The Secret Of The Silver Locket – Episode 26

ALL at once Harry knew he couldn’t wait any longer. This was an extremely daring thing he was about to do and, travel weary he might be, but he needed to speak to Lady Iona and if necessary ask if he might take her to luncheon the next day, if it proved difficult to speak of such a delicate matter in her home.

He went straight to the cab rank and gave the driver the address. The cabbie provided a running commentary on the city as he drove his American passenger but Harry missed some of the comments, his ear not tuned into the man’s way of speaking. He did manage to grasp that the large statue he passed was that of Prince Albert, on horseback, and that Queen Victoria herself had unveiled the memorial.

When Harry paid off the driver and stood looking up at another magnificent property, he wondered whether the mystery nagging at him was on the verge of being explained. But he needed to tread carefully…

Even as he rang the doorbell and winced at the loudness of the chime, he wondered if he’d totally lost his sanity and should make no mention of the matter but merely write off his visit as a courtesy call. His dad would use the expression “hornets’ nest” and as this thought entered his mind, he hid a grin and composed his features into a polite smile as the door opened.

Lady Iona received him in a pretty sitting room on the first floor, rising to greet him, hands outstretched. He reckoned the view was to die for and that included her ladyship as well as the Edinburgh landscape.

“Harry Gresham, after all these years! I’m afraid my husband is dining at his club and you won’t be surprised to hear Alexander isn’t at home.” She offered her cheek for Harry to kiss.

“I didn’t expect he would be, your ladyship. Last time I heard from Alex he was about to join his regiment in Yorkshire.”

“I suppose it was inevitable he followed the family tradition and joined the military. But Harry, do please call me Iona. There’s no need to stand on ceremony.” She gestured for him to sit on the chintz-covered couch opposite her velvet armchair.

“Thank you. It’s so good to see you again. I seem to recall being just a hare-brained student last time I visited.”

“Did you enjoy the rest of your time at Oxford?”

“Very much. I made several good friends apart from Alex.”

“You’re still a bachelor?”

“Indeed I am. I believe I’m a great disappointment to my mother.” Harry wasn’t ready to mention Grace yet.

“You have time to settle down. Are you still lecturing at the university?”

“I am. I enjoy living in Vermont and it’s not too far from where my folks live now. They decided to purchase a smaller property but it’s still a lovely house.”

He watched her glance at a small gold carriage clock upon the mantelpiece.

“I hope I’m not interrupting your evening too much, Iona.”

Her smile tore at his heart, reminding him so much of Grace. But he must not frighten away this lovely woman. He needed to use all his powers of tact and diplomacy.

“I’m delighted to have your company, Harry. I was wondering if you’d care to join me in a glass of sherry. When my husband dines at his club I normally have something on a tray. Would that suit?”

“It would be more than welcome, as long as you’re sure I’m not imposing upon you.”

She rose.

“Excuse me. I’ll be back in a moment.”

He rose and watched her leave the room, except he reckoned the right word was glide, before he approached the portrait he remembered from his visit more than six years earlier. There was that sweet smile and those eyes looking at him, reminding him so much of the young woman he’d fallen in love with in Dorset.

If only he had that silver locket with him, he could put it in Iona’s hand and see her reaction. At least he could describe the jewellery in great detail.

He was still gazing at the portrait when Iona came back into the room.

“Since you were here last, we’ve given up ringing when we need something. The war changed many things but these days we still retain a small staff. My excuse is we entertain often and I’m not the best of cooks.”

“No need to make excuses – you’re keeping folk in employment and that must be a good thing.”

She smiled at him again.

“Come and sit down, Harry. The girl in that portrait has changed a lot too. She was barely seventeen at the time.”


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!