The Secret of Trefusis Cove – Episode 02

“He seemed preoccupied this afternoon.” Betty unlocked the front door.

“He didn’t say a word about my painting.” Val sighed. “Only that the ladybird was nice. I didn’t have the heart to tell him I wanted to give it all up.”

“He’s got something on his mind. Best not to pry; it’s none of our business.”

“I know.” Val hung her satchel on the back of a kitchen chair and took two mugs from the dresser. “That makes me want to pry more. Maybe he’s got romance problems?”

“Don’t be so nosy, Val.” Betty grinned. “By next Wednesday he’ll have got over whatever it is.”

The doorbell rang.

“Who could that be?” Betty made her way to the front door and opened it. Their art teacher was standing on the doorstep.

“Oh, hello, Mr John. What can I do for you?”

He stood there, tall and smiling in oversized sweater and jeans. He sported a neatly trimmed beard and dark-framed glasses.

“I’m sorry to disturb you, Mrs Silk, but I have a problem and a favour to ask.” He hesitated. “Feel free to refuse, though.”

Betty smiled.

“You’d better step inside.” She held open the door. “There’s tea brewing. Val’s here, too.”

“That’s wonderful. I wanted to speak to Mrs Freeman, too.”

He stepped into the hall.

“Mr John!” Val hurriedly brushed biscuit crumbs off her jumper.

“Take a seat.” Betty pulled up a chair.

Val swallowed hard.

“This is not about my sunflower, is it?”

“Goodness, no! That ladybird made quite an impression on me.”

“Thank you, Mr John.”

“Please, call me Peter.”

Betty poured the tea.

“We’re Betty and Val. Do you take sugar?”

“Two, please.”

No more was said until they were all settled. Val took another biscuit.

“Now,” Betty said. “What’s this favour you want to ask?”

“The thing is . . .” he faltered. “I have two exhibitions of my paintings this summer in London. They’ve come at an awkward time but the galleries can’t fit them into any other slot.”

“Two exhibitions?” Val echoed. “That’s wonderful!”

“Yes. The problem is that I usually go down to Cornwall during the summer break. Chill out, do a bit of painting, surf, you know what I mean?”

“Oh, of course.” Val was wide eyed.

“I have a little cottage a few miles outside St Ives. I don’t want to leave it empty during the tourist season. People – surfers, students and the like – could break in and make use of it. But I’ve no-one who could pop down there for six weeks or more to house-sit.”

He gazed at them both.

“When one of the ladies in the art group told me that you’d done a bit of house-minding in the past, I wondered . . .”

“Cornwall?” Betty said.

“Yes, it would be for six weeks. I couldn’t pay much, sorry.” He spread out his hands.

“Six weeks’ holiday in a seaside Cornish cottage?” Betty’s eyes glowed.

“I could take my camera.” Val beamed. “Oh, Betty, surely we could do it?”

“Of course we can,” Betty replied. “How much time do we have to prepare? Our children and the neighbours would keep an eye on things here – they’ve done it before. How exciting!”

“What a relief.” Peter smiled. “I hardly hoped it would be as easy as this. There are three more Wednesdays before the end of term; after that would be great. Thank you so very much.” He reached out and took a biscuit.

“Take two,” Val said.

“I’ll write out instructions about Tangara Cottage and how to find the place. I always leave the key with the man who runs the little general store in the cove.

“The place is very basic but I’m sure you’ll manage, and the light is wonderful in Cornwall – a lot of artists work there. The Tate Gallery isn’t far from Tangara.”

He smiled at Val.

“You’ll still have to know where the light’s coming from, even with the most state-of-the-art camera.”

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.