Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Chapter 151

It was difficult to tell who was more surprised by the news of the value of Lillian’s bond. Lillian herself had no idea that the McFry inheritance had matured in quite such a spectacular fashion. Colin McAllistair saw, now, quite why Galloway had been so insistent on finding the medals which, though valuable in themselves, were worth just a fraction of the bond’s value. He was starting to think that his documentary might take a different course, the focus shifting to the undiscovered role of an English manufacturing dynasty in bankrolling the republican cause at the end of the Civil War. Bill Blunt, meanwhile, was mentally drafting the new headline that would accompany his story: ‘The Missing McFry Millions’ had a certain ring about it.

Laurel McFry had been watching Harry as he told them about the bond. Although she’d finally acknowledged the truth of all that Harry had told her, and knew her financial security was assured, it still felt just a little unreal. Every mention of the bond, though, was like a re-confirmation that everything would be alright. She looked at Lillian, and saw her surprise at the huge value of the bond. Had she meant to gift her such a sum of money, she wondered? Her grandmother looked tired, and she suddenly felt protective of her, wanting to jump up and tell everyone to leave, that they knew enough. It was a strange emotion for her, this desire to protect, and she realised, there and then, that she’d never felt it before - at least not so intensely. She knew, finally, that Lillian was ‘family’.

For Dave Morris, temporarily distracted by the phone ringing in his inside pocket, he now thought he saw a motive for why a North Yorkshire GP might so obviously risk his career and reputation. Jane Tobias’ thoughts were echoing her colleague’s.

Everyone turned as Dave pulled out his phone. “I’ll take this in the kitchen, if you don’t mind,” he said, standing up and making his way out of the room as he answered the call with a quiet “Hello?”

“I had no idea the bond was worth so much,” Lillian said, after Dave had left the room. “How did you discover this, Harry?”
Harry told them of his trip to Madrid, and his meeting with the ministry official. “The bond’s there now, Lillian. They want you to sign it, to redeem it. They were quite surprised that you were still alive.”
“But aren’t you forgetting something?” Lillian asked. Before Harry could reply, she continued: “That bond is meant for someone else. According to Mr Longhurst here, she already has the medals. I expected she would have the bond, too.”

Danny felt he’d been suddenly put on the spot. He looked at Harry, trying to get a clue as to whether he should say something, but then he saw that Laurel was staring at him. She seemed to be on edge.

She could bear the deceit no longer. How could she know when or where – or even whether - Harry had expected her to reveal herself? She realised, then, that she didn’t. But she couldn’t be expected to sit and watch the emotions of her own grandmother being toyed with in this way, either.

“Danny Longhurst has fulfilled his duty to you, Lillian,” she said, as calmly as she could. Harry turned from Danny to Laurel: she was going to do it, he realised.
Laurel had reached down for her clutch bag, and snapped it open. “He did exactly what you asked him to do,” she said, pulling the medals out. “He gave me these.”
All eyes turned to the medals, which Laurel held in her outstretched palm.
Lillian seemed bewildered. “I don’t understand…”
Harry resisted the urge to jump in to explain. This was between Laurel and Lillian. Laurel had chosen her moment – rightly or wrongly – and who was he to interfere with that decision? Danny, too, could see that Laurel hadn’t been able to resist, any longer, the urge to reveal herself.

Bill, Colin and Jane were lost again. How come Harry’s assistant had the medals? Jane wondered why they’d switched back to the medals, all of a sudden. Only Lillian seemed to have worked it out but, as she replied, there was a hesitancy to her voice – a slowness and a deliberateness that suggested she might not be certain, and wanted to test out her thoughts.

“Then… you had better come here, young lady,” she said, “and let me take a closer look at you.” In her heart, though, she already knew that this ‘Ana’ must really be Colleen’s daughter.
Laurel stood up and leant across towards Lillian, still holding the medals, her free hand moving quickly across her eyes, as she tried her hardest to mask the tears that she later realised had been inevitable.
“So – you are really Laurel!” Lillian said. As her granddaughter sunk to her knees and placed the medals on her lap, she took hold of her hand.

The realisation that Harry’s ‘assistant’ was the heir to the McFry fortune was not lost on Bill Blunt. He could see it now, and was scribbling furiously away in shorthand, even as he gazed at the moving tableaux before him – the re-uniting of a grandmother and her granddaughter.

Colin McAllistair couldn’t help himself from checking to see that his video was still running, that it was capturing the drama of the moment. It wouldn’t matter that it was low-quality, he was sure he’d be able to use the record of such a magical moment in his documentary – no producer he knew that was worth his salt would turn it down.

For Harry and Danny, it was a moment tinged with mixed feelings. Of course, they couldn’t help but share Laurel’s emotion at finally revealing herself to Lillian, but they both of them sensed there was still more to be revealed, and were independently wondering how the rest of the story would be unfurled.

“Yes,” Laurel said. “I’m Philip and Colleen’s daughter. I never knew about you. I never knew a thing about you until Harry told me.” She was shaking, still.
“Then we have got a lot of catching up to do, don’t you think?” Lillian asked, smiling now, as she gripped hard on Laurel’s hand. “If, that is … you can forgive me, for what I’ve done?” Lillian’s smile had vanished as quickly as it appeared. Her question was tentative again – fearful, even.
Laurel shook her head. “There’s nothing to forgive. I think we both know that. I just wish my father had told me about you.”
“And why would he have told you? I was the bit of the McFry family history no-one liked to think about, I am sure. Philip didn’t even invite me to Colleen’s funeral. I am sure that was Thomas’ doing.” Lillian tried to dress the bitterness of the memory in a matter-of-factness.
“But you were there – weren’t you? I can’t be wrong: I remember you were there – at the back.”
“Yes. I was there. I stood away from everyone while they buried my daughter, and wondered how I’d ever let myself lose her. And you.”

Harry didn’t want to interfere, but at the same time, he thought he could help the two of them understand their estrangement a little better.
“Do you think Thomas forbade Philip from telling Laurel about you?” His question was addressed to Lillian, but it was her granddaughter that turned to him, while Lillian had begun smoothing her hand over Laurel’s, her head bowed as she contemplated her reply.

Before she could commence, though, Dave Morris returned to the lounge. He looked more than perplexed – stunned, almost. Unaware that Lillian was about to answer Harry, he looked around the room.

“That was Mabel Harris, from the Health Centre,” he said, as heads turned to him. “It seems that Dr Lawrence and Cyril Galloway are both … dead.”


Anonymous said...

Another twist in the tail!
You are keeping us in suspense, TH.
Two excellent chapters

70steen said...

I spotted your post this afternoon during a break from my computer on one of my skip through blogworld moments.
I began to read it and got to the L & L reunion... had to stop as I could feel a tear welling up (yes I am a big old softy)
Thank goodness they have met :-)

But what shocking news of Dacre & Cyril.... what happened ???

Enumerator said...

Great stuff

Theresa111 said...

Oh, Thomas! I am so enjoying this story of yours.