While Dave Morris and Jane Tobias were wrestling with what to do about the certificates, local journalists and fancy-coloured cake covered in marzipan, those of the party still sitting in the lounge had been contemplating weightier matters.
Harry McFry remained loathe to speculate too much about the news they’d just received. Harry’s favoured form of speculation was, anyway, linked to the idea of accumulation and, just now, he was gambling on something else. He’d noticed how Lillian seemed to be relieved by the diversion afforded by Dave Morris’ dramatic interruption.
“Lillian,” he said. “I know this news must be very upsetting for you.” He was being politer than he needed to be. “But, if you remember, we were talking about Thomas…”Lillian McFry bristled. “Thomas McFry!” she exclaimed. “I think you know everything you need to know about him.” She didn’t seem to want to look anyone in the eye, and was staring, pointedly, at the wall above the fireplace.
Harry wasn’t the only one to sense that Lillian was pulling up the draw bridge. When Laurel had revealed herself, Danny Longhurst had wondered whether Lillian might not have taken some offence at the idea of having being duped. If she did, she hadn’t shown it immediately, but there was something about her tone now which suggested she was having second thoughts.“So, this whole mixed-up affair is down to Thomas, is it?” Harry asked. He didn’t sound convinced.“That’s right. If I’d never met him, things could have turned out different.” Wistful. That was how Danny thought she sounded, now. Harry thought it was an act and, though he had his suspicions that they weren’t getting the full facts from Lillian, he knew he wasn’t in a position to challenge her. He’d have to wait until he could see those certificates from Southport. If only they’d turned back and picked them up before arriving at Vale View, he knew he’d have sorted this all out by now.
Just then, Dave Morris and Jane Tobias re-appeared, Jane taking her seat while Dave hovered in the doorway. There seemed to be a natural pause in proceedings, he noticed. He spoke quietly, and assuredly:“Jane and I have something we would like to share with you. We think it might help matters. Jane?” he prompted, nodding towards his briefcase, which was sitting on the floor next to his colleague and his own, empty chair.“That’s right,” she said, reaching down to open it, and pulling out the sheaf of copies Mabel Harris had sent them. “We’d like you to take a look at these, Harry. Danny, too.” She handed them across to Harry, who saw at once that they were copy certificates.“Where are these from?” Harry asked, as Danny uncrossed his legs and began to stand up. He’d seen the familiar design of a birth certificate on the first sheet, and was starting to feel excited.“Mabel Harris copied them at Dacre Lawrence’s flat. It seems he’d been collecting them. The truth is, Dave and I haven’t a clue how they fit in, but we thought you might be able to help us.” Jane caught a glint in Danny’s eye and knew they’d made the right decision.
Standing up next to Danny, Harry turned to Lillian. “We’re going into the kitchen to look through these, if you don’t mind.” Laurel McFry was excited, too: she guessed these were the final piece in the jigsaw that might unveil parts of the story that her grandmother had been reluctant to tell. At the same time, she knew that Lillian had told as much as she could – or wanted to. She only hoped Harry would be gentle in revealing what the certificates had to say.
Lillian nodded her assent. As he followed Danny out of the room, Harry couldn’t help feel she looked defeated.
Bill Blunt, meanwhile, checked his watch. That deadline was getting ever-nearer, but it seemed that the closer it got, the more new information was being revealed. He had to get into the kitchen – see what Harry and Danny were up to – if he had any hope at all of making sense of this tangled tale. He had an idea, and spoke to Lillian.
“Perhaps … perhaps I should make us all a fresh cup of tea?” he said, brightly.Lillian turned to him, with the nearest thing to a glower she could muster.“That won’t be necessary, Elliot,” she said. “I rather think we’ve all had enough tea for today, don’t you? In any case, I think Harry and Danny would prefer not to be interrupted in whatever they’re doing.”
The same instinct that had led her, as she’d watched Bill Blunt turn page after page in his notebook, suspect that he may not be entirely what he seemed, was slowly leading her to the realization that Dacre Lawrence must have known more about her history than she’d guessed. When she’d woken up that morning, she’d expected a day when she would be in control, that she’d learn more about what happened to Jonathan and finally put to rest the ghosts of her past. Instead, she’d been deceived. By Harry and Danny and, most probably, by this Elliot Blunt fellow, too. Even Laurel had deceived her.
Soon enough, she thought, it would all come out, and it was some small comfort to know that, at last, she’d be free of the burden of the McFry’s. She only wished Laurel didn’t have to shoulder it – but it seemed she was powerless to prevent that. Some things – history, for example – are just too strong to defeat.