The Glens Of Stone – Episode 83

Ewan leaned back in his seat with his eyes half closed, watching the faces around him in turn, apparently relaxed but as much on the alert as ever.

Suddenly something caught his attention. Was that a movement in the gallery?

As Ewan strained his eyes to see, a shadow took shape – a man, low down but moving forward.

“Sir! Get down!”

Even as he shouted the warning the gloom was lit up by the flash from a pistol and Colonel Crawford staggered back, one hand clutching his neck.

As everyone around him ducked to the floor, Ewan stood up, drew his pistol and fired. The dark figure staggered, swayed, and then with a groan jerked and tottered forward, the momentum carrying him over the rail. He tumbled down and fell on the pews below.

Within seconds the others had gathered beside the stricken colonel, Ellie gently cradling his head on her knees.

Ewan, again acting alone, walked away from the huddle towards the man he’d shot. The body lay prone in a broken heap over one of the pew backs.

Ewan grabbed the man’s hair and peered at the face. The eyes opened.

“Crawford – is he dead?”

“You’ll never know,” Ewan whispered, drawing his knife.

He glanced up and caught Miss McLaurin’s questioning gaze. Roughly he turned the dead man’s face towards the old woman.

She studied the gaunt features, and nodded.

“McLean,” she whispered.

After a moment Ewan remembered Crawford, but any hopes he nurtured were dashed as the sound of sobbing reached him. The others stepped aside to let him through, and his eyes fixed on the awful neck wound.

He kneeled down, seeking any sign of life yet knowing in his heart it was fruitless. With gentle fingers he closed the dead man’s eyes.

The group around him gave him a moment to regain his composure. Finally he rose to face them, blinking away his tears.

“That will be all for now, ladies and gentlemen,” he said, his voice thick. “I would ask you all to return to the Canongate to wait for me.”

He gestured to McCrae.

“Sandy, stay with me. I’ll need your help.”

It was to Robert he spoke next.

“I have no hold on you now, though there are still matters to be imparted. If you wish, you may return to the castle with a safe conduct letter from me.”

“After this?” Robert cried, shaking with emotion. “You expect me to leave the others now? For heaven’s sake, that was my father! I may only have known of the fact for a few moments, but even so, surely I should attend to his remains.”

“I will keep you informed. The Army must be notified first and will decide on interment.”

Ewan’s tone prohibited further argument and he watched impassively as the group began to disperse.

Ellie, the front of her skirt stained with Crawford’s blood, placed her arms around Kirsty and Alison. The three girls looked down at the colonel’s lifeless form then, one by one, kneeled and kissed his forehead.

The silence grew heavy as the girls contemplated this father they had never known. Finally, they rose and walked together up the aisle, their arms wrapped around each other, until they were lost in the gloom.

Only then did Robert and the others follow.

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.