The Secret Of The Silver Locket – Episode 08

UPSTAIRS in Rowena’s room, Grace pulled open the curtains and turned to face the bed. Its occupant opened one eye and closed it again.

Rowena groaned. Loudly.

“Ooh, my poor head.”

“Drink your tea while I run you a bath,” Grace said. “How much champagne did you drink last night?”

“Only a teeny amount.” Rowena dragged herself into a sitting position. “But oh my word, Grace, I had such fun! I didn’t imagine I’d get on so well with my escort.” Rowena sipped her tea. “Oh, Grace, Lord Redvers – or Red as his friends call him – is utterly divine! I’m torn between bliss at meeting such a delightful man and annoyance at how Ma’s probably going to be thrilled when I tell her he’s asked me out to lunch.”

Hiding a smile, Grace bent to pick up Rowena’s jewelled satin party shoes.

“Is this a private luncheon he’s planning? Surely he doesn’t think your mother will allow you to spend time with him unchaperoned?”

“I’ve no idea. He won’t tell me where he’s taking me. Isn’t it fun? In fact, I think I might just have fallen in love!”

“I’d never have guessed.” Grace couldn’t help smiling back at her.

“I’d better run that bath,” she offered. “While you’re in it you can decide what you want to wear for your rendezvous with Sir Redvers.”

“You’re an angel. What on earth would I do without you?”

As she prepared the tub of scented water, Grace mused over that last remark. There was no doubt about Rowena’s headstrong nature. Regardless of her opinions of marriage, if she decided to succumb to her new beau’s advances, she wouldn’t care two hoots for anything or anybody else.

Maybe it had been wrong not to give her friendship with Matthew sufficient time for her to discover whether her feelings might possibly change towards him. Why should she feel this reluctance to settle for a young man whose vowels weren’t as well rounded as hers? Neither fish nor fowl, Grace wondered whether she faced a life of loneliness, albeit her background equipped her perfectly for the role of travelling companion to some aristocratic lady.

When at last she went down to breakfast, she was horrified to find her employer already at the table, tucking into kedgeree.

“I’m sorry to be late, my lady.” Grace hovered.

Lady Carmichael smiled.

Grace was relieved when Emma entered the room.

“Your ladyship, I’m sorry to interrupt your breakfast but I’ve been speaking to a young girl who’s seeking employment.”

Grace listened as her friend described how a girl called Polly had turned up out of the blue, asking for work.

Her ladyship buttered the remains of her bread roll.

“I haven’t told any of you yet, but his lordship and I have decided it’s high time Admiral’s Rest is prepared for the summer.”

Grace knew the housekeeper would be expecting this announcement, even if were imparted a tad earlier than previous years.

“You more than anyone else must know how short-staffed we are,” her ladyship said to Emma. “If you approve of this girl, you have my permission to offer her employment, provided, of course, there is someone to provide a character reference.”

“She’s a churchgoer. I do know that.”

Lady Carmichael raised one elegant eyebrow.

“How refreshing. We should require her to live in, I think. Certainly for the first few weeks while she finds her feet.”

“Of course. She lives in Camden Town.”


Grace often needed to suppress the urge to laugh aloud when listening to her ladyship who on this occasion reacted as though Camden Town, a couple of miles down the road, was some far-flung outpost of the British Empire.

Lady Carmichael dabbed her mouth with her linen napkin.

“She can learn the ropes with Cook for a few days while you and Grace are away at the coast.”

Grace exchanged glances with Emma.

“You want both of us to go, my lady?”

“It’s not ideal, but we need Admiral’s Rest ready as soon as possible and Mrs Potter’s more than capable of instructing this new girl in basic duties. Ask Cook if she’d be kind enough to sleep here for two or three nights. Rowena’s bound to complain, of course.” Her ladyship inclined her head in Grace’s direction.

“What am I bound to complain about, Mother dear?” Rowena appeared in the doorway.

“I’m afraid you’ll have to lose Grace for a few days, darling. It’s time to open up our summer residence and I need her to help Emma and Mr Hicks.”

But as Rowena approached the breakfast table, Grace noticed a tell-tale gleam in her eye. Whatever the daughter of the house’s plan might be, Grace wouldn’t be around to watch her carry it out.


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!