Cauldstane

Cauldstane by Linda Gillard Read Free Book Online

Book: Cauldstane by Linda Gillard Read Free Book Online
Authors: Linda Gillard
Tags: Romance, Mystery
hearing all his traveller’s tales.’
    ‘Oh aye, there are some good ones. And most of them are true! Now, can I get you anything else?’
    ‘No, I’m fine. I’ m just making some notes about our meeting,’ I said, indicating the laptop.
    ‘ Well, when you’ve had your tea, I’ll show you the Music Room.
    ‘Oh, t hat’s OK, you don’t need to give me the tour. I’m sure I’ll find my way around.’
    ‘The Music Room is where you’re to work, Miss Jenny , if that suits you. It’s never used now and Mr MacNab thought it would serve as a study for whoever took on the job of writing his book. I think you’ll be comfortable in there. There’s a desk and a fireplace and of course there’s the harpsichord if you’re able to play.’
    ‘ I’m afraid I’m not at all musical. Who’s the musician in the family?’
    ‘It was Mrs MacNab’s instrument. The second Mrs MacNab. Mr MacNab bought it for her as a wedding present.’
    ‘How lovely! Does anyone play it now?’
    ‘No one, not since Mrs MacNab passed away. She was the only one who could get a tune out of it. The children were never allowed to touch it. Mr Alec learned the fiddle when he was a boy, but no one’s ever played the harpsichord. Mr Fergus has often suggested it should be sold. It’s an antique and worth a great deal, I understand, but Mr MacNab won’t part with it. It’s a beautiful instrument. Mrs MacNab played it every day when she was in residence.’
    ‘She was very musical, obviously.’
    ‘ Aye, she was a famous singer before she married. Meredith Fitzgerald, she was then. She used to sing in opera mostly. Mrs MacNab was a very dramatic personality.’ There was something about Mrs Guthrie’s tone that suggested admiration, even envy of her mistress’ temperament. ‘I never saw her perform on the stage, but she used to organise concerts now and again at Cauldstane. For Christmas, or as charity fund-raisers. Folk used to travel for miles to hear her and her friends sing. Those were very merry occasions.’ Mrs Guthrie’s sad smile belied her words. ‘The castle was full of guests. There were fires and lights everywhere, music and laughter. Cauldstane was full of life then. And Mr and Mrs MacNab were such a handsome couple.’
    ‘It must have made a lot of extra work for you . Did you have help?’
    Mrs Guthrie shrugged sturdy shoulders. ‘Just a couple of lassies from the village. And Miss Coral, of course, Mr Alec’s wife. Fiancée as she was then. She was always keen to help out. So we managed.’
    ‘Coral MacNab is dead, isn’t she? When did she pass away?’
    It was obviously a question I shouldn’t have asked. Tears formed in Mrs Guthrie’s eyes and her lower lip started to tremble. ‘Seven years ago. I can’t believe it’s seven already,’ she chided herself. She stood with one hand braced on her aproned hip, the other clamped over mouth, staring at the floor.
    I rose from my chair. ‘I’m so sorry, Mrs Guthrie. I didn’t mean to upset you.’
    She took her hand away from her mouth and flapped it at me in a futile, helpless gesture. ‘No, if you’re to write their story, you’ll need to know all the sadness this poor family’s known. And I’d far rather you asked me than Mr Alec. It’s just that – today of all days…’
    I remembered Alec by the river and my heart rose up into my mouth. ‘It isn’t… the anniversary of Coral’s death, is it?’
    ‘Aye, it is.’
    ‘How did she die?’
    ‘She drowned .’
    My voice was hard ly more than a whisper. ‘Did she drown… here ? At Cauldstane?’
    Mrs Guthrie nodded, unable to speak, then fled from the room as fast as her trainers could carry her.
    I walked over to the window, but I couldn’t bring myself to look down at the fast-flowing river. Instead, I stared at the jug of roses on my desk and counted them. Then I counted them again. I kept counting until I felt calm again, then I drew the heavy curtains, lay down on my bed and fell

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