|"Well, Jacobs, in ten minutes it will be 1920; a new decade, new beginnings, and we are still no nearer to solving the mystery." I whispered. The Parker family party was in full swing. Mr. Henry was signalling. Jacobs hurried over with a tray of champagne. I grabbed my chance to go up and check on the children.
"What are you two doing out of bed?" I asked as their tussled heads appeared through the banisters.
"Is it midnight yet?" asked a wide awake Peter.
"Not quite. Now come on, back to bed." I reprimanded. Gladys came running at the sound of my voice.
"Sorry Miss, I didn't know they was up. Must 'ave dozed off."
"It's okay, Gladys. They are just excited to see in the new decade." I softened.
"So are we all, Miss. When the war ended we 'oped fings would be different 'round 'ere but it's still us and them, ain't it." I nodded. We had all been optimistic in 1918. Change was coming, but it was interminably slow. I reflected on my last year. I had done things I had never dreamed of, like flying, and my skirts were definitely shorter. The one thing I had not succeeded in was solving the mystery of the missing Mr. James and his wife.
They may well be dead. The children might well be orphans. They would need me. The rest of their family were pretty useless when it came to parenting. They lived for themselves. I would have to be very careful in my investigations; if I were dismissed what would become of these little waifs?
"Miss Penny, Lady Everly requests your presence as the midnight hour approaches." The footman addressed formally. I kissed Sophie goodnight; Peter was now too grown up for that sort of affection, he shook my hand. Gladys led the pair back to bed.
"Ten, nine, eight ..." The crowd counted down as the hall clock chimed. At midnight there was much kissing and hugging. I raised my glass and looked around the room. Not one person there gave a damn about the children or their missing parents. I made my new year resolution; somehow I would solve the mystery, but, more importantly, I would protect the youngsters sleeping upstairs.