5

AS MUNGO INVITED Maggie Ralston to go with him to the cemetery Nan Fraser was nearby listening, and he found himself wishing it could be her. Contemplating and smelling her warm living perfumed flesh would have helped him to forget Bess’s, already rotting.

If he was not going to degenerate altogether into a sponger and lecher, castrated of all ideals, he would need another kind of help. Only from Peggy, he thought, could he get it. In herself she was brave and inviolable, but she would also remind him fruitfully of the days when as a young father he had liked to push her in her pram or take her hand as she toddled about. Surely she would be waiting by the grave, with this gift of redemption.

The sight of the coffin and the multitude of wreaths, and above all of Billy weeping, had calmed the women in the street, so that when Mungo appeared, with Maggie courageously beside him, he was greeted with grim silence, broken only by sobs and an occasional yell from someone in the rear. Guarded by a young policeman, he waited till his car came along. Then he helped Maggie up into it, and climbed in after her. As if they saw him escaping from their wrath the women, now that the hearse was out of sight, began to shout again, and this time they included Maggie in the abuse. Not even her accepted weak-wittedness excused her this treachery.

“I’m sorry, Maggie,” he said. “I forgot.”

“I didnae. I’m used to being thought daft.”

Looking out, she caught sight of Mrs. McKenzie, Ishbel’s

-177-

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A Very Scotch Affair
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • A Very Scotch Affair 1
  • Title Page 3
  • Part One 5
  • 1 7
  • 2 15
  • 3 23
  • 4 33
  • 5 39
  • 6 48
  • 7 58
  • 8 63
  • 9 73
  • 10 82
  • 11 94
  • 12 101
  • 13 109
  • 14 117
  • 15 127
  • Part Two 135
  • 1 137
  • 2 143
  • 3 150
  • 4 158
  • 5 177
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