The Glens Of Stone – Episode 82

This was so much for everyone to take in. Crawford broke the ensuing silence.

“I would only add two things. Those who took the girls were pledged to total secrecy and were warned that the day might come when the girls’ true parentage would be revealed. I’m grateful that these pledges were kept, though mindful of the hurt this must have caused. Secondly, I had arranged that money be made available to those who took the babes, but the Frasers would not accept theirs and such as was given to Ellie’s adoptive parents went missing after their deaths.”

He shifted his gaze.

“You and your family were not well off, John, and were grateful for what I sent, I am sure.”

“I was, sir.” John nodded, his face grave.

“I know there was a period when you received nothing,” the colonel continued, “and for that I am sorry. It emerged that my factor at that time had been embezzling the estate funds and was not using them for the purpose I’d ordered.”

“I can assure you,” Ewan broke in grimly, “that the factor concerned was made fully aware of his error.”

All present grasped the import of Ewan’s menacing words.

“The present factor is a fine, upstanding fellow. The estate is called Glencorrie and is in Morayshire, and is very well managed now,” Crawford added.

“Alastair, I find this all reprehensible,” Lady Catherine called out suddenly. “For over twenty years these four young people have laboured under grave misapprehensions, believing that the only parents they ever knew were their natural ones. And Ellie, poor girl, didn’t even have that, but lived the life of a skivvy!”

“I was not misled,” Alison interrupted. “Like I said, I have known for some time.”

She turned to John and Agnes.

“I heard you talking one night, wishing you had not taken me in.”

“I would you had not heard that.” John Porteous groaned.

“It’s all right, I understand everything now.”

“But, Alastair!” Lady Catherine held up her hand imperiously. “What I wish to know now are your expectations of these young people. Are they to rush forward, enfold you in their arms and cry, ‘Papa’?”

The colonel made to defend himself but Lady Catherine cut him off.

“I have not finished. Are Kirsty and Alison to leave their respective homes, thus causing the lives of the Porteouses and Mr McAllan to be that much emptier? And what of Robert? Is he now to embrace the Jacobite cause and fly in the face of all he’s been reared to believe in?”

She turned and indicated Ellie.

“As this girl said, she alone can accept this more than the others.” She glared. “You have done a dreadful thing this day, Alastair.”

Crawford looked woefully at her.

“My God, woman, you’ve a terrible tongue in you. Always had, if I remember rightly. I can accept all you say, Catherine, my dear, but please allow me to explain.”

* * * *

In the gallery Thomas McLean stirred restlessly. He’d heard every word that had been said below, and as he’d listened a burning rage had grown within him. He had been betrayed by the old harridan, and his master Sir Patrick had been maligned!

As for the man Crawford, how dare he stand down there, smugly revealing himself as the father of four brats? Teeth clenched, McLean lifted his pistol and eased himself forward. Trusting that no tell-tale creak would reveal his presence, he reached the guard rail and waited . . .

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.