The Secret Of The Silver Locket – Episode 12


THE evening sunshine was tempting her so Grace changed into a pair of walking shoes and headed out to the kitchen garden. Lord Carmichael employed a local man to keep an eye on the land upon which Admiral’s Rest stood.

She wandered along the rows, foreseeing the prospect of tender runner beans and luscious Dorset strawberries in the coming weeks. Alfred would be kept busy. Or would it be Matt driving the family down here before very much longer?

What would Rowena say when her mother decided to spend a long weekend at the coast? Would she insist on inviting Sir Redvers to join the assembled company, knowing this landmark first weekend away was always a family only occasion, with the exception of Grace, of course.

Later on, after the flood of important social engagements had dried up and August loomed, Lord Carmichael would spend half the week in town and half at Admiral’s Reach. Grace hoped life wouldn’t be too difficult for Emma and Alfred, in the throes of their fledging romance and, as intimated by Alfred, their forthcoming betrothal.

“I hope it’s not a case of becoming star-crossed lovers.” Grace muttered the words aloud, almost without realising, as she strolled along the fence dividing the kitchen garden from the grounds of Sea Breezes.

“‘Romeo and Juliet’ by the great William Shakespeare?”

Grace froze. The unseen speaker must be standing directly behind the high fence separating her from none other than the current tenant of Sea Breezes.

“Good evening,” she called. “I apologise for speaking out loud.”

“And I apologise for eavesdropping upon your conversation with yourself, ma’am.”

Grace’s lips twitched. She admired his sense of humour.

“I don’t make a habit of talking to myself.”

“Me neither. But you know what? With my solitary lifestyle down here, I’m kind of growing accustomed to hearing myself do that very thing.”

She tried to remember the name she’d skimmed over on the calling card.

“Would you by any chance be Mr Harry Gresham?”

“I would indeed be Harry Gresham, especially if it means you’ll talk to him instead of to yourself. How do you do, Miss…?

“I’m Grace… Grace Maxwell.” What on earth had possessed her to blurt out the name she knew belonged to the Edinburgh family for whom her late mother worked before she and Grace’s father moved to London?

“Maxwell, hmm? My, that’s interesting. I hope you didn’t think it presumptuous of me to leave my calling card. It seemed like the neighbourly thing to do.”

“Lady Cressida will be delighted, I’m sure.”

“It sounds like her ladyship isn’t your mama, Grace?”

“Correct.”

“Forgive me,” Harry said. “My mother warned me not to be too inquisitive.”

She felt her heartbeat quicken. This man was very forward! “Are you still there, behind this annoying fence?”

“Yes, I’m still here.”

“Are you as pretty as your voice suggests?”

“I cannot possibly answer that question.”

“Of course you can’t. Will I be permitted to call upon you or does her ladyship have to be consulted in this matter? You’ll have to help me, Grace. British etiquette’s a minefield to me.”

He sounded so lovely. He was obviously feeling lonely. Grace closed her eyes and made a decision.

“I can’t invite you indoors. That wouldn’t be proper.”

Sharp as a tack, he responded, “Will you walk around to your front gates and allow me to talk to you while I stand on the highway?”

As she walked around the side of the house towards the gates, carefully closed by Alfred earlier, when he took Emma for an evening stroll, she wondered whether she’d totally lost her reason. This wasn’t the way she’d behave in London.

But when Harry appeared and smiled at her, grasping the top rail of the gate to watch her approach, Grace felt all her fears melt away. This young man meant no harm. For all his assured comments spoken from behind the wooden fence, he had an air of shyness about him, as if he too couldn’t believe this impromptu meeting happening out of the blue.

The colour of his hair reminded her of shiny conkers and he wore horn-rimmed spectacles through which his dark brown eyes sparkled with humour.

“Grace. Please don’t be afraid of me. I’m so very pleased to meet you face to face.” He offered his hand.

“Good evening, Mr Gresham.” She placed her hand in his.

“Ah, now that’s a mite unfair of you. I get to call you Grace so can you not call me Harry?”

“All right. I’m delighted to make your acquaintance, Harry.”

She looked down at their clasped hands. Looked up into his eyes and for the very first time in her life, fell head over heels in love.

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!