The Mystery of Macgregor’s Cove – Episode 23

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

“There was no need to collect me, Simon.” Amaryllis smiled when he was handing her down from the Baldwins’ vehicle. “I would have been happy walking, and we were only coming in to St Agnes.” 

“There’s little point possessing a carriage and driver unless you make use of them.” Simon grinned, offering his arm as they strolled along the crescent towards the teashop. 

“Actually, instead of bringing you here for morning coffee and cake, I’d far rather whisk you away to Castlebridge for a day’s outing – if I could prise you from that inn for more than an hour or two!” 

“I have work to do,” she murmured apologetically, not explaining that Dorcas slipped away from the Bell to be with Adam whenever fancy took, leaving her responsibilities to Amaryllis. 

It wasn’t only because of the extra chores that Amaryllis felt reluctant to be long from the inn, though. She was increasingly worried about her father. Pa hadn’t seemed himself of late. Something was troubling him. 

“Here we are!” 

Simon’s voice broke into her thoughts, and Amaryllis gazed up at him, leaning closer against his shoulder as he ushered her into the genteel little teashop. 

Simon ordered their coffee and cake and, leaning back in his chair, sat looking at Amaryllis without saying a word. 

“I wish you wouldn’t do that!” she exclaimed, annoyed at the blush colouring her cheeks. 

“What would you have me do?” he demanded, reaching across the table to catch hold of her hand. 

“I’m glad you’re spending more time up here now,” she began, aware of his fingertips caressing the palm of her hand. “When you first moved to your new job in Liverpool, you were away for months.” 

“The shipping company offering me a post at their head office was a considerable advancement in my career,” Simon responded soberly, his mood shifting.  

“I wanted to establish my position there and make the most of every opportunity.” 

“What is it you do, exactly?” 

“Oh, ships, cargoes, manifests . . . You’d find my work incredibly dull.” 

“I wouldn’t,” Amaryllis retorted. “Because it’s your work, Simon, and you enjoy doing it, don’t you?” 

“I suppose I do.” He laughed, his eyes twinkling. “Although when I was a boy, I wanted to be a dragoon. I’d seen soldiers from the garrison at Castlebridge with their red coats and shining swords. 

“The notion of adventure, danger and excitement appealed to me. Still does.  

“Unfortunately, there’s little profit to be made wearing the King’s uniform,” Simon concluded, grinning. “So here I am in the shipping office.” 

“Is there adventure, danger and excitement there?” Amaryllis laughed. 

“You’d be surprised,” he returned, warming to the subject. “Fortunes are made or lost in commerce and trade every day. The risks are huge and the dangers many. Seas, ships and the men who sail them are unpredictable. 

“The world’s riches flow back and forth along this very coastline . . .” 

Simon broke off as Miss Prestcote brought their tray of fragrant coffee and the daintiest, most feather-light raspberry and almond cakes Amaryllis had ever seen or tasted. 

*  *  *  * 

Their morning together passed too swiftly, and when Simon urged her to spend longer with him, Amaryllis was tempted but reluctantly insisted upon returning to the Bell. 

The Carlisle-bound stagecoach was due, and Noah would be bringing in the Manx packet with the tide. She’d be needed at the inn, especially if Dorcas had gone to meet Adam again. 

They got back later than Amaryllis had intended and passengers from the packet were already making their way into the inn. 

Amaryllis would have hastily alighted from the carriage, had not Simon stopped her. 

“I have something for you,” he began, retrieving a parcel from its hiding place behind the carriage’s cushions. “An early Christmas gift. Aren’t you going to open it?” 

Amaryllis tugged at the string and sheets of thick brown paper fell away, revealing the soft folds of a silk dress-length. 

“Oh, my!” Amaryllis breathed, her eyes wide. “It’s beautiful, Simon! Wherever did you get such finery?” 

“A big haberdashery in Liverpool.” He shrugged. “My mother and sisters are always singing its praises. It’s in Bold Street.” 

“Moseley’s? I’ve heard about Moseley’s of Bold Street.” She smoothed her fingertips across the silk. “Great-aunt Macgregor says Moseley’s is the best haberdashery in the whole of Lancashire.” 

Amaryllis said nothing more, for Simon had taken her into his arms. 

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.