The Secret of Trefusis Cove – Episode 06

There was an embarrassing silence as the men sat down again, each waiting for the other to make conversation.

“Are there many people living in the cove?” Betty asked. “We couldn’t see much in the dark.”

“Nothing but this place, Tangara Cottage and my shop,” Kit Pelago answered. “It’s a mite lonely. Off the beaten track, but all the better for that.”

Aircut came back with two steaming mugs on a tray. A plate of biscuits looked inviting.

“I put a drop of my home-made cordial in each.” He smiled. “It’ll warm your bones.”

“Thank you.” Betty took a mug. “You’re so kind.”

“This is delicious,” Val said. “Your coffee must be different down here. I’d love to know the brand. Or maybe it’s the different water.”

There was an exchange of looks between the men and a grin from Aircut.

“It’s my cordial,” he explained. “It makes just that little bit of difference.”

“There was a collective “Aah!” from the men.

“So,” Betty said, “you’ve been listening to sea shanties? We could hear the music as we came across the bay.”

“Nah,” Kit said. “It was us singing. We get together to sing the old sea songs.”

“You’re very good. We thought it was the radio or a CD.”

“That’s very nice of you to say so.” Aircut pulled up another stool into the circle around the stove. “How’s the coffee?”

“It’s the best I’ve ever tasted.” Val beamed. “Isn’t it, Betty?”

Betty felt warm, comfortable (despite the hard wooden stool) and more relaxed than she’d been all day.

Val was rosy-cheeked and smiling, eating biscuits and chatting with the shanty men. They were here in Cornwall safe and sound and would soon be tucked up in cosy beds in Tangara Cottage, with six glorious weeks ahead of them.

Betty sighed contentedly and imagined herself outside the cottage with her sketch book, churning out the most wonderful seascapes. Val would be out on the beach with her camera, photographing seaweed, shells and interesting rock formations.

She felt her own cheeks growing rosier and rosier. The shanty men began to sing.

“In your honour, a shanty with girls in it.” Aircut grinned as they began “Spanish Ladies”.

“Oh, that warms my heart.” Val sighed. “I went to Spain once.”

“Would you like some more coffee, ladies?” Aircut smiled through his beard.

“Oh, that’s very kind but we mustn’t impose upon you any longer,” Betty replied reluctantly. “If we can have the key we’ll make our way back to the cottage.”

The men looked at one another.

“You’ll not get back the same way you came.” Aircut cocked his head. “Listen.”

Betty could hear the sound of waves on the shore.

“Tide runs in swift here,” Kit told them. “The water is up to the big rocks by now.”

“But how shall we get back?” Val wailed.

“I’ve got my people carrier outside. I’ll take you back by the road. It’ll only take a minute.”

“You mean we could have walked along the road?”

“Of course, but you didn’t have the daylight, so how could you have known?” Kit replied.

Betty laughed and got up from her stool. Her legs felt heavy and tired. Val looked a bit wobbly, too.

“I’m more tired than I thought,” she said with a laugh.

“Aircut’s cordial is a bit more beneficial than it should be.” Kit grinned.

“Mr Aircut was very kind to share it with us. Is it an old family recipe?”

Kit grinned.

“Something like that, but he won’t tell you what’s in it. By the way, Aircut’s just his nickname. When we were all at school together the teacher was always telling him to get a haircut.

“He’s still a bit slow at going to the barber so the name’s stuck. He’ll always be Aircut now.”

Val giggled.

“It suits him. Oh, Betty, my legs feel all funny – it must be from sitting in the car all day.”

“It’s probably something like that.”

Betty vowed to herself that if Aircut offered any more coffee with cordial, she would politely decline.

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.