The End Of The Rainbow – Episode 01

Adam Gray stood on the steps of Glasgow’s School of Art, unable to move. A steady stream of students eddied round him, laughing, chattering and streaming through the double doors. But Adam was rooted to the spot, staring up at the bold new Rennie Mackintosh faade and nervously twisting his cap in his hands. He had worked so hard for this waited so long. Now he was sure that at any moment he’d wake up and find that it was, after all, a dream . . .Constance saw him as she alighted from her carriage. A solitary figure, tall, broad-shouldered, his blond hair shining in the early autumn sun. Tucking her brand-new leather portfolio under her arm, she ran lightly up the steps, stopping as she reached him and treating him to a curious glance.With a start, Adam became aware of her. At that moment, a playful gust of wind blew his cap out of his hands. Before he could react, his companion dropped her portfolio and pursued the cap, trapping it under one dainty foot. Adam, meantime, had picked up the portfolio.“I’ll trade you the cap for the portfolio.” She laughed, coming back to stand beside him.And all Adam could do was smile at one of the prettiest girls he’d ever seen. A girl with wide, inquiring eyes of grey and pale, abundant hair escaping from a pert little beret.“Exciting, isn’t it?” she said, looking up at the Art School.Adam nodded.“Rennie Mackintosh . . .” he said thoughtfully. “Unknown, well, just an assistant at Honeyman and Kepple. Just starting out, and winning that competition and now everybody’s talking about him!”The girl beside him smiled.“No, I’m excited because it’s my first day here,” she said, “and, by the look of you, it’s your first day, too. And now it’s time for introductions.”She held out her hand.“I’m Constance,” she said, and then hesitated for an instant. “Smith,” she finished.He noticed that she had a dimpled cheek when she smiled.“Adam Gray.” He took her proffered hand. It was small and soft and, for him, at that particular moment, the sun came out.Taking a deep breath and stepping through the door of Glasgow School of Art at last, his spirits soared at the thought of the new world he was about to enter.Several times during that first morning, Adam felt distinctly out of place in his new surroundings. Beside some of the young popinjays with their flamboyant scarves and cravats, he was conscious of the coarseness of his jacket, his scuffed boots and the package of bread and cheese that his aunt Jenny had stuffed in his pocket as he’d left the house.“Ye’ll be hungry afore the end o’ the day, son,” she’d prophesied fondly.Now, the package just made his jacket more ill-fitting, and, worse, nobody wore a cap. Adam stuffed his in his pocket to avoid curious glances as he negotiated a bewilderment of classes and tutors. Just as his uncertainty was reaching a climax, and he was standing alone in the main hallway surrounded by chatting groups of fellow-students, a hand tugged his sleeve and a familiar voice spoke.“They’ve sent a little hamper over from the house, Adam. Aunt Emmeline, of course. She’s a dear . . . but she fusses so. And I’m not really hungry, so . . . so . . .” Constance fixed Adam with a wide grey-eyed gaze “. . . would you like to share the food?”As she spoke, Adam relaxed for the first time that day.They found a quiet corner in one of the big art rooms where the sun slanted in on a clutter of easels and canvases, and sampled delicacies from Aunt Emmeline’s hamper. Slices of ham in aspic and still-warm bread were accompanied by cheese of a kind Adam had never seen before. There was a golden-crusted fruit pudding to follow, washed down by what Constance described as “Mrs Sweet’s delicious elderflower wine”.“And who is Mrs Sweet?” Adam asked, surprising himself with his boldness.“The cook,” was the answer.


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