The Mystery Of Macgregor’s Cove – Episode 18

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

“She’s always been a very bright girl,” Amaryllis was saying while she walked home from St Agnes. 

Kit was at her side, leading Patch and carrying Amaryllis’s heavy basket of provisions together with an armful of books. “Betsy’s always loved reading. 

“I’ve noticed.” Kit smiled, glancing at the books. “She has a good selection here. Are they from Miss Macgregor’s shop?” 

Amaryllis nodded. 

“After Betsy’s illness, she couldn’t go back to school so Great-aunt began teaching her at home.” 

They had reached the Bell and Amaryllis broke off in surprise, seeing Simon emerging from the inn and striding towards them. 

“I’ve been here for ever!” he exclaimed, his glance darting from Amaryllis to her companion. “Where is everybody?” 

“Ma, Betsy, Great-aunt and I have been in church arranging evergreens. I’ve no idea where Dorcas is,” she replied distractedly. “I’m sorry, Simon. I wasn’t expecting you.” 

“I’m presently away down to Liverpool,” he went on, passing the time of day with Kit before offering Amaryllis his arm. “You’ll excuse us, sir?” 

“Of course,” Kit replied. 

He saw Amaryllis looking to the basket and books he carried, and added with a smile, “I’ll take these inside, Miss Amaryllis.” 

Nodding her thanks, Amaryllis returned his smile, but was aware of Simon drawing her nearer, his head bowed so his lips were against her ear. 

“You realise,” he began in a low voice, “every time I come here you’re together with the Chesterton fellow? 

“I don’t like seeing you in cahoots with that stranger,” he concluded. “Chesterton’s too old for you to be stepping out with him.” 

“Stepping out?” Amaryllis echoed. 

She couldn’t tell if he were teasing her or in earnest. 

“I was walking from  

St Agnes when I met Mr Chesterton riding from Akenside,” she explained. “He carried my parcels and accompanied me home. Mr Chesterton’s a very considerate gentleman.” 

“If you say so.” Simon laughed, drawing her nearer. “A man’s entitled to be jealous about his sweetheart, is he not?” 

Amaryllis gasped, looking up sharply, and suddenly her face was close to Simon’s. Her heart was thumping and she could scarcely breathe. 

Since childhood they’d been friends, never anything more, and yet Simon was jealous! He’d called her his sweetheart! 

Turning towards him, she drew breath to speak. No words came. 

In that moment, Amaryllis knew Simon was about to kiss her. 

*  *  *  * 

During the hours after Simon left for Liverpool, Amaryllis hugged a new-found happiness, daydreaming through her chores at the Bell. 

It had been a long and eventful day, yet that night, up in the room she and Betsy shared, Amaryllis remained wide awake. 

Beside her in the high bed, Betsy slept soundly, with Flossie curled up in the hollow of her knees, also fast asleep. 

The dog stirred when Amaryllis slipped from bed, yawning before settling her head on to her paws and sleeping once more. 

Padding across the room, Amaryllis took her shawl and went to the window, sitting on the linen chest. 

She leaned upon the window’s ledge and gazed up into the sky. There was no moon this chill night, and only the sparsest scattering of pale stars pierced the darkness. 

Amaryllis noticed neither the dark nor the cold. Her thoughts and her heart were filled with Simon. 

* * * * 

That same moonless night, some eight miles north of Macgregor’s Cove, a fore-and-aft rigged vessel showing no lights lay at anchor broadside to the ragged coastline. 

On the beach, Haddonsell Grange’s bailiff and the armed Manx fisherman, Killip, stood watching row-boats heavy with contraband edging into the shallows. 

Shadowy figures waded out to meet them, hauling the cargo ashore, loading casks, barrels, chests, boxes and jars on to a train of docile pack-ponies. 

The ponies were led along the shoreline, disappearing into a warren of caves and tunnels deep beneath the priory towards the storehouse vault. 

Gerrard and Killip were last to quit the beach and follow the train. Not a word had been spoken. 

Concealed amongst the plantation pines fringing the high ground above the beach, a lone horseman had observed the successful landing. 

Turning about, he rode soundlessly on the soft, sandy earth between the tall pines and away inland. 

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.