Laurel McFry wasn’t stupid. She’d listened to Harry’s explanation of why he and Danny were going to Spain, but had decided not to challenge it. And she’d agreed that he could take the envelope she’d received the day before, even though she wondered exactly what ‘analysis’ he might be planning to do on it. She’d noticed that he’d given only a cursory glance to the letter, that once he’d seen there was no return address, he seemed to dismiss it. Could he be looking for fingerprints, she wondered? Surely the letter would be just as good for that purpose – perhaps more so, since who knew how many people might have handled the envelope in its transit from Yorkshire to Merseyside? Was Harry McFry as smart as people seemed to think he was?
She made herself a tea, and sat on the sofa with it. Harry had certainly moved fast with the birth, death and marriage certificates, by the sound of things. That was impressive. But he’d seemed a little distant (even tired) while he was talking, and she couldn’t help noticing that he didn’t look like he’d shaved that morning. Looked, even, a little hung over. Maybe that explained why she hadn’t been able to get hold of him last night – he’d been out on the town or… something?
She couldn’t forget what Danny had said about their trip on the phone to her last night, though: “it’s all mixed up with your case”. A conference on forensic genealogy – in Madrid? Did Harry McFry think she was born yesterday? But something an ex-boyfriend had once said to her was playing like a refrain in her head. He’d told her she reminded him of a Spanish woman, with her black hair and dark eyes. She’d dismissed it at the time as the kind of flattery men might use when they’ve got something they want on their mind. Now, she was starting to think there may be more to Harry’s trip to Madrid than he’d wanted her to know. When your own mother was a stranger to you, it was like having a blank canvas, where you could draw whatever picture you liked. It wasn’t the first time she’d imagined where her mother might have come from. Harry, she had noticed, hadn’t mentioned anything about finding her birth certificate. Could her mother have Spanish ancestry, she wondered?
Well, Cyril Galloway didn’t sleep too well on Friday night. The wasted day in Birkenhead was playing on his mind, and the call he’d had from Colin McAllistair had pre-occupied him for most of his journey back to Telford. The news that Harry McFry had sold, or otherwise disposed of, the medals, was a blow to him, that was for sure. And yet … how did McAllistair know this, he wondered? What contact had he had with McFry after their lunch on Thursday? When he first met him a quarter of a century ago, he’d been a struggling student. But life had obviously been kind to Colin McAllistair in the intervening years. He gave every impression of being a prosperous and successful academic. What if he’d bought the medals off Harry? It wasn’t impossible. Galloway was no stranger to the notion of betrayal, even if he preferred to play the role of betrayer much more than he did the betrayed.
The thought that McAllistair might have double-crossed him wouldn’t go away, and disturbed his sleep. By the time he woke up on Saturday, however, another thought had occurred to him. It concerned the box the medals were in, and the piece of paper – that oh, so valuable piece of paper – that was in the box. What if (and it could only be speculation on his part, he realised) Lillian McFry had given the medals to this Harry McFry character, but had kept the box herself? McAllistair, after all, had been pretty sure that Harry McFry didn’t have the box – just the medals. McAllistair hadn’t even known about the paper, until he’d told him.
Suddenly, the gloom that had infected Cyril Galloway’s world seemed to lift a little, as he began to realize that the very thing he was looking for might be sat in the back of a cupboard, in the lounge of a tiny bungalow, on an estate not five miles from where he was sat.