“Stories Of A Stewardess: Miss Bell’s Lace” Part Two

This is the second part of “Stories Of A Stewardess: Miss Bell’s Lace”, by Frances Myles.

Part one featured in last week’s Fiction Newsletter.

Truth to tell I never gave the conversation I had overheard another thought, until later on circumstances brought it back to my mind.

During the last week, Mr Grimmond had evidently determined to bring matters to a crisis.

In spite of Mrs Howard’s most strenuous efforts to outwit him, he managed to monopolise Miss Bell considerably.

Under his persistent wooing, Miss Bell’s indifference, real or assumed, had to give way, and ere we reached old England’s shores she had promised to become his wife.

No one on board was surprised, and all agreed in declaring it an ideal match.

The most effusive congratulations were showered on the happy couple by Mrs Howard.

I fancy no one was deceived by them; for, in spite of her most heroic efforts to conceal her real feelings, all knew she was deeply chagrined at the engagement.

Hers was one of those unhappy dog-in-the-manger natures. She could spare no happiness to other folks.

Although she had a husband of her own, she would still have liked all the nicest and most eligible men she knew to pay her court.

That nothing was too mean for her to stoop to Miss Bell found out to her cost.


When we arrived in London, I found a telegram waiting for me.

My mother, who resided with a married sister in the Midlands, was dying, and I was wanted there at once.

When I showed the message to Captain Steele, he gave me permission to leave at once, and volunteered to find some one to do my work until I returned.

Thus I was about the first to leave the ship when we landed, and consequently knew nothing of what followed on board until I got back.

Poor mother! I was too late to find her alive, although I had the melancholy satisfaction of being at her funeral.

That over, there was no call for me to stay on at Jane’s. She had more than enough to do with her own family, and as she insisted on treating me as company, I only added to the work in the house.

So I made up my mind to go back at once to the Sultana, and my familiar work.


“You’ve got back again, have you?” Jackson said, as I stepped on board. “Sorry you had such a sad journey, Miss Symons.”

“Thank you, Jackson,” I replied. It was a wonderful speech for Jackson to make, and that it was heartfelt was evident from the hearty, sympathetic squeeze he gave my poor hand.

“Anything new since I left?” I asked, after a pause.

“Rather,” Jackson replied, significantly.

“Oh, indeed. What is it?”

“A bonnie mess some of your ladies have been and made of it,” he went on.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“There’s like to be a fine row about it, I can just assure you. A fine row all round.”

“A fine row about what, Jackson? Bless me!” I cried in irritation. “Can’t you speak out and tell me what you’re talking about?”

“You remember Miss Bell?”

“Perfectly,” I replied. “What about her?”

“Oh, she’s been trying to smuggle in some trash of old lace, and been found out.”

“What!” I shrieked.

“And they do say,” Jackson went on, relishing the impression which his news made on me, “that Mr Grimmond is in such a rage about it that he vows to break off the match.”

“The mean wretch! But, Jackson, do tell me the particulars.”

“I’ve none to tell. Johnnie, the cook’s boy, saw that little fiend, Mrs Howard, talking to the officer whenever he came on board.

“Soon after, the row got up, and Miss Bell went into hysterics, and there was a fine scene I can tell you.

“You should have seen how Grimmond stormed. I guess he’s used to bossing in his own concern. But his bossing was of no avail at that time.

“The officer was calm, but very firm.”

“How I wish I’d been there,” I said. “Jackson . . .”

“Yes. What idea have you got into your head now?”

“You say that Johnnie saw Mrs Howard talking to the officer. The little Jezebel that she is!

“Listen, I’ve something to tell you. I’d clean forgotten all about it until this minute.”

Then I related to Jackson the conversation which I had overheard between Mrs Howard and poor Miss Bell. That the elder lady had dealt treacherously by her friend we had no doubt.

After we had talked it over, Jackson went ashore to send a telegram to Mr Grimmond’s club. Fortunately that gentleman had left his address with the skipper.

Owing to his relationship with Miss Bell, he was, so to speak, mixed up with the unpleasantness.

Well, to cut a long story short, the telegram fortunately reached Mr Grimmond at once, and he came down to the Sultana immediately.

He thanked me warmly for my information, and for having sent for him.

“As Mrs Howard’s husband has great influence, I think we shall hear no more of the affair. Thanks to your information, Miss Symons, Howard will find pressure brought to bear upon him, and he in turn will bring pressure to bear upon others.

“Miss Bell’s conduct was certainly very foolish. But we shan’t say what we think of Mrs Howard’s!”


It was as Mr Grimmond had anticipated, influence was secured to hush the matter up.

It must have been while we were in the harbour, after the following voyage, that word was brought to me that a lady and gentleman wished to see me on deck.

“Miss Bell,” I exclaimed, as a lady came forward to meet me.

“Nay, Miss Symons, you’re wrong,” gaily cried Mr Grimmond, as he turned from talking to Captain Steele.

“Not Miss Bell. Mrs Grimmond.”

“And you see that in spite of Mrs Howard’s machinations, Robert has married me after all,” the lady laughingly said ete she left the ship.

We had a nice chat downstairs, and I had at last got all the particulars of the unfortunate affair.

“What about Mrs Howard?” I asked. “Have you heard of her lately?”

“I understand she is not to return to Calcutta,” Mrs Grimmond said. “Poor body! She’s come off worst, I fear. They say her husband will never forgive her for the part she played.”

“Come along, my dear,” Mr Grimmond cried downstairs. “Time’s up. We’ll have to go. No more smuggling down there, Miss Symons.”

“Don’t be frightened, Robert,” his wife answered. “Not all the gold or lace in Europe would induce me to act so foolishly again.”

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Iain McDonald

Iain is Digital Content Editor at the "Friend", making him responsible for managing flow of interesting and entertaining content on the magazine's website and social media channels.