The Glens of Stone – Episode 66

Thomas McLean stood at the doorway watching the couples perform a stately minuet. He edged his way along the ballroom to the servants’ room.

A group of girls watched the dancers from the partially screened doorway, among them Jean Forbes. He caught her attention and she sidled towards him.

“Tell me, where are your mistress and her companion?”

Jean stood on tiptoe to see over the heads of the crowd, and pointed.

“Over there, sir.”

McLean followed her finger.

“The old wife with the cane – that’s Ann McLaurin?”

“Aye, sir.”

“And is the whole household here?”

Jean nodded.

“Even Ellie Chalmers, sir. She was hurt and taken in till she recovered.”

McLean’s interest rose and Jean eagerly told him all she knew of Ellie.

“You say she works in this Mission House?” he probed further, and Jean nodded vigorously.

“With Kirsty McAllan and her father, and Alison Porteous and her brother. That’s them seated there in the corner.”

McLean gazed at the group, his mind turning over.

“This girl Chalmers – how did she come to receive care in Lady Catherine’s house?”

“I do not know. She was carried in by Mr Ogilvie and McLaurin insisted she be looked after.”

“And the Ogilvie person – who’s he, exactly?”

“He’s been coming to the house for near a year now. Leaves messages with McLaurin and does her bidding, too. He’s not a friend of her ladyship. He’s a Jacobite; an army officer.”

“Is he here?” McLean’s eyes gleamed.

“I don’t know, sir. He should be, but I couldn’t pick him out in costume.”

“You’ve done well,” he assured her, “and will be rewarded soon.”

*  *  *  *

Ewan stood on the sidelines watching the dancers executing a reel. Sandy, Malcolm, Alison and Kirsty had formed a set and were delightedly swinging each other around.

Ellie had dragged a rather unwilling John Porteous on to the floor to make up another set and was gamely pulling and pushing him through the intricate movements of the dance.

Eventually the reel ended and the couples sought their seats. Catching Sandy’s eye, Ewan beckoned and the other man joined him, drawing a cloth from his monk’s habit to mop his brow.

“You’ve told Alison all she needs to know about you now?” Ewan asked.

Sandy nodded.

“She was a bit wary at first, but I think now she’s accepted my explanations. I’m sure we’ll be married afore the year’s out.”

Ewan looked askance.

“May I remind you that, like me, you’re a soldier and we’re at war. There will be time enough for marriage when the Prince is safely enthroned in London.”

Sandy’s face fell.

“You’re right, as usual. We were so glad to see each other our emotions ran away with us.”

“I know how it is, my friend,” Ewan said, his eyes straying over Sandy’s shoulder to watch Ellie laughing gaily at some remark.

Aware that Sandy was itching to return to his beloved, he dropped his voice.

“I want you to ensure certain of our friends attend a meeting on Monday night.” He listed the names. “Seven o’clock sharp, at the kirk. And post sentries. We don’t wish to be disturbed.”

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.