Far From The Island – 13


“When do I get to meet this man of yours, then?” Fiona asked Ella as they sat down to their customary Saturday afternoon tea at Miss Cranston’s Tea Room in Argyle Street.

The first time Ella had brought her here, Fiona had felt completely overwhelmed by the quiet elegance of the surroundings and patrons alike. Now, however, thanks to Ella’s careful supervision of her wardrobe, which included two new skirts with deep ruffles, several blouses with the requisite leg-o-mutton sleeves, and even a smart, tight little jacket, Fiona felt quite at home. She’d been shocked at the notion of two ladies taking tea in public without a male escort, but at Miss Cranston’s the ladies had their own salon, and no-one batted an eyelid.

Ella helped herself to a fruit scone, and frowned over the choice of two jams, opting eventually for raspberry.

“John is very busy. I hardly see him myself these days. Aren’t you going to have a scone, Fiona?”

Fiona shook her head.

“They just don’t taste the same when they’re not made on a griddle,” she said, though she wished she’d bitten her tongue when she realised how homesick the words must have sounded.

“You’re missing Heronsay,” Ella said.

“It’s to be expected, I suppose.” Fiona took a sip of tea. “Don’t get me wrong, Ella, I am not regretting coming to Glasgow, and I’m so grateful for all you’ve done.”

“But?”

Fiona laughed.

“Och, it’s daft really. I miss the moors. And the beach. And the smell of the sea. And being able to walk without always watching where I go in case I bump into someone. I miss being able to cross a road without thinking I’m going to die before I reach the other side! I had a letter from Morag the other day, too. Reading between the lines, I think Canada’s not quite the brave new world she’d hoped for. Or maybe it’s just too new. She’s only been there for a couple of months, after all.”

“And you’ve been in Glasgow less than that,” Ella said, topping up the teapot from the hot water jug and casting her eyes over the tiered cake plates once more. It never failed to amaze Fiona how much her slender cousin could eat. “How are things at the Cunninghams’? Victoria told me that Roddy’s been causing ructions. Something to do with horseless carriages. I hope that’s all he’s been causing ructions about.”

Fiona had been rather more frank with Ella than Francis on the subject of Roderick Cunningham.

“He just won’t take no for an answer, Ella. He’s all hands and smiles, and I simply can’t abide him,” she said with a shudder.

“You’re going to have to say something to Mrs C.”

Fiona shook her head firmly.

“I can’t. You know what she’s like – she won’t believe me.”

“More likely she’ll say it’s your fault,” Ella said dryly.

“Goodness, you’re right. I never thought of that.”

“You’ll just have to keep out of his way, then.”

“Easier said than done.” Fiona added a splash of milk to her cup. “You’ve done it again. I asked you about your Mr Harrison, and you’ve changed the subject. Is there something wrong?”

“No. Not at all. I don’t think so . . .” Ella began to cut her slice of Dundee cake into slivers before pushing her plate to one side without eating a crumb.

If Ella wasn’t eating her favourite cake, there was something very wrong.

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 aspiring tip to new writers is to “write from your imagination”.