When Josh came in at the back door of Mrs Dinnimont’s house, his landlady’s kitchen was full of steam. Kirsty, up to her elbows in soap suds, had the washing-board out and was scrubbing what looked like one of his own shirts as if her life depended on it. He came up behind her and planted a kiss on the nape of her neck.“This isn’t washing day, Kirsty. Whatever are you up to?”She turned, her face lighting up at the sight of him, and planted a blob of soapsuds on the end of his nose.“I turn my back for five minutes, Josh Glenavon, and ye begin tae look like a tramp. No’ a clean shirt left, an’ paint a’ ower them, forbye!”She glanced at the clock while he tried to hug her.“Let me finish this an’ I’ll put on the kettle.”He managed to steal a kiss before Kirsty pushed him away.“I’ll make the tea and take a tray in to Mrs Dinnimont. Then you and I will repair to the parlour. I’ve hardly seen you since you got back from Paris, and I’m desperate for the news!”Beneath his jocular exterior, Josh was worried. Something had happened in Paris, something Constance was keeping to herself.When he’d gone to Miss Downie’s, in the hope that he’d be able to have a chat with Constance, her landlady had acted like a sentinel.“Miss Constance is not receiving visitors at present. She is indisposed.”As they took tea in the parlour, Josh was secretly thankful that there was one constant thing in his life his Kirsty. He glanced fondly at her.“I’ve missed you.”“We need to talk, Josh. Something happened in Paris, something terrible, by the looks o’ it.” Her eyes welled up. “I’m that worried. It’s our Adam. Miss Constance went tae that place where he bides.”“Montmartre,” Josh supplied.She nodded.“An’ she came back that quick that Miss Letty an’ me, we knew there was something wrong. But Miss Constance wouldnae say what it was. She was white as a sheet, and so quiet. Just said she wanted tae pack up right away and go home. So we did!” As her tears spilled over he gathered her into his arms.“Take your time, Kirsty. Just take your time, and tell me what happened.”Gently, he wiped away her tears. After struggling to compose herself, she blurted out the rest of the story.“Nothing happened, Josh, that was the trouble. Miss Constance hardly said a word on the journey back. In fact, when we tried tae speak tae her on the train, she seemed just tae be starin’ intae the distance. An’ on the boat, well, she was pacin’ up an’ down that top deck, even after dark. Miss Letty sent me tae watch her, juist tae keep out o’ sight.”Josh held her close and smoothed her hair.“Rest assured, Kirsty, nothingbad has happened to your brother, or Constance would have told you. By the sound of things, they have quarrelled, or he’s sent her away. Perhaps she wanted him to come back with her, and he refused.”Kirsty managed a watery smile.“You really think Adam’s all right?”He ruffled her hair.“I’m sure of it. I will get to the bottom of this, one way or another. I’ll speak to Constance,” he determined.“She’ll no’ see you, Josh. Has hardly spoken a word since we got hame. Makes me leave a tray ootside her sittin’-room door. Willnae even let me in tae light the fire.”But Josh had the light of battle in his eye.“I will speak to her. Even dear Miss Downie won’t stop me this time, Kirsty. I’m sure Constance has no idea how much she’s upsetting you and poor Miss Letty. She would never willingly hurt you, I know. I must try to bring her to her senses.”He kissed her again.“I’m taking charge. I will finish the laundry, Kirsty Gray, and you, my love, are going to rest.”With that, he swung Kirsty’s feet on to the sofa and covered her with the Paisley shawl which draped Mrs Dinnimont’s piano. Suddenly exhausted with the release of the pent-up emotion she had carried with her all the way from Paris, she didn’t protest.