The Mystery Of Anna Grace – Episode 23

She was back to Uncle Tom’s typed-up manuscript, as the journal she had found seemed to be from a month or two later.

As usual, it was confusing, so Charlie kept a notebook handy, noting down dates and events to try to keep things straight in her head.

Poor Anna had not been having the easiest time, either.

After dinner, when the children were finally in bed, with John insisting that he should not be made to sleep in the nursery as he was a big boy now, Jacob and I were able to talk.

The weeks are so busy, with Jacob being away from six-thirty in the morning, that days go by when we barely even greet each other.

Sunday seemed to have revived him, as he had looked pale these last few weeks, as if the strain of his uncle’s death and the building work had all taken their toll.

“I talked to the fellow who owns the acres down by the river,” Jacob said, lighting his pipe. “He said that the latest caper for the great and the good is to build a folly. What do you think?”

A folly? My heart sank. How may I dissuade him from such foolishness? We will be ruined before the year is out.

Charlie turned to the next page. The next entry was a week later, and here Uncle Tom’s haphazard research methods confused things.

There was a short section about household accounts. More servants had obviously been engaged, as this was noted in the journal. The dates didn’t tally, but Charlie read on, as Ghillie (who had taken a shine to Charlie’s cottage) purred beside her on the sofa.

What happened about the folly, Charlie wondered. The fact that she had never seen one on Anna Grace land was possibly all the answer she needed, but still, she wanted to find out.

She went through more pages, telling of John starting at school, then the journal was full of plans for a dairy room. Anna talked about how she called on a neighbouring farmer’s wife.

Their dairy room is efficient with milkmaids hard at work. They churn their own butter, and their churns are scalded to keep them clean.

All I would need would be a good solid outbuilding with an area where butter could be churned and the milk pails and churns kept.

She impressed on me the need for natural light and a secure building to guard against foxes or thieves.

Charlie read on, making the occasional note in her own notebook of dates, activities and how old the children would have been.

That was where the household ledger came in useful. The journals were Anna’s private thoughts, but the ledger was also for Mrs Fanshawe. Charlie could recognise two sets of handwriting.

The estate was prospering, as there was a note of three young women hired, so they must have been milkmaids.

She wondered if the milkmaids would have made the butter as well and jotted a note to look that up.

Then there was talk in the journals of labourers, stonemasons and the cost of things, so that must have been the dairy room being built.

Charlie smiled, putting down her pen. Follies were aptly named indeed.

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.