The three expectant listeners at the table watched Jane as she rose from her chair, picked up a notepad and jotted down reminders.
“What we’ll do,” she said with her pencil in the air, “first, we’ll go along with Margaret’s idea; and when we arrive in Portland, we’ll contact the local police.”
Ted Hayden stirred to object again, but Jane anticipated his interjection and cut him off before he could speak, waving her hand.
“Don’t worry, you’re safe with us. No one will find out your whereabouts. We need the authorities on our side if we’re to catch these criminals, and put them behind bars.”
“But they don’t plan to strike until two days from now, isn’t there something we can do to prevent it?” Margaret asked, resting her chin on her hand.
“I think your first impression was the right one; wait for them to strike, and catch them red handed with the police. There’s only one way out of this, and that’s with obvious evidence.”
“And unfortunately after all of this, we still won’t clear Ted’s name.” Margaret added quietly. She believed his story, and her heart went out to him when she thought of his sorrowful situation.
“That’s what you think!” Jane beamed cheerily, “I’ve got a few plans of my own; and while you and Josh are gathering the supplies tomorrow, I’m going to investigate a hunch of mine.”
“Now wait a minute,” Josh added, stretching his legs out in front of him in his kitchen chair: “we still haven’t discussed what we’re going to do with Ted here for the time being.”
Ted Hayden straightened himself with sudden dignity.
“Don’t worry about me,” he said, “I’ll just go back to where I’ve been staying these past few days.”
“No you don’t!” Josh corrected, sitting up suddenly: “We’re not going to let you merely walk out of here without supervision.”
“That is a problem, and he can’t stay here.” Jane added.
Margaret had a sudden epiphany, and chimed in:
“How about you take him home with you, Josh!”
Josh looked over at Ted’s blank unshaven face, and nodded.
“Good thinking, Margaret, I’ll take him home and put him in the basement. I keep a lot of stuff down there, he’ll fit right in; and he can’t get out.”
Ted looked at them each and let out a sigh of defeat. They gave Ted Hayden a change of clothes, leaving his soggy ones to dry in the cabin; and placed him in the charge of Josh. They departed for the evening in his car, and Jane and Margaret retired to their bedrooms out of sheer exhaustion with Trooper following Jane closely behind. She had barely pulled the blanket over her shoulder, before her eyelids had shut for the night.
The next morning was spent very efficiently; after Trooper’s breakfast and their own, Margaret left for town to pick up supplies, and Jane stayed to make a few phone calls; the first was to check on Ted, and inform Josh that he needed to pick up several cameras and other necessities.
“I’ll make use of Ted yet,” Josh had said when she called him. “When I let him out of the basement, I’ll take him along and he can help carry the equipment.”
“You didn’t really lock him in the basement, did you?” Jane questioned, and Josh laughed.
“Hey, it’s been renovated since you last saw it. It’s a nice guestroom, now.”
“Teaches me to leave Pinecrest!” She said.
After the phone call, her detective mind went to work; and she followed up next on a hunch she had earlier. Her theory was, that the vehicle with the jewel shipment never came close to Swan’s Jewelers after all, and the delivery driver who testified against Ted Hayden was part of the same gang of crooks.
She drew up her purse, rifled through the contents and pulled out her address book. Flipping through the names she had written down over time, she ran her finger down each page and eventually stopped at one that read:
Picking up the phone, she dialed the number she had written down under his name; and after a few suspenseful seconds, she heard the receiver on the other end pick up, and a familiar voice answer.
“Hey Howard, it’s me; Jane!” She greeted warmly.
The man on the other end of the phone recognized her instantly, and she could hear him smile.
“It’s been a long time since we last talked, Jane. What can I do for you?”
Jane twisted the cord around her finger as she thought for a moment, before explaining her request.
“Howard, I helped you out of a real jam a few years back. Do you remember that?”
“I sure do!” He laughed.
Howard Bradbury was a successful local attorney in Maine, and Jane had helped him solve some pretty odd mysteries in the past. He attributed a fair share of his success to Jane’s quick wittedness; knowing that without her sleuthing brain he might never have cracked some of his most complex cases.
“And I owe you a favor or two, little lady.”
“If you’re up for the challenge; I need you to find out some information for me. Do you remember the robbery at Swan’s Jewelers a few years back?”
He sighed on the other end of the phone,
“Without a doubt. Casebook situation, average security guard, tired of his job, made off with a bunch of jewelry and caught by the police. Crime never pays, I always say. Thieves like him only ever learn that lesson when it’s too late.”
“I need you to get me a complete list of the jewelry that was expected to be delivered that day; as well as the name of the delivery man. Can you do that?”
“Not a problem, Jane. When do you need it?” Howard asked.
“ASAP, it’s vitally important.” She answered, placing her pencil down on her notebook once again.
“You can depend on me, Jane. It’s good to hear from you again; I’ll see if I can get you this information by tonight.”
Jane concluded the conversation, and returned the handset to the receiver; when a cold chill ran down her spine and made her jump out of her chair; the back door in the kitchen had flung wide open with a sudden thud!
…To be continued, next week on Sunday, October 17th! Jane Darcy needs your help to solve the hair-raising mystery surrounding Pinecrest; keep your magnifying glass handy, and don’t miss the next exciting chapter!