The Secret Of The Silver Locket – Episode 13

NEXT day, while Grace and Emma washed up the luncheon things, Alfred was tinkering with a clock.

Emma walked over to him and put her hand on his shoulder.

“I’m so enjoying being here with both of you, putting everything in order.”

Grace finished emptying away the washing-up water. She knew she must confess that Harry Gresham had asked her to take a stroll with him that evening. Emma and Alfred listened in silence as she described the chance meeting and the resulting invitation.

Grace watched Emma and Alfred exchange glances. Emma had a slightly puzzled expression on her face but Alfred was frowning.

“We can’t forbid you to go out with this young man,” he said. “But I question whether he’s a suitable escort for you.”

“Because he’s American? Or because he’s a toff?”

“Oh, my lovely girl!” Emma’s outburst caught Grace by surprise, as did the tears in the eyes of the woman who’d been a second mother to her all these years.

“Grace is as well-bred as any other young woman Mr Gresham is likely to come across,” Emma said sharply. “Better than many, I’d say.”

Grace watched the look of puzzlement upon Alfred’s face. What was going on here? She’d never have described herself as well bred. Didn’t that involve one’s bloodline?

Later after a delicious cottage pie supper, Grace hurried up to the top floor to prepare for her rendezvous with Harry Gresham. When she came downstairs, wearing the red and white two-piece she’d worn for her cinema outing with Matt, she found Emma and Alfred unashamedly holding hands across the kitchen table.

“Don’t mind me.” Grace smiled at them and performed a little twirl. “Do I look all right?”

“Very nice.” Alfred nodded.

“You look beautiful, my dear.” But Emma pulled her hand away from Alfred and reached into her pocket for a handkerchief.

“Emma? What’s wrong?” Grace cried.

“It might be because Emma and I have something to tell you.” Alfred chimed in.

“Alfred has asked me to marry him and I’ve said yes.” Emma blew her nose noisily.

“That’s wonderful!” Grace gave Emma a hug.

Grace looked from one to the other of them. The doorbell clanged, making her jump. Temporarily, she’d forgotten all about Harry Gresham.

“I’ll let him in,” Alfred offered.

Alone with Emma, Grace seized her chance.

“I couldn’t help noticing how you took one look at me and the tears welled up at once, Emma. Why was that?”

“You… you looked so like your dear mother when you walked in,” she said.

Grace heard the rumble of voices from the hall and hoped Alfred wasn’t giving Harry a potted version of the British class system.

But something about Emma’s reaction to her appearance didn’t seem right and she determined to find out what really had triggered the sudden rush of emotion.

“I thought I was supposed to take after my father’s mother,” she said.

“These things happen across the generations,” Emma said. “Now, off you go and enjoy your walk.”

Grace and Harry walked down the driveway and he offered her his arm.

“I know there’s a bench just by the cliff path,” he said. “Are you happy to go down to the shore first?”

“Lovely.” She pointed to a gateway to their left. “Have you met the Ashmores yet?”

“No. According to the fishmonger, the folks who live in that mansion are out of the country and won’t be back for another couple of weeks. See how well informed I am?”

“I’m impressed. When you do meet them you’ll find them very charming. They have a daughter called Tulip. She’s a feminist and much admired by Rowena. They also have a son, George, and he spends most of August with them, every year.”

“Is he the one that’s sweet on you?”

Grace stopped walking.

“Whatever made you think George Ashmore might pay attention to me?”

“The esteemed Mr Hicks told me you had a suitor. I guess he was marking my card, Grace. I might’ve guessed such a beautiful girl as you would have dozens of admirers.”

“Hardly that. Well, one maybe.” She thought of the awkward situation around Matt.

“One! Is this an example of the famous British sense of humour? I came across it on my visit to Scotland some years ago. In fact, I have a friend who shares your surname. Could he be a relation, I wonder? There’s a similarity about the two of you, come to think of it.”

“Oh, I very much doubt it.” Her stomach lurched. Why, oh why, had she been so stupid as to give Harry a false name, especially one with aristocratic connections?

“Good heavens! It’s all becoming clear now. My friend Alexander’s mother is a beautiful, dark-haired lady like yourself. There’s a photograph of Lady Iona as a debutante on the living room wall in Glenbarrie House and now I know why I kind of felt like you and I had met before. You’re a younger version of her.”

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!