Coming Out...Part 2
Mr. Lucas returned home some time after all the excitement had died down. The lounge was lit with the faint light from the log fire, which helped chase the chill of the night air. Candles flickered softly.
He opened the door slightly and reached in, waving a white handkerchief.
"It's all clear!" Bryan called out.
"Well, how'd it go, Clay?" Mr. Lucas asked, entering the lounge and hanging his coat on a peg near the door.
"She acted as if she'd always known," he said curiously, "She said she was waiting all these years for me to tell her. Then she went to the Peacocks' house."
"How'd that go?" he said, sitting in a wingback chair and taking off his shoes.
"Well, Betty rang and said they knew all along and it didn't make one bit of difference! She put Captain Peacock on…"
"Cor! What'd he have to say?" Mr. Lucas asked, almost grimacing.
"'It looks like we'll be setting an extra place for Christmas!' Am I missing something?" he chirped.
"You were worried for nothing, dear!" Bryan scolded him, his blue eyes dancing.
"It's not that easy for me," Mr. Humphries explained, "You work at Austin Reed; they're a little more open-minded over there. At Grace Brothers, they're stuck in the 1920s with the 1920s mentality. I could be sacked if Mr. Rumbold, Grainger, or Young Mr. Grace found out. They might suspect, but if they had concrete evidence, I could find myself at the Labour Exchange. So, please James, don't say a word," he pleaded.
"Who am I to say anything?" he reassured his friend, "You've covered my arse on more than one occasion. I mean, really, who else would corroborate my stories of me poor tired old mother cooking on a broken gas ring, wearing a half-dead deaf-aid, making breakfast for the asthmatic cat and deposed Asian? Credit where it's due, I should have been sacked long ago!"
"True!" Mr. Humphries agreed, "Would you like a cuppa?"
"Yes, thank you," Mr. Lucas replied, settling into the chair cushions.
"I'll get it," Bryan offered, standing and heading to the kitchen.
"He's nice and you two do look happy! I'm glad your mum didn't go off her trolley."
"Well, at first she started rabbitting on about never having grandchildren; you know how she gets, so melodramatic!"
Bryan entered the lounge carrying a tray with steaming cups of tea and a plate of scones, "Mum baked! You know when she gets nervous she has to cook something! I had to remind her that she's grand-mum to every child on this lane!" he said, balancing his cup and biscuit on the saucer and sitting down next to Mr. Humphries, "It was like she had an epiphany! She'd never realized that she had so many little ones fawning all over her.
We pointed out the Peacock girls and baby Margaret, Mirabelle, Elspeth, those two redhead girls in Number 14, that little freckle-faced boy in Number 3. She's got about 10 kids she plays surrogate grandmother to!"
Mr. Lucas chuckled. Annie Humphries had more social life now than she ever did when Claybourne lived at home!