The Mystery Of Macgregor’s Cove – Episode 04

Cast of characters dressed in 18th Century clothing stand in front of white cottage

Autumn was approaching and the day was chill with sea-fog creeping in from the distant tide. Ethel carried two billy-cans and two muslin-wrapped snaps of bread, cheese and onions out across the yard towards the stables.


A head popped through the trap-door from the loft.

“Up ’ere, missus.”

“I’ll leave your snap on the ledge. Where’s the master?”

“Digging taters.”

Nodding, Ethel went round the stables towards the fields behind the inn.

Sandy was pushing a barrow of potatoes with strength born from years of hard work. His maimed arm and scarred, twisted hand sat close against his right side.

A clay pipe was gripped between his teeth as Sandy kept the barrow balanced and brought it out from the field, his face breaking into a smile at the sight of his wife.

“I’m ready for this,” he said, unwrapping the bread and cheese as they sat against the stables’ sheltered wall.

Ethel sipped her tea.

“Your pipe’s gone out.”

“Never lit,” he replied, biting into the fresh bread. “I forgot to ask Am to fetch me baccy when she was in St Agnes. Oh, somebody’s heading our way.”

“Mr Adam!” Ethel narrowed her eyes. “I wonder what he wants?”

“We don’t often see him here, that’s for sure.”

“It’s time we did,” Ethel returned, rising and smoothing her skirts. “He’s been back a fair few months. Long enough for him to be a visitor to the Bell Inn, as was his dear father before he took ill.

“Having gentry like the Whitlocks here does wonders for the inn’s reputation,” she said.

“I daresay.” Sandy sighed. “I’d best see him.”

“Can’t you smarten yourself up? Mr Adam is an important gentleman, and you look a sight.”

“I’ve been digging taters,” Sandy protested, dusting down his coat as he hurried round to the front of the inn.

“Encourage him to stay a while,” Ethel called, rushing to the kitchen. “Ask him if he’d like luncheon.”

Sandy was waiting before the inn to greet Adam Whitlock when he rode up.

“Good day, Mr Adam. Welcome to the Bell Inn. What can we do for you?”

“I’m taking the Lancaster coach, Macgregor,” Adam replied, dismounting. “I’ve been out since morning and am chilled, famished and generally in need of sustenance.”

“We’ve a good blaze and a hearty bill of fare ready and waiting,” the innkeeper replied cheerfully.

“That fire is a welcome sight!” Adam exclaimed, removing his hat and placing riding gloves into the pocket of his great coat as he accompanied Sandy into the inn.

“Sit down, sir. I’ll take your hat and coat.” Sandy beckoned Amaryllis.

“Can I fetch you tea?”

“Something rather stronger.” Adam grinned. “A hot toddy and a dish of whatever those fellows over there are eating.”

*  *  *  *

The coachman’s horn heralded the vehicle’s approach and Amaryllis hurried to Adam’s table, bobbing a curtsey.

“The coach is on its way, sir. I’ll fetch your coat.”

Going through the arch into the passageway, she met with Dorcas.

“Why didn’t you tell me Adam was here?” Dorcas demanded angrily.

“Why would I?” Amaryllis lifted the hat and great coat from the rack.

“Is that his coat?” Dorcas reached out to take hold of the garment, then her eyes lit upon a pair of gloves protruding from the side pocket.

In a flash, she withdrew them, clasping them with both hands.

“Dorcas!” Amaryllis gasped in horror. “What on earth are you doing?”

“Take Mr Adam his coat.” Dorcas’s eyes narrowed. “Then stay out of my way.”

Amaryllis hovered uncertainly.

“Give me the gloves, Dorcas.”

“What’s keeping you?” Sandy called. “Mr Adam’s waiting.”

“Coming, Pa,” Amaryllis replied, darting a backward glance to her sister as she sped through to the inn.

“Sorry to keep you, Mr Adam,” she murmured. “Safe journey, sir.”

When the coach was ready to resume its journey and Adam about to alight, Dorcas emerged from the inn, her hair tumbling about her shoulders.

“Mr Adam!” she called, hurrying to his side and dipping a curtsey. “I believe your gloves have fallen from your coat.”

From one of the inn’s windows, Amaryllis watched open-mouthed, scarce able to believe her eyes.

She saw Adam smile, reaching out his hand for the gloves, and it seemed to Amaryllis that Dorcas’s hand lingered upon his longer than necessary.

Both parties were smiling, and it was clear pleasantries were being exchanged.

“What are you looking at?” Betsy queried, ducking under Amaryllis’s arm so she could peer from the window.

Before Amaryllis could reply, her elder sister swept back into the inn, looking pleased with herself.

Head held high, Dorcas Macgregor sauntered past them without a word.

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.