A Bal Maid a Knocking: single author serial

Written by: Ray Stone

Ray Stone wrote all the chapters of this serial

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 dull 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. You must to travel to Cornwall and unravel that dark mystery.




I'm struck by two things right off: the delightful English voice and the masterful way I am drawn into the mystery. And, as always with your writing. the descriptive detail brings it to life.