The Glens of Stone – Episode 10

Robert Marshall dipped the ladle into the steaming liquid, raised it to his lips and took a tentative sip.

“Lord save us!” he gasped, grimacing. “What the devil is this meant to be?”

A stout woman, arms folded across her bosom, volunteered.

“It’s soup. Doo soup, sir.”

“Away with you, woman,” Robert protested. “There’s never been doves nor pigeons used in the making of this!” He licked his lips, his face sour. “A rat or mouse, from the taste of it!”

Someone tittered and Robert glowered.

“You think this amusing? Then let’s see you laugh as you clean it up.” With a kick he toppled the steaming vat from the tabletop. The onlookers scattered as the brown sludgy mess cascaded on to the flagstones at their feet.

Robert drew his sword and brought the broad blade down on the table with a thwack.

“In case you’ve forgotten, you’re paid good money to feed the King’s soldiers. Instead, you serve up swill like this and other foul-tasting provender that even cattle would spurn.” His eyes swept the group and alighted on Ellie Chalmers. “You, miss! Would you agree?”

The girl returned his gaze.

“I’d say we do our best with the ingredients we’re given. It’s your own army quartermaster who provides the produce.”

Her workmates gasped at her temerity.

“He provides the best meat and vegetables the army can afford to buy from the market-stalls,” Robert protested.

“That’s what he tells you, perhaps,” the girl retorted, hands on hips. “’Tis well known he buys the poorest stuff and pockets the money saved.”

The women watched the young captain’s eyes grow icy. Sword in hand, he advanced towards Ellie and raised the point to inches from her neck.

“You’ve a loose tongue in your head,” he whispered, “and a spiteful one at that.”

He moved the blade nearer but the girl did not flinch. Impressed by her bravery, Robert decided to give her another chance.

“You malign the good name of one of my men,” he said. “An apology will rectify matters.”

Ellie stared back at him.

“I’m sure it would, sir, but you’ll get no apology from me when it’s the truth I’ve spoken.”

Robert was regretting the confrontation. He had always secretly admired Ellie for her spirited personality, yet now she had defied him in front of the other kitchen staff.

He strode to the open door.


An elderly dragoon appeared.

Robert grabbed Ellie by the wrist.

“This ill-mannered girl needs reminding that while she receives army pay she is subject to army discipline.” He pushed Ellie towards the soldier. “Take her to the guardhouse.”

Abigail Phillips

Abbie is the newest member of the fiction team at the "Friend." She loves how varied the role is - every day is different and there is always a new story to read. She is keen to work closely with established writers and discover new writers, too.