Tommy and Joey finally had a chance to go back to the mound of dirt they had discovered a few days earlier. There was no mound there now, only a deep empty hole.
“Somebody stole our treasure,” Tommy wailed.
“It wasn’t our treasure,” his older brother replied.
“Well,” Tommy sniffed, “it would have been. What do we do now?”
“Go home and put the tools back.”
“Mom will skin us if she finds out.” Tommy was kicking his toe at the edge of the hole.
Joey, ever the practical brother, reminded Tommy that they would have been in trouble anyway if they got caught putting the tools back, even if there had been anything in the hole.
The two trudged home, Tommy feeling defeated, and Joey feeling relieved. He had never had a good feeling about that hole. It had been too much out in the open, and too large to be buried treasure. Sure it had been buried in the shade of a tree, in the middle of a meadow, and it was out in the country. It still didn’t seem like a good place for buried treasure.
It was late afternoon before sheriff Clyde Bonnell arrived. Deputy Dewey was busy with other matters. Clyde knocked on the door of the Jackson home and Nana opened the door. She only needed one can today as the weather cleared.
Clyde pulled up a chair and sat next to the end of the couch. “Nana, I hear tell you’ve had some trouble out here.”
Nana was sitting at the opposite end of the couch so she could stretch her legs on its length and still see the sheriff. “We sure have. Don’t know what you kin do about it, but you need to know.”
Clyde leaned forward, watching her facial expressions. “Tell me about it.”
Nana recounted the events from the death of Lottie and Arctic Sun to the broken window with a rock thrown through.
“Have their been prowlers about?” Clyde asked.
“Not that we’ve heard, though the horse has spooked a couple of times.”
“What happened when the horse spooked?”
“Well,” Nana’s brow furrowed in the effort of remembering. “Let’s see. The first time some evidence got left in the barn framing one of our neighbors.”
Clyde sat up straight. “What neighbors?”
“Now calm down, Clyde. The Gardners have been good neighbors as long as we’ve lived here. They come and help out and check on me to make sure I’m okay when Fawn ain’t here. They’s good upstandin’ folk. Wouldn’t hurt a fly, unless it was hurtin’ one of us.” Nana swung her legs off the couch and propped herself in the corner.
Clyde motioned both hands in a downward motion toward her. “Easy, Nana. I’m not making accusations, just trying to get the facts. Can I see the planted evidence?”
Fawn was outside tending the garden. She was the one who would know where the fishing line and corks were located.
“Have to get Fawn in here for that,” Nana said. “But there’s more.”
She told Clyde about Chester Taylor who bought the buckboard, how it seemed mighty strange he couldn’t be found right after Fawn attacked him, then showed up with seeming no harm done the next day.
“Then there was the newspaper clipping Jason left in the barn for Fawn. Don’t know how Angel knew it was there or why he didn’t give it to her, or just bring it in to me. Lot of things don’t make sense.”
Clyde rubbed his hands on his knees, a habit that started in his childhood when he was disturbed about something. “Where can I find Fawn?” he asked.
“Out in the garden.”
“I’ll fetch her in and talk to her. You just rest a bit. Be right back.”
Clyde went outside and asked Fawn to come in.
Two men were at the Hound’s Ear tavern. Their hats were slouched over their faces as they drank their ale.
“I don’t know what to do now,” Joel said. “Dewey was at the Jackson place three days ago and the sheriff is probably there now, or has been and is now investigating things.” He kept his voice low but his face was beaded with sweat and his hands were shaking.
Bobby leaned forward. “This is your mess. You got me into this but I’m done. The body is gone and I’m leaving.”
“What did you do?” Joel asked. He wiped his right hand on his pant leg to get the sweat off. His voice was barely a whisper.
“Never mind what I did. You don’t need to know.” He laid some money on the table to pay for his ale, got up, and walked out the door.
Joel waited a few minutes, sipped his ale but didn’t finish it, walked to the bar and paid the tab. Then he walked out the door and went in what he knew would be the opposite direction of his companion.