The Glens of Stone – Episode 46

“A Fine mess you’ve made of things,” Miss McLaurin said, glaring at Ewan Ogilvie, who was seated opposite. “How could you allow this to happen? Alison Porteous falling downstairs, drawn from her bed because you were battling with her young man! Pair o’ fools that you are.” She thumped the floor with her cane in anger.

“Why were you there at all? Porteous had handled things well enough and now, thanks to you, he languishes in a cell!”

Ewan took a deep breath.

“Actually I was there to see if Alison’s fever had diminished and if Turner was attending to her diligently.”

McLaurin sat back, disbelief written on her face.

“Don’t give me such a tarradiddle, Ogilvie,” she said, her mouth twitching. “You were chasing after Ellie Chalmers.”

“Who said I was interested in her? Porteous, I suppose?” Ewan snarled.

“And what if he did?” McLaurin allowed herself a chuckle. “It’s true, isn’t it?”

She sighed.

“I never thought I’d see the day that the marvellous Ewan Ogilvie became careless through love for a lassie.”

“Careful, woman.” Ewan’s eyes held a warning glint but McLaurin was unmoved.

“What would Colonel Crawford say if he heard you threatening me in that manner?” she said. “Me, his faithful old friend! Aye, he’s not going to be too pleased with you, my lad. Alison still abed thanks to your meddling, John Porteous imprisoned in the castle, both Mission Houses earmarked by the military, and you being sought for assaulting McCrae. Dear, oh, dear.”

She smiled maliciously.

“Not very impressive, is it?” she whispered. “And as to your dallying with Ellie Chalmers, the colonel’s not going to be too pleased at that.”

“I don’t care.” Ewan paced the room. “I feel for the girl,” he said, “and I know she has a liking for me. The colonel will respect our feelings.”

McLaurin rolled her eyes

“Alison Porteous and Sandy McCrae; Ellie Chalmers and you. I suppose Kirsty’s match would be the best one, if only young Porteous could pluck up courage to tell her how he feels.”

Ewan marvelled at the old woman’s knowledge, most of it gleaned through Jean Forbes. And, of course, Lady Catherine’s parties were a source of information which the old woman, Jean Forbes and discreetly invited Jacobite sympathisers were adept at picking up.

“I must away,” he said.

McLaurin’s mouth opened in a toothless grin.

“Too many home truths for you?”

“No. I want to get back to Duddingston early. I thought we’d use the old kirk there when the time comes.”

McLaurin nodded in approval.

“So I’ll be having a word with the minister,” Ewan concluded.

The old woman studied the man’s appearance, impressed at the flowing white hair and mock beard, wrinkles and pockmarks.

“I’ll say this for you,” she said, “you’re a marvel with the disguises. Who are you today? William Watt, the Aberdeen merchant? The Reverend Samuel Proudfoot?”

“Neither,” Ewan retorted. “I’m simply making sure I can walk the streets without being apprehended by the militia or the City Guard.” A sudden thought struck him. “By the way, what does Lady Catherine think of the latest events?”

McLaurin regarded him coldly. Just as well we’re on the same side, Ewan thought; I’d hate to have this old biddy as an adversary!

“Lady Catherine knows nothing. She is unaware of the part you play. She is unaware of the colonel’s intent. She remains a loyal Hanoverian in keeping with her upbringing and does not know where my – our – sympathies lie. That said, I love her dearly and would not have her come to harm.”

Her last words held a warning which Ewan could not fail to notice.

“Rest assured, ma’am,” he promised. “Your mistress will be safe.”

McLaurin cackled.

“Why is it your words don’t comfort me as they should? Could it be because you’ve made an almighty mess of things recently?”

An urgent rap came at the door and Jean Forbes entered, her face flushed.

“I’ve just heard, ma’am,” she blurted out. “You know my friend, Ellie? She’s been arrested by the captain, accused o’ mixing with Jacobite agents. And, oh, ma’am, they say she could be hanged along with Mr Porteous!”

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.