The Mystery Of Macgregor’s Cove – Episode 28

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

“The grey or the blue, Betsy?” Amaryllis asked, turning from the looking-glass in the parlour and holding up two mufflers. “Which colour best matches my bonnet?” 

“Blue.” Betsy was cross-legged on the couch, with her dog Flossie beside her. “Where’s Simon taking you today?” 

“I don’t know.” Amaryllis beamed, considering her reflection and arranging the woollen muffler. “I don’t care where we go. I’m just looking forward to being with him again. 

“Simon’s been so busy with his work, we haven’t seen each other as often as we’d like.” 

Betsy nodded. 

“Flossie and I, and Uncle Iain and Noah, are going out in the Starfish today. I wish you were coming sailing with us, Ammie.” 

“Another time.” She smiled, dropping a kiss on to the girl’s forehead before gathering up her gloves. “You have a nice day.” 

* * * * 

Amaryllis was still waiting for Simon to arrive. 

She stood at the window watching for him, vaguely aware of Uncle Iain and Noah in the cobbled yard putting finishing touches to a repair upon Starfish. 

Amaryllis saw Betsy dash out to join the men as they were hefting the boat on to a wagon, ready for pushing on to the sands. Then she spotted a boy hurtling into the yard, a message clutched in his hand. 

Amaryllis was outside before the lad got within yards of the inn-house. 

Rewarding him with a few coins from her purse, she unfolded the sealed note and read its scant lines. 

I’ve to ride to Castlebridge without delay. Adam has put some lucrative business my way. My humble apologies about today, my dearest. You must know how I . . . 

Amaryllis blushed reading Simon’s endearments. 

“What does your letter say, Ammie?” 

Amaryllis was startled from her thoughts as her sister appeared at her side. 

“It’s from Simon, Betsy.” She sighed ruefully. “He isn’t coming for me.” 

“Then you can come sailing with us instead.” 

“You’re ready to set off,” Amaryllis replied, shaking her head. “I’d need to change first and I don’t want to keep you.” 

“We’ll wait,” Noah chipped in, looking around from the wagon. “We’re in no hurry, Amaryllis.” 

“Noah’s right,” Iain agreed, noticing the young man’s hopeful expression. “And if you take my place aboard, I’ll be able to help your pa in the cellar. 

“Besides,” he went on, “it’s a grand day to be out on the water. Happen we’ll not get another this side of spring.” 

*  *  *  * 

It was a grand day for sailing, Amaryllis reflected, raising her face to the pale rays of December sunlight and watching them dancing across the billowing waves. 

She was sitting with Betsy and Flossie, thinking about Simon and hardly aware of Noah’s deft handling of the little craft, nor of Starfish sailing swiftly with the wind up the coastline until the Bell was far from sight. 

“We’re coming a long way,” Betsy remarked, gazing beyond the beach to the high ground, its dark pines silhouetted against the cloudless winter sky. “When are we going for our walk, Noah?” 

“Now.” He smiled over his shoulder at her. “We’ll put in anywhere along here.” 

“You’re going ashore here?” Amaryllis asked, scanning the desolate beach with grey cliffs rising above it. “It’s not so great a distance from the priory ruins where Gerrard accused us of trespassing.” 

“We’ll not go near the ruins,” Noah remarked, taking Starfish into the shallows. “I doubt we’ll bump into Gerrard and his fisherman friend on the beach this afternoon.” 

Once ashore, Betsy and Flossie streaked on ahead, skirting the water’s edge. 

Amaryllis fell into step beside Noah, uneasy about being here. She watched Betsy and the dog playing and hadn’t noticed Noah striding away from her. 

“Amaryllis, come here!” He was kneeling higher up the beach. 

Keeping one eye on Betsy, she went to him, and saw a mass of boot and hoof tracks cut deep into the coarse, soft sand. 

“Traders have sailed down-coast and landed contraband. Since last high water, too,” Noah declared grimly. “Somebody’s running cargo up through the tunnels 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.