The Secret Of The Silver Locket – Episode 27

I’M fascinated by the girl in the portrait, to tell the truth.” Harry took his seat again.

“Fascinated by how much I’ve changed?” Iona’s eyes glinted mischievously and his heart flip-flopped once more.

“Now, you know that’s not true! What I meant was, I met a young lady recently whose likeness to you fascinates me.”

“Goodness, Harry, there must be countless young women with dark hair and grey eyes.”

“Of course. But apart from colouring, this particular young woman has the same shape face as you.”

“Maybe she’s a distant relation. We’ll never know, I suppose.”

Harry hesitated as he heard a discreet tap on the door and a maid entered, bearing a decanter of sherry and two crystal glasses upon a silver tray.

“Do you by any chance still have that beautiful locket you were wearing when your portrait was painted?” He held his breath.

“As it happens, I don’t.” She put down her glass. “Tell me more about Vermont. I don’t for one moment believe there are no eligible young ladies in your social circle.”

Harry didn’t press his hostess further regarding the silver locket. Somehow he had to catch Iona off guard. He kept the conversation light-hearted. Iona asked him to top up their glasses when a cold meat and salad supper was served. He managed to bring the conversation back to the fact that his parents had moved from Connecticut a few years previously and asked her where her family home had been when she left to become Lord Maxwell’s bride.

Her eyes widened.

“Oh, but this has always been my home,” she said. “My husband is also my first cousin so I abandoned being Miss Maxwell to later become Mrs Maxwell.”

“You’re teasing me! Originally, you must have been the Honourable Iona Maxwell and, let me figure this out… Alex’s dad inherited the title, because there was no son to succeed and he was the first cousin, so after you married, he moved in here with you. Am I right?”

“Spot on. My parents were still alive then. These days it’s just the two of us. What are your plans for the rest of your stay?”

At least he knew why the unmarried Iona already bore the surname of Maxwell, thus explaining why there was no name change upon marriage. He was maybe one step further forward towards the unravelling of Grace’s heritage.

“I’m staying two nights. I intend doing some sightseeing before I return to Dorset and my fossils. I wonder if I might take you and your husband to luncheon tomorrow?” He held his breath, knowing if that happened, he risked being unable to steer the conversation as he wished. But he dared not make a social gaffe.

“Are you inviting us because you think we’re also fossils?”

Her eyes were dancing again.

“Ha! Because I’d like your advice on something and I want to say thank you for your hospitality when I came here with Alex from Oxford.”

“That’s not necessary, Harry, but as my husband is playing golf tomorrow, I shall be pleased to take up your kind invitation.”


Grace kept herself as busy as possible, thankful that the approach of the hectic London season meant there were hair appointments to fit in, clothes to be laundered and new outfits for her ladyship and Rowena to be tried on, approved and carefully pressed by Grace after the dressmaker delivered them.

Emma was distracted and Grace knew her mind was often upon her forthcoming new life although it appeared she and Alfred weren’t rushing to find a property until things settled down a bit and the new maid could cope with more responsibilities.

Emma didn’t make any mention of Harry Gresham, and while Grace realised this must be for the best, she longed to talk about him. Her feelings remained strong for the young American and she feared being sent to Admiral’s Rest again, knowing he was staying in the neighbouring cottage, or worse still, turning up as a dinner guest.

Rowena didn’t display the same discretion as Emma did. One day, while they walked to Oxford Street together, she startled Grace by asking, “Are you quite certain you did the right thing in sending Harry Gresham away?”

Grace recovered herself enough to stammer a response.

“It’s for the best. That’s what Mr Hicks said and I know he’s right.”

“What nonsense. It’s a pity Alfred Hicks doesn’t know as much about the human heart as he does about the combustion engine!”

“That’s hardly fair, is it? He proposed to Emma.”

“And look how long it took him. He’s almost as old as my parents. He knows nothing about modern life.”


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!