The Glens of Stone – Episode 13

Jean Forbes flicked a rag across the gleaming surface of the chiffonier, unaware that old McLaurin was watching her from an open doorway. Jean was daydreaming about the handsome drover she’d met in the tavern the night before. He’d asked to see her again . . .

Her thoughts were interrupted by a rasping voice.

“Are you dusting that thing or tickling it?”

“Why, dusting it, ma’am,” the girl protested.

The old woman advanced across the room.

“Ye’ve yer mind on other things. A man, most likely. I hope he’s rich, so’s he can keep ye when ye lose this job and have nae money.”

“Lose my job?” Jean recoiled in shock.

“Aye,” Mrs McLaurin said. “Seldom have I seen such an idle, worthless besom as you. A wee word with her ladyship is called for, I’m thinking. Tis time we had a new maid, one who’ll work hard. Someone like that friend of yours, her that’s working up at the castle. What’s her name – Chalmers?”

“Her ladyship will not want her when she hears how Ellie was locked up for insolence.”

“Locked up, you say?” McLaurin glared at the girl.

“Yes, ma’am. She accused one of the captain’s men of stealing so he shut her up in a vault tae teach her a lesson.”

“Silly besom. And how is she?”

“Och, Ellie’s made of strong stuff. She took her punishment well.”

“Hmm. A girl of spirit. That’s good.” McLaurin nodded. “And it was Captain Marshall who dealt with her?”

“Aye, though he’s a fair man; Ellie had no right to say what she did.”

“Unless her accusation was just,” McLaurin cautioned.

“But who would take her word against a soldier’s? Anyway, she says she’s going to leave the castle kitchens if she can.”

“Is she now?”

Jean caught the interest in the old woman’s tone.

“But she says she’s not interested in going into service,” she blurted hastily.

“Pity. She’d make a fine replacement for a lazy wretch like you,” McLaurin grumbled. “Now get on – and take this as a final warning, missy.”

Back in her room McLaurin sat deep in thought, various possibilities crossing her mind. At last her wizened features became resolute and she shook her handbell furiously.

“Come on,” she muttered impatiently. “Where the devil’s that stupid girl now?”

*  *  *  *

Late that same night Robert Marshall sat in his office and shuffled the paperwork littering his desk into one neat pile. His head ached, the inevitable result of hours spent checking the garrison’s accounts and compiling rosters.

A loud knock came at the door.

“Come,” he called.

A young dragoon sidled into the room.

“You’ve a visitor, sir,” he said.

“A visitor at this hour? I’m tired and for bed. Tell him to come back in the . . .” He broke off as the soldier was pushed out of the way by a sturdy figure in clerical garb.

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.