The End Of The Rainbow – Episode 03

With a superhuman effort, Adam wrenched his thoughts away from his father and thought instead of Constance. His smile returned. As Bowie had been handing her into her carriage at the end of the day, she had caught sight of Adam and had turned to wave a tiny flutter of farewell.Adam thought of what she’d told him. Her mother wanted her to marry well. Would fame be equal to fortune in her eyes? Or might the two go hand in hand? From that particular moment, Adam Gray resolved to be a success, and, as he did, he welcomed Constance into his world of hopes and dreams.Aunt Jenny brought him back to earth with a bump. Sleeves rolled up, she was scrubbing the sinkboard.“Ye’re a sight in that jaickit, Adam. Like a muckle big scarecrow. The sleeves are faur too short.” She shot a piercing glance at him. “Ye havena ta’en yer piece. Waste o’ food, laddie. I dinnae like waste!”She gave the sinkboard a final ferocious scrub and wiped her hands on her apron.“The dinner’s ready. We’ll have that, then I’ll have a try at riggin’ ye oot decent-like.”As she served out steaming plates of mutton stew and dabbed a nut of butter on top of the dish of potatoes, she explained.“My Malcolm has the best o’ stuff in the wardrobe ben the room. This is a long voyage, so he’ll no’ be back for a while. He’ll no’ mind if ye take some o’ his stuff. He’s no’ short o’ money in the Merchant Navy, and he’s seein’ the world. It’s a great life, he tells me.”She glanced at her nephew.“Have ye never thocht o’ it, Adam? Ye would see things that would make grand pictures when ye came back.”Adam smiled. His strivings to get to the Glasgow School of Art had always puzzled Aunt Jenny. He knew that. To her, painting pictures was a sort of hobby, to be followed if he had spare time on his hands. Making a living with a steady job was what counted.“No. That’s not for me. I want to be an artist, to design things. Like Rennie Mackintosh. And if I’m good enough at it, I’ll make my fortune some day and pay you back for all this.”Jenny tutted.“Awa’ wi’ ye. I’m right glad ye’ve come here for a while till yer father cools doon. I’m glad o’ the company. Since I lost my Robert, and then with Malcolm away tae sea . . .” Her voice was subdued. “I’ll juist finish these tatties, if ye’ve had enough.”Adam smiled to himself. Aunt Jenny was what his mother called “well-thriven”. The two of them had come to Glasgow together, and had been in service in the same big house. They were country girls, but as sisters were as different as chalk and cheese. Jenny was plump, outspoken, cheery and popular with the customers who came into Mr Anderson’s grocery. She was generous to a fault, and never went visiting without bringing little gifts of broken biscuits, ends of cheese and suchlike. Mr Anderson relied on her to organise his business, and him.Mirren was quieter. She had a refinement that she’d brought from her years in service, was quietly spoken and content to stay at home. She had been the pretty one of the sisters, but her bright hair had faded into mousiness, her peaches and cream complexion into pallor from tenement dwelling.Adam suddenly recalled something his mother had said more than once.“Our Jenny’s always been my shelter from the storm.”“A shelter from the storm,” he murmured, but, clearing away the plates, his aunt didn’t hear him.


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