The Mystery Of Anna Grace – Episode 06

On Friday afternoon of the second week, Charlie was alone in the office, updating the website, with Ghillie the cat sitting on her desk in the wintry sunlight.

Harriet had Friday afternoons off and had shown Charlie the templates for standard replies, giving the hotel’s rates and a link to the website, so she was able to deal with any queries.

Charlie heard a key in the back door and voices. Mr Robin was back early from work and she could hear him chatting to Katarina, and Rufus, the elderly chocolate Labrador, was barking a welcome.

Charlie finished the latest post for the website, as Harriet said everything had to be approved by Robin before it was uploaded.

Charlie felt a knot of apprehension. She found Robin Graystone as intimidating as he had been at the interview.

Not that intimidating bosses were new to Charlie, but she had never worked anywhere with such a small staff before and knew that she would have to work hard to prove her worth.

Charlie quickly proofread what she had written.

Perhaps Robin would go straight up to see his mother, who often watched television in the afternoons when she wasn’t out somewhere with Katarina.

Robin came into the office area.

“How’s it going, Charlie?”

“Fine, thanks. Just a few queries about rates and someone from Canada who would be interested in staying during the summer when he traces his roots.”

“What have you got there?” Robin said.

“I’m updating the website. It’s not quite ready –”

“Give it here. Two pairs of eyes are always better than one,” Robin told her.

Charlie handed over what she had written so far.

Robin scanned it briefly.

“This is good,” he said. “Have you had the proper tour?”

“Well, Katarina gave me a tour when I arrived, but then the phone rang . . .” Charlie began.

“Why don’t I show you the library?” Robin said. “There might be papers and photos you could upload to the website. I always meant to do it myself, but there’s never time.”

“Thanks,” Charlie replied, following Robin down the hall to a room to the right of the big front door.

“It’s a bit of a mish-mash, as you can see,” Robin said. “The library never had aspirations to be a grand one, full of first editions.

“But we’ve tried to put anything of value to the family here. We don’t know what has already disappeared.

“Guests did have a habit of taking books to their rooms and Mother always took the famous Anna Grace hospitality maxim a little too literally.”

Robin indicated the now-locked glass-fronted bookcases, full of ancient Agatha Christies, popular classics and a nice set of Dickens, though Charlie couldn’t see her favourite, “A Tale Of Two Cities”.

Robin took a key from a drawer.

“In here is where all the journals and old household ledgers were kept. Some of Anna’s journals are there, and Uncle Tom’s typescript is in that box.”

Robin indicated a box file. He took it out, showing Charlie a manuscript.

“What’s this?” Charlie asked, intrigued.

“Anna Graystone kept a diary. You mentioned you knew about her at the interview,” Robin pointed out.

“I had a great-uncle who was always in a bit of bother. To keep him out of trouble, my grandfather set him the task of chronicling the house’s history, so Uncle Tom started to type up Anna’s diaries.”

“Can I read this?” Charlie said, intrigued to learn more of the woman whose kind face smiled down at her from the portrait outside the door of the library.

“If you’re interested,” Robin said. “Don’t be surprised if there are gaps in his transcription. He never finished the project.

“The war intervened and the house was given over to evacuees, and the land to digging for victory, so the diaries were forgotten.”

“I love things like this,” Charlie said, gently lifting the first page of typewritten manuscript.

“I wanted to stay on at university to do some research, but there wasn’t the funding.”

“Feel free to look at whatever you like. Now, why don’t you upload that post to the website and call it a day, Charlie?” Robin added, looking at his watch.

Charlie knew when she was being dismissed.

Abigail Phillips

Abbie is the newest member of the fiction team at the "Friend." She loves how varied the role is - every day is different and there is always a new story to read. She is keen to work closely with established writers and discover new writers, too.