The Mystery Of Macgregor’s Cove – Episode 20

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

“No – it can’t be!” 

Kit was shaken by the force of Sandy’s response. 

Shock and cold anger were flashing across the older man’s eyes. 

Lunging forward to snatch the primitively carved keepsake from Kit’s hand, he suddenly recoiled as though burned. 

“It can’t be . . .” he said, his voice scarcely more than a whisper. 

Standing still with his head lowered, Sandy stared in confusion and disbelief at the St Christopher resting upon Kit’s palm. 

“How did you get this?” 

Drawing in a steadying breath, Kit explained.  

He left out no detail of how, earlier that year, he and Geoffrey had discovered the medallion and letters amongst Clara Chesterton’s belongings at the family’s home in Jamaica – nor of what he had come to believe concerning his parentage. 

“This is Marietta’s right enough.” Sandy sighed, taking the keepsake. 

Closing his fingers around it, he held it for a moment before raising his face to meet Kit’s searching gaze. 

“Along the quayside at Jobert Town there’s a tavern called the String o’ Pearls,” he began simply.  

“It was a low sort of place. There was always an old man sitting in one corner doing carving, scrimshaw and making all manner of curiosities. 

“The day before my ship sailed from Jamaica, I went into the String o’ Pearls and asked him to carve a couple of St Christophers. One for me and one for Marietta. I gave it to her that last time I saw –” 

Breaking off abruptly, Sandy turned from Kit and hurried from the stable. 

“You get on with tending your horse. I’ll not be long!” 

Carefully replacing the keepsake into his pocket, Kit watched Sandy walk across the cobbled yard and out of sight. 

He was rubbing down the piebald mare when Sandy returned. 

“These past thirty years I’ve kept this in my dad’s tobacco tin in the shed,” he muttered, showing Kit a wooden medallion depicting the saint who protected travellers. “It’s a twin to yours.” 

“I’ve no idea how the Chestertons came to adopt me,” Kit confided. “I never asked. I don’t know anything about Marietta. Who is she, Sandy?” 

“I went to sea when I was twelve. Joined the Navy,” Sandy began. “I was nigh on eighteen when our ship put in to Jamaica for repairs. The crew was ashore for months while the work got done. 

“There were church socials in the town every week, and one week I went along. That’s when I met Marietta.” Sandy smiled fondly. “She was a seamstress in a shop that made frocks and suchlike.” 

“Was my mother free?” Kit asked bluntly. 

“Aye, she was. And she was the daughter of a free Jamaican woman, too.  

“Marietta’s mother was housekeeper at one of the big houses on the ridge above Jobert Town. 

“Her father was an English Army officer. She didn’t remember him. I think he’d long since come back to England. 

“I never thought Marietta would look twice at me,” he went on, sinking down on to an upturned pail. “But we got to know each other, started walking out . . . 

“When my ship was ready to sail, I didn’t want to leave. I planned on lying low till after the ship sailed, then taking my chances ashore. It was the only time me and Marietta rowed. 

“She wouldn’t hear of me deserting. Said I’d be like a runaway, spending the rest of my life looking over my shoulder.” 

“She must have feared for you.” Kit frowned soberly, his eyes downcast. “Desertion from the King’s Navy is a serious offence.” 

“True.” Sandy grimaced. “When a deserter gets caught, he’s either flogged within an inch of his life or hanged from the yard-arm.” 

“What did . . .” 

Kit’s question was drowned out by a driver’s long-horn as the late coach from Liverpool rattled into the cobbled yard. 

“I must see to them.” Sandy rose to his feet, looking up at Kit before adding, “I’m going out to Pendleton’s Mill in a day or two. It’s a long drive. It would give us the chance to talk. If you want to come along, I mean.” 

“I’d like that,” Kit responded warmly. “There’s much I want to ask you. A great deal I want to know.” 

“Aye. Me and all, lad.” Sandy bobbed his head, darting a quick smile in Kit’s direction before turning away. “Me and all!” 

Remaining in the shadows of the stable, Kit watched his father hurrying into the yard to meet the stagecoach and welcome its passengers to the Bell. 

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.