The Glens of Stone – Episode 32

Duncan paced up and down the corridor, wringing his hands. At last, her face pale, Kirsty emerged.

“My dear, has that man upset you?”

“No, Father,” Kirsty protested. “He was very kind. If I appear shaken it’s simply because –” Her voice faltered. “He asked me to read and sign a document.”

“What sort of document?” Duncan said, his fears rising again. If Davidson had betrayed his trust . . . But Kirsty’s next words soothed him.

“It was to the effect that I have an unknown benefactor who wishes me to have a token of his or her goodwill.”

“What form does this token take?”

“The sum of five hundred pounds has been lodged in my name at the Bank of Scotland.”

“Five hundred pounds!” The old man gaped.

The study door opened and the lawyer popped his head out.

“I can see the pair of you are flummoxed,” he said. “I don’t suppose Mr Porteous is on the premises, by any chance?”

“No, sir.” Kirsty shook her head. “He’s at his shop in the Grassmarket.”

“A pity. What of Miss Alison?”

“She’s here,” Duncan said. “Upstairs, though none too well, alas. She was complaining this morning that her head ached and she was slightly feverish. Indeed,” he continued, “I was about to ask someone to fetch the doctor as you arrived.”

“You must! The health of Alison Porteous must be guarded at all costs.” The lawyer looked agitated. “There’s a good man not a stone’s throw from here, a Doctor Turner. He attends the cream of Edinburgh society.”

“We are humble folk, Mr Davidson,” Duncan protested. “This doctor won’t attend the likes of us.”

“He’ll come where he’s summoned,” Davidson said tersely.

“Well, if you are certain.” Duncan sounded worried. “I shall ask Ellie, one of our helpers, to . . .”

“Are you referring to Miss Ellie Chalmers?”

Surprised, Duncan nodded.

“I am.”

“I’ll be talking with her, too, if you please.”

Seeing the perplexity on his listeners’ faces, he smiled.

“I see no point in concealing the fact that I have similar news for her. Miss Chalmers, too, has a benefactor.”

He turned to Kirsty.

“Doctor Turner’s home is across the road, opposite Queensberry House. There’s a plate at his door. Fetch him, please, and tell him I sent you.”

He turned to Duncan McAllan.

“You, sir, would favour me by letting me speak with Miss Chalmers. You should also know that Miss Porteous is yet another of my client’s beneficiaries. I would rather her father had been here when I spoke to her, but no matter.”

“I expect him within the hour if that is of assistance.”

The lawyer looked thoughtful.

“It may be. I don’t intend troubling Miss Porteous until I have the doctor’s views.”

Sighing, he raised his eyebrows.

“Now, sir, Miss Chalmers?”

As Duncan went to the kitchen to fetch Ellie, his thoughts were racing. Why had Kirsty received such a fortune? Alison, too, and stranger still, Ellie? Three slips of girls with an unknown benefactor. Why?

Hoping it would not be long before John arrived, Duncan entered the hot, steamy kitchen.

“Ellie,” he called out, “there’s a gentleman here to see you – a lawyer. Please come with me.”

Surprised, Ellie stopped kneading the dough she was preparing, brushed the flour from her hands and followed him from the room.

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.