The Mystery Of Macgregor’s Cove – Episode 30

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

“I haven’t been here since Adam took over,” Penelope was saying as they drove through into Whitlock’s. 

The pottery was built on an odd-shaped patch of land, and it seemed to Kit every square inch was crammed with workshops, sheds, huts, stores, and a long three-storey building. 

“I’m glad Adam has taken Lydia to Castlebridge, so isn’t here to spoil our Christmas-giving,” she went on. “Thank you for coming with me today, Kit.” 

He would have kissed her had there not been so many people about. 

Penelope was wearing her opal brooch, and Kit was reminded of that rainy afternoon he’d bought it back from the watchmaker’s and returned the keepsake to her. 

“Where else would I be, Penny, but with you?” he whispered. “I’m looking forward to tasting one of those Goode’s Day buns.” 

“You’ll need to wait.” She laughed. “We’ll unhitch the horses, then I’ll show you how clay turns into cups and plates.” 

*  *  *  * 

It was past noon when they emerged from the saggar-maker’s shed to be hailed by a red-faced man. 

“You’re a sight for sore eyes, Miss Penny!” he exclaimed, jerking his head toward their wagon. “I see you’ve not come empty-handed, neither.” 

“It is the day before Christmas, Albert.” Penelope laughed, introducing Kit to the pottery foreman. “My parents are sorry they can’t be here this afternoon.” 

“To be honest, we weren’t expecting Christmas boxes this year,” he returned bluntly. “How are your da’ and mam getting on?” 

“Father’s still poorly but improving, and Mother’s keeping well,” she replied with a smile. “Albert, I hope we haven’t been underfoot while looking around?” 

“Of course not. Glad to see you here – both of you,” he added with a nod to Kit. “If you’re going in the house, you’ll find Master’s office as he left it. Mr Adam prefers the top room – when he’s here.” 

“The painters, gilders and dippers work in here now, and so do the flower-makers and the women and girls doing transferware. 

“Our blue and white Dutch-style patterns are popular,” Penelope explained, leading the way into the building. “When my parents first moved to Akenside, this was their home. I was born here. 

“This is Father’s office.” She pushed open a door to the left of a staircase and they went inside. 

“Albert was right. Nothing’s been touched since Father – gracious!” Penelope’s hand flew to her lips. “Our Dorothy designs! Look, Kit.” 

On Elias’s desk lay a selection of floral pencil sketches and watercolours, and Kit recognised the style as being Penelope’s own. 

“Last year, Father asked me to design a special, floral teaset for Mother. It was to be a birthday surprise, and he called it the Dorothy teaset,” Penelope murmured, sinking into the chair behind her father’s desk. “He was really looking forward to our making it.” 

Somewhere close by, a brass bell clanged and Penelope broke off, rolling up the sketches and placing them into her bag. 

“That’s the knocking-off bell. Whitlock’s closes early the day before Christmas,” she said quietly, rising from behind the master’s desk. “It’s time for the Goode’s Day buns and Christmas boxes.” 

Kit remained at Penelope’s side as everybody from the youngest mould-runner to the foreman received their spiced Goode’s Day buns and Christmas box of coins before hurrying away into the gathering dusk. 

Kit was about to drive through the gates when Albert approached. 

“Beg pardon, sir. Miss Penny,” the foreman began awkwardly. “It’s not my place, but if I don’t speak out I’d be letting down the master, and all us who depend on the pot-works to feed us families.” 

“Of course,” Penelope responded, for Albert was not a man to make mountains from molehills. “Whatever’s wrong, Albert?” 

“Folk don’t like your brother. He’s hardly ever here and he knows nowt. He dun’t care a jot about t’pottery, miss,” the foreman complained grimly. “You or your da’ need to take over before Mr Adam runs Whitlock’s into the ground.” 

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.