Angus paused at the top of the rise that overlooked Anna’s house. Its setting was framed by the distant blue of the Northumberland Strait. The whitewashed house, trimmed in red, nestled in the hollow, flanked by the two barns and the workshop, also whitewashed. A long row of tall fir trees grew close behind, protecting the little farmhouse and its outbuildings from the vicious winter winds that could sweep across Prince Edward Island burying small houses, such as this, in drifts up to the eaves, and freezing a person to his very marrow. Angus shivered and hastened down the track.
I helped Ian build the big barn, and my father and my grandfather helped his father build this house, he thought. Anna planted those chestnut trees by the front door the day they were married. They’ve grown tall since then, but they’ve never produced nuts. A strange thing. He rounded the corner of the house and knocked on the door.
“Are you home, Ian?” He pushed the door open with the toe of his shoe.
“I am.” Ian’s voice sounded tired and far away.
Angus stepped into the sunlit kitchen, the bloody axe forgotten in his hands. His friend looked ill, weary-faced and worn, his eyes were red-rimmed and blood shot. His thick grey beard was still streaked with black and the hair on his head was grey too, except for the cowlick of black springing up from the front above his right eyebrow. He seemed rumpled and unkempt, and a little wild. He hunched his broad shoulders as if to ward off a blow.
“Where’s Donald?” asked Angus.
“Finishing the chores.” Ian was standing by the unlit stove, his hands busy shaving kindling off a stick of wood with the kitchen knife. “Have you found her, then?” He stared hard at the axe in Angus’ hands.
“We found her. Neil found her. They’re bringing her soon.” Angus followed Ian’s gaze, for the first time realizing that he still held the weapon. He almost dropped it in his haste to conceal it behind his back. “I’m sorry, I forgot to set this down.” His ruddy cheeks turned a darker shade of red.
“She’s dead, is she?” Ian stopped making kindling and stood waiting for the answer.
“She’s been murdered.”
Ian stood silently taking in the words. “It was bound to happen,” he said at last.
“Now why would you say that?”
Ian looked back at his friend, his blue eyes filled with tears. He blinked hard. “I knew about her from the very first time, and every time after that.”
“I suppose that’s what they’ll all be saying when the word gets around.” He sighed. “No, it wasn’t I, though I have more reason than anyone. Is that the weapon?”
“It would seem so.” Angus drew the axe out from behind his back.
“Whose is it?”
“I don’t know. I’ve never seen it before. I suppose we’ll have to notify the constable. This thing’s too big for us. Though what good he’ll be, I don’t know.”
Ian stood in silence for some seconds, then said, “I was just making Donald and me a bite of breakfast. Will you have some?” He turned toward the stove.
“I wouldn’t trouble you at a time like this. I should be making you breakfast.”
Ian shrugged. “We must go on, and to do that we must eat.” He began preparing the meal.
Anna Gillis, the midwife and neighbour in Mattie’s Story, has been found killed. The close-knit community is deeply shaken by this eruption of violence, and neighbours come together to help one another and to discover the perpetrator. But the answer lies Anna’s secret, long guarded by Old Annie, the last of the original Selkirk Settlers, and the protagonist of An Irregular Marriage. Join the community! Read Anna’s Secret and other novels by Margaret A. Westlie.
Genre – Fiction, mystery, historical
Rating – G
More details about the author