The Secret of Trefusis Cove – Episode 19

As the friends dined on pasties and salad, Betty related the story of Whealgrey.

“What a scandal for such a quiet little place,” Val observed between mouthfuls of pasty. “It’s like a romantic novel. By the way, where did you get these delicious things?”

“Kit brought them when you were beachcombing.”

“Aircut came out on the beach to check the moorings of his fishing boat while I was photographing seaweed. He wanted to know if we’d like to go for a moonlight ride in his boat when the tide turns.”

“Did you say yes?”

“How could I say no? We might see a mermaid.” Val grinned.

“I hope Aircut’s got lifejackets.”

“I asked about that and he said yes. And we’ve to wear something we don’t mind getting grubby as his boat’s a bit whiffy due to the mackerel.”

Val reached into her pocket and took out a shell. She placed it on the table.

“Look what I found when I was out there. It has some interesting markings on it. I thought it would be a nice keepsake.”

“It looks like a big whelk shell.” Betty picked it up. “Those marks don’t look natural. They look as if someone’s cut them into the shell.”

“Way out there? It must have been under the sea and rolling about in the tide for years.”

Val took the shell from Betty.

“It’s a definite pattern, though. Look, that’s a moon and some stars and – and something that looks like a fish hook.”

“Someone must have been messing about and carving it years ago and just flung it into the water,” Betty suggested.

“I’m going to look it up in my mermaid book. And tonight I’ll show Aircut.”

Betty smiled.

“Val, it wasn’t carved by a mermaid, that’s for sure.”

*  *  *  *

The sun was disappearing as Betty and Val walked to Aircut’s cottage. He was on the shore, his boat pulled up on the sand to make it easier for them to climb aboard and sit side by side.

“I’ve given Saucy Sue a wash down this afternoon so she’s not too smelly. Here’s a couple of lifejackets, and I’ve brought a flask of coffee in case it gets a little cool out there.”

“Thank you, Aircut.” Betty didn’t ask if he’d laced the coffee with his home-made cordial.

“I won’t have you out too long.” He pushed the boat into the water. “But it’s lovely coming back by moonlight and I’ve brought my concertina so we can have a sing-song.”

He pulled a woolly hat down over his ears and picked up the oars.

“Ready?” The outboard motor was clear of the water and secured. “I don’t start her motor till I’m well out of the bay.”

“We noticed that,” Betty said. “We wondered why.”

Aircut pulled on the oars and the boat moved away from the shore.

“I don’t want to disturb the horses, you see. The noise of the outboard would scare them away.”

“What horses? You’re pulling our legs.”

His eyes twinkled.


“The white tops of waves when there’s a storm?”

“No, m’dear. Seahorses, the small ones that live among the seaweed at the mouth of the bay. They’ve been there ’undreds of years. Don’t do to disturb them – unlucky, you see.”

Betty was stunned.

“I thought they were endangered. How do you know they’re there?”

“I’ve known about ’em since I used to go diving as a lad. Thought nothing much of ’em except to leave ’em be. Darling little things, they are. I ’aven’t been diving down there for many a year now.”

He was romancing, Betty thought, just to make this trip exciting. He probably told the same story to all the trippers.

“It’s a long time since you were a boy,” Val said. “Maybe they’re gone now.”

“No, they’re there for ever, ’cause nobody knows about ’em except the Shantymen, me, and now you two, of course. You won’t spread the word and spoil things, will you?” He grinned. “We don’t want to have folks diving about and looking for ’em.”

Betty still didn’t believe him, but she smiled and nodded. After all, they were out here on the sea in the near dark with the only person who could row and start an outboard motor!

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.