The Mystery Of Macgregor’s Cove – Episode 05

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

From the small window of the wooden hut he called his office, Kit noticed the lady seated some distance away on a ridge above the swift-flowing River Aken.

Her mare grazed while she sketched the work underway on the spur of water which was to connect the manufacturing town of Akenside with the Leeds Liverpool Canal.

It wasn’t until she’d moved down from the ridge and was drawing the workings from a different angle that Kit saw the lady’s features clearly.

He recognised her at once.

Miss Whitlock had accompanied her father to a number of meetings during the Cut’s proposal and planning, and they’d met again when she and her parents had attended the ceremonial sod-turning.

Kit had heard Elias Whitlock was seriously ill, and was deeply sorry.

He’d found the elderly man to be honest, plain-spoken and fired with boyish enthusiasm that reminded Kit of his own father’s attitude.

Or, at least, the attitude of Thomas Chesterton, whom he’d considered his father.

*  *  *  *

When Kit quit his office, Penelope glanced up.

“My apologies, Miss Whitlock,” he began, approaching her. “I didn’t wish to disturb you.”

“You haven’t, Mr Chesterton. I’ve completed what I came to do,” she replied amiably, closing her sketchbook. “My father and I were speaking about the Akenside Cut yesterday, and I had the notion of making a few drawings so he might gain an inkling of how it’s taking shape.”

“What a splendid idea,” Kit responded. “Would you care to see where the wharf is being built?”

“Indeed I would,” she replied, packing her materials into a bag and fastening it securely behind Sorrel’s saddle.

*  *  *  *

“This is the first time I’ve been here since we came for the sod-turning,” Penelope said as they walked across the workings. “Father’s feeling very out of touch with all of his interests and occupations.

“He’ll be pleased at how efficiently the Cut is progressing.” She glanced up at Kit, smiling. “And more impatient to recover so he might come and see everything for himself.”

“Mr Whitlock never wavered in his determination to see the Cut constructed,” Kit recalled. “We had many interesting conversations. Sometimes even upon subjects other than canals.”

Penelope hesitated a fraction.

“Mr Chesterton, I don’t suppose you’d care to call upon Father? He’d enjoy talking to you and . . .”

She broke off, colour flooding her pale face.

“Forgive me! You must have a great many demands upon –”

“Miss Whitlock,” Kit interrupted, his serious eyes meeting hers. “I’d very much like the opportunity to renew my acquaintance with your father.”

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.