The End Of The Rainbow – Episode 11

Adam arrived at Queen Street station with minutes to spare. He found an empty compartment and settled down to enjoy his journey, realising with a start that he’d never before been outside Glasgow. As the grey of the city gave way to the green of rolling pastures, he drank in every detail, suddenly understanding what his mother had meant when she had talked of missing the countryside. He was glad of the quietness, only the steady rhythm of the train a background to his thoughts. So much had happened since that afternoon in the front room of Mrs Dinnimont’s lodgings Kirsty accepting the position with Constance and her mother, and Peregrine Scoular finding a buyer for Adam’s picture that had won the Year Prize, the sale of which had made it possible for him now to join Josh, Ben and Marcus for a summer of painting. They would be staying in the same village where the famous Glasgow Boys had stayed for a while. “Following in the footsteps of the Glasgow Boys!” Adam murmured, as if to convince himself that it was really happening.He took Kirsty’s letter from his pocket, unfolded it and reread it for the umpteenth time.I like the Grange fine. My room is a fine big one next to the kitchen. The place is big, so there is a wheen of work for me and the girl that comes in of a morning tae help. The food is the very best, for there is a cook. There’s a coachman forbye. I got intae bother for crying Constance’s mother Mrs Smith. It’s Mrs Tarrant-Smyth, she says, and I’ve aye to say “Miss Constance” and mind my manners if I want tae stay here.I would like it fine if ye could see yer way tae coming for a visit when ye get tae the village. I think it’s near the Grange but I am no’ sure how far away. I wrote a note tae Mither tae say no’ tae worry. Hoping tae see ye soon. Yer loving sister,Kirsty.Adam sighed. Although he’d known from the start that Constance was one of the gentry, Kirsty’s letter had confirmed that she was far from being an impoverished “country mouse”. A cook, a coachman and a name like Tarrant-Smyth! He remembered Constance telling him, the first time they’d met, that her mother had set her heart on a rich husband for Constance.But then he recalled the way she had looked at him, the secret smiles they had shared as Mr Scoular prowled the art room. The way she had taken his hand in hers one day, studying it, announcing that he had an artist’s hand. He remembered the glance she had exchanged with him while Kirsty pondered her offer of a situation, and he was certain his feelings for her were returned.At that, Adam wanted to leap to his feet and shout in exultation, but then the shining ribbon of a river came into view, a river that wound and meandered, fringed here and there by trees. Just as Constance had described it. His destination . . .Hauling his box from the guard’s van, Adam left it at the station, promising to return for it. Directed downhill towards the river, he hefted his suitcase on to his shoulder and set off. The day was fine, the sun warm on his back. The road dipped suddenly, and there was Abbeylands, separated from the rest of the world, it seemed, by the broad shining river. Adam paused to drink in the view. Small white cottages nestled in wreaths of green orchards, he supposed. Above the trees, he could see the ruined remains of an ancient abbey.There was a ferry crossing. “Tuppence,” the ferryman announced, casting off from the small jetty. A familiar stocky figure waved from the opposite bank. Good old Josh had kept his promise to meet him. Josh had secured lodgings for himself, Ben, Marcus and Adam, who was a fortnight behind the rest of the group. He had hesitated about coming until the money from the sale of his picture had enabled him to settle his debt to Aunt Jenny and make a small gift of money to his mother, leaving him with enough to give him a start in Abbeylands.Adam stepped from the boat, light-headed with delight at the beauty of his surroundings. His love affair with Abbeylands had begun . . .“Great to see you, Adam.” Josh grinned. “I’ve rented a cottage for the four of us, so we can come and go as we please. It’ll be grand! Eat when we like, sleep when we like, and paint for as long as we like . . .”Adam returned his smile, trying not to think of how much this arrangement would cost.“We have company,” Josh went on. “There’s a summer school for artists across the fields there.” He pointed in the direction of the hills. “It’s for young ladies of quality, apparently.”Adam didn’t respond. He had entered a different world. The grey streets of the city suddenly seemed far, far away . . .


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