The Glens of Stone – Episode 37

Kirsty took a look around the kitchen before changing in readiness for the evening service.

“The soup’s near the boil and the bread’s cut,” Ellie told her cheerfully. “Agnes gave me a hand. It keeps her mind off Alison.”

There had been no change in Alison Porteous’s condition.

As Kirsty made to go, a thought struck her.

“Ellie, that money we all got – can you think why we’ve received it?”

“Heavens, no! I thought maybe yours and Alison’s was in appreciation of your musical skills, but as for me . . .” Ellie shrugged.

“There has to be more to it, Ellie. What do you intend doing now you’re rich?”

“Nothing. I’m content as I am. I like it fine here at the Mission. You and your father have been very kind to me.” A reflective look crossed her face. “Mind you, I had thought the money would provide me with a dowry now.” She blushed.

“Ah,” Kirsty said knowingly. “Are you thinking of that man who seems to have a fancy for you, the strong, silent one? What’s his name?”

“I don’t know what you mean, Kirsty McAllan.” Ellie saw the look of disbelief on her friend’s face and smiled.

“All right. Yes, he’s the one. He asked me to call him Ewan.”

“I’m sure he likes you. I’ve seen the looks he gives you. It’s the first sign of love, you know: the big strong man looking out for the frail wee lassie.”

Kirsty ducked as, laughing, her friend flung a wet cloth at her head.

“Get away with you!”

*  *  *  *

Malcolm Porteous emerged from the meeting hall to see Kirsty make for the stairs. He quickened his steps to catch up with her but then realised the time was not right.

His sister lay upstairs at death’s door; it was hardly the time to take Kirsty in his arms and declare his love for her.

If only he’d taken courage weeks ago, they would be making marriage plans by now. Frustrated, he made for the door. He needed fresh air to clear his mind.

He was surprised to see a young woman making her way carefully across the cobbles towards him.

“Miss Forbes,” he greeted her. “What brings you here? Another invitation from Lady Catherine?”

“No, sir. I have a letter for your father. I must pass it to him in person,” the maid apologised when Malcolm offered to take it from her.

“If you insist. He’s around somewhere – will you come in and wait?” But she declined, preferring to stay on the doorstep.

Malcolm found his father in the meeting hall.

“What can her ladyship want?” John pondered.

At the door he scanned the letter’s contents and his mouth tightened.

“There’s no reply,” he said to Jean.

For a while Porteous stood deep in thought, then he made for the storeroom at the rear of the building, emerging with an oil lamp in his hand.

He retraced his steps to the meeting room and exchanged the lamp in his possession for one on the window-sill.

The lamps looked identical; only the most observant would notice the subtle differences in colour.

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.