The Legend Of Wychwood Manor – Episode 22

Characters from the serial dancing

Want to listen to this instalment of our Daily Serial? Click the play button of our official audio player below:


Lil scowled as she jabbed her needle roughly through the thick folds of the scarlet cloak she was mending.

It was partly her own fault that she hadn’t been invited to the dance at the Black Bull to wet the head of the landlord’s new son, but she couldn’t help feeling left out.

Everybody else seemed to be going.

She sighed.

What she should have done was just laugh off Charley and Ellen’s insinuations about her kissing Elias on the shore.

It would soon have blown over if she hadn’t lost her temper.

And what exactly did that achieve? Nothing, except to make everyone avoid her in case she turned on them, too.

When will you learn, she scolded herself.

But that was not the worst of it. Why, oh why, had she taken it out on Elias, making out he was to blame for something that had been entirely her fault?

Now she felt bitterly ashamed, knowing that her pig-headedness had driven away the best friend she had at Wychwood.

She’d felt more alone than ever when she’d heard about the dance.

It was the first hint of anything approaching gaiety since she’d come to Wychwood and she was going to miss it.

Lil loved to dance.

It was something she’d always been good at ever since she was tiny.

She’d earned good money from it, too, ever since Abel first realised Lil’s diminutive figure capering around to the scraping of his fiddle not only drew “ooh”s and “aah”s from bystanders, but plenty of coppers in the hat.

She couldn’t help imagining the scene – the fiddlers sawing away while the dancers circled in jigs and reels, feet pounding the beer-stained boards, the women breaking off in one direction, the men in the other, before meeting to clasp hands and gallop up the centre.

Lil cursed aloud as she looked down at her task, realising that she’d made the stitches far too big.

She’d have to rip them out – every single one.

She threw the cloak down and sniffed loudly, wanting to bawl, but then she heard a soft tap at the door.

It was little Bet, the scullery maid, twisting her apron nervously.

“Please, miss, Elias is waiting outside the scullery and asks if you’d be kind enough to speak to him.”

Lil thought of the gossip in the servants’ hall if Charley and Ellen found out, but decided she couldn’t care less.

She needed to put things straight between her and Elias. She’d treated him appallingly. No wonder he’d kept away from her.

She hurried downstairs before she could change her mind, blurting out an apology as soon as she saw him.

“Elias, I’m sorry for what I did on the beach and even sorrier for how I behaved afterwards.”

“No call to be sorry, Lil. We weren’t ourselves on the beach.”

Weren’t we, Lil thought, feeling disappointed. Did he mean her kiss had meant nothing to him?

Elias was looking at her oddly as if he was waiting for her to say more, but she felt too miserable.

“So what have you come about?” she said dully.

“Have you heard there’s a dance in the village?”

She gave a wry smile.

“How could I not? Everybody’s talking about it.”

He hesitated.

“I expect you’ve already been asked by someone?”

Lil shook her head, not trusting herself to speak.

“In that case . . . would you like to go with me?”

Lil’s heart leaped. She’d thought all the hateful gossip about her had scared Elias away.

She was careful not to let her excitement show.

“All right,” she said. “I take it that means you can dance, Elias?”

“Enough to get by,” he said. “And with you on my arm, nobody will notice the odd missed step.

“I’ll pick you up at seven, Lil. All the servants are walking down together.”

To be continued…

An error has occurred while loading your details. Please click the following link to try again - if the issue persists, please don't hesitate to contact us. Try again by refreshing the page.