Silver Guilt

Silver Guilt by Judith Cutler Read Free Book Online

Book: Silver Guilt by Judith Cutler Read Free Book Online
Authors: Judith Cutler
him.
    â€˜Lord Elham . . . So you’re Lady—?’ Farfrae recovered first.
    â€˜Plain Ms Townend.’ It was time to have another dig in my purse. I came up with another of our business cards.
    Farfrae scanned it and frowned. ‘So you’re an antiques dealer too? In your own right?’
    I was back on firmer ground at last. ‘Didn’t Nella tell you? I’m helping out while her usual assistant is in . . . is incapacitated.’ Thank goodness for Griff and my vocab book. I didn’t think they would have been impressed by expressions like ‘pulling a sickie’.
    He referred to the card again. ‘So who’s this Griffith Tripp?’
    â€˜He’s a highly respected dealer, officers, specializing in Victorian china. I was his apprentice; now I’m his junior partner. I only came to this fair on what you might call work experience.’
    â€˜And to flog a piece of stolen silver, using an equally highly respected antique dealer as a front.’
    â€˜I’ve got a copy of the receipt I gave Lord Elham. Hang on just a second.’ Where was the bloody thing? Ah! I unclipped it from the organizer and put it on the table. ‘Look. I’ve given a full and accurate description of the piece. I couldn’t put in what I know now, because I didn’t know it at the time.’
    â€˜So let me get this straight, Ms Townend,’ Farfrae pressed on. ‘You offered to sell in good faith what you believed to be Lord Elham’s property.’
    â€˜Exactly. But because Griff and I only do the smaller fairs, we thought it would be better to sell it through a real expert, like Lady Petronella.’ It was time to pull a little more rank, even if it was someone else’s. ‘She told me it was Hungarian, and what it was worth.’
    â€˜But you didn’t put that on the receipt.’
    â€˜How could I when I didn’t know when I wrote it? You can’t alter things like that. Look,’ I added in desperation, ‘silver’s quite a different thing from china. I could tell you pretty well anything you wanted to know about a piece of Worcester porcelain; I could walk you round the outfits here and tell you who’s overcharging and who doesn’t know he’s got a real earner on his hands.’
    The men exchanged a glance; Morris mouthed something.
    I waited, but had to continue. ‘But silver – I’m still learning. If you check Nella’s stand, you’ll find a book on the subject – I was mugging up on it so as not to look an idiot if anyone asked. My God, what if people start demanding refunds for stuff I sold this morning? It could ruin her business!’ Now I came to think of it, I was being pretty generous even to think of her business. What on earth had happened to
noblesse oblige
? Griff would never have treated a colleague as badly as that in public.
    â€˜So why did Lord Elham give you that particular piece?’ Morris looked genuinely interested.
    â€˜Why not? He’s given me loads of pieces, all of which I’ve issued receipts for. I get the best price I can, and then take ten per cent. Again, it’s all written down.’
    Farfrae said, ‘It’s a very formal arrangement between a father and his daughter.’
    â€˜I’m not the only child; I want to be able to prove everything’s fair.’
    â€˜And you live with your father?’
    â€˜No.’
    â€˜Why not?’
    I took a deep breath. ‘I live with my partner. Griff. My business partner.’
    â€˜Mr Tripp. OK. But most people would leap at the idea of living in a stately home.’
    â€˜Not if they have to share it with the paying public and my father.’ Damn, I’d let a crack show.
    â€˜Why would that be?’
    â€˜I like my life as it is,’ I said, suspecting he’d keep prying. ‘I’m learning an honest trade and a lot more besides. If you found out you’d got

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