The Mystery Of Anna Grace – Episode 25

On Sunday afternoon, Charlie tried to put all thoughts of Robin and Harriet to the back of her mind.

She rang her mother, giving her an edited version of life at Anna Grace, omitting any mention of her recent feelings for Robin, as she didn’t want her mother to worry that she was on the verge of another unwise romance.

“What are you doing with your time off?” her mother asked.

Charlie explained about the project to research Anna Graystone and her frustration over the gaps in the diaries.

“That sounds right up your street,” her mum said. “Why not treat Anna’s life as you used to treat your research projects at uni? Go to the library to see if you can uncover anything else.

“Talking of lost things, did you ever think that guests might have taken things over the years? It used to happen in hotels all the time, when folk made off with towels, bathrobes and all sorts.”

“You’re a genius, Mum,” Charlie told her.

“And don’t work too hard,” her mother warned before she rang off.

*  *  *  *

On Wednesday after work, Charlie drove into town to investigate the library.

“We close at seven,” the librarian informed her.

“Thanks,” Charlie said, then explained what she was looking for.

The librarian took her to a shelf towards the back of the room, where Charlie selected a book called “Country Houses In Bygone Days”.

There was a black and white picture of Anna Grace in about 1950, before the big barn had been built, with a short history.

Another book in the local history section gave the history of the town, rather than of the house.

“I’ll take these, thanks,” Charlie said, handing over her library card.

Back at the cottage, Charlie pored over the library books.

There was a long section on John Graystone, who would have been Anna’s eldest son. John seemed to have inherited his mother’s business brain and warm heart, as the writer of “Country Houses In Bygone Days” noted.

John Graystone also distinguished himself by his fondness for women who were not his wife, it said rather coyly.

She read on. John’s mistresses seemed to have caused all sorts of bother, and there were a few illegitimate children as well, which ate into the Anna Grace coffers.

Charlie started to make a few notes in her notebook, but the books were rather shy on facts about Anna herself, just referring to her as the silk weaver’s daughter.

So Charlie sat down and wrote down everything she knew about Anna Graystone. As she wrote her list, she again felt a real connection to Anna.

Charlie had done enough reading to know that many women in Anna’s time died during childbirth, and Anna had hinted that she was expecting a fourth child in her journals. However, the lack of a grave was something else.

Anna’s journals so far had made no mention of travel; possibly the family had used up all their money, and perhaps all the inheritance, on the improvements to the house.

If only she could find out what had happened to the missing journals.

*  *  *  *

On Friday afternoon, Charlie managed to catch Robin as he was coming in from work.

“Robin, you know what you were saying about lost things? You know, guests ‘borrowing’ stuff over the years? How about I post something like this on the website?”

She handed him a print-out of what she had just written.

We are delighted that guests feel at home when they stay. If you have borrowed anything over the years – such as a book from the library – we would be happy if you would return it. The Anna Grace library is looking rather forlorn.

The normally cautious Robin smiled. It wasn’t an everyday occurrence and Charlie thought how handsome he looked.

“I think you’re a genius,” he said. “Go and post that on the website now.”

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.