Adam Gray slipped quietly into a pew in a shadowy corner at the back of the church just as the minister was saying, “Do you, Joshua Hugh Glenavon, take this woman, Kirsty Gray, to be your lawful wedded wife?”Watching the little tableau at the far end of the church, Adam was suddenly oblivious of the solemn words. Because there she was Constance. In a pale dress that seemed to change colours as it was caught by sunlight streaming through the stained-glass windows and casting planes of colour on the chancel, she looked so fragile that she might break in half.Adam put his hands to his face as she turned slightly and he saw her in profile, light glinting on her silver-blonde hair. He wanted to rush to her side, to gather her into his arms, to tell her that he loved her! His hands were trembling, a shake that travelled through his whole body as he struggled to control it.Control it he did, as he watched his sister and his best friend turn towards each other, radiant with happiness. He was suddenly caught up in the sheer love and gladness that imbued the place, that caught his parents in its billowing warmth and made them smile at each other.As the bridal party withdrew to sign the register, Adam left the church, skirting the curious crowd who were gathering outside. He told himself bitterly that he had surrendered his place at his sister’s wedding by thinking only of Adam Gray, and as joy at seeing Constance battled with regret at not being there for Josh and his sister on their day of days, he walked blindly through the bustling streets of his native city, numbed by a turmoil of emotions.He walked until he exhausted himself, and it was late afternoon by the time he found his way back to Miss Downie’s. He had suddenly remembered his old valise, left abandoned in her hallway.“Come in, Adam!”A beaming Miss Downie threw open the door before he had time to ring the bell.“I knew that Kirsty’s room wouldn’t stay empty for long!”And, for the first time that day, Adam Gray managed to laugh.For a night and a day, Adam was wrapped in the cocoon of Miss Downie’s kindness. She seemed to have assumed that he would simply move into his sister’s recently vacated room. Mrs Dinnimont and her possible resentment at the new arrangement were not mentioned. And it was something of a relief to Adam that his new landlady simply laid out a substantial evening meal for him and then withdrew.No questions were asked. In that big, suddenly empty house, it was as if time stood still. As if Adam, after his frantic journey from Italy, his day of turmoil where he had walked and walked to clear his head, was in a vacuum, a place where the past had ended, where there was no present and just waiting for the future to begin. That night, he slept a dreamless and exhausted sleep, was awakened by a light tap on the door and ate a solitary and hearty breakfast in the empty kitchen. In the afternoon, he walked down by the Clyde, gradually collecting his thoughts and making plans. Later that evening, he went to the East End to see his parents.His mother laughed and cried over him, hugging him in an extravagance of feeling never before seen in the Gray household. His father shook his hand and gave a penetrating glance. “Ye took yer time gettin’ hame.”His adventures had to take second place to a detailed account of the wedding. It had been a quiet affair, with a special lunch at Sir Hugh’s club, after which the newlyweds were seen off on their honeymoon.“ . . . and Faither had a long talk with Sir Hugh,” Mirren finished. “He has news. Tell him, Thomas.”“We’re goin’ tae bide in the gatehouse at Sir Hugh’s place.” Thomas reached for his pipe. “I’m leavin’ the Blazes, an’ I’ve a new job as a factor doon at the estate.”His voice was offhand, but he looked as near to pleased as Adam had ever seen him.“It’s for yer mither’s sake.” There was more tea brewed then, and much talk of Adam’s adventures. It was late when at last he took his leave. As he was going out of the door, his mother took him aside.“That Miss Constance was very quiet at the weddin’. She slipped away early, just after the meal. I heard Kirsty tellin’ the new Lady Glenavon that she was a bit worried aboot her.”Adam said nothing, but his resolve strengthened . . .