The Secret of Trefusis Cove – Episode 16

“What changes?” Val asked.

“He’s made an application to develop the land behind Tangara into a holiday set-up. He’s a rich man in his own right, but he’s living rough in the old house.

“He wants to make a killing out of this place. He’s made a bid to Peter John to buy Tangara and pull it down, making way for a beach resort.

“He’ll just put in a manager, go back to Oz and rake in the takings. The whole place will be changed and the peace and beauty gone for ever.”

“I can’t believe anyone would do a thing like that!” Betty exclaimed.

“You’d better believe it. There’s nothing much we can do about it as his application is already going through. We’ve tried petitioning, but we’re so few.” Kit shook his head.

“Avoid him if you can – he’s an unpleasant man. You don’t need to get yourselves involved, being that you’re only here for a little while.”

“I shouldn’t think he’d be interested in a pair of amateur artists,” Val said. “We’re no threat to him. What a sad tale, and him so handsome, too.”

“Handsome is as handsome does,” Kit said. “I must get back now, the second half is ready to go.”

After the second half the chat in the pub continued. Betty and Val decided to go back to Tangara and prepare for the vigil at the top of the steps by the road.

“Aren’t you too tired, Betty?” Val yawned as she got into the car.

“I’m not as tired as I’m curious, Val.” Betty started the motor and backed out of the parking space.

“That poor horse is still standing there. I wish I’d asked the landlord for an apple for her,” Val said sadly.

“She looks pretty well cared for to me.” Betty laughed. “She’s used to it, no doubt.”

* * * *

At a quarter to eleven the pair of them felt much warmer at the top of the stone steps than the night before. Dressed in trousers, coats, warm socks and sweaters they waited, Val poised and ready with her camera.

The obliging moon illuminated the road and then the noise started – in the distance at first, then getting louder and louder as whatever it was approached.

“I can feel a vibration!” Val exclaimed.

“Get your camera ready and we’ll soon solve this mystery,” Betty said as they moved out on to the road.

The noise was loud now and the road throbbed beneath their feet. It appeared before them around the bend in the road. Panting and galloping, a large horse at full pelt headed straight for them.

Val froze but aimed her camera. In the nick of time Betty pushed her into the bushes at the side of the road where they both landed uncomfortably.

The rider pulled hard on the reins and the horse came to a stop, its hooves scraping the rough surface of the road into a cloud of dust.

“Get out of the road, ya dozy sheilas!” a voice yelled. “Ya wanna get yerselves killed?”

He kicked the big horse into a gallop again and made off towards the old tin mine. Betty could see his long coat flying out behind him and the leather bush hat crammed on his blond head.

“That was the horse we saw in the car park!” Val gasped.

Betty pulled herself out of the bushes and helped her friend to her feet. She was shaking with fear and anger.

“It certainly was, Val. And those hooves sounded like the rumble of thunder.”

“I think I got a good shot of him, but I don’t think my flash was working. I couldn’t see who the rider was, though, it was all so fast.”

“I saw him clearly, Val. He was so close that I could smell the alcohol on his breath. No wonder Alexander Grey wasn’t driving a car!”

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.