The River Runs Deep – Episode 43

As soon as the lantern lit on this, I knew I’d found my father.” William turned to Edith, the old-fashioned pocket watch in his palm.

They were alone now, at the old burial place in the clearing where Caleb Robertson finally rested alongside his wife, parents and grandparents.

The Sinclairs, Adelaide Mathieson and Hal Carmichael had gathered to say farewell.

While the mourners departed the clearing, Edith and William played the traditional “Fiddler’s Lament”.

When its final notes faded, they set down their bows and the only sounds were birdsong and the soft breeze whispering through the trees.

“It came from Scotland with my great-grandfather more than a hundred years ago,” William explained, slipping the timepiece into his pocket.

“It’s been passed down from father to son ever since,” he went on. “It’s all I have of my family, Edith.”

He took her arm and
they started towards Delderfield.

“When Pa disappeared, Ty Skinner, the mine manager, said money had gone missing. The story went round town that my father had stolen the money and run off.

“Ma and I knew something had happened to him,” William continued. “Andrew and I searched everywhere, but my father was already dead in that mine shaft.”

“What are you going to do?” Edith murmured after a moment, drawing closer to his side. “I appreciate you can’t discuss your Pinkerton work.”

“This goes beyond Pinkerton’s,” he reflected, gazing into her eyes. “The night before Pa disappeared was real hot.

“I couldn’t sleep and went to get a drink. It was late, but Pa was still up.

“He never brought work home from Overton’s, but that night he had ledgers and papers spread over the table. He didn’t notice me at first.

“When he saw me, he took Grandpa’s watch from his pocket, looked at the time and told me to go to bed.” William half-smiled, remembering.

“In the morning, I helped Pa with the kindling before he went to work.

“A few hours later, while I was sweeping out front of Miss Adelaide’s store, he came into town and made straight for the sheriff’s office.

“That was the last time I saw my father.” William had tears in his eyes.

“All these years of not knowing,” he mused. “Now we’ve found him and know how he died, I believe I’m getting near the truth.”

“Is the package I mailed to Pinkerton’s part of it?” Edith asked.

He nodded.

“After I’d been working at the waterfront a while, I had a good idea what went on in Leasowe’s supplies’ warehouses.

“The scales are rigged to give short-weight and the dry goods are adulterated.

“I took samples of flour, sugar, salt and coffee, and you mailed them to Pinkerton’s for analysis.

“I wasn’t surprised to find that Leasowe cheats his customers. What did surprise me was those samples were from supplies going to the company store at Overton’s mine.”

“Why is it surprising?” Edith asked.

“Pa always said Ty Skinner was sharp as a tack,” William explained. “He’d be a hard man to dupe.

“Besides, he and Frank Leasowe are friends and they do an awful lot of business together.

“Overton’s sell Leasowe the fuel for his riverboats, and Leasowe transports Overton’s coal to towns along the Missouri, as well as supplying goods, tools, timber and machinery the mine needs.

“Frank Leasowe wouldn’t risk losing business by bilking his best friend.”

“It only makes sense,” Edith reasoned, “if Mr Skinner knows what’s going on, and he and Mr Leasowe are in cahoots.”

“I reckon they’ve been swindling Overton’s for years,” William agreed. “And Pa found out.”

To be continued…

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