The Mystery Of Macgregor’s Cove – Episode 08

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

Amaryllis was hurrying back and forth when Noah Pendleton brought in the packet from the Isle of Man.

As always, he tooted the sturdy vessel’s horn before mooring at the quayside and shepherding his passengers up into the warmth of the inn.

Glancing around, Amaryllis saw him striding towards her as she weaved between tables balancing a huge tray of steaming hotpots and a sizeable jug of brandy.

“Let me take that lot. It looks heavy.”

“I can manage,” she responded with a quick smile, swiftly serving a batch of meals before turning to a settle with the plates and brandy jug. “He’s gone!”

“Who’s gone?”

“The fisherman who ordered all this!” Amaryllis returned. “He was first in from the packet. Tall and thin, with a thick beard.

“There’s no sign of him,” she finished, tutting in vexation. “Noah, would you please take these?”

Handing him the brandy jug and plates of uneaten food, Amaryllis started for the big kitchen, deftly heaping the tray with empty mugs, glasses, crocks and cutlery.

“Was it a rough crossing today?” she asked over her shoulder.

“We’ve had smoother,” Noah said, looking across to the chimney corner where Betsy was engrossed in a game.

“Your pa told me you and Betsy saw the yawl going down,” he went on, following Amaryllis into the big kitchen. “Are you both all right?”

“Keeping busy helps,” she answered simply, looking up into his anxious eyes. “It was Betsy who spotted the yawl was in trouble.”

“The folk aboard owe the little lass their lives,” he remarked. “You’re sure she’s all right?”

Amaryllis nodded, smiling warmly at him.

“Betsy’s been drawing spotted horses in her book, and now she’s playing spillikins with Uncle Iain.”

“Who’s that stranger with them?”

“Mr Chesterton from Akenside. He went out in the boat with Uncle Iain –”

“Another seven hotpots, four soups and a pot of tea for ten,” Dorcas announced briskly, sweeping into the kitchen. “Some of these people can’t have eaten for months!”

When Dorcas had gone, Noah watched Amaryllis absorbed in her work, ladling soup into basins and stooping to withdraw a board laden with hotpots from the warming oven.

“I’ll carry it.” Noah stepped forward.

“Thanks,” she said, taking the soups and tea tray. “That’s a big help.”

With the food and drink duly served, they were making their way to the big kitchen when Noah cleared his throat.

“Yesterday I was in Miss Macgregor’s bookshop and she showed me a handbill about the dramatic society’s new play.

“Your great-aunt said it’s very good,” he went on in a rush. “It opens tomorrow evening and I was wondering if . . . ”

Amaryllis wasn’t listening.

She’d turned on her heel, looking across the crowded inn to its low front door. Her father and a portly figure were crossing the threshold.

“Doctor Baldwin’s here. Thank goodness,” Amaryllis murmured.

“Noah,” she began thoughtfully when they entered the quietness of the big kitchen. “Have you heard from Simon lately?

“When he first moved to Liverpool, he wrote regularly. I write to him every week but I haven’t had a letter for months.

“Have you news of him, Noah? You and Simon were inseparable.”

“As lads, maybe. But it’s long since we played hide and seek in the old smugglers’ tunnels.” Noah shook his head wryly. “Me and Simon Baldwin went our separate ways years ago.”

“I see.” She sighed, returning to the chores. “Oh, what were you saying earlier about Great-aunt’s bookshop?”

“Nothing important.” Noah’s gaze lingered upon her a little longer.

“Reckon I’d best be heading home. Goodnight, Amaryllis.”

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.