Busying herself clearing the table, Mirren Gray sneaked a glance at her husband, who was seated by the fire, newspaper in hand. Feet on the fender, boots neatly placed by his chair, Thomas was keeping to his usual routine when his day’s work was done. Yet, as Mirren reflected, her husband was today a very different Thomas Gray. Gone was the strain on his face, the gauntness, the sinewy strength ebbing from a body which had become thin from the furious heat and hard labour of Dixon’s Blazes. Gone, too, were the frightening explosions of rage which would appear unexpectedly and which Mirren had never quite understood. She smiled to herself at the sight of the man she had fallen in love with all those years ago. Since they’d come to live in the little gate house at the Gourock estate, that Thomas Gray had made his gradual reappearance, day by day, and had thereby transformed her to the country girl she’d once been. But one thing hadn’t changed. The routine, from his time of rising to the time of his evening meal, his boots off, his “read at the paper” that followed, was the same as it had been through all the years he’d been controlled by Dixon’s Blazes!“When ye’ve feenished we’ll hae oor wee walk, then, Mirren.” He spoke from behind his newspaper. Mirren hurried with the washing-up. The “wee walk” had been added to the routine. Each day, winter and summer, ended as they walked arm in arm out towards the path which led them under the trees and gave them a view of the shining vastness of the Clyde widening to meet the sea. They didn’t talk much. Just being together, comfortable with each other’s company, was enough. Sometimes Mirren would gather wild flowers for her painting class with Lady Glenavon. That, and the baking she sometimes did for Tilly up at the Big House, kept her busy. Her house shone from end to end and her flower garden was admired by Letty, who often called in for an afternoon cup of tea.Later, as they took their walk, Mirren told Thomas that Adam and Constance had invited them to go to Avondale House for a few days’ holiday. Her husband shook his head.“I dinnae feel right in a big hoose. They’ll be comin’ here afore long. We’ll see the bairns then.”Mirren knew better than to argue. Instead, as they stood watching the setting sun stain the river scarlet, she spoke quietly.“I never want tae leave this place.”He looked down at her with a rare smile.“We’ll aye be here, Mirren. Sir Hugh said as much the ither day. He said that, by the time ma workin’ days are done, he’ll be lookin’ for oor Kirsty an’ Josh tae come an’ bide in the Big Hoose wi’ the laddies. ‘You’ll be one big, happy family’ was what he said tae me.”There was a pause as the two of them drank in the reality of it all. Then Thomas spoke.“Oor Kirsty, here? I’ll never hae a minute’s peace!”They laughed out loud as they turned, retracing their steps back to their little house.****It had rained for most of the morning. The children were restless from being penned up in the house, so Constance and Adam took them for a walk along the riverbank, with the promise that they would see the swans and go as far as the farm to visit Samson and Goliath, the Clydesdale horses. Marianne called them “Papa’s special friends”.Greetings were exchanged as they met some of the Abbeyland folk along the way. The tall, broad-shouldered young man with the blond hair reaching almost to his shoulders, and the slender girl with the silver-gilt locks, were familiar and well-liked. Their children, lively but shy with passers-by, brought smiles of approval.Today, the Gray family took up the width of the riverbank. Constance and Adam walked hand in hand as usual, Marianne clinging to her mother’s free hand and Adam restraining a boisterous Thomas by holding firmly to the back of his coat.“Happy?” Adam looked down at his wife.She nodded. Their eyes met, their steps slowed and his lips brushed her cheek as they did a dozen times a day.Marianne tugged her mother’s hand.“Look, Mama, a rainbow, it’s a rainbow!” She fairly skipped with excitement. “Look at the pretty colours!”Thomas stared at the sky, and Constance and Adam smiled at each other.“Yes, and it’s our rainbow,” they told their children, their voices sounding as one.The End.