Chapter 39 – Moving On – Modern Day
Once the initial shock had passed, Caroline composed herself and looked around at each of the men who appeared to be awaiting some kind of direction from her.
“O.K., what do you want from me?” Caroline asked.
“Want?” Jason asked with a questioning look on his face. “We don’t want anything, we just wanted to know who to return the jewelry to.”
“Surely you have come here to obtain a finder’s fee or a price for the return of the necklace and bracelet, haven’t you?” Caroline asked stoically, still unconvinced. “Isn’t that what salvagers do?”
“I’m not a salvager!” Jason said in surprise at the lady’s reaction. “Look, I told you the reason for my search, it was to investigate the disappearance of my grandfather.” Jason emphasised with some frustration, “I didn’t even know about the St. Louis Streamer before coming down here and talking to Chuck. Finding the jewelry has been a bonus. All I want to do is return it to its rightful owner. Are you that person?” Everyone looked at Caroline waiting for her response. She turned and sat down on one of the chairs in front of the men.
“Sorry, this is all a bit of a shock,” Caroline said almost inaudibly, at least to some of the elder men in the room. “Yes, I guess I would be the rightful heir. Lady Ashdene, the title was not official, because she was British and sounded awfully posh to her new circle of friends she was always referred to as Lady Ashdene, but she was really just Mrs. Caroline Ashdene. Her husband, Captain Reginald Ashdene sent her to America for safety at the beginning of the war. She arrived, six months pregnant, unfortunately, my grandfather was part of the British Expeditionary Force in France and was killed during the beginning of the war. So, he never got to see his son, my father. My father, another Reginald Ashdene, married into St. Louis money but my parents were killed in a traffic accident while I was quite young, I was raised by my nanny, although I was sent to boarding school in England for many of my younger years. Fortunately, there was enough money in the kitty for my education and welfare, so off I went to Harvard and then to New York, where I earnt enough money to keep this place going.” Caroline paused and smiled before she continued. “I wasn’t bluffing about being a lawyer. But after a few years working in the Big Apple, I decided to return to St. Louis and just cherry-pick the cases I wanted to take on.” She paused once more and held open her hands “so, what’s the next step?”
Everyone looked to Jason who in turn looked around at them, “well, I hadn’t really thought about it.” He replied bemusedly, then finally turning to Caroline, “I guess you should come to Kimmswick and retrieve what is rightfully yours.”
“Don’t you want any documentation to prove it is mine?” Caroline asked, the lawyer in her coming out.
“No, not really, it’s not mine to make any demands. We located you, you only have to look around at the photographs in this room to know that what you have told us is the truth.” Jason explained innocently, not wishing to explain that she was the woman in his dream which was all the proof he needed.
“Yes, but you stand to make a lot of money on this transaction if you insisted on a fee,” Caroline stressed, “I do have some idea as to how much that jewelry is worth.”
“As I said, I’m not after money, I just set out to find out the truth about my grandfather, that I have now done, despite what the authorities may end up saying,” Jason stated. There was a sort of an impasse with neither Caroline nor Jason knowing how to continue.
“Look, why don’t you come down to Kimmswick, we can go and visit the jewelers and you can choose to either leave them there for now or bring them home.” Chuck offered, “then we can all have lunch.” At this, everyone muttered their agreement.
“That’s a great idea, although I won’t be able to make it until Friday,” Caroline replied enthusiastically, “but I insist on paying, my treat.”
There were more mutterings of agreement and after directions to the marina were given to Caroline, the men left.