The Silver Cross

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Chapter Eighteen

The next morning we were both still shattered and had to have another day off from work and school. But no sooner had we got out of bed than the telephone kept ringing from one newspaper after another asking for an interview with me, until Mum unplugged the wire from the wall in exasperation. We could see that people had left a lot of messages on the answering machine, though. When Mum finally reconnected the telephone to make a call she listened to them all, and then she sat me down in the front room and I knew it must be something important.

“Lacy, this is really unbelievable, but the Daily Lighthouse has offered a sum of £50,000 for an interview with you. That sort of money could put you through University, and I don’t want to turn them down without speaking with you first.”

I gulped. I couldn’t even begin to picture that kind of money.

“l’ll have to think about it, Mum.”

I went up to my bedroom still in shock, and thought long and hard. Maybe it was the right thing to do, and the publicity would alert more victims of the Duncan’s to what had happened. The thing that really troubled me was little Joan Smith, buried in place of my Grandmother, and I wished that somebody would come forward and claim her as one of their relatives. But I didn’t want to talk about what had happened yesterday, not for any amount of money. So that was what I told Mum to tell them, and a little while later it was agreed that a reporter would call round in the afternoon and let me talk to them without asking too many questions, or mentioning the Duncan’s at all.

Mum also rang the hospital to ask about Barry, and was told that he was sitting up in bed and talking, and that he had been asking about me, so she said that we would call round later in the afternoon to pay him a visit. Meanwhile, I had received an email from Carol Stannard attaching a copy of her DNA profile. I thanked her very much and said that now we had something to compare with Mum’s we would get it done straight away and let her know the outcome.

I gave Karina a call at lunch time on her mobile to update her and she was really shocked. I reassured her that we were still going on holiday because we now all needed one, anyway. She said:

“I told you, double the power. William sorted out the traffic lights and John blinded the driver with his signalling. That is some powerful lucky charm!”

That made me laugh then because she sounded so freaked out by it all. I told her I was being paid £50,000 for an interview and I would be in the National Lighthouse, and she was so excited she was completely beside herself, but at that point the bell went and she had to go back to class, probably totally unable to concentrate for the rest of the day.

The newspaper sent round an older female reporter, Davina, to interview me and she was quite nice, but every time she mentioned the word “Councillor” my mother frowned at her and I stopped talking, so she soon got the message. She wanted copies of the black and white photos so I scanned them for her, and she took pictures of the tin and the cross that was the start of it all. I also gave her a copy of Barry’s lists. Then she took some photos of me and Mum together. Davina knew that there was more to tell, but said that she had enough to run a good story and hoped that more details would come to light in due course, in which case she asked whether she could do a “follow up”. Mum said that we were going to have a re-dedication ceremony of the graves in September, so she put that date in her diary and said it was a distinct possibility. Then Davina wrote out the cheque in my name and handed it over.

As soon as she had left we had a few excited moments before Mum put the cheque in her handbag and her coat and scarf on:

“Right!” she said, “let’s go and pay this in as well as your £1,000, and then we can visit Barry.”

I had a small savings account with £3.50 in it, and you should have seen the face of the Cashier when I handed the cheques over. She asked whether I wanted any financial advice on savings and ISA’s, and I took a load of leaflets and said I would read them and have a think about it first.

“You’re richer than me now,” Mum noted.

I laughed. “I hope you haven’t given up on the house yet?”

“Not exactly, but I’m not looking forward to all the stuff beforehand, like suing the Council and having to go to court.”

“That’s why we need all the evidence, like the DNA,” I reminded her.

We then caught a bus to Wadham General Hospital and were directed to Ward B1, where Barry had a little side room on his own. He was sitting in a chair next to his bed talking to a police officer, then looked up and seemed really pleased to see us.

“Hello, Lacy! I’ve been really worried about you.”

“No need, Barry, we are both okay.”

“I feel so guilty,” he said to Mum. “I keep thinking about your Mother, and me telling Pritchard about her looking for her birth certificate. And I’m ashamed to admit that I also told him about you working at the Library. I’m so sorry, Debra.”

Mum went over and gave him a hug.

“I don’t blame you in any way. How could you have known?” she said to him. “Nobody could have guessed how rotten the Duncan’s were. You’ve been in the wars yourself because of them, but luckily you and Lacy are both okay now, thank goodness. Please just concentrate on getting well. We don’t need to worry about them anymore.”

Barry shook his head.

“I heard about Terence Duncan, one of the policemen told me.” He indicated to the man now standing just outside the curtain. “I can’t remember much about what happened to me, but I think it was him.”

“Our Lacy here has become a bit of a celebrity, by the way.”

“You have?” he asked me.

I blushed and then told him about the local newspaper and also being in the National Lighthouse.

“Well that’s fantastic, the more pressure you can put on the Council, the better. And I’ve told the policeman where to find the Library archives.”

“Oh, they haven’t been stolen then, hooray!” I replied. “Hah! They didn’t look very hard. Everybody knows that a man keeps all his important stuff in his garden shed.”

He had a little chuckle. “Oh, I nearly forgot to say. Your Grandfather, John Unwin – well I thought I’d heard that name before, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. But I suddenly remembered last night, the war diary! It’s in one of the glass cases in the Archives. Somebody found it buried in their garden in Lavender Road when they were renovating their house last year. It was inside a small tin underneath some bricks. It’s not in good condition, but some of it is still readable. When I’m out of here I’ll give it to you.”

“Thank you!” I realised that this made perfect sense. If one twin kept a diary then it was pretty certain the other one had. “Maybe it will shed light on a few more things, like where his medal is kept.”

“Oh yes, you never know.”

Some nurses came round to take Barry’s blood pressure, and another came round with his tea.

“I think we’ll let you rest now,” said Mum, and we said our goodbyes.

It was so lovely to see Barry out of bed and eating again that I felt very relieved. And now we had John Unwin’s diary to look forward to.

When we got home I spent a good deal of the evening sending text messages to Annabel and Julian, and I told them both that I looked forward to seeing them again very soon. I heard Mum speaking to Tom downstairs about our visit to see Barry, and he was asking about me, too. I busied myself packing my suitcase ready for our holiday at the weekend. Later that night I took my cross back out of the tin and put it underneath my pillow. The red mark around my neck had nearly faded, so I decided I would wear it for my 16th birthday.

I kept thinking about everything that had happened, but I knew one thing for sure; I could not stop looking for my family now until I had found Dad. And, even if he didn’t want to see me again, I was still going to look for my Grandparents.

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