The Mystery Of Macgregor’s Cove – Episode 51

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

Amaryllis distractedly skimmed the opening paragraphs of Dorcas’s letter. 

Her sister was writing proudly about an invitation to a summer ball at the country estate belonging to one of Adam’s old school friends, who was the captain in command of Castlebridge Garrison. 

His family are among the grandest in Lancashire, and Adam promised to present me with something special to wear at the Fenwick ball. 

As you know, I’ve no patience with surprises, so when Adam was away in Chester I went into his dressing-room and happened to look in the tall-boy. There amongst his shirts was the most glorious necklace! 

Huge diamonds and sapphires, Am! It took my breath away and must be worth a king’s ransom – it’s certainly fit for a queen! The ladies at that summer ball will be green with envy. 

With a rush, Amaryllis’s long-held suspicion that Adam Whitlock regularly purchased contraband engulfed her. 

Unbidden, the persistent questions Wilhelmina’s owner had asked concerning the Dutchman – together with Noah’s reckoning he might have been a goldsmith, gem merchant or some such from Amsterdam – flooded her mind. 

Was Dorcas’s necklace plunder from the wrecked merchantman? 

*  *  *  * 

“This is the happiest birthday I’ve ever had, Penny!” Dorothy Whitlock exclaimed. 

They were on the terrace at Haddonsell, putting the finishing touches to a table set with the delicate, floral-patterned and gilded Dorothy tea service. 

“I don’t like looking back to my last birthday,” Dorothy reflected, gazing across the gardens to where Kit was sitting with Elias. “Your father was so ill, I thought we were losing him – and now look! 

“He’s back in his beloved gardens with his flowers and his bees, and the pair of you have made this grand tea set for me!” 

“Father planned it long ago.” 

“It’s so lovely,” Dorothy murmured, admiring the clear, brilliant glaze of the richly hand-painted creamware. “We’re having a fine day, aren’t we? It’s a shame Adam and Dorcas couldn’t come.” 

“I’m sorry Adam chose to quit the pottery,” Penelope said after a moment. “If I hadn’t confronted him, he might have had a change of heart.” 

“It wasn’t your fault, lass,” Dorothy cut in firmly. “Adam was bound to go his own way again sooner or later. He never cared for the pot-works. 

“But you always have, Penny. And you’re good at running it, so Whitlock’s is in the best hands.” 

The little party made short work of feather-light cakes, melting pastries and moreish dainties, and were lingering over third cups of tea when a maid appeared bearing Cyril Protheroe’s card. 

“He said he’s on his way back to Liverpool, sir.” She gave the card to Kit. “Wants to see you most urgent.” 

Unimpressed, Kit considered the card and glanced around the table to Penelope and her parents. 

“Protheroe is among the wealthiest shipowners I’ve approached,” he remarked drily. “In common with the others, he agreed the construction of a lighthouse was a worthy endeavour, then promptly showed me the door.” 

“I’ve never met Cyril Protheroe, but I’ve heard plenty about him,” Elias remarked. “It’s no secret he has political ambitions.  

“He’s been taking up charitable works and good causes around the town. Fancies himself summat of a philanthropist.” 

“Does he now?” Kit mused, rising from the table. “Maybe our Mr Protheroe is having second thoughts about investing in a lighthouse.” 

*  *  *  * 

“Flossie and I will miss you,” Betsy said, watching Kit pack a small valise. 

“We’ll only be gone for three days.” Kit smiled. 

He and Penelope were attending Lydia Unsworth’s wedding in Yorkshire. 

“Have you chosen a best man for your wedding?” Ethel enquired. 

“I haven’t even thought about it.” 

“Why not ask Sandy? You’re his only son,” she went on warmly. “He’d be very proud to be standing with you on your wedding day, Kit.” 

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.