Tuesday, 27 February 2007

Chapter 32

Lillian McFry never enjoyed using the telephone. Few people called her these days, and the times when she needed to call others were few and far between. She caught herself looking in the mirror, smoothing out a curl in her hair, before she picked up the receiver – “Stupid woman!” she said to herself, reminding herself that whoever she was calling wouldn’t be able to actually see her. She studied the card that Danny Longhurst had left her. She didn’t recognize the code, thought it must be one of these ‘mobile’ phones everyone seemed to have now.

It was about 9.30am – not too early to ring him, she thought. Still standing by her sideboard, she dialed the number. Danny answered after a few rings.

“Mr Longhurst? It’s Lillian McFry from Telford here.” She waited for his response.

“Yes, Mrs McFry – I was just thinking of ringing you,” Danny replied (although he hadn’t been). In fact, he was gathering together a file of papers ready for his meeting with Harry McFry.

“I was wondering if you had been able to deliver my medals to Laurel yet?”

There was a slight pause on the other end of the phone, which Lillian noticed, before Danny replied: “Not yet, Mrs McFry. There’s been a complication.”

Lillian didn’t like the sound of that. What if Dacre Lawrence was smarter than she imagined, and had somehow managed to track them down? “What kind of complication?” she asked, fearing the worst.

Danny realized he would need to re-assure her. “Nothing serious. It’s just that your grand-daughter is looking for her family members. She’s approached a colleague of mine to do some research for her.” Danny waited a second to allow Lillian to take in the implication of what he was saying. “I didn’t want to give her the medals yet, in case she made the connection with you.”

Lillian was wondering what had prompted Laurel’s interest in her family all of a sudden.

“You’ve done the right thing, Mr Longhurst. I don’t want Laurel to know about me. Please keep the medals safe, though. I think there are other people after them.”

Danny thought of the medals which he’d put in the post to Harry, but which were now in a shop in Birkenhead. Lillian didn’t need to know this, he decided. “Don’t you worry, Mrs McFry,” he lied, “I won’t let them out of my sight. I’m meeting Laurel today, in connection with the other matter. But I’ll hold onto the medals for a day or two, if you don’t mind. I’m sure I’ll get a chance to get them to her when the time is right.”

Lillian pondered a moment or two: the medals were probably safer with a stranger in Birkenhead than anywhere else she might put them. Then, she had another thought: “Mr Longhurst? If you are meeting Laurel today, perhaps you would be so good as to ring me later today. I’d like to know … what she’s like.”

There was a wistfulness in her tone that Danny picked up immediately.

“Don’t worry, Mrs McFry. I’ll do that. Now, if you don’t mind, I have to go now. Can I ring you around five?”

Lillian had agreed, and their call was ended. She sat down. Things seemed to be getting complicated - typical, where there were McFry’s involved, she thought.

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