The Mystery Of Macgregor’s Cove – Episode 29

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

Ethel was in the snug, polishing the panes of the window with cold water and vinegar, when Betsy burst in with Flossie at her heels. 

“Ma, Mr Chesterton is packing his bags. He’s leaving us.” 

Ethel sucked in a sharp breath, her heart suddenly beating fast. 

She prided herself upon being a practical, fair-minded woman. Since learning who Kit was, she’d made it her business not to treat him a jot differently than before. 

She and Sandy had not spoken of Marietta or Kit again. Ethel’s only concern now was protecting her daughters, and for her family’s life to be happy and settled. 

“Here, you carry on for me,” she said, handing the cloth and bowl to Betsy. “I’ll go up and see him.” 

Ethel’s mind was racing and her stomach churning as she climbed the stairs toward Kit’s rooms. 

It was her firm belief that what you can’t change, you’ve to make the best of. There was no sense making a fuss. But this must be kept within the family. 

If word got out, they’d never live down the shame. Gossip and scandal spread like wildfire throughout the town. 

They wouldn’t be able to hold up their heads in St Agnes again. What hope then of Dorcas and Amaryllis making good marriages? 

Patting her hair into place and smoothing down her apron, Ethel turned along the landing to Kit’s rooms and tapped lightly upon the open door. 

“You’ve no cause to leave the Bell, Mr Chesterton,” she began as Kit looked up from packing. “There’s no reason we can’t carry on as we were. 

“Christmas is coming, and we’ll keep the season as we always do. There will be time enough afterwards for me to tell my girls who you are. 

“I’ve said my piece and it’s up to you what you do,” she finished, meeting Kit’s troubled eyes. “But you’re welcome to stay here.” 

“Thank you, Mrs Macgregor,” he responded, adding, “if you’re sure, then, yes, I’d very much like to remain at the Bell.” 

“Good.” She bobbed her head. “I’ll be dishing up supper as soon as the carollers leave, so come down when you’re ready.” 

Ethel quit his rooms, suddenly weak at the knees. 

Since Kit had arrived at the inn, she’d come to know him and taken a liking to him. But how queer it felt, knowing he was Sandy’s son. 

Downstairs, her three girls, together with Mathilda, Noah and the other carol-singers, were milling about the inn, laughing and chattering. 

They were sipping the hot apple and cinnamon cordial Sandy had brewed; lighting up their candle-jars and making ready for the evening ahead, when they would walk the length of the parish, wassailing and collecting alms for poor and needy folk. 

“That young man of yours has good taste.” Ethel beamed, admiring the lace Amaryllis was wearing at the collar of her dress. 

It had been a present from the doctor’s son, Simon, and with Dorcas stepping out with Adam Whitlock, it warmed Ethel’s heart that both her elder daughters looked set to marry well. 

Noah also noticed the exquisite lace gathered softly about Amaryllis’s neck and shoulders. 

“Another Christmas gift from Simon?” he remarked drily when the carollers spilled out into the cold night air. “Purchased from Moseley’s of Bold Street, I daresay.” 

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.