The Glens of Stone – Episode 47

As the news sank in that Ellie might be hanged, McLaurin glared at Ewan.

“I thought you’d sorted out young Marshall?” She heaved a sigh. “I wouldn’t be in your shoes, Mr Ogilvie. Just wait till the colonel learns of this.”

At that same moment, Captain Robert Marshall was suffering a similar fate at the hands of General Guest. Robert had never seen the old man so angry.

“I send you on a simple mission and you return with two captives – possibly innocent, I may add! What possessed you, man?” General Guest banged his desk. “The rebel army is now but a day away and Colonel Gardiner is ready to march against them. Cope is heading up the east coast as we speak. He’ll put the fear of death in the hearts of the Jacobites right enough.

“And while brave men are preparing for battle, what was my gallant captain doing? He was terrorising worshippers, arresting a well-known bookseller and a slip of a girl!” He raised an eyebrow. “Nor should we forget the escape of the man Ogilvie – or your masterstroke in causing bodily harm to Miss Porteous, albeit unintentionally.”

Robert licked dry lips.

“As I’ve said, sir, the establishment was being used by rebel sympathisers.”

“Proof?” Guest barked.

“Sergeant McCrae’s previous observations and a gut feeling that all was not well. I’m sure the prisoners will confirm our suspicions.”

“Porteous and the girl? The man’s highly respected and well connected. I’ve already had applications for his release from lawyers acting for his family and Lady Catherine Gray’s household, among others. As for this Ellie Chalmers, the McAllans are demanding her release. Tell me, what ill do you suppose she’s done?”

“She’s friendly with Ogilvie,” Robert retorted, “and I’m sure she’s doing his bidding.”

“Proof?” the general said again.

“We could loosen their tongues, sir,” Robert pleaded.

“Oh, aye. And how would that look to the citizens? Torturing an old man and a bonnie young girl. No.” The general shook his head. “We have to let them go.”

“But they’re spies, sir! If the rebels reach here, their funds and numbers will be increased thanks to Porteous and his followers. I say we should hunt them all down and put a stop to their activities.”

“A waste of time, Captain. You should see that, having tried and only returning with two insignificant citizens.”

“Insignificant!” Robert’s anger rose, his patience finally at an end. “It was you who pointed the finger at Porteous. My whole mission was at your instigation! If you recall, I was hesitant but you insisted.”

“Enough!” the general shouted. “I don’t recall naming names or issuing such instructions. All I hoped was that you, Marshall, would look the place over and then, if you had proof, consult me and seek my advice.”

Robert fumed. Guest was denying his previous orders! What was wrong with the man?

“May I know your wishes as regards Porteous and the girl then, sir?” he asked quietly. “Do you wish them released?”

The old man rose and crossed to the window, tottering a little so that he had to grab a chair for support.

“Blast these stiff old joints.” He groaned, then turned to Robert.

“Release them? That would only make us look bigger fools. No, let them both cool their heels, and who knows, perhaps proof of their guilt may yet come to light.” A crafty expression crossed his face.

“In that respect, send McCrae to Porteous’s shop and home to rummage about. Maybe the man has been careless and left incriminating documents around. And if the girl is truly this Ogilvie fellow’s lady-friend, who knows? Perhaps he’ll try to visit her.”

Robert saluted and made to leave.

“Oh, and Captain, tell McCrae I want his report on Porteous this afternoon and thereafter he’s to report to Gardiner for active duty. He let us down. Caught unawares by Ogilvie. A civilian!”

Robert clenched his fists, but the general hadn’t finished yet.

“I’ll be sending a full report of this unfortunate affair to London. And neither you nor McCrae will be receiving praise for your parts in it.”

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.