The Secret Of The Silver Locket – Episode 21


 

 

GRACE bit her lip.

“I don’t think it’s up to me to discuss other people’s business, Ro. I’m sure we’ll hear soon enough.”

Rowena gave her a critical look.

“So you do know something – it’s more change, isn’t it. I understand that but you look as though you’re keeping secrets, Grace. I’m spilling my news all over the place, telling everyone how wonderful Red is and how excited I am about learning to drive, but if you want to tell me anything, I promise you I won’t break your confidence. If ever I did become married, I’d want you to come and live with us.”

Grace stared at her.

“I know you mean well, Ro. Please don’t think I’m ungrateful but your husband may not want me around. I’d love to be invited to visit you, of course!”

Rowena pouted.

“Come to think of it, the situation probably won’t arise. Lady Fountain looked so horrified to see me behind the wheel of the Rolls Royce, she’s probably told Red he’ll be disowned if he dares propose marriage to such a hoyden! She’s probably at this moment trying to dissuade him from taking me out to dinner this evening.”

“Would you like me to fetch your diary and we’ll look at your engagements together before I go and unpack my case? Emma says Lady Cressida wants to know exactly what the three of us achieved while we were down at the coast.”

Rowena gave Grace a wicked grin.

“Does she now? It sounds like Emma and Mr Hicks achieved something rather important. Something life-changing, don’t you think, Grace?”

“Oh, I… um, I think there’s been a kind of understanding between them for a while now. But neither appears to have wanted to say anything out loud.”

Rowena sighed.

“Sometimes I wish I could be more like that.”

“More discreet, do you mean? Then you wouldn’t be you, would you? If you want my opinion, I can see a change in you even after this short time you’ve known Sir Redvers. You’d never have prepared a tray of tea like that before – not even for the two of us. And as for the driving, you rolled up your sleeves and got on with that too. Now, I’ll go upstairs and get your diary.”

Rowena got to her feet.

“No. I’ll fetch my diary. You stay there. From now on, I want you to remain as my companion and friend and not my maid. If I can learn to drive, I can learn to sew. If I can make a pot of tea, I can learn simple cooking.”

Grace sat, mouth open, hardly able to believe what she heard coming from a young lady many considered to be a spoilt madam born with a silver spoon in her mouth.

Later, when Rowena had left for her dinner engagement, Grace unpacked her bits and pieces upstairs in her bedroom. Suddenly, she stopped and held the velvet pouch containing her locket against her cheek. If only she could be sure of the truth.

Emma knew something, Grace was certain of that. Grace had the feeling Emma had been on the verge of saying something significant but changed her mind at the last moment.

Grace still couldn’t believe how Harry Gresham had apparently fallen for her. His compliments, his admiring glances, and most of all his tender kisses had cocooned her in a dream world for far too brief a period.

Grace took out the locket and held the solid silver heart in the palm of one hand. She hadn’t pulled the two halves apart for many years, knowing there was no lock of hair or photograph contained within. But there was something engraved on the inside and her heart thumped alarmingly in her chest as she recalled the name Harry had mentioned while reminiscing about his stay in the Edinburgh household.

The clasp sprang back. Grace held up the open locket to the light and read the initials inscribed on the smooth silver of the left half: I A M. Lady Iona Maxwell, very probably Iona Alexandra Maxwell, given her son was called Alexander. But that didn’t make sense. Because the date inscribed on the right hand side was 1887.

If that indicated the year of Lady Iona’s birth, she would have been seventeen years of age when Grace’s parents left for London with their baby daughter in 1904. Iona’s married name had to be Maxwell but how had she carried the Maxwell surname from birth?

Grace frowned and shook her head. She was torturing herself, trying to convince herself Harry had got the wrong end of the stick as to a possible link between her and the Maxwell family and, the more Grace tried to disprove his wild notion, the more tangled the situation became.

 

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!