City Of Discoveries — Episode 37

“Good afternoon, all,” Mrs Tweedie said and took up a chair alongside Mrs Logan in the suffrage office.

Hetty had gone straight there after her talk with Souter.

“How is the bairn doing?”

“Thriving, thank you, and Patricia is well. In fact, I think I can leave them to the care of the nanny every day from next week.

“So, Miss Wilson, you’ll be able to devote your attention to sorting out your own affairs before your move to Edinburgh.”

“I think we will miss you very much, Miss Wilson,” Jennet said with the shyness that masked her determination and strength.

“The position Mr Webster has recommended you for is very exciting, and I hope that you’ll write to tell us how things go.”

“We are going to miss you,” Mrs Tweedie agreed. “Do you know yet how many young ladies have agreed to try for the chemistry classes at the university?”

“No, not yet. Mr Webster thinks the house needs to hold between six and ten. I’m going to be there in advance of their matriculation, of course, and to start with I’ll live with Mr Webster’s sister.”

Hetty still found these details of a new career quite amazing.

“I am so pleased to think that a woman might become a doctor,” Mrs Logan said as she studied a letter from the pile. “Maybe, in time, it will put paid to this sort of a

man . . .”

She read out the letter.

“‘How can this great country produce the calibre of man needed to rule our overseas territories if the ballot box is to be ruled by women?

“‘It is, after all, an established fact that the female brain will always give way to the dictates of the female heart . . .’”

“What I hope is that every female brain has seen him coming and ordered their hearts to take flight,” Mrs Logan said. “He’s a regular correspondent.

“I wonder if he believes that repetition of the same argument will convince us?”

Hetty and Jennet left the office together as dusk was gathering and walked back towards the land where Jennet and William had their room.

There was a large group of sailors milling about in addition to the usual crowds who thronged the streets at this time of day. It made walking slow.

“I did laugh at that letter Mrs Tweedie read out to us, but sadly it shows much of the thinking we have to mould before the cause makes progress,” Hetty said.

She turned to Jennet, intending to ask her about Drew Fleming, but was shocked to see how white the girl had become.

“My dear, are you unwell?”

“Not exactly,” Jennet said, and drew herself up to walk on. “There’s William.”

Hetty lifted her head and saw William Marshall entering the close ahead of them.

Suddenly other shadows peeled off the wall to one side and rushed in behind, attacking him with raised sticks.

Jennet screamed a warning which William would hardly hear, but it alerted some of the sailors to what was happening and a couple rushed forward to help him.

Hetty put an arm around Jennet and supported the girl as they moved towards the close mouth.

There was a great stooshie by now, with more of the sailors arriving to help their fellows.

“Grab that lass,” one of them shouted to his mate. Hetty saw a sailor grip the skirts of a woman who was wriggling her way out of the mêlée.

She came crashing on to the flags with a dreadful screech and kicked out at the sailors who were pinning her down.

As the men moved back Hetty and Jennet could see along the close to where William was lying.

He was very still.

“William!” Jennet screamed, and pulled away from Hetty, who picked up her heavy skirts and ran behind.

Alan Spink

Alan is a member of the “Friend” Fiction Team. He enjoys working closely with writers and being part of the creative process, which sees storytelling ideas come to fruition. A keen reader, he also writes fiction and enjoys watching football and movies in his spare time. His one tip to new writers is “write from your imagination”.