The Glens of Stone – Episode 69

“You let him escape!” Miss McLaurin accused Ewan later, as they sat in Lady Catherine’s drawing-room.

“Aye. Sandy and I searched all the floors, but the fellow had gone for sure,” Ewan admitted.

As they spoke, Lady Catherine joined them.

“You’re looking much better, McLaurin,” she commented. “You’ve got your colour back. Who was this man who threatened you?” McLaurin had finally told her a version of the truth.

“A man from my past,” the old woman said, adding silently, “and yours, too, if you but knew it.”

She shrugged.

“’Twas nothing, really: he was drunk and didn’t know what he was doing.”

Lady Catherine frowned.

Should we not inform the City Guard and have them look for him?”

“With respect, ma’am, the man was in costume and will have shed it by now,” Ewan said. “Rest assured I’ll inform the appropriate people.”

He looked meaningfully at McLaurin who nodded almost imperceptibly.

“And what of your maidservant, Miss Forbes?” Ewan asked.

“No. Goodness knows where the wretched girl has disappeared to.” Lady Catherine’s face was lined with worry. “It’s not like her.”

“Don’t let her actions spoil a good night,” McLaurin urged. “The ball will be remembered for years to come. Rest assured, all present enjoyed themselves, my lady.”

Mollified, Lady Catherine looked at Ewan.

“When you return to your Jacobite masters, Mr Ogilvie, perhaps you will tell them how Edinburgh’s gentry don’t give a fig for their presence here.”

“That I will, your ladyship, yet I fear you fail to appreciate the Prince’s wish that the citizens go about their business as usual.”

“Miss Chalmers has returned to the Mission, I understand?” McLaurin asked him.

“Aye. My friend McCrae and Mr Porteous escorted the ladies back to the Canongate. Ellie – Miss Chalmers – is very grateful to her ladyship for her hospitality during her indisposition.”

“I had little say in admitting the girl to my home, did I, McLaurin?”

“It was a good Christian act, my lady,” Ewan put in, “and one I’m sure will stand you in good stead.”

“With whom, pray?”

“All in good time.”

Lady Catherine looked puzzled.

“I take it this has something to do with the mysterious summons we have received to the old kirk at Duddingston on Monday?”

“Perhaps.” Ewan was non-committal.

Lady Catherine made for the door.

“It is time I retired,” she announced. “Goodnight to you, Mr Ogilvie. I may or may not see you on Monday night. Much depends on whether I wish to attend or not.”

“You’ll be there, ma’am,” Ewan retorted. “If need be, I will cart you there myself, bound and gagged.”

Outraged, Lady Catherine made to give a stinging retort. Something in Ewan’s eyes, however, made her hesitate. There was a coldness there.

“I don’t like the company you keep, McLaurin,” she said, and swept from the room.

“Don’t worry, lad, she’ll be there,” McLaurin assured him. “I’ll see to it.”

* * * *

Ewan took his leave after ensuring that Robert Marshall was still comfortable. Robert was eager to know what his captor intended for him, but Ewan would give him only a sparse assurance.

“You’ll be freed soon and may then do as you wish.”

As he stepped into the street he almost cannoned into a uniformed sergeant of the City Guard about to seek admittance.

“You’ll be one of the household, sir?” the man asked.

“No. A visitor.” Ewan’s gaze turned to where two other guards stood further down the street. “What’s amiss?”

“We’ve found a young girl, sir, in yonder close.” The man pointed to where his two men stood. “One of the Assembly Rooms’ servants recognised her, and thought she came from here.”

“Lead me to her, man,” Ewan commanded.

As they neared the close the two guards moved aside to let them pass. In the gloom Ewan found it hard to see.

“Give me a light,” he demanded and one of the guards passed him a lantern.

In its glow Ewan made out a girl’s form lying on the ground, and he kneeled down beside her.

She lay white-faced, her eyes closed, and he placed two fingers on her neck where it met the jaw, feeling for a pulse . . .

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.