The Mystery Of Macgregor’s Cove – Episode 43

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

Snow continued falling for much of the day, and when they approached Tarleton Hall, it was to discover a lively ice party in full swing on the lake. 

Fiery torches and lanterns illuminated its banks; fiddlers played reels and jigs, while relays of hotel servants slithered back and forth keeping guests supplied with roasted chestnuts, negus and hot chocolate. 

“What will you do after Akenside?” Penelope queried when they were emerging from the hotel with their borrowed skates. 

“Oh, there will be plenty of engineering challenges close to home,” Kit reassured her, indicating a bench where they might put on their skates. “Have you heard of John Smeaton? 

“He built canals, but he was also responsible for bridges, harbours and lighthouses,” Kit finished, accepting two mugs of chocolate from a maid bearing a tray. “Perhaps I’ll build a lighthouse.” 

They sat with their drinks, cupping cold hands about hot mugs and watching the skaters. 

“The waters along our coastline are known to be treacherous,” Penelope began, sipping her chocolate.  

“Many a vessel comes to grief making its way to or from Liverpool. A proper lighthouse would be a godsend.” 

“That’s it!” He laughed, setting aside his mug. “As soon as the Akenside Cut is navigable, I’ll build a lighthouse at Macgregor’s Cove.” 

After donning his skates, Kit dropped to his knees in the snow and began lacing up Penelope’s. 

He looked up at her. Their faces were on a level, and Kit’s dark eyes were dancing. 

“While I’m down on one knee, Miss Whitlock,” he murmured softly, taking both her hands, “may I tell you I love you and ask you to marry me?” 

Penelope uttered not a word, merely leaning closer and touching Kit’s lips with her own. 

*  *  *  * 

After spending those special days alone with Penelope, parting from her was more of a wrench than usual. 

Leaving her at the Grange, Kit rode out to Macgregor’s Cove. The Bell’s yard was empty, and everywhere was still. 

After stabling Patch, Kit went into the inn. Sandy was alone, seated before the fire with a tot of rum, contemplating glowing logs and enjoying a pipe. 

“I’m glad you’re keeping busy,” Kit declared, taking off his hat and coat. 

“You should have been here an hour since,” Sandy muttered grimly, adding with a sigh, “I’d best fetch you summat to drink, seeing as you’ve come all the way from Scotland.” 

“Stay put. I’ll help myself.” 

Kit brought his glass to the fireside. 

“What’s been happening here?” 

“Baking. Ethel and the girls have made Dorcas’s marriage cake. Huge, it is. We got another letter from her today,” he went on, sipping his rum. “They’re in Harrogate.” 

Kit nodded. 

“What do you make of Adam?” 

“I like him fine well,” Sandy replied. “Adam’s a good man – but he’s not our class. 

“Adam’s gentry; she’s the daughter of a country innkeeper. I don’t want her hurt, or to be ashamed of who she is and where she’s from.” 

Sandy swirled the dregs of the Jamaican dark rum around his glass. 

“I just hope our Dorcas never regrets marrying above herself.” 

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.