The train was faster than they expected it to be; and Josh slammed on the breaks in the nick of time, bringing the car to a screeching halt alongside the tracks. The train whirred by with a heavy mechanical wind pulling past the front of their vehicle.
Jane sat back in her chair and sighed a sigh of relief, letting out a long breath of air.
“That, Josh- was far too close.” She said.
Josh’s knuckles had turned white from his firm grip on the steering wheel, and he loosened his muscles to run a hand through his tousled hair.
“What a ride!” Margaret exclaimed, “nonetheless I agree with Jane; it was too scary. I felt as if my life were flashing before my eyes at the end.”
Ted was too shaken to speak, but he sat back in the seat and looked dazed at the passing train ahead of them.
“We’ll never catch up with them now,” Jane muttered halfheartedly, “let’s head back for the harbor and ask some questions. We had better get acquainted with the stolen goods before we continue.”
With that, Josh steered the car back onto the road; and they took their hair-raising path in reverse. The scenery had almost changed completely now that they were looking at it with fresh eyes, and not through a fog of fear.
As they parked alongside the curb, they retrieved their bags from whence they had left them, and turned for the ship. There were multiple police cars in sight, with several curious spectators gathered round to watch. At first glance, one would have expected a murder to have taken place, Jane thought; but it was fortunately only a robbery.
In a rush of raucous words, Jane could see the captain in his spotless uniform across the docks; feverishly gesticulating to a police officer who was taking notes.
Impulsively, she dashed for him; if anyone could help answer these burning questions, it would be the captain of the ship. She coincided perfectly with the police officer departing, and she cut in with her usual detective voice, that she reserved exclusively for interrogating witnesses.
“Captain, may I ask a few questions?”
“No time, little lady. Lots to be done around here.”
He began to walk towards the stairs leading up to the ship, and Jane followed breathlessly alongside.
“It will only take a minute,” Jane cut in to slow his pace, and he shook his head.
“Nope, sorry. No time for chitchat with coastal riffraff.”
“I’m a private investigator, and I’m here to crack an important case. Your cooperation would be greatly appreciated, if you don’t mind, Captain-?”
The man had stopped in his tracks and turned to examine her.
“Captain Winkworth. So, you’re a private investigator, huh? Well, that’s different. I’ve always had a flare for detective work myself. What’s the question?”
“Questions, sir. The first being; do you know what’s been stolen?” She asked pleasantly.
“A collection of antique swords. They were bound for the museum here in Portland, and we were scheduled to be met by their security and transport service; instead we were met with violence and thievery.”
“I see. Was that all that was stolen?”
The captain nodded decisively,
“The only thing. This man seemed to appear out of nowhere, and threw the guardsmen overboard without even batting an eye. It looked to be an organized raid, the men marched over to that one crate, hauled it off and bailed before I could sound the bell.”
“Interesting. Has this happened before?” Asked Jane, with bright and fascinated eyes.
“Not to me it hasn’t. But I heard there have been similar thefts here occurring as of late.”
“Do you know why this happened?”
The captain scratched his head absentmindedly.
“Search me. Some people have a peculiar way of making a living. If you’ll excuse me-“
Another police officer motioned for the captain, and he strode away from her to disappear into a sea of commotion.
“Something here smells fishy, and it sure isn’t the ocean.” Jane thought aloud, and she turned back to join her chums.
However, Jane couldn’t help but notice something strange attached to her shoe. Raising her foot, she peeled off a crinkled paper from the bottom.
“This is a telegram!” She exclaimed within earshot of Margaret, “good gracious, look here!”
…To be continued, on Sunday, November 21st! 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!