The Secret of Trefusis Cove – Episode 41

Betty was angry.  “That was a stupid joke and all at the expense of that poor creature. It might not come back.”

“It wasn’t a seal.”

“What was it, then?”

“I don’t know,” Alex answered quietly.

“It wasn’t a mermaid,” Val said sadly. “There’s no such thing – is there?” She gazed at him hopefully. “Are you sure it had arms?”

Betty’s heart softened.

“Of course it didn’t, Val. It must have been a trick of the light.”

“Thinking about it, I can’t be certain. It’s dark and dappled down there; maybe I’m muddled.” Alex shrugged.

“You are!”

“We’re all tired,” Aircut said. “How about we go home? We can tell Sally all about it. There’s always an explanation for everything.”

He glanced at Alex.

“You’re invited, too, if you’d like.” He said it politely but as if he hoped Alex would refuse.

Alex shook his head.

“Thanks, but I’ll get back to Whealgrey. I have to make plans to seal off the old mine to make it safe.

“I’m sorry I’ve upset you all. I really did see something. I didn’t lie, not even for a joke.”

He took hold of Polly’s reins and mounted easily.

“Goodnight, Val.” He raised a hand. “I hope to see you again, very soon.”

Urging Polly into a trot, he disappeared.

“I believe him,” Val said. “He saw something.”

“Maybe,” Betty replied. “Let him get on with his plans and the repairs to Tangara; that’s more important than filling your head with mermaids.”

“He’s not a liar!” Val was near to tears.

Betty realised it was a mistake to criticise Alex. Val was too vulnerable. There was nothing she could do.

Sally appeared in her bathrobe, drying her hair.

“Did the night go well?”

“Very well,” Aircut answered. “There was a good crowd and none of us sang out of tune.”

“Alex gave me a ride back on his horse,” Val said. “He thought he saw a seal on the rock outside but it had arms. I don’t think he saw it clearly.”

Aircut related the rest of the tale. Betty thought she saw a look pass between Sally and Aircut.

“I’ll put the kettle on,” he said. “We’ve all had a busy night.”

The scene between Val and Alex was not mentioned. Sitting by Aircut’s little stove, Betty sipped her hot chocolate and felt relaxed.

“It was a successful Shanty Night. Everyone was in fine voice and even Alex has become a little more popular since the accident. He was persuaded to stand up and sing a shanty. Val sang a duet with him.”

Sally sighed.

“There were surveyors up in the field behind Tangara today. They were using a theodolite, measuring. It looks as if things will begin to happen soon.”

Aircut put down his mug and stretched his arms.

“It’s been a long day.”

Betty realised that, as he was to sleep on the sofa in the living-room, this was his way of saying goodnight.

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.