The Glens of Stone – Episode 44

Duncan McAllan arrived breathless in the eating room, having heard the fracas.

“What on earth’s going on, Malcolm, lad?”

“There’s been a fight.” Malcolm gave an account of what had occurred and Duncan’s alarm grew.

“What of Alison? Did she survive the fall?”

“Fortunately. Captain Marshall and I carried her back upstairs and she revived sufficiently to let us see she was only shaken. The fever’s gone but she’s still very weak. My mother’s with her now.”

“Has the doctor been sent for?”

“Aye, Kirsty fetched him. He’s with Alison.”

Duncan clapped Malcolm on the shoulder.

“Providing all’s well upstairs, we should get on up to the castle. This must be a terrible mistake. Your father hasn’t committed any crime, surely?”

“I’m not convinced of that.” Malcolm looked unhappy. “I don’t know what Father’s been up to for sure, but it looks as if he’s been using this Mission as a meeting place for Jacobite supporters.”

“John, a Jacobite agent?” Duncan bit his lip. “No, I can’t believe that. But we’ll talk of this later. First, I must see for myself how your sister is.”

He met Agnes at the bedroom door.

“She’s being well looked after,” she assured him. “No cuts, just bad bruising.”

“That’s good news. But what about John? It must surely be a mistake, Agnes. Anyway, Malcolm and I are about to go up to the castle and sort it out. John will be back with us within the hour, I’m sure.”

Gratefully Agnes gripped his hand.

“You’ll see Alison afore you go?”

“Of course.” He followed her into the bedroom.

Kirsty stood at the bedside, trying to hide her distaste as Dr Turner extracted a leech from a jar and applied it to the angry bruise marring Alison’s cheekbone.

“This’ll do the needful,” the doctor said. “The swelling should disappear soon.”

Nonetheless the doctor was worried. When the fever had passed, he’d thought his troubles over. Now the blasted girl had fallen, but surely he couldn’t be held responsible for that?

Ellie popped her head round the door.

“Captain Marshall has returned, along with two soldiers. He wants to see you, Mr McAllan,” she said, pulling a face.

Duncan left the room and found the young captain waiting for him.

“Well, Captain? Young Mr Porteous and I were about to visit you for an explanation of your conduct.”

Robert gave a derisory laugh.

“You seek an explanation, sir? Better for you if you can provide a satisfactory explanation for the goings-on in this establishment.”

“Goings-on?” Duncan frowned. “I don’t understand. This is a Mission House: a place where folk can hear God’s word and enjoy his grace and fellowship. Your actions were an unwarranted attack on innocent worshippers.”

“Innocent worshippers?” Robert exploded. “Do you take me for a fool? This Mission House has been used as a meeting place for Jacobite sympathisers, as has the Grassmarket Mission.”

“Never!” Duncan protested. “Those who come here do so to serve the Lord, not to engage in acts of treason.”

“To serve the Lord, you say? I can assure you many come rather to serve Charles Edward Stuart. They raise money to support the rebels as well as inciting citizens to join the Jacobite army, and all under the guise of being good Christians! Mr McAllan, how could you have been so blind?”

The old man gave a long, despairing sigh.

“You say John Porteous has had a hand in this?”

“As we understand it he has organised the spy network both in the Grassmarket and here. Who would suspect the bible-thumping patrons of these Missions of being murderous traitors? Is it not the case that you came to Edinburgh at the behest of John Porteous?” Robert challenged Duncan McAllan, who looked startled.

“Aye. How do you know of that?”

“From Alison Porteous. She told my sergeant of her father’s invitation. How keen he was to have you come here, how he gifted furnishings and even arranged for his son and daughter to assist you.”

Wearily Duncan wiped his brow and shook his head.

“John’s a good man! How could he and his family practise such deceit?”

“Not necessarily his family, Mr McAllan. They may be unaware of his activities. But Porteous is guilty, believe me. We think he’s acting on behalf of someone higher, another man we tried to arrest tonight who escaped after assaulting McCrae.”

Duncan smiled ruefully.

“He seemed a nice enough fellow. Ellie said his name was Ewan.”

“He’s a vicious, murdering rogue,” Robert said bluntly, and Duncan recoiled. His reaction reinforced Robert’s belief in his innocence.

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.