The Secret of Trefusis Cove – Episode 15

The shantymen arrived, mounted the little stage and arranged themselves into a semi-circle. All became quiet as the audience waited.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we’d like to begin with a popular shanty that I’m sure you all know. We’d be delighted if you would join in the chorus.”

They began.

“What shall we do with the drunken sailor?”

Betty and Val joined in heartily with the chorus.

“Way, hay, and up she rises . . .”

Tables were thumped as the audience sang at the tops of their voices. Shanty followed shanty, from sail-hauling songs to sad “Kit Bowlin” and “Shenandoah”, all accompanied by Aircut on the concertina.

The landlord came forward at the end of the first half of the programme with a tray of beer for the singers.

“If there’s anyone who’d like to sing a shanty they’re welcome to come up and have a go.”

He grinned at the audience.

“I will.” A voice came from the table in the corner by the window.

“Betty, it’s the man with the blond hair!” Val exclaimed.

The man got up from his chair and approached the stage.

“I don’t need accompaniment,” he said quietly.

The room became silent as he mounted the step and faced the crowd. Even Kit and the shanty men stopped drinking their beer and waited expectantly.

Tucking his hands into his pockets, he took a breath and sang “The Wild Colonial Boy” in a deep bass voice. When he came to the end there was a short silence before a loud round of applause rang out.

“It’s not a shanty,” he said, “but it comes from my own country.”

“Well done, Aussie!” someone shouted.

The shantymen and some who were obviously local people remained strangely silent, but Betty and Val clapped their hands with gusto.

He went back to his seat at the table in the corner and took a sip of beer.

Kit came and sat with Betty and Val for a short time before the second half of the programme.

“Who is that man?” Betty asked.

“Alexander Grey,” was the reply. “He did well tonight but he’s not very popular with the locals or us.”

“Why is that?”

“I’ll tell you. He owns Whealgrey, the deserted old tin mine up the road, and the tumbledown house that goes with it.

“He inherited it from his great-uncle and he’s come over to claim his inheritance, which includes the land at the back of Tangara, and to make changes which we don’t approve of.”

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.