The Secret Of The Silver Locket – Episode 30

DID Harry detect a spasm cross Iona’s face? He watched as she took a sip of her drink and replaced the glass on the snowy tablecloth.

“Grace is a very pretty name,” she said. “It’s the name I chose… the name I’d have chosen had I produced a daughter instead of a son.”

“Really? Well, this particular Grace is more than pretty. She’s very beautiful and I want her to be my wife – if I can persuade her to have me, that is.”

“So, how did you meet this young woman? Was it at a party?”

“I happened to be out in the garden of the cottage I’m renting in Dorset. She was out in the garden of the house next door, which is owned by her employers. It’s their summer residence. I heard her voice and I confess to having engaged her in conversation from behind the fence.

“We walked round to the gate and introduced ourselves. I have to confess to being smitten with Miss Grace Maxwell,” he said carefully, using the name that Grace originally gave him.

“Are you ready to order, sir?” The waiter hovered discreetly behind Harry’s important luncheon guest.

To her credit, Iona didn’t hesitate in giving her choice.

“I’ll have the same,” Harry said.

The waiter backed off and Harry focused his attention upon Iona. Her face remained impassive but the fingers of one hand trembled as she touched them to her lips. He wanted to put his arms around her and tell her he understood the fear she must be going through, but he daren’t. Not yet.

Any confession needed to be made by her and he intended trying his darnedest to convince her how much Grace meant to him.

“I think… I hope Grace loves me too,” he said.

“I sense a ‘but’ coming here.” Iona retained her composure, an ability, Harry thought, she’d inherited not only from her genes but from spending two decades keeping a very special and personal secret.

“I’d like to tell you something of her background. It seems her late parents were in service to an Edinburgh family but they left this family, with Grace just a babe in arms, and obtained employment with Lord and Lady Carmichael who live in Manchester Square, London.”

He watched Iona’s stricken expression and almost lost his nerve, but not quite.

“The thing is, Grace feels she’s not good enough for me. She’s worried my parents won’t accept her. She’s under the impression that she’s not suitable to become the wife of a slightly nutty professor. Now, don’t you think that’s too crazy for words?”

Bowls appeared before them. Two waiters, wearing white gloves, served asparagus soup from a silver tureen. The waiters then melted away, leaving him alone with Iona.

“This smells delicious,” he said, breaking his bread roll in two. “The other thing is, when I took Grace out to supper in Dorset, she wore a beautiful, and very unusual, silver pendant. Please forgive me, but I have to tell you I have a hunch it might be the one you’re wearing in that portrait you have hanging in your sitting room.”

Iona picked up her spoon.

“You Americans have an expression, do you not – something about spilling the beans? Is that what you expect from me?”

“Rest assured, I haven’t come to Scotland to shatter your marriage. Nor do I have any intention of saying a word to Alex or to anyone in the world apart from Grace, if you’ll only permit it. I guess you did what you had to do and not what you really wanted to do. I know you must have had your daughter’s best interests at heart.”

“Have you visited her at Seymour House?”

He noticed a spasm of pain cross Iona’s face as she spoke but his heart bumped faster as he realised his suspicions had indeed been accurate.

“I tried to but I came away with my tail between my legs because I asked to see someone who’s perceived as a servant.” He made a wry face. “After I asked to see Grace and was refused, the butler, who I’d met in Dorset, whispered to me that it was all for the best. Doesn’t that tell you something?”

Iona picked up her soup spoon.

“My family are nothing special,” he continued. “It seems ridiculous but I need your permission to tell Grace she’s not from the lowly stock she thinks she is.” He groaned. “For Pete’s sake, as if that matters!”

“But it matters very much to my daughter?”

Harry stared back at her.

“Yes. It does. And I can’t bear the thought of going back to the States without her. Please, Iona. Will you help me?”


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!