Echoes From The Past – Episode 52


Apart from the Taylors, there could be all sorts of people in and around the castle that she knew nothing about. She really couldn’t do anything until she had some more information. But by then, how many more of Dan’s designs would go walkabout?

As far as Holly could see, Dan was far too trusting. And possibly a tad careless. Not that she liked him any less for that.

She schooled herself to think no more about him for the moment, and then her mobile went off.

“Holly? It’s Anne Hepburn here,” came a friendly voice from the phone.

Holly almost fell off her chair with surprise. It was spooky.

“Hello, Anne.”

They exchanged the usual pleasantries, until Anne said, “I don’t want to keep you from your work, but I have a huge favour to ask of you. A bit of an emergency situation.”

“Fire away.”

“We’ve got a wedding on this Saturday at the castle, and I just wondered if by any chance you were free to lend us a hand. The caterer and I work together as a team, and this time she has landed up severely short handed on the waitress front. Lots of her staff have come down with stomach bugs, apparently, and you can’t have that anywhere near food.

“I’ve got Fiona Webster coming, but we’re still short. Daniel says that you have some waitressing experience. Is that right?”

Holly laughed.

“Sure. Well, I did a lot as a student, and I do have a particular skill with trays of champagne glasses. Don’t ask me why. I just have.”

“Perfect,” Anne breathed. “Could you do it? The pay’s not bad, and Jane’s a lovely person to work for. She’d be eternally grateful. It’ll save her going to an agency, which could remove most of her profits.”

“If you think I’m up to it, I’d be happy to help out. I will have to check with my aunt first, though. She’s able to be left most of the time, but I’d have to ask. Can I call you back?”

When she went through to the kitchen to discuss the wedding with Bea, Angela was polishing the kitchen taps as if her life depended on it.

Holly told Bea about Anne Hepburn’s call, and before Bea had time to answer, Angela rushed right in.

“I’ll come. I can make Miss Seagrave’s tea and keep her company. Honestly, I’d love to. Besides, Jim’s home at the moment. He can keep an eye on Ryan.”

She was so earnest and so grateful, and it was such a perfect solution, that Holly had no qualms about returning Anne’s call and fixing the details.

It was the strangest thing, but just the thought of being anywhere near Daniel Hepburn, even if he was at the other end of the estate, made her feel a little peculiar. She barely knew the man, and here she was, fluttering like a schoolgirl. It was nonsensical.

The details about Saturday’s wedding arrangements were discussed and settled, after which Holly gave up work for the morning.

As she stood up from the table, she glanced out of the dining-room window, and there at the kerbside was the same grey saloon she had seen just a couple of weeks before. Not only was it back, but someone was emerging from it, and coming in the front gate.

 ****

It was barely light when Hector saw Pate Joiner with his cart approaching the south gate of the town, and rushed out to stop him.

“Off to help the suffering, are you, Pate? Making an early start?” Hector asked.

Pate, who had thought no further than seeing if any pickings remained that would be worth his attention, answered with a grunt.

“I’ll pay you to go to Dunskillen instead,” Hector added.

Pate was bemused. Why would anyone want to go to an old castle miles away?

“You’ll take Mirin, and hand her over to Friar Petrus. Don’t ask, just do it. And mind you take no diversions, or you’ll not see the inside of the Cockerel again. Is that understood? I’ll pay a fair rate.”

Thus it was that Mirin found herself, after two hours’ tortured sleep, on the way to Dunskillen Castle, in the company of the doleful Pate, and in fear and trepidation of what awaited her at the other end.

In spite of his disgruntlement, Pate made good speed, and in a commendably short time, the castle hove into view. Not quite certain how to approach the place, or where Petrus and Thomas might be, Mirin did not know how to instruct Pate.

Pate stopped the cart among a group of trees, scanning the place for any signs of occupation, when suddenly there were indications of covert activity at the rear door of the castle.

The door opened, and a middle-aged man appeared with a manservant at his side. They carried only what they could fit on their persons, and made for the stables. Two minutes later, they emerged with a horse apiece, and made their way as silently as they could away from the castle and into the woods.

The Laird of Dunskillen was taking flight, leaving everything, including his wife, to the mercies of the victorious Scots.

lucycrichton

Fiction Editor Lucy is always on the look-out for the very best short stories, poems and pocket novels. As well as sourcing enjoyable content, she enjoys working with our established contributors, encouraging new talent, and celebrating 150 years of 'Friend' fiction!