The Mystery of Macgregor’s Cove – Episode 33

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

Only a week earlier, Adam had decided something gay and lively was needed to brighten the January days and asked Lydia if she’d be so gracious as to help organise a ball at Haddonsell Grange. 

“Everybody’s enjoying themselves,” Kit remarked on the night of the ball. 

He and Penelope had weaved their way from the crowded floor and were sitting listening to the music and watching the dancing. 

“This is quite a party.” 

“Lydia arranged it all, but Adam drew up the guest list,” Penelope commented, surveying numerous merrymakers who were becoming more exuberant with each hour.  

“I don’t know most of these people. Members of Adam’s club in Castlebridge, I suppose. With their ladies.” 

“Speaking of ladies, Adam’s paying a deal of attention to Dorcas, isn’t he?” 

“Yes. I hadn’t realised he and Miss Macgregor were so well acquainted.” 

“Nor had I,” Kit replied with another concerned glance at his sister. “Has he danced with anyone else?” 

“Not since the first dance, when he and Lydia opened the ball. Since then, Adam’s been flirting outrageously with Miss Macgregor and ignoring Lydia.” 

“Perhaps Miss Unsworth hasn’t noticed his lack of attention,” Kit suggested when Lydia swirled past them, beaming at her dashing partner. 

“Oh, Lydia’s never short of admirers.” Penelope laughed affectionately, watching her friend. “She’s more than a match for my brother – although he’s far too arrogant to realise it.” 

“You still haven’t spoken to him about everything the pottery foreman told us?” 

She shook her head. 

“I’m afraid if I tackle Adam about neglecting the pot-works, it’ll cause trouble at home. Father’s looking better than he has in months, Kit. I daren’t risk setting back his recovery with worries about Whitlock’s. 

“Albert Thwaite is correct, though. Something must be done. I need to look after the pottery and safeguard its prosperity, without antagonising Adam or alarming my father. And I think I may have found a way to do it.” 

* * * * 

It was the wee small hours before the last of the revellers were finally borne away in their carriages, and quiet settled once more upon Haddonsell Grange. 

After Kit kissed her goodnight and rode back to the Bell, Penelope took her hot chocolate into her father’s old study. 

Since returning from India, Adam often used the large, old-fashioned room, but hadn’t made any changes to its furnishings. 

She sat in the winged chair, sipping her chocolate and looking out into the garden. Penelope had much to occupy her mind. 

Perhaps an hour or more passed before the study door opened. 

Adam stood on the threshold. 

“What are you doing in here?” 

“I was thinking.” 

Shrugging off his evening coat, he loosened the neck of his shirt and made for the mahogany sideboard with its selection of crystal decanters and glasses. 

“Haven’t you had enough tonight?” she commented. 

“One can never have enough fine brandy.” He grinned at her. “I can assure you, this particular brandy is exquisitely fine.” 

“Your behaviour during the ball was reprehensible.” 

“Surely you’re mistaken.” He stretched out across one of the sofas. “I was charming all night long. Ask anybody.” 

“From the moment Lydia arrived at the Grange, you’ve ardently courted her. Yet you spent this evening flirting openly with Miss Macgregor. 

“It was a cruel, calculated ploy at the expense of both ladies,” Penelope concluded in disgust. “Because it is Lydia you’ve set your sights upon, isn’t it?” 

Adam shrugged, rising to pour another brandy. 

“Dorcas is a real beauty and I do care for her.” He sighed, shaking his head ruefully. “If only she were the heiress with a fortune and legacy of old money.” 

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.