The Mystery Of Macgregor’s Cove – Episode 10

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

Ethel was content with her lot in life.

She enjoyed helping Sandy run the Bell Inn, and while she took great pride in preparing the inn’s fare in its big bustling kitchen, the little kitchen in the inn-house was her own and Ethel was never happier than when she was cooking and baking there.

She was in especially cheery spirits today because not only was the young lad from the yawl recovered enough to have gone home, but Dorcas also had an admirer. And he was a real feather in her eldest daughter’s cap.

Ethel’s eyes were sharp, and she’d long since noticed glances and smiles being exchanged between Dorcas and Adam Whitlock during his visits to the Bell, and at church, too.

After services yesterday, Dorcas had left her book behind in the pew and none other than the young master himself had hurried after her to return it.

Ethel was certain she’d glimpsed a note tucked amongst the book’s leaves.

Dorcas hadn’t breathed a word, of course, but the girl’s obvious excitement and heightened colour spoke volumes.

Ethel hadn’t asked any questions today when Dorcas had dressed in her best and set off for

St Agnes. But her fervent hopes went with her daughter.

There had been little romance or prospects in her own young days, and nobody could deny the handsome, chivalrous heir to the Whitlock fortunes would be a catch for the finest young lady in the county, never mind the daughter of a humble innkeeper.

Yes, Ethel thought, fetching flour, sugar, fruit and spices from the pantry, if this romance with Adam Whitlock blossomed into marriage, Dorcas would be assured a comfortable and secure future.

A mother couldn’t wish better for her daughter.

* * * *

There wasn’t a breath of wind and the bare trees overarching the winding lane were sparkling with hard white frost as Kit cantered towards Haddonsell Grange.

Beyond the curve, he saw Miss Whitlock walking some distance ahead.

Despite the earliness of the hour, Kit wasn’t at all surprised to see her, because during one of their conversations, Elias Whitlock had mentioned his daughter was a keen walker who relished being out and about while the world was still quiet.

Catching up with her, Kit greeted Penelope amiably.

“Good morning, Miss Whitlock. I also am on my way to the Grange. May I walk with you?”

“Please do.” She smiled at him as he dismounted.

Kit was taken aback at the becoming roses in her cheeks and how particularly blue Penelope’s eyes appeared in this bright winter sunlight.

“Father said you’d be calling – he has the chess board ready and waiting.”

Kit grimaced good-humouredly.

“We paused our game at a critical stage, and I suspect your father has the beating of me!”

“He enjoys your visits very much, Mr Chesterton. Although Father’s health is extremely frail, his mind and spirit are strong. He looks forward to your stimulating discussions – and your chess games!” She smiled at Kit again. “You’re still staying at the Bell?”

“I am. Actually, I’m quitting my lodgings in Akenside and removing to the Bell,” Kit answered. “It isn’t the most practical of decisions, because it entails travelling back and forth from the Cut each day –”

“Oh, but practicality isn’t everything. Besides, the distance is not so great,” Penelope interjected, “if instead of travelling by road, you rode across country.”

“I didn’t know there was such a route.”

“It’s not well-trod and in places barely wide enough for a horse and rider, but there is a path through the hills,” she explained. “If you wish, I’ll gladly show you the way.”

“That would be splendid.” He paused, before adding tentatively, “Might we go tomorrow? If you’re free, that is?”

“Tomorrow will be perfect,” Penelope declared, beaming sidelong at him. “And for what it’s worth, Mr Chesterton, I believe your moving into the Bell is an excellent decision.”

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.