The Secret of Trefusis Cove – Episode 22

“Dolphins have been sighted occasionally around these parts – seals, too,” Kit told them. “But not for a long while. Did you get a good look at it? Did it jump right out of the water?”

He handed their groceries to Betty.

“No, I only saw the tail,” Val said.

“I heard the splash,” Betty added. “It was loud.”

“It was probably a large fish. There are plenty of those around. It’ll be out at sea now. It was probably looking for food. There are lots of strange things in the sea.”

“Mermaids have a tail like a whale.” Val shrugged. “There’s a drawing of one in my book but not so big.”

“Not the merfolk again!” Betty groaned.

Kit grinned.

“Has Aircut been spinning you a yarn?”

“Lots of them,” Betty declared.

“Don’t take him too seriously, though there’s a lot more to him than meets the eye.” He winked.

“We won’t.” Betty laughed. “By the way, we’re coming to the rehearsal tonight. He’s invited us to provide a bit of feminine harmony to the shanties. We were singing out in his boat last night.”

“Then you must have impressed him. He’s very choosy who he invites to the shanty evenings.”

“We’re looking forward to it,” Val told Kit.

“We’ll see you about seven o’clock. We’ll go round by the road.”

“Watch out for the phantom horseman,” Kit teased.

“He’s no ghost. He’s just an impolite man.”

“One with a good deal of influence and a lot of money.” He frowned.

*  *  *  *

There was a warm welcome at Aircut’s cottage and places were made for them in the circle of singers.

“Just sing along with us for a while until you get used to it.” Aircut handed them sheets of paper with the words to the shanties. “Then we’ll be able to tell where you’ll fit.”

He took up his concertina and began to play.

The shanties, like hymns, were easy to follow and Betty and Val were familiar with the popular ones.

They were mainly work songs sung by sailors of the old tall ships as they pulled the ropes and turned the capstan to raise and lower the anchor.

“Well done, ladies.” Aircut was pleased. “I’m glad I asked you to join us. Now, which one of you would like to do a solo?”

“You do it, Val. You were always the one who could hold a tune.”

Val blushed but consented to try.

“Good-oh!” Aircut said. “We’ll sing ‘Tom Bowling’. That’s a sad one, perfect for a lady’s voice. We’ll hum in harmony and you can sing the words.”

They began without accompaniment. Val sang the heartrending ballad.

“Well done, lass,” Aircut praised her. “We’ll keep that one in, that’ll get ’em crying.” He grinned.

“I don’t want to make anyone sad!”

“Go on with you.” Aircut winked at Val. “Everyone likes a bit of sad stuff. We’ll round off the evening with ‘The Drunken Sailor’ and everyone can join in. That’ll make ’em happy again.”

“When’s the Shanty Night?” Betty asked.

“Friday.” Kit smiled. “Seven-thirty at the Crab and Mermaid. You two will be on the stage this time.”

Betty felt a shiver of panic.

“Do you think we’re ready?” Val was also nervous.

“Of course you are. We’ll have a couple more rehearsals before the performance, just to make sure.” Aircut put down his concertina. “Just sing natural – you’ll be perfect.”

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.