The Mystery Of Macgregor’s Cove – Episode 13

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

Hush had settled upon Haddonsell Grange. The household was abed, save for Penelope waiting alone in her sitting-room. 

This was her special corner of the Grange: the walls lined with shelves bearing books and music, painting and drawing materials, and hung with watercolours, oils and sketches from local artists. 

Only the framed pencil likeness of Colin Unsworth was by Penelope’s own hand. She’d sketched it during their very last summer together. 

It stood on the corner of her desk, alongside her friend Lydia’s letter, asking to visit the Grange. 

It was midnight before Penelope heard the front door opening. 

Hurrying into the hallway, she confronted Adam as he was crossing the threshold. 

“You’re home!” she exclaimed in a low voice, mindful of disturbing the household. 

“What’s happened?” Adam demanded, shrugging off his coat. “Is it Father?” 

“No, Father’s had a good day and is sleeping easy,” Penelope reassured him. “I’ve waited up because I must speak with you –” 

“Whatever it is will wait,” he interrupted dismissively, striding past her to the staircase. “It’s been a wearisome day, and I’ve endured a disappointing night when the cards were cruelly against me. I’m for my bed.” 

“This won’t wait.” 

The light but firm touch of her hand upon his arm stopped Adam, and Penelope’s determined eyes met his steadily. 

“It concerns your bailiff’s behaviour towards the Macgregors. We can’t talk out here.” 

Closing the sitting-room door behind them, Penelope considered her brother as he pulled a chair sideways and sank into it, carelessly leaning an arm across the desk’s surface and scattering her writing tablet, pens and letters. 

“Have you been drinking?” 

“I’ve dined at my club and it has a splendid cellar,” Adam replied, looking every inch the defiant, rebellious youth he’d been before Father packed him off to India. “I own this evening their claret was exceptionally fine!” 

“Whatever it was,” Penelope snapped, “you’ve clearly imbibed far more than is good for you. 

“Perhaps if you spent less time at your club and more overseeing your bailiff, he would not accuse the Macgregor sisters of trespass and order them from our land . . .” 

Penelope related everything Mathilda Macgregor had told her. 

“I’d forgotten the Macgregors went to the priory,” Adam remarked. “I wasn’t aware Gerrard had been out there, either.” 

“That hardly surprises me. What reason has he for going to the ruins? And who on earth is this armed fisherman?” 

“I’ve no idea of the fisherman’s identity,” Adam responded with a shrug. “As for why Gerrard was at the priory . . . He’s the Grange’s bailiff. Overseeing the Whitlock estate – including the priory ruins – is his responsibility. 

“Given that Gerrard’s new to the situation, how could he possibly know the Macgregors have permission to trespass?” 

Penelope held her tongue, frustration and concern deepening. Adam would not hear a word said against Gerrard! 

Plainly, it would serve no purpose to express her fears and suspicions of the bailiff’s malign influence over her brother. 

“Although no harm was done and Gerrard did not exceed his authority,” Adam continued evenly, “I understand how upsetting the affair was for the Macgregor girls. Apologies and amends must be made. 

“You need worry your head not a moment longer, Pen. I’ll set all to rights on the morrow. Now, I’m going to my bed!” 

Rising from Penelope’s desk, Adam’s gaze fell upon Lydia Unsworth’s letter and he glanced over the hastily penned lines. 

“Lydia’s coming to visit, is she?” he mused, grinning across at Penelope. “You know, before I sailed to India I was hopelessly in love with your friend Lydia. 

“Of course, I was very young. Still too much a boy for her then.” Adam strode from the sitting-room, casting a wry backward glance at his sister. “It’ll be good seeing Lydia again.” 

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.