“I’ve heard that Thorncliff is magnificent. Apparently the third Earl of Duncaster wasted no expense when he expanded it,” Laura said before Rachel could comment. “My friend Lady Harriet visited last year with her family, and she has assured me that the estate can easily amuse us all for the duration of our three-month stay.”
“I’ve no doubt about that,” Fiona said promptly, her eyes lighting, “especially since I’ve every intention of putting my own time there to good use. I mean to find that jewelry box Grandmamma spoke of when we were little.”
Christopher stared at her. “What are you talking about?”
“Don’t you remember? She always said her family in France sent heirlooms to England during the revolution to prevent them from falling into the wrong hands. It was all she would have had left of her family after they all perished at the guillotine, but for unknown reasons, the box of heirlooms never arrived. I’m convinced they must be hidden away at Thorncliff. Considering Grandpapa’s close friendship with Lord Duncaster, I—”
“Now that you mention it, I do recall her saying something to that effect, but I never really put much weight in it,” Laura said. “You know how badly Grandmamma suffered the loss of her family. I always believed her talk of the jewelry box was her way of hoping a part of them had been left behind and would eventually come to her.”
“But she specifically mentioned receiving a letter from her sister, the Duchess of Marveille, in France, encouraging her to wait for it—that the duchess had sent it to England and that arrangements had been made for it to be delivered to her.”
“Your memory is certainly to be admired,” Rachel said, “but I think we must accept that the heirlooms never left France, as unfortunate as that is.”
“But in her diary,” Fiona insisted, “Grandmamma wrote of a visit Grandpapa made to Thorncliff shortly before his death. She wrote that she prayed her husband would soon return home with the box.”
“And yet she never received it,” Christopher pointed out.
Fiona sighed. “No, she didn’t. Grandpapa set sail for France, perishing with the third Earl of Duncaster when the ship went down.” She sighed, her expression somber, though her eyes remained sharp with determination. “It’s possible the jewelry box is still at Thorncliff, in which case, I’ve every intention of locating it. You can count on that.”
Christopher had no doubt about it.
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