The Mystery Of Anna Grace – Episode 35

The week before the artists’ weekend was so busy, Charlie wasn’t sure that they would ever be ready in time.

There was so much riding on the weekend being a success. On Monday there were eight bookings – good, but not good enough. So she got busy on the telephone and by the end of Wednesday it was a much more respectable 12.

Charlie put the phone down with relief, after a long and complicated call about what format the weekend would take, despite the fact that she had already e-mailed all the particulars to the lady in question.

Mrs Cecilia was hanging a portrait of one of the later Graystones in the dining-room to cover a stain on the wall.

“Was he the one who had a mistress in France?” Robin asked, pointing at it.

“Oh, I’m not sure. Charlie could possibly tell you,” Mrs Cecilia said.

“Don’t look at me.” Charlie laughed. “I’ve learned a lot about Anna, but the others have eluded me so far.”

“Where’s Harriet?” Robin asked, helping himself to one of the cakes Katarina had set out on the sideboard.

“Those are for the guests,” Katarina scolded. “Between you and trying to keep the cat away from the roast chicken, the guests will go to bed hungry!”

“She’ll be back in the morning. She’s going to see her niece’s school play,” Charlie said. “She got another reservation before she left. A couple who were hoping to book into the hotel for Saturday night, but when they heard about the painting weekend, they asked if they could come anyway as they’re interested in art.”

“And being the perfect saleswoman, Harriet persuaded them.” Robin smiled. “So how many folk is that now, Charlie?”

“Fourteen, but there are four couples in that, so that’s ten rooms booked and two still to fill.”

“Excellent,” Robin said. “Let’s hope for some better weather. Will Grant be coming on Saturday night?”

“Yes,” Katarina replied. “Harriet’s sister is well enough to look after Rhona, so we will have twenty for dinner, including Mr Wynford. Dean will help me serve and Albert said he will be helping, too.”

Even so, it would be good to get the last rooms filled, Charlie thought. She had one final idea and dialled a number on her mobile.

*  *  *  *

On Friday Charlie awoke to Ghillie’s paw in her face.

She showered and dressed in a grey shift dress, but she put on flat shoes since she knew she would probably cover quite a bit of ground today. Her wellies were also back at the big house, just in case.

She wondered what the day would bring. It had been such a rollercoaster few months and she had made so many friends here.

As for Robin . . . she thought back to the last words that Anna had written in her journal, which she had finished reading the previous evening.

This house makes my heart sing with joy.

What would Anna have made of things now? Charlie suspected that she would have approved of the progress Dean had made from the frightened lad they had found in the barn a few months ago.

As for affairs of the heart, there wasn’t time to think of her feelings for Robin. He was her employer, and even though the lines of demarcation between family and staff would have been considerably blurred since Anna’s day, they were still there.

Charlie looked at her watch. She’d better get going.

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.