Monday, April 16, 2012

A Secret Revealed

 

A Secret Revealed

Oscar Crowley liked to drop by the Crowley Law Office every day. He had total confidence in his sons, Robert and Richard to keep things going in the practice he began years before, but he missed being part of the action. He was as spry as anyone 30 years younger than he was and Miss Nettie Dawson might have been partly responsible for that.
Robert knew this mystery would delight his father and asked him to step into his office. Robert introduced the two men and showed Oscar the newspaper article Max had discovered in a book in the library. Oscar was amazed that it had been found and that it was so obviously hidden. Oscar's father was just a young boy when the Lane family vanished. Oscar remembered the adults always stopped their conversation about the incident whenever he was within earshot. He had heard enough to fear that one day he and his family might disappear in the middle of the night. To this day he liked to keep a small light burning near his bedroom door. Max thoroughly enjoyed being with the elder gentleman that morning as he told him everything he had heard about the mystery.
That afternoon Max stopped by the library. He saw Sarah in the children's section surrounded by preschoolers as she read them the story of The Ugly Duckling. Sarah was unlike any other female he had ever known. She was beautiful inside and out. Maybe he should drop the subject of the Lane brothers, after all it happened so long ago. He knew he wouldn't be able to do that. His instincts for a good story were too much a part of him. Sarah looked up from her book and grinned from ear to ear. She was very happy to see Mr. Maxwell Harcourt. She led the children back to their waiting mothers and nannies and greeted Max with a warm handshake.
It was almost lunchtime. Marian had packed Sarah a lunch that morning and as Sarah guessed, it was much more than she could eat alone. She asked if Max would like to share it with her out on the lawn where she liked to spread her blanket and watch people walk by. Today though, she wouldn't be alone as he readily agreed to join her. She picked up her lunch bucket and set aside her J. K. Ellingsworth novel. Max asked if she was enjoying the book.
“Oh yes, J. K. Ellingsworth is my favorite author and as much of a mystery as the novels he or she writes.”
“He or She?” Max exclaimed just a little too loudly.
“I think J.K. is a man although he is very good about bringing romance into each story. Everyone else in my book club thinks she is a woman. Not that J.K. couldn't be a woman's name. Did you know that Louisa May Alcott wrote as A. M. Barnard enabling her to write darker and racier themes so that she could gain the financial freedom to write the way she really wanted in her later years? And do you know the name Mary Ann Evans? Most people know her by her pen name, George Eliot.”
Max wondered if maybe he should have chosen a different pseudonym for himself. Ellingsworth was the name of his first grade teacher and J and K were two letters in the alphabet that had no special meaning except they happened to be side by side on his typewriter. It never occurred to him that anyone would think he was a woman. Maybe he was laying the romance on a little thick. He knew nothing about romance. He had never been in love and never found anyone he wanted to spend the rest of his life with. Not until now that is.
Sarah began extolling the virtues of Gilmartin Trent. The way she talked, old Gil was a real person. To Max he was a real person too but for crying out loud, he was a figment of his imagination not Sarah's. He couldn't believe he was thinking this way. Of course he wanted his character to seem real. That's what sold his books. Could he be jealous of this imaginary character? Max was feeling uncomfortable and finally, Sarah changed the subject. She wondered what brought Max to town. He told her he was doing some research on small towns in the area. He avoided telling her it was for his next novel.