The Legend Of Wychwood Manor – Episode 30

Characters from the serial playing a game.

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


“The bolting horse that Belle thought I had a hand in.

“I wondered if you were behind it, but I told myself it was just an accident, that the ties of blood between you could not be so easily forgotten.”

“Funnily enough, it was Gerard himself who gave me the idea,” Aunt Flora said. “Some story Piers told him.

“Luckily, Belle kept silent about it, or even Gerard, dull-witted as he is, might have started asking questions.

“He’s unaccountably fond of the little wretch.”

“Oh, how I wish I’d never begun this,” Josephine cried. She sounded wild and distraught.

“Compose yourself, Miss Manners,” Aunt Flora said.

“To start giving in to vain regret now is just foolish indulgence.

“Do you really want me to tell everyone about your sordid little affair with Dr Long?”

“It isn’t like that,” Josephine said, sounding so miserable Belle couldn’t help feeling sorry for her.

“Falling in love took us completely by surprise. If you only knew how we fought against it.

“Have you no pity in your heart?”

“I showed you forbearance,” Aunt Flora said coldly.

“Many employers would have dismissed you on the spot when they found out your shameful secret.

“Perhaps you’ve forgotten how you begged me for mercy after I found those outrageous love letters from the doctor?

“You wept and kissed my hand, telling me you were prepared to do anything if I kept the relationship hidden so Dr Long wouldn’t lose his reputation.

“I took you at your word, but now it seems you wish to break our bargain.”

“I meant what I said back then,” Josephine said.

“And you know how faithfully I’ve served you even when I haven’t agreed with you, but this is different.

“I’ve known for a long time what a stranglehold money has over you, but I never believed you capable of murder, for this is murder however much you dress it up.

“I should have defied you long ago. If you harm that girl, I’ll tell everyone what you are.”

“Bravely spoken, but I’m afraid you won’t get the opportunity,” Aunt Flora said grimly.

“Oh, Miss Manners, you don’t know me at all if you think I didn’t see this coming.

“I’ve risked far too much to lose it all now.”

Aunt Flora moved out of Belle’s sightline and called out in a loud voice.

“Pearse, Trenchard, come to me now!”

Belle couldn’t help jumping. She froze, hoping Aunt Flora hadn’t noticed, squeezing her eyes shut.

She felt intensely vulnerable now her world consisted of total blackness with only her ears to tell her what was going on.

To her dismay, she heard the sound of footsteps coming closer.

Belle felt warm breath on her cheek and her aunt spoke, her voice silken-smooth, almost caressing.

“As for you, my girl, I don’t know how long you’ve been listening, but you’re certainly not asleep now.”

There was no point pretending any longer. Frightened and cold, Belle forgot caution.

“Just wait till Uncle Gerard finds out what you’re up to.

“As soon as he realises I’m not in my room, he’ll send out a search party.”

“I wouldn’t be so sure of that.

“When I show him your journal, I don’t think I’ll have much trouble convincing him that you’ve eloped with Foucault.

“Let me see now, what did it say? ‘I have given my heart to Jean Foucault. I cannot live without him’?

“My sweet young niece, it’s time for you to grow up.

“Nobody’s going to come looking for you. Not Gerard or your Frenchman or your little hussy of a maid.

“Lil’s far too sharp for her own good. I’ll make sure she leaves Wychwood before she smells a rat.

“Not before she brings me your journal, though.

“I find it’s always simpler to let things take their natural course – as you will discover at high tide tomorrow.”

A swarthy man with a bushy black beard joined Aunt Flora. He looked at Belle, an unpleasant gleam in his eyes.

“Do you want ’er disposed of?” he asked.

“I don’t want any actual bloodshed,” Flora said.

“Just tie their hands and feet tightly, and then rope them together back to back so there’s no chance of escape.”

“The nurse, too?” the second man said.

“Only I mind when she helped my sister’s boy.

“We was certain we were going to lose ’im, but somehow she pulled ’im through.”

Flora snorted.

“You think this woman is an angel of mercy?

“Watch her closely and see how she reacts to what I say next.”

She ran her finger along Josephine’s cheek, her lips thinning into a cruel smile at Josephine’s shudder.

“Look at me, Miss Manners, and deny if you can that you were the one who betrayed Jean Foucault’s crew.”

Josephine swayed, her face haggard.

“Oh, you are a devil.”

The bearded man seized Josephine’s arm roughly.

“Was it you?” he shouted. “Tell us the truth.”

Josephine hung her head.

“I had no choice,” she said. “Poor fools, how greatly you are deceived.

“Can’t you see what this woman really is?

“I did not want to betray Jean Foucault. She forced me to.

“Why do you fear Jocasta? Flora Fortescue is ten times more evil.”

The man clenched his fist.

“You’ll feel this if you don’t keep a civil tongue in your head,” he said fiercely.

“Don’t you dare say anything against Mistress Flora.

“She’s for us and always ’as been.”

“Thank you, Trenchard,” Flora said.

“I will always look after you and your families while I have breath in my body, but now we must protect ourselves.

“These women are a threat to our enterprise.

“They would stop us profiting from the sea which is our birthright. I say, let the sea take our revenge . . .”

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.