The Mystery Of Macgregor’s Cove – Episode 14

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

“Are you coming with us?” Amaryllis exclaimed when, wearing her best bonnet and cape, Dorcas appeared in the doorway of the bedroom her younger sisters shared. “You haven’t been to the ruins since we were children.” 

“Well, I’m going today!” Dorcas declared airily. “It was most handsome of Adam to call offering humble apologies for what occurred. His insistence not only on accompanying us, but also on providing transport and a winter picnic, is exceedingly generous.” 

Amaryllis was unimpressed. 

“He’s the only reason you’re going, isn’t he?” 

“What if he is?” Dorcas returned, glancing coldly at her sister. “You’re a sour lemon, Am.” 

Amaryllis turned from braiding Betsy’s hair, nodding to Dorcas’s footwear. 

“You’ll spoil your best shoes.” 

“I shall take care not to,” Dorcas snapped, moving across to the window and perching on the linen chest there. “I’m not about to wear ugly great clod-hoppers like those awful boots you have on.” 

Securing Betsy’s braids with neat bows, Amaryllis smiled at the little girl. 

“You’re done. Mr Whitlock will be here soon. Are you and Flossie ready?” 

“Nearly.” Betsy scrambled down from the bed on to her knees beside Flossie on the rug, and began brushing the dog’s silky white fur. “I wish Noah was coming, Ammie.” 

“Yes, it’s a shame,” Amaryllis agreed, gathering mittens and scarves from the tallboy. “But Noah’s away with the packet.” 

“He’ll be back tomorrow,” Betsy persisted. “Can’t we wait until then? He’d take us in the wagon and we could have our picnic together, just like always.” 

“Mr Whitlock has organised everything for today,” Amaryllis replied. “It’s kind of him and I’m sure we’ll have a grand –” 

“Adam’s here!” Dorcas cried excitedly, peering through the window. 

A wagon drawn by a pair of sturdy horses was turning into the Bell’s yard. 

“And he has your Simon with him!” 

“He’s not my Simon!” Amaryllis mumbled, vexed at the hot colour flooding her face.  

“Not for the want of wishing he was, is it?” Dorcas retorted, sweeping from the sisters’ bedroom. “You’ve been making cow-eyes at Simon Baldwin for years, Am. Perhaps one day he’ll start noticing you.” 

*  *  *  * 

Although dull and overcast, the weather was dry with little wind and not particularly cold for the season, so they’d spent a pleasant day in Priory Woods, gathering Advent evergreens and choosing the yule log. 

Adam had provided an abundance of delicious food, and when the party settled at the foot of St Agnes Falls for their picnic, unexpected shafts of bright wintry sun glimmered down between branches to warm them as they ate. 

Well fed and weary, eventually they had to start packing up if they were to reach home in daylight. 

“Does Flossie want a drink before we set off?” Amaryllis asked, bringing a bowl of water to where Betsy and the dog were scattering crumbs for robins and blackbirds. “Had a nice day, Bets?” 

Her young sister nodded. 

“But it’s not the same without Noah.” 

Amaryllis smiled, ruffling the girl’s hair. Betsy was right. Although it had been an enjoyable day, somehow it hadn’t felt nearly as merry and festive as usual. 

Like Betsy, Amaryllis had missed Noah Pendleton’s cheery presence, but spending a whole day with Simon was wonderful. 

She’d been surprised to see he and Adam were such firm friends, and during the drive back to the Bell she asked Simon how that was. 

“We were at school together.” Simon laughed, his arm slipping around her shoulders. “Hadn’t seen each other for years, until quite recently. 

“We met across a card table in Liverpool – a disastrous experience for us both.” He grimaced, shaking his head good-humouredly. “While drowning our sorrows, we got talking and found we have quite a few common interests and ambitions. 

“Adam is a useful friend to have,” he finished firmly. 

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.