The Glens of Stone – Episode 41

Ewan Ogilvie sat in the Mission’s eating area, waiting for the service to end. When he’d entered the building earlier he’d been gratified to see Dr Turner departing.

Less gratifying had been the sight of the group of soldiers inside as he’d passed the hall door. That didn’t worry him. The warning lamp Porteous had displayed had done the trick.

Still, with soldiers around anything might happen.

“My, that was a big sigh, Ewan.”

He looked up at Ellie’s twinkling eyes.

“I’m sorry, lass. I was deep in thought – I never heard you come in.”

“The service is nearly over,” Ellie said. “Kirsty and I have to get supper ready.” Even as she spoke the door opened and the worshippers began making for their favourite tables. “It looks like being a busy night.”

She hurried to where Kirsty stood, ladle in hand, ready to dish out the meaty broth.

Ewan watched as the soldiers appeared at the doorway, their eyes searching the room, then made for a small corner table where they settled down uneasily.

Gently easing a hand into his pocket, Ewan touched the shaft of his knife and patted it contentedly.

One of the soldiers strolled over to the serving counter and spoke to Kirsty. The girl nodded and began filling a stack of empty soup bowls.

Carefully the soldier carried them, two at a time, to the table where his companions sat.

“Spoons and bread, gentlemen.” Ellie laid the utensils and a small basket of bread on the table top.

“Thank you.” Robert Marshall winked at her. “How are you, Miss Chalmers? We miss you at the castle.”

He sounded genuinely wistful.

“I’m sure.” Ellie tossed her head scornfully. “Tell me, are the vaults still full of rats?”

Robert flushed.

“You deserved to be punished.”

“Did I now? Goodness, then the rumour I heard later wasn’t true?” She glowered at the young captain. “That your fine quartermaster was court-martialled for, what was it? Misappropriation of funds? Got twenty lashes, too, I hear,” she added.

“You’re remarkably well informed,” Robert said coldly. “However, you were right. The man was buying cheap provisions and pocketing the change.”

He knew he should apologise to the girl; indeed, he should have apologised long ago when the quartermaster’s guilt was discovered, but he had, as usual, been too proud.

Now he was losing face again in front of his men. Masking his aggravation, he forced himself to look amicable.

“Just as you said, Miss Chalmers,” he conceded, “and for doubting you I must apologise.”

Ellie was enjoying the young man’s discomfort.

“I can accept the apology, Captain, but that doesn’t recompense me for the cold night in your vaults.”

Gritting his teeth, Robert recalled being floored by the parson who’d threatened him for mistreating the girl. Recompense, indeed! His stomach had ached for days.

“Would that I could make up for that unfortunate incident. But how?” He shrugged.

“I want nothing from you, Captain,” she said, her chin lifting proudly. “But my friends here would be grateful for some of the provisions you’re hoarding up at the castle in case the big bad rebels cut ye off.”

“Provisions for here?” He gaped at her.

“Aye. The McAllans do a good job for the poor and needy. A cartload of food would ease their task. If you dislike the idea of helping them just think of it as helping the good Lord instead!”

Some of the soldiers sniggered.

Ellie waited expectantly and, at last, Robert inclined his head.

“So be it, Miss Chalmers. I will arrange for a wagon to bring some supplies within the next few days.”

“Thank you, Captain.” She leaned forward and patted his cheek. “Enjoy your soup,” she said, flouncing off.

Robert scowled at the others, daring them to laugh. Darned woman, he thought, how does she always get the better of me?

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.