid the pistol under her apron and opened the door. Squaring her shoulders, she went out into morning sunlight to meet the visitors.