The Secret Of The Silver Locket – Episode 24

IT’S not like you to suggest a walk so close to an outing with your mother, Rowena.”

“I have my reasons. Trust me, Grace.”

Grace felt a pang as she remembered Harry using those same words to her and how she’d know her heart would be safe with him were it not for the fact of her humble birth. She would have gone to America with him, she’d have gone to the ends of the earth with him, but how would his parents view his marriage to a young woman of low status and hardly a penny to her name?

She frowned as Rowena took her arm and hurried her along the pavement towards the Wallace Collection.

“Are we going inside? I thought you disliked museums. Is this your new beau’s influence?”

But Rowena didn’t answer. As they stood outside the building, someone was calling Grace by name. She turned around and there he was… and all the love in her heart filled her with warmth and delight as she felt his arms envelop her.

“My beautiful Grace. I can’t be without you. Tell me you feel the same.”

Grace gasped and looked around for Rowena.

“She’s melted away,” Harry said. “If it weren’t for Rowena, I wouldn’t be standing here now with the girl I want to make my wife.”

Grace stiffened.

“Oh, Harry, you know that’s impossible.”

She saw the stricken look on his face.

“So, you don’t love me like I love you?”

“I do love you, Harry. That’s why I can’t possibly become your wife.”

He linked her arm in his and led her gently away from the building and towards the gardens in the middle of the square.

“Did you see Lady Cressida?” Grace asked.

“No. She didn’t deign to grace me with her presence. Luckily, your friend heard Mr Hicks speaking as he booted me out and she came after me when I left with a flea in my ear.”

“I’m so sorry, Harry, but that’s how things must be. I’m a servant. You’re a college professor. Lady Cressida has strict boundaries regarding class.”

“Her ladyship had no idea why I was here. I didn’t like her treatment of me but to be fair, I did call out of the blue. To my surprise, it was Alfred Hicks who refused to let me see you.”

“I see. He did the right thing, of course.”

“Do I detect a tinge of regret in your words?”

Grace turned her head to gaze in the opposite direction.

“He wasn’t so formal down at the coast but he has my best interests in mind. You don’t know how difficult it would be for you, being married to someone like me.”

“Oh, believe me, I think it’d be pretty darned good. And my folks would love you. I’ve already told you that. Come with me, Grace! Tell her ladyship you’re moving to New England and need to hand in your notice.”

Grace stood and he jumped to his feet and took her hands in his.

“You’ll say yes?”

She watched his eager face, his eyes shining with love and hope. It was with a very heavy heart that Grace Walker shook her head and walked away from Harry Gresham, back to the life where she knew she belonged.

He didn’t chase after her. But he called and though a sudden gust of wind lifted his words and whisked them away, Grace heard Harry’s vow to make her change her mind.

She met Rowena on the pavement outside Seymour House.

“Where is that adorable young man?” Rowena asked. “Did you come to an understanding? I do hope so.”

“I shan’t be seeing him again.” Grace heard the desolation in her voice and willed herself not to break down.

“But you must. I can tell what you mean to one another, despite such a brief acquaintanceship, because I know how Red and I feel about each other. You’re the one who’d make a wonderful wife, Grace. It’s you who should be marrying Harry Gresham while I rattle around London with Red. I don’t want to lose you but I realise how trapped you are by circumstances.”

Grace winced. She hadn’t previously thought of herself in that way but hearing the words out loud brought her position into the harsh glare of daylight.

Yet when she helped Rowena change her dress ready to accompany her mother to afternoon tea with a relation in Hampstead, she knew there was no escape. And when she told Emma how the American had turned up out of the blue and how she’d dealt with his marriage proposal, she wasn’t surprised to hear Emma assure her she’d done the right thing.

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!