The long ride back to
“Good afternoon, Telford Auction Rooms, Sindy speaking. How may I help you?” the voice at the other end said.
“Put me through to Cyril Galloway”.
“Who shall I say is calling?” the receptionist asked.
“Don’t!” was Dacre’s response. At the other end of the line, the receptionist was shocked by the tone of the caller’s voice, but she nevertheless located Mr Galloway and put the call through.
“Yes? Who is this, please?” asked Cyril, still holding the leather-bound, first edition book he had been examining.
“Dacre Lawrence. Listen Cyril, I think you have some explaining to do. I’ve been out to see Lillian McFry and she tells me she no longer has the medals. I wonder if you can enlighten me as to where they might be?”
Cyril was shocked, but could read the implication in the caller’s question. He wasn’t afraid of Dacre Lawrence, as some people were. His response was careful and precise.
“Now look … I can assure you that I don’t know where they are. I made her the original offer, and then I called you when she didn’t bite on it. If she’s subsequently disposed of them then there’s not a great deal we can do about it”.
Dacre Lawrence paused. “I’m not prepared to give in on this one, Cyril. There’s an awful lot of money at stake here, and I’ve put myself out on a limb to get it. If this particular bough breaks, you’ll be under it to break my fall. I hope we understand each other”.
Cyril assured him that he understood well enough the importance to Dacre of obtaining the medals and the accompanying paper. He thought for a moment.
“There is a chance – just a slim chance, mind you – that I can find out what happened to the medals. Will you be in your surgery later this afternoon?” he had asked. It was agreed that Cyril Galloway would ring Dacre Lawrence later that day.
The call completed,
Lillian McFry pulled the letter out from the envelope, dug out her glasses from the side of her chair and started the slow task of deciphering the words in front of her. She read little these days, and had few letters to worry about other than utility bills. She angled the paper to catch the light from the window, until she could comfortably make out what was written.
“My Dear Lillian” she read, “I know that if you even receive this letter you are old now, but my friends in
Inside the envelope, she found the banknotes. They had changed the design over the years, but she didn’t imagine this mattered. Folding the letter carefully, she took both it and the envelope to her sideboard, where she added them to a pile of similar ones that were stored there. She caught a small tear come from the corner of her eye as she closed the door to the sideboard. ‘Too late for crying now, Lillian Blyth,’ she told herself, and made her way to the kitchen, carrying Dacre Lawrence’s cup and the pile of bourbon biscuits he had hardly touched.