From The Manse Win­dow

The People's Friend - - This Week -

is Rish­ton Place!

“The li­brary and Adam’s study are on this floor,” she went on, sweep­ing through the front door and across the en­trance hall. “And that’s my morn­ing-room.”

Amaryl­lis started into the pretty room, but her sis­ter was al­ready on the stairs.

“I must show you the draw­ing-room.” She turned along the land­ing into a room with a pi­anoforte.

“Af­ter din­ner, we ladies re­tire here and leave the gen­tle­men to their port, cigars and con­ver­sa­tion.

“We fre­quently en­ter­tain din­ner guests. Si­mon dines reg­u­larly here.” Dor­cas paused, con­sid­er­ing Amaryl­lis scathingly. “You were a fool let­ting Si­mon go. You’ll never get any­body of his cal­i­bre to –”

“Is Adam at home?” Amaryl­lis asked, keen to change the sub­ject.

“He’s in York on busi­ness. This is the din­ing-room,” Dor­cas went on, fling­ing open the door. “Next month, Adam and I are hav­ing our first din­ner party. Cook and I are al­ready plan­ning menus.”

Amaryl­lis’s head was spin­ning by the time they reached the third floor.

“Adam is such a gen­er­ous hus­band. Look what he’s had de­liv­ered for me.” Dor­cas laughed, catch­ing Amaryl­lis’s arm and ush­er­ing her through to a lady’s sit­ting-room where sev­eral pack­ages lay.

Their con­tents were spilling out in an abun­dance of vivid hand­painted chintz, pas­tel­striped ging­hams, flo­ral sprigged muslins, fresh white cot­ton, silk and lace.

Dip­ping into one of the parcels, Dor­cas with­drew lengths of ma­te­rial, al­low­ing the folds to tum­ble across her arms.

“Look at these glo­ri­ous silks. Did you ever see such del­i­cate lace?”

Next morn­ing, Noah brought the Bell’s flour from his fam­ily’s mill and helped Sandy heft the sacks in­doors.

Paus­ing be­fore clam­ber­ing on to the mill-cart, he stood gaz­ing along the beach to where Amaryl­lis was sea-weed­ing.

“If you’ve time,” Sandy called, “go and try cheer­ing the lass up a bit.”

“Why?” Noah turned sharply. “What’s wrong?” Sandy shook his head. “Yes­ter­day, she vis­ited Dor­cas at Rish­ton Place. We’ve hardly had a word out of her since.”

Noah lost no time join­ing Amaryl­lis.

“Is it true that or­di­nary, hon­est folk,” she be­gan, re­peat­ing the words Si­mon had once used, “have deal­ings with smug­glers?”

“It’s true many folk buy con­tra­band,” Noah replied, con­sid­er­ing his com­pan­ion. “But most don’t have deal­ings with the smug­glers them­selves. Folk buy their goods from a mid­dle­man.

“What’s this about?” he queried. “Have you seen some­thing about the smug­gling that’s go­ing on up-coast?”

Amaryl­lis shook her head, ex­pla­na­tions com­ing in a rush.

“Adam’s bought Dor­cas ma­te­rial for dresses – chintz, muslins, ging­ham, all sorts. But there were lengths of silk, too, Noah! And the very finest lace!

“Dor­cas told me Adam and Si­mon are friends and Si­mon’s fre­quently at Rish­ton Place. What if . . .” She broke off.

Noah wasn’t lis­ten­ing. He was star­ing far away along the low shore.

Some­one – for even from this dis­tance, there could be no doubt it was a per­son – was wash­ing up into the shal­lows.

Noah raced over the wet sand, lest there be a chance the soul could be saved. Amaryl­lis ran af­ter him, slow­ing when she saw Noah drop to his knees at the wa­ter’s edge, the life­less fig­ure sprawled be­fore him.

She rested a hand upon Noah’s shoul­der, feel­ing his body shud­der.

Slowly, Noah raised his face.

“This man didn’t drown, Amaryl­lis. He’s been mur­dered!”

To be con­cluded.

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