The End Of The Rainbow – Episode 23

Kirsty came upon them half an hour later as she half-ran through the field by the paddock. Adam was struggling, his foot entangled in a larrup, to mount Ebony. Blossom was stepping daintily round in circles, with Constance securely mounted on her. She was in gales of laughter.“Adam, bounce on your free foot, then up and over go on!” she called as Adam struggled to make Ebony stand still.At first, neither of them noticed Kirsty. As she watched, Constance slid down from her horse and went to her companion’s assistance. One push, and Adam had mounted the horse. Constance grasped the bridle and led Ebony on a stately walk, calling out instructions to Adam all the while.“Grip the horse’s sides with your knees, Adam . . . hands down on the pommel, let the reins run loose, no, don’t hold them high like that, you’ll hurt Ebony’s mouth. That’s it keep going!”Kirsty watched them for what seemed a long time, thinking of what a pretty picture they made together, and feeling proud at the sight of her handsome brother on horseback like some country gentleman.“I wish Mither could see ye, Adam,” she whispered, unaccustomed tears suddenly welling up at the thought of the person she loved best in the whole world.Just then, Constance caught sight of her and the spell was broken.“What time is it, Kirsty?”“Time you were away hame, Miss Constance,” was the reply.Adam was quiet as he and his sister walked from the farm to the village. Constance had long since fled back to her mama’s disapproval at the Grange, and Kirsty had stayed to help him unsaddle both horses before stabling them for the night. It was dusk, and from the hedgerows came the scent of honeysuckle.Adam had hoisted the bundle Kirsty had brought him on to his shoulder.“Thanks for the clean shirts, Kirsty. I thought we’d have to wait till your day off for these.” He grinned in gratitude to the small figure bobbing along beside him.“That Mrs Butchart’s no’ a bad auld stick. She let me come away efter dinner, for I had an early start this mornin’ an’ yesterday mornin’, forbye!”“What would we do without you, Kirsty? Josh says you beat Mrs Dinnimont hands down for looking after him. Says nobody’s washed his shirts for him for years!”Kirsty laughed, but she felt a warm glow of pleasure at the compliment.“I canna stay long. Just hello and cheerio the night, Adam.”He slanted a glance at her, wondering why she hadn’t left the bundle in his keeping and returned to the Grange with Constance. But then, you could never be sure what Kirsty was thinking. Perhaps she looked on the cottage as a home of sorts.He sighed. If that were so, she’d be all the more lonely when summer ended and they all went back to Glasgow.As they approached the cottages her steps quickened.Inside, Josh made a fuss of her, serving her a bowl of his delicious soup and thanking her in a dozen different ways for the pile of clean shirts. But Kirsty was staring at a sketch propped up on a chair.“Who’s the girl in this sketch, Josh?”“Just one of the village girls. I persuaded her to let me sketch her in the orchard at the back of the cottage. Thought I’d try something in oils.”“Oh.” Adam glanced at his sister. Kirsty sounded just a little put out or perhaps it was his imagination. He coaxed the fire into a blaze, and the three of them sat for a while, chatting about the events of the day. There was laughter and much teasing at Adam’s account of his riding lesson, then talk of Ben and Marcus, who hadn’t ventured back from Glasgow.It was dark when Kirsty jumped up in alarm.“I should ha’ been back long syne! What if I’m locked oot? I’ll get intae trouble for this!”The young men calmed her down, and Josh took charge of walking her back to the Grange.“You get off to bed,” he told Adam. “You’ve to meet Samson and Goliath early in the morning.”When, at last, Josh delivered Kirsty safely to the back door of the Grange, she found that it had been left unlocked.“Miss Constance,” she guessed. “She aye takes care o’ me.”Josh looked down at her.“And you take care of everybody else. Dear Kirsty.” He dropped a fleeting kiss on her cheek before turning away into the darkness.And Kirsty Gray fairly floated up the stairs to bed . . .


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