The Glens of Stone – Episode 25

The last words of her song over, Kirsty stood, hands clasped, while Alison played the final chords.

“Bravo!” Duncan McAllan shouted, clapping enthusiastically. “That was lovely, my dears, really lovely.”

“Are we good enough for Lady Catherine and her guests?” Alison asked.

“Good enough? You’ll have her Ladyship’s guests spellbound.” Drawing his old timepiece from his pocket, Duncan peered at it. “The hour of your departure approaches. I suggest you retire to your room and prepare yourselves.” He beamed fondly at them. “Not that two such bonnie lassies have much need of embellishment.”

“Och, Father, you’re biased,” Kirsty said, hugging the old man. She was pleased to see Alison flashing him one of her rare smiles. “Coming, Alison?”

The two girls headed off upstairs to the room all three girls now shared, Ellie having given up the damp and dingy room she’d been renting.

No sooner had they flopped down on their beds than Ellie appeared, bearing a ewer of hot water.

“I thought you’d have need of this,” she said, placing it by the wash bowl on the stand.

“You’re an angel, Ellie,” Kirsty said. “Do you want to wash first?” she asked Alison.

“It’s up to you,” Alison replied, shrugging.

“I’m bringing up another jug,” Ellie said. “Just give me a minute.”

Alison soaked a cloth in the warm water and dabbed at her face. As she waited, Kirsty laid out her best white dress.

“I hope this will do,” she said, fingering the material. “It’s not terribly fashionable.”

“True,” Alison said bluntly, scrutinising the dress. “If I’d thought, I could have given you one of mine to wear.”

Kirsty stifled her irritation. Why must Alison always be so hostile?

“I admit it’s not new but I’m fond of it. It belonged to a girl we knew in Perth who grew tired of it.”

“Huh. I’m glad I’m not a pastor’s daughter.”

“Oh, Alison,” Kirsty scolded. “I eat well, I’m warm and have a roof above my head.”

“And have tatty clothes, no jewellery and no dowry to offer any young man keen to wed you.”

“Ah.” Kirsty’s voice became sharp. “So that’s it – no dowry. Has this anything to do with Malcolm?”

“I’m sure he’d never actually ask little Miss Poverty to marry him.” Alison’s face registered spite.

“Have you talked to your parents about this?” Kirsty asked, appalled.

Ellie teetered into the room at that moment trying not to spill the large jug of water. Noticing Alison drying her hands, she turned to Kirsty and bobbed.

“Your water, ma’am – unless you’d prefer to wash in Alison’s leavings?”

“Enough.” Alison bundled Ellie out of the room, slamming the door in her face. “That girl,” she muttered.

“She can be a handful,” Kirsty said lightly, “but she’s nice for all that.” She began washing herself. “Has Ellie ever discussed her background with you?”

“Not really. She did say she was a foundling. Dumped on the doorstep of a manse somewhere.”

“Don’t you think it must be awful not to have parents, or to know who they were?” Kirsty asked, her voice soft with sympathy.

Alison stared at herself in the wall mirror. Then she turned to face Kirsty.

“It is.”

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.