The End Of The Rainbow – Episode 07

His young sister was facing his mother across the kitchen, her face tear-stained and flushed to a deep crimson.“I keep tellin’ ye, Mither. It wisnae my fault!”Mirren Gray was wringing her hands.“I know that, henny . . . but it’s yer faither. You’ll have to go back.”“What’s wrong?” Adam stepped forward and put his hands on her shoulders.She was trembling.“Adam, Adam! Am I glad to see ye. It’s Kirsty. She’s been dismissed, sent home in disgrace!”Kirsty’s red curls seemed to rise in a halo round her indignant face.“That boy’s a disgrace, no’ me! Thinks he’s a gentleman like his faither thinks he can take liberties wi’ the likes o’ me. I’m juist a servant. Well, he’s nae mair than a, a cheeky impudent laddie!”She sniffed and rubbed her eyes.“An’ he deserved the clout I gave him, so he did.”Mirren pressed her hand to her lips.“Ye hit him, Kirsty?”Her daughter shook her head.“No. The pot did. I just lifted it . . . and . . .”Adam felt laughter welling up in him at the thought of his little red-haired sister clouting the amorous son of the house. But, looking at his poor mother’s stricken face, he remembered about his father, and the laughter died.“Now, then,” he said, gently pushing his mother towards the kitchen table. “We’ll sit down and talk about this. The main thing is that our Kirsty has come to no harm. The kettle’s singing, Kirsty. Make some tea and we’ll draw our breath.”His mother glanced anxiously at the clock.“Faither will be back soon. What’ll he say?”Adam spoke with an assurance that he didn’t feel.“There’s plenty of time.”They sat there, and talked quietly for a while.“But Kirsty’ll need work . . . and good situations are hard to find these days.”“She can look about for a wee while. There must be other places. All those big houses in the West End,” Adam began. “She has no time to look about, Adam. It’s her keep, ye see. Wi’ just Faither’s pay comin’ in, and . . .”Mirren’s voice faltered as she looked away from her son. Adam suddenly realised that the loss of his clerk’s wages had placed his whole family on the edge of hardship. His father’s wages from Dixon’s Blazes were hard-earned, and too little to support him at Art School. Or Kirsty, with no situation . . .He put his hand out to cover his mother’s.“I’m sorry, I never thought. I was that excited, winning the scholarship . . .”Mirren turned a tear-bright gaze on him.“Never say ye’re sorry again, Adam, never! I’m that proud o’ ye. As for that scholarship, well, ye’re payin’ yer own way wi’ that and the work that our Jenny tells me ye take a’ the hours God sends. Ye’re a credit to me, and to Faither. He just rages, Adam, because he’s a worrier. But he’s the same as me, deep down. He wants somethin’ better for ye, and for ye, Kirsty, lass. You were right to do what ye did, daughter. But ye have to find work.”She subsided into silence. Suddenly Adam stood up.“I know what you could do, Kirsty. It’s staring us in the face!” His voice was loud with excitement. “Modelling! You could be a model up at the Art School. They need more models for Life Drawing. I could speak for you.”Mirren gasped in horror.“Only shameless lassies would do that! Hussies!”Adam laughed.“Oh, she’d be dressed a gypsy one day, a Grecian lady the next. Just think, Kirsty. Dressing up, being the centre of attraction, and being paid for it, too!”Kirsty needed little persuasion, and the minutes flew past as the mood lifted and plans were made. “It’s only till ye find another situation, mind, Kirsty. You’re only fifteen, and I don’t want yer head filled wi’ foolish notions. Ye must be practical.” Mirren had returned to her usual cautious self.Peace restored, Adam went into the back room to collect his portfolio. Kirsty’s box, returned with her, stood unopened by the bed. Adam retrieved his portfolio from the big press and was examining the contents when Mirren came into the room.“This is for you.”He smiled up at her as he handed her the charcoal sketch. In it, she was sitting, head slightly bent in profile, her knitting in her lap.“I didn’t know . . .” she began.“No,” Adam said. “I drew that when you were staring into the fire, looking at the pictures it made. Remember how you used to describe them to me when I was small, me and then Kirsty? Castles, mountains and strange trees. A magical place, far away from here . . .”Mirren didn’t seem to hear him. A single tear ran down her cheek as she looked up.“I’ll treasure this always, son.”


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