The Secret Of The Silver Locket – Episode 37


THE door opened too quickly. Grace looked anywhere but at the person opening it. Harry nudged her and she turned to find not a servant as she’d expected but a slender, elegant woman wearing a lilac crepe dress. This woman was looking at her with such longing in her eyes that Grace knew she could only be one person.

Neither said a word. Grace was vaguely aware of Harry clearing his throat and suddenly Iona opened her arms and Grace fell into them, making physical contact with the woman whose existence she’d discovered less than three months before.

She didn’t know how long they’d been standing there, her mother stroking her hair, when she heard a deep, friendly voice with a Scots accent say, “You must be Harry. Why don’t you come and have a drink with me while our womenfolk get this over with?”

She heard Harry agree. The two men walked away and she heard Harry start chatting to Iona’s husband.

Slowly, Iona drew back but still kept hold of Grace’s hands.

“Harry was certainly not exaggerating when he described to me how beautiful you were. You have your father’s chin and nose.”

“Harry says you and I are very alike.”

“You’re a little taller. Not as tall as your father was, of course.”

“Who was he?” The words came out before Grace could stop herself.

“The son of an earl from further north than here. Someone much older than me and a man my father detested.”

“Why did he hate him so?”

“Simply because of a clan feud that began too long ago to worry about.”

“But in spite of this feud, you still married him?”

“Yes. I’d fallen in love with him when we met at the house of mutual friends. He made me feel as if I was the most important person in the world to him. We wed in secret before Donald had to leave with his regiment. I… I didn’t know I was expecting a baby until after the news came of his death.

“Then I told my mother and she took over my life. Arranged for me to go away to a relation. Told me it was for the best. She insisted my father would disown me if he found out. She also said, because no one knew apart from her, I’d stand a much better chance of making a good match, if suitors considered me to be a rosebud fresh with the morning dew.”

Grace noticed the bitterness in Iona’s voice. Her heart went out to the woman whose destiny had been determined by a strict mother, terrified her daughter might be deemed damaged goods. It was for the best. There were those words again.

“I found it difficult to return to life in Edinburgh after you were taken to London but I knew Amy and John would care for you.”

“They did. I’ve been very lucky. And, thanks to you, I’ve married Harry and a whole new life lies ahead of me.”

Iona’s eyes were sad but she smiled at her daughter.

“All I did was tell the truth when it was needed. You two had already fallen in love and he couldn’t bear the thought of losing you.”

Iona took her daughter by the hand and led her towards the drawing room. The men’s laughter percolated into the hallway.

“My husband is a good man. He knows everything about my past so don’t fear to ask whatever you wish.”

“That sums up how I feel about Harry. We have such a lot to catch up on. I want to tell you so much about my mother and father.”

Iona nodded.

“Come.”

But Grace hesitated in the doorway as Iona entered the room. The men rose immediately and Iona turned and placed an encouraging arm around Grace’s shoulders.

“Little did I know,” Iona said, “That when our son brought you to visit us, Harry, you would one day become the link between me and the daughter I never thought to see again.”

 

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!