Harry knew they wouldn’t have time to properly explain their findings to
Danny was pouring the coffee, now, while
“So, these are mine, now?”
“Yes. They’re quite valuable, as there were only ever two sets issued. What do you know about the Spanish Civil War?”
“I think you may know a little more before the day’s out, that’s all,” Harry replied. “Look,
“Telford’s where Lillian lives,
“And we can’t be sure what he knows, I’m afraid,” Harry continued. “I can appreciate you must think we’ve been holding stuff back from you, but I hope you realize the predicament we’ve been in.”
“I think I’m getting a sense of how you’ve been operating, Mr McFry,” she said. “I imagine it’s quite difficult playing your pipe to two paymasters. But you seem to have mastered the art quite nicely.”
Harry caught the slightest whiff of sarcasm, like it was cordite from a gun that had just been fired.
“Deceiving someone’s never pleasant,” Harry said, by way of some sort of atonement, “but sometimes, it’s the only option.” Harry wasn’t sure he even believed that line, but thought he’d delivered it convincingly enough. “And I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to practice a little deception yourself today, if you don’t mind…” he’d said, tailing off as he checked her reaction.
“Deception? What do you mean?”
“We need to arrange to see Lillian McFry today – just in case Bill Blunt is onto her. And I’d like you to accompany us.”
He waited to see what she said.
“You mean undercover?”
“That’s exactly what I mean. Let’s say you agree to being our assistant for the day. It would at least give you a chance to meet Lillian – your grandmother. And, depending on how it pans out, we may get the chance to introduce you. Properly, I mean.”
“I see,” she said, finally replacing the medal beside the others. “So you want my first meeting with a grandmother I never knew to be framed by deceit?”
She could see what he was saying. Lillian wasn’t likely to agree to meet up with her, and could even be angry if she knew Danny and Harry had betrayed her confidence. It sounded as though playing it by ear was the best bet.
When it came, her reply was firm. “OK, Harry. I’ll do it. But only on two conditions. I want you to tell me everything you know on the journey down to
Harry nodded. She was making it clear that she was the one paying the piper here. It wouldn’t do them any harm to go through the story again, anyway, and it would be good preparation for the meeting with Lillian.
“It’s a deal. But you said ‘two conditions’…”
“You’ll have to let me go home to change,” she said, with a nod to her red overcoat, hanging by the door.
“If I’m to meet my grandmother for the first time, I’d rather not look like a character from a children’s fairy tale – especially one that might be a wolf, in disguise.”
Harry and Danny both smiled, but neither of them was quite sure whether it was the relief that
As they left
The previous afternoon, they’d taken a call from Mabel Harris at the Chapter Road Health Centre. She had, she explained, some information which she felt might be relevant to their enquiries. Could she fax it through to him? When it arrived, about ten minutes later, Dave had called Jane into his office.
“Take a look at these…” he’d said, handing her a sheaf of papers, all copies of births, deaths and marriage certificates.
As she’d leafed through them, Jane had sighed. “Wish I’d done that family history course at night class now!” she’d exclaimed. “How are we expected to make sense of all this?”
Dave had smiled at this. “I know what you mean. Mabel Harris pulled them from
Jane had looked at him. Neither of them really understood the first thing about genealogy – it wasn’t something that had featured much in their training, after all. “So what should we do with them?”
Dave’s shrug had spoken volumes: “We’ll just have to keep it on file, for now. Maybe there’s someone in the office who knows a bit about family history. It’s possible we’ll need it to stack a case up against
As they headed, now, towards
“You know, I think Tom’s right. This could end up as small beer,” he said. “He’s going to love us if all we can establish is that
Jane had been thinking about this, too. Tom Gauntless might even enjoy their failure.
“You’re missing the point, Dave,” she said. “It’s not just about money. I know he wants us to show all that investment in the project has been worth it, but there are principles involved here, too.”
They turned onto a motorway, slowing as the rush-hour traffic laboured along.
“Look at it this way. We design a national patient record system to make it easier for GPs to access records when patients transfer practices, for instance. Not to allow them to pursue a hobby...”
Morris looked more alarmed than ever. “Is that what you think this is about? A GP abusing his position to further his interest in family history?”
As the car in front came to a halt, and she slowed and applied the handbrake, she turned to him. “You didn’t let me finish. Remember, we’ve both got a gut instinct that there’s more behind this than a doctor with an interest in genealogy. This woman we’re going to see now – I suspect she’s the key to it all.”
“I hope you’re right, Jane. Otherwise it’s going to look like we’ve wasted more than a bit of time. I just wish we had something more tangible than
“Stay cool, Dave!” Jane said, as the cars started to move again. “At least we get a day out in
“A treat? What kind of a treat?” Dave asked, even as he appreciated his colleague trying to lift his spirits.
“Oh, well - my money’s on a slice of Battenberg!”