“So when did Thomas McFry die, Danny?” Harry asked, looking him square in the face. Danny shuffled through his notes. “Err… 1970 – no… that is 1964… I mean, we don’t really know. We’ll have to check it.”
Harry was pleased Danny had at least spotted the discrepancy in the years
“OK – here’s the plan. We’ve got about twenty minutes before we’re due across at Stan’s shop. We’re going to draft up a list of all the certificates we need. With a bit of luck we’ll have all the information want by the end of the day.”
Danny looked incredulous. “It’s taking at least a week to get certificates through just now, Harry. You must know that.” Ordering certificates from the General Records Office at
But Danny didn’t know Harry. The pressure all these new enquiries had put on the GRO had led them to draft in extra staff to cope with the demand, Harry knew. A problem to one person was someone else’s opportunity and this, for Harry, had been an opportunity he didn’t want to miss. He’d hung around the staff exit at the
And so it was that Harry came to have his own mole in the GRO – his own ‘Deep Throat’. Now, whenever he needed a certificate he’d simply ring through to Linda and whatever he wanted would be on his fax in a couple of hours. At £20 a certificate, it was useful, extra money for Linda, paid direct by Harry into her bank account. And for Harry, it was time saved, and time was money in the world of genealogical investigation.
He wasn’t about to reveal all this to Danny, of course. It would be a while before he could trust him with a source like that. “Don’t worry about the how, Danny. Let’s just get started on the list of what we need.”
He pushed the mouse next to the computer on his desk, and the screensaver vanished. In seconds, he was opening up the Births, Marriages and Death indexes on Ancestry. “Now – where should we start?” he said.
Laurel McFry left Meldew Buildings and walked for a while through the drizzling rain, until she found a seat in the corner of
It seemed an odd thing to have to do, disrespectful even, to sever her ties with the family firm. Her five per cent holding didn’t give her any real influence over the company, she knew, but those shares were a tangible link to her past. To her father, and to all the McFry’s who had built the company up. But Mr Attwood had made the situation clear. Despite the drizzle, she pulled out a sheet of paper he’d given her before she left their meeting yesterday. The figures on it told a sorry story, no matter how many times she looked at them. If she sold the shares today, the cash generated would be just a third of what would have been realized if she’d done the same this time last year. Laurel McFry wasn’t a gambler, but she did wonder about the consequences of holding onto the shares. They might slide still further, which would be calamitous. Or then again, they could just as easily reverse direction. If Harry was right, and there was a connection between the shares and her missing family, then the sooner he solved the mystery, the sooner the value might start to climb. Suddenly, she saw that Harry’s fees might have proven to be the best investment she had ever made. Provided, of course, he was as good as everyone said he was.
Harry deputed Danny to continue the task of noting down the reference numbers they would need to ‘order’ the certificates, saying he would be going out for a few minutes as he needed to get Laurel’s cheque into the bank. Harry dragged on his coat and pulled on his hat, stopping at the office door only to say: “If there are any calls, just take a message. And if anyone asks for
“Don’t worry, Danny, I’ll tell you all about
Taking the fire escape route out of Meldew Buildings, Harry emerged at the side of the building, checking that there was no-one he knew. As he emerged onto