“You are a Scotsman?” Lord Leicester asks of the clockmaker.
“Sir, yes, that is my heritage, but I have never been to the northern lands.” John Anderson has good reason to avoid Scotland. He did not want to risk the traditional time-travel-paradox that he might somehow extinguish the life of an ancestor – and thus, his own life.
“But, you do know the way?”
The accidental time traveler, John Anderson, has set out to save Mary Queen of Scots from the executioner’s ax. Jerked from his life as an English history professor into the 16th century, John begins his plot by persuading Mary toward choices that he believes will guide her away from the political perils of the time period. However, history refuses to be rewritten. As the deadline approaches, John is forced into deeper roles within Scotland’s violent political and religious strife.
This story uses the narration of the time traveler to delve deeply into the actual life adventures of Queen Mary as the book explores the religious-political-sexual motives and interactions of Mary’s varied nemeses. And then there is the twist.
During the summer, daylight came at an early hour to the northern latitudes. Most of Ruthven’s men were youthful Scottish lads clad in their plaids and bearing short swords. However, the portion of those that formed the core guard around the Queen were professional soldiers wearing metal armor and helmets. Armed with long swords and pikes, they sat rigidly in their saddles. Few of this collection of men had ever seen the Queen before, much less had they ever been in her presence. They gave her rapt attention and honors as she mounted her horse dressed as a man in traditional Scottish garb. With a stern face and a pistol in her belt, her aura alone commanded the men. The lank boyish Darnley looked juvenile and weak as he rode beside her dressed in his plain traveling clothes. John was grateful that the fast pace of the ride made it impractical for Melville to converse with him.
However, the pace slowed as the group wound through the rocks south of Dron. Melville took the opportunity to state to John, “I see the marks of one of your dreams upon this drastic change of plan. Would you tell me what the Queen knows of your dreams?”
John thought for a moment and answered, “It is for the Queen to tell you what She wants you to know.”
Moray’s plan would have him waiting for them in the woods along the southwestern edge of Lock Leven with the intention of taking up the chase after they passed. Andrew Leslie, Earl of Rothes, was to be waiting further south near Lockore blocking the road at Paran-Well with the intention of capturing Mary and Darnley between the two forces. Rothes was the brother-in-law of James Hamilton of Finnart who had murdered Darnley’s grandfather. However, Mary’s armed troupe passed these locations unmolested long before Moray’s opposing forces assembled in their positions.
*John Anderson recognized the passing countryside because in the 21st Century he had seen a monument detailing this event at Paran-Well, where the Great North Road winds between Lockore and Kelty. As John rode past the location where the marker would be placed, he suddenly realized that it was not his purpose to change the course of history, but rather it was his purpose to push events along the path that was required. *