The Glens of Stone – Episode 68

Enraged and frustrated, Thomas McLean sought the stairway. Another second and the old crone would have felt his dagger between her ribs. Curse that fellow, whoever he was!

He kept looking over his shoulder in case he was being followed, but there was no sign of anyone.

Jean Forbes’s face appeared suddenly in front of him.

“I have more news for you, sir.”

“What is it? Be quick, girl, for I must be going.”

“They have been given a message, sir – her ladyship and the old woman. Perhaps some of the others, too. It was a man dressed as a monk, McCrae by name, who told them.”

“Told them what?”

“To be at the old kirk at Duddingston on Monday night, at seven o’clock. Is that of interest, sir?”

“Possibly.” McLean nodded thoughtfully. “In any event you’ll certainly be rewarded.”

“I hope the reward’s a fair one. After all, that’s two more things I’ve told you in the last fifteen minutes!”

“Don’t worry,” McLean said absentmindedly, “you’ll be paid.”

He was about to go when the import of her last words struck him.

“What do you mean, two things?”

Jean looked puzzled.

“Well, this, and about the young captain held prisoner in her ladyship’s house.”

McLean was filled with rage and dread. Who had the stupid wench told, if it wasn’t him? The answer was obvious – the other Roundhead. As to how much she’d said . . .

Suddenly he clapped a hand to his side, grimacing.

“What ails you?” the girl asked.

“It’s an old wound that troubles me at times. Could you help me downstairs? I must return to my lodgings to rest.”

Once outside, the pair tottered into the quiet street.

“Will you be all right now?” Jean asked anxiously. The man seemed very unwell.

“Aye, lass.” He gasped. “Perhaps a few steps further, then you can leave me.”

They neared the mouth of a dark close, then McLean paused.

“This’ll do fine – the pain’s easing.”

“If you’re sure I can’t be of any further use, sir?” Jean still looked concerned for him and McLean stifled a brief stab of pity.

“No, my dear, you are of no further use.”

He grabbed her, one hand gagging her mouth, and pulled her into the dark close. The terrified girl struggled fiercely, but McLean was able to reach his pistol.

“I’m sorry, Miss Forbes,” he whispered. “I really am.”

Then he pulled the trigger.

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.