The Mystery Of Macgregor’s Cove – Episode 50

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

“After apple-picking,” Penelope replied, beaming at Kit as they rode towards the Bell. “It was Betsy’s idea. September’s a beautiful month.” 

It was to be a quiet, old-fashioned wedding at the little church of St Agnes. Upon this the couple were already decided. 

Riding at a leisurely pace and conversing about their plans, Penelope and Kit reached the Bell as a mail coach was departing. 

Alerted to their approach by Flossie, Betsy raced across the cobbles, brandishing a couple of letters and carrying a laden fruit basket. 

“What have the pair of you been gathering, Betsy?” Penelope asked, bending to fuss Flossie and peek into the trug. “Oh, my – they’re beauties!” 

“I know. We’re baking a big gooseberry tart for supper.” 

“May I help?” 

“You can help Ammie and me top and tail the goosegogs while Ma makes pastry.” Betsy nodded. 

Turning her attention to Kit, she held out one of the letters. 

“This is yours. The other is Ammie’s. It’s from Dorcas. I recognise her writing. 

“I’ll tell Ma and Ammie you’re here, Penny!” Betsy called over her shoulder, running back to the inn-house. “We’ll be in the kitchen.” 

Penelope turned to Kit, and he met her eyes apprehensively. 

“This is from Jamaica,” he murmured. “Tabby’s reply.” 

She touched a reassuring hand to his arm. Kit spoke often with deepest affection of Tabitha Warburton, the elderly Jamaican woman who’d been part of his life for as long as he could recall. 

“I’ll tend the horses while you read her letter.” 

When Penelope emerged from the stables, Kit offered her Tabby’s letter and she began reading the neat, old-fashioned writing. 

Warmth and love shone from every word, as did Tabby’s devotion for the Chesterton family, and especially for Clara, the mistress to whom she’d been lady’s maid, friend and companion since both were young girls. 

Clara had loved children, Penelope read, but after the difficult birth of her son, Geoffrey, doctors told her she would never bear another child. 

My sister Bathsheba, Tabby wrote, was a laundress down in Jobert Town. When Geoffrey was almost two years old, fever broke out in Jobert and many people were dying. 

Bathsheba wrote me that her friend Marietta had perished, but Marietta’s infant son still lived. Bathsheba wanted to get you away from the town to somewhere there was no fever. 

She brought you up here to Florence and came to the villa. She asked me to go with her to the orphanage and beg them to take you in – but your mama overheard Bathsheba and me talking. 

Before she set eyes on you, that sweet lady said you’d be going nowhere, because you were already home. 

And that’s how you came to be family, child. 

“What a beautiful letter, Kit.” 

“One day, Penny, when time and our work permit,” he said emotionally, “you and I must sail for Jamaica and visit my old home in Florence. I want you to meet my family, and get to know Tabby, Geoffrey and Susan.” 

“I’d like that very much.” 

“You go indoors and help Betsy top and tail those goosegogs.” Kit leaned across and kissed her cheek. “I need to show Tabby’s letter to Sandy.” 

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.