The End Of The Rainbow – Episode 28

Adam let himself into Mrs Dinnimont’s hallway, taking care not to make a noise. Josh poked his head out of his room, opposite the big front parlour.“All clear!” He grinned. “Mrs Dinnimont has retired for the night. Want some supper? I’m toasting muffins.”Outside, the pavements were rimed with the first frosts of late autumn. Adam was grateful to draw a chair close to the fire. Josh nodded to a dish of butter on a side table.“I’ll toast, you butter. Did you get much done tonight? Was Constance working, too?”His friend stared into the fire.“I was preparing some canvases. I must catch up on the stuff I’m doing down by the river at weekends.”There was a silence for a while.“Wish I had a studio,” Josh said at last. “It’s generous of Constance to let us use hers from time to time, but having my own place would help clear some of this!” He waved his toasting-fork at the pile of canvases obscuring his bed, which was crammed into a corner of the room.He glanced at Adam’s face.“Any news? What is Constance working on just now? I asked her the other day, but she didn’t seem keen to tell me.”Adam sighed.“She concentrates hard when she’s working. But there was something propped up on an easel. It was half-covered, but it looked imaginative, different. Tonight, though, she was busy on another still life.”Josh gave up. Adam clearly had something on his mind, but wasn’t in the mood for confidences.After they’d consumed their supper, they stayed at the fire. When Adam finally spoke his voice was loud in the silence.“I’m glad you persuaded Mrs Dinnimont to let me move in here. It’s made a big difference. More time for painting, more living space . . .”“More chaos! It’s not what I’d call an organised house.”Adam’s answering smile faded.“I’m worried about Mither. I cannae go to the house because o’ Faither, so she has aye come over to Aunt Jenny’s to see me. But I havenae seen her since we came back from Abbeylands.”Josh stared into the fire.“At least you still have your mother.”Josh began to speak about his childhood, a past he hadn’t shared with anybody . . . until now.“My mother was Lady Glenavon. And it broke her heart.”As if releasing himself from a burden, he began to relate the story of Sir Hugh Glenavon, widowed in his first year of marriage, who fell in love with a parlourmaid.“His first wife had been the daughter of a landowner. Hugh Glenavon was a self-made man, and he now had a fine house and servants. He was accepted in what they call polite society. But then he fell in love with Ailie Murchison, a little orphan girl who worked in his fine house. My mother,” he said at last, his voice thick with emotion.He related how Ailie had fled with him when he was a baby.“She never fitted into their world, you see. The ladies of that ‘polite society’ made it too hard for her.”Josh described how he and his mother had lived in a cottage in the country. Then, as he spoke of his father, his voice became cold.“He came to see us when he had the time. When he wasn’t building his empire. But the more success he had, the less time he had for visits to us. We were happy together, my mother and I, but nothing was ever resolved between them. Neither could give way for the other, I expect. And then, when I was seven years old . . .” He paused and took a deep breath. “It ended.” Giving Adam no time to respond, he rushed on.“I was sent away to prep school. It was as if he couldn’t bear to look at me. I went back to the fine house for holidays, of course. The staff looked after me. I hardly ever saw him. Now,” he said, his voice cold, “I’m a great disappointment to him, because I won’t take an interest in his business affairs.”He turned, his eyes suspiciously bright.“I’ve never told anyone about this, Adam. It matters too much.”


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