Dead to Me

Dead to Me by Lesley Pearse Read Free Book Online Page B

Book: Dead to Me by Lesley Pearse Read Free Book Online
Authors: Lesley Pearse
in here. Grown men breaking down like small children, and women beside themselves with grief and unable to make any decisions. But these are good pearls and the brooch is a fine piece, so he was clearly a man of good taste. I expect he intended to sort out his affairs and would be distressed to think of you and his daughter struggling after his death. Perhaps it would be better for you to pawn these items so you can reclaim them when your circumstances improve?’
    ‘I wish I could do that,’ Miss Parsons said. ‘But I can see no possibility of any improvement in my position in the near future. I may be able to do a little dressmaking or domestic work, but with a child to take care of I cannot even go into service.’
    She actually managed to squeeze out a few tears, and Verity was impressed by her acting skills.
    Yet however sympathetic Mr Cohen was, he drove a hard bargain, offering twenty-five pounds at first. Miss Parsons let out a strangled sob that sounded utterly convincing to Verity, and said she needed sixty pounds.
    Verity listened to the pawnbroker insisting he couldn’t go above thirty, Miss Parsons coming down to fifty, and after much fierce haggling, they finally agreed on forty pounds.
    ‘You were very brave and clever,’ Verity said once they were out of the shop and further down the Finchley Road.
    Miss Parsons chuckled. ‘To tell the truth, Verity, I rather enjoyed it. Believe me, that brooch and those pearls must have been much more valuable than we realized to get so much, so we certainly haven’t robbed him. Now you may have to do this for your mother in future, so remember to aim high. You can always come down but never, ever accept the first offer.’
    That evening Verity helped her mother and Miss Parsons to pack a small trunk with items that could be sold. They were mostly small items: a pocket watch, jewellery, a silver snuff box, tankards and photograph frames. But there was also the large silver pheasant, a tureen and some serving dishes, along with a complete set of cutlery.
    ‘Archie’s mother gave us this as a wedding present,’ her mother said as she lifted the lid of the box and took out one knife from its velvet-covered nest. ‘She bought it in Bond Street, and she never tired of pointing out that it cost a king’s ransom. I just hope it brings in enough to make up for her wretched son’s appalling behaviour.’
    ‘I think it will bring you in a pretty penny,’ Miss Parsons said, coming over to look at the cutlery. She picked up a serving spoon and examined the hallmark. ‘My advice is to take it back to the shop it came from. This sort of cutlery never goes out of fashion; I bet they’ll be glad to resell it.’
    ‘But it weighs so much,’ Verity’s mother said, half lifting it. ‘We can’t walk around carrying it.’
    Verity wished her mother would stop finding a problem with everything. If it wasn’t the weight of the cutlery it was the chore of packing things, or being convinced her sisterwould refuse to take them in. Miss Parsons had snapped at her the previous day and said if she didn’t fancy going to her sister’s she could always rent a place for herself and Verity, and then get a job to be independent.
    ‘Me work?’ Her mother had looked horrified. ‘What are you saying?’
    ‘I have to work,’ Miss Parsons pointed out. ‘I’m quite sure Verity will have to when she is older too. So why not you?’
    ‘But I wasn’t brought up that way,’ her employer protested.
    ‘Do you have a private income?’ Miss Parsons asked.
    ‘You know I don’t.’
    ‘Then how do you plan to support yourself? I doubt your sister – who, if I’m not much mistaken, does work – will be prepared to keep you both for nothing. Funny Hazel wasn’t brought up the same way as you!’
    There were many pointed, sarcastic remarks from Miss Parsons in the days that followed, making Verity realize that her mother had kept her distance from her sister for all these years purely

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