The Bal Maid of Great Condurrow

Written by: Ray Stone

With some impatience I sat watching a gathering dawn slowly turn blackness into a thousand shapes as the sun crept above the distant hills and glimmered and twinkled through the forest. Since Mr Aloysius Crumley’s letter had arrived the previous week, its contents had given me cause for some concern. I found it hard to sleep let alone wait for the Friday, the day he said I should call on him at his London office in Cranley Square.

My journey from Denton Bowes had been tiring for Caz, but nothing could tire my excitement as I rode him along the bridle path, counting the milestones. I was to report to ‘Crumley and Beddingborn,’ solicitors to the gentry and commissioners of oaths at precisely 9.00 on the morning. There was no indication as to the nature of the business Mr Crumley wished to discuss with me save a hint that news of the death of a distant relative was indeed to my advantage.

With Caz rested, I rode the last few miles into London and arrived at Cranley Square as the bell in St Stephens Tower chimed 9.00.


Mr Crumley was a portly gentleman of old age who, despite the advance in modern bespoke tailoring and the new Victorian fashion for short curly hair, persisted in wearing a powdered wig together with morning coat, breeches and white stockings. With his large red jowled cheeks, squat nose and small piercing blue eyes, one would be forgiven for likening him to a jolly fine pig.

“Come in Master Jeddler, come in and warm yourself by the fire.”

With a kindly hand on my shoulder he ushered me gently into a large red leather wing chair in front of a roaring log fire opposite his large oak desk. Despite being backlit from the dimpled windows that looked down on the noisy square below, two large candles standing on a bookcase were still alight. The aroma of candle wax and Mr Crumley’s snuff wafted across the office.

“Now Arthur,” Crumley said, pulling his morning coat about his knees carefully as he sat, “you Sir are a man of substance through the passing of your dear mother some years ago.”

My brow wrinkled. “I’m sorry, I don’t understand.”

“She would not have told you that you had an uncle, one Silas Dench, and that due to a family tragedy which he was responsible for, they never spoke again. Your uncle wanted to make good and hired my services to draw up a will leaving his estate to your mother on his death.”

“And as he is now deceased his estate comes to me?” I asked.

Crumley beamed. “Yes, you are now the owner of a tin mine in Cornwall together with house and one thousand pounds.”

I looked into the dancing flames of the fire. “Will you tell me about the tragedy?”

“No.” Your mother kept it from you and Silas from me. It is for you to travel to Cornwall and unravel that dark mystery. 


Writing order: Jasmine Groves (Aus), Sumanda Maritz (S. Africa), Angela Shaw (NZ),  Roseyn (Aus), Donna McTavish (NZ),  Kalli Deschamps (USA), Suraya Dewing (NZ), Griffin (Aus), Ray Stone (Cyprus), Sumand Maritz (S. Africa)


This is a great starter, Ray. I could immediately tell the era that this story is set by the beautiful old-world language you used in your descriptions. I get the sense of one of those wonderful olden time family mysteries and can't wait to see where it goes. It will be a real challenge for me to write in this vein.
Thank you. I am really enjoying writing this. A bit of a change from political mystery and murder.
I really like this story, the style and old English voice. Being my native language is colloqial American getting the style right is a real challenge but I'm up for giving it a try. What a great story, this will be fun.
Great Starter, Ray. I love this era of English, history and especially Cornwall. It will be a great challenge!
This one is way out of my comfort zone. Therefore it must be done. :)