The River Runs Deep – Episode 40

“When peace came, Allan Pinkerton offered me a job and I’ve worked for him ever since.

“I move from place to place, using false names to convince folks I’m somebody I’m not not.

“I’m an undercover operative for Pinkerton’s National Detective Agency,” he concluded. “I’m a Pinkerton man, Laura.”

They talked a while longer before Laura crept indoors and upstairs.

At Billy-Bob’s room, she gathered the contents into the saddlebag and returned it, then took the shirt and folded it into her mending basket.

She wakened early, hearing the familiar sounds of Billy-Bob downstairs, lighting the fire and heating up the range.

He was tending the horses when Laura came from the house dressed for going into town.

“Are you off to the Hawthorns already?” William asked.

“I’m not going straight to work. I want to see Paul.

“The hotel’s quiet first thing and Paul’s on his own. I want to be with him.”

William nodded.

“When you do get to the Hawthorns, be sure not to work too hard.”

“Nor you!” Laura laughed, but at once was serious.

She didn’t know how he intended bringing the murderer to justice. Last night, he’d made it plain he wouldn’t discuss his work.

It was dangerous work, though, and she feared for her old friend.

“Be careful, Billy-Bob.”

“I’m always careful,” he reassured her.

Lamps were glowing within the lobby of Tyrell’s when Laura reached the hotel.

Pushing the doors, she stepped inside and froze.

Leaving the door swinging ajar, Laura ran along the deserted street and towards Bea’s home.

“Whatever’s wrong?” Bea cried. “Is somebody ill? Gid’s out on his rounds –”

“It’s Paul! I went to the hotel and Miss Ridgeway – Darleen – must have stayed there last night,” she stammered. “They were alone in the tea room having breakfast.

“I saw them together, Bea. I saw him kissing her!”

After Laura had sipped a cup of tea, Bea insisted upon accompanying her to the Hawthorns.

“If I hadn’t been early,” she reflected. “I might never have found out about Paul and Miss Ridgeway.”

“It’s shameful,” Bea declared as the sisters parted. “But better you know now.”

Mrs Leasowe was in the throes of organising an important committee meeting and kept Laura on her toes all day long.

By evening, she was glad to escape – only to find Paul waiting for her.

“You came to the hotel this morning,” he began calmly, catching hold of her hands. “I don’t know what you think you saw, but –”

“I saw you with Darleen Ridgeway!” Laura cried, wrenching free of his touch. “Leave me alone, Paul!”

She sped away, not trusting her resolve.

With an aching heart, Laura once more made for Bea’s house.

It was Tuesday, the evening that she met up with Myrtle and Johan.

“How are you?” Bea queried. “I wasn’t sure you’d be coming.”

“I couldn’t let down Johan and Miss Myrtle,” Laura replied simply.

Midway through their lesson, Bea took in a tray of milk and cookies.

She’d got into the habit of joining them for refreshments and was interested to hear about the work they were doing.

Johan might not have his qualifications yet, but he was already a fine teacher.

“Apart from getting ten out of ten for my homework . . .” Myrtle beamed when they were settled with refreshments
“. . . lots of other special things happened today.

“I wrote a note to my great-granddaughter, put it in the parcel with her cradle quilt and mailed it.”

She chuckled, holding up a hand to shush the others when they began speaking at once.

“I’m not done yet!

“After I’d mailed little Myrtle’s quilt, I went by the store.

“Adelaide and me often have tea together if I’m not in a rush, and . . .” The elderly woman’s voice quavered, then she smiled.

“Adelaide’s heard something about my Stephen! During the war, it seems he joined the Union Army.

“Worked with horses; Stephen always had a rare way with horses.

“After all these years, maybe now I got a real chance of finding him and being a family again.”

To be continued…

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