The Glens of Stone – Episode 59

At Lady Catherine Gray’s house, Jean Forbes pulled the door open.

“What in the . . .?” she began as Ewan pushed past her.

He reached the first level where McLaurin was waiting.

“Follow me,” she ordered, leading him to a room on the floor above.

Ewan lowered Ellie on to the bed in the low-ceilinged room. The girl was still unconscious, blood pouring from a head wound.

Gently, McLaurin patted her hair.

“There, lassie,” she crooned, “you’re made of strong stuff.”

She glanced round, noting Ewan’s bewilderment at her tenderness.

“If you only knew,” she said sadly, “if you only knew.”

* * * *

“You’re sure she’ll recover?” Colonel Crawford asked, his face drawn.

“So Doctor Turner assured me, sir,” Ewan replied. “A flesh wound and superficial bruising, he said.”

“Thank God! If I ever meet that wretch Guest I’ll string him up!”

“If you’ll forgive me, sir, there is Monday night to consider.” Ewan’s voice was calm.

A frown crossed Crawford’s face.

“A few days away. Will Ellie be able to make the journey?”

“We don’t know as yet. Perhaps a short postponement? Some extra days would . . .”

“No.” Alastair Crawford shook his head. “The Prince is planning his move into England and, of course, Johnny Cope is huffing and puffing to the east. Come Monday I may not be here, nor –” he said pointedly “– may you or McCrae.”

“I see, sir.”

“Aye. Your spying days are over for now. It’s back to soldiering for you after we’ve seen our mission through.”

“I’ll not be sorry, Colonel,” Ewan said quietly. “I prefer to be out in the open rather than skulking in the background.”

Crawford laughed.

“Surely it wasn’t that bad? I’m certain there were, shall we say, interesting people to meet. Females especially, such as Miss Chalmers,” he teased.

Ewan reddened.

“Aye, she’s a lovely girl any man would be proud to take as a wife. But I’m only a soldier, and she’s none too enamoured over my partnership with McCrae. Besides . . .” Ewan gave a gesture of helplessness. “Miss Chalmers is one of those you charged me to protect. With patronage such as yours I would hardly dare allow my thoughts of her to become romantic.”

A faint smile crossed Crawford’s face.

“I take your point, but who knows what fate has in store?”

“Captain Marshall had an interest in Miss Chalmers,” Ewan reminded his superior.

“So he did, Ewan. I remember smiling when I received your report on that young man. A most unfortunate choice, though happily short-lived. And then he appeared to be captivated by Miss McAllan, or was it Alison Porteous?”

“His feelings were difficult to gauge, sir. Apart from his anger, I’m afraid.”

“Hmm. Captain Marshall has an unfortunate tendency to tread the wrong paths, both in love and war.”

The colonel’s comments intrigued Ewan. However, he knew his commander well and realised he would have to wait until the man deemed the moment right for further revelations.

As if reading his thoughts, Crawford drew some papers from his pouch.

“Take these,” he ordered. “They contain orders for your duties at Monday night’s meeting. Read them well, Major, for I want you word perfect.”

“You may rely on me, sir.”

“I know that, Ewan,” the colonel said softly, “but you’ll be wearing a private’s uniform on Tuesday morning if anything goes wrong.”

“There’s one other matter, sir. Lady Catherine is holding a grand masquerade ball on Saturday night. The cream of Edinburgh society will be in attendance, including myself and many we know or care about,” Ewan added knowingly. “Miss McLaurin has been lavish with her invitations.”

Disappointment showed on Crawford’s face.

“Just my luck that Lord George Murray is intent on briefing us that evening on the campaign, otherwise you could have sneaked me in, Ewan. Ah, well,” he said philosophically, “perhaps it’s best that you all enjoy yourselves for a few hours. You’ve earned it, my friend.”

Ewan saluted, ready to leave, when Crawford raised a cautionary finger.

“Guard them well,” he said. “Guard them well.”

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.