The Secret Of The Silver Locket – Episode 07


GRACE sat beside Matthew in the stalls, totally engrossed from the moment the organ began playing a beguiling melody and the film’s title flickered upon the screen. It wasn’t until after the national anthem was played and they made their way to the foyer that Matthew took her hand.

“You enjoyed that, then?”

“Oh yes, thank you. I had a lovely time.”

She felt him squeeze her fingers and wondered what was coming next.

“When do you think her ladyship will want Admiral’s Rest opened up?”

“I’ve no idea,” she said. “Are you hoping you’ll be working down there this year?”

“I’m due a turn but I don’t fancy being separated from you if you’re kept busy here.”

Grace, secretly wishing Matthew would indeed be temporarily transferred to the family’s holiday residence and solve her dilemma, strove to find the right words.

“Matt, I’m not sure this is a good idea. I don’t think I’m the right girl for you.”

He let go of her hand as if it had burst into flames.

“You think you deserve better than an under-chauffeur, don’t you? Play your cards right and you might end up married to a teacher or even a doctor, is that what you have in mind?”

“I don’t have anything in mind, Matt,” she said softly. “Except I owe loyalty to the family for giving me a home all these years.”

“That doesn’t mean they own you, Grace.” He stopped walking and grasped her elbows, turning her to face him. “As soon as Miss Rowena’s married off, you could go where you wished. Surely you don’t want to spend the rest of your life running round after her ladyship?”

They continued walking side by side although Grace realised more than ever how he and she were worlds apart.

****

Next morning dawned with all the promise of a sultry day to come. Matt, instructed by his Uncle Alf to wash and wax both the Daimler and the Rolls Royce, stood in the courtyard, shirtless, performing the mundane task.

If only he could erase Grace’s image from his mind as effortlessly as he removed dust from the vehicle’s bodywork. Last night, he’d hoped, would prove to be the first of many outings with the young woman he so admired – but she obviously didn’t feel the same.

Matthew was carrying his buckets to the old water pump, when he noticed a figure hopping from one foot to the other outside the gate, as if uncertain of her next move.

“Are you looking for someone, miss?” Matt called to the girl.

“Looking for a job, more like, mister.” She straightened her battered straw hat.

Recognising a Cockney sparrow, he walked towards her.

“What kind of a job are you after? My name’s Matthew and I work here.”

“I’m Polly, and to tell the truth, I don’t know what kind of a position I could fill until I tries it.”

Matthew wiped his right hand on his breeches and shook her. This girl had something about her, though he couldn’t say for sure what it was.

“I’m trying all the big houses around the square. This one’s my fifth.”

He watched the corners of her mouth droop.

“I could ask if you like. Our cook, Mrs Potter, often says she could do with another pair of hands around the place.”

Polly gasped.

“Oh, but I couldn’t cook. Not for posh people, I mean.”

“But you could peel spuds and gut fish and wash up?”

She nodded.

Matt unfastened the gate and beckoned her through.

He watched her eyes travel down his chest before she looked away in a hurry. Suddenly he remembered his manners. He stalked over to the wooden bench where he’d left his blue cotton shirt, grabbed the garment and shrugged his arms inside.

“Wait here,” he instructed Polly before disappearing through the door leading to the domestic quarters. Matthew found Mrs Potter sitting at the kitchen table, consulting her ancient cookbook.

“It’s not time for your tea break yet, your lordship,” she said.

“There’s a person outside, asking about work. What d’you reckon?”

The cook’s brow furrowed.

“What kind of a person? There’s rumblings about taking on someone to help out here and down at the coast but it’d have to be a lass.”

“Well this person’s called Polly Watts and I reckon she’s barely done with school.”

Mrs Potter groaned.

“And where will I find time to train a youngster from scratch, pray tell?”

“She don’t expect to do nothing fancy. She could be kitchen maid or housemaid, or both if that’s what’s needed.”

He watched the cook considering. At last she nodded.

“I’d suppose you’d better bring this Polly inside then. I’ll have a chat with her before I call Emma.”

Suddenly he found himself hoping Polly joined the household.

 

Tracey Steel

Having worked on a number of magazines over the years, I have found my perfect place on the “Friend” as I’m obsessed with reading and never go anywhere without a book! I read all of our stories with a mug of tea close by and usually a bit of strong cheese too!