At six foot four in height Douglas McAllen was an immense, imposing, and regal presence that owned every room he walked into. Like Caitlin he lightly packed his tall and broad frame with lean flesh and muscles, somewhat slackened with time, without being either over or under weight. His face was crinkled with fine lines like cracked drying mud, and the equally wrinkled hand he extended to them betrayed a slight tremor from his sixty odd years of life on earth and from the strain of his daughter’s plight.
‘Harry Stavers?’ His deep voice resounded through the room. He slouched down and extended a hand to Harry whose five-foot eight-inch slim frame was dwarfed by the presence of the older man.
‘Pleased to meet you in person, Mr. Stavers, and thank you for stepping in to help my daughter and son-in-law so effectively. This is Magnus Laird from McKinley & Laird Solicitors.’
Magnus Laird walked in a step behind Douglas McAllen and was also a presence of massive proportions in his own right. The two or three inches in height and the half-a-dozen or so years in age he lacked relative to his client, he made up for with three or four stones of extra weight packed liberally around his torso. His face was dominated by a thick walrus moustache, which he was in the habit of combing down with his right forefinger every now and then.
‘How do you do, Mr. McAllen, Mr. Laird? Please call me Harry.’ Harry stood upright, greeting them with a steady voice of strength and confidence, like David facing Goliath.
‘Och aye, Mr. Stavers. It is a pleasure indeed my dear fellaw. I have heard much abit yer courtroom antics in the High Court from me fellow members of the bar in London.’
Laird bent forward to shake Harry’s hand heartily, taking care not to topple over, then straightened back up with great effort, momentarily holding onto his own back with his left hand the way pregnant women did.
‘And this must be Jeremy Stone.’ McAllen’s blue eyes crinkled further into a smile as he lithely took the half-length of the room with a few long strides. He put his left hand on Jeremy’s shoulder and shook his right hand. The old man liked him.
‘I have heard much about you, good things, from Caitlin and Jack. It is a pleasure to finally meet you, son. You must come and visit my factories in Aberdeen some time. I am always in need of a fine engineer of your calibre.’
‘I am honoured to meet you, sir.’ Jeremy bowed his head and smiled.
‘Och, aye, Mr. Stone, the Engineer. The one who made the laboratory in the barn for our dear Jack, I hear. Very clever, very clever indeed.’ Magnus Laird waddled, carrying his bulk across the room, and shook Jeremy’s hand heartily for a long minute or two with both of his.
‘I only gave Jack a hand, Mr. Laird,’ Jeremy protested, but he couldn’t help being cheered by his hearty appraisal.
‘It has already been a long morning for us and we don’t have much time before we have to face this bloody police interview. I need a word in private with Magnus and Caitlin first, and then we can discuss matters over a spot of lunch. How does that sound, Mr. Stavers, er, Harry?’