The Mystery Of Anna Grace – Episode 09

Charlie and Robin found the lad asleep in one of the bays, in a sleeping bag on the damp concrete. Charlie nearly tripped on the sunken trough that ran along the floor of the byre for hosing out the animals.

“If you stay here much longer, lad, you’ll freeze,” were Robin’s first words.

The boy couldn’t have been much older than sixteen. He wore a hoodie and jeans which hadn’t seen the inside of a washing machine in a long time.

“Don’t call the police. I didn’t take nothing,” he pleaded.

“I don’t think there’s much worth taking,” Robin replied quietly. “Come on, let’s get you into the warm.”

He helped the young lad up. He stood nearly as tall as Robin himself.

“Charlie, tell Katarina to heat some soup and make sure the bed in the end cottage is made up.”

Charlie was reluctant to leave. However, the boy was shaking with cold so she knew it was better to do as she was told. She hurried on up to the house.

*  *  *  *

The boy, who was called Dean, was now sitting by the warmth of the range, eating borscht while Ghillie the cat watched proceedings, anxious for a morsel of the chunky steak pieces in the soup.

Katarina was clucking like a mother hen.

“I’m going to run you a warm bath, then we will take you to the end cottage where you will get good sleep.” She turned to Charlie. “Go to the box of the lost things and see if you can find anything clean. No, the box of lost things will not have enough.”

“I’ll see if Mr Robin has anything spare,” Charlie replied.

Robin waved this away as if it were a minor detail.

Charlie hurried up to Robin’s room. She was never in here, as she only helped Katarina with the rooms in the guest wing.

It was neat but strangely spartan in a way that only male bedrooms could be.

She found a T-shirt, jeans, socks and a jumper that looked suitable and hurried down.

Robin was standing in the yard, smoking a cigarette.

“I was meant to give these up as a New Year’s resolution,” he said before Charlie could comment.

“I’m wondering whether to take Dean to the hospital to get him checked out. Heaven alone knows how long he has been sleeping there. Should I alert the authorities?”

Charlie pulled her coat tighter around her as flakes of snow started to fall.

“See what Katarina thinks,” Charlie suggested. “He doesn’t appear to be injured, just hungry. As for the authorities, could you phone the station in the morning?

“Let the lad get a decent night’s sleep and you may find that the whole story will come tumbling out.”

Robin stubbed out his cigarette, grinding it into the gravel at his feet.

“You’re right, of course,” he said. “Not many people can keep things from Katarina. Come on, let’s go inside before we freeze.”

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.