The Glens of Stone – Episode 54

John Porteous looked gravely at Malcolm, who flushed.

“What was your question, son?”

“I asked how you could use places of worship to further your own political beliefs – or will you claim that they came solely to receive God’s grace?”

“Aye,” Ellie said, siding with Malcolm, “did some folk come here for reasons other than worship, Mister Porteous?”

“They weren’t heathens, Malcolm; they just wanted to help restore the Stuarts to the throne rather than have foreigners who can scarce speak our tongue.”

“So treason’s fine, is it?” Malcolm retorted. “And what about the rest of us?” He indicated the others. “We were innocents with no idea what was going on. How could you endanger us, Father?”

All eyes fell on John Porteous.

“It was wrong of me to involve you all in a dangerous game,” he conceded. “There were good reasons for my actions, but I can’t reveal them. I ask that you bear with me and perhaps we may all learn something.”

Ignoring their obvious curiosity, he took his wife’s arm.

“If you’ll excuse us, Agnes and I must be on our way. There’s someone we must see, then we must go to Duddingston.”

Something in his father’s voice gave Malcolm a feeling of disquiet.

“I’ll come with you, Father.”

“There’s no need. We will be safe enough. The Redcoats are all hiding behind the castle walls, shivering with fear!”

At the door he paused, apologetic.

“I’ve said little about your proposed marriage, Malcolm, but you have made a good choice.”

As the door closed on his parents, Malcolm felt let down by his father’s words. He’d made a good choice? Was that all he could say? Kirsty was a wonderful girl, deserving of greater praise.

“Thank you for your warm wishes, Father,” he cried, “and the enthusiasm behind them!”

* * * *

Thomas McLean watched as Jean Forbes chewed solemnly on a large piece of pie crust.

“Her ladyship’s arranging a grand ball,” she confided. “On Saturday in the Assembly Rooms. She says it’s a gesture of defiance to show the rebels she and her friends won’t be intimidated.”

“There’s no way I will be on the guest list.” McLean looked rueful and Jean took the bait.

“Perhaps there is, sir,” she said. “The invitations are not all handed out yet. I can get one for you! It won’t be missed.”

“Good.” McLean rubbed his chin. “Though I’ll be an obvious stranger among all Cath . . . Lady Catherine’s friends.”

“Not so, sir. There will be close to two hundred there! One half won’t know the other, and some will be the old wifie’s friends, and they’re not all known to Lady Catherine, for sure.” Jean dealt her trump card. “Besides, it’s a masquerade ball. You go in costume, sir, and wear a mask. No-one will know you from Adam.”

* * * *

Miss McLaurin listened attentively to John and Agnes Porteous. When they’d finished she fidgeted with her cane.

“I suppose things could have been worse,” she muttered. “At least you’re still alive.”

“There was no proof of treason,” John protested. “My people would never have given me away.”

“Perhaps not,” the old woman said, “but Ogilvie’s freedom was jeopardised, too. That would have been disastrous. The colonel would not have been pleased.”

“Away with you, woman,” John said irritably. “I did what was asked of me: the Prince will have money and men afore he leaves the city. Ewan’s safe enough now and I’ve no doubt he’s getting a clap on the back from the colonel, though it was me who did all the hard work.”

“Ewan Ogilvie had much more to do than keep an eye on your piffling wee groups, you great oaf!” McLaurin cried. “There’s been many more things afoot than you know of.”

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.