The Secret Of The Silver Locket – Episode 01

THE sound of raised voices drifted downwards as Grace climbed the staircase leading from Seymour House’s spacious entrance hall. She knew this latest quarrel between Lady Carmichael and her daughter Rowena, was entirely predictable.

“This one will be no better than the rest,” Rowena snapped from inside her bedroom. “I wish you’d realise I’m not ready to become someone’s meek little wife, Mama!”

Pausing outside the door, Grace couldn’t resist smiling. Meek was the last word to describe the Honourable Rowena. Taking advantage of the sudden silence she knocked and found mother and daughter standing on opposite sides of the yellow and white bedroom.

“Good morning, your ladyship.”

“Grace, thank goodness! Can you try and talk sense into my daughter?”

Lady Carmichael sailed majestically towards the door, grasped the handle and turned to deliver one parting shot.

“I shan’t insist on your joining me at luncheon with my friends, Rowena. But I shall expect you to be ready, suitably attired, downstairs, at precisely six-thirty.” She glanced at Grace.

“I hope that won’t spoil any plans you might have for your night off, my dear.”

“No, your ladyship.”

“I’m pleased you understand this evening’s importance. I’d like to see my daughter in the pale blue silk but I suppose that’s too much to hope.”

Lady Carmichael left, her heady perfume still lingering.

Rowena glared at Grace.

“Simpering blue silk, more like! Think yourself lucky no one expects you to make a good marriage.”

Grace didn’t answer but pushed a loose tendril of dark hair behind her left ear.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” Rowena wailed. She hurried across the floor and flung her arms around her companion. “That was a stupid, thoughtless thing to say. You know I think of you as my friend, not a servant.”

“I’m very lucky with my life, considering what might’ve happened to me after my mother died. No, I only meant I’m dithering as to whether going out with Matthew is sensible.”

“You know I’m madly jealous? Not one of those chinless wonders Ma throws at me looks anywhere near as delectable as Matthew,” Rowena went on.

“It’s a pity he has a chip on his shoulder about his status,” Grace said.

“Matt’s asked me several times to go out with him and now I’ve agreed, I wonder whether he thinks I’ve been leading him on,” Grace said.

“You should say yes, of course. Have some fun! You’ve far more chance of having fun with Matt than I have, dining with some namby-pamby son of an earl.”

It might be 1925, with the world fast changing, but Seymour House still gave the impression of a well-oiled steam engine serenely towing a string of gleaming carriages. Unless you counted the occasions when the vivacious daughter of the house ignored the signals and went rattling off along the wrong track.

“I suppose you’re right. You usually are. But how I wish I could change places with you this evening.”

“You know that can’t happen,” Grace said gently. “We need to talk about your dress. If you don’t fancy the pale blue, shall I change the trimming on your emerald green.”

Rowena’s eyes sparkled.

“That would be wonderful, if you’re sure you don’t mind going out to buy some. I’d come too but I doubt there’s time before Ma’s hairdresser gets around to me.”

“Don’t worry. I’ll wash your hair then go straight to Selfridges.”

“Ma always says blue and green are seldom seen but do you remember the colour of the ocean, that time we were in France.”

Grace was hardly likely to forget the holiday to which Rowena referred. Lady Carmichael had taken both girls to visit several European cities. While staying in a popular French spa resort, Rowena had a passing fancy for a dark-eyed waiter in their hotel. Grace had needed all her skills of tact and diplomacy in juggling her overprotective, anxious employer with the high-spirited, often rebellious Rowena.


Tracey Steel

Having worked on a number of magazines over the years, Tracey has found her perfect place on The Friend as she’s obsessed with reading and never goes anywhere without a book! She reads all the PF stories with a mug of tea close by and usually a bit of strong cheese too!