The Secret Of The Silver Locket – Episode 10

MATTHEW popped his head round the stillroom door and found the new maid up to her elbows in soapsuds.

I’m forever blowing bubbles,” he warbled. “Pretty bubbles in the air.”

Before he could sing another note, Polly piped up with the next two lines, her soprano voice sweet and clear.

They fly so high, nearly reach the sky

Then like my dreams they fade and die.”

“Matthew, may I have a word, please?”

He whirled round.

Rowena, dressed in a blue skirt and jacket, stood in the doorway. She’d pulled a velvet sapphire blue cloche hat on over her newly styled hair and Matt couldn’t help but stare in open admiration.

“I’m sorry, Miss Rowena. What can I do to help you?”

“Just a moment.” She peered around him. “You must be Polly? I hope you’ll be very happy with us.”

The young girl gave an awkward little bob.

Rowena turned her attention back to Matthew.

“I have a fancy to learn to drive. Do you think you could teach me?”

“But you’re a lady!”

Rowena rolled her big brown eyes at him.

“Ten out of ten for noticing. But what has that fact to do with anything?”

“Um… nothing. I’m sorry, miss. You caught me by surprise, that’s all. His lordship may prefer Mr Hicks to instruct you.”

Rowena made a face.

“I don’t want to wait that long. Later today would be perfect. After I return from my luncheon engagement.”

She turned around and crossed the kitchen, giving the cook a friendly wave on her way.

“Cripes,” Polly said, resuming her labours. “Is she always like that?”

“Unfortunately, yes.” Matt wondered what his uncle would say when he found out Miss Rowena had a mind to drive herself around London.

“Looks to me,” Polly said, “like Miss Rowena’s taken a real shine to you.”

“What nonsense you talk. I told you what she’s like.”


The church clock across the square chimed four times as Matthew, waiting beside the Daimler, saw Miss Rowena come through the back door and hurry across the courtyard.

“Ready?” His pupil stood, hands on hips. “Where do I start?”

Matthew offered up a prayer.

She climbed in and settled herself. He sat behind the wheel and went through the different controls with her, noting with surprise, the extreme concentration she displayed. After he’d driven around the courtyard several times, braking and stopping on the way, he asked her to change places.

She beamed at him. “But you must call me Rowena while you’re teaching me. It’s too silly otherwise.”

“I’ll do my level best to remember, miss… Rowena. Now, think about what I said to you and start the engine, please.” He gulped. “Gently, is what I meant to say.”

Matt held his breath as his pupil engaged first gear. Briefly he closed his eyes as he felt the car move forward, jerking enough for him to open his eyes and yell but suddenly the Daimler moved forward again, smoothly this time.

“Blimey.” Stunned, Matthew peered through the windscreen as they sailed serenely out of the courtyard and down the side road.

They were progressing at a sedate pace and as Matt sneaked a glance at his pupil, she looked as though she’d been driving for years.

Matt felt much relieved when at last they were home again and Mrs Potter took in a tea tray to Rowena and returned to pour him a cup of hot, sweet tea. She sat down at the head of the kitchen table.

“You wouldn’t get me in one of those contraptions for all the tea in China.”

“You’ve saved my life, Mrs P and that’s a fact.” He crunched the biscuit. “Miss Rowena likes to get up and go. She takes every opportunity she can. I envy her in some ways.”

The cook sniffed and stirred her tea so the spoon clinked against the china cup.

“That’s not like you. I thought you were pretty happy with your lot.”

“Well, Grace has made her feelings perfectly plain.”

“Sometimes I don’t understand young people. Then there’s some of us who don’t realise what’s plain as the nose upon their face.”

“What’s that? Who are you talking about, Mrs P?”

But the cook pursed her lips and looked mysterious.

Matt frowned. For the life of him he couldn’t think what Mrs Potter meant and he decided to leave the matter rest. He leaned back in his chair and looked up at the kitchen clock. He had plenty of time before he picked up his employer from his club. Matt never ceased to be amazed regarding how much business Lord Carmichael conducted at his club in Pall Mall or on the golf course.


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!