The Secret Of The Silver Locket – Episode 20

GRACE was strangely moved when Rowena insisted on preparing a pot of tea for her and Emma.

“But your mother will be horrified if she finds out. Please let me do it, Miss Rowena,” protested Emma.

“You’ve been working very hard and travelling can be exhausting. I shan’t be long.”

Emma and Grace were relaxing in the small sitting-room they used when not expected to be involved with the family’s needs. They exchanged glances.

“Emma, while we’re on our own, could I ask when you and Alfred expect to hand in your notice? I didn’t like to question you while we were away because there was so much else to think about.”

“He sprang it on me all of a sudden, didn’t he? Rest assured I’ll tell you as soon as I know and don’t forget that you’ll always have a home with us. Should you decide to leave Seymour House, you’ll have somewhere to go.”

Grace felt tears well up.

“I know you mentioned it but it’s reassuring to hear it again. Thank you. I suppose it all hangs on what happens to Rowena but she hasn’t known Sir Redvers long so I don’t suppose anything can happen there until the protocol has been attended to.”

“The months ahead should be interesting. Finding a suitable property to lease will probably take up a lot of Alfred’s time though he tells me he already has his eye on a couple of places.”

“So when do you plan to be married?”

“Not until mid-summer, I fancy. It’ll be a very quiet affair, of course.”

“Not if Rowena and I have anything to do with it. And Mrs Potter will be sure to make you a delicious wedding cake.”

Emma smiled.

“You and I have a bond, Grace. I’ll never forget your dear mother and how her friendship helped me settle in here after I was widowed.”

Grace nodded.

“She used to say similar things to me about you, when I was old enough to understand. She told me how grateful she was when Lord and Lady Carmichael took the three of us in after we left Edinburgh.”

She held her breath, hoping and dreading how Emma might react to this mention of her parents’ previous time in service. Perhaps she was afraid to shatter the love and pride Grace retained for them. But Rowena came through the door, bearing a tray laden with tea things and a plate of fruitcake.

“Your afternoon tea is served, ladies,” she said, her tray wobbling as she approached.

Grace leaped up to relieve her of her burden, saying, “Is there no end to your talents?”

“I could become accustomed to this.” Emma smiled. “Many thanks, Miss Rowena.”

“Where’s Alfred?” Grace enquired.

Rowena butted in.

“I expect he has Matthew by the throat, scolding him for letting a scatty young woman anywhere near the controls of his beloved Rolls Royce. Just wait till I get behind the wheel of the Daimler!”

“I can’t wait to hear all about your lessons,” Grace said. “Her ladyship is out, I gather.”

Rowena rolled her eyes.

“She’s gone to her dressmaker’s. I refused to accompany her because of my driving lesson. Anyway, it’s much more fun being with all of you.”

News was exchanged in different ways over the remainder of that day. Alfred Hicks gulped and wrung his hands in despair when Matthew told him of Rowena taking to the road. The way Rowena described how she’d surprised her new beau, Sir Redvers, and his haughty mother, also made her chuckle.

“Red has already telephoned to compliment me on getting myself out of an awkward situation. He’s so lovely, Grace,” Rowena said, eyes shining. “If only I was the kind of girl who longed to marry and settle down.”

“Maybe because you’re not desperate to find a husband, he finds you different from a lot of other girls and that’s one of the things that attracts him about you,” Grace said, wondering if she dared mention Harry Gresham.

“I love being with him. I don’t want to lose him but can you really see me holding luncheon parties and playing croquet with my cronies?” Rowena pulled a face.

“If you’re meant to be together, that’s what will happen. But you don’t need to have the same kind of lifestyle as her ladyship does. You of all people should recognise that.”

“Thank you, Grace. Yes. I should be thankful for meeting such a delightful young man. Oh, wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could fall in love too!”

Grace couldn’t bring herself to speak for fear of bursting into tears. She felt relieved when Rowena changed the subject.

“Mr Hicks and my father are closeted in the drawing room,” Rowena said. “Do you know what’s going on? Did something happen at Admiral’s Rest?”

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!