- 27. The Secret Of The Silver Locket – Episode 26
- 28. The Secret Of The Silver Locket – Episode 27
- 29. The Secret Of The Silver Locket – Episode 28
- 30. The Secret Of The Silver Locket – Episode 29
- 31. The Secret Of The Silver Locket – Episode 30
- 32. The Secret Of The Silver Locket – Episode 31
- 33. The Secret Of The Silver Locket – Episode 32
I CAN hardly take it in. You did right to tell me now, Emma. But am I not allowed to know the identity of my real mother – the woman who gave me life?”
Emma looked away.
“Do you know?”
“I… I only know this person was of noble birth and aged only seventeen when she left Edinburgh to live quietly in the country and wait for you to be born. She must have confided in your mother because Amy kept in touch with her, visited her on her rare days off.
“It was your parents who asked if they could be the ones to bring you up. You must believe the woman who was your natural mother was anxious you should go to a good home and she knew your parents would love and care for you, even if they weren’t rich.”
“Because my real mother knew the scandal my arrival would have caused? I expect my maternal grandmother didn’t even tell my grandfather.” Grace couldn’t believe how calm her voice sounded considering her mind was in such turmoil.
“I know nothing other than everyone understood the young lady in question was going to Switzerland to attend a finishing school. Apparently, because this was a common thing to happen with girls of her class, no one asked any questions. While your mother awaited your arrival, she spent her time hidden away in an aunt’s house. She took pains to practise the piano, improve her knowledge of French and compose a sketchbook to show off on return.”
“Very clever. I imagine she hardly had the need to learn etiquette, coming from a background like hers.”
Emma blinked hard.
“I know this is difficult for you to accept, my dear. But such things happen and the two people you think of as your parents were overcome with joy that you arrived in their lives when they thought parenthood was not to be for them.”
“I wish they were still around, for many reasons, but now I know the truth, I have so many questions to ask.”
“I promise you I’ve told you as much as I know.”
“Is it possible that I’m a Maxwell by birth? We both know that my mother and father worked for a family of that name. How odd that it came so readily to my lips when Harry Gresham asked me what I was called.”
Grace watched Emma’s face, saw the flutter of her eyelashes and the instant rush of colour to her creamy cheeks.
“You don’t have to answer,” Grace said. “I think I can draw my own conclusions. Neither you nor my mother seems to have realised that the initials I A M are engraved on the back of the silver locket you handed over after Mum died. But I need to read the rest of this letter. There are instructions to follow regarding contacting a solicitor here in London.”
Harry arrived at the Maxwell residence in a cab and asked the driver to wait while he knocked at the door, ready to escort her ladyship to luncheon at one of Edinburgh’s finest hotels. She didn’t keep him waiting and he thought again how Grace resembled this elegant woman in several different ways.
Iona wore a silver grey dress and a tiny hat composed mainly of purple feathers. Her own hair was still raven’s wing dark and cut in a similar style to Grace’s. Harry could barely contain his impatience, so eager was he to tell her all about the wonderful girl he’d met and divulge sufficient information about Grace to, he hoped and prayed, cause a reaction that would give him the result he yearned for.
As soon as they were seated at a window table overlooking the mound topped by Edinburgh Castle and were sipping champagne cocktails, Harry confessed his need for some advice.
“So you had an ulterior motive in inviting me to luncheon?” Iona’s eyes mocked him above the frosted rim of her long-stemmed cocktail glass.
“Partly,” Harry admitted. “I was truly grateful for your family’s kindness to me when I was still adjusting to life at Oxford and your son insisted I came to Scotland with him instead of staying in college, staring at the walls of my room during reading week.”
Harry took a deep breath.
“I need your advice as my own mother is miles away. The truth is, I’ve fallen in love with someone.”
“I thought you said your mother must be despairing of you, aged twenty-six and still not keeping company with any special young lady.”
“She knows nothing about Grace. Yet.”