The Glens of Stone – Episode 40

Duncan McAllan gripped the sides of the lectern and spoke in strong, clear tones.

“Let us hear the Word of God as it is contained in Mark’s Gospel where, at chapter four, we find the parable of the sower.”

As he recited the words which he virtually knew by heart, Duncan studied the seated worshippers. Most were weel-kent faces, but there was a goodly number of new faces, too.

Many, he knew, were there out of curiosity, to hear Kirsty and Alison. The girls’ fame had spread by means of the Edinburgh grapevine and they had been called upon to sing and play at other society gatherings.

While he could therefore account for some of the strangers, Duncan was astonished to see six men, five in scarlet uniforms, who had taken seats in the back row. He’d seen Ellie Chalmers flush as they made their entry. One of the men looked familiar: wasn’t he the one with whom Alison had been friendly?

Puzzled, Duncan drew his thoughts back to the present.

“May God bless this reading of his Word,” he intoned, closing the Bible and clasping his hands together.

Ellie’s mind was racing. What had brought Captain Marshall and his men to the Mission? Most of the garrison’s soldiers were English and more used to bishops than to Duncan McAllan’s form of Protestant worship. And what would Alison have said to see her Sandy in such company?

Malcolm Porteous had no doubt as to why the soldiers had appeared. Sandy McCrae was showing his true colours at last!

While ostensibly courting Alison he had been spying on the Mission and thus could not have failed to spot the bogus worshippers.

Yet Sandy could not have chosen a worse night to come for, by Malcolm’s reckoning, none of them had appeared this evening. Even so, he felt a growing sense of foreboding.

“I’m sorry to say that Miss Porteous is indisposed and unable to play for us this evening.”

At these words Sandy McCrae sat upright in his seat. His attention had been wandering until the preacher mentioned Alison. What did the old man mean by “indisposed”?

The preacher added that she would be absent for some time. Curbing his curiosity, Sandy contented himself by enjoying Kirsty’s beauty and gentle voice as she sang.

He noticed Robert watching the girl with full attention. His first instinct was to suppose the captain’s interest was romantic, but instead he saw Robert’s face register a mixture of disbelief and confusion.

Intrigued, Sandy continued to study the girl, unable to fathom the reason for Robert’s unease. When Kirsty finished singing and crossed the floor to resume her seat, her face was briefly caught in the last rays of sunlight filtering through the small windows.

Sandy’s attention was drawn to her eyes. Suddenly he suspected what Robert Marshall’s thoughts might be.

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.